Stone IPA

Review Date 7/17/2014  Last Updated 7/10/2020   By John Staradumsky

You wanna talk San Diego IPAs? OK, we’ll talk San Diego IPAs. Some of you out there, of course,are calling them “West Coast IPA” these days, but that’s not a term I can accept. IPAs have been brewed in the American style since the eighties, with more malt, alcohol and especially hops than their English counterparts. Back in the 90s, these more robust IPAs were often called West Coast IPA by beer geeks, while East Coast IPAs by brewers such as Brooklyn and Harpoon were closer to their English counterparts (though still hoppier and maltier).

Suddenly, the tables have shifted, and West Coast IPA now means an even hoppier brew (generally with the newer hop varieties like Mosaic) with a lighter malt character, while East Coast IPAs are now the old West Coast IPAs. Confusing? It is, and I reject it in favor of the term San Diego IPA for the newer variety. After all, that is where they originated.

The original San Diego IPA, of course, is Stone IPA. This was released way back in 1997, long before upstarts like Ballast Point Big Eye IPA and Green Flash West Coast IPA, both also from San Diego. Stone IPA, however, is not brewed with the newer hop varieties like those beers, but instead features Chinooks, Columbus and Centennials.

Stone says of their IPA on their website:

By definition, an India Pale Ale is hoppier and higher in alcohol than its little brother, pale ale-and we deliver in spades. Now one of the most well respected and best-selling IPAs in the country, this golden beauty explodes with citrusy flavor and hop aromas, all perfectly balanced by a subtle malt character. This crisp, extra hoppy brew is hugely refreshing on a hot day, but will always deliver no matter when you choose to drink it.

Stone IPA has an alcohol content of 6.9% by volume and 77 IBUs. It’s a great value, too, as I can get a bomber for about $6, and I’ve enjoyed draft mugs at Taco Mac for the same price. Recently, I got a 4-pack of assorted Stone beers (incuding Stone IPA) for just $15 at Costco. That’s just $3.75 a bottle! Stone recommends drinking within 90 days for freshest hop aroma and flavor.

Stone IPA pours to a bright orange color with a medium head of foam and a mostly resiny, slightly citrusy nose. Taking a sip, the beer is a bit thinner on the malt than most American IPAs but it’s still there with some chewy caramel if less than in most. And that sets the stage for “San Diego” IPA with more hops and less malt, long before Mosaic hops and their tropical fruit were all the rage. Stone IPA really accents the hops in all their citrusy, resiny pine glory from start to finish.

That finish is herbal and green grassy, resiny and bitter in a long dry way. It lingers on the tongue long after sipping. Can I say enough about Stone IPA? I can’t. If you love hops, then you will love it for sure. Why not pick up a bottle and get a taste of the first step towards today's popular IPAs? You’ll be glad you did.

Update 7/10/2020: I picked up a single of Stone IPA at Publix the other day. The beer is as wonderful as ever, resiny, citrusy, piney, a lot like a hop farm blew up in my mouth. it is permeated with hop aroma from the dry hopping.  All this hop goodness is layered over a solid malt base. These days, you can buy Stone IPA at Total Wine in Georgia for $9.99 a six-pack or $16.99 for a 12-pack. The website lists the following hop varieties:

FEATURED HOPS Magnum, Chinook, Centennial, Azacca, Calypso, Motueka, Ella & Vic Secret

From the label on the back of my bottle:

This is the IPA that initiated Stone Brewing's reputation for hops and exposed a budding world of craft beer enthusiasts to our bold style as an emerging brewery. Lone before IPAs were craft brewing's most prominent beer style, this beer was in our lineup, not because of public demand but because we simply loved it so much. Distinguished by bright hop fruitiness, piney vibrancy and pronounced, tantalizing bitterness, Stone IPA has stood tall as the epitome of the West Coast style IPA since 1997. Take a moment to savor and fully appreciate the complex tropical aromas and flavors achieved by enhancing our standard-bearer with an awesome new dry-hop blend. Otherwise our classic Stone IPA recipe remains intact. After all, this is the hop-forward IPA that's inspired countless others, including our own lineup of IPAs, double IPAs, and triple IPAs that have collectively earned Stone a reputation as one of the most passionate and artful hop-driven breweries on the planet.

I'm glad I picked up a single of Stone IPA at Publix the other day. One thing is for sure, too. It'll be a six-pack next time.


And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.