Beer Review 0556: Stone 2013 Quingenti Millilitre Series Crime Chile Beer

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Stone Quingenti Millilitre bottles, which were previously only available at and local to the Escondido, California brewery, have went nationwide in extremely limited quantities thanks to recent brewery expansions. And does Stone have quite an interesting beer for the first wave of the release…

Brewed on July 31st, 2013, Crime is Stone’s Lukcy Basartd Ale (my rating: 93 points), which is a blend of Stone’s regular Arrogant Bastard (91 points), Oaked Arrogant Bastard (79 points), and Double Bastard (100 points). If that weren’t confusing enough, what makes this version of Lukcy Basartd special enough to be bottled in Quingenti Millilitre bottles? It was aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels for a few months. Oh, and it was brewed with tons of ultra-hot peppers!

The peppers used in this beer are red and green jalapeños, black nagas, Caribbean red hots, Moruga scorpions and fataliis. These are some of the hottest peppers in the world, and they were grown locally in the Escondido area. In fact, the name of this beer is “Crime” because Greg Koch, Stone’s co-founder, considered it a crime to dose a great barrel-aged version of Lukcy Basartd with the peppers.

Now, before we get into the review, you might remember that last year, we reviewed Twisted Pine’s Ghost Face Killah, a wheat ale brewed with six different types of hot peppers, including the Bhut Jolokia. I chose not to officially rate the beer, classifying it as a novelty; the reason why is because the beer was simply made to be hot. We feel like Stone made this beer to actually be a drinkable beer, with the peppers being part of the ingredient list but not the main ingredient. They’ve taken the time to age this in barrels and to put it out in special bottles, so we’re going to officially rate this one, even though it does seem like a novelty item.

Crime comes in at 9.6 ABV (alcohol by volume) and hits an impressive 102 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Scoville units (a scale used to measure spice intensity) are unavailable.

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First off, this is a stubborn cork. Expect yours to break and you’ll need a wine corkscrew to finish the job. The pour produces a very beautiful beer, capped by an off-white soapy head comprised mostly of large bubbles. It sticks around atop a deep red beer that is cloudy in body and filled with chunky particles and sediment. Lacing is pretty good, leaving some nice creamy sheets behind.

On the nose, we’ve got two main things: lots of hot peppers, and lots of pickled, vinegary hot peppers. There’s no getting around it; the peppers do contain a small amount of general fruitiness that leans toward the citrus (orange) end. There’s no barrel characteristics, and not really any beer characteristics, either. It literally smells like a jalapeño pepper you pull from a jar and stick on a sandwich.

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The taste starts off pretty interesting, with a mild fruity green pepper, but brace yourself — the heat intensifies very quickly, and by the middle of the taste, you’ve got a firecracker in your mouth. I love how the side of the bottle says “hops and oak come through mid-palate.” NO. I’m here to absolutely tell you that is garbage; this is a wave of incredibly hot, dry heat that breaks a bit on the swallow to give you a sharp, medicinal bitterness. Then you’re left really suffering with no liquid in your mouth, and your palate quickly becomes a desert. After two or three sips, I became uncomfortable, not from the heat, but by how dry my mouth was. My tongue was so dry, it felt like I was trying to get down sandpaper when I would naturally swallow. And there’s a vinegary-pickled pepper flavor left behind. Not pleasant — and it took some time to disappear, too. Crime is overwhelming in body, with a medium texture.

Two things strike me here: this beer is quite literally painful to drink, and it bears no resemblance whatsoever to Lukcy Basartd Ale or a barrel aged beer. You need at least ten people to get through this bottle. But here’s the thing: kudos to Stone for having the balls to put something like this out, especially the first release of an extremely rare set of beers. But that doesn’t make it good, and perhaps the biggest Crime here is the premium charged for a beer that 98% of those buying will be unable to even finish five sips of.

Stone 2013 Quingenti Millilitre Series Crime Chile Beer, 46 points. Price: $17.99 US for one 500 ml. corked & caged bottle.

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