Teamwork. Its not a word associated with big beer. Can you imagine an InBev-Miller Coors collaboration? Escondido’s Stone Brewery, however, has made collaborative brews commonplace. The telltale light brown bottle sitting innocently on my local liquor store shelf, signaled to me of a potentially great brew, as my previous encounter with Stone’s collaboration was a good one indeed.

The session ale pours more complex than sessionable. It is deceivingly solid, a thick coat of vanilla across the top and a body of blended orange and golden tan. There is an immediate lacing, the evidence of a one finger head present just moments ago. I am told, by the back of the bottle, to expect a hopheads session beer, a brew with the ability to scratch my ‘itch for hops’ and at the same time allow me to drink more than one. The scent is a simple straight forward hop aroma. Mostly earthy and piney, perhaps just elegant edges of citrus. On the palate, the hop punch was there, but I could definitely see how I could sip down more than just one of these beauties. It wasn’t an attack on my tongue, the hops introduced itself pleasantly and disappeared with a kind, subtle finish, instead of the brutal bittering of so many big hoppy brews.

Comparing this to other pale ales makes the most sense. It is not a huge hopbomb, but an inviting hop friendly beer with enough flavor and complexity to be interesting, but a definite drinkability, making it a good accompaniment to a barbecue or just a warm summer’s eve.

Good work, Stone…and North Park Beer Co….and Ballast Point. Proof again that the craft beer world is a beautiful mosaic of beer lovers, willing to work together to craft something better than the sum of its parts.