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Stone Enjoy By 02.15.13 IPA

Where In Town: Irving Wine and Spirits, 3100 Mount Pleasant St. NW

Price: $8.99/22 ounces

Ticking Hop Bombs

Freshness—it’s what separates a dazzlingly aromatic India pale ale from one that’s fine enough. Ideally, these beers are the stuff of poetry, bursting with pine, citrus, and tropical fruit. But those flavors stem from massive infusions of delicate hops—pinecone-shaped flowers that, once brewed, “fade that very hour” (to quote and butcher Shakespeare). Most IPAs are best consumed within a few weeks of bottling, and many breweries have begun stamping brewed-on dates on their labels. Stone Brewing, with its limited-release Enjoy By 02.15.13 IPA, has done its peers one better: Bottles not bought by the specified date will be pulled from store shelves. Luckily, the beer is so good that there’s little risk of it gathering dust.

The Fresh Prince

Thanks to 11 hop varieties, Enjoy By emits a pungent aroma of just-cut lawn, orange, grapefruit, lychee, and pot, with an underlying malty sweetness. The taste is bold, too. (Technically, after all, this is a double IPA with 9.4 percent alcohol.) Thick and sweet, it’s part honey, part orange marmalade, and part bittersweet Italian liqueur. Diabetics, steer clear. Freshness junkies, pounce—and let the Enjoy By finder on Stone’s website be your guide.

Photo by Daniel Fromson