Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic AleStone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

217 Reviews
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 217
Hads: 316
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 10.66%
Wants: 95
Gots: 53 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Pale Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 04-07-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

A new Vertical Epic will be released every year, with the goal being to collect them all and have a Vertical Epic tasting once the final Epic is released on 12/12/12. Each new Stone Vertical Epic Ale will be release one YEAR, one MONTH and one DAY apart. This time around we used some unmalted wheat, just the right touch of Kaffir Lime Leaf, and a really cool Belgian yeast. The result is a bit like a strong Biere de Garde / Saison-esque influenced beer coupled with some aromatic Bavarian Hefeweizen style phenolic banana esters, and a backnote hint of lime from the lime leaf.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 217 | Hads: 316
Photo of cncbofh
4.97/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Almost a perfect 5 here.

You don't notice the 8.5%. This beer is dangerous.
It's a summer beer that is light but fairly complex. It goes down way too easy and has an unmistakable lemon zest that is absolutely thrilling. I love the fresh taste and light mouthfeel... It has an herbal lemongrass aftertaste that is neither harsh nor unpleasant.

I'm saving 6 of these for the cellar.
Way to go Stone Brewing Co.! (418 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.37/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazed golden appearance with an orange tint to it. Thin off-white head with some retetion. Lacing is moderate. Great nose of bread, belgian yeast, pepper, lime and dough. Quite the complex flavor profile, but overall, fairly subtle. A light layer of ethanol coats flavors of floury dough, lemon, pepper and hops. The hops are bitter, but held in check. Malts seem to be biscuity in nature. Some esters of banana and bubblegum give a slight "hefe" fell to it. The body is close to medium and the level of carbonation is appropriate....not too gassed up and not too flat. This one goes down way too easy. Nice and refreshing feel to it. And a lingering dryness that begs me more. (686 characters)

Photo of Longstaff
4.14/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A pretty good example of a well made US belgian style that only needs a little adjustment to be a great one. I had to pour this one roughly just induce a little head, but it fell quickly. Aromas were wonderful and full of bubblegum and spicy alcohol from the Belgian yeast. Nice golden color. Cotton candy like flavors mix well with the cookie dough flavored malt. Somewhat complex already and I'm sure with a little more age, it would be even more so. The mouthfeel on this is perfect for the first few sips, but seems to loose too much carbonation at the end, leaving it feeling thin. I think a touch more carbonation will turn this from being pretty good to being outstanding. They should make this one a regular. (716 characters)

Photo of PSUDREW
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

hmmm how to describe this... part hefe, part dunkle, part belgian triple...very interesting mix, and I am facinated to see how this will taste when I review it again in a couple of years.

It pours a nice golden color, with a frothy head that dissapates rather quickly.

Like I said before, the best way to describe the flavor is that of a mix. It has the sugary/abv taste that you might find in any one of the belgian styles. it has light peppery twist.

no hop presence that I notice, and that easy bananna/citrus taste that I would get from a hefe/dunkle

And, as the lable notes, there is a lime taste, but only present in the aftertaste, (which finish crisp and smooth) and only slightly so. hopefully, it will progress over time, becuase I feel it is a very nice addition.

For the sweet and heavy taste, it is highly drinable. I am rathere interested in what this brew will taste like in a couple of years (924 characters)

Photo of lou91
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured like a textbook triple with alcohol and sweet honey in the nose and a golden/orange glow with minimal head. Initial taste are also textbook with crisp clean flavors of Belgian yeast and sugar and a tart back of the tongue astringency. As it warms it showed greater depth of flavors and is a much better contender to last until 12/12/12 than the first two. As far as Kaffir lime leaves go – I know what they taste like and they were too faint to be noticeable. But this would be good with thai food with its sweetness and crisp clean tastes. (557 characters)

Photo of mickeymac
3.63/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one is a bit puzzling and disappointing for a Stone brew. Experimentation is great, but this one seems to be all over the place. It starts out with a decent golden-orange appearance. The head is minimal even with a vigorous pour and disappears almost immediately. The bottle says it contains lime leaves, but the lime smell and taste seems almost artificial: sort of a laboratory-created lime essence. A bit of hefeweizen banana and clove is noticeable but does not contrast particularly well with the lime. Mouthfeel is decent, and it's fairly drinkable for an 8.5% beer. Even young beers meant to age should display some characteristics that make you want to stock up and store it away. This one didn't have me rushing to the local shop to grab a case to store away. (773 characters)

Photo of francisweizen
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Decent. This brew poured out a dark/orangey golden colour with a fluffy off-white head of foam. The beer was cloudy with a very noticeably hazy look to it. The aromas were very similar to what the label said they would be. This beer has the aromas of a clove-filled, banana/bubble gum-like german hefe, and some funky saison-like yeast aromas as well. There is also a distinctly citrus-like (lime?) aroma and a bit of a farmhouse hoppiness as well. The taste is yeasty up front with the clove flavors battling it out with the lime leaf flavors. The lime leaf is a bit rough on the palate, but it does lend an interesting complexity to this brew. Their is a big malty breadiness in the middle and than a huge kick of herbal hops ends the show. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy, and interesting, and the drinkability is decent. A good beer, but not one of Stones best. So far the VE beers have been good, but they have yet to "blow my mind". Perhaps the 02 was the best of the lot? Or perhaps these just need a good long nap in the cellar... (1,037 characters)

