Following almost 4 hours sitting in Panera logging upwards of 8 posts from previous tastings and in order to set a scheduled auto-posting while I'll be in Cancun for spring break, we headed over to Plainfield Binny's and picked up a six pack of individual bottles. I was happy to dig up some Stone Pale ale and IPA, none of which I've tasted before
Appearance: Coppered bronze with a dash of orange. What started with a foamy off-white head, quickly dissipated into nothing. Quite clear with visible carbonation that reminds me of the consistency of snow, falling...upwards?. Some wet bubbled lacing against the side of the glass.
Aroma: Malted biscuits and toast with somewhat of a honey character to it as well as perhaps brown sugar. Following is a very mellow but
Taste: The taste is very fruitful by way of sweetness in the form of brown sugar and biscuit malted barley. This beer maintains a large malt backbone and is only then completely balanced by the best complement of hops. The hops themselves don't dominate, they take a very paralleled position with the malt, but exhibit mild tones of pine and spicing as well as fruity tannins and light grapefruit hulls. Some of the hops are reminiscent of lemon zest and orange rinds with a bit of spicy rye flavor to finish. There is a fresh pine element as well as a lingering grassiness to complement. Overall the bready, caramel, toasted malt is replied well by an evenly balanced hop complexity. Aftertaste is nice and short lived. A touch of fig and raisin emerges.
Mouthfeel: Bubbly and refreshing with a lighter mouthfeel but still maintaining a smooth and enjoyable texture. Though carbonation is high, it is directed in the right way with a micro-bubble foaming tone. The finish is dry, but not resinous at all.
Overall Impression: This is an extremely well crafted pale ale that emphasizes both balance but more predominantly complexity on both end of the malt and hops. I also enjoy that this beer is only 5.4% ABV, though I'd probably even like it better if it were lower. Extremely drinkable. Stone is rightly known for their strong malt character but easy drinking body and complex hops, and this is yet another spectacular example.