Any craft beer enthusiast has certain beers or breweries that changed the way they thought about and appreciated craft beer. Maybe it’s the beer that showed you there was a world of flavors outside of bland, mass-produced lagers. It can also be the beer that turned you on to a specific style. Stone Brewing Company of Escondido, CA was one of these breweries for me. Stone was the brewery that started my love for big and bold IPAs. I had tried IPAs before, but bold, hop-centric beers like Ruination led me to seek out every IPA I could get my hands on. Stone is well known as a brash, in-your-face brewer with big and aggressive flavors to complement their demonic imagery. This is why I was a little surprised to learn that Stone was releasing a sessionable IPA. Stone Go To IPA provides the big hop flavors of an IPA without the high alcohol content. It was released for the first time in March 2014, and is sold in 12 oz bottles and on draft.
Stone Go To IPA pours golden yellow with a solid and sustained white head. The smell is a huge burst of fruity hops, dominated by tropical and citrus fruit scents. The flavor is also dominated by the hops, with a full range of hop flavors. I get notes of grapefruit, guava, lemon, pine and freshly cut grass. There is a touch of malt in the backbone, but it is very mild. The mouthfeel is very light, but the beer is solidly bitter at 65 IBUs. At 4.5% ABV this qualifies as a session beer by most definitions, but there is no lack of flavor in Go To IPA. No surprise that a brewery like Stone can make a session beer that is still aggressively flavored and everything you love about IPAs. This will join my go-to list for summer BBQ’s. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.