1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

302 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 302
Reviews: 213
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 13.44%
Wants: 100
Gots: 47 | FT: 2
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 302 | Reviews: 213 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WetCoaster
WetCoaster

California

4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Apricot gold and crystal clear, with very active fine carbonation. Thick, dense pure white head with moderate duration. Sounds typical, but it's a uniquely pretty beer.

Smell: I just had nasal sex with a supermodel. Wonderful, powerful blend of Belgian yeast, honey, apricot, green apple, clove, fruitcake spice, pale malt with a mild solvent/alcohol scent underneath. It's awesome--I can't get my nose out of the glass.

Taste: Oddly, the first flavor is an un-Belgian caramel malt. The usual spice/clove, honey, a bit of sour fruit. It's good, but it doesn't live up to the scent's promise. The mouthfeel is crisp, but also medium bodied and slightly coating. A medicinal phenol taste lingers very long into the aftertaste.

Drinkability: Make of this one what you will. It's listed as a tripel, they call it a saison, or a bier de garde--they're not sure. I'm not either. Whatever it is, it's a solid Belgian-style beer, though not really a stellar example of any specific style. I like it, but it's not quite the knockout I expected.

Finally, I have real trouble believing this is going to last eight years. If you want to save it for the 2012 Vertical Epic, rock on, but I just can't imagine this is going to drinkable. Prove me wrong.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2004 06:32:21 | More by WetCoaster
Photo of rkhaze
rkhaze

California

4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy peach color. Medium sized off white head. Smells of sweet malt, bananas and juicy yellow stone fruits. A hint of clove and that tangy belgian yeast. Nice mixture of aromas, like a cross between a Belgian and a Hefeweizen. Apparently this is what they were shooting for, and they acheived it nicely.
The taste at the start and middle mimiced the great smells. There was an almost bubblegum like hint as well. Unfortunately a raw bitterness showed up mid finish and threw it all out of balance. The lime showed up at the end but more in a bitter zest way, than in a clean citrusy way.
Light bodied with a rich tangy mouthfeel and lots of carbonation.
The harsh bitterness hurt the drinkibility for me.
This tasted young and raw. I like the idea behind it and it should mature into a dynamite beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2004 03:35:01 | More by rkhaze
Photo of Lawnboy33
Lawnboy33

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +3.4%

11-14-2011 22:28:59 | More by Lawnboy33
Photo of blitheringidiot
blitheringidiot

Pennsylvania

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

Huge slightly off white sticky head that settles to a tightly packed cover. Light golden orange with plenty of fizzle and carbonated bubbles rising.

In accordance with the bottle print: Phenolic bananas and plenty of clove aromatic yeasty scents arising. While warming up and after a swirling in my trusty Flying Fish tulip, more of the same.

Bold chewy front of Saison-like spice taste. At first, not a discernible grip on much else . Aftertaste is bitter ripe banana & Sweet-tart candy sweet. Dry deep cloves and herb spices of nutmeg. As this slowly warms, the awl-kee-hawl esters rise to the nose and to the flavor. [Label lingo: Umalted Wheat , Kaffir Lime Leaf]

Second serving surmising pour pablum & prate: Also, the final pour had more of the lime & leaf tones than the first pour. Less carbonation and smaller head, perhaps due to settling of particles and awl-kee-hawl.

Plenty of plush tight packed fizzle, and chewy doughy bread.

Last swigs: Full on fours folks. To compare with a local style, STOUDTS Saison can be a bitter close contender for a flavor like this. STONE E4 weighs in at $70 for a case of 12 double-deuce bottles via Beeryard. STOUDTS is less than half of that. This is going to be a nail biter when it matures year by year. STONE is the Cadillac of craft, so the hype must be overlooked. Quite good, even putting the STONE namesake off to the side.

Beer is good. Happy beering and cellering!

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2004 20:40:57 | More by blitheringidiot
Photo of koopa
koopa

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +3.4%

05-12-2013 02:32:31 | More by koopa
Photo of DRTBrewster
DRTBrewster

Arizona

4/5  rDev +3.4%

02-07-2013 22:39:46 | More by DRTBrewster
Photo of snpub540
snpub540

California

4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Held out from opening this one for as long as I could...

Poured an orange color, that turned more of an amber when held up to light. Mostly clear with a slight amount of haze. Small white head that fizzled into tiny bubbles on the edge.

Smell was fruity and spicy. Orange and clove are present in my first whiff and I detected some earthiness, which I am guessing is the yeast.

Taste was complex. Some sips I had were bitter like sour apple, while others were more earthy. Dry finish and warming alcohol taste as it goes down.

Mouthfeel felt kind of flat, but I'm guessing thats because of the almost 5 years in the bottle. Very good beer though and I believe it stood up well for its time in the bottle... I'll have to see how it tastes in 2012!

