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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.
very good

217 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 217
Hads: 316
Avg: 3.89
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 95
Gots: 55 | 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.
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Reviews: 217 | Hads: 316
Photo of Sammy
3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had in March 2009, days short of the five-year mark of the bottle. First impression: It can't be a hefe, but it strongly smells and tastes like a hefe, with orange and a unique kick-in of lime taste. Marvelous one-of-a-kind. Not lasting head, lighter colour.Above average mouthfeel.

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Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another one of the many beers I tried on tap at stones winter storm. This is way better than what I made using the recipe online, but then mine is only a couple months old so who knows.

It poured a very nice golden color that was mildly hazy. There was some head and for a belgian beer it had some retention to it. The foam was basically pure white and eventually settled to a small ring around the edge of the glass.

The aroma was of aged tripel and aside from the touch of lime in the aroma it looked and smelled similar to the sawyers tripel. It makes me wonder if they don't use the american pale malt as the base for all their lighter colored beers. There was the slightest hint of banana fruitiness but it was ever so subtle.

The taste was very nice. It had some good sweetness from the malt and some strange spiciness from the yeast and there was a little zest from the lime. I guess the lime would have been stronger when the beer was young but it seems like a real nice balance.

A pretty enjoyable beer overall. It was kind of interesting having all these vertical epics sitting in front of me at the bar. I see how much they sell for on ebay and paying a couple bucks for each 8 oz serving is fine with me.

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Photo of brentk56
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy, honey colored body with lots of tight, tiny white bubbles; a decent head that quickly fades and leaves spotty lacing around the glass

Smell: Lots of aroma; filled with overripe bananas, a touch of clove and coriander and a bit of floral citrus from the kaffir lime leaves

Taste: Starts with a sweet, banana/bubblegum flavor which, after a prolongued wait, is matched by some astringent sour/herbacious notes that are a touch too dominant into the finish; the kaffir lime presents a very interesting twist with its floral tones

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, soft body; modest carbonation

Drinkability: I am not a big tripel fan but this one is particularly good

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another great brew enjoyed at last night's Stone Tasting at Dilly Deli, Cincinnati. Caught somewhere between a tripel and a wheat on 'roids. Citrus and estery aromas and flavors are evident right from the bottle. Poured a viscous mirky yellow with fantastic head retention. Imense sweet, citrus flavors similar to those found in Witbiers. Soft spices reminescent of corriander, curraco, and chamomile. Lightly woody, yeasty, and enough funk to make it interesting. Velvety texture without becomming oily. Never, fusal or plastic in the alcohols. Very refreshing for a high gravity, high alcohol beer. Again extremely well matured.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've been wondering what style Stone settled on for their soon-to-be-released Vertical Epic 05.05.05. I then realized that I hadn't yet tasted the bottle of 04.04.04 that's been in my beer fridge since last summer. I won't be able to comment on how this tripel has changed over time, but given how long this series is built to last, it's still only in its infancy. Knowing Stone, it's sure to be an interesting ride.

Radiant amber with a hint of orange peel and a plethora of tiny, dust mote-like particles that catch and reflect the sun's rays so beautifully that it seems as if the beer contains its own inner light. A lovely looking head of alabaster foam possesses a creamy stiffness that gives it a chiseled, sculpted appearance as it slowly descends. An acceptable amount of lace in no discernable pattern completes the picture of a quality beer from a quality brewery.

The nose is unlike the nose on any beer in recent memory. First is a grassy, floral hoppiness that is similar to Saaz, yet different. Next is a 'white' spiciness reminiscent of white pepper and something musky, cardamon perhaps, though that's not quite it. Finally is a citrusiness that is unlike the hoppy citrusiness that one usually smells in most hoppy beer. I'm pretty sure that I'd be able to identify the citrusiness as lime, even without knowing that Kaffir lime leaf was used. It isn't a whiz-banger of a nose, but it is original and interesting.

Epic tastes pretty much like it smells. The first thing that I notice is its power. The flavor hits like a ton of bricks (a good thing), but the alcohol isn't cloaked quite well enough. It remains to be seen how the flavors, including the alcohol, meld with warming. I'll get back to that issue as I get deeper into the bottle. Like the nose, this is one original tripel. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of it as a tripel at all.

It's more hoppy than expected, but doesn't use a hop that I care for. It reminds me of a 'super noble' with elements of bitter grass and an austere floral quality. It seems to take the worst elements of the Saaz-type hops and amplify them. As a consequence, I'm finding it hard to find much to like. Clove is still going strong, as is cardamom. I don't mind that second spice in small doses, but it's too prominent here. I know that no actual cardamon was used, it just tastes like it to me.

