I visited Cardinal in Joliet the other day and ran across an interesting beer of which I heard a bit about. The name on the label gave me pause as I read it, having to sound out the syllables in my head. Stochasticity Project. The beer was ultimately called Grapefruit Slam IPA.
Now there’s a competition coming up at the homebrew club for SMaSH beer. I thought that I’d like to brew up a single malt beer and season with a buttload of U.S. Cascade or New Zealand Cascade to get that grapefruity flavor. Here I was looking at a beer that had already done that for me using different hops altogether. This should be interesting for a Saturday night write-up.
I headed out the door with my usual 4-pack of Pere Jacques and two bombers of Grapefruit Slam. I felt the heat of my credit card in my back pocket all the way to the truck.
Saturday afternoon offered me some time to do a little research on this beer and I was somewhat surprised and a bit miffed that I didn’t spot the ruse sooner. The Stochasticity Project is an undertaking of Stone Brewing regardless of the Koochenvagner’s Brewing Co. name on the label.
It appears that Stone wanted to de-publicize the fact that they were responsible for this beer and perhaps to place the beer before the public at large to see if the beer stood on its own merits. I should have recognized the traditional Stone painted label. Can you understand what was said in the article’s video?
And where in the hell did they come up with the Stochasticity name? One of the Green brothers on YouTube has the definition of the word.
Learn anything? Neither did I. Makes me wonder what they were thinking at Stone.
The time had come and I was ready for a nice citrus flavored IPA. I hoped the beer in its mysterious disguise would do me right.
The first sip was somewhat disappointing. Although the beer had a good medium mouthfeel to it, no notes of sweetness could be detected this early on. The swallow was brutal. No grapefruit could be detected and no other citrus flavors for that matter. This seemed to be a hop attack.
Right away I was reminded of a similar beer called Palate Wrecker from Green Flash Brewing. It was hops for the sake of hops. The beer was an absolute hop bomb, perhaps not as brutal as Palate Wrecker, but still up there on the tonsil demolition scale.
I was surprised that Stone made this beer after having such great success with their Ruination IPA and especially Ruin Ten both of which entertain both the mind and the palate with each sip. This Slam beer is a close up encounter with pine needles and grass.
Personally I could not find a balance in this beer’s taste. Usually some malt sweetness would come through after a few sips, but halfway through the first glassful, all that occurred was a bar fight in the back of the throat.
The label states that three different hops were used, Centennial, Chinook and Magnum. The alpha acids of each of these are 8-11.5%, 10-14% and 12-16% respectively. I’ll take a wild guess and say that I believe the Magnum was used for bittering and the other two for late additions, not necessarily for flavor and aroma, but for brutality. The grapefruit peel addition was a nonissue for me.
I am in no way saying that this beer is a mistake or a failure. It’s just not for me. Beer is a wondrous beverage allowing all sorts of strange additions in the brewing process. But this exercise in hops for the sake of hops does not ring my bell. Yes, I know that there are plenty of hop heads out there who pour their beer through Randalls or French presses filled with leaf or pellet hops. In that case, this beer would be right up their masochistic alley. For me, give me a beer that shows some creativity in hop flavors that exhibit taste characteristics that carry me away.
I’ll give it to Stone for being ballsy enough to throw the general craft beer crowd a curve ball with all the Stochasticity stuff. They allowed themselves to be implicated in the project right away. But while other breweries are experimenting with new hops and hop hybrids such as Mosaic, Citra and Calypso, they are still throwing tons of alpha acids into a beer recipe to maybe come up with something new.
If you’re a diehard hophead, by all means try a bomber of Grapefruit Slam. Enjoy it whenever you wish. Then report back with your findings on how much grapefruit you tasted. If you say “a little”, it will beat my “none”.
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
Taste: A glassful of rasp.
Smoothness: Not bad at the beginning but 60-grit at the back.
Drinkability: No, thanks. I’m good after this.
Bang for the buck: Pay for your punishment.
Amount paid: $8.99 per 22-ounce bottle.
Get it again? Nah, I don’t think so.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s going to be bitter. (sniff) I can smell the citrus. (sip) It’s not as bitter as I thought it would be. It’s like eating the skin. (sip) It’s citrus and then goes flat. (Who are you and what have to done with my wife?)