Reviewed: Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA
Product description: We’ve often been inspired to brew beers on a theme. In 2007 it was black IPAs. 2008 saw Belgian-influenced IPAs, and more than once it’s been Triple IPAs. It’s been fun to dive deep, and you’ve ridden those waves right along with us. But like you, we also crave new breaks to surf. Right now, it’s tropically-inspired IPAs as represented both by this flavored ale, Stone Tangerine Express IPA and others we’ve got waiting in the wings….With Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA we employ a bit of tropical mythology to pay homage to our ever present gargoyle. Since 1996 he’s had our backs, and yours, by representing an aggressive intolerance for commoditized beer. He constantly inspires us to forge ahead with resolve–even with the omnipresent forces of forceful evil. Vengeful spirits can be awesome when they’re on your side.
Stone Brewing – Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA – 12 oz. can poured into specialty glassware – 7.3% abv.
Vengeful Spirit is an all-new recipe from Stone debuting this year as a seasonal canned release. I’m trying this about three weeks post canning according to the clearly marked date on the bottom. I love the bright orange and purple can design, which really stands out on the shelf.
This is beer is turbid, bright orange in color with nicely persisting white foam. Canned peaches and syrupy canned pear dominate the nose immediately. Warming up, I can get more of the Mandarin orange addition but never any pineapple. Regardless, it is a powerful fruit cocktail aroma.
The flavor begins rougher and sharp with mango skins and vodka-soaked cantaloupe. It’s juicy and pulpy but also much more bitter than I expected. There is a heavy fruit skin tannic quality throughout the mid-palate and finish that accentuates the kettle hop-derived bitterness. Online this is listed at 57 IBUs, but it feels more like 80 or higher to me. Though I’m prepared for it, the tannic plus bitter combo never goes astringent. Moderate sugar from the mango, peach, and pear flavors keep everything balanced. Specific Mandarin orange and pineapple flavors continue to elude me, but I kind of like that as it proves these are well-integrated and never artificial tasting or forced. The ABV, even at 7.3%, is unnoticed in the finish. Add everything together, the fruit skins, hop oils, and bready malt base; it’s the complete beer experience.
The more time I spend with this beer, the more I like it. The vast majority of beers in this segment are just regular tasting IPAs with touches of fruit. This is a perfect 50/50 mix of fruit beer and hop bomb. My favorite aspect is how assertive the bitterness is while still being incredibly drinkable. Vengeful Spirit really nails the fruit IPA style.
The can describes Stone’s foray into different IPA fads: Black IPAs, Belgian IPAs, Triple IPAs, and now Tropical IPAs. Let’s keep it right here for a while.