So there I was at the liquor store deciding what beer I would buy this trip. One of the brews that caught my attention was a 22-ounce bomber bottle of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. Hey, the label was really cool, painted as it was onto the glass and featuring a trademark Stone gargoyle looking all, well, self-righteous.
That caught my attention, but the question was, just what the hell was in the bottle? Stone didn't say much, other than to mention the beer has an alcohol content of 8.7% by volume and that it was first brewed in 2007 as the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale. OK, they do hint a bit:
"We're brewers whose substantial mettle and idiomatic approach to brewing allows us to consistently create works of art such as this justifiably self-righteous ale. It's bitterness hits our sweet spot. It's blackness lightens our heart."
A few clues, to be sure, but not overwhelming evidence of anything, other than Stone's massive ego (hey, they brew an Arrogant Bastard Ale in addition to this Self-Righteous one). So, I brought my prize home and promptly-sat on it for several months. Tonight, though, I finally popped the cap off, and what did I find? A Black IPA! Bonus! Black IPAs, of course, are promptly becoming one of my favorite styles.
Stone calls this a "limited" year round release, whatever that means. It was launched in January of 2009 according to their website, and is sold in 22-ounce bombers and on draft. The beer has a whopping 90 IBUs, 8.7% alcohol by volume and is hopped with Simcoes, Chinooks, and Amarillos.
Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale pours to a jet black color with a thick creamy tan head formation and a...whoa! Hold on here folks. The nose on this one is just amazing, and to be honest my first whiff came even before I decanted. That's when my nostrils were struck rather forcefully by a wayward tendril of hop aroma as soon as I popped the cap. better things were in store when I sniffed from my glass, as the intense piney hop aroma was joined by strong smells of licorice and coffee.
Other Black IPAs are a lot like IPA with a bit of dark malt thrown in. Stone's version is more over the top than those, and really reminds me more of IPA meets Imperial Stout. The palate is absolutely huge: not as oily in body as an imperial stout, and perhaps closer to an IPA there. But the caramel malt of an IPA is totally lacking, replaced by powerful notes of roasty espresso, chocolate, and pungent licorice.
And of course, through it all, there are the hops: bitter, piney, puckering, aromatic and, especially in the finish, bitter again. They linger on the tongue long after sipping, leaving an amazing, umm, resiny bitterness on the tongue. Did I say bitter too many times? I don't think you can say bitter too many times when describing Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.
This is one of the best beers I've had all year. I'll be looking for it again, to be sure.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.