25 Beers of Christmas: #11

Stone – Enjoy By IPA

American Double IPA

9.4% ABV

Stone Brewing Company – Escondido, CA

 

Let me start this off with a quote from my initial review of this beer, posted to Beer Advocate: “When I think of the quintessential American Double IPA, this is basically what I’m thinking of.”  The first version I had of this was the 02/14/15 one, and I’ve had a couple since, none of which have changed my line on Stone’s Enjoy By IPA as simply the best American DIPA I have tasted.

The conceit of this beer is simple, really; that the freshness of a highly hopped beer, where age is of the most importance due to the fragility of hop aromas and flavors, should be slapped in big print on the bottle, rather than hidden in some Julian code (or something more indecipherable) on the back, never to be found.  The date on the bottle is absolutely the last day on which this beer should represent what Stone intended.

Indeed, what you’ll get out of this light amber, moderately foamed beer is a bomb of grapefruit and bitter citrus hop aromas, backed by grainy-sweet malt and a touch of caramel.  Hop flavors include a ton of grapefruit with a touch of acidic bite, papaya, and lime zest.  Waves of hop bitterness follow, balancing with the strong hop flavors, combining with high carbonation and slight malt sweetness to create a certain paradox: a hop bomb that’s also an incredibly balanced beer.  And don’t let this beer deceive you, because at 9.4% ABV it packs a wallop.

Let me first say that you should under no circumstances drink this beer after the date on the bottle.  Stone releases a new version every couple of months, and that’s the one you should go for.  I have seen a few larger retailers who have the old ones (I’m talking about July's, on shelves right now in December) out, but on sale.  No low price is low enough; if there was ever a time to respect the brewer’s intent, a giant fresh-hop-driven IPA is it.

You can pour Enjoy By IPA at a pretty cold temperature, 40-45 degrees, though you’ll get more of those brilliant hop aromas and flavors if you get closer to the 50 degree range.  And this one’s a pretty easy drinker, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it getting TOO warm.  A tulip glass is perfect for this beer, as is any other glass designed specifically to enhance aromas.

As previously discussed, DIPAs can be difficult for food pairing, simply because they can overwhelm a lot of foods with the hop flavor and especially with the bitterness.  Think very spicy foods, which the bitterness can cut through, as good matches, such as Thai food, Indian food, etc.  Spicy with citrus notes is even better, like hot orange or pineapple sauces or even curries.  This is especially true with Enjoy By, which features those bright, zesty citrus flavors in its profile.

From what I can tell, Stone distributes to all but nine states in the U.S.: Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and, much to my dismay, Arkansas.  However, where their beers can be found, this one should be there.  They are also well known for their Imperial Russian Stout, Ruination Double IPA, and Arrogant Bastard Ale (the line of which has been spun off by Stone into a separate entity as of late 2015.)  They also recently created a second take on the Enjoy By series with an Enjoy AFTER IPA spiked with Brettanomyces; I have one in my cellar that’s off limits until 10/31/16.

JAB – 12/16/1