The parade of hop-centric brews from Stone Brewery keeps on rolling, and Los Angeles craft beer fans will want to take special notice of the newest collaboration from the Escondido brewery.
Unapologetic IPA is a brassy double IPA created when Stone's Mitch Steele teamed with Jamil Zainasheff, owner/brewmaster of Northern California's Heretic Brewing, and L.A.'s own Julian Shrago, brewmaster of lauded Beachwood Brewing.
Not just an all-star team-up, Unapologetic IPA features some unique hop varieties that make the brew a must-try for IPA lovers.
Stone's Steele knows how to craft a noteworthy IPA, he literally wrote the book on India Pale Ales, and Unapologetic uses both new hop varieties and novel brewing techniques to achieve an intense hop aroma and flavor.
Traditionally, brewers use hops at three points during the brewing process. Early in the boiling stage hops are used to add bitterness to balance a brew's malty body. Hops added later during the boiling add some flavor as well as a bit of bitterness, while hops added at the end of the boil lend their pungent aroma only. Hops added after the beer has fermented, a process known as dry hopping, intensifies the hop aroma even further.
The brewers behind the new collaboration are all experts at layering different hop-derived aromas and flavors, and they achieve the depth of hop character in Unapologetic IPA by adding hops at two additional points in the brew.
The hops are undoubtedly the star of the show, and Unapologetic features a bouquet of new hop varieties -- some so new they don't even have names yet. Azacca is the most well-known of the four aroma hops used, and it lends a tropical and stone fruit character to the brew, while Belma brings the berries and wine-grape aromas. HBC 342 is a new cultivar responsible for the big melon flavor, and the Hopsteiner 06300 variety brings an earthy, woodiness to the hop party. In concert, the hops provide a complex and detailed profile that any hop-lover should enjoy, but the brew's bitterness is relatively restrained (especially compared with recent double IPAs from Stone and Beachwood Brewing). The finish is dry and the nearly 9% alcohol beer remains drinkable.