Photo of Gusler
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer as it jettisons from the 22 ounce brown bottle a somewhat hazy amber with a mountainous light tan and spumescent head, the lace a thick sealing sheet to conceal the glass. Nose is sweet malt with a nice hint of yeast, biscuit like, also a smidgeon of hop spiciness noted, quite crisp and clean to the senses, start is rich in malt, somewhat sweet and the top middling in its feel to the palate. Finish has a stern acidity, and a pleasing hop bite, quite dry and lingering aftertaste, another great beer from a great brewery, having said that I do think like the 03 that it will benefit greatly from a few years in the cellar. (634 characters)

Photo of Boilermaker88
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Seeing how I got a bit of a late jump on the whole Vertical Epic thing, missing out on the '02 and only scaring up a couple bottles of the '03, I decided not to miss the opportunity and bought up six 22oz bottles to tide me over. Then there where five...
Stone's take on a Belgian tripel poured the color of golden sunshine and had a plethora of fine carbonation working to briefly form a spritzy white head. The head hung around only a few minutes before dissolving to a thin ring and left only the barest of lace.
The nose had me thinking hefeweizen for a minute as the first aromas to register were those of bready malts, bananas, and cloves. As I inhaled some more, there were plenty of citrusy notes along with some coriander and a dash of pepper to the nose.
The taste was decidedly Belgian-esqe but was noticeably tweaked in comparison to those brewed in Belgium. To start, this tripel struck me as possessing quite a bit of hops, much more than in other tripels I've tried. The initial taste was of yeasty malt and some mild banana flavor. The sweetness rather quickly transitioned to a more spicy clove-and-coriander taste, followed up by a hearty orange-lemon-lime citrus pop. The problem I ran into was in the finish as it adopted a mild metallic tang. The feel was medium-bodied, initially somewhat creamy due to the tightly packed carbonation but also sporting a bit of a raw, harsh edge, with a drying finish.
Overall, this is a decent tripel, especially when I stop to consider its youth. Maybe with some time to mature, the rawness and slight metal tang will round off and fade. The five remaining bottles will be stowed away with a note saying "do not touch again 'til 04.04.05". (1,700 characters)

Photo of Dukeofearl
3.4/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I will defer to some of the more experienced reviewers below, since this is my #50 review- only 750 to go to catch up to EyeChartBrew!

Seriously, I decided to try this brew "fresh" because of the previous reviews- saving some for later. Pours a almost clear gold color that is ever so slightly cloudy, from a 22 oz. breown bottle. There is an immediate (but not terribly strong) belgian yeast aroma, with nice carbonation and a nice head. Head starts out moderate size and settles to a small white covering in a few minutes. Aroma is nice, with sugars and citrus (orange, sour lime?) and some banana.

Flavor is sharp, with wheat, citrus, banana, and lots of things I knew were there but could not identify. There were some hops bite, with an overall mustiness and earthiness from the yeast. Surprising lack of sweetness.

Overall I did not really care for it. Based on previous discussion, I guess it is from it being young, and will get better. But I guess I compare it to a Rochefort 10, which is great fresh and gets better from there. This one is ok fresh, and supposed to get better from there. Will it? Don't know. (1,128 characters)

Photo of IrishRedRock
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

9/19/09: Instead of going to GABF this year, we're having our own craft beer weekend at the beach. Thus I'm breaking out an '04 VE for the first time in a few years to see how it's changed. And changed it has. Color remains the same golden, with a significant amount of suspended yeast floating throughout. Spiciness of the Belgian yeast still comes though in the aroma, as do soft floral notes, alcohol and a lot of vanilla. This vanilla flavor is also present in the flavor. The lime has faded to be nearly undetectable. Still very good carbonation upon first pour with a good head, but quickly fades to lace. Very smooth on the mouthfeel. I think I liked a fresh sample better and this may be on its way down, however still very tasty and very drinkable. No change to my original ratings.

4/15/04: Ah, a fresh '04. Typical tripel golden color with a moderate fluffy white head. Sweet malty and yeasty aroma, with notes of banana and clove. Still nothing out of the ordinary. Flavor of citrus and spice come out, with just a faint hint of what tastes like those lime flavored Tostitos in the very end of the finish. The after-after taste, if you will. I guess that's the wee lime leaf. Alcohol is easily detectable in the flavor but certainly not overdone or taking away from the other flavors. You'll know it's there though. Mouthfeel is very smooth with a surprising amount of low carbonation, considering it is so young. This will be interesting to age, and I look forward to seeing how the other bottles I have come out over the years. More extensive reviewing to follow. (1,579 characters)

Photo of Wildman
3.77/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This latest version of their one year model bills itself as a Belgian Tripel. As usual, they mess with the formula a bit. This one poured a light gold color and formed a very small bubbly white head that left trace lace as it subsided. A small amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of hops, banana and spices, with really no hint of the lime mentioned. The flavor was of hops, banana and spices. The finish was a slight peppery. Really no hint of the lime. As a Tripel goes, it's not bad, but not outstanding either. (521 characters)

Photo of kmcnair
4.14/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing this one as sampled from a Chimay goblet out of a 22oz bomber.

