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Stone Cali-Belgique (Cali-België) IPA

By Andy Murphy
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Belgium, you make some damned fine beer! I hardly got beyond the Trappist ales over the past two weeks, but the good old U.S.A. is calling be back — I’m craving some strong hops, familiar names, and posts that need less explanation!

stone-cali-belgieSince today is IPA Monday, I can think of no better transition than to drink Stone Brewing Company’s Cali-Belgique IPA. Stone has added some Belgian yeast to its traditional IPA, which does two things. One, it adds some extra layers of flavor to the Stone IPA. And two, it allows me to have another Stone IPA without breaking my “no-repeats” prohibition!

Stone IPA was my inaugural brew for IPA Monday. I described it as:

. . . extremely refreshing and easy to drink. There’s a light, bread-like malt that plays a supporting role, blending carefully with complex citrus and “green” tasting hops . . . The beer has a light, distinctive, and extremely pleasant aftertaste. There’s a residue of warmth and a sweet oiliness at the back of the tongue, almost as if the beer has just melted in your mouth.

Cali-Belgique (or, as my bottle reads, Cali-België - more on that later) matches the Stone IPA for drinkability and taste, but adds a delicate sweetness.

The beer looks like Stone IPA — a clear, orange-gold color — and it filled my tulip glass with a tall foam. Aroma of citrus hops and caramel malt, with just the slightest hint of banana (perhaps because I’m looking for it).

The first sip was like a welcome-home party. Strong, citric hops crashed over my tongue with a delightful bitterness, but mellowed quickly. The hops seem to be tempered a bit by a light peach and hint of green bananas. The aftertaste is a bit spicy, perhaps cloves, and lingers deliciously.

Comparing this to my last IPA Monday brew is a lesson in cultural differences. The Alvinne Extra India Pale Ale was dominated by Belgian yeast, with a underlying hoppiness reminiscent of the IPAs I’m used to. But Stone’s use of Belgian yeast seems intended to round out the Stone IPA, not to recreate it. Hops are dominant, with an underlying clove spice and an almost apologetic, hesitant fruitiness.

The lengthy description on the back of the bottle seems to agree with the above assessment:

“We carefully selected a Belgian yeast strain that illuminates a fascinating new aspect of the beer that is otherwise quite simply Stone IPA. The result is both completely new and different, while still being recognizable as a Stone brew — and Stone IPA in particular. Think of it as an otherwise identical twin to Stone IPA that was raised in a Belgian culture. Literally.

The observant may notice that this beer is referred to interchangeably as “Cali-Belgique” and “Cali-België”. The bottles are divided 50/50 between the two spellings — because the French speaking population of Belgium says “Belgique” and the Dutch-speaking population uses “België”. Stone, thank you for that quirky tip of the hat — I love it.

ipa-mondayAnd for anyone wondering, “Cali” refers to the fact that this is a “California-style IPA”.

Think of this as Stone IPA with a funny accent. Stone fans and anyone looking for a mellow but hoppy IPA will love this beer. Try it, and let me know what you think!

Stone Cali-Belgique is 6.9% ABV, 77 IBU’s, and a lot of fun to drink.

Recommended reviews of Stone Cali-Belgique:

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Categories : Beer a Day, IPA Monday

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