Last night I decided it was time to crack the top on my Stone SoCal Hop Salute Double Black IPA which had taken up residence in the fridge since the AHA Conference in San Diego last June. The beer had been served during the conference and I thought Stone had released it since I was almost positive I had stumbled upon it in my travels. Maybe I was thinking about the Stone/Brew Dog collaboration Bashah. The 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone had a higher ABV. At any rate the beer rating sites don’t have much on it so perhaps I should have kept it around a short while longer.

The SoCal Hop Salute was no slouch and rang the bell at 9.9% ABV. Now knowing this beer was a rare one I wish I had taken more time to pen a few notes rather than simply sitting on the couch enjoying this puppy. It was a Double IPA, but the body seemed just a bit heavy for that style. It did work out very well and made for a very tasty beer. Getting close to being a porter/stout, but just staying out of that world. It’s a fine line with the Black Ales or Cascadian Dark Ales to not end up creating a pseudo-Porter and some in the BJCP don’t believe the style is anything other than a highly hopped porter.

I will never forget my first experience with the style. It came before the style was even popular from of all places my home state, North Carolina. Back in July of 2007 Catawba Valley Brewing in Morganton (at that time up the road in Glen Alpine) came out with Blackwater Uber Pale Ale. I actually didn’t get a glass in my hand until January 2008. It stumped most of us since it looked like a porter or stout and tasted like a pale ale. The alcohol was hidden despite being 11% ABV at first and then settling in at about 9%. It would certainly be interesting to see the origins of Cascadian Dark Ale and to see how Uber Pale fits into the timeline. I have seen reference to Rogue and 2003 and Noonan (Vermont Pub & Brewery) with a less hoppy version way back in 1994. Stone made their 11th Anniversary which was released in September 2007 (gosh, that year does sound familiar) and it did have a similar ABV to Blackwater. So while Catawba did not invent the style, they were one of the first to make it. Too bad more people haven’t found this beer over the years.

I got off on a tangent there for a minute, so now back to the Stone SoCal. I am not attending the AHA Conference this year, perhaps I should have held that bottle until June before opening, but it was a quite enjoyable beer no matter when the top was popped. Thanks Stone!