19 May 2009
KOTBR #72: Pint night at Spencer's Stadium Tavern
Our latest roundtable was after our tour of Sun King Brewing with Clay Robinson. I've always bitched about the death of the $5 dollar pint in Indianapolis, but Spencer's Stadium Tavern shut me up quickly when I was told they offer $2 pints on Wednesdays. They do a great job with their beer at Spencer's and usually will have several tap lines of beer for the craft beer enthusiasts and a nice selection in the cooler as well. We also appreciate how they rotate the kegs and their high attention to tap line cleanliness. We didn't know what we all wanted to review, but we had some readers out with us as well, and we decided on the new-to-Indiana brew: Stone Levitation Ale. Levitation is an amber ale that clocks in at 4.4% ABV, and is one of the few sessionable Stone beers that you will find.
I was very excited to give this beer a whirl. I love Stone beer, and I am usually drawn to the fact that a beer from California could be offered at such a good price, and yet still satisfy my hop head nature. I can pick up Stone IPA for 5 bucks a bomber and around 10 bucks a sixer, so it is usually one of my staples that I have in the fridge. Levitation has the classic calling card of Stone beers with a similar nose and hop flavor profile. The caramel malt comes to life in the flavor profile and is more balanced with malt and hops that many other Stone products. This beer drinks heavier than a 4.4% beer, and I honestly would say that this had a higher ABV than Stone IPA if I didn't know their ABVs. There isn't anything wrong with this beer, but it wasn't the refreshing session beer I was hoping for with a name like Levitation. But Stone wouldn't be Stone if they didn't defy conventional wisdom, would they? This is probably the best intro beer, though, from someone trying to get into Stone beers. It has a good malt and hop profile, and it isn't the supercharged hop bomb that is Stone's calling card, but you certainly know this is a Stone product from sip one. I am pretty amazed though at how much flavor a 4.4% beer has though. 3.40 Mugs
This is a weird beer. It has this footy / powdered donut / sweet hop thing going on in the nose, which is followed with a hoppy but not bitter front. A malty backing follows up, and the beer finishes grassy and smooth. It's a really "meaty" sort of beer at 4.4% - there's a lot of heft to it. At 4.4%, do you want heft in your beer? I'm not so sure. 3.22 Mugs.
I do like Stone's Imperial Russian Stout quite a bit; however, the rest of their beers just don't resonate with me. I have to provide a caveat here--I've tried only five or six of Stone's beers besides the Stout. But my palate tends to find the hop character of those five or six beers to be overwhelming because they don't have a heavy enough malt presence to balance out the hop wallop. As a consequence, all I get with their beers is a very dry hop bomb. This is not to say that Stone brews bad beer; rather, my palate simply doesn't take to their beer.
I found Stone's Levitation Ale to be no different. The nose on this American Amber was what we at Hoosier Beer Geek like to call "footy" (i.e., a full-on sweaty sock odor) with pineapple and metal notes. The mouthfeel was light and crisp. As for the flavor, it was very dry with a heavy pineapple and grass presence and a definite malt backing (but again, not enough malt for my taste). This is a good beer, but not one that I would seek out of I had others of the same style to choose from on the beer menu (e.g., Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale). My rating: 3.40 Mugs.
I agree with Jim as far as the hop profile not really being my cup of tea (or mug of beer). I'm pretty meh about this Stone offering, and although I might drink it again, it wouldn't be one of my top choices. Would I chose it over Fat Tire? Of course. Over Fort Collins Retro Red? Probably not. 3.37 Mugs
Also, we were joined by Twitter friends Josh, Jason, CJ, and Chris.
Josh (jugomugo) - 4.00 Mugs
Jason (xtrarant) - 3.75 Mugs
CJ (Phaedrus) - 3.50 Mugs (hoppy but not overpowering)
Chris (netshade) - 3.75 Mugs
Thanks for coming out, guys!
Matt R 3.4 mugs Mike 3.22 mugs Jim 3.40 mugs Gina 3.37 mugs Chris 3.25 mugs
KOTBR Score - 3.52 Mugs