Stone 16th Anniversary IPA


There's a bit of an oddity going around, one that has hit two of the more anticipated ales this year: Both Deschutes's Black Butte XXIV and Stone's 16th Anniversary IPA are better on bottles than they are on tap. This is a bit upside down from what usually is the norm -- tap, of course, tends to be better -- but there you go.

I tried both beers on tap right after each other, something that left me both frightened and confused, and... Anyway. Having recently sampled the 16th Anniversary IPA on bottle, I can at least say that's the way to go with this beer. It might be a bit disappointing, but it's not bad.

The color is nice, a slightly cloudy copper with a light, tan head. Lacing is decent. Give it a sniff, and you are punched in the face -- almost literally -- by citrus. The promised lemon is there, closely followed by grapefruit and grassy hops. Any nuances are lost on me.

And here is where it gets interesting, with the flavor. On tap, the description of the nose carries over almost verbatim. This is an overpowering mess of citrus and hops, with the only addition from the nose being an odd pepper-y sensation toward the end. It all adds up to a flavor I would prefer never having to taste again.

On bottle, meanwhile, things look better. Or taste better. You know what I mean.

While I am a big believer in beers being served approximately within recommended temperatures, the 16th Anniversary IPA really does need to warm up to somewhere exactly within the often recommended 57-61 degree range. And when it reaches that point, you can find something good in there, something that might get even better after a few months. The lemon mellows out, playing more harmoniously with the hops, and what do you know? There actually is some rye in here. All of a sudden the pepper flavor makes sense, as it is balanced out by the sweeter malts which I never noticed from the tap.

On bottle, this is not a bad beer at all. Not quite up to Stone's usual high standard, but still worth the price of admission.

In other words, I'd recommend picking up a bottle or two of the 16th Anniversary IPA. Don't fall for the siren song of the tap; it is probably a trip not worth taking.