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Beer On My Shirt: The Enjoy By IPA Experiment

J. R. Shirt, June 04, 2014 -   

Disclaimer:  J.R. Shirt is not a scientist. He has, however, throughout his 35 years of life, attempted several tasks that could be loosely classified as 'experiments'. One could say that he is experienced, and perhaps over-qualified, in experimentation. You may be wondering - “What types of experiments?” - “Are they sexual in nature?” - because those are valid questions to ask of someone claiming experience and even over-qualification in the realm of experimentation.

At young age, J.R. experimented with gasoline, poison ivy, and matches with mixed results, including but not limited to temporary blindness, a fondness for oatmeal baths, and an extended absence from school. Years later, while at university, J.R. pushed the limits of nutrition and the idea of a balanced diet by consuming nothing but raw carrots and whole milk under the hypothesis that it had to be healthier to live in a such a manner than eat the terrible food offered at the student dining hall. His hypothesis was proven to be incorrect after about a week, concluding with some rather strange conversations with health professionals at the student infirmary and a small bout of walking pneumonia.

More recently, while traveling cross country as an art enthusiast to a conference on sculpture and performance art, J.R. grew tired of our society's construct of time and its arbitrary attachment to the earth's rotation on an axis. Choosing to live as a 25 hour man in a 24 hour world, J.R. traveled with no less than three notebooks filled with charts, tables, and equations in an effort to convert 24 hour days to a 25 hour scale.

After a slow first few weeks, the experiment approached critical mass when what may have been 2PM on a Thursday for everyone else was in fact 1AM Wednesday for a 25 hour man. What took shape was a man that slept at odd times, avoided rush hour traffic, and often ate breakfast for dinner. Overall the results were mixed – an important conference talk was missed due to a small miscalculation but an extra hour added to each day allowed J.R. to fit in two extra episodes of the television program Cops. Also, it seems to have had a positive impact on digestion but the evidence is purely anecdotal.

Below you will find for your review a brief synopsis J. R.'s most recent experiment in which he analyzes the potential for a beer's flavor to noticeably deteriorate, specifically Stone's Enjoy By 4.20.14, over a brief period of time. Enjoy...

The Enjoy By IPA Experiment

Background: As most already are aware, Stone's Enjoy By IPA is a delicious beer. It is brewed, bottled, and distributed with an emphasis on freshness, to the extent that the name of the beer includes a date by which the brewer recommends it is consumed. Generally, there is about a month between the bottle date of the beer and and the brewer imposed expiration. But what impact does the Enjoy By date actually have on the beer, or more importantly, on the consumers enjoyment of the beer? Our ability to answer those questions took shape on April 12th, 2014, when I, J.R. Shirt, discovered a case of Enjoy By 4.20.14 at my local beer distributor. In a slight panic, I reached out to like-minded beer drinkers via Twitter and an experiment was born.

 

 

 

Hypothesis: The date attached to the Enjoy By name is more of a mental construct than actual expiration date. As with any IPA, a slight decay in hop flavors and aroma is to be expected, but overall the beer will continue to be as enjoyable after the 'enjoy by' date as it was prior.

Methodology: Detailed tasting notes were taken prior to the 'enjoy by' date during an 8 day period in which J. R. drank a bottle of the Enjoy By 4.20.14 each day. After the 'enjoy by' date had passed, a bottle of Enjoy By 4.20.14 was drank approximately once every 7 days with detailed notes being taken with an emphasis on comparisons to the original tasting notes. The last bottle was consumed on May 21, 2014.

Results: Before we get into details from the week to week tasting notes, here is a table with the week to week ratings by category.

 

 

Prior to 4/20

04/28/14

05/07/14

05/15/14

05/21/14

Appearance

4.5

4.5

4.25

4.25

4.25

Smell

5

4

4

3.5

3.5

Taste

4.5

4.25

4.25

4

3.75

Feel

4.5

3.75

3.75

3.5

3.5

Overall

4.5

4

4

3.75

3.75

 

You can see that after a month this was still a very enjoyable beer. There is, however, a slight caveat to the above numbers. While tasting the beer each week and rating each category, I found myself debating whether I should be rating the beer from an in a vacuum/stand alone perspective or based on what I knew the beer to taste like before the Enjoy By date. The above numbers represent the beer in a vacuum perspective. I guess it isn't really a vacuum then is it? (That's a science joke.)

Below are the ratings I gave the beer relative to what it tasted like originally. I arrived at these numbers by revisiting my original tasting notes and comparing them to what I was I was currently experiencing while doing the week to week tastings.

 

 

Prior to 4/20

04/28/14

05/07/14

05/15/14

05/21/14

Appearance

4.5

4.5

4.25

4.25

4.25

Smell

5

4

4

3.5

3

Taste

4.5

4

3.5

3.5

2

Feel

4.5

3.5

3.5

3

3

Overall

4.5

4

4

3.5

2.75

 

Again, these numbers represent a more comparative or relative viewpoint. What stands out from the above table is that while the flavor and feel slowly fade, there is a big change to the taste that happens around the one month mark. And while that beer is still enjoyable and would stand up well to many beers of a similar style, it could not hold a candle to fresh Enjoy By IPA. To give a better idea, my notes for taste ended with phrases like "still delicious" and "still a wow beer" up until the 5/21 notes. Those ended with "still good."

If your interested in the specifics from the week to week tastings, below is a brief summary of the changes relative to the original notes, by category, over the month long experiment. (And in case you missed it - my original review of Stone's Enjoy By IPA)

Apperance: Look no further than the header image above to see how great this beer looked. And it maintained that appearance, for the most part, through the entire month. The change that shows up in both tables for 05/07/14 is that while the beer still looked amazing after each intial poor, the retention of the head and the lacing just wasn't what it was in its glory days.

Smell: What started as a great combination of citrus, pine, tropical fruit, and flowers started to become just most pine around 5/15/14. By 5/21/14 the smell took on a sweeteer quality as the malt started to become more prevalent.

Taste: After just one week the beer lost most of the dank, juicy tropical fruit bubble that seemed to live in the middle of this beer's flavor profile. The initial, up front bitter bite of the beer started to fade after just one week as well. Even the dry grapefruit rind in the finish started to fade.

By the second week, the beer was mostly grapefruit rind and pine - with the pine up front and the rind in the finish - but it was still delicious. Week three started to see the finish flatten out and in week four there wasn't as much bitterness up front and really nothing much happening but some grapefruit rind bitterness as it finished. At this point there was not even a trace of the amazing juicy, resinous, dank quality this beer once had. It would still hold to many DIPAs, just not to the fresh Enjoy By.

Feel: Similar to the taste, the feel quickly lost the nuances that set it apart. By the end, the finish started to take on a watery feel and the play between the bitterness and prickly carbonation was gone. By the end, the carbonation wasn't all that prickly. Still a decent feel by the last date, but more like a typical DIPA and just ordinary compared the journey the original beer took you on.

Overall: The beer was still good a month after the Enjoy By date. But not as good. And really not close. I was amazed at how much had changed in a month. I also acknowledge this whole thing might only be happening in my mind. I've seen the movie Waking Life.

"I'm not a scientist or a physicist, Mr. Spock..." Follow J. R. Shirt on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt

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