Stone Brewing Company loves labels. Each beer from the Southern California brewery is festooned with a painted-on label featuring a gargoyle and a soliloquy about what you’re holding in your hand (which can be tough to read after drinking the brew itself).
With Enjoy By IPA, the brewers take the label concept one step further. The date marked on the label — part of the name of each batch of brew — commands the drinker to consume it by that mythical day. As opposed to a beer you’re supposed to save and allow to bottle conditions, the label touts the beer’s freshness and its ability not to last.
There have already been five releases around the country, each with a different bottling and "enjoy by" date, and there are a few more left to go. Different states were selected to receive an Enjoy By IPA edition by user votes on social media, so if your state isn’t listed here, get voting. Each lot is slightly different, but all are brewed from the same recipe. Currently, Enjoy By 04.20.13 is on the market, in Denver, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, D.C., and many other locations.
Like most Stone beers, however, the label (and marketing) isn’t nearly as essential as the stuff inside — and we got our hands on a bottle to be able to tell you, the stuff inside is definitely worth tasting.
Billed as a double IPA, Enjoy By 4.20.13 is certainly hop heavy, with an aroma that invades the nostrils like the craven Vikings at Lindisfarne. It pours with about three fingers of slightly off-white head and has a color a shade or two lighter than a classic double IPA. There are distinct yet balanced flavors of citrus and pine in the initial onslaught of hops, and an overtone of garlic at the finish.
Most double IPAs find a way to even out intense hoppiness with the grain bill, and the folks at Stone appear to have done so, even though the color suggests an absence of dark crystal malts many use to even out big IPAs. At 9.4 percent ABV, you can take your time sipping — the brew easily outdistances the hop profiles of other Stone offerings such as Ruination. The malt backbone is sweet, with caramel and toffee flavors more than anything else. This isn’t so much a brew to pair with food as to listen to some great music — we’d go straight for Cream’s Disraeli Gears or The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet.
All in all, the beer is in line with what Stone CEO and co-founder Greg Koch told a crowd gathered at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival in Denver — that the brewery was going to get back to more collaborations and more experimental beers after a long period of remarkable expansion and success. Though the adventurous spirit is a long-term goal, Enjoy By IPA is a fine beer to enjoy right now.
— Nathan Solheim, The Drink Nation
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