A Vertical mini Epic with Stone
A couple weeks ago I found two vintage bottles of Stone’s Vertical Epic, a beer with a different recipe each year and designed to be age. They started this series in the early 2000’s and mean it to develop up to 2012. I also got my hands on a Stone 12th anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. Stone is a nice older brewery from Southern California that I think has done a lot for the craft beer movement.
Stone Vertical Epic 07
Pouring with a moderate head, the colour on this beer is a cloudy molten yellow. Made in a belgian strong ale style. With a lot of spice, citrus, pineapple, banana and other tropical fruit on the nose, this smells fantastic and is amazingly layered. The palate was full bodied (I think about 9% abv), and yet smooth and creamy. I tasted the same flavours as on the nose, but think it is worth noting the very long lingering finish. Also, the flavour layering on the palate is really subtley integrated and the beer is exceptionally easy to drink. A fantastic effort.
$7/22oz at Ledger’s Liquors
Stone Vertical Epic 08
Perhaps needing more age, this was made in a hoppier more American style than the 07. THe colour is straw-like and much lighter than the 07. The nose has a pleasant combination of floral and herbal hops and Belgian yeast aromas. The palate was quite a bit heftier than the 07, despite the colour difference, but it was also less complex and layered and the finish not as long (but I find this comes with age). While enjoyable, this just lacked the elegance of the 07, although in a year I bet this will be a very different beer.
Very Good to Very Good+
$6.50/22oz at Ledger’s Liquors
Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Oatmeal Stout
With the hops shortage in 2008, Stone was forced to innovate to provide bitterness to its beers. They did that here by adding a lot of bitter chocolate, which as any beer afficionado knows, is the perfect pairing for stout.
The colour on this very high alcohol oatmeal stout (9% again) was very dark brown and pretty much opaque. The nose had plenty of chocolate, with some cherry, fig and coffee as well. There was a detectable note of alcohol lingering behind all those aromas. The palate was creamy and highly roasted. I suspect a lot of chocolate malts were used in this beast. With lots of mocha flavours, this beer does not taste overly alcoholic, despite noticeable traces. Essentially this is a very flavourful beer that does not yet have a lot of complexity but is certainly great for the price. Not to mention that paired with dark chocolate, this is just hedonistically loveable.
Very Good (will improve with age)
$6/22oz at Ledger’s Liquors