Stone Cali-Belgique IPA: Born to be Wild?

What happened?  IPAs used to be cool.  Their strong, bitter, in your face style was for the serious beer drinker.  Someone who wanted to wake up after a night out smelling of cigarettes and not sure who, or what was in the bed beside them.  What happened?…Indeed.  See we are becoming a nation of watered down posers in this country.  There was a time in our history when a guy like this would be run off the road and pistol whipped by a bunch of Hells Angels for posing as a biker, and today we hardly take notice.  Well I’m afraid this attitude has trickled into the Beer world as well, and Stone is a conduit…

Last night I opened my bottle of Cali-Belgique the new “IPA” from Stone Brewing.  I should have known with a fru fru name like this that I was going to get some sort of “Hollywood” infused pansy assed beer for guys who ride stock Harleys and drink Evian.  But being the trusting soul that I am I though surely Stone wouldn’t do that, there had to be some really cool twist here, something that would scream IPA, only perhaps a little more refined, but under the surface would be the rage.  Nope.

The idea here was to take a good IPA and instead of using their “normal” yeast they would use Belgian yeast.  What you ended up with was something that is neither an IPA nor a Belgian.  It is the Labradoodle of beers.  I have a Labradoodle at home.  Here is a picture of Toby the dumbass dog.  

This was taken about 50 pounds ago.  He is now 130 pounds and dumb as a brick.  My point is some things should not be mixed.  It’s a bad idea.  Here you took two great noble breeds of the standard poodle and the Labrador and made a useless piece of crap.

Stone did the same.  By taking the great IPA flavors and mixing them with the great Belgian flavors they have concocted a brew that doesn’t deliver in any sense.  It is a poser, not IPA nor Belgian, just a mild flavored malt beverage that doesn’t satisfy.  It started out with good promise, pouring an enticing golden amber with good carbonation, but that is where my trip into happy beerville ended.

The nose was subdued and wimpy, and the flavor tasted like an IPA that lost its bearings.  It had a tinge of grapefruitiness, but the Belgian yeast took all the bite out of it.  It took the majestic flavored peaks away and graded it to nothing and put a McMansion on the ruins.

Oh, I’m sure this beer will sell, and get great praise from all the scooter riders out there and the people who “like IPAs that don’t taste like IPAs” but you can’t fool me.  This is no IPA, and Stone has taken some of the luster off of the moniker “West Coast IPA”.


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14 Comments on “Stone Cali-Belgique IPA: Born to be Wild?”

  1. April 2, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    I hope poor Toby doesn’t know how you feel about his worthless hybrid ass!

    Victory make a good one of these, their Wild Devil. It’s their Hop Devil Ale (a real hophead treat) brewed with brett. It’s a fun and funky treat, but I’m not sure how it compares to this one. Maybe it’s a lot better, or maybe this style isn’t for you.

    But you know how I love pansy-assed, Hollywood infused poseur stuff!

    • Don
      April 2, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

      I’m sure there is a style that works. I’m sure many people would think I’m a dumb ass like Toby, and that he is just reflecting his owner’s intelligence. But I know this is no IPA. It isn’t a good Belgian either, it is a weak excuse for a beer that IMO has no place. Like I said, I’m sure the scooter and gay marriage crowd would love it, but they’re not fooling me. I’m surprised they didn’t try to amp it up somehow to make it something more than a white Volvo.

  2. April 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    I’m an IPA guy, I love *big* in your face IPAs but I also loooove (with 4 0ooo’s) Stone Cali-Belgique, if they had this in six-packs this would undoubtedly be my go-to summer beer this year (as it’s not, it’ll be my normal go-to summer beer, Stone IPA).

    Because, while I love in-your-face IPAs most of them aren’t very sessionable, e.g. Ruination and Leafer Madness (but then again, some are, e.g. Racer X, Hop Stoopid, etc…), really depends on whether or not they lean toward being hop-forward instead of balanced. Don’t get me wrong, I love beers like Ruination and Leafer.

