For this edition of Tasting Notes, we step away from the realities of the world and ride the skies with Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing (Escondido, California).
Inspired by ” a side trip . . . a few of [Stone Brewing’s] brewers took . . . to the famous Tianshan Tea City market” in Shanghai, China, Stone Soaring Dragon is an Imperial India Pale Ale brewed with a blend of Citra and Loral hops and Peony White Tea. Coming in at 8% ABV and 38 IBUs, Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA boasts “a delicate complexity within an intense double IPA punch.”
Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA is available now and will hang around through the end of July 2020. You can expect to find this Special Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s nationwide distribution network.
With all the background information now out of the way, let’s get into these Tasting Notes and see where Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA takes us!
Tasting Notes for Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing
Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz. can into a small, branded goblet, this IPA is a bright golden yellow in color and capped a perfect finger of frothy white foam. When held to direct light, the color remains the same golden yellow, but it does glow with some added vibrancy. The beer is clear and displays an abundance of tiny, highly active carbonation bubbles bouncing about within. Head retention is fantastic, falling gracefully to a lasting half finger that leaves chunky lace formations on the glass after each sip.
Aroma: A flourish of floral aromas quickly fill the air as notes of herbal tea and freshly cut grass rush to catch up. Peach and apricot then surface with just a touch citrus-laced cedar tagging along. Lightly sweet malt notes, accompanied by a bit of lychee and a twist of lemon, pull up late to close things out.
Taste: The herbaceousness of the added tea pops beautifully before it is smoothed out with a dollop of sweet honey. Blueberry, apricot and papaya (along with its peppery seeds) add a touch of fruity sweetness while a bit of cedar and pine balances with some tempered hoppiness. A soft whisper of grapefruit keeps the hop character alive and carries it through the finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium level of carbonation, this beer is slick on the palate, but it dries out immediately after it has allowed the taste buds to adequately experience the full power of its flavorful complexity. Gently bitter on the palate, the mix of floral, herbal and sweet tones get equal attention and come together to make this an wonderfully balanced IPA. The 8% ABV is composed and reserved, but it does offer just the slightest bit of warmth to set in the throat at times. The aftertaste is a soft, lingering note of herbal tea with a squeeze of grapefruit.
Final Thoughts: Warning – the following statement is incredibly corny but that does not make it any less true: Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA not only meets the expectations one has when they get into an IPA from Stone Brewing, but it also soars well beyond them (we know . . . forgive us). Every little nuance of this beer was incredibly well thought out, accounted for and then placed just so that they would all complement and elevate the others. The added white tea is present but dialed in perfectly so that it can accentuate and meld effortlessly with the Loral and Citra hops. The malts take it a step further by added a honey-like note that feels at home with both the tea and the fruity character produced by the hops. All in all, this beer is simply gorgeous and easily one Stone Brewing’s most dynamic and balanced IPAs to date. If you have not already, make sure you get your hands on some Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA before its limited run comes to end later this month. Prost!