Style: Session India Amber Ale
Hops: Columbus, Crystal, and Amarillo
Brewer’s Note: “It’s been said that “Gravity Sucks.” Simple enough. Well, we at Stone have identified gravitational forces in the beer world. And we have come to the conclusion that they, well, see above. So we avoid these less-than-desirable gravitational forces. We avoid dumbed-down flavor profiles and the vigorous pursuit of the lowest common denominator. We avoid big dollar marketing mentalities. We avoid additives, cheap adjuncts, stabilizers and chemical preservatives. So in the defiance of gravity we bring you Stone Levitation Ale. This deep amber ale has rich malt flavors, a big hoppy character, citrus overtones (courtesy of the hops and our special brewers yeast) and modest alcohol.”
Inscription on Bottle’s Back: “That’s Stone Levitation Ale. Not “alleviation”; not “divination”/ and no, not “leviathan” either – though these other oft-uttered permutations of this very special brew’s proper name may not be too far off the mark. First of all let’s talk about what the word “levitation” means. One definition states that it means to rise in “apparent defiance of gravity”.* Yes, that’s a good one. Another perhaps more nuanced menaing is that this phenomenon is typically the “result of supernatural power”.** We’ll take that one too. After all, Stone Levitation Ale certainly defies the gravitational forces at work in much of the beer industry today – less character, less flavor, less creativity – and as for any supernatural forces at work in this beer, well, we can only guess. (though brewers yeast pretty much qualifies in our book.) We do know that you will find more flavor and character than previously thought possible in a beer of such a modest 4.4% abv. It does, in this sense seem to indeed defy the laws of gravity and nature. There really is nothing unnatural at all about the beer itself, of course. It is made from the four all-natural, basic elements of craft beer: water, barley, hops, and yeast. Cheers!
*American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 2006;
**Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2006”
So… Stone has a lot to say about their beer on their labels, which is cool! I like writing and saying stuff (see all of my posts). It does seem a touch pretentious though, and I do wish Stone and other breweries would step off their high horses and just brew good beer, instead of getting all political and elitist (see the part about marketing…). I love craft beer, but I don’t want it to fall into an über-political zone, nor do I want to see it fractured into different sects that all hate all other sects, and I fear that Stone’s jibes might be the start of just that.
The label for this beer is awesome. I love the grandiose and Neo-Gothic feel of Stone’s labeling and design, and I love the heavy amounts of writing and sarcasm that they provide on the backs of the bottle. All the annoying legal stuff is nicely hidden from view, and the label shines through. I do wish they didn’t feel the need to advertise their medals so blatantly on their bottles though… It’s cool that they won, but that was in 2007… which was over five years ago now… The floating gargoyle is clever and classy, and the fonts are fancy yet highly readable. Stone’s bottles are a work of art, even if they are painted on the glass which makes it non-scrapbookable. They look elegant, fancy, and cool. I’m keeping this bottle on a shelf for sure!
The beer pours a light caramel red. The body is incredibly clear and free of sediment, and the head of the beer is light and soapy white, but bubbles away quickly to leave a light scrim and some thin wavy lacing on the glass. The beer smells terrifically big and bitter, with gushes of pine, citrus, and a light note of juicy mango mingling with the candy caramel malts beneath the hops. It smells tremendously hoppy for a 4.4% Amber Ale, which is what Stone bills it as, personally, thought, I see this beer as a sessionable IPA with a darker body. Stone calls it an amber ale though, and honestly, style doesn’t really matter. There is a nice resiny touch to the smell of the beer when agitated, which further marks this beer as an IPA to me.
On the palate, this beer continues the IPA trend. The beer begins with light bitter pine before opening into big bitter citrus with a sweet caramel traveling beneath the hops and balancing this beer beautifully. For all its bitter flavor, this is a lighter beer that finds a beautiful balance with the light alcohol and malts keeping the hops to a comfortable and thirst quenching bitter bite and enough flavor for you to compete with beers far bigger than it. The finish of the beer is bitter and full of hints of grapefruit and light cereal malts. On the mouth, this beer feels light to medium in body with a nice little fizzle from the carbonation, which smoothes the beer onto the tongue, leaving the mouth with a very thin sheen of cool spittle, and a light dry bitter lingering in the mouth. It is actually quite refreshing in feeling, which may stem from its lower alcohol percentage. Overall this is a superb beer. Its hugely hoppy, yet balanced, yet completely sessionable. Stone has really done something neat with this beer, and I really hope that others continue to follow suit because this is something I could sip all day and it would not make me fall over at the end of the day. A session beer for the hop heads, and a delicious success for Stone. It is a little too hop-forward for me to consider it an amber/red ale, but really that’s just semantics. The beer is good. Drink it.