Theres no question about it, I love the beers that comes out from the Stone Brewery in Escondido California, and I love their passion and unique enthusiasm for amazing beer. Among their most unique is the Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, which also happens to be one of the coolest beers I’ve yet to come by. It is a black India Pale Ale.
Your typical IPA is golden yellow to amber in color, transparent to hazy and opaque, with crisp pale malts and a fresh bite of citrus, earthy or piney hops. This Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA is pitch black! Literally, it is completely black letting not an ounce of light through it. Somehow the maniacs at Stone have crafted an IPA that still exemplifies so many IPA characteristics in an astounding fashion, yet is dark as night and creamy as sin.
This is one of the many reasons why I adore this brewery. They refuse to limit themselves to what is seemingly the standard and open their minds to a new world of flavor, color, and aroma combinations.
It was originally brewed as their eleventh anniversary ale (see the original bottle below). By the time that the original batch had sold out, they had received such a strong sentiment from beer drinkers, and they missed enjoying the beer so much that they decided to add it to their regular beer lineup. Thanks guys!
It is brewed with a combination of pale and roasted malts, has been bitter hopped with Chinook hops, and flavor as well as dry hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo hops. On the back of the bottle the brewery claims that they know exactly how amazing that this beer is, and they don’t care what anyone else may think of it. They know that they are artists and have created a masterpiece, and hence have named it Sublimely Self-Righteous.
It is available in 650ml bottles, and is 8.7% abv measuring 90 IBUs (International Bitter Units) – so it does fit the bill for a strong IPA. I wasn’t sure what temperature to enjoy this beer at cause of its mixed heritage, so I decided to err on the IPA side of things. I brought it out slightly warmer than fridge temperature around 5 degrees Celsius (40F). It pours smooth and creamy like a stout raising a soft and dense one inch tan khaki head. The beer is deep black and fully opaque. Only when I hold it up to direct light does a slight bronze hue gleam through.
So far its more stout than IPA, but the nose is all pale ale here. Fresh American west coast hops pour out with grapefruit, pine needs, earth and pineapple. In the middle behind the hops are mild roasted malts and soft coffee aromas. It was odd to smell these two extremes together, but they seemed to work exceptionally well.
Getting into this beer was so awesome – first its glides over your palate with smooth creamy stout flavors. Roasted malts, light bitter chocolate, coffee, earth with a nice soft bittersweet character. But in a beat comes the crashing and quenching parade of hops. Piney fresh grapefruit, lemon peel, glass and spice begins to rush past your tongue making their mark on your cheeks and throat. Pale malts show light sweetness in the center, but are primarily dominated by smooth roasted malts and espresso.
The body is supremely smooth, elegant and refreshing. Stone really hit the nail on the head with this one. While it comes in smooth and luscious, it finishes crisp and clean completely refreshing your palate. This could be such an amazing beer with a huge range of foods! Spicy, grilled and roasted meats will do amazing. Rich chocolate deserts and fatty soft cheeses will be beautiful. But really, all I want to do is enjoy this beer on its own. I’m a little sad that Stone is so far away, and I constantly debate with my roommate over what beer if any beer I could choose to be regularly available in Toronto would be. Time and time again, I end of with this black magic work of art.