The lime leaf is present and accounted for, but seems more like bitter citrus pith than sweet lime peel. That brings me to another concern. Tripels are best, I believe, when they contain a certain amount of candi sugar. This beer seems not to contain any sugar or sweetness at all, which hurts it significantly in my eyes. The bitterness is unrelenting and quickly grows tiresome without the balancing sweetness.

The alcohol still hasn't retreated. It's acceptable, but shows itself too prominently given what else is going on with the flavor as a whole. The finish is semi-dry with the ethanol coming to the fore to an even greater degree. The body is medium-full, though it drinks lighter than that thanks to the Belgian-like, exuberant carbonation. There isn't much wrong with the mouthfeel, but then I'd expect nothing less from Stone.

Vertical Epic 04.04.04 is notable (to me at least) because it's a rare disappointment from one of my favorite breweries. I applaud Stone for their grand vision and for attempting something as audacious as this series. It remains to be seen whether or not every beer is successful and whether or not they actually improve with age. Or if some of the early iterations are even drinkable by 2012. Nevertheless, my respect for this brewery is such that I'll anticipate each and every release and will relish the thought of popping the cap on the latest (and hopefully greatest) Vertical Epic.

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Photo of oberon
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an orange/gold color with not much head to speak of wich was somewhat suprising for the style,aromas of honey and sweet,ripe fruit aong with a little spice.Flavors of bubblegum really stick ouot up front along with some honey and cloves with a little alcohol burn as I drink more.A good beer but not any better than some good Belgian Triples for sure,not worth the hype but a good brew none the less.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Gil for sharing this one.

A: The pour is a burnt orange color with some hints of gold and a finger's worth of white head.

S: The nose is quite sweet and surprisingly citrus heavy. A few more sniffs give off some vanilla, honey, and yeast esters (namely bananas).

T: A similar story on the palate. Sweet vanilla, orange honey, and banana along with some spicy esters and caramel malt. A touch of tropical fruit, too.

M: The body is on the light end of medium with a carbonation that seems to be a bit low too.

D: The low carbonation does not do much to quell the intense sweetness of this beer. Good flavors, but like drinking a sweet mead at times.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.27/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone's third release in the Vertical Epic series pours a clear, deep golden body that borders on amber. It's initially full and creamy head almost rises out of the glass but then slowly dwindles to an average collar. It does, however, leave some very nice lace in its wake.

The nose is malty with a touch of vanilla; and perfumey with some mild citrusy and floral notes, a waft of alcohol, and some clear peppery spice.

In the mouth, it's medium bodied and lightly zesty with a mildly effervescent natural carbonation that tingles the tongue before warming to become more creamy.

The flavor is very much (or should I say exactly) as the nose indicates with a mild note of vanilla, a touch of fruitiness (some watered down citrus and dull melon), and a burst of alcohol. It finishes dry, with some nice, peppery spiciness; and a wash of lingering alcohol. Perhaps a bit more aging will round it out... I'd enjoy the '03 now, but give this one a year, and maybe even more!

It pairs well with sweet and spicy Thai foods, and also makes a nice apertif on its own.

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Photo of Jason
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz brown bomber with an obvious vintage date.

A- Bright pale copper hued brew, good head retention to say the least.

S- Malt aroma reminds me of fresh tapioca or plain Indian pudding made with lime pudding, tad bready / yeasty with some hot spice in the back.

T- Faint lime character, solid maltiness holds on to some sweetness. The lime character has more bite with the hops than anything else. Lots of spice flowing around which masks the malt for a second. Warming alcohol finally catches up mid-bottle, tad fruity ... plum-like. Finishes semi-dry with a light roughness of wheat and pale malt with a long lingering spicy lime character.

M- Oh so crisp and so damn smooth over the medium body.

D- At first I did not think I was going to drink the whole bottle, it slowly grew on me with each sip.

