I'd come specifically for the Stone Emperial; after stealing a sip of Zuch's on Saturday, I'd been anxious to try a full one.
One of my first reactions both then and last night was "gin martini." Both the first whiff and taste are distinctly piny, and the bitterness and high (9%) ABV share something in common with vermouth. The smell is also musty like an old book, and the taste is mildly sweet and--dare I say--plasticky, almost like peppercorn. Though bitter, the hop flavor is more the pine and herb (think sage or tarragon) variety, not citrusy.
Grade: C, for cocktail. Make no mistake--it's bitter and boozy but not necessarily in the way you'd expect. It drinks more like a strong cocktail than a beer. The twelve-ounce snifter took me a solid hour and upwards of twenty tilts to finish. You can't rush this one. It wouldn't be my first choice to repeat, but I'm glad I tried it the once.