I love IPA's. I especially love really fresh IPA's. Stone Brewing is known for their IPA's and a couple years ago they started a series of fresh IPA's, the "Enjoy By" series of beers. All of these IPA's are meant to be consumed quickly, typically within 30 days after bottling. I picked up a bottle of their "Drink By 4-1-13" last year and was very impressed. Today, while in the beer store, I saw their latest rendition, the Drink By 10-31-14 and figured it might be time to re-visit the beer. This particular bottle has a "bottled on" date of 9/26/2014 and I bought it on 10/11/2014. Considering that the beer comes from the San Diego area, I'd consider that a pretty fast turnaround:
I poured the beer in my New Mexico IPA Challenge glass that I got while visiting my good friend +Joe D in Albuquerque a couple years ago. As expected the beer had the classic golden/orange color that we've all come to expect from Craft IPA's. This beer is fairly clear and produced a nice, long lasting head that stuck around. A good looking beer!
All of the "Enjoy By..." beers have a bit different aroma/flavor profole. This one has a great, super-fresh aroma that's a nice blend of citrus, floral and pine. There's also some nice malt aromas. The beer is 9.5% ABV and Stone does a great job of hiding that. Bottom line is that this beer smells like it just came out of the brew kettle, which is exactly how I'd expect it to smell.
The flavor of the Enjoy By 10-31-14 IPA is much like the aroma with a very fresh flavor that is well-balanced between malt and hops. The beer is definitely an IPA but the hop bitterness isn't over the top by any means. It's there (especially in the middle) but not completely dominant. The flavor starts off with some fresh pine, then citrus (think orange and sweet grapefruit), followed by some nice bitterness that appropriately dries out your tounge and back of the throat. The malt is there in just the proper amount to keep things in balance. If you look on the neck of the bottle in my photo you'll see the phrase "Devastatingly Fresh" emblazoned on the bottle. That pretty much describes it :-)
Some IPA's are "built" to be hop lover's wet dreams, overflowing with juicy hop bitterness. If you love hops that's fine but sometimes drinkability can be impacted. That is definitely NOT the case with the Stone Enjoy By series of IPA's. While they are Imperial IPA's (typically defined by ABV over 8%) they are very east drinking. The 9.4% is very well hidden and the beer goes down very easily. If you are enjoying this away from home I would exercise extra restraint and make sure you have a designated driver because this beer goes down "Smoooooooth..."
The Final Score
Appearance: 8 out of 10
Aroma: 9 out of 10
Flavor: 18 out of 20
Drinkability: 9 out of 10
Total Score: 44 out of 50 points- A "4 Mug" Beer
Stone Enjoy By 10-31-14 IPA is a great example of the American IPA style of beer. It has a great fresh aroma and flavor with some nice bitterness. It is eminently drinkable and reasonably priced (I paid $8.99 for the 22oz Bomber bottle). If you have the ability to get these beers in your area and like IPA's I highly suggest you pick up a bottle to try! :-)