Stone Brewing Company’s anniversary is a de facto holiday on the San Diego craft beer calendar. The annual celebration marks the day when Greg Koch and Steve Wagner sold their first keg of Stone Pale Ale to Pizza Port in 1996, and they go over the top when it comes to celebration. The anniversary culminates with a giant festival featuring dozens of breweries at California State University San Marcos. Appropriately, Stone anniversary celebrations don’t start until they release their annual anniversary beer, which happened on Monday with the release of Stone 18th Anniversary IPA.
Stone’s anniversary beers always put an interesting spin on the India Pale Ale style. Previous anniversary beers featured ingredients like lemon verbena and German malt and hop blends that aren’t often found in the IPAs. For Stone 18th Anniversary IPA, Brewmaster Mitch Steele created a malt bill that gives the beer a darker color than a traditional IPA, and dry-hopped it with copious amounts of El Dorado hops.
While it’s not quite as dark as a black IPA, Stone 18th Anniversary IPA pours a rich golden-brown with an off-white head. The aroma features plenty of citrus notes from the hops, but there’s also a roasted malt aroma in the background. The flavor is much the same on the tongue with lemony citrus flavors riding atop a roasted malty sweetness.
The release of Stone 18th Anniversary IPA comes one week after the release of Stone’s newest seasonal beer, Stone Coffee Milk Stout. Originally a one-time offering at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station, the beer proved popular enough to add it to Stone’s newly-created slate of seasonal releases. While dark and rich with coffee and chocolate flavors, this stout is extremely drinkable, thanks to the addition of milk sugar and a sessionable 4.2% alcohol content.
If the release of these two beers weren’t enough news for the Escondido brewery to put out in one week, Stone also announced four new partners for the “Groundbreaking Collaborations” Indiegogo campaign. Stone will partner with The Bruery, Evil Twin, Avery, and AleMan for special 1.5-liter bottles of beer to be brewed at the forthcoming Berlin brewery. The new partners bring the list to 11 different brews, seven of which are already sold out. If you see one that sounds good, do yourself a favor and buy it now.