Reviewed: Stone Exalted IPA
Product description: Stone Exalted IPA represents the elevated state of reverence that Stone extols for the venerable and almighty Hop. Loral & Citra hops have been anointed to bestow their divine qualities on this sacred brew. This limited release is part of Stone’s Hop Worship Seasonal IPA Series…Glory be to those who imbibe it in its freshest form…and faithfully worship thy Hop in the beauty of blissful bitterness. 7% ABV.
Stone Brewing – Stone Exalted IPA – 12 oz. can poured into speciality glassware – 7% abv.
Stone has been pushing Loral hops with their Ghost Hammer IPA, which I reviewed last year, and more recently with their new Double IPA, Loral & Dr. Rudi’s Inevitable Adventure. Loral is a new hop varietal that I’m just now getting familiar with that brings out some classic European noble hop characteristics that are glaringly absent in American IPAs. I’m curious to see how this new release utilizes them.
This review is from a couple of 12 oz cans picked up at Trader Joe’s with a clearly listed canned-on date of 2/8/2018 (and best before date 6/6/18). Into the glass, Exalted is crystal clear light amber to darker golden in color with a medium-sized, yellowish to off-white head of foam that lasts for several minutes. The aroma explodes out of the glass immediately with super potent hop oils. It smells nearly identical to when you open up a package of fresh pellet hops, rub them between your fingers, and then suck in the aroma with your hands cupped to your face. It’s incredible. And the aroma itself is a unique symphony with a big hit of gooseberry at the beginning followed by perfumey Bergamot orange (the main adjunct in Earl Grey tea) and sharp lime peel. This segues to lemon pound cake and overripe, sugary strawberry as it blends with sweeter malt aromas. It’s a nice change of pace from the tropical fruit-focused IPAs in style.
Taste-wise, the front of the palate is my favorite with a nice blend of bitter and sweet. You get some malt richness at the front with caramel and bread rolls matched with some powerful bitterness that takes over into the mid-palate and finish. That bitterness is on the aggressive side (8 out of 10 vs. sweetness at a 4/10) pushing the flavor and mouthfeel off-balance and nearly going overboard. The oily, rich body runs out of steam quickly leaving you with something sharper and dry that continues into the finish. Intense grapefruit and lime peel, perfume oils, and vibrant Earl Grey tea/Bergamot orange are dialed up to the max for the mid-palate and finale. It’s a little rough and overpowering at first. But sit back with this beer and it ends up being a lot of fun.
At its core, this is a medium-bodied, richly malty amber to golden ale that packs a ludicrous hop punch. Compared to the softer, sweeter, more tropical IPAs that are gaining popularity, Exalted shows there is still life left in the old-school IPA formula. Its spin on the formula with the noble hop like aroma and flavor is unique – there’s really nothing else out there that tastes like this. To me at least, Exalted is made with the beer geek in mind. It’s all about crazy hop aroma and wicked bitterness. Finesse and perfection in the base beer’s mouthfeel and finish are overlooked to give you just one wallop of hop power.
Even though I’m criticizing a few aspects, the more I drank it, the more I liked it. I drained the first glass so quickly that I had to crack open a second can to finish this review. That should tell you something right there.