Stone Citracado IPA

Someone just had a birthday and that someone is Stone Brewing! The brewery which just turned 20 years old is now one of the largest craft breweries in the US and recently expanded with new production breweries in Virginia and Germany. As it does with every anniversary, to commemorate the momentous occasion the brewery created Citracado IPA, a double IPA whose name has a triple meaning: for its additions of the citrusy and tropical Citra hops and avocado flower honey, as an homage to the citrus and avocado agricultural history of the region and for the flagship San Diego’s brewery’s address on Citracado Parkway. This 9% ABV 80 IBU anniversary beer falls on the sweeter side of IPAs, compliments of the honey it’s brewed with, but is still loaded with hops which in addition to Citra include Nugget, El Dorado and Centennial. Enjoy this one, but get ready for more anniversary beers planned for release, as Stone is re-brewing some of its milestone Stone Anniversary Ales: Stone 5th Anniversary IPA, Stone 10th Anniversary IPA and Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, which with the Citracado will be available in the Stone Anniversary IPA Collection four-pack, which will start arriving on store shelves in select markets nationwide beginning the week of September 12. Here’s cheers to another 20 years!

Unibroue Éphémère Blueberry

For several years now the Belgian-style Canadian brewery Unibroue has been dabbling with infusing fruit into its Éphémère line, with previous versions using apple, cranberry, pear, raspberry and currants. Now its latest fruit addition is blueberry, which happens to be a very difficult fruit to brew with due to the fruit’s subtle flavor. The Éphémère Blueberry is a limited release, of which Brewmaster Jerry Vietz said, “The beer wort used for Éphémère Blueberry is made from home-grown blueberries and it is a Belgian-style white ale brewed with fruit, with mid-sized bubbles and bold effervescence. It has a balanced bouquet of berries and citrus, with a dominant blueberry flavour and a subtly spicy finish that’s delightfully refreshing.” I agree with the balance and am happy that it is not sweet but retains the true flavor of blueberry. It’s also a very pretty beer, pouring a luscious red with hints of purple, and is further adorned with a creamy, pinkish foam. For some interesting twists, the brewery suggests it can be used as the base ingredient for a sangria, can replace milk in pancake batter and is a great choice to accompany pork medallions in port sauce or a dessert such as cheesecake or profiteroles.

Éphémère Blueberry is available for a limited time throughout Canada and the United States and is packaged in 750 ml cork and cage bottles and in draft format.

Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion No. 002

It’s no secret that the beer world has exploded with appreciation of the IPA style, which has led to brewers trying out new hops to bring forth unique flavor experiences. Described by the brewery as “an ever-evolving mix of experimental hops, designed to deliver mind-blowing flavors that break the rules with each new release,” Firestone Walker’s Luponic Distortion is a series of limited release beers, each with a unique hop twist, that hang around for about 90 days until a new version is launched.

Luponic Distortion No. 002 is the second creation of the series and was released in July, so you still have a window of time to snag it, which I suggest you do if you care about and adore hops. The twist in this version is the use of a new experimental hop from the Pacific Northwest that boasts peachy and tropical/papaya notes, along with two new German hops and two New Zealand hops which bring aromas of gooseberry, melon, lemongrass and tropical flowers. The overall impression leans toward tropical and ripe stone fruits with an underlying spice, and the light malt base of pale and wheat malts let the hops shine for a clean, dry finish. Speaking of the hops in this beer, Brewmaster Matt Brynildson said, “The southern hemisphere hops add these bright Sauvignon Blanc-like accents of grapefruit and gooseberry, and there’s this new variety out of Europe that ties everything together with honeydew aromas and an underlying herbal pine quality.” Brynildson also says this beer is something he’s always wanted: one that is very hoppy with no restraints.

If you’re a procrastinator and miss this version, don’t despair; No. 003 is up next and will feature a new German variety hop that Brynildson first encountered in its experimental infancy while traveling through the Hallertau region during the hop harvest three years ago, which he reports is loaded with juicy mandarin orange character and ripe peach character with ample supporting notes of citrus, stone fruit and pineapple.