The post hit Beer Advocate last week: "Gandhi Bot in RI." I had missed the previous shipments of the rare and semi-legendary Double IPA from New England Brewing Co. (their motto: "Drink It. It's Good"), from Woodbridge, Connecticut (near New Haven). So I grabbed a four-pack at Nikki's, and was pleased to confirm that the beer deserves its reputation. The nose is full of grapefruit and pine, the trio of American hops bring the bitterness, and there's a swirl of caramel in the mix. It's a multi-layered marvel — an inspiring beer.
Which led me to ask owner/brewer Rob Leonard what inspired the name. He replied: "The name fell out of one of our guy's heads and there really is no story behind it. We just wanted to immortalize the coolest pacifist ever." The fanciful illustration/immortalization on the 12-ounce container (the 8.8% ABV brew was first packaged in tallboys) — a depiction of a Gandhi robot doing the Robot, which just won the Can of the Year award at the Brewery Collectibles Club of America's CANvention — is also pretty damn cool. The New England Brewing crew says Gandhi-Bot "is an ideal aid for self-purification and the seeking of truth and love." Talk about beervana!
Only 50 cases (300 four-packs, $11 each) of Gandhi-Bot reached Rhode Island this time around ("we can't make enough due to the availability of certain hops," Leonard said); Nikki's got 10 cases, and the rest are at Clift's in East Providence; High Spirits and Bottles in Providence; Heritage and Wines & More in Cranston; Allen's in Portsmouth; and Wyoming Package Store. Get some now and join the Gandhi-Bot cult.
15 YEARS OF STONE Stone Brewing Co. is celebrating its 15th anniversary with the release of Escondidian Imperial Black IPA. The proudly arrogant bastards tongue-in-cheekily assume ownership of the darkest of IPAs: "We thought we'd lightheartedly lay claim to our own style," Stone co-founder/president Steve Wagner noted, "dubbing it 'Escondidian;' both as an homage to our hometown of Escondido, CA and as a gentle ribbing to those Black IPA fans worshipping a false Cascadian idol" (the debate still rages over who spawned the style known as Black IPA and/or India Black Ale and/or Cascadian Dark Ale; the Stone PR sheet admits that "this point of contention may only be of import to 0.01% of craft beer fans," though since most people are prone to debate the minutiae of everything these days, the percentage is likely much higher).
Like most of Stone's creations, the Imperial Black IPA is a no-compromise brew. The bomber pours darker than dark, with a medium-brown head; the roasty malts evoke coffee and chocolate, edging into stout territory, but the hops prevail — a perfect balance of sweet and bitter. It's a remarkable, big beer, with an abudance flavor. And its 10.8% ABV is well-masked, which makes it a deceptively potent experience.
Stone (now the 14th largest craft brewery in the US) has spawned yet another extraordinary beer. The Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, their 11th anniversary release, became a year-round offering after its 2007 debut. The Escondidian should also join the regular lineup. For now it's a limited release, so get it while you can.