Seventeen years is a long time to experiment. That’s evident in Stone’s 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA, a beer with a name that means “the twilight of the gods” (in this case, meaning “the end of the world”) and shares its title with a Wagner opera. This nomenclature lends an impression of serious clout, and in many ways, it’s warranted.
Like fellow indie-upstart Dogfish Head, Stone’s focus on quality and taste have afforded them the opportunity to experiment with wild and wacky concoctions. The result? Beers that pack a punch, often through oakiness, alcohol bite or a hell of a lot of hops.
Götterdämmerung falls into the latter. Stone describes it as a West Coast IPA style created using the ingredients found in a German pilsner, and they’re telling the truth: it uses only Deutsch pilsner malts, and stays true to the California style with a ton of hops, many of which are “experimental”. The beer is deep gold in color, with a nose full of sweet pineapple and aromatic hops. Once sipped, its intentions are clear immediately — this will be a hoppy Ride of the Valkyries. Strong citrus, relatively devoid of pine, blends with an aggressive spiciness. Stone also accomplishes the German side of the deal. There’s plenty of dry crispness, and a slightly biscuity malt flavor makes it clear that the pilsner style has made its mark. It finishes with an almost brutal bitterness. Impressively, there’s not even a hint of alcohol heat, though this weighs in at 9.5 percent ABV.
Like many of Stone’s beers, Götterdämmerung pushes the flavor envelope — perhaps too much, especially in the case of drinkers who are hoping for a brew they can down all night. For the right set, though (that is, avid beer nerds who are after boundary-destroying craft brews) it’s a must, a beer that hits the mark in the most vital of places. In terms of hybridization, this is a complete success, a triumph of Stone’s cocky brewing style and their 17-year commitment to blending the traditional and the bold.