I had seen this bottle a few times at New Seasons, this label with a tauntingly promising name called Vertical Epic from Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, California. How can anything called Vertical Epic be a bad thing? The name alone promises depth, a journey into somewhere a beer drinker has never gone.
So did a little research - hit up a few blogs, read some reviews - and then hit upon Stone's own website (which is fantastic).
On their website I found the story behind Vertical Epic - and it's amazing apparently sometime in 2001 they came up with this idea to have a series of beers come out on the special dates every year - 2/2/02, 3/3/03, etc - and call it Vertical Epic. Vertical for the ability to drink multiple years side by side (they dare you to save one of each until 12/12/12 and try them together), and Epic because, well, such an undertaking is pretty epic.
To be real honest, it's kind of disheartening to find out about something like this with 9/9/09 on the shelf, but such is life.
Obviously the question is asked what happened to the 1/1/01 beer? I love the answer:
Ugh. If only we had a bottle of 02.02.02 for every time we heard that question. There are two reasons for its non-existence: (1) We didn't want to participate in the whole overhyped media nonsense of "Millennium this" and "Millennium that," and (2) we didn't think of the Stone Vertical Epic Ale idea until the fall of 2001 (which is already too late for a 01.01.01 version.) Sure we could wait until the year 3001 to start this series, but we were afraid that with all that time between now and next millennium, we might forget. Besides, that millennium will probably be overhyped as much as the last one.Funny, and honest - I love it!
So needless to say I was sold I needed to try this. It promised flavors of vanilla, chocolate, malt, and tangerine, so it just sounded yummy anyway.
The beer had a great pour - smooth and thick, almost creamy. There were hints of vanilla, chocolate, and tropical fruit in the nose, a very pleasant combination.
And the taste? Pretty good. All of the promised flavors were there, as well a slight oakiness from the barrels Stone used in the process. It's not common that you can taste oak, but because of the subtlety of the actual beer flavors - I'm thinking hops - all of these other ones made themselves known. The tangerine was hidden to me, but for some reason I did taste banana. Which was surprising. Not bad, just surprising.
Overall this was very nicely balanced and I would definitely recommend it. If I can find another one I'm going to pick it up to archive away with my Black Butte Porter XXI and my Abyss bottles from last year. If I can't find any...I'll be sad.
And I'm marking my calendar for 10/10/10 to pick up the next release.