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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: 317
Avg: 3.89
pDev: 16.2%
Wants: 95
Gots: 56 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 217 | Hads: 317
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 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 JohnGalt1
3.5/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

ditmier pulled this one out of his cellar for our recent VE tasting.. thanks buddy!!! I will save mine for the End of the World Party!!

Pours hazy orange... okay 1/2" head.. no real retention or lacing..

Nose is lite phenolic spicy... pretty sweet.. very dusty... bits of citrus.

Flavor is mildly oxidized.... some cardboard... but the backbone is still there.. sweet pale malts with some background pear ester.. banana shows more with warmth.. despite the dust, there is still some green apple..

Body and carbonation are still about right... but the oxidation is definitely there.. I doubt this was ever good after a year or so.


Oh well... we cracked it a couple of years early... I can only guess we did things right.

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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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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a hazy golden with a strong carbonation with a white cream thin head.

S- Very clean light bread aroma with a hit of lime and some soft wheat notes.

T- This beer has a light wheat taste with a crisp lime leaf taste. There are some peppery notes with some bright citrus almost lemon notes. The alcohol is very gentle but has a nice warming

M- medium body with not a fizzy taste and no alcohol heat.

D- This has some nice triple qualities but the bitter lime taste is a little to overpowering. It might be much better after some aging. Definitely an interesting beer just not a great beer yet.

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

22ozer bottle from Austin Liquors, Shrewsbury, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1" off-white head over the straw/amber hued brew. Laces okay. Sweet aroma is dominant. Taste is initially of wheat, then hands the baton to the sweetness and a bit of banana flavor as well. Mouthfeel is okay, the sweetness takes a bit of a step back as the brew warms, and drinkability is okay as well, more for interesting flavors rather than sessionability.

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

Hazed golden amber with fine white bubbles that settled into a ring. Decent retention and fair lacing given the small bit of head that formed. Mild spice in the nose, along with bready yeast, wheat, and fruity notes. Apple and bubblegum complement these characters in the flavour and the spice is a little more pronounced here too. Slightly dry with carbonation just slightly on the low side, which made for an easy drink. Solid!

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

Pours a nice hazy amber/gold, small white head forms, some nice lace. Smell is caramel, pine/floral, spices, vanilla, yeast and wheat. Taste is wheat, caramel, floral/citrus, and some yeast. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium to high carbonation. Very nice, not sure of it as a tripel, but a damn tasty beer nonetheless. Thanks DrJay!

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Photo of Bighuge
4.37/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle says a that it's saison-like with wheat. Hell yeah. I'm glad I could get my mits on this.

Appearance- Pours a nice fizzy head amongst the honey and almost opaque cantaloupe hue. The color is nice since its deep, but you can still see its bubbles. Very little lacing.

Smell- The lime mentioned on the bottle seems to become present in the nose only when the beer warms up. Could smell some wheaty godness as well and sweetened, herbal malts too.

Taste- Hints of spicey chammomile barce the tounge with hints of citrus and cyrstallized sugar malts. The lime hits a bit harder a it warms, but it always stays muted. I like that about this beer. It has a unique element, but it doesn't overwhelm.

Mouthfeel- Astringet, only a little. But cleaan and sweet. I like that citrusy, beery sweetness. Is best when sipped indeed.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.06/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle poured into a taster glass. Thanks to Chris for sharing!

(A)- Pours a murky golden orange color. Minimal white bubbles.

(S)- Kind of a hodge podge of dry resin, orange citrus, and an ever so earthy-like hint of lime.

(T)- Rather sweet in comparison to how dry the aroma was. Lots of honey and a sugary, almost candy-like orange and lime.

(M)- A mellow carbonation level. Quite sweet with an interesting citrus flavor to it. A touch muddled though due to its age.

(O)- I think this one is showing its age too, though I did appreciate the kind of awkward orange and lime citrus this has taken on.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.47/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap into a taster...Medium tan beer with a very low carbonation level, not much head, no lacing...A malty aroma of bread, pineapple, honey and a touch of hops. Sounds like it would be really enticing but its not strong or defined enough...The taste is super light, misses most of the aroma, light wheat, floral and a little honey.

Maybe its past its prime, maybe its just not great. Either way 6 years later don't waste much to get it.