    Cali-Belgique to me is a perfect summer session beer, it has that nice underlying hop tinge to it, but it is considerably mellowed by the sweet/tart apple flavors. 90 degrees outside, playing horseshoes — I could kill of six-pack of this just like that.

    I’m kinda big on the Belgian-American fusions right now (Cali-Belgique, 3767, Don de Dieu), as a northwest beer kinda guy I’m still in the learning stages of appreciating the Belgian yeast flavors and I think this style is a great crossover.

    …and for the record, I don’t drive a scooter.

    • Don
      April 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

      Ahhh Chris, just havin’ a little fun here, but I couldn’t disagree more. I feel as if Cali-Belgique is a beer without a soul. When you drink it, it is like your mouth has entered Beer Purgatory, and you aren’t really sure how you got there, you know you have to stay there for a while, and all the while there is the promise of something much better than it is. It just absolutely left me flat, and I’m afraid we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

      • April 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

        Ha! Yeah, we will on this one, but that’s fine with me, must means more Cali-Belgique for me!


  3. April 2, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    If you mix the styles, you have to be on top of it. I did a Belgian Double IPA, used candi sugar, belgian yeast but did a 50/50 style beer. I tried to keep it really malty while being hoppy. Problem with Belgian stuff is the tendency to be lighter in body, especially if candi sugar is being used. I didn’t drink this one because I was skeptical and it looks like I was right to do so. At any rate, you really gotta be on the ball with the blends.

    • Don
      April 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

      Well said Mike. It just didn’t deliver the goods. What I’m really puzzled by is that everything I have heard is nothing but great praise for this brew. I’ve heard it from a number of trusted sources. It just left me flat , and not just a little jaded…

  4. April 2, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    Don, yer killin’ me! Plus, you didn’t send me royalties for using that picture of me on my scooter as I was motoring to my weekly knitting class.

    • Don
      April 2, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

      Scott was that you? I thought it was your skinny Brother…Ooooohhh SNAP!

  5. April 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    I’m hopping on my scooter right now and going to vote for the nearest gay marriage bill I can find! While I wasn’t as passionate about Cali-Belgique as Chris, I did find it pretty drinkable. No it’s not quite an IPA and it isn’t quite a Belgian. Might have been a smarter marketing move to 86 the IPA moniker on the bottle. But if you want a fun Frankinbeer on a hot day, this might be one to pick up and try. This also may be one of those polarizing brews like Rogue John John seems to be–you either like it or hate it.

    • Don
      April 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

      It tasted like the two flavors cancelled each other out and made for a very mild, might I be so bold as to say, wimpy beer that left me asking… where’s the beef? Like Jane Jacobs used to say, there is no there, there. By the way good to see you here again Chad. Seems like it has been a little while since you stopped by.

      • April 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

        Nice to be back! Thanks Don. Work has been a little crazy. All the writing at my desk hasn’t left much time for writing about beer.

  6. April 5, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    I haven’t had this brew. It’s overpriced in these parts, and personally, I am not a huge fan of stone. I think their beers are a bit over glamorized in the craft beer, just because folks can’t resist the gargoyles and bad ass ethos of the brewery. I’m with mike…I’ve brewed up my own belgian double IPA, and it turned out great. I continually hopped it (like DFH) and used a unique hop blend, and didn’t make a starter, so that the flavor of the belgian yeast wasn’t over powering. It’s pretty good.

    I don’t drive a scooter, but I do have a rusty old 1971 Honda CB350. I also have retarded shiatsu.

    • Don
      April 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

      Well Nate, I had an old rusted 1972 CB250T that would never get over 50 MPH, A little underpowered, but when the pipes rusted out I left them, so it had a nice rumble to it. I’ve got my eye out for a nice used Harley tho. I’m guessing in the next 12 months or so. But I’d say that you should save your money and drink something else. This is a brew for wimps, although the retarded Shiatsu gets you closer…

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