At 37 years old, I don’t bounce back from things the way I once did. This winter, I slipped on some ice and went down hard on my tailbone. It took close to one month for the muscle pain in my lower back to subside and for me to feel like (what passes for my feeling) human again. I can no longer eat spicy hot foods, so the sample of ghost pepper beef jerky I was sent weeks ago sits on my counter unopened. I sneezed really hard the other day and pinched a nerve in my neck. I really want to try this new Vietnamese place in North Syracuse but my fear/paranoia keeps my once iron-lined stomach away.
So, if I’m going to drink a beer that tips in north of 10 percent ABV, I need the assurance that I will like it. Consuming an entire 22 oz. bottle of it could be particularly crippling to my faulty body and I don’t want to find myself on the bad side of it. The bomber of Japanese Green Tea IPA sat in my refrigerator for about three weeks. I bought it because it’s Stone and I like their collaboration beers, but I hesitated because the flavor profile of beer and green tea put me off and taking that kind of chance with a high-octane entry was the type of risk that I teetered back and forth on.
I was pleasantly surprised when I finally opened the bottle. First, the green tea is there, but not really there. Hints of it appear on the palate while tasting, but what you get is a lot of tropical fruit and herbal notes, the latter of which do not scream “tea.” What I did taste were the flavors that complement green tea: orange, peach, and apricot.
Second, this is a smooth beer for something that weighs in at 10.1%. The alcohol is noticeable and doesn’t ever hide, but the malts add a little bit of sweetness that make it go down easily — the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down, if you will.
This is the second time that Stone has collaborated with Japan’s Baird Brewing and Ishii Brewing of Guam on the green tea ale. The first go-round was a fundraising beer for tsunami relief. This time, it’s about sweet, sweet capitalism. This beer deserves savoring and sipping like a wine or side to an entree. And, it’s worth chasing down before it goes away forever (or until the third version comes out in a few years).
Brewer: Stone Brewing Company/Baird Brewing Company/Ishii Brewing Company
Beer: Japanese Green Tea IPA
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 10.1% IBU: n/a
Container: 22 oz. bottle
Price: $5.99 Point of Purchase: Wegmans, Syracuse, N.Y.
To The Eye: Goldish-yellow and a little cloudy. I poured too hard so I got a thick head that eased into a nice lacing.
To The Nose: Typical IPA smells of fruit and herb with hints of tea.
To The Palate: Medium carbonation and body. Fruity flavors of peach, apricot and orange present with the latter being strongest. Malt sweetness balances off the alcoholic punch.
Aftertaste: Bitter with more tea flavor present.
Boozy Factor: Pretty hefty. You cannot rush through this beer.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 8.5