Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA Review

Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA

This week Stone Brewing Co. shipped the third batch of its Enjoy By IPA to 10 states, and beer nerds everywhere—well, beer nerds in or around those 10 states—scrambled to grab a few bottles before it disappears. (I picked up six bottles on Tuesday, November 20, the day it hit Boston. I drank three bottles over the past few days, and I have three more in my refrigerator.)

The idea behind Stone’s Enjoy By IPA—all three batches were made with the same recipe—is to use extremely fresh ingredients and then get the beer into customers’ hands as soon as possible after it’s bottled, to demonstrate just how important freshness can be to beer. The date in the name, in this case 12.21.12, is the date by which the beer is supposed to be at its best.

So does Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 double IPA live up to all of the hype? Yes…with a few caveats.

Stone puts a lot of love and care into every single beer it brews, and Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA is no exception. What sets this big ol’ double IPA apart is that Stone supposedly brewed it “specifically NOT to last.” I’m not really sure what that means, and Stone hasn’t said.  I’m guessing it just means it’s not pasteurized and doesn’t have any preservatives, but that’s not exactly rare; IPAs and hoppy beers are generally better when they’re fresh, and the best don’t have preservatives. Stone’s definitely not the only brewer to stress this fact, either. Russian River Brewing Co., maker of Pliny the Elder, one of my favorite IPAs, prints instructions to consume the beer as soon as possible on every bottle. And the majority of craft beer today has bottling dates, though it’s usually printed in barely-noticeable, small text and not mentioned in the name of the beer.

Anyway, on to my Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 review.

Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA is available in 22-ounce bottles and on draft. I vigorously poured my bottle into a tall Stone Arrogant Bastard glass, and it formed a thick ivory-colored head of fine bubbles. The ale itself is golden with amber hues.

Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By IPA Logo

One of my favorite things about this beer is its smell. It stinks, in a good way. The aroma is truly amazing. It smells of sticky, pungent hops and mild alcohol. I enjoyed smelling this beer as much as I did drinking it.

The beer is extremely crisp and clean at first, as you might expect from such a fresh brew. The initial taste is malty and refreshing, followed by a serious hop smack in the face. It has a notable “dank” marijuana-like taste. This is one seriously hoppy and bitter brew. It’s also surprisingly drinkable for a 9.4%ABV double IPA. You only get a slight warming alcohol flavor.

The intense hop flavor is a result of some ridiculous hopping during the brewing process. Stone literally used 11 different types of hops: Calypso; Super Galena (extract); Simcoe, Delta, Target, Amarillo, Motueka, Citra, Cascade; Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy. I can’t think of another IPA with so much hop variety. And it shows.

My bottles cost $10 each, which isn’t cheap, but I don’t feel burned.

I was genuinely impressed by Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA…but something rubs me the wrong way about the whole presentation. It feels like a marketing gimmick, and I don’t like feeling as though I’m being sold something other than a really fresh beer. The craft beer world is full of weird gimmicks right now, and I understand why. The market is extremely competitive, and brewers will do just about anything to differentiate themselves from competitors. But I guess I kind of expect more from Stone.

Again, this Enjoy By IPA is a great beer, so I’m not trying to knock Stone. At the same time, I bet it will taste just fine in a couple of months—maybe not as good as it does today, but it’s not as if the brew will spoil or something. Stone doesn’t need to convince me to drink its beers with marketing gimmick. It has already earned my respect through quality brewing.

Stone’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA gets a 9 out of 10 on the Urban Beer Nerd Scale. (It currently has a BeerAdvocate.com score of 94/100 based on 111 users reviews.)

Check out the above video or visit Stone’s website for more details. (And read my recent list of noteworthy IPAs all hop lovers should drink at least once for more recommendations on awesome hoppy brews.)

