This beer is part of Stone's Vertical Epic
series. If you're not familiar with the idea, I'll let them tell you about it:
As with any good epic, herein lies the promise of larger-than-life experiences, heroics and twists & turns as the adventure unfolds. These bottle-conditioned ales are specifically designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012. Provided you can wait that long. At that time, enjoy them in a "vertical" tasting. Each one unique to it's year of release. Each with its own "twist & turn" in the plotline. Each one released one year, one month and one day from the previous year's edition.
To my everlasting shame, I had never heard of this before last month. The first beer in the Vertical Epic series was released six years ago, on Feb. 2, 2002. The bottle I have here was released on July 7, 2007. I found it in a very small liquor store along a highway outside of Anza Borrego State Park in San Diego County. I was eating at a Mexican restaurant that didn't serve beer, so I went next door to the liquor store to buy a 6-pack. I came out with the 6-pack and this:
Since this is designed to be opened four and a half years from now, I feel sort of bad about drinking it tonight. If I find more, I will certainly buy it (along with any others in the series I can find). I'm not confident, though, since I'll be leaving the west coast in a two months. It seems kind of silly to age a single bottle of beer for 4 years. If I can do even half the series I will wait, but for now I'm going to enjoy this one. Let's see what we've got.
The pour: a thick, white, fluffy head springs up right away and disappears almost as quickly. The beer itself has a very nice golden honey color.
The aroma: it smells like a strong Belgian ale, with lots of malt. The aromas are apple, banana and honey, and a little bit of biscuit.
The taste: it tastes like a strong Belgian ale as well. That same honey flavor is prominent, as is the banana. I'm starting to doubt whether I smelled apple at all, because I can't taste any. As it warms up a little, I can taste a bit of coriander and maybe a little bubblegum. The bottle tells me that the brewer added orange peel, lemon peel and grapefruit peel, and all three come through (well, the taste of citrus peel generally does) during the aftertaste, as well as a decent wallop of ginger. There's a ton of carbonation (made naturally in the bottle), which is actually a pretty good complement to the flavors. I can taste some alcohol, but not a lot (the bottle says 8.4%). Overall there is a very nice progression from sweet out front to spices in the aftertaste. Those guys at Stone really know how to put a beer together.
Maybe it would be better after some more aging (it's had 9 months in the bottle, but was meant to sit for 5 years), but I couldn't wait. They do have some very detailed homebrewing recipes for all these beers at this website
; maybe I'll make it when I move and get some homebrewing supplies, and let it age for a while.
The rating: 7/10
. It's a decent Belgian ale right now. If you see some and you have more patience than me, pick some up and let it sit for a while. I'll bet it gets better.