Thirteenth Anniversary Ale, 9.5% ABV, imperial red ale, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA
It’s definitely red – deep red-amber, almost the colour of Grade B maple syrup, with great clarity. (My photo doesn't do it justice.) Thick, creamy pale beige head starts out over a finger’s width tall and holds a good eighth-inch thick after dropping. Hoppy aroma with lots of citrus and some pine resin. Moderately full-bodied, very creamy on the palate. Lots of hop character right off – floral, citric, piney and bitter, with some toasted and caramelized malt underneath. In the finish, a somewhat astringent note shows up with a mild undertone of something. I thought maybe anise or licorice, then rose hips, but it was fleeting and in the end I just get a grapefruit pith note. Alcohol is noticeable but not hot; smoothly integrated.
Solid beer, tasty, with plenty of hops, a wonderful texture and impressive foam sheeting on the glass, but lacking a bit in medium crystal malt or Vienna malt character to go with the colour. Expect generous hop flavour and bittering. At the barely cool stage (cellar temperature?), it actually seems more balanced, with the bitterness less dominating. Still a hoppy beer, of course!