Beer Review 0085: Stone Levitation Ale

Stone Brewing Co., located in Escondido, California, are known for their potent beers, made with a no compromise approach when it comes to ingredients and flavor. With beers like “Arrogant Bastard” and “Ruination,” Stone are brash when it comes to your palate, saying you might not have much of one left after having one of their beers. They’re not for the meek.

Enter this beer into their lineup, Levitation Ale, a 4.4% ABV (alcohol by volume) Amber Ale. Hmm.

Of course, there’s a long story on the bottle, as is the case with most beers from Stone. This one tells about why the beer is called “Levitation Ale,” which is to say that this beer defies gravitational forces found currently within the fizzy yellow lager beer industry. This beer promises more flavor and character than one thought possible with a mere 4.4% ABV, which is on-par or slightly less alcohol than all those mass marketed adjunct lagers.

This is a bold statement — one I am eager to put to the test with a tall glass of Levitation.

The pour came up with a large head, creamy in texture and long lasting. The beer was perfectly amber in color, with a slightly cloudy body that revealed a nice light amount of sediment throughout the drink. The lacing left on the glass was excellent in quality and amount. It’s very pleasing to the eye.

Levitation Ale proved to be very hoppy in the aromatics, quite a departure from a typical Amber Ale. The hops added a freshness to the beer you don’t often get; bright, lively notes of Christmas tree pine and citrus burst from the glass and made themselves known, while a nice but subtle caramel aroma added texture underneath. The hop scent almost reminded me of a wet hop beer.

Touching beer to tongue, initial notes of caramel transition into a hop bitterness featuring grapefruit and pine. There’s a hint of orange peel in there, before the finish comes on strong with some baked bread balanced by a smooth and drying bitterness that is never too much or too little.

For such a low ABV beer, what Stone has done with this Amber Ale is incredible. To my palate, Amber Ales have a tendency to be boring beers that are seemingly all flavored alike — but this one stands out from the crowd, in a very good way. And the best part about it being low ABV is that this would make a fantastic session beer. It’s got all the great and complex flavors Stone is known for, just without all the alcohol.

Take that, fizzy yellow lager!

Stone Levitation Ale, 88 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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