Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Stone – Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

You may now revel in your own self-righteousness as you see fit with this glorious example of ours” – Back Label, Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

To be self-righteous is to be “piously sure of one’s own righteousness” or exhibiting “excessive self-assurance.” I don’t usually consider myself to be excessively self-assured but after this past weekend, I figure I might deserve this indulgence. I graduated Sunday from Antioch University of New England with a Masters of Science. 
Though my degree was not in beer, brewing or beverage management, I thought Stone Brewing’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale was an appropriate beer to celebrate a lot of work that I’ve done in the past few years. Its been terrifically difficult at times, but through the support of people around me (including my family) I was able to make it through intact. So, I raise this glass to my family, friends, classmates and teachers and dedicate this review to them.
Like other beers I’ve tasted, sometimes a brew creates its own category, defines itself as to set it apart from everything else. Originally released as their incredibly rare 11th Anniversary Ale, Stone made the decision to resurrect it occasionally as the Self-Righteous due to popular demand. Technically this is a Double IPA with dark malts that give it its dark color, and it comes in at 8.6% ABV. 
I uncapped the large bottle and was immediately hit by strong and sharp hops. It reminded me of the aroma of Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the simcoe hops coming through loud and clear. When I poured it, though, my brain went through a kind of a double take. I knew this was a “dark IPA” and should have expected what came next. But the strong scent of hops continued to fill my nose as I poured out the black liquid in awe. To someone without a sense of smell (or far enough away not to have their noses touched by its magical aroma) this would resemble a stout. A resilient creamy head sat lazily on top of an almost opaque brew. I felt my brain double checking itself – “IPAs.. yellow… Stouts… black.. right? Wait…whoa.” Cognitive dissonance at its best.
Like most brewings from Stone, this is not for those who like their bread white and wings mild. This is for the hop-lovers, the taste-seekers, the insane among us. It has been a long time since I’ve been courted by such a strong IPA, and this one initially shocked my recently malt-accustomed taste buds. But once I got back into the IPA mindset, this beer began to reveal itself to me.
These hops are tart, and the taste of them stays coated on your tongue, lips and mouth long after you’ve taken a sip. It like sucking on a hops losenge between sips. (Hey, if anyone patents that idea I thought of it first! Bacon lollipop people, I’m looking at you…)
I tried hard to pick out the roastiness, but in my opinion its taking a far backseat to the hops. I would have enjoyed just a tad more malt to mellow out the tartness, but it remained an awesome brew with strong character. The one thing that might be the key to all this would be age. I am interested to see what would happen to the malts (perhaps they’d assert themselves a bit more) with a few months in a cellar.
Overall its certainly a beer that makes no apologies and doesn’t go halfway. It is a full-on double IPA with some interesting complexity. I couldn’t have more than one of these in a sitting, not because of the alcohol but because of the lingering twinge on my taste buds, though it is exciting to experience. I would, however, like to try this side-by-side with Ruination, so that I could tease out some of the differences in hops and malt. (Sounds like a future #ttl to me!) Overall a great brew, and a hop head’s dream, worthy of celebrating. So find a reason to be a little self righteous, and open one of these up to celebrate.

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1 Comment

  1. Adeptus

    Congratulations! 🙂

    There’s no chance of getting this stuff where I’m living, so I’m heading to San Diego in July to get some. 😀

    Well, I happen to be going that way anyway, but if your description of “hop lozenge” is anything to go by, I think I’ll be keeping an eye out for this!

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