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Photo of Gusler
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

040404, consumed 121312

appearance: served in my lost abbey teku glass - hazy straw orange body

smell: herbal, lime, citrus, flowers

taste: the kaffir lime leaf is very evident - honey, grass, straw, clove, light belgian yeast. Held up fairly well - these ancient VE beers are seeming to surpass my quite low expectations

mouthfeel: light, herbal

overall: interesting stuff - the lime leaf phase is so 2004 though

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

If I lived in California I would save one of these as directed...not when I only get one though..

Pours a chill hazed neon gold...a little white head...nose is sweet Belgian malts...sweet tropical fruits...a little whiff of alcohol...body is firm and carbonated...about perfect...

Flavors are nice...a spicy yeastiness and alcohol finish..begins with the sweet and tasty belgian maltiness....a little alcoholic on the finsh...a little time would have smoothed it out I'm sure...

This is a tasty quality brew but short of being an epic...

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Photo of thagr81us
3.5/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed at the 'Most Arrogant Bar in America', Barley's Pizzeria & Taproom in Greenville, SC! Served from tap into a tulip. Poured golden yellow with a one finger white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, wheat, caramel, earth, and wood. The flavor was of sweet malt, wheat, caramel, earth, wood, and sweet alcohol. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. Based on the style of this brew and the age, I really didn’t know what to expect going into it. I know that the 03.03.03 had changed quite a bit over time so I expected more of this with the 04.04.04. However I found that this one really hadn’t changed too much based on the style. This one wasn’t hugely complex, but did manage to stay quite well balanced though. Just wish that it would have taken it to another level though. Worth your time trying this one if you get the opportunity.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.74/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is a rich yellowish-gold color with a medium thick white head and fair lacing. The aroma is very kinetic - spice, yeast, banana and hops abound. Medium-bodied, with a flavor reminiscent of both a Belgian and a strong Hefe. Citrus, spice, hops and bananas all vie for attention. There is almost too much going on in the flavor. Spicy alcohol and sweet fruit and yeast in the finish. I liked this one substancially more than the 03.03.03, but I think it would improve a bit with more age.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy pale golden yellow color, finger high, tight foamy white cap, resides to an ever present skim and the lacing sticks in moderate stringy patches.
Aroma is quite nice with a dried pepper toastiness over the base of lively citrus of lemon and lime skins. Strong and pleasingly persistant nose on this one.
Complexingly layered flavors within every sip, quite a nice brigade of dried pepper and clove spice, maybe a pinch of salt too, make for a pleasing finish. The forefront is built up of a solid mild citrus fruit salad of lemon and lime zest mixed with some banana underneath.
Feel is about medium bodied with a firm carbonation thats not overly biting, which I like, most triples have either too much ot not enough. This is just about right, a bit more creamy feel and body and it would be terrific for me.
I really enjoyed the finish on this, spicy of pepper and citrus zest thats drying yet the body remains wet and firm. And has just enough alcoholic/ethanolic kick to keep you in check. Nicely done. All in all, this is one well put together, spicy little Abbey Triple. A bit out of the realm for Stone, but bless their hearts for being such pioneers of trying new dimensions in the brewing universe. Hmmm....no matter how hard I try, I just can't be as wordy as their back labels, always a fun read!

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Photo of RoyalT
4.54/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This poured a lovely, very hazy Belgian orange with a nice, white, frothing head that left little lava pits on top of the liquid.

Smell – This has a big, Abbey Tripel nose full of sweet tangerine and orange peel along with traditional Belgian spices. There was a touch of coriander and white pepper along with a dash of cinnamon and maybe a few others.

The big news here though was the lovely yeast backbone. Stone nailed this aroma to the wall. I could hang my nose over this all day. The wonderful yeast and big orange mixture was awesome.

Taste – Man, is this good. This is an incredibly successful attempt at (at least in my opinion) the ideal of this style.

The orange is more bitter (and pale) than sweet, but there’s enough sweetness there to make it sticky and chewy. The huge yeast backbone is large and in charge. The spices aren’t over the top but just right. The finish is dry.

Mouthfeel – The flavors come together perfectly in the mouth for this medium to full-bodied Abbey Tripel. It may benefit a bit from aging.

Drinkability – One of the best Abbey Tripels that I’ve had, and certainly one of the most successful stateside efforts at the style.

