When it comes to beer, people always have this strange conception that
strength in flavor equates with strength in alcohol. "Whoa yeah, I drank
some of that Guinness last night, it kicked my butt," or words to that
effect are not uncommon, even though draft Guinness is actually lower in
alcohol content than Budweiser. The same perception of strength might apply
to Stone Levitation Ale from Escondido, California's Stone Brewing
And it would be equally wrong, since Levitation has an alcohol content of just 4.4% by volume (most standard lagers weigh in at about 5% by volume). What it does have, of course, is lots of hop flavor. You see, hops can impart a plethora of very herbal, wonderfully aromatic flavor to a beer without adding any alcohol at all. Hops don't add fermentable sugars; rather, it is their wonderfully aromatic and bitter alpha acids that are contributed to your favorite brew. Yes, even Budweiser.
And that makes them perfect for adding flavor to a session beer the likes of Stone Levitation Ale. What is a session beer, you may ask? It's a beer with lower alcohol strength that allows for extra imbibing without getting you too tipsy. Of course, this is all relative to other factors, such as the time over which you consume a given quantity, whether you're drinking on an empty or full stomach, your body weight, etc. Still, all other things being equal, three Levitations will leave you a good deal more sober than three Bigfoot Barleywines.
Stone Levitation Ale pours to a tawny amber color with a thick foamy head formation and a very floral, herbal hop nose. A fine layer of Brussels lace clings to the side of the glass as the liquid descends. The palate is laced with a bit of caramel maltiness, but the hops take over pretty quickly: very floral, tea-like, herbal and flowery. In the finish, they become very bitter and a tad minty and leave a long, lingering dryness on the palate. For hopheads, this a really fantastic session beer, and one I highly recommend. The only drawback, of course, is the rather high price of $9.99 for a six-pack.
Levitation has been floating around (ouch) since September of 2003. Stone says it is only sold bottled and not on draft, which I find rather curious. It has 45 IBUs of bitterness, though Stone doesn't say which hop varieties they use.
I love this beer on a hot summer afternoon. It's quite refreshing after a grueling jog, but just as welcome with a book on a warm summer's evening. The vibrant hop character makes it perfect for pairing with spicy cuisine, and you can easily drink an extra glass with your meal thanks to the lower alcohol content. Only the exorbitant price keeps me from giving it five stars.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.