If you’re a high-level hophead, chances are you search for a bottling date before purchasing a sixer of IPA, imperial IPA, white IPA, black IPA, red IPA, Belgian IPA or whatever other kinds of IPA are popping up on shelves these days. Fair enough: Hop intensity (both aroma and flavor) dissipates over time, so the longer a beer sits on the shelves, the less impressed you’ll be with the hop profile. That window of time is a popular topic of debate (I’ve heard everything from three months to an absurd two weeks), but the folks at Stone have drawn a line in the sand: You will not enjoy the brewery’s new Enjoy By IPA if it’s older than 35 days—at least, not if they can help it.
This new release is a bold experiment. To maximize a consumer’s hop experience, Stone plans to roll out this beer in various markets at various times in various quantities with the express goal of making sure each batch is purchased within a 35 day period.
“When we bottle this and keg it, it will have a very specific date for each bottling and kegging displayed on the label. And that very day of the bottling and kegging, it goes on trucks to our wholesaler partners, specified batch-by-batch to a particular region of the country,” says Greg Koch in the video above. This first batch (9.21.12) went to Chicago, New Jersey and southern California.
I think this is a fantastic idea, especially for those who need reading glasses to make out the little bottling dates on bottles (if they’re even there). But, it looks like we’re all going to have to do a little legwork in order to score a batch. As Koch points out in the video, Stone will take into account “chatter” on social network platforms when deciding where to ship future batches. The more tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, etc., about the beer from a specific region, the greater chance they’ll ship the beer there.
“That chatter moves the needle and where the needle points, that’s where the next batch goes,” says Koch.
So what do you think? Will you hunt down this ultra-fresh IPA?