The Beer: Pataskala Red X IPA
The Brewery: Stone Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif.
The Stats: 7.3% ABV | 75 IBU
What's a Pataskala, you ask? Well, it's a small town in central Ohio, almost 30 miles east of Columbus, that happens to be the hometown of Stone Brewing Company co-founder and CEO Greg Koch. Of course, that fact alone doesn't really explain why the brewery took the town name for one of its seasonal offerings. So, to explain that, we have a little backstory:
Last year, Licking County, where Pataskala is located, was trying to pass a school levy to save extracurricular activities, including band. One student, knowing Koch was a Pataskala native and former band member, wrote the brewery founder a letter asking if there was anything he could do to help pass the levy. Koch promised to brew a beer specifically for the town if it passed, adding that Stone would partner with local bars and restaurants to donate 100 percent of the profits from the beer to extracurricular programs.
During the same time, Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele had just been introduced to an interesting new German malt known as Red X, which provided a rich malty character (and a deep red color) without bringing the intense sweetness similar malts often do. Steele and one of his brewers put together a recipe with this newfound malt, a new beer was born, and the levy passed. Though the beer was originally intended to be a one-off, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. Since Stone was already in the market for a new seasonal, Pataskala Red X IPA became the right beer at the right time, and company's newest additional to the seasonal lineup.
Aroma: The Red X malt provides toffee, caramel, and candy-like aromas, but they fall on the malty side as opposed to being overly sweet. The Mosaic, Cascade, and Amarillo hops present a complex aromatic symphony of citrus notes without the usual IPA hop assault found in many of today's west coast IPAs. Overall, the malt and hop aromas work harmoniously in balance with one another.
Appearance: This beer is crystal clear with a deep crimson color that's truly stunning. It's certainly one of the reddest beers on the market, with an off-white head consisting of very small bubbles that cling to the glass with every sip.
Flavor: The toffee and caramel malts present in the aroma continue into the flavor, and the hop flavor is equally prominent, showcasing citrus notes. The use of three different types of hops creates complexity and doesn't let any single hop perform solo; instead, the three create an altogether new flavor. Fruity notes continue throughout the palate, where the beer finishes crisp as one would expect from a beer checking in at 75 IBU. This beer would be an outstanding choice alongside barbecue or red meat of any kind.
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The Feel: There is no astringency; instead, you'll notice a creamy mouthfeel from the high hopping levels. A medium-full body lets the drinker know this is no gateway beer, this is a "massively dry hopped deep crimson IPA," as the label states.
Overall Impression: Red beers can range from extremely malty to super hoppy. Despite the high IBU needed to counter the large malt bill, this beer is balanced and hop forward. It has complexity at all levels making it a good beer for pairing with a plethora of dishes, while also performing as a fine palate cleanser. Stone has been known for its West Coast IPAs for years, and this is another in a long line of delicious, well-balanced, standard-setting IPAs.
For more information, check out the Stone Brewing Company website. Pataskala Red X IPA can be found on draft at craft beer bars such as World of Beer or in six pack, 12-ounce bottles at craft beer stores including Total Wine Gilbert.