Tasting Notes: Stone Mocha IPA from Stone Brewing Co.

stonemochaipaThis week’s Tasting Notes seeks a new twist on the IPA style by taking a look at Stone Mocha IPA from Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California).

Stone Mocha IPA is a new seasonal that Stone Brewing Co. added to their lineup of packaged offerings this year.  Inspired by Aleman / Two Brothers / Stone DayMan Coffee IPA and Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise Golden Stout, Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station Brewing Manager Kris Ketcham first created this beer back in 2015 and it was an instant hit with the brewery’s fans.  It was soon decided that it needed to be shared with craft beer enthusiasts across the country, and Stone Mocha IPA’s cocoa, coffee and hoppy goodness was officially released into distribution on draft and in 12 oz. bottles beginning in June.  This alluring and unique brew can still be found on shelves at some craft beer-friendly retailers within Stone Brewing’s distribution area, but be sure to act quickly because its “Enjoy By” date is fast approaching.  I’m going to go ahead and take my own advice here and get into this brew for some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Stone Mocha IPA from Stone Brewing Co.

Appearance: Stone Mocha IPA pours a honey-like, copper in color with deep orange hues residing throughout.  The oranges gain intensity when presented with direct light and the copper gains luster.  The body is clear with a moderate carbonation stirring within.  The pour produced a finger of light tan foam that has some pretty decent retention to it.  Over time, it does gracefully fall to a thin but complete frothy top cap that leaves some chunky lace on the glass.  This brew does come across darker than typical Double IPAs, but that should be expected with the added coffee and cocoa.  That said, it certainly presents itself in wonderful fashion.

Aroma: Coffee is the first note to hit the nose, but it is not exactly the heavily roasted and robust variety you may find in some coffee Stouts and Porters.  No . . . this is a coffee character reminiscent of more exotic beans that produce floral and fruity tones.  Shifting gears, a dark cocoa note coaxes the malts out to actually make an appearance at this DIPA party by contributing a floral honey sweetness.  The hops then go to work to finish off the aromatic profile with citrusy tones of orange and tangerine.

Taste:  Wow . . . it shouldn’t be a surprise, but complexity certainly abounds here.  Each flavor experience pings the palate in a quick, staccato manner to keep your mind and taste buds both guessing and completely entertained.  Cocoa strikes first with a dark chocolate note that easily complements any bitterness from the approaching hops.  The mocha quality of the coffee joins in next and has both bitterness and sweetness.  This double duty allows the coffee to apply contrasting and complementary aspects to both the cocoa and hops.  Speaking of hops, they wrap things up with a vast array of citrus fruitiness that somehow plays nicely with the coffee.  Although each and every flavor in this beer is zealous and forward, they all seem to come together effortlessly.  In perceived chaos we find harmony.

Mouthfeel: This brew is medium in body with a medium level of carbonation that allows the beer to have a creamy and delightfully soft texture.  The ABV of this Double IPA does flex some muscle at 9%, but the level of warmth is comely and comforting.  The beer brings both bitterness and sweetness to the palate, but neither is too heavy or lasting.  The aftertaste is just a wisp of citrus hops and coffee.

Final Thoughts: Coffee IPAs are becoming more and more en vogue these days, and I personally welcome this trend.  Although the idea of these flavors mingling together may sound strange or even off-putting to some, beer lovers should recognize that this combination works beautifully in both theory and practice.  Coffee, chocolate and hops function well together because they all can share one common trait: bitterness.  This attribute brings them together but the richness of the cocoa, the comforting familiarity of the coffee, and the bright citrus hoppiness are all allowed to shine individually.  Stone Mocha IPA not only displays all of this with grace and ease, but it also captivates its drinker with each sip by providing an incredibly fresh and dynamic experience.  Simply fantastic.  Prost!

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