Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stone Levitation Ale

My beer tastes have changed dramatically over the years, particularly in the last 5 years.  So when I form a strong opinion on a beer then don't try it for a while, I'm curious to revisit that beer after a year or so to see where it resides on my palate's favorability scale at the new point in time. Bell's Amber Ale, for example, was a long time favorite that got a respite for a year or so, and many IPA's later I could no longer drink it.  Three Floyds Gumballhead grew on me a lot. 

I've written much about Stone at this page and they are obviously a favorite brewery.  Their main line products are not artisanal, such as Hair of the Dog, but are marked by sturdiness, drinkability, and, especially, that patented, uncanny Stone freshness. Any beer of theirs is going to be at least okay and will make up in freshness what it lacks in flavor.  Their commitment to quality production can rescue a mediocre ale from being dreck in someone else's hands.  This is about where Levitation Ale lies.

I first tried Levitation a couple of years ago when I was getting my first regular access to Stone products.  I loved the Ruination, the IPA, the Arrogant Bastard, the Smoked Porter, and the Imperial Russian, so I was sure I'd be all over their Levitation session ale that gets described as a "red' when it's actually an amber.  I didn't like it. I didn't hate it but just found it unremarkable.

Recently, I revisited the Levitation, having had the good fortune of being able to add a bottle to a six pack mix and match at Armanetti's Liquors here in Chicago, which is a terrific idea for any place selling craft brews.  A sixer of Levitation is $11 and I am far more reluctant these days to spring for a sixer of an untested beer.  I poured the Levitation into a standard pint glass and, yes, it's amber.  I would describe the smell as very woody and piney, with some sweet creamy malts.  The mouthfeel is rugged and grainy. It has a strong pine flavor along with some caramel malt taste and the taste of baked bread.   It's very grainy and quite earthy. The carbonation was substantial and it definitely had a cleanliness and freshness about it.   Like all Stone beers, it had a clean underlying taste and finish.

The verdict is that my opinion on this has remained unchanged. Levitation is an okay session beer but one I would rarely seek out.  It's rather unmemorable but is certainly more drinksome than many other session ales designed by craft brewers more accustomed to making bigger beers.  This is a harbor beer that would go well with a chowder but I would never drink it on its own.   A surprisingly blah effort from Stone.

3.1 of 5 stars.

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