WASHINGTON, DC, March 11, 2013 - So you’re at your local beer store, slowly progressing from aisle to aisle as you labor over your next selection of brew. The myriad offerings are capable of causing both excitement as well as slight cognitive confusion. Is this IPA better than the other? What does one imperial stout have that the other does not?
While it’s good to ask yourself such questions, the freshness of your prospective purchase should be one of the first factors that come into play. There’s a reason many breweries indicate the date of bottling on the package, or let you know when to “enjoy by.” Beer can go bad, and you’ll know a bad beer the minute it hits your palate.
In extreme cases, beer can become sour, but another level of freshness that tends to be overlooked is the freshness of hop. Hops are one of the primary components of beer, and as so many breweries push the boundaries with what can define such beers as India pale ale or highly-hopped beer, this oversight has taken a turn.
Enter Stone Brewing Company out of Escondido, California. They are perhaps best known nationwide for “Arrogant Bastard,” an American strong ale that is widely available throughout the United States. Their beer is great and they know how to reach their consumers with honest marketing.
Who else would dare insist that “you probably won’t like it” right on their packaging? Pick up a bottle of Arrogant Bastard and you’ll see what I mean.
One of the latest efforts by Stone is the “Enjoy By ” series of IPAs (imperial India pale ales). The brewery unveiled the line in September 2012, with “Enjoy By 9.21.2012” as an introduction. Since then, there have been four more releases of the series. The newest installment, Enjoy By 4.20.2013, is expected to be bottled for select markets this week.
Stone calls this special line of beers the “Enjoy By” series for a reason, as they really are meant to be consumed before the date in the name and not at a day later. As explained by Brewmaster Mitch Steele in a video on Stone’s website, the brewing of “Enjoy By” is not like that of other IPAs.
Hops in beer play two roles: bittering and flavoring. The ratio of this relationship vary from brewer to brewer, but what Steele and his team did was turn attention to flavoring instead of bittering in a brewing technique described as “hop bursting.” Little bittering hops are used, yet massive amounts of flavoring hops are added later on in the brewing process.
The result is a super fresh IPA that really shows the kind of profile of flavors that hops are capable of producing. However, this level of flavor disappears quickly. If consumers really want to experience the flavoring hops, then they must really enjoy it by the “enjoy by” date.
Education Through Purchase
Not only is Stone bringing fresh IPA to the tap and bottle, but they are showing that educating consumers about beer is just as important. I had the opportunity to give “Enjoy By 4.01.2013” a try a few weeks ago, and learning about what the brewers did to bring an IPA of this caliber through multiple markets made it even more enjoyable. Breweries from all over are connecting to their buyers in plenty of creative ways, and with Enjoy By IPA, Stone shows that it’s possible solidify this connection even more.
Learn more about “Enjoy By” on Stone’s page to see if the next installment will be available near you.
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