UBN

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13 thoughts on “Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA Review

  1. […] shitty-plastic stand, we dug up our box of ornaments and started decorating. I cracked a bottle of Stone Brewing Co.’s Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA and quickly realized that I don’t have any craft-beer-related Christmas tree ornaments. […]

  2. DARKSTRONG says:

    THE reason IPA’s need to be drank within a month or 2 of the brew date is simply because over time the character of the hops will greatly diminish. To truly enjoy an IPA you need to drink the beer and not try and age it. Belive me I tried it once to my regret. If you want to age a beer, try an imperial stout, barleywine or Strong Ale of at least 9% ABV.

    • Hi Darkstrong,

      I’m well aware of the reason why IPAs taste better fresh. Anyone who knows anything about aging beers knows that IPAs generally aren’t well suited for aging. (There are some exceptions though, including Dogfish’s 120 Minute IPA.) I’m just saying that Stone has turned the idea of freshness into a marketing gimmick.

      UBN

  3. […] Learn more about Stone’s 12.12.12 Vertical Epic beer on the company’s website. (And read my review of its much-lauded Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA here.) […]

  4. Brian says:

    You do realize this beer is referencing the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar, right? While it is a marketing ploy, it is a damn good one too.

    Great beer review regardless. I also love the beer!
    http://blog.stonebrew.com/index.php/enjoy-by-12-21-12-ipa-here-end-of-days-near/

    • Thanks. And, yes, I get the reference to the Mayan calendar. Just another marketing angle for Stone. The 12.21.12 Enjoy By is the third in the series though, and the dates of the first two were not references to the Mayan calendar, I don’t think.

      UBN

  5. […] The craft beer scene is packed with stupid marketing gimmicks right now, ranging from beers that MUST BE CONSUMED with a month of their bottling dates, to brews made with paper from classic novels and even the ingredients in Elvis Presley’s […]

  6. […] Stone Brewing Co., maker of the much-lauded—and hyped up—Enjoy By IPAs today announced the 10 markets in which its next Enjoy By IPA, 2.15.13, could be released. I say “could be” because the company’s blog post isn’t exactly clear on the subject. It states that the following markets are “in contention for Stone Enjoy By IPA 2.15.13.” But it also states that Texas, Massachusetts and Missouri showed the most social media engagement while the last version of the IPA, Enjoy By IPA 12.21.12, was still on shelves, so it’s unclear if these states will get the next batch of Enjoy By IPA or not. (Read my review of Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA here.) […]

  7. […] a big fan of Stone, but I’m not pleased. If they didn’t make such damn good beer (read my review of Enjoy By 12.21.12 here) I might be inclined to boycott them…or at least talk shit on this blog and on social […]

  8. […] Yesterday, brew news site BeerPulse.com posted what it claims are the markets for the next version of Stone Brewing Co.’s Enjoy By IPA. I’m a bit hesitant to post this information here, because it hasn’t been confirmed by Stone—in fact, Stone hasn’t even announced the next Enjoy By IPA at all. And there’s was also a bit of confusion on my blog regarding the last version, Enjoy By IPA 02.15.13. But BeerPulse.com is generally reliable, so I’m listing the following alleged markets for Enjoy By 04.01.13 with the caveat that they are not official at this point. (Note: I love Enjoy By IPA. Read this to find out why.) […]

  9. johno says:

    It’s not just a marketing gimmick it is a brilliant idea. The problem is that when you go to buy an ipa off the shelf you don’t know if you are going to get a fresh or stale one. I stopped buying bottled ipa’s for that reason. (Except for Hop Stoopid). Stone guarantees you a fresh bottle and I will happily pay more for that. Now I just need to find one. The other breweries need to jump on board.

    • I did not say the Enjoy By campaign is JUST a marketing stunt. Enjoy By is a great IPA, for sure. But it definitely is partly a marketing stunt. Lots of brewers put the bottling date on their IPAs. Stone is hardly the first brewer to do so, though it did bring the bottling date into the spotlight and go to impressive lengths to make sure buyers know that they’ll get the best taste before the Enjoy By date.

      UBN

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