Bell’s Amber Ale vs. Stone Levitation Ale

After reading some of Garrett Oliver’s book “The Brewmaster’s Table” I was inspired to try some Amber Ales, which I have not had in recent memory. According to Oliver they pair well with pasta with red sauce. Traditionally, I’ve enjoyed that meal with red wine, but Oliver says “no,” beer is better. I bought a few different samples of Amber Ale to go with the meal – Bell’s Amber, Stone Levitation Ale and Full Sail Amber. I didn’t get to all three, only the Bell’s and the Stone. I have to say this is a difficult choice. Bell’s and Stone are both powerhouse breweries. Neither of these beers are the ones that catch the headlines and get featured time on beer blogs. These are both every day craft beers. Nevertheless, they are both excellent choices. Stone clearly wins the “session” beer contest coming in at only 4.4% ABV. Stone does not sacrifice flavor, though, to have a low ABV. If you were watching a game and hanging out for a long night, this would be one to consider over the standard American pilseners. It was surprisingly bright and hoppy. It is rated at 45 IBUs. Not as high as a Stone IPA, but enough to notice a hop bite. It pours a copper to light brown color with a large white head that lingers. There is a distinct grassy/citrusy aroma from the hops. However, this is balanced against a caramelly malt aroma and flavor as well. I like this beer a lot and would rate it a solid 4 out of 5 proper pints. Bell’s was very nice. In fact, between the two, I would choose Bell’s over Stone even though I love Stone beers. Bell’s was also relatively “sessionable” at 5.6%. It was also a little less bitter at 30 IBUs. However, it also had the look and aroma of an IPA. The color was orange, like an IPA with a decent size white head that lingered. There was also a distinct grassy to citrusy hop aroma, but this one was considerably smoother than the Stone. It actually did pair nicely with the pasta and red sauce with Italian sausage. I would rate this one a 5 out of 5 proper pints.

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