dsc01698So I’ve been a little lax on my frequency of beer reviews lately.

Part of it is the fact that I have a ton of my own homebrew on tap that I’ve been enjoying. I went through a real prolific period this last fall, and consequently have numerous cases laying around. The other factor is the mental paralysis that sets in every time I walk into my beer cellar and am confronted with the overwhelming number of commercial offerings I have at my disposal. It sounds counterintuitive, but I’ve slowly acquired so many great beers that I don’t know where to start sometimes. My wife has compared me to a Depression-era hoarder when it comes to my beer collection habits. Not sure what it is, but every time I hear about a new beer coming out, or happen upon one I haven’t tried before, my prefrontal cortex melts down and all reason escapes me. I just have to have it. Even if I don’t drink it for a couple years, I at least feel better knowing it’s in my rotation.    

When Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous hit the market a while ago, I knew it was going to be one of those magical beers for me. We unfortunately aren’t privy to Stone in the Twin Cities (yet), so most of their stuff I’ve had has been thanks to a handful of my beer trading buddies on the coasts. However, our cheese loving neighbor to the east does get Stone, so on occasion I’ve taken a trip to Hudson to stock up on whatever I can find.

Sublimely Self-Righteous is actually a reincarnation of Stone’s 11th Anniversary Ale. They apparently liked this American strong ale so much when they initially brewed it, they decided to bring it back year-round. And I’m glad they did. It’s an elegant, yet surprisingly contradictory beer, all in one.   

Pours with a very deep mahogany body and two finger khaki head. From first glance, one might assume aromas of rich caramel, possibly some chocolate. But Sublimely Self-Righteous hits you with a wallop of pure hoppiness, akin to a DIPA like Pliny the Elder. Huge floral notes, citrus and strong pine, possibly from Simcoe hops, with none of the anticipated roasted malt. I guarantee most folks, if blind-folded and asked to place the beer on smell alone, would never think they were drinking an ale that presented itself like this. A very interesting dichotomy.

Taste is even more perplexing. Again, the hoppy bitterness inundates the senses to the point where you start wondering if they simply added dark food coloring to a simple IPA brewed on straight 2-row. Decent carbonation and mouthfeel, yet really none of the maltiness. The 8.75% ABV does get in the way a bit, mixing with the hops to lend a somewhat astringent character in the finish. 

As a homebrewer, I’m very impressed (and honestly a little curious) at how Stone pulled this one off. I enjoyed it, but could have been better if the hops were balanced with some sweetness. Then again, I might just be suffering from unmet expectations based on the initial appearance.      

Rating: B+