As I recently wrote in another beer review, the session IPA is “the new IPA.” Just as IPA is the standard-bearer for craft beer in general, session IPAs are quickly becoming the standard-bearer for the “session revolution” happening within the craft industry. It’s an easily understandable cycle—first you push things as extreme as they can go, and then you redevelop an appreciation for the little things. And in the case of session beer, the little things are an acknowledgement that sometimes it’s nice to be able to drink a few beers without ending up stumblebum.
I’m certainly not surprised Stone wanted to get in on that session IPA game. They’ve always been known for hop-forward beers such as Stone IPA, Ruination and Arrogant Bastard. They helped define the conception of “West Coast IPA.” What I am surprised by, is how good their new beer, Go-To IPA, truly is.
In short, it’s one of the most hop-forward 4.5% ABV ales you’re ever going to drink. Perhaps it’s because my bottles were super fresh, but the huge tropical aromas just explode out of the glass. It’s not just one-note either, with lots of grapefruit, passionfruit and tangerine. There’s no malt to be found. It’s like a big, mixed fruit salad.
In terms of taste it’s not quite as strongly flavored, but this is supposed to be a session beer. Bitterness is moderate, in good balance with the fruit flavors, which mostly come through as orange citrus and unsweetened grapefruit juice with a hint of some red berries. The grapefruit is pretty dominant, which led me to a strange realization—that I perceive this as more grapefruity than I did the Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA by Stone, which used actual grapefruit rind in its creation. No idea what to think about that one.
The impression one takes away from this beer is hops, and in terms of the volume of its hop character, it’s genuinely IPA-like. It serves as an encapsulation of several currently popular trends: Session IPA itself and hop-forward beers featuring tropical fruity hops such as Citra. It’s thoroughly beer of the moment, meant to be consumed fresh and in bulk. Enjoy it with an eye toward freshness dates.
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
City: Escondido, CA
Style: “Session IPA”
Availability: Year-round, 12 ounce bottles