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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

312 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 312
Reviews: 216
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 13.7%
Wants: 99
Gots: 49 | FT: 4
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:
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 added by: Todd on 04-07-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 312 | Reviews: 216 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MordorMongo
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of frank4sail
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smell of lemon grass, sweet malt and sharp yeast. Very attractive carbonated, filtered?, crystal gold look in the goblet With a fine white head. Not a ton of retention. Initial earthy, hay flavors are then smoothed by wheat and corriander flavors. The brew is very smooth with lots of bubble action dancing on the tongue. The brew is very good now but seens sharp and agressive upfront. It should be a killer with a year or two on it in the cellar. Me like it...

Photo of mzwolinski
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

Photo of dtx00
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of CharlesRiver
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my second offering from the Veritcal Epic. 1 pt. 6 oz bottle that reads 04.04.04. Cool bottle, cool name. Beer pours out a glowing orange with a small head that seems to last.

The smell is grainy and grassy. With sweet and small citrus coming through. Something a bit smokey? comes through as well. The taste is much better than the smell. Perfectly carbonated.

Unlike any triple that I have ever had. Another "epic" that I will cellar to see how it turns out.

Photo of waltonc
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this with joeyschlitz and abraser last night, thanks to ab's generosity, as part of the Vertical Epic tasting of 2004 through 2008.

A: Hazy golden color.

S and T: You definitely get a little of the lime, lots of honey, and some bread/yeast. Honey becomes more pronounced as this warms up.

M: Medium body and carbonation.

D: Not overwhelming in any direction, so pretty drinkable.

Photo of HopsMatt
2.75/5  rDev -28.9%

Photo of DRTBrewster
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of bradfordjohnson
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of dherling
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper golden color with a small off white head that dissapears quickly leaving a little lacing. Lots of malt in the nose, only surpassed by the citrusy hops. In the taste I get butterscotch, strawberry, kiwi, cantaloupe, spice. Finishes big, with great hops bitterness.

Photo of Goldorak
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Troubled pale orange, the head was pretty frail.

Smell: Lemon pepper at first, but then this strange aroma that I've never detected in a Beer before. It was hard to describe, soapy lavander is the best I can come up with. Maybe crushed szechuan pepper, but with an added perfume that made me think of that time I went to a Persian restaurant, the desserts were perfumed with rosewater and other flowers.

Taste: Matching the aroma, the flavors were like some strange concoction a holistic healer would make out of whatever weird herbs, magic powders and air freshener he had laying around his house (aka the Van down by the river). It had a taste of flowers and flour! It was quite complicated, and honestly, I can't even give you a verdict if I liked it or not. This truly is a case where giving this Beer a score is pointless for me, because the taste is something absolutely new to me and my brain is still processing it, trying to associate it with something and coming up with nada. I think at first my reaction wasn't too favorable (I would have given it a 3), but now a few days have past and I'd be willing to try it again, just to see how I would react to a second dose (I would have gone up to 4).

Photo of Truh
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Gazed up the headwall with this one on 5/4/2004. 1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bomber poured twice in a Rapscallion glass.

Creamy, ¼-inch head poured a yellow to almost light green granny smith apple hue with a bunch of continued action happening. Huge lemon/citrus nose with some gentle hops and some other flowery characteristics, though difficult to pinpoint. Sweet, almost hefe taste with a following hop bitterness, almost like lemongrass. Slight chewiness, yet a clean mouth feel. Reminds me of wheat fields after a summer thunderstorm.

Photo of mickeymac
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
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.

Photo of Hopswagger
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed 12.12.12
Celebrating the Vertical Epic Series

P: Pours a bright effervescent golden body with sudsy white head.

S: Spicy, citrus soap aroma, clove, powdery yeast, bubblegum, pepper corns, lime, bananas and a touch of oxidation.

T/M: Dull fruit flavors, citrus, lime zest, honey wheat bread, booze and timid tartness. Body is medium and has gritty soap chalkiness. Carbonation level is nice a crisp.

O: Flavors are dialed down but after 9 years a truly impressive beer that was a treat to enjoy. Line was the key ingredient in this brew and the spices really complimented it. Easy drinking and smooth.

Photo of ManekiNeko
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber served lightly chilled in a Raftsman tulip.

Appearance: Golden yellow topped by a healthy sized white head. Visible carbonation supports the retention of the head, which eventually settles down to a thick ring and a small film of bubbles in the glass. Large nets of lacing were left on the sides.

Smell: Yeasts, banana esters, coriander, hints of something like wintergreen, and pears waft upwards. As the beer warms, the kaffir becomes more apparent.

Taste: Sweet apple/pear juice with wackloads of banana and lime citrus flavors. Pepper and booze on the finish. Oddly, but pleasantly, reminiscent of banana bread.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light in body. Powerful carbonation on the tongue.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. I wasn't impressed by 030303 in the least, so this is a marked improvement. Very potable now, but I don't think this will last to 2012. More like 2008 at the most.

Photo of BierReise
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy gold with little head. Esthery aroma, sugary and notes of oak. Body is tripel like with a sharp carbonation. Flavor shows a bit of alcohol along with suagr and light fruit notes. Finishes slightly bitter. Similar to a Belgian Tripel. An ok brew.

