Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stone Levitation Ale review

Stone Levitation AleAs winter slowly winds down I find myself starting to be drawn to the lighter and more hoppier ales. I spied a lone 12oz bottle of a Stone Brewing Company's beer and couldn't pass it up. Tonight's review will be of their Stone Levitation Ale, an American Amber Ale or Red Ale, depending on how you judge it. When I read the label on this beer I was surprised to see a 4.4% ABV measurement for a Stone ale. Stone is known for being over the top on almost all of their beers (take Arrogant Bastard for example). So while this was a lower session brew classification I knew something was going to happen when I sampled this beer.

Levitation is said to be brewed with four different types of hops: Columbus, Amarillo, Simco and Crystal. And just for good measure, Stone dry hops Levitation with more Amarillo hops. All that boosts this amber ale up to 45 IBU, a respectable and hopped up version. So while the ABV wasn't there, the IBU was.

Appearance: Levitation poured a clear red amber color with a healthy 2-finger off-white head. As I swirled the brew it left a slight lacing around the glass. It was nicely carbonated and the Sam Adams beer glass gave off a steady stream of bubbled from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma: The first thing I smelled from this beer was a piney and somewhat spicy hop aroma with a hint of citrus. The hops were more subdued than the Odell Red Ale that I had the other night.

Taste: All bitter and very little sweet malt. The hops dominated and radiated the pine and citrus aroma into the taste buds. The brew seemed to be lacking in malt up front and left my mouth rather dry with a slight aftertaste.

Bitter, this beer was, but not like an IPA, but rather like a light beer that had extra hops thrown in at the last minute. Stone is known for their over the top bitter brews and this is a lower ABV and less malt version. Can you say Arrogant Lite? It's definitely a session-like brew but not an easy drinker. It took me a while to warm up to this beer.

Perhaps having a dark porter shortly before this sampling locked up my taste buds. They were used to a sweeter and maltier brew. So when I drank this it was a slight shock to the system. I suppose I should know better to drink a dark beer first and follow it with a lighter brew.

Admittedly, after a 1/2 a glass was finished I started to really enjoy this beer better. The malts became more apparent as it warmed and my tongue relaxed a bit. It's like a watered down IPA.

Levitation Ale begged to be consumed with cheese so I grabbed a baby round of Gouda and bit off a piece. Instantly, the hop hit was mellowed. It was amazing how the cheese counteracted the hops. It made the experience much more enjoyable. Without the cheese, the beer left a near metallic taste in my mouth, but with cheese it went away.

Overall: I had a mixed experience. I had to learn to like this beer and once I figured it out it was alright. But as for being a session brew that I could drink a few of, I'd probably stop at one of these and pick up something else to finish the night with. I have to go in moderation with Stone beers. They're not a brand of beer I could play Beer Pong with, definitely not. I could try but I'd probably end up wanting to eat a lot of cheese.

Related articles:
- Stone 08*08*08 Vertical Epic review.
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout review.
- Stone Arrogant Bastard review.

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