2004 Symposium Ale | Stone Brewing

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2004 Symposium Ale2004 Symposium Ale
Very Good
35 Ratings
2004 Symposium Ale2004 Symposium Ale

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.48%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-16-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 35 |  Reviews: 32
Reviews by Floydster:
Photo of Floydster
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle purchased a long time ago down in San Diego, consumed 2/23/09, reviewed from notes, split with my dad, poured into my Duvel tulip glass, color is a hazy yellow, fairly murky for its style, 3/4 inch soapy white head with decent retention, minimal lacing, aroma is light hops, lemon juice, grassy accents, Belgian yeast, floral accents, light spice, and citrus, you can tell by its flavor that it was brewed with a few different yeasts as it goes from sweet to bready to earthy all because of those strains, starts off a little sweeter than expected with a big lemon and orange presence, some bread in the middle, sweet yeast and mild dryness in the finish balance each other out, sweetens up as it mellows, also more fruit comes out along with a mild earthiness, mouthfeel is all over the place and the beer suffers a bit from it, more sweet and bread-like than anything though, medium bodied, still a moderate to slightly high level of carbonation, could have drank the bomber myself, light on the stomach, balanced for the most part, not too high in alcohol and not boozy at all, glad to finally tried this, probably held off for too long and should have drank it as fresh as possible but it still held up quite well, this brew is a little over four years now since it was brewed for the Craft Brewers Conference in 2004, still good and would still drink again, not to mention is brewed by three fantastic brewers: Tomme Arthur, Peter from Alesmith, and Lee Chase, recommended

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More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Nice, thick, cloudy orange body with a beautiful white pillowy head that showed great retention.

Smell – Nice bitter orange rind aroma complimented with some wonderful spices and a good yeast backbone. I can pick up some sharp coriander and clove and something powdery, like maybe allspice or something. There are also some nice, light, summer fruits in here along with a touch of mediciny alcohol.

Taste – Ah, the aroma from the nose comes out nicely at the taste. There’s a bit more hop balance on the tongue, but otherwise I’m getting a yeasty backbone, some good spices, light fruiting, a touch of medicinal alcohol, and a beautiful BSPA orange rindiness.

Mouthfeel – A solid medium in the body with some good, live carbonation. The finish is dry with a remembrance of alcohol.

Drinkability – I let this set out for almost an hour before drinking it, so it was quite warm and very tasty. I don’t know what all the (negative) fuss on the site is about – this is a killer BSPA.

Comments – I can’t begin to express my gratitude to AleOha for this bottle. Not only did he host the biggest and baddest Kentucky Derby Day Bash I’ve ever been to, he sent me on my way with not one but two of these rarities. Thanks for all your hospitality and this very thoughtful gift.

What can I say? BAs rule!

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Photo of Todd
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 pint, 6 fluid ounce brown bottle, painted label; like the rest of Stone's gorgeous beer bottles.

Pale golden in color with a touch of haze. Head is an ample two finger thick, billowy, white froth with a clinging retention. Aroma has hints of sweet warm banana bread, fresh fermenting yeast, edge of lemon grass.

Smooth, even mouthfeel that finishes a bit gritty. Big yeast character in the flavor, with some sweet tea and a nice spicy, herbal hop presence (Czech Saaz). Touch of clove? The beer is actually quite sweet, with gentle fruity esters and mild lemon grass bitterness to break things up. Rubbery, here and there. Dry towards the finish with some residual hop spice and yeast characters.

Peter Zien of AleSmith Brewing, Tomme Arthur of Pizza Port Solana Beach / Port Brewing and Lee Chase of Stone Brewing all gathered at Stone to brew this beer for the 2004 Association of Brewers' Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego. With all of these great brewers you'd expect something exceptional! Instead this is a familiar Stone Belgian style ale, making this a bit samey and not very exciting. I'm guessing this uses the same yeast strain that's used in all of Stone's Belgian style beers, and is very similar to Stone's Vertical Epic 04.04.04 (also a big Belgian Pale Ale with lemon grass, but a bit lower in alcohol).

That said, this is a nice stab at a Belgian style Strong Pale Ale, with some rather interesting subtle twists, but more importantly a respectable nod to the beer community. I just expected something stellar. Anyway ... Cheers to craft brewers of the world!