This ale is a light golden to copper color and makes a thin off white head. Boquet is rather nice, light malty and hoppy and slightlysweet. Banana esters, coriander spice, hints of orange-lemon-lime citrus, nice even hop/malt balance. Has a sweetness to the finish. Body is medium to full and lightly warms the palate and throat as it goes down. Another fine brew from Stone, that is rather easy to drink. (481 characters)

Photo of HiroProtagonist
3.65/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic was served from a 22 oz. bottle. In a Duvel tulip, the beer was an attractive and crystal clear deep coppery-golden, and was topped by a weak fine white head that quickly dissapated into a ring. The nose presented an intense hit of ripe plantain, sharp old banana, and coriander seed. A light mustiness and a touch of alcohol was observed when the beer approached room temperature. The taste followed the nose closely. Loud flavors of creamy banana and coriander gave way to a zippy orange-lime transition into a low key moderately bittered finish that left only limey traces coriander and creamed banana. The nose and flavors were robust and enjoyable, but lacked inspiration and dimensionality. Perhaps aging will bring out more character. The body and carbonation were quite good for the flavors. I really enjoyed the subdued sweetness level, making for a nicely drinkable strong ale. Overall, a robust but rather unexciting brew with an interesting plantain/banana twist... and it seems more like a Belgian strong pale than an Abbey Tripel. (1,073 characters)

Photo of sideshowrob
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was happy to find this beer in my neck of the woods (Wash DC)without too much problem. Hopefully the fact that Stone is expanding their distribution won't affect the beer at all. (No evidence of that yet!!!) Onto the Epic...

Bottle design is a little bit more sedate than other Stone Brews. Again with the endless text on the side. Brew pours very clean, a hazy golden-amber. Some sediment is evident, though It's probably my fault for decanting every last drop of a bottle-conditioned beer. Smell is wonderfully aromatic. Very zesty with a hint of banana. Taste was well balanced, especially for a "young" beer. Very reminiscent of a weiss-bock. Very Belgium. Hints of citrus and a pop of hops. Just a hint of lime, but more of a "lime-ness" than lime itself, which, it seems is what Stone was going for. Reports of Banana are greatly exagerated. Good mouthfeel, very easy to drink, if only it were more availiable. Overall a very balanced and easy-to-drink beer. Very civilized. Can't wait to see what time will do to it! (1,028 characters)

Photo of Dmann
4.79/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another unique brew from Stone. This one poured a clear golden color with a nice white head that left a little lace down the glass. The first scent that jumped out was banana and a peppery scent as the beer warmed. The flavor reminded me slightly of last years VE in the pepper department, but other than that it is totally different. The beer has a very good malty flavor and a fruity(cantelope?) flavor that mix very well. There is not much hops at all which is supprising for a Stone brew, and the 8.5% abv is hidden very well. I can see this beer only getting better with age. Another great offering from our friends at Stone! (630 characters)

Photo of mzwolinski
3.84/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This review was written 3 days after the initial release date. Gosh, I like living in San Diego. :-)

Same bottle design as in previous years, with a label that describes this as part Bier de Garde, part Saison, and part Hefeweisen. They've upped production to 5000 cases this year, which is good news for all of you who don't have the good fortune to live in SoCal. 8.5% ABV. Hefty.

Crystal clear gold on the pour -- but a rich, vibrant gold. Not at all wimpy-looking. Pretty decent carbonation, but the head doesn't do much -- a thin white top struggles to form for about ten seconds ago before calling it quits.

The aroma is enticing. Sharp and citric, with a hint of lime. Refreshing.

Lime comes through in the start of the flavor as well, followed by some pretty strong banana flavors and some mild yeastiness. Lime reasserts itself at the finish, along with a peppery, slightly salty finish. Alcohol is pretty noticeable at this stage. Not alot of sweetness here at all.

Medimum-bodied with a good amount of carbonation and a slightly dry finish.

I'm optimistic about this beer. On the down side, I don't think it's all that drinkable at present. The flavors are a bit harsh, and too bluntly separated. Too much going on too fast without enough continuity throughout the sip. On the other hand, the flavors that are whizzing by are *interesting* ones, and I'm pretty confident that with age (though hopefully it won't take the whole 8 years!) they will blend together into a truly lovely brew. I will re-review next year and see where things stand then. (1,577 characters)

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Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 217 ratings.