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2009 07:42:37 | More by snpub540
Photo of t0rin0
t0rin0

California

4/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-29-2008 23:30:58 | More by t0rin0
Photo of Reagan1984
Reagan1984

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +3.4%

12-16-2012 14:21:10 | More by Reagan1984
Photo of jerz
jerz

California

4/5  rDev +3.4%

11-18-2011 05:16:38 | More by jerz
Photo of Rochefort10nh
Rochefort10nh

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev +3.4%

12-08-2011 20:14:55 | More by Rochefort10nh
Photo of rab53
rab53

Washington

4/5  rDev +3.4%

12-09-2011 04:30:30 | More by rab53
Photo of RockyTopHeel
RockyTopHeel

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of the Spoils of Charlottesville Run, 4.30.04.

22 oz. bomber

Golden in color with a large, foamy white head after a semi-aggressive pour. A strong aroma of yeast and citrus fruit sweetness.

This is a very interesting beer. The dominant flavor is definitely the banana esters, but they take on a new character in the absence of the strong, wheaty backbone of hefes that I usually associate themn with. The lime leaf adds an almost sour crispness, like biting into a lime. There's also something almost medicinal about that's a little strange, but I like it--maybe not as much as I would have predicted I would, but I like it nonetheless.

Overall, the beer does seem a bit "too fresh." I can't wait to see how it ages if I get the chance--with a little mellowing on the lime and bananas, this could be awesome.

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2004 00:18:37 | More by RockyTopHeel
Photo of donnebaby
donnebaby

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not totally clear yellow orange glow of a body, with an exceptionally creamy-looking thick head that unfortunately falls immediately, leaving a thick collar of bubbles and haze. Nose is sugar crystal sweet candy apple with some dryness and alcohol in the background. Cloves and licorice.

Taste is subdued compared to my expectations -- goes down very nicely and has the feel of a nicely crafted big bodied hefe-w. Low sweetness level spiced with crystal ginger and orange peel. Apple cider. Slightly bitter chewy hops muddle the otherwise clean and refreshing after -- and seem to grow in chewiness as warming progesses.

Although highly drinkable, I found myself wanting a little more umph from a tripel than this provided and I grew slightly bored of the apply sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2005 07:33:36 | More by donnebaby
Photo of Bierman9
Bierman9

New Hampshire

4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opted today (27DEC08) to quaff my second (and last) bottle of 04.04.04. Still shines with a lovely, clear golden hue. Fine bubbles stream steadily topside, towards a miniscule layer of white bubbles, most of which cling to the rim, lacing up the sides. Lime is still present in the aroma, which also has a subtle, earthy, horse-blanket quality to it. Mouthfeel is still a fairly smooth feel, and medium bodied.

Light, bready, malty sweetness lands softly on the palate, with a smidge of limey citrus following. Faint banana lurks in the background, and there is still a smidge of spiciness present. The finish is crisp and dry. Still a decent, tasty Epic offering, though I don't think that 4+ years of aging have done anything to make this a better bier. And, I wouldn't expect another 4 years to help. If I were rating this now, I'd likely rate it the same is on 2004.

Prosit!!

*** *** ***

I finally found some VE04 - only a month late (03MAY04), but nbd....

Pours an attractive, bright golden color, and is clear throughout (at this point). Head is a 1/4" layer of fine, white bubbles at the start, fading to a thin layer fairly soon after the pour. A healthy amount of bubbling congregates around the rim, with a nice lacework pattern left behind. The nose is wheaty, like a Hefe-, and it has a distinct fruity tang, which must be the lime noted in the recipe. I also get a bit of a yeasty, somewhat spicy character typical to Tripels. Body was a good, solid medium, and it was relatively smooth on the tongue, especially considering the bier has a steady stream of carbonation rising up within. I expected more roughness, but it went down nicely.

It has a slight crackery malt taste, with a wheaty dryness. I do pick up the lime in the flavor as well, melding with other tropical fruit notes. VE04 finishes dry on the palate, with a subtle fruit essence and peppery character lingering somewhat. The 8.5% abv seems well cloaked, as I don't really pick up on it at all. I find this to be a good bier, a solid bier, yet not one (at this point, anyhow) that knocks my socks off or overly wows me.

Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4.1
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4

709

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2004 23:25:42 | More by Bierman9
Photo of RedDiamond
RedDiamond

Oregon

4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The ’04 looks largely lager-like with its pale yellow body capped with a foamy white head. It was very clear until I let all the yeasties spill in. It has a peculiar herb / spice aroma with a strong Belgian accent and tastes much like it smells.

This is brewed with something called Kaffir lime leaf. I have no idea what that is, but its infusion into an otherwise pale Trappist ale is remarkably complimentary and satisfying. The unique taste contributes to a beverage that is highly drinkable. This brew also stands up to food well in that it is prominent and herbal without being overly domineering.
Though the ’04 could benefit from some maturing, I don’t think I’ll wait eight years to try this one again.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2004 23:40:22 | More by RedDiamond
Photo of IrishRedRock
IrishRedRock

Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2004 07:17:59 | More by IrishRedRock
Photo of beerinator
beerinator

Illinois

4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Orangey yellow. Clear. Nice off-white head, with tiny little bubbles.

