Stone's 18th Anniversary IPA pours a dark, but not opaque, ochre brown. The head is average. The smell is a really rich, really awesome caramel and coffee and smooth, lemony citrus. And the taste is just perfect. Really, really wonderful. This is might be the best balanced IPA Stone has released in years*. The rich, caramel malt and the slightly candied, tangy hop fight it out for dominance from front to back. There is some alcohol vapor and a little coffee again on the finish. The distinct, spacious El Dorado hops take up residence in your nose and on the back of the tongue, and just stay there for ages. Every sip is brighter and bigger than the last one.
2013 was a lackluster year for Stone. 2014 has been hit or miss. Matt's Burning Rosids was a bland saison that (I'm sure) was only released as a tribute to a beloved brewery employee. Go-To IPA and Sprocket Beer were disappointing, too. On the other hand, Unapologetic IPA and Collective Distortion were home-runs by any standard. Now, we also have a strong anniversary release. This one is much better than the 17th, and almost as good as the 16th. When Stone gets it right, nobody does it better.