Talk about mixed emotions. December 12, 2012 rolled around and, come 12:12 p.m., we were elated to finally be able to crack open a vertical tasting like no other. A few hours later, we felt a haze of gloom descend over us as we realized that experience we’d spent nearly 11 years preparing for was over, never to return. It was right there at our Stone Epic Festival, with 11 bottles representing every vintage of Stone Vertical Epic Ale gaping back at us with their empty, open maws, that it all sunk in. This chapter in the history of Stone Brewing Co. was done; eclipsed by the passage of time and a finite supply of triplicate day/month/year dates.
Big changes afoot this year for the aptly named 5th version of our Stone Vertical Epic Ale series. First, as you may have noticed, this is being written not by Lee Chase, but by Mitch Steele and John Egan. Lee has moved on to other things, but since this was his last recipe formulation for Stone Brewing Co., we will try and carry on his tradition of providing all the information you need to brew this tasty beer at home.
We’re really happy with this year’s Stone 06.06.06 Vertical Epic Ale. This is a very dark ale fermented with Belgian Trappist yeast, so the flavors in it are really deep and complex. The Belgian yeast clove notes combine nicely with the roast malt flavors, with dried cherry and anise undertones. The flavors imparted by the special roasted malt are very rich, smooth, and silky. It will be interesting to see how this beer ages, and how the smooth roasted malt characters evolve with the spicy Belgian yeast character over time.
by Lee Chase
This year, the Vertical Epic has taken another turn…but this time toward the simpler! I wanted to highlight a couple of things with this brew, with particular attention being paid to the future flavor development of the beer. You know, keeping it fairly simple, but making it relatively high-alcohol and full of flavor. Having had a bit of this in March, this baby was still a little young—actually, more like not-yet-born if you factor in the bottle-conditioning time required—but had a huge fruity yeast flavor (phenolic), some tasty chocolate notes, and a really pleasant texture, all of which improved as it warmed up. So below you will find the not-so-difficult-to-brew recipe to construct your very own 5 gallons of Stone 05.05.05 Vertical Epic Ale. Hope you enjoy it!
by Lee Chase
So, it is year number 3 in the series… and we have the Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale at hand. This is an interesting beer that, as with the others, will be wonderful to see how it develops over time. This year, as you probably know, is a pale beer that has a lot going on in the flavor and aroma…with a hint of Kaffir lime leaf in there to add some complexity. I really like how this beer came together, with the medium body, distinct aroma of tropical fruits from the yeast, and that light lime essence in there to make you twist your head like my dog when he’s thinking…Then there’s the flavor of all that yeast and hops and the soft texture of the wheat and the finish with that lime leaf blending with the esters from the fermentation….mmm…I can ALMOST taste it, but this Stone IPA that I happen to have in my hand at the moment will have to do.
by Lee Chase
Alright, now this is going to be a little different than last years (OK, a LOT different!!). By now you might know that these “Vertical” beers are not just the same recipe as each other, they are designed to be quite different than each other. We are not trying to make the recipe as difficult to brew as possible (we’re not doing triple decoctions, or aging them in oak barrels for 3 years… yet!). Instead we’re just trying to make what we think is a great beer, and have a little fun in the process. So read on, and do the best you can. That’s kind of what I did…
by Lee Chase
For those who didn’t get any Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale and have to make their own, here is an all-grain homebrew recipe to help you out. Your results may vary (wink).