Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
When it comes to limited-run beer, no one does it quite like Stone Brewing Company. Almost every month, there’s some new creation or intriguing series available at my local beer store, though the company was built specifically on deliciously dank India Pale Ales – more recently, it’s been both Double and Triple IPAs. So, when I saw just two six-packs of these pounders left on the shelf, which I had never seen before, I had to try it – and, fresh out of my fridge, this week’s Thirsty Thursday beer is Fear.Movie.Lions Double IPA.
Started back in 1996 by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, Stone set up shop in Southern California with just three employees and pumped out just 400 barrels of beer in its first year. But it grew pretty quickly. Fast forward more than two decades and Stone is one of the leading manufacturers of craft suds, employing more than 1,200 workers and producing over 388,000 barrels of beer in 2017 – making it the eighth largest brewery in the United States. It even expanded to a brewery in Virginia’s capital city back in 2014, to keep up with high demand and focus on servicing the east coast. And that’s exactly where Fear.Movie.Lions came from, as indicated on the can’s shiny silver and white label.
The name indicates that this is kind of an odd beer, though Stone claims its an Unfiltered Double IPA that can really be categorized as more of an New England-Style IPA. Fans were clamoring for the brewery’s take on this specific style and Stone looked to give the people what they want – an incredibly hoppy and aromatic flavor, though balanced with increased alcohol. At 8.5 percent alcohol by volume Fear.Movie.Lions is potent, though with apparent hints of lime peel and tropical fruit from hops, it helps to ease the rating of 60 International Bitterness Units. Printed on the can is an explanation for this latest effort but I think you have to be drunk to figure out exactly what Stone is getting at here:
There’s a 3m x 3m square in our Richmond, VA brewery with these three words printed on it. What three words? Exactly! For the uninitiated, that’s What3Words. It’s a global addressing system to bring locations to the previously unlocatable. Inspired by the positive impact of this system, we decided to name this IPA after a 3-meter square in the brewery where it was created. Check it out. So now, when someone says to you “What three words?” You can reply with your own answer… if it’s Fear.Movie.Lions, we’ll see you here!
Coming fresh off the line at @StoneBrewingRVA: Stone ///Fear.Movie.Lions Double IPA, our take on the hazy East Coast IPA. Proudly born and brewed in Richmond, Virginia, but with a nod to our roots in San Diego. Available throughout the Eastern US and at Stone locations in California. Track it down near you with @find.stonebrewing.
Released back in early-June, Fear.Movie.Lions is only available in the aforementioned 16-ounce cans and Stone recommends that you drink this beer, made with Floral and Mosaic hops, by the date on the can – a concept the brewery is adamant about, because the hop flavor won’t last forever, so the sooner you drink it, the better the experience. I won’t lie, I was excited to crack this one open, especially since Stone has a good track record. For the last few years, I have loved the Enjoy By series and their West Coast-Style IPAs have almost always been worth my time, despite sometimes feeling inundated with selections.
And my excitement was well warranted – this beer kicks some serious ass.
From the moment I lifted the tab, I was instantly treated to the strong smell of orange, caramel and bread. The look to this pretty full-bodied beer is translucent orange, with a strong haze to it, that has some floaties and it’s even well carbonated, with an orange-white head that lingers with each passing sip. As for the taste, it really derives a lot from that potent orange look – with a mango and orange fruitiness that’s followed by a prominent pine flavor more on the back end. It finishes with an orange bitterness, leaving an overall well-balanced flavor. It’s bold, it’s fruity, it’s bitter – but it’s not New England.
That last sentiment is really the only fault with this beer, because it’s definitely not the style of IPA Stone claims it is – and that’s completely fine. This beer is right up my alley, sacrificing just a little bitterness for a more potent fruit flavor, that’s easily drinkable, even in the summer months. Plus, at $14 for a six pack, it’s really a reasonably priced beer given what you get. When it comes to scoring this beer, I see the BeerAdvocate overall score is 4.06 (out of 5) and, as per usual, I think that score is pretty spot-on for this effort. I give it a 9.1 (out of 10), with my only real issue being the miscatagorizing of it as a New England-Style IPA. Just a little more bitterness would have put this beer into one of my recent favorites, but it’s still one I intended to enjoy through the weekend and until I cannot get my hands on it anymore. Oh, the subsequent burps are quite tasty too.
Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.