Here at Stone, our brewers love to create aggressive, high octane beers like Stone Ruination IPA, Stone Imperial Russian Stout and, of course, the Arrogant Bastard Ale family of in-your-face goliaths. But even we, the challengers of beerâ€™s historic limitations, realize that for every beer drinker there is a time, place and need for something sessionable. So, in 2002, we took our first swipe at crafting a libation under five percent ABV to give our fans a lower-alcohol option packed with big-time flavor. That creation would come to be known as Stone Levitation Ale.
The mission was to make a beer that was low in ABV without sacrificing flavor. Our Co-founder and original Brewmaster, Steve Wagner, playfully suggested creating a â€śJunior Bastard Ale.â€ť It sounded simple enough, but proved to be extremely tough to execute. The brewing team morphed the recipe for some time, but it never reached â€śjust rightâ€ť status. In 2006, Wagner handed the ambitious project off to Stoneâ€™s current Brewmaster, Mitch Steele, as his first brewing assignment after coming aboard. The conversation probably went a little like this:
Welcome, buddy. Hereâ€™s your ID badge. Thereâ€™s your desk. Your computer password is â€śIPA.â€ť And, oh yeah, weâ€™re gonna need you to create a session ale with as much concentrated flavor as our most notoriously flavorful beer. Weâ€™ve tried a bunch of recipes, but itâ€™s really stumped us. Well, anyway, good luck! (OK, as evidenced by the video above, the story was a little different than that, but to say there wasn’t just a tad bit of pressure associated with this undertaking would be a fib).
Being the masterful, experienced and resilient brewer he is, Steele hopped to itâ€¦literally. The first thing he did was dry-hop his version of the beer with Amarillo hops. This, plus altering the malt bill to contain a significantly decreased amount of crystal malt in order to let a combination of Amarillo, Columbus, Crystal and Simcoe hops shine through, allowed Steele to shine as well. Wagner signed off on the new Stone Levitation Ale and the amber, 4.4% ABV wonder joined Stoneâ€™s line-up of year-round beers.
Receiving praise and early job security was pretty sweet, but those werenâ€™t the only accolades Steele reaped as a result of fine-tuning Stone Levitation Ale. The beer also earned a gold medal at the 2007 edition of the countryâ€™s premier brewing competition, the Great American Beer Festival; the first for both Steele and Stone. Themâ€™s big bragging rights for a little beer with a lot of character that continues to impress beer aficionados and amaze those whose knowledge of session beers has been limited to mass-produced American adjunct lagers. Itâ€™s one hell of a gateway beer thatâ€™s opened the door to craft for more imbibers than we can count. Itâ€™s Stone Levitation Ale, and itâ€™s outstanding!