If my palate was not used to exotic beers I'd probably hit a brick wall here. Thankfully I can see where beer can go and has gone. I guess I will have to bum a sip from some one else on 12.12.12 as this was my last bottle.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.53/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of those beers that can easily be classified as a trippel, however there's so much more going on in this EPIC release. At first sight deep honey golden slightly hazed body with a white chunky head forming on the crown sporadic but chunky lacing this is a beautiful specimen of a beer. Aromatics consist of deep alcohol infused banana and cloves with the kaffir lime highlights alcohol syrup with a plethora of fruit is a good way to describe the smell. Flavor profile complex as all hell, rich syrup wtih banana clove and kaffir lime the alcohol is very evident. This beer shows signs that it will mellow out with age not bad at all. Mouthfeel: Full bodied brew that is a bit syrupy textured excellent, not a disappointment I love wheat beers and Saisons/Biere de Gardes so this is amazing to me. Drinkability: Way to easy to consume a great beer from the Stone Brewing Co. excited to taste what this will be like in 12/12/12 what an adventure, possibly an epic one at that.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.67/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Gorgeous pale orange coloration, slight haze, under a firm cap of creamy froth. Nose is smoothly citric, just-so spicy, crammed with yeast, a fresh-cracked new loaf of lemon bread, right from the oven. Herbal and even a touch minty, with fruit aplenty stirring about, this is a complex and abundantly pleasant aroma. Has the character of a wit, mixed with a saison, wrapped in the guise of a tripel.
Masterful mouthfeel, commands the palate at once, spills pleasure all along the senses, with a nearly sharp citric twang, then cool and mellow fading out. Rings in again with each new encounter on the tongue, oozes enchantment, drips with delight. Body is medium, finish long and fruit-astic, with the alcohol content, average for the style, never stinging or standing at attention.
That said, it's my kind of tripel all right, exquisite, and tasty to say the least. Another class act from Stone, and I'm doubly glad I have another to sit still for the journey to 2012!
Actually, I ought to procure another pallet-ful, I'm liking this so much!
Cheers to the one called the Bum, for helping a Brother out!

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Photo of MasterSki
3.14/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle I got from KAME a long time ago. Served in a tulip.

A - White foam settles to a thin collar, wisps, and minimal lace. Hazed, dark apricot body.

S - Shockingly, the Kaffir lime leaf has held up, even after nine years. It doesn't really mix well with the stale oxidation, marmalade, and caramel flavors though. Not offensive, but a tad strange.

T - The taste isn't quite as distince, with more nebulous sweetness. Again, it's largely caramel, fruity oxidation, and perhaps a touch of lime.

M - Medium body, with less carbonation than the previous two years. Lightly sticky texture and finish, and again no obvious alcohol.

D - Very weird. If you like lime then this might still be somewhat palatable, but it's certainly not something I could drink in large quantities. Still, better than the 03.03.03 in my book.

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Photo of mdaschaf
2.7/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Had on tap at Brouwers on 12/12/12. Review from notes.

A: Pours a hazy golden color with a small white head with minimal retention or lacing.

S: Very chalky, sort of like baby powder. It is slightly floral, sort of like air freshener.

T: Not much going here at all. Some faint fruit, a little citrus and floral/grassy flavors.

M: Light to medium bodied with little carbonation.

O: Not very good, probably my least favorite of 3-12 that I was able to try.

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

The beer pours a golden color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice wheaty scent that boasts of bananas and cloves; very fruity. The taste is good. It has a rich, yet fruity wheat flavor with all the trimmings (bananas, cloves). It goes down slow and warms on the finish. It is highly smooth despite the high abv. . The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an awesome concept, I only wish I could have waited a few years to see how it ages. Anyway, this is just another great beer from Stone.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.01/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to the Thorpes for sharing.

The beer is bright orange and hazy with a thin white head. The aroma offers mint, tea, citrus, malt, lime, kiwi. The flavor is a bit odd, showing signs of age. Well water, oranges, light toffee. Light in body with low carbonation. This was ok.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

08/23/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 22oz bomber bottle poured into my Duvel tulip. No freshness date needed. Will save my other for 2012.

Appearance- Copper colored pour with a nice 1/2 inch head and light lace.

Smell- Odd scents going on here. Super scented confectioniers sugar, maybe a bit of cotton candy action as well. Maybe even a bit of vanilla.

Taste- Just as many other people pointed out...there is actually a lime rind like taste here along with lots of other spices. Some corriander, clove, nutmeg, pepper. Lots of stuff.

Mouthfeel- Average carbonation level.

Drinkability- Odd tasting brew to be sure. This is one of those that I am still trying to figure out if a really liked it as much as I am giving it credit for. Enigma so far. Maybe I'll know more in 7 years when I try my next one.

Re-review in year 2006.

Just finished off a bottle of the 2006. Seems as though a lot more of the sugary flavor comes out as well as some peaches and some rose water flavoring. Boosting this one up a tad due to good aging.

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Photo of Gavage
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Apeearance: pours a crystal clear golden yellow color with a 1/2" head that fall to surface foam rather quickly. A few slow rising bubbles are the only signs of carbonation. Light lacing develops.

Smell: banana, yeast, and light medicinal odor.

Taste: very sweet as malts are up front, but there is a muskiness / earthiness to this brew. Some bananas, peach, lime, balsa wood, honey, and mild bitterness round this out. Yeast and alcohol are mildly noticeable.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start with a mild smoothness at the finish. The finish is long on the flavors, especially the earthiness.