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Photo of OStrungT
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours light gold with a white head. The head fades relatively quickly leaving a decent lacing. It has a citrus, fruity aroma. It smells of spices. It tastes mild. The fruit flavor is strong with a citrus aftertaste. The taste of hops are present. You can taste the alcohol also. It goes down smooth. It is a little too carbonated. This beer has a dry finish to it. This beer would probably be a good session beer, if you could get it. It took me a little while to track it down. I actually had to call the regional distributor. Ultimately, it was a decent beer that I would probably drink again.

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Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Belgian style ale, tastes more like a Stone than anyone else. Drinkable and interesting, and could finish the whole bottle myself over a multi-couse meal, me thinks. Liked the colour,liked the head, the complete mouthfeel.Radekfest #6 courtesy of Josh Oakes.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured an hazy golden color ale with small head with minimal retention. Aroma of coriander is clearly evident. Taste is very Belgian-lie with lots of coriander, Belgian yeast and some distinctive Stone hops. Body is way too thin for my liking and maybe is a bit oxidized. OK, but I’m sure those three brewers have produced better things in the past.

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Photo of Gusler
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer after dispensing from the 22 ounce brown bottle sits in the Belgian Triple glass an iridescent golden yellow –orange color with the head moderate in size, creamy in texture and a brilliant white color, as it evaporates rather quickly, the remaining lace forms a silky white curtain to drape the glass. A fairly light aroma of hops, hits you first, followed and semi-sweet or tart tone, slight hint of yeast, and a citrus like crispness that is a portent of things to come. Start is slightly sweet, with a pleasing malt presence; the top is moderate in its feel to the palate. Finish has a stinging acidity with the hops crisp and pleasurable in their spiciness, very dry aftertaste that lingers long on the palate. A nice Belgian Blonde style ale that is quite refreshing to the palate and a nice Sunday afternoon beer while you’re relaxing before the start of another week of drudgery. A bazillion thanks go to my old friend mzwolinski for this bottle.

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Photo of bultrey
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Golden hazy straw color with a 1-inch head that recedes to a constant thin head. Nice lacing with this sticky brew. Smell is bananas mixed with some herbaceousness. The taste is a big, sweet, blonde monster up front, with some white fruit characteristics like peach, pineapple and banana. But the sweetness is quickly tempered by a strange herbal/vegetative flavor that I can only assume comes from the lemongrass with which this beer is claimed to be brewed. I don't really like this vegetative flavor, and it makes an otherwise pleasant Belgian strong pale slightly less enjoyable. Mouthfeel is good -- rich and creamy. I've had worse Belgian strong pales, but I've definitely had better.

Kudos to EyeChartBrew and mzwolinski for the opportunity to try this hard-to-find brew.

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Photo of frank4sail
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lively golden peachy look in the goblet. Decent white head on the pour leaves the brew rapidly with just a white sheen.Hints of key lime, lemon peel and sweet malt in the nose. Fruity (jucey fruit) and sweet upfront with waves of citrus and a hint of caramel. The brew then becomes drier and slightly hoppy on the finish. Very rounded and clean. Medium viscous mouth. A nice balenced brew... quite drinkable.

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Photo of Rastacouere
2.99/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Cloudy and golden body. Decent sticky white head. Mostly yeasty nose wears light flowers trace. Fruity (apples, cantaloup, oranges), hay-ish and slightly earthy. A bit hot on the palate as seems to be the trend with most of stone’s belgian line. Cookie-ish maltiness. A sweeter Duvel meets a lighter and drier Horny Devil. Light-medium body, moderate carbonation. Spicy hops gives lenght to the finish in a peppery fashion because it seems rather short otherwise. Could mask its alcohol a bit better.

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Photo of weeare138
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to hopdog...

