Reviewed: Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA
Product description: To create a recipe so tropical and fruity without the addition of fruit was no feat our team of brewers would leave up to the gods. They took floral and citrus notes from Mosaic, Loral and Mandarina Bavaria hops to dish up a mouthwatering fruit punch to the palate. Get deserted on your own island or share with others. One thing is for sure: there is no need to light this one. It is already on fire. 7.5% ABV, 76 IBUs.
Stone continues to push Loral hops as we’ve seen with Ghost Hammer, Loral and Dr. Rudi’s Inevitable Adventure, and most recently with Exalted IPA. Ghost Hammer and Exalted, regular strength IPAs, are sold in 6-packs of 12 oz cans, which is a great format in my opinion. Loral and Dr. Rudi’s was in 12 oz and 22 oz glass bottles, which is a bit outdated, but it was a Double IPA at 8.9%. The formatting sort of makes sense. But for Scorpion Bowl, nothing makes sense. This is a regular strength IPA offered solely in $6 bombers. Why? On top of that, Scorpion Bowl is the only one of these new beers to be added to Stone’s year-round lineup.
I was also curious about the name Scorpion Bowl as it doesn’t seem to match anything in the description about making a tropical fruit-focused IPA. In fact, the back label doesn’t even mention the hops used in this beer. Instead, it is a long story that doesn’t duplicate any of the pertinent information about the beer found on Stone’s website. Apparently, this is the name of an elaborate cocktail, which has this phenomenal Wikipedia entry: “A Scorpion Bowl is an alcoholic concoction. It contains fruit juice (typically orange and pineapple juice), multiple types of rum (usually overproof, dark and white), vodka, gin, and Grenadine. The Scorpion Bowl is presented in a large volcano bowl, a 48-ounce vessel with a ceramic volcano in the center. Served with dry ice, an orchid, and some 151 proof alcohol aflame in the volcanic center, the drink gives the appearance of a mysterious tropical island.” Ok, now it makes sense.
From a 22oz bomber with a bottling date of 2/9/18 (the freshest I could find after searching five stores), Scorpion Bowl is crystal clear golden out of the glass with generous off-white foam. The aroma is dank and stinky like durian fruit, ripe papaya, and star fruit. It’s tropical with a mix of nectary flowers. White bread comes through more so as it warms.
The mouthfeel is prickly and rough at the front of the palate and never really lets up. There’s a bit of papery deadness even though this is from a refrigerated section and less than a month past bottling. The mid-palate brings some much-needed balancing white sugar and dense breadiness while bitterness is mid-range sitting at a 6 out of 10 intensity-wise and has a sharp bite to it like eating mango skin. It’s not nearly as aggressive as Exalted IPA or even Stone IPA. It’s more modern and approachable than those, but I like the Exalted more because it brings out some noble hop character that is missing in today’s American craft beer scene. Scorpion Bowl, though it contains Loral hops, doesn’t exhibit their magic as well. Instead, this to me feels like your typical Mosaic IPA. But the ABV at 7.5% is pushing it to the max for this style. Remember, Ruination is 8.5% ABV. Offer it up solely in bombers and it’s almost three standard drinks in one serving. It can’t be your everyday beer at this point.
What I think the Stone core line-up needs is not a 7.5% tropical IPA, but something similar to the Scorpion Bowl recipe ported over to Stone Ripper. Ripper, in my opinion, is the weakest of Stone’s current core lineup of 7 beers, all of which are blonde hoppy beers. I’ve tried to review Ripper in the past, and I can’t find anything nice to say about it. Where Stone is lagging behind is in the lower ABV department. Revamp Ripper with the tropical fruit character of Scorpion Bowl, and we’d have a winner.
For now, it’s my opinion that Scorpion Bowl has some issues in the mouthfeel (too prickly, rough, almost mealy at times), the format is poor, and the ABV at 7.5% has simply overcrowded their lineup. If you want tropical IPA, wait for this year’s release of Vengeful Spirit. If you want best all around IPA, get Tangerine Express. If you want crazy, go for Exalted IPA before it’s no longer in season. All three of these are phenomenal beers that Scorpion Bowl cannot keep up with.