Drinkability: not bad, but this is a very slow drinking beer, and one bottle would be more than enough in a session. My other 04.04.04 bottle will consumed in a few years for comparision.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled May 2005
This beer pours with a prodigious pale tan head that is held up by a medium level of carbonation. The head sits atop a slightly hazy orange-gold beer. The aroma is softly spicy with notes of vanilla, ginger, soft yeasty notes, and a note that is unmistakably from the Kaffir Lime leaf (a mix of lime and woody lime pith). The taste is dominated by the lime leaf up front, it actually seems to have intensified in the past year. This beer has a soft creamy mouthfeel to it, which is accentuated by a hint of vanilla. There are some nice herbal notes here that finish off with a bit of balancing sharp astringency in the finish. This is my favorite vertical epic so far, I don't see it lasting all that long, but it is pretty good now.

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Photo of Billolick
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Woohoo what a brew! Another fine Stone brew for Belgian lovers (like me). Tried it on tap at the BT in NYC. Poured into a Belgian type glass, basically no head, just that typical Stone tiny bubble film. Light Golden in color, with perhaps a melon shimmer. I got Bubblegum in the nose, along with some yeast. Warming, strong, crisp and tasty. Typical Belgian (If such a thing exists) yeasty, spicy, phenolic notes. Suffice to say that If you like Belgians, this one is well worth seeking out. A very tasty and wicked Stone creation.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.15/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap at Beachwood I,

A: Pours a deep gold to orange with a small white head, some minor lace.

S: Kaffir lime, ethereal, interesting flowery character, hint of oxidation.

T: Lemon, grass, lime leaf. Somewhat bland, good tasting when I can find it, but a tired flavour.

M: Medium-bodied, very soft carbonation, a bit flabby.

O: Drinkable, but this has seen better days, nowhere near as good as the '05 was.

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Photo of yourefragile
2.31/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle.

Pours a clear golden orange with a thin bubbly off white head. Nose is minty and medicinal, with some strawberry and green tea. Odd. Syrupy body with minimal carbonation. Very sweet, cloying flavor. Sort of like the juice from a can of pineapples or peaches. Watery, stale and sticky. Pass.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.99/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was fortunate to try this last night at an epic tasting held by my good friend Mike, thanks for the opportunity MrBarleywine!
Pours a slightly hazy medium golden color with a smallish off white head that dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma is sweet caramel and light sugar with a bit of cherry and sherry notes. Hint of lime and spicy yeast notes provide a nice contrast to the sweetness within. The flavor follows the aroma quite well. Sweet and sugary with caramel and sherry notes balanced by peppery spicy bready yeast flavors. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet spicy mouthfeel. This was a nice beer and over the years the flavors have melded quite nicely. The lime aroma and flavor are different, but work against the backdrop of the other flavors.

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Photo of Zorro
4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy golden brew with no head at all.

Smell is sweet and super fruity with a bit of spice and a shot of coriander thrown it to. Earthy smells are in here to like raw honey and an oak/cork smell. Malt and banana smells are strongest.

Taste is lightly sweet with a pineapple flavor I didn't expect. There is a complex blend of flavors in this. I can taste clove, pineapple, banana, coriander, some raw alcohol flavor, and something else I name at the moment.

Mouthfeel is thick almost syrup.

Drinkability is very good, considering the power of this brew two bombers will put you in bed.

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Photo of biegaman
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with good head, bright orangy colour. Excellent aroma, jam packed with fruity notes, coriander and a bold Belgian yeast musk. Very strong wheat character, certainly an easy beer to get a grip on. Yeast really dominates (stronger still, considering it has aged 2 years) Some more subtle malt in the backbone. Exceptional flavour, long resonance, absolutely no alcohol. Mouthfeel great on the front end of the mouth. Not exactly how I like my wits/tripels/Belgian pale ales (or whatever!), I can see where others might find room to criticize. But I rather enjoy this yeast and the Belgian tang it leaves. Certainly not as refreshing as others in the style, to that I think we owe the big hops (ohh Stone, you and your hops!) But I think it works. Who knows what style this fits under - ah cool, they created something original. A tasty ale I was very grateful to try, wish I got to try fresh and hope I'll get to try again! Thanks Dr.Jay!

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Photo of jdhilt
3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two-fingered white head, fades quickly to a ring and leaves no lace. Clear amber color. Nose is alcohol and hints of apple cider. Alcohol is right there at the start along with some sweetness, alcohol finish. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Totally different from last year's 03.03.03. $8.00 for a 22oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

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