Appears a hazy, light gold with a small white cap that slowly fades out. Spotty lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of light notes of tart nectarines, apricots, and grassy hops.
Taste echoes the aromas with doughy bread, vanilla, spices, and fruit with a citrusy blend.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, acrid, and slightly oxidized...overall though, it stood up well over the past 4 years.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.51/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(bottle from Stone). Pours a perfectly clear, baeautiful golden color with a frothy white head. Lots of champagne like bubbles. The appearance of this beer is excellent. Yes, it does look a bit like a pilsener.
The flavors are slightly complex: it starts of feeling thick, sticky & sweet on the tongue but finishes dry and smooth. The taste reminds me of the Celis (TX) Grand Cru that used to be made. This is an excellent beer.
One word that I would throw in to describe it is: elegant.

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Photo of TrustOneSip
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of aracauna
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

When I tasted this, I really thought it was supposed to be something light. I’m a bit surprised to find out that its a Belgian Strong ale. Odd. Kind of like a wheat wine, but not that big. Vanilla, caramel, nice clean malt. The vanilla is real enough that I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had actually used vanilla. Light flavor and body are quite tasty, actually.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.03/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of drabmuh at the Stone tasting. Served in a Stone goblet.

Pours golden with a thin white head and some spotty lacing on the way down. The nose brings some pilsner malt plus a bit of yeasty spice and a touch of fruitiness. The flavor is a bit spicy with good carbonation carrying some flavor through, though honestly there's not much left to this one. Body is light to medium with a somewhat-dry finish. Past its prime, no doubt. Still, thanks to Matt for finding this one and sharing.

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Photo of silenius
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to the ever interesting and entertaining Gusler for this one!

It pours a clear brassy golden color with a white pillowy head that dissapates to a thin froth over the top of the glass. A bit of lacing traces its way down as I drink.

This beer reminds me of one of my favorites, Troubadour. A sweet spicy smell with ginger, cloves and cinnamon with a slight bitter herbal quality lurking in the background. Not entirely unlike rumcake. Very interesting.

Taste is definitely on the spicy malty side of the equation with not a lot of hops to speak of. Odd coming from Stone. . . I like this one. These guys make good beer. The clove and ginger spice malt taste lasts and lasts. It finishes with a nice palate cleansing bitterness.

Mouthfeel is frothy and soft. The beer does not feel thick, nor thin. I guess that means it is in the middle somewhere in weight. Nothing too special, but good.

What can I say about drinkability. After one bomber, I'd reach for something else, but that is not to say I am knocking this beer. One of these is enough for me.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: A nice surprise from fellow BA AleOha upon arriving at his 2004 Kentucky Derby Party was a trade of a few greenbacks for a few bottles of this reasonably rare, and quite special, offering from Stone. A red and white printed Bomber bottle with Stones trademark explanation on the reverse, is simply labeled as ‘2004 Symposium Ale’ with the Association of Brewers logo above it.

Appearance: Golden yellow body, perfectly clear with a nice level of conditioning that aids retention. Smooth looking white collar like head that has perfect presentation. Some light lacing, but it soon slides back down into the beers body.

Nose: The Saaz hops and alcohol are detectable in the aroma and give you a “no holes barred” feel for what this offering is all about. It is a strong Golden Ale with some lemony nuances.

Taste: It instantly reminded me of a 'La Merveilleuse de Chevremont' from Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Val-Dieu that I had last year in Belgium. A Duvel-ian golden start that leads into a lime and lemon tingle in the middle. Saaz hoppiness rises with the alcohol level and lends feel, pose and body to the Symposiums bitter finish. A bit like a repressed Duvel with a splash of lemon.

Mouthfeel: Solid but light at times, the body is wholesome and nicely balanced. The excellent smooth levels of carbonation and the light velvety feel mixed with a punchy Saaz bitterness in the mouth and on the tongue make for a good mouthfeel.

Drinkability: The lemongrass lends a ‘limeyness’ that gets to me after a while, it detracts a little from the overall drinkability for me. I think if I am honest, that the absence of lemongrass would have actually aided the long term Drinkability of this one.

Overall: A nice enough offering, that reminds me in no little way of the Stone Vertical Epic 04.04.04. It's not that this is bad, but releasing a Belgium Strong Golden Ale with Lemongrass so close to the VE04 release, well, I cannot help but think that a more adventurous style would have been the way to go here. I somehow expected much more from something that was conceived by the San Diego ménage-a-trois of Lee Chase (Stone), Tomme Arthur (Pizza Port Solana Beach) and Peter Zien (Alesmith). A Scotch style ale would have been nice but I guess that's an unfair comment.

