Dec 29, 2011

Stone Vertical Epic 11.11.11

Vertical Epic 11.11.11 photo

I’ve been a big fan of Stone Brewing’s Vertical Epic series ever since first hearing about it back in 2007 — it still burns me that I missed several years in the beginning. The concept is fun and was the main reason I first started cellaring beer. The series may not be a true vertical tasting in the traditional sense since each year is a completely different beer instead of relying on the same recipe for each release. That aside, I’d thoroughly enjoyed each beer since first collecting the bottles. That is, until this most recent effort.

Vertical Epic 11.11.11 is a Belgian style ale at its core, but also utilizes local (to the brewery) Anaheim chilies and cinnamon sticks. Now, this isn’t your typical chili beer with over-the-top heat. There’s very little heat from the peppers. In fact they don’t even really impact the flavor with their own character except to sort of give it a muddled profile. Perhaps my palate isn’t quite adjusted enough to differentiate between the Belgian character, the earthy chilies or the cinnamon, but this one just didn’t do it for me like past releases. I’m also a bit concerned with how this one will cellar.


This latest Epic pours a clear copper in color with a dense, tawny head that fell slowly.


I get piny hops more than anything else with hints of chilies, subtle cinnamon and barely a hint of Belgian yeast.


This brew tasted similar to a West Coast barley wine with a hoppy profile. The Belgian component was completely lost to me until the beer had an opportunity to sit in the glass for a while. Only then did it come out to play. The chilies were also a bit lost, appearing more in the aftertaste than at any other point in the drinking process. The 9.4% ABV was well masked but did provide a low level of warmth in the dry, hoppy finish.


I’m not sure about this beer. Right now, it’s got a bit of an identity crisis. It’s not sure what it wants to be. I’ve got several bottles of past releases in the series that I’ve opened periodically to see how they are coming along and each has stood up to the test of time nicely. This one, I’m not so confident in. Perhaps a a year in the basement will fine tune things.


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