REVIEW: Götterdämmerung IPA from Stone Brewing Co.

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Location: Escondido, CA
Style: West Coast IPA (with Pilsner Malts)
ABV: 9.5%
Appearance: Bright, Deep Gold
Aroma: Hoppy Grains/Grass, Grapefruit and Lemon
Flavor: Smooth Citrus, Slightly Bitter & Well Balanced
Availability: Limited
Pairs With: Rotisserie Chicken, Crab Cakes, Cajun Shrimp

Stone Brewing, out of Escondido, California, has long been an unapologetic purveyor of high-flavor beer. One of their mottos – “Fizzy Yellow Beer is for Wussies” – is pretty emblematic of their approach to beers. Over the years, they have begun releasing anniversary beers, once-a-year beers using flavor combinations, beer styles, or brewing methods that have not been found in Stone beers before.

This year’s 17th Anniversary beer, Götterdämmerung IPA, translates to an apocalyptic event, while the beer itself translates to a hoppy IPA. Not just any hops, though – all of the hops have ties to German brewing. Whether it is Sterling, a US-bred hop developed from the German Saaz hops; Herkules, a new breed of hops from Germany that imparts stone fruit characteristic; or Hersbrucker, a classic German hop with intense floral aroma, all the hops and malts are what is traditionally used to brew German lagers and European pilsners. By changing up ratios and the recipe, Stone has taken these traditional lager ingredients and fashioned a new twist on a West Coast Double IPA.

Appearance

The bottle has the usual Stone appearance – the gargoyle and artwork, the story on the back of the bottle. But once you pop the cap off and start pouring, you’ll notice this isn’t the typical Stone beer. Best served in a snifter glass or a shaker pint, the appearance is a nice, bright gold, a very deep color, while the head is frothy and white, leaving some lacing along the sides of the glass as you drink it. It is a clear gold, no murkiness or particulates.

Aroma

Gotterdammerung IPA

The aroma is not too punchy or overpowering, surprisingly. Usually Stone’s beers punch you in the face with hops aromas, but this is subdued. There are hints of grains, grass, grapefruit and lemon in the aroma, but it is all smoothly blended with no one note overpowering the others.

Flavor

The taste is also quite surprising. Labeled a West Coast Double IPA, and being one of Stone’s brews, you expect overpowering hops, with relatively poor balance. Götterdämmerung doesn’t do that though, as it has a very smooth, balanced flavor profile. Sweet, biscuit malts are very much present, reflecting the pilsner and lager background of the ingredients. There are hints of citrus fruits throughout a mouthful, especially lemons and grapefruits. It is slightly bitter towards the end but, again, not overpowering. They have balanced it well enough that the taste of alcohol – it does clock in at 9.5% alcohol by volume, after all – is almost completely buried, with only a hint of alcohol working its way through. They have also managed to balance it well enough that, even though it clocks in at 102 IBUs (International Bittering Units), it doesn’t taste like it, and it doesn’t produce the dried-out, soapy post-beer taste and feel in your mouth.

Tasting Notes

Götterdämmerung is medium-bodied, leaning towards the light end of the spectrum. It also has a medium amount of carbonation, just enough to liven it up, but not too fizzy. This makes for a crisp, refreshing beer that is well suited for the warmer weather, but is also welcome into the cooling fall temperatures. This is not a beer that will age well though, so you’ll want to crack it open and drink it in short order.

Located in Escondido, Stone Brewing Co. is often recognized by craft beer fans as one of the top breweries in the United States, as well as around the entire world. They are not as thoroughly decorated as some, with only a handful of GABF and World Beer Cup medals, but their sturdy, flavorful year-round brews, special releases, and Anniversary Ales keep customers coming back year-round. The attitude of founder Greg Koch is also some of the attraction – he is opinionated, a major voice in the craft beer scene who doesn’t just tout his brand, but pushes for the success of craft beer as a whole. He personifies the brash attitude behind the brand, one of big character and rebellion.

Stone Gotterdammerung IPA

Some of Stone’s Anniversary Ales have been revived at later times, for special releases. One, the Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, an American Black Ale introduced as Stone’s 11th Anniversary ale, has even become one of their year-round staples.

So it’s possible that we could see Götterdämmerung again in the future, or a version thereof. Even if we don’t, you can be assured that Stone will try and top this ale for next year’s 18th Anniversary beer, so you should start looking forward to that.

Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA

To learn more, watch as Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele explains Götterdämmerung IPA in the video below.

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