Stone loves to release limited edition beers that keep people interested. Last year I enjoyed their Green Tea IPA, Chocolate Cherry Stout, and 15 year Anniversary Black IPA. I’m hopeful that this coming year they will continue their rare and interesting brews as well. Thankfully I managed to procure two bottles of this years Vertical Epic release. I wish I could say I’ve enjoyed them year after year through all of the previous releases, but the only one I can say I’ve had for sure is last years release. I actually really wasn’t a huge fan of the last incarnation of this series. It included muscat, gewurzatraminer, and sauvignon blanc grapes. These different types of grapes, combined with chamomile, just didn’t create a flavor profile I particularly enjoyed. This year’s seemed far more interesting to me. This year’s release features cinnamon and Anaheim chili peppers. Having had mixed feelings about beers brewed with chili peppers in the past, I was interested in seeing how the heat came across on this one.
Having received the Stone book for Christmas, I went to this as a resource for their Vertical Epic series. Here they state that they wanted to brew a larger than life beer that would be considered on par with some of the great written epics. These transcend time and, in some respect, only get better with age. The same principle was intended to be applied to this series. The entire series is brewed with the idea of cellaring and aging these bottles. I can’t imagine holding on to the first ever epic release for this long, but they state that these are intended to be aged until after the final release 12.12.12. It is my full intention to hold onto my second bottle of this for the next year. As the book states, they hope this series will become the magnum opus of Stone Brewing Company.
The picture this week actually does a little bit of a better job displaying what this beer looked like when I poured it out The beer is a really dark rich auburn color with some hints of orange to it as well. The head that develops is a rich thick white development that really lasts. After writing my notes, I finished drinking the bottle while playing a little Playstation 3. The beer managed to retain its head while I progressed through killing a few Russians. The lacing, like the head, was ample and long-lasting. There is a very definite hazy quality to this beer, but it appears as if there isn’t a whole lot of visible carbonation here.
There is a clear sweetness that comes off the smell of this beer. I was actually a little surprised I could pull the cinnamon smell out of the nose of the beer. I can’t remember ever drinking a beer where cinnamon is a main ingredient, but this one definitely does come out in the aroma. I do get some slight hoppy scent here. Stone does enjoy their hops, so I’m not surprised to get a little bit of that out of here. Combining with the cinnamon seems to be some really rich clove scents. I really didn’t manage to pick up a whole lot of the chili peppers here; however, Anaheim chili peppers are not known as being very strong in the spice department. I’m still hopeful they come across more on the taste.
The sweet malts do intro the tasting to this brew, but they are quickly met by a slight hit of hops. Following the subtle bitterness the hops provide, there is some really rich clove flavors that come in. These blend perfectly with the subtle sweetness of the cinnamon to create a really pleasant and rich tanginess. The chili peppers combine with some slight banana and citrus flavors to give a little burn towards the end of the flavors. The aftertaste sees the light burn subside and finish with a little more of the tangy clove flavoring.
The mouthfeel definitely leans more towards a syrupy consistency than a highly carbonated one. As I poured glass after glass, I noticed that the carbonation mellows quite quickly. If you take a sip right after you pour, the carbonation seems high and a little overpowering. However, as the beer warms, the carbonation quickly subsides. The Anaheim chili peppers give a nice little kick without making it burn you too much. Finally, I really like the tangy quality they managed to get out of this one. It is a much different aftertaste, but it is by no means unpleasant.
I would be really surprised to have any beer fan turn around and say they don’t like Stone. They always mange to keep things interesting. I really enjoy the entire concept behind this series, and I’m really happy with this years release. I can’t wait to see what happens as this one ages. I’ll definitely have to do a little follow-up review before the end of the year. None the less, I know you can still find a few of these bottle around; therefore, you better go find one before they disappear. You’ll be very happy you did.
Teacher Grade: A