Aroma: Very fragrant. Smells 'stone-y'. Perfumey floral smells. Aroma is fairly fruity (pear) with clove and banana smells. Deep aromas.

Taste: Depth of taste is impressive. Good body with a bit of spice in the middle of the tongue. Banana-y sweetness, with a pretty quick finish. Apples and pears are predominant fruits in the flavor.

Notes: Fun beer. This beer is like a spiced fruit pie. I'm not too sure if this one is made to last the long haul, but the depths of flavor and aroma make me really want to see what this one will be like in a year or two.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2004 11:26:12 | More by beerinator
Photo of bigchris1313
bigchris1313

California

4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Golden. Plenty darker than the Natural Light I watch everyone around me drink. *shudder*

Smell: Fruity! This was quite a shock for me, because as a hophead I was expecting the beer to be bitter like every other Stone Brew I'd had, save the porter and stout.

Taste: As a hophead I was at first weary of the sweeter flavor. As I continued to drink the beer, I began to embrace this style that was strange to me. Much fruitness gave the beer a smooth taste, but unlike the smooth tastes advocated by advertising campaigns for such brews as Keystone Light, this beer was full-flavored and sweet.

Mouthfeel: I think Stone does a great job with their brews as far as mouthfeels are concerned. The carbonation, when the brew is cool, lets the beer flow through one's mouth and across the tongue fluidly, for lack of a better term. Of all the categories, I gave this my highest score of 4.5

Drinkability: The beer is good, and for drinkers who adore fruitiness, this could be consumed for a long time. However, as hop-head, I wasn't fully enamored with the beer, but I put my prejudice aside the rated this category adequately.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2004 00:05:51 | More by bigchris1313
Photo of Southernbrew
Southernbrew

Georgia

4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lots of talk about limes on the bottle as well as Belgian yeast, interested to see how this tastes.

Light orange with a minimal head.

I sure smell that lime along with banana and clove hefeweizen-like aromas. There's a light "Belgian" aroma too.

Medium bodied with a nice level of carbonation. That lime really shows up carrying a lot of bitterness. This tastes like a strong hefeweizen more than a tripel to me, with all the banana/clove/spice flavors. Definitely Belgian flavors, but the biscuit flavors and lime alter the taste. Very biting lime flavor in the finish.

A good beer, actually fairly refreshing. I question how well this would hold up for 8 years.

A big thanks to Rajendra82 for the trade!

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2004 04:02:17 | More by Southernbrew
Photo of guinness33
guinness33

New Jersey

4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours an appealing crisp amber colour with loas of carbonation, which creeps to the soapy head atop the glass. the smell is a bold mixture of banana, spice, yeast and some malt. it's a touch earthy as well. good stuff. the flavour is much like the smell, being a balanced blend of fruitiness and spice, thoug ha bit more citrus based than the smell and having a more solid bread flavour at the finish. alcohol is noticeable yet not intrusive. carbonation levels are nice and high and spot on for the style. this one is easy drinking (much easier than i expected) and is a nice representation of the style, especially so as an american version of it.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2004 02:38:12 | More by guinness33
Photo of lou91
lou91

California

4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2004 05:56:14 | More by lou91
Photo of neonbrown82
neonbrown82

Nebraska

4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Initial tasting: I wasn't exactly too impressed by the appearance or smell of this tripel, especially after having recently gone on a Belgian marathon over the past month. The head was very minimal compared to any Belgian tripel. This was my first try at an american tripel, but nonetheless, I would have expected at least some head, especially after the aggressive pour of the latter half of the bomber to try and induce a more healty looking head. The smell was also neigh undetectable for the style, but I did notice a little of that lime leaf and banana.

The taste was interesting. It was similar to the traditional Belgian tripel taste with the intense barley maltiness and all sorts of citrusy, sweet and sour flavors, yet you could definately tell there was a fair amount of hops in this beer. The bitterness was more apparent than I expect in a tripel.

I still have another bomber of this that I will attempt to save for at least a year, but I'll be damned if it makes it through the long haul to 2012. As of now, I'm not quite so concerned that this is a limited edition and that I only have one more chance to experience it, at which time it most likely won't be optimally aged (I mean, let's be realistic... I haven't technically started my cellaring collection, and I'm still kind of paranoid about pulling it from the fridge and placing it somewhere where I might forget it in the basement). Nonetheless, worth the price of having ordered it on-line. Further judgements are pending, hopefully until 2012, but most likely around New Year's 2006.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2005 09:55:30 | More by neonbrown82
Photo of Viggo
Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.1/5  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!

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2006 01:58:00 | More by Viggo
Photo of beertaster13
beertaster13

Washington

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.

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2004 03:54:12 | More by beertaster13
Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 302 ratings.