Comments – No, I’m not one of those whiny West Coasters that fall over anything made by Stone. This AT is excellent, though. This is not a half-baked effort. This is the real deal, and it rivals almost every other AT that I’ve had to date. Another amazing ale by Stone. Why would you want to wait eight years to drink this?

I have a reputation for having deviant tastes on this style (read, Elysian’s Bete Blanche or Mad Bitch) but this bottle was awesome! Stone does it again!!

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Photo of gford217
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber courtesy of sunnydlyte23 poured into a snifter.

Pours a bright, clear golden amber with a soapy yellowish-white head that recedes to a small cap and leaves a bit of lacing.

The aroma is extremely sweet with honey and some sweet citrus aromas, maybe oranges. There is a spiciness in the nose as well but the sweetness of the phenols really comes out as it warms, bananas especially.

The taste has the same semi-hefe characteristics of sweet bananas and some clove-like spices. But there is a much thicker sweetness from the honey and the Belgian yeast backbone is definitely there as well. Very complex taste.

The mouthfeel is on the fuller side of things with a little bit of soft carbonation. The palate gets sticky with the honey which builds up after each sip.

I really enjoyed this one and it has held up extremely well over 5 years, much better than the 03 I had a few months ago. Very unique and highly recommended.

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Photo of francisweizen
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
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...

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Photo of Stevedore
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Stone World Bistro in Escondido, CA.

A- Bright pale yellow-copper body, one finger white head, nice retention and longevity.

S- Crisp green apple skin tartness, Belgian yeast esters- banana, clove, mild acidity, white vinous character, a bit of citrus.

F- Clean crisp malt backbone evoking light toffee and bread; more of the cidery green apple skin tartness. Mild-moderate tartness. Less of the yeast esters are apparent on the palate though they are there- banana, cloves- but there seems to be a reasonably nice citrus character here, both lemon and lime.

M- Medium bodied, clean, crisp and refreshing on a warm day in Escondido. Nice carbonation. Very easy to drink with a lot of nice depth and complexity.

O- Very tasty and seems to have aged quite well. Nice hefeweizen-like character with a good bit of tartness. This has done well in the 10 years since it was initially released.

Final score: 3.85

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

After cracking a VE03 tonight, why the hell not go the whole hog!? Some 1 year and 2 months [07.03.05] after I first [05.17.04] sampled this one I fancied cracking one of the 04’s out of my stash as well to see how it fared out of interest, especially as I felt the 03 had improved. My original Review had 3.5/4.0/4.0/4.5/4.0 scores with an overall rating of 3.95.

Appearance: Murky looking golden peach body with a Robertsons Golden Shred Marmalade hue when backlit. Thin head forms and slacks down to a lazy looking scummy covering rather quickly. Dissolved carbonation is enough to keep things alive with a gentle swirl, but it looks tired. Stays at 3.5, but only just.

Nose: Nose is still lively and retains a strong odor Kaffir Lime Leaf that I recall from my first sampling. Spicy hops and a mild yeast character fight to contend with the Lime, which still dominates the VE04. Stays at 4.0.

Taste: Bitter entrance remains, so does the Tripel feel but there is much more lime in here than I recall, right from the from the start and even in the ending…..this one now reeks of lime, a tad overpowering at times I have to say. Wheat-beer like middle with some light floral perfumed bitterness which in turn has a slight black pepper feel in the finish. Lingering sharp lime in the end. Stays at 4.0.

Mouthfeel: Starting to wane slightly, not as big as I recall, the residual lime carries this one through but the feel, once examined closely, is rescinding I think. Dropped this to a 4.0.

Drinkability: Still feels a tad harsh on the tongue and the lime is rasping and way too overpowering for my tastes, yet I still managed the 22 ounce all to myself, but only just. Dropped this to a 3.5, maybe a tad harsh but I struggled with this a little in the finish.

Overall: No better, not that much worse either to be honest, but not as appealing as it was, for me it has dropped 0.1 ticks after just over a year. It is no secret that this is probably my least favorite of the four VE’s to date, though I have to add here that I have only had one VE02. I’m not sure how this one will turn out, but I’m not holding on to too many of these.

Music: Pink Floyd - Great Gig in the Sky (rather loud)

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