San Diego Brewed is sponsored by Bottlecraft.
Bottlecraft is a retail shop and tasting room in Little Italy showcasing local, domestic and international craft beers. They offer hundreds of beers for your enjoyment in their onsite tasting room or to-go, as well as daily beer flights, events, glassware, merchandise, and gifts. Open Noon-10pm seven days a week. 2161 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101.
The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA is Stone Brewing Co.’s latest collaboration, and to me at least, it sort of flew under the radar until recently. I had heard about it a few months ago, then forgot all about it until a promotional sample from Stone showed up late last week.
Not knowing much about it until recently I had no idea that proceeds from sales will go to the Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund, a non-profit aiding families affected by Hurricane Irene. Hurricane Irene you might remember did massive destruction in Vermont (and other parts of the East Coast). The Alchemist brewery, which I wasn’t too familiar with until the hurricane is based in Vermont.
Looking over the ingredient list one thing stood out: “Super Galena hop extract for bittering.” Many craft brewers are experimenting with hop extract (and others have been using it for some time now, I believe Pliny the Elder uses some hop extract). I couldn’t remember hearing about Stone using hop extract before so I asked and Brewmaster Mitch Steele confirmed this was their first time. I’ll let Mitch explain:
The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA is indeed our first release using hop extract. We’ve experimented with extract before, but have never been compelled to use it on any sort of regular basis. John Kimmich from The Alchemist actually suggested it, since he uses it in some of his beers. The fact is, a lot of the best Double IPAs are brewed with hop extract, which allows for what some feel is a cleaner bitterness. The lack of hop leaf material means that you can get more wort out of the brewhouse too, since less trub is formed. It is a little difficult to work with and messy though, which is one reason we don’t use it more, but it was fun to experiment with it in this beer! I think it turned out great.”
Black IPAs aren’t my favorite style, but I’m starting to get used to them. No longer do I get startled by a deliciously hoppy smelling black beer. The same can’t be said about brown beers. Pouring The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA it looked like any other brown ale. But upon first whiff it was obvious this was no regular brown ale. Maybe it was the huge disconnect between what I expected based on the color and what my senses detected, but this was one of the best smelling beers I’ve come across. Huge piney hops. When people call a beer “dank” this is what they mean.
The taste is mostly hops as well, just like the smell lets on, huge piney hops, some citrusy orange/grapefruit hops. The hops really shine here, there isn’t a ton of malt, though a bit of roasted malt and maybe a hint of chocolate malt come through, the roast is far more subdued than many Black IPAs.
I’ll admit, I hope the “Brown IPA style” doesn’t catch on, but this one is another solid collaboration from Stone. I’ll certainly be picking up a few more bottles of this before it’s hoppy time runs out.