Let's get one thing straight. I don't like anyone telling me what to do. If you tell me I have to do something, then there's a good chance I'm going to do exactly the opposite. Case in point: Stone Enjoy by 12.26.14 IPA . The bottle states in no uncertain terms that this beer should be enjoyed no later than December 26 of 2014. So guess what? I drink it on December 28th.
Stone has brewed several batches of this beer and each will have its own “enjoy by” date. On their website, they have 10.31.14, 12.05.14, 12.26.14, and 2.14.15 all listed, these being the most recent batches. In the past I've never been able to get my hands on a bottle, so when Total Wine had several bottles of this beer on the counter I snapped one right up. Stone says on the label:
You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. Freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, hoppy IPAs – but we've taken it further, a lot further, with this one. We brewed this IPA specifically not to last. We’ve gone to extensive lengths to insure you get your hands on this beer in an extraordinarily short window, and we sent a very clear message in the name of the beer itself then there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA!
Stone is not kidding about the extraordinarily short window. My bottle says it was packaged on November 15 of 2014 which is about six weeks from the enjoy by date. Now, I have to disagree with stone. I understand the current trend to want to drink IPAs extremely fresh. But I think it's been taken much too far and this is just another step in that direction.
This is not just an IPA, this is a double or Imperial IPA after all. It's a strong beer at 9.4% by volume and very hoppy. India Pale Ales were originally brewed to stand the test of time and a long ocean voyage from Burton to Bombay. So although I drink the beer a few days past the enjoy by date, it of course didn't suffer and Stone knows that. In fact, if properly stored, I am sure that I could still enjoy this beer by 12 26 2015 and it would still be fine. The rebel in me just may do that with the next batch I get a hold of. Will the beer be as hoppy with age? No, certainly not. But it wouldn't be worse necessarily. It would just be different.
Anyway, Stone Enjoy By 12.26.14 has as I said a hefty alcohol content of 9.4% by volume and I paid $8.99 for my bottle. Here’s what I thought:
Stone Enjoy By 12.26.14 IPA pours to a pale golden color with a thick unruly head of rocky foam and a big tropical fruit nose of passion fruit and mangos. Taking a sip, the beer has a very delicate malt palate up front with the ever so faintest hint of caramel malt, but you really have to reach to get it. Not the hops, though. They’re very tropical, very citrusy and extremely bitter in the finish. The mango and passion fruit notes I got in the nose really come out in the finish, and the scary thing is this beer, while very bitter and I like that, does not seem at all its 9.4% ABV. It is wonderful though and 4.5 star worthy at the price.
I really enjoyed the explosive hoppiness of this beer, and I can see why you’d want to enjoy that fresh. Still, I think the very short window Stone sets for the beer is a gimmick that has, admittedly, worked well to boost sales. This beer is always hard to find here in Georgia. If you do find it, though, it’s well worth your time and money.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.