Sunday, April 26, 2015

Recipe: Stone Brewing Co. Levitation Amber Ale

I recently read that Stone Brewing Co. of California publicly shared the recipe for their discontinued Levitation Amber Ale.  Stone's official description of the beer is:
We're best known for brewing aggressive, big-character beers, but we love a great sessionable ale as much as anyone. Most beers at the less-weighty end of the spectrum lack flavor and depth as much as they lack high ABVs, but not Stone Levitation Ale!  This deep amber brew has a rich maltiness, big hoppy character, citrus overtones, and an impressively modest alcohol content for a beer with so much flavor packed into it.
The beer was first released in September 2002.  It's listed at 4.4% alcohol by volume and 45 IBUs.

The official recipe works out to the following for a 5-gallon batch.

Stone Levitation Amber Ale

Starting Gravity: 1.048 (12 Plato)
Final Gravity: 1.013 (3.2 Plato)
Fermentation Temperature: 72 Degrees Fahrenheit

8.5 pounds of crushed American two-row pale malt
14.4 ounces of crushed Crystal malt 75L
8.3 ounces of crushed Crystal malt 150L
1.3 ounces of crushed black malt
8 gallons and 96 ounces (12 cups) water

0.28 ounces of Columbus hops (12.9% alpha acid)
1/2 teaspoon Irish moss
0.9 ounces of Amarillo hops (8.5% alpha acid)
0.26 ounces of Crystal hops (13.0% alpha acid)

1 tube White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast (or WLP002 English Ale yeast)

Dry hopping:
0.77 ounces of Amarillo hops (8.5% alpha acid)

1 cup plus 3 tbsp Light DME (dry malt extract)

Mashing In

  1. In a 10-gallon insulated container, combine the malts with 3 gallons plus two cups of 173 degrees Fahrenheit water.
  2. Hold the mash at 157 degrees for 30 minutes.
  3. Add a gallon plus 12 cups of 182 degree water.  The mixture should increase to 165 degrees.


  1. When the liquid is below the level of the grain, sprinkle 3 gallons plus 14 cups of 168 degree water over the grain to start the sparge and continue sparging.


  1. Put the wort in the brewing kettle and add water if needed to get it to the 6-gallon level. Then add another 12 cups.
  2. Bring the wort to a rolling boil.  Set the boil timer for 90 minutes.
  3. Add a bag containing the Columbus hops to the kettle.  If a layer of foam or scum appears on top of the kettle, skim this off and discard it.
  4. When the timer indicates that 15 minutes are left in the boil, add the Irish Moss.
  5. With 10 minutes left in the boil, add a bag containing the 0.9 ounce portion of Amarillo hops.
  6. When the boil is over, add a bag containing the Crystal and Simcoe hops into the kettle and begin chilling the wort to 72 degrees.

Pitching and Fermentation

  1. At pitching temperature, discard all the hops and check the gravity of the wort to ensure it's at or near the target of 1.048 (12 Plato).
  2. Transfer the wort to your fermenter.  Pitch the yeast or yeast starter.
  3. Try to keep the wort at the 72 degree fermentation temperature throughout fermentation.
  4. Transfer the beer to the secondary fermenter and then dry hop it.

Dry Hopping

  1. In the secondary fermenter, place a bag with 0.77 ounces of Amarillo hops.
  2. Ferment at 72 degrees for one week.
  3. Remove the hops bag and discard the hops.
  4. Check the gravity of the beer.  If it's at the target of 1.013 (3.2 Plato), it's ready to bottle.  If not, continue to ferment until the target is reached.


  1. Sanitize the bottles, caps, and bottling equipment.
  2. Put the 1 cup plus 3 tbsp of DME in just enough water to dissolve it.  Bring it to a boil over high heat to sterilize it.  
  3. Remove from the heat, cover, and let it cool slightly.
  4. Add it to the bottling bucket along with the beer.
  5. Fill and cap the bottles.

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