I hate Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I’m bitter about numerous strings of disastrous relationships, or any form of loneliness. I am a professional writer, which means alcohol, solitude and aversions to social interaction are part and parcel with the life.
No, I hate Valentine ’s Day because it is obnoxious. As everything around turns to pink and red hearts and sentimental reminders that society expects you to embrace concepts of romance only once a year and to do it by buying things, it serves as a stark reminder that no aspect of human life is too precious or sacred to not commercialize it to hell and back. I mean, let’s be honest, the “holiday” was created by Hallmark to move greeting cards.
So it’s annoying, it’s fake and it’s a sad commentary on how we as people process our emotional connections. I’d call that a bullshit hat trick. But at least to one extent or another, there is beer to be enjoyed as a result.
This beer however is an odd one. Here we have a Chocolate & Coffee IPA. This combination is one I’m not altogether certain how to process or consider, so I’ll take baby steps in doing so. To start off with, though it pours like a normal IPA, it is upon looking at it now on my desk that I realize there is an unusual amount of free floating solid particles in this beer. It could be yeast, or…something else, but in either case I am not entirely sure if this is supposed to look this way or not.
Either way though let’s continue onward.
Moving onto the nose, the two more immediately obvious elements to this sip are of course, the hops and the coffee. Coming to you in that order, the scent of chocolate is difficult if rather impossible to draw out from between these two bolder scents. Then as always, we move on to the sip.
Here is where I find myself most surprised. In the past, Stone’s attempts to jazz up their bitter, hop forward ales with additives or barrel aging that did not fall into the citrusy camps have fallen largely flat. Here, though chocolate and coffee combined with the taste of hops does sound (at least to me initially) to be an odd combination, in this case, it rather works. The opening notes are of course, primarily hoppy with a nice grassy bitterness rolling over the palate.
Following this, the coffee steps up in a serious way, lending its own more intense and direct bitterness to complement the hops nicely. The end piece to this flavor experience is then the chocolate, which comes up on the palate in the finish with a semi-sweet/bitter-sweet pang before the whole matter rolls away. Not tasting any of the free floating particles I described before, I suppose we can assume it to simply be yeast, as is normally the case. At 9.4% ABV, I do suppose such would make sense and furthermore, I suppose a six-pack of these might make Valentine’s Day just a bit more bearable.
So to Stone Brewing, to fake holidays crafted for commercial purposes, and of course to you, I say as always…
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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