Another year, another Stone anniversary IPA! Although I will say last year I wasn’t all that impressed with the 17th Anniversary IPA I am always excited for the yearly Stone Anniversary release. This year they bring us a golden brown IPA dry hopped exclusively with El-Dorado hops, a hop I find myself enjoying quite a bit especially when used in single hop beers (ie. Flying Dogs Single Hop El-Dorado). As usual Stone had a nice big festival celebrating another successful year of brewing to coincide with the release of this beer as well. 18th Anniversary comes in at 8.5% ABV and 75 IBUs.
Appearance: Like the label describes it pour a hazy golden brown (as if brown could be golden it appears Stone has figured out how), maybe pushing a light amber. 2 finger head and some nice lacing. Really nice looking beer, a very unique color but not really the right color for an IPA. ALways love the etched Stone bottle artwork, the anniversary beers are always simple but very clean looking.
Nose: Huge citrus notes, mandarin, orange, lemon, grapefruit followed by the standard pine and resin notes found in most Stone IPAs. Dank fresh hop nuggets. Some malt and caramel as expected from the color. Even some floral and earthy hop notes in there, this beer hits on a lot of different points on the hop spectrum.
Taste/Mouth: Hoppy and semi dry, citrus hop balancing out with a good helping of malt. I even get like a chocolate syrup vibe at points when drinking it and caramel, like eating a rolo while drinking a Stone IPA. It is quite hot with alcohol in the beginning as well. There is a lot going on in this beer huge depth in its flavor profiles. Maybe better categorized as an Imperial Hoppy Amber or Brown Ale instead of an IPA. At the very least its probably more a Double IPA than an IPA.
Price/Availability: Price is good for being 8.5% and a limited one time only release at $9 and its Stone so the availability is as good as it gets for craft beer in the US. I will say Stone is always fair with pricing.
Overall: It’s an interesting beer for sure, Stone is always trying to push the envelope of what an IPA can be and try to break peoples IPA stereotypes. I think though unfortunately like the 17th anniversary this one is a bit of a letdown for me. I wish they would just go back to making just standard really good IPAs on their anniversary. I understand maybe it gets a bit boring but I think its what people want. I didn’t hate this beer but I’m not sure if it was available again I would seek it out. I think if it were marketed as something other than an IPA I might bump it up a grade.