Still, this is a very nice refreshing drink, but if you get chance to try the VE04, and don't get chance to try this, you haven't really missed much.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Old notes from a tasting. Pours pale golden with a one inch head with decent retention and lacing. Aroma is faintly spicy with some lemon notes and yeast. Some cardboard notes were noticeable so this one is past its prime. The oxidization imparted the same cardboard notes in the flavor. Taste is quite yeast, with notes of lemon, apricot, and spices. Alcohol is noticeable in the finish. Light bodied with good carbonation and a dry mouthfeel.

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Photo of BrewMaster
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Beautiful creamy white head made up of small bubbles. The head is creamy and just right. The color is a glowing, semi-transparent yellowish/orange color. This is a very pretty beer.

Smell: Sweet, malty aroma with a touch of apple.

Taste: This beer starts with a weird vegetable taste that I can't quite pick out. It's short-lived on the front of the beer but still noticable. Otherwise the beer proceeds to be fruity and sweet with a nice malty finish.

Mouthfeel: It coats the palate with some uncomfortable stickiness and a sour aftertaste. It's also unexpectedly thin at the end.

Drinkability: What to say about this beer. It's decent, but it's not great. I doubt I would order it again if there were other choices.

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Photo of imblane
4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Color was a pleasing light orange blossom honey. Not much head to speak of (1 finger) which quickly dissipated with minimal lacing present. Aroma is warm banana bread, with hints of alcohol and a crisp lemon grass. Mouth feel was medium with lively carbonation; however, not as full as expected, given the style. Finishes pleasingly dry with a hint of warming alcohol. Flavor starts moderately sweet, but is taken over with a moderate bitter/yeasty, almost buttery biscuit. Not as full flavored as I expected, given the collective brewer collaboration (Are our standards too high?) With all that said, this is a highly drinkable Belgian ale, easily on par with Chimay and Umbroue . This is very similar; however, not as bold as the 040404 Vertical Epic, but with less ABV% at 7.48. This may seem critical, but I did thoroughly enjoy this offering, and I would gladly purchase this regularly if available. I have a whole case, which I will allow to age along with my case of 040404, and look forward to enjoying at 6-month intervals in the future. Cheers!!

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Photo of Ristaccia
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Omar for a pour of this on Darkness Eve. Definitely some oxidation, though not as much as I would have thought. Flavors are muted but very smooth - light fruits, Belgian yeast. Very easy drinking. Almost certainly past its prime, but held up much better than I would have imagined.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.29/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy straw gold color with orange overtones, and is topped by an off-white head. Lightly sweet aroma with notes of lemon peel, pepper and some other spicing, and a hint of tropical fruit. The taste is quite fruity with some nice Belgian yeast contributions that make this a bit spicy. There are some notes of lemon and orange as well as a bit of musty character. This is the most yeast-characterful beer that I have had from the Stone Brewery. The yeast have left a definite signature here. This is quite enjoyable, and it is better than I was expecting. This has a medium amount of sweetness to it, and a correspondingly medium thick body. The sweetness helps to accentuate the fruity notes.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 03/30/12 notes. Big thanks to drabmuh for sharing this one.

a - Pours a murky yellow orange color with a few white bubbles and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of bready mlts and some caramel malts, with some light yeast. A big faded and weak, pretty average.

t - Tastes of fruity malts, yeast, bready malts, and caramel malts. A step up from the nose, a little bit stronger.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Pretty easy to drink.

o - Overall a decent beer but seems a bit faded at this point. Nose is a bit weak and the carbonation is low. Would suggest drinking now if you have a bottle.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at O'Brien's from a bottle.

This ale poured a hazy, golden amber color with thin white foam. The smell was vinous with notes of citrus/lemon and malt. The taste was slightly fruity with a sweetness up front, a touch of citrus, and a sharp, bitter finish. Other flavors were floral hops, some nobel hoppiness, a bit of herbal flavor, and some spiciness. The mouthfeel was very dry overall, and sharp and crisp, with an astringent finish. The body and carbonation were medium. This was a very nice ale.

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2004 Symposium Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.83 out of 5 with 35 ratings