Since the launch of Stone’s Enjoy By IPA, an imperial IPA marketed for consumption within 30-some days of each batch’s release, the brewery’s become synonymous with expiration dates. And for good reason: There’s a page on the brewery’s website where consumers are encouraged to report shops still selling Enjoy By after its expiration date, a date that’s printed in big, bold letters on the front of the bottle’s label. But for its upcoming ‘Enjoy’ release, the brewery’s switching things up, and telling you to make room in your cellar.
Stone’s soon launching Enjoy After Brett IPA, a specialty IPA that’s designed to develop in your cellar for at least a year. The beer was bottled with Brettanomyces yeast, which will evolve with funky, fruity flavors over time.
Like the Enjoy By beers, Enjoy After also comes with a conspicuous date: 10.31.15. But instead of a countdown, this particular date’s something of an oven timer: According to the back label, first posted by MyBeerBuzz, “For those of you who are impatient or like to experiment, the earliest we recommend sampling this beer is 10.31.14. The beer won’t be fully carbonated until that date. Ideally, you’ll want to cellar the beer up to—or beyond—the Enjoy After date to help it reach its full evolutionary potential.”
It’s not uncommon for breweries to suggest a best-after date on beers designed to evolve favorably with age. Deschutes The Abyss is one of the more notable examples, which includes a suggested date on the side of its label in small type. But, Deschutes doesn’t exactly suggest that fans avoid fresh bottles: “As for the great ‘drink it now or let it age’ debate, we stand clearly on the fence. Distinct and delicious on release, the flavors meld and fuse into an entirely different pleasure a year on,” reads the beer’s description on Deschutes’ website (we tasted a five-year vertical with founder Gary Fish in our current issue). Stone, continuing with its often-aggressive approach, is going all-in with the hands-off approach.
The release is being read two ways online. It’s either a fun participatory experiment in cellaring, or a clever scheme to free up space in the brewery’s warehouse—where those beers would otherwise mature until the brewery deems them ready—by asking fans to take on the burden of cellaring the beer at home. Perhaps it’s a little of both—plus, a way to encourage drinkers to scoop up multiple bottles so they can enjoy tracking the evolution over time (which I often recommend, too).
On BeerAdvocate, one user wrote a legitimate concern: “I don’t know if I want to buy a beer that you’re not supposed to touch for a year. What if it sucks?”
Meanwhile others are greeting the news with excitement: “See, that’s why I’m buying four. One to sit on for a month and try, one to sit on for 6 months, one for 9 months and the last one after a year,” posted another reader.
Enjoy After Brett IPA, the first in a new series of Enjoy After releases, will be an exciting gamble, and based on the Enjoy After date, I’m expecting to see it hit shelves in the next month. Stone’s been producing some of the most interesting IPAs recently—Enjoy By is one of my personal favorites—so if I were to bet on brewery’s cellarable wild IPA, this would be toward the top of the list. But, as the label states, buyer beware:
“Individual results will vary…and that’s both the beauty and the intent behind this beer.”