I trace my love of craft beer back to the first time I tasted Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale. It was the moment my love of hops was cemented, and it’s the reason I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Stone Brewing. So you can only imagine my excitement when I learned of Stone’s intention to release their first entry into the session IPA market, Stone Go To IPA. You could say I was prepared to love it no matter what. And you’d be right.
My excitement intensified today when I strolled into my favorite local liquor store, Julio’s, and did my usual 2 minute fly by to see if any new beers had come in. I rounded the corner into the Stone section and what to my wondering eyes should appear but this magnificent sight:
That’s right, my friends. A single six-pack of this new arrival. I gleefully snatched it before anyone else could see it and made my way to the register, silently feeling for my wallet to be sure I had the funds to secure it. I asked one of the beer guys if I’d snagged the last six-pack. No, he said.. you snagged the FIRST six-pack. You see, he hadn’t even had time to unpack the rest. The shipment had just arrived and it was my good luck to stumble upon it. I can’t manage to get a single stinking number on a Powerball ticket, but rest assured that every once in a while I’ll stumble across good beer.
Long story short on session IPAs: I’ve tried many and they’re all what I’d call “fine”. Founders All Day IPA, Lagunitas DayTime, Wachusett Light IPA, yada yada. The true advantage to these beers is they’re not going to get you drunk unless you drink… well… lots of them. I think they’re perfectly suited for nights when you go to a tavern for dinner, you’re hanging out with friends, and you want to have a couple of beers without worrying about your ability to drive home safely. Or perhaps to consume on a work night when you know you need to be up early the next morning and you don’t want to feel like you drank the night before. These are all perfectly valid reasons to resort to these sessions and set your fears aside.
The thing I realized as I sipped my first Stone Go To IPA tonight is this: I need to stop comparing these beers to the real thing. Stone Go To IPA is never going to be Stone IPA, period. The hops are there, some grapefruitty taste and texture is there, and do I enjoy drinking it? Hell yes! But it’s simply unfair to this beer to compare it to its big brother (Stone IPA), its father (Stone Ruination), or any other beers in the Stone family. This is the same issue I encounter as a hophead when I drink other styles I enjoy like Browns, Stouts, etc. I enjoy these other styles but it would be unfair to compare them to my favorite hop bombs because they are the proverbial “apples & oranges”.
Stone Go To IPA weighs in at a healthy 4.5% ABV and 65 IBUS. It poured very bubbly (they practically screamed “FRESHNESS”) but those bubbles quickly dissipated as I sat here to type this review. The beer comes as advertised: dry, bitter, and *very* drinkable. My gut feeling is to call this my favorite of the session IPA’s I’ve tried, but I have to wonder if it’s my Stone bias creeping in. As CraftBeerSocial contributor Jim Storer suggested: the best way to review this category will be a blind taste test. I hope we can arrange this soon so that we can provide the results to our readers! In the meantime I would say that you if you’re looking for a sessionable IPA to stock your fridge, you can’t go wrong with Stone Go To IPA.