05 February 2013

KOTBR #148 | Stone Vertical Epic...Without 02.02.02

Eleven Stone Vertical Epics. Eleven beers brewed by one of this country's most esteemed breweries. Eleven different flavor profiles. Eleven different noses. Eleven different mouthfeels.

Someone had to drink them all side-by-side, in a row. Who was that someone?

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable.

For those who are unfamiliar with Stone's Vertical Epic series, each year beginning in 2002, Stone brewed this yearly release. The beer was made available one year, one month, and one day from the previous year's edition. Each beer was brewed according to a completely different recipe. So Stone's first Vertical Epic was released on 02-02-02, the second on 03-03-03, etc. The last Vertical Epic, 12-12-12, was released last year.

To our good fortune, Rod and Jess had cellared every Vertical Epic since 03-03-03, including a wine-barrel-aged version of the 11-11-11. They in their generosity invited the rest of the KOTBR to enjoy the series. The result? Well, I'd say that we displayed our diverse palates because each of us seemed to prefer different Vertical Epics. Here are thoughts from some of us on our three favorite Vertical Epics. We'll let Jason go first because he decided to display an artistic bent in his review.

Stone Vertical Epic 03-03-03 through 12-12-12 with an additional white wine barrel aged 11-11-11


"Drinking a Vertical Stone"
By Dr. Gut and the Beer Geek Show
(To the tune of "On the Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show)

Well we are big beer drinkers and beer blog thinkers
And we drink everywhere we go
We write about flavors and we write about aroma
And anything else we know
We drink things that are rare and things that have flare
And we share all that we own
But we can’t share the one we can’t get our hands on:
02.02.02 Vertical Stone

Vertical Stone
     The 05.05.05 was like candy
Vertical Stone
     The dark Belgian was a dandy
Vertical Stone
     Gonna see my smilin' face
Drinkin’ on a Vertical Stone

We've got a funky beer that smells kinda queer
Aged inside a brewer’s gym shoes
We've got wet hopped quadruple IPA
With about a thousand IBUs
We have every kind that we can find
Priced so high we had to take out a loan
But no amount of cash will buy us a stash
Of 02.02.02 Vertical Stone

Vertical Stone
     The 03.03.03 was like gnarly
Vertical Stone
     Tasting like a wine of barley
Vertical Stone
     Gonna see my smilin' face
Drinkin’ on a Vertical Stone

We got a lot of little beer blogging groupies
Who follow every word we say
We got a genuine Jewish lawyer
He's teachin' us to say Oy Vey!
We’ve got Facebook friends, tweeps, and beer geeks
So we never have to drink alone
We keep drinking beer but we’ll never taste, I fear,
Of 02.02.02 Vertical Stone

Vertical Stone
     Could not get enough of eleven
Vertical Stone
     The Cinnamon and Peppers were like heaven
Vertical Stone
     Gonna see my smilin' face
Drinkin’ on a Vertical Stone


In no particular order....

I thought this beer was smooth...with a nice finish. A little hint of grapefruit made it interesting. And it had some funky yeast flavor going on, which I liked. I put in my notes that, "I would drink a pony of it."

I loved how interesting this beer was. The addition of chamomile gave it a great flavor...and the grapes left me with a wine taste. It was all over the place, but I was absolutely okay with that.

Aged in a white wine barrel...chili flavor was still there. I noted..."Oak, hot, sharp, yummy!" There you have it.

04-04-04 - spiced, sweet wheat with an accent of lime leaf and zest

05-05-05 - warm, spicy Belgian with notes of raisins and candi sugar

03-03-03 - Sweet, dark caramel malts with a touch of coriander at the finish


My favorites in haiku:

Sweet, sweet candy smell
Peppery smooth on my tongue
Put more in my mouth

Super hoppy smell
Lemony-citrus goodness
Danger! Danger! Beer

Oh, pretty pink beer
Starts out quite sweet, tart finish
I will marry you

Why you no show up
You might have been my top pick
We shall never know

06-06-06 - Complex and interesting with notes of raisins, figs, fennel, black pepper, brown sugar, molasses and lime

07-07-07 - Belgian tripel with aromas of tangerine, grapefruit and lime followed by flavors of cardamom, lime and grapefruit

08-08-08 - Spruce and tripel yeast on the nose with a spicy body of lime, spruce, cinnamon and white pepper

07-07-07 - The grapefruit and lime flavors were preserved well in this beer, which were an interesting compliment to the spicy tripel yeast. Major overtones of cardamom where a nice compliment as well. Even though it has five years on it, this one evolved very nicely.

09-09-09 - Imperial stouts typically hold up well under age, and this was no exception. Chocolate and cinnamon notes were very present, and the smoked flavors actually seemed to grow with age. While I normally don't care much for anise, the hint of licorice complimented this one well.

11-11-11 (White Wine Barrel) - The standard 2011 Vertical Epic seemed to lose most of the chile flavor that I enjoyed in the fresh version after a year of age. The wine barrel version completely transformed this beer into something new. Pleasantly oaky, the cinnamon worked with the traces of white wine and created butterscotch flavors that were reminiscent of bourbon. Not at all what I would expect from the 11-11-11 Vertical Epic, this was practically a new beer.

09-09-09 - Imperial stout laced with vanilla, smoke, chocolate, cinnamon and a touch of anise

10-10-10 - Sweet, white grape juice and chamomile.  Tastes similar to the fresh version.

04-04-04. I'm a sucker for wheat beers, so this one hit my palate just right. Sweet, peppery, citrusy, with a Hefeweizen character in the finish. I think I was the only one of the group who liked this one.

08-08-08. While we couldn't reach a consensus on which Vertical Epic was the best, I'm pretty sure that this one was liked by most of us. This generously-hopped tripel struck me as being similar in character to a hoppy American barleywine with its caramel and grapefruit notes. I wouldn't have guessed it to be a tripel at all in fact.

09-09-09. Like most craft beer aficionados, my trigger gets tripped by imperial stouts, and this one was no exception. Hoppy, unusually dry, smokey, with a slightly sweet finish.

11-11-11 - Big cinnamon aroma and flavor, sweet amber malts and a hint of smoke

12-12-12 - Very spicy with notes of allspice, clove, cinnamon and brown sugar

All Vertical Epics blended together into a very interesting experiment, surprisingly drinkable


  1. Wasabi peas? Seriously? You guys are effed up! :) Loved the part by Jason and the haiku. Very exclusive beer tasting!

  2. It's like a Where's Waldo of things we can do to offend people.