The bottle that you see below did a bit of traveling before it reached my brand new doorway. UPS – for whom I have a little nickname: “The Worst Service Business in the Known Universe” – mule-headedly kept trying to deliver it to an address at which I’m no longer present, and then Stone’s shipping department apparently had a glitch or two and kept sending it to the old address. FINALLY, after a journey rivaling a trip up and back to the International Space Station, Stone/Bale Breaker/4 Hands “Sorry Not Sorry” IPA landed at my door and, ultimately, onto my tongue.
Yeah, yeah, yeah: it’s yet another IPA and, in the same way that I always sneer at people who won’t drink anything but IPA, I’m now sneering (and snickering) at the growing legion of folks who seem to feel that, if they complain enough and heap enough lofty disdain upon the style, that the modern American school of India Pale Ale will just wither and blow away…leaving them with, what, an unimpeded path back to the glories of mass-produced adjunct Pilsners? I can’t even pretend to know but this little slow-rolling hissy-fit is all over the ‘net, these days, including one berserk rant I read yesterday, about this very same beer(!), from someone who confessed that he had never even tasted it!
Here’s the skinny on Sorry Not Sorry: it turns the almost David Blaine-scale trick of managing to taste like the very distinctive IPA styles of all three of its producers. Stylistically, it is almost eerily reminiscent of Bale Breaker’s “Topcutter”, possibly the most fresh-hop tasting ale that doesn’t actually contain wet hops being made by anybody, anywhere. To say that this ale is “vibrant” undersells it…and yet, it’s also ridiculously seamless and approachable, in the exact manner of 4 Hands’ iconic “Divided Sky”, complete with a touch of that ale’s rye spiciness and vivid floral/citrus character. And it’s frank and mouth-watering resins are dead-center in the same wheelhouse as Stone’s IPA, that West Coast virtual blueprint for building a modern, Out West basic IPA. BIG spruce/pine resins drip off every sip, buttressed by a stunning citrus stratum that asserts itself as it hits mid-palate. Behind that are notes of jasmine, ginger, honeysuckle, and melon, with Topcutter’s forthright herbals and pink grapefruit emerging on a forceful finish that resolves into a clean, crisp peach parfait flavor.
And there’s your payoff moment and the thing that makes this beer such an outright stunner: Peaches.
Sorry Not Sorry is brewed with a staunch infusion of what were obviously some very fresh, very ripe peaches, sourced, I suspect, from the agricultural bounty of the Yakima Valley, where Bale Breaker is located – smack in the middle of Loftus Farms, one of the nation’s foremost growers and developers of hops – and crafted into a perfect balance with the Bacchanalia of lupins that roil around it. This slightly tart peach character is the ideal foil for all the rampant resins, and it stands, from the git-go, as one of the most successful peach-infused beers of any type ever brewed in the US. I had a vivid fantasy, while sipping it, of taking a few bottles of it to St. Louis, walking into the office of one of the US marketing minions of Anheuser Busch’s Brazilian masters, and chuckling, “Up yours, Mr. ‘Brewed The Hard Way’!” For all those knuckle-draggers who routinely sneer at any beer that’s infused with fruit, here’s a challenge: suck on this baby for a few sips and then try to tell me that fruit in beer is a bad idea.
If complexity in beer is your thing, as it absolutely is mine, this ale is a Rubik’s Cube for your tongue; something which will hold its fascination and earthy appeal easily, upon repeated tastings. The hallmark virtue, though, is that, despite an intensity that scales right up there with Heady Topper and Tricerahops and Laurelwood “Workhorse”, Sorry Not Sorry is shockingly light upon the tongue; a virtual sigh of relief from the wince-inducing aggression of so many ordinary IPAs. In total, it also reminds me of the stunning pFriem Family Brewers IPA, with its upfront crispness and refreshment factor.
This is a magnificent beer and one that, I fervently hope, will NOT be one of those inspired one-offs with which Stone annually tantalizes us. This is an ale with real legs; a staying power and drinkability that would easily win devoted fans on a yearly basis. I guess we’ll know in 2016 but, for me, if I get another email telling me that Stone/Bale Breaker/4 Hands Sorry Not Sorry IPA is on its way again, I’ll sit at the local UPS depot until it arrives and take no chances. 98 Points
You don’t need to wait for UPS. It’s been distributed to Western Washington, I’ve seen it myself on store shelves in Seattle.
I’ve seen it in stores, too. In fact, I just bought six. I was talking about the possibility of a 2016 edition, not the current one.