Photo of Rothobinide
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of nortmand
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours like other nice North American Tripels, fizzy, yellow and with a thin layer of white foam.
Smell deliciously sweet and spicy, with a dominant clove presence. Very much in the spirit of Belgian beer.
Spicy strong flavor, with a warming alcohol presence. Very delicious and balanced considering the number of flavors happening here. Banana, allspice, clove flavors all blend together rather nicely.
I'm not real high in the tripels, but this one is damned fine and quite drinkable. As far as tripels go, second only to Unibroue's Eau Benite.

Photo of pentathlete
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden with a small white head. Smell is tangerine and Belgian yeast. Taste is zesty citrus with some hops(!?) and more of the Belgian candi feel. The zest really dominates. Mouthfeel is medium, long finish. Assertive as expected from Stone. Easy to drink. I was expecting a little more.

$6.99 for a 22 oz bottle at Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville.

Photo of beertaster13
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange/gold with white froth head that is great to the eye then foils down to a thin lining. Lacing is average. The smell is complex and unique, a spice, caramel and banana fruit upfront and dry oaked aged wheat to the end. The taste is of banana and cinnamon spices, a hint of pine from the hops, slight citrus taste as well, a little wheat grain detected, slight scotch hints, oaked aged, unique and good.

Photo of MUSHROOMCLOUD
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Vertical Epic 04 was a tale of two beers for me.

The first glass I poured into a (recommended) goblet. The beer was clear gold with hardly any head at all. No lacing.
The second glass I poured into a tulip and the beer was hazy apricot orange color with a 1" head that had some staying power and left good lace.(I know the yeast poured in to the second glass played a part).

The first glass held a nose of yeast, grain, and slight citrus aromas.
The second had yeast, tangerine, lime, banana, bubble gum,powder and a honey sweet aroma.

The initial taste held banana, alcohol, yeast and a grainy bite in the finish.
Second glass held the same plus a hint of lime and bubble gum.

The beer is unique, an odd combination of a hefe and a tripel. The first glass I drank was (forgive me Steve and Lee!!) like a New Belgium Tripel. The second glass was more of the unique beer I was expecting. I wonder if this beer needs to be somehow agitated before pouring any of it, because it definitely benefited from the bit of yeast in the second glass. I have two more in the "cellar" and I am looking forward to the future to see how these age. By the way the 05 is the bomb!!

Photo of orfeu
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I saw a recent thread about the Vertical Epic series in which a few posters indicated that this one had either passed its peak or was right about there, never to get any better. I only managed to grab one bottle when a few of these were still floating around back in 2005 anyway, so I figure I might as well open it up and give it a try...

Well chilled, poured into an AleSmith tulip, this over three-year-old golden Belgian ale is indeed rather gold in color -- a hazy peach hue, with a substantial cap of slightly yellowing, dense white froth sitting on top, fluffy and creamy at the same time. The head has a noticeable longevity and sticky, clumpy lacing. Sticky-sweet fruits in the aroma: overripe apricots and fermenting muskmelon rinds. Slight banana scent along with white peppercorns and a musty-earthy coriander character. Mashed banana and peach syrup thickness on the palate. Sharp carbonation up front and through the middle of the sip. Very difficult-to-identify spice melange emerges rather strongly after the fruity beginning: ground pepper, a bit of cilantro leaf. A bit of doughy wheatiness in the taste, too. I only get the merest hint of the Kaffir lime leaf flavor, right before a jarring mineral finish that smacks of the start of oxidization. Interestingly fruity and tart burps in my sinuses, though. Much as with the latest VE (07.07.07), this failed to impress me. I haven't tried the bottles of 05.05.05 and 06.06.06 I've got sitting in my cellar yet, and perhaps it's the case that Stone does dark Belgian ales better than the pale counterparts. I suppose this could pass through the next five years and meld into something interesting, but I have serious doubts about the staying power of 04.04.04. Anyway, I'm glad I tried it now.

Photo of ngandhi
2.7/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Green.

The low hopping strips this beer of any chance for head or flavor. The malts aren't rich enough to compensate, nor are they thin enough to really make this to style. The yeast dominates and is dull, but characteristically Belgian and accentuates some of the bland wheat profile.

Of course, VE04 relies on the Kaffir lime leaves -- that's why there's no hop flavor, I assume. Unfortunately, the lime contributes too much, not in terms of flavors, but in its overall parasitic presence. It's oversteeped, lacking any real freshness on the midpalate, and finishes dry and reprehensibly tannic.

The alcohol is brimming, but controlled. Phenols run wild, giving the beer an unpleasant smokiness that the distillate lime only comes to highlight. In some sense, this beer is harmonious because each flavor feeds the next; few of these flavors are desired.

I'm left with a void. This feels like a Florida orange grove stripped of its fruit by the hurricanes or a Burgundy vineyard hit with hail. There's an empty place here reserved for some fruit, something to round out the beer.

As this ages, I expect the lime to die off and the yeast to dominate -- leaving a dry, grainy broth of a beer.

Relax, relax.
ng

Photo of TubaManJack
3.35/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - wow very little carbonation and no head from this draft pour. The body is a very hazy yellow body

Smell- Almost lactose sugar sweet with a little funk. There is a medium banana ripeness to it. Very strange and yet intreging.

Taste- somewhat like the nose. There is a bit of funk and ripeness that.
I have never encountered before. There is a bspa yeast element and then a wet mop of a mouthfeel. Kinda of a disappoint because I feel like there is something there.

Photo of vma
4.4/5  rDev +13.7%

Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 312 ratings.