I drink IPAs…a lot. If there was an official beer of San Diego, it’d probably be the IPA. The big, hoppy, aggressive, American, West Coast IPA, at least. (Thanks, Stone.)
If beer is an “acquired” taste, IPAs are an especially acquired taste. Many people who don’t like beer, or don’t like craft beer, don’t like the bitterness that comes from hops.
I’ve been able to (luckily) acquire this taste, and I can rattle off a pretty lengthy list of IPAs I’ll happily drink (Sculpin, 30th St., Idiot, any of Poor House’s experimental batches, Tower 10, Tornado, Two Hearted, Racer 5 — which was probably the first IPA I really enjoyed — Total Domination, the list goes on…) — although I’m finding myself a little weary of HOPS HOPS AND MORE HOPS right now and tend to go for pale ales and session beers. But I’m sure I’ll veer another direction soon enough.
Anyway, I was at Trader Joe’s when I remembered I need to pick up something to taste for this round, and first got super excited when I found Stone’s Delicious IPA, which I first tried last summer, then couldn’t find it anywhere, and assumed it was a one-time thing.
Cool fact: Apparently it’s a gluten-reduced beer. Husband and I have been talking about trying to make a decent gluten-free homebrew, since my aunt and one of his best friends from high school are gluten-intolerant beer lovers. Husband randomly got to talk with a couple guys who work for Stone last weekend, who said one of their head brewers felt comfortable giving the Delicious IPA to his father, who has Celiac’s. I won’t pretend to understand all the science behind it, but if you can’t have gluten for whatever reason and want a decent beer, I’d definitely suggest trying this one if you can find it.
With an ABV of 7.7% and IBU of 80, it’s…what you’d expect from Stone — big, bold, bitter, hoppy. (I first tried Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale as a freshman or sophomore in college and, of course, hated it. It’s still not one of my favorites — though Stone’s Levitation, Pale Ale, and Cali-Belgique are absolutely delightful.)
Aroma – Piney, spicy
Color/Appearance – light golden/copper
Flavor – Citrus, pine (almost green — in a good way). Almost all my favorite IPAs and pale ales are heavy on crisp, citrusy, piney flavors — it’s like this beer was made for me. There’s some bitterness on the back end, but it’s very nicely balanced with the citrus flavors.
Overall – I will be looking for this at stores and on tap all summer. It’s very aptly named.
I’ve never tried a gluten-free or gluten-reduced beer before. I have no problems with gluten (luckily, since gluten-ful foods make up at least half my diet), and I’ve never heard great things about gluten-free beers, so I was like, why bother? It’s great that big brewers are making beers that anyone can drink and that anyone, gluten-intolerant or not, would want to drink.
Something else caught my eye at Trader Joe’s, and I had the brilliant idea of trying both a traditional, English IPA (which are traditionally much less hoppy and more malt-forward) with an American IPA.
The King’s English IPA comes from Greene King Brewery in England. Single 16 0z-bottles are under $3 at Trader Joe’s. Its ABV is 6% and I couldn’t find anything on the IBU, but I’d guess it’s pretty low.
Aroma – Malts. Lots of malts. Some caramel.
Color/Appearance – very dark copper/amber
Flavor – Very malty, with just a touch of bitter on the back end. It reminded me more of an amber ale than an IPA, though that could just be my American taste buds speaking.
Overall – You know, not something I’d pick often, but a very solid beer.
Also, I looked it up — the tumbler or pint glass (I think of those as an English pint glass to distinguish from the standard shaker pint glass) and mug (or stein) are the “proper” glasses for both English and American IPAs. In case you’re interested.