Nov 20, 2015

Stone Brewing Vertical Epic 08.08.08 Encore

No, this is not a review of a cellared, seven year old bottle of Stone’s 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale. You can find a review of that beer (enjoyed fresh) here. This bottle of 08.08.08 was released just last month in celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary, as the brewery revisits some fan favorites.

Personally, this particular release in the Vertical Epic series wasn’t my favorite — that designation goes to following year’s offering, 10.10.10. At any rate, how does this fresh re-released version of 08.08.08 compare to my notes and faded memory? Pretty much about the same as when I first had it.

Stone says that all of the beers released in their Encore series use the original recipes, but this one certainly tastes different to me. Perhaps my palate has changed that much since then. Or perhaps the spices and hops used in this batch have evolved, bringing about slightly different presentations. All I know is that this one isn’t quite as subtle as I remember and packs a larger spice foot print, as well.


The beer pours golden in color with a healthy crown of white foam.

Stone Brewing Vertical Epic 08.08.08 Encore photo


Grassy hops, spices, light bread and a solid amount of yeast waft from the surface. Unlike the first release, I don’t pick up any banana traits this time around.


And there’s the banana that I remember. I guess it was just a little shy at first, though still lingers in the background. It’s joined by a stronger hop presence, a solid blend of spices, toasted bread, honey and a bit more alcohol warmth than I remember. The beer is lightly syrupy with a lasting hop tingle in the finish.


While there are some aspects of this beer that reflect past memories and my notes, it still feels different. The hop bite feels bigger, the alcohol more pronounced and the spice blend more in the forefront. The brew isn’t as smooth or as subtle overall as I remember. Again, that could be due to the several hundred beers that have been poured into my gullet since then, polluted memories, evolved ingredients and a change in my palate. Or, maybe, it is a different beer. Who knows.

Rating: 3.5/5

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