Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

April 12, 2011

Overall Grade:A

Technically this is an IPA, but the flavor profile is all its own. Using the strain of yeast typically used in Belgian beers, Cali-Belgique succeeds in blending great IPA and Belgian ale flavors.

My wife ordered this beer (yeah, she's a badass IPA drinker) before our tour at the Stone Brewing Company Gardens. Side note: if you love beer you should check out this place, it's amazing. I sampled it, and was blown away by how well the IPA flavor blended with the flavor imparted by the Belgian yeast. If you've had Duvel or a similar Dubbel-style, you know the taste: a little sour, a little sweet, and a little floral. The taste gets an A because the floral hops flavors of the IPA and Belgian-style blend perfectly, but you can still distinguish the hop bitterness of the IPA with the sour-sweet flavors of the Belgian.

Drinkability gets an A-, but this all depends on how much you want to drink! Cali-Belgique is a higher ABV (like all Stone beers save Levitation Ale) at 6.7%, so the flavors can seem heavy toward the end of a 12 oz. pour. That said, don't be a slave to the 12 oz. serving size, I think this beer would be great in an 8 oz. glass as an accompaniment to a nice meal.

Aroma and flavor are obviously related, but as our tour guide reminded us, you can't taste without smelling. The floral hops aroma is the most pronounced, and it is so good, but the hint of the Belgian yeast underneath the floral hops signals a unique beer drinking experience. Go pick some up at your local enlightened beer seller, and don't drink it ice cold! You'll miss out on some of the sweetness offered by the Belgian yeast, and you will mostly get the bitter hops flavor. Let it sit out for 10-15 minutes before you drink it, and don't ruin it by pouring it in a frosty cold glass, room temperature will be fine.

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