Stone Brewing Company is a ubiquitous name in the craft beer movement. It’s the 10th largest craft brewery in the nation, based on sales volume, and considered an innovator in the game. Stone’s Pale Ale and IPA are among the most widely available beers from California in their class, available in all but eight states (really Dakotas?).
It seems as if Stone has been mentioned here a lot lately. I hooked up with the recently on a small project that involved them sending me beer samples. It’s okay. I’m a professional. It does not take much for me to try a Stone beer, but this Stochasticity Project (pronounced STO-KAESTI-CITY) seemed like a gimmick. Not that gimmicks are bad, but why spend $9 on a bomber for a quirky beer, right? That’s what I thought until about a month ago when I was at the Syracuse World of Beer and had another entry from the Stochasticity Project. I’ll talk about Master of Disguise later, but that beer opened the gate to this one. Stochasticity (which is a 25-cent word that means “randomness”) is the name adopted by Stone for its experimental beers program, not unlike the old Magic Hat Batch or New Belgium’s Lips of Faith beers. The aforementioned Master of Disguise is a blonde stout. The Quadrotriticale is a quad brewed with rye and wheat. And, Hibiscusicity is a Belgian ale made with orange peel and hibiscus flowers.
Hibiscusicity is not the first flower-infused beer that I have ever consumed, though don’t ask me what the first one was. While in California a few years ago, I tried a beer brewed with rose hips. I didn’t enjoy it, and was afraid that this would be another turn down the road of overpowering floral dreck. The beer pours like pink champagne but with a longer-lasting foam. The color is the first thing that catches you because no real man would drink pink beer, am I right guys? The color plays with your head a little. I was expecting a berry flavor or something like Magic Hat’s Wacko — a beer made pink using beets. Instead I got a big bready, banana estery noseful as you might expect from a Belgian.
The flowers don’t really come into play until the end, when that subtle floral flavor appears at the back of your mouth. In between, though, is a very tart ale thanks to the residual yeast and the hibiscus. It’s a clean beer, disappearing from the palate and leaving behind that faint flowery flavor.
Brewer: Stone Brewing Company
Beer: Hibiscusicity (Stochasticity Project)
Style: Belgian ale
ABV: 7.4% IBU: 28
Container: 22 oz. bottle
Price: $7.99 Point of Purchase: Ithaca Coffee Company, Ithaca, N.Y.
To The Eye: Pink. White head that works itself down to a pink lacing.
To The Nose: Odd. The floral fragrance is balanced off by the banana ester and bready nose that you might expect from a Belgian ale.
To The Palate: Very tart. The hibiscus somehow makes this happen without leaving behind a flowery flavor.
Aftertaste: Flowery. This is where you feel like you just drank rosewater.
Boozy Factor: It’s not overtly boozy while drinking it. No, Hibiscusicity sneaks up afterwards and kicks you in the pants.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 8