I bought some Stone Go To IPA the other day. I had heard some good things about it and, well you know, I initially thought it was just a slightly tweaked version of their Levitation Ale. Both beers have a low alcohol content after all (4.4% for Levitation and 4.5% for Go To IPA), although the IBU counts are more different: 45 for Levitation, 65 for Go To. One thing is for sure, though, both accent the hop over the malt in a lower strength beer intended for “sessioning”.
Here’s the thing, though. Stone Go To IPA is a relatively new animal, while the Levitation has been around since 2002. Yet Stone Go To IPA is marketed as a “session IPA” (there ain’t no such thing), while Levitation is described as “sessionable ale”. That’s because session IPA is nothing more than a marketing gimmick, though they seem very popular these days (Founders All Day IPA is another major example).
Here’s why: most IPAs have an alcohol content of at least 6%, usually somewhere in the 6% to 7% range. That would give them more body and original gravity (to achieve that) than beers like Stone Go To IPA possess. Technically, these beers are not session ales either; those have a cutoff of 4% alcohol by volume. Really, this is an American Pale Ale. From the painted label bottle:
For Stone Go To IPA, we are embracing our hop obsession in a new way, funneling an abundance of lupulin-borne bitterness into a "session" IPA delivering all the fruity, piney character of a much bigger IPA. To accomplish this, we employed "hop bursting," a new technique wherein an irrational amount of hops is added during the final phase of the brewing process to coax out extreme flavors and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably pleasant bitterness. The result is an Alpha-acid-rich beer that fans can enjoy more of without missing out on the assertive hop character you, like us, crave. So, sit back and go two with your new everyday go-to IPA and bask along with us in the glory of the almighty hop.
Stone recommends you drink Go To IPA within 90 days of its freshness date, and I agree with that. It’s best to do so before all that hop goodness starts to fade. My bottle has a best by date of 05/26/14, so I’m drinking at about 5 weeks old. Not bad. I paid $10.49 for a six-pack, which while a bit high is not much more than the $9.99 I paid for Levitation in 2012.
Stone Go To IPA pours to a pale golden color with a thick unruly head of rocky foam and a wonderfully appetizing nose that just screams citrusy grapefruit. Taking a sip, the body is light as one might expect, just a bit of bisucity malt comes to mind, and the hops quickly emerge as the dominant factor. Here they are still amazingly reminiscent of grapefruit, grapefruit seeds really with their bitterness. The beer is bursting with citrusy hop aroma and flavor, and the finish is sickeningly (in a good way) bitter and lingers long and dry.
So, as it turns out this beer is similar to Levitation, but also very different in its hop character. Both are delicious beers that I really enjoy, whatever you call them. A bottle of Stone Go To IPA was delightful on a warm 78 degree spring evening sitting on my patio. I will certainly Go To this beer, again.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.