Stone’s ongoing “Stochasticity Project” is an odd thing. The first beer, Grapefruit Slam IPA, came packaged in bottles with no overt reference to the Escondido brewers, but the mysterious gimmick was soon stripped away with the release of beer number two, a bourbon barrel-aged Belgian ale called Varna Necropolis. The series is essentially meant to function as Stone’s experimental wing, releasing “out there” selections that wouldn’t be brewed as part of the regular release schedule.
That’s all well and good, but so far the releases don’t seem all that much different than the types of beer Stone already cranks out in any given year. An IPA with grapefruit zest? I could have seen Stone doing that at any point. These are the people who gave us the first nationally released “coffee IPA” in Dayman, after all. For one of the bigger U.S. craft brewers, they’ve never shied away from releasing their experiments to a wider audience.
Regardless, the newest, third release in the Stochasticity Project series is called QuadroTriticale, a playful combination of its style (Belgian quadrupel) and secret ingredient. Triticale is a little-known grain, a hybrid between wheat and rye that reportedly blends the flavor profile of both of these historically important brewing grains. Oddly enough, it’s also a disguised Star Trek reference—a shipment of “QuadroTriticale” factors heavily into the famous “Trouble with Tribbles” episode. Let it never be said the folks over at Stone are not geeks.
The aroma evokes classic abbey quads while also containing a streak of the unfamiliar. Estery yeast presence is strong, and also fruit such as banana and raspberry. There’s a peppery aroma and a lingering mustiness that I can only describe as being similar to “old book smell.” Contributed by the triticale? I have no idea.
Taste-wise, this is very complex beer, as all good quads really should be. There are intense flavors of alcohol, sour cherry and winey, tart raisin. “Vinous” is a decent word for it. The triticale presents more like rye than wheat, with a little bit of its characteristic spiciness. Its most notable contribution may actually be to the beer’s mouthfeel rather than flavor, however. Although this is sweet, as all quads are, it doesn’t have quite the same richness or thick, syrupy quality that some have. As rye tends to dry beers out a bit, so the triticale makes this one a slightly drier, more drinkable beer than one would expect from a 9.3% ABV Belgian quad.
All in all, this take on quadrupel from Stone is simultaneously a solid rendition of the style with just a hint of the unusual. I’m still not sure it’s quite as experimental as the stated goal of the Stochasticity Project, but lovers of high-gravity Belgian ales will likely want to seek it out while it’s still on the shelves.
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
City: Escondido, Calif.
Style: Belgian quadrupel
Availability: Limited, 22 oz. bottles