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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

305 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 305
Reviews: 214
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 13.44%
Wants: 100
Gots: 48 | 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: 305 | Reviews: 214 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DRTBrewster
4/5  rDev +3.4%

DRTBrewster, Feb 07, 2013
Photo of HopsMatt
2.75/5  rDev -28.9%

HopsMatt, Feb 16, 2013
Photo of bradfordjohnson
4/5  rDev +3.4%

bradfordjohnson, Sep 06, 2012
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.

dherling, Oct 30, 2006
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).

Goldorak, Dec 02, 2005
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.

Truh, Apr 15, 2005
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.

mickeymac, Apr 23, 2004
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.

ManekiNeko, May 07, 2004
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.

BierReise, Sep 13, 2004
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.

Hopswagger, Dec 23, 2012
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.

nortmand, Oct 17, 2004
Photo of dagubna
4.04/5  rDev +4.4%

dagubna, Yesterday at 09:36 AM
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.

pentathlete, Sep 05, 2005
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.

beertaster13, Aug 19, 2004
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!!

MUSHROOMCLOUD, Jul 24, 2005
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.

orfeu, Aug 13, 2007
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

ngandhi, Jun 16, 2004
Photo of JohnnyDuvel
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very non-typical for this brewery, a beer with little bitterness. A decent example of a Belgian-styled beer, but rather flat and ordinary. Head disappeared almost immediately, and there was less carbonation than you usually expect in a tripel. Reminded me of the Don de Dieu that I followed it with, but the Unibroue is far superior, IMO. Stone is great for IPA's, but this offering falls short.

JohnnyDuvel, Jul 24, 2004
Photo of Geuzedad
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Geuzedad, Jun 23, 2013
Photo of czechsaaz
4.68/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

As we approach the release of 06-06-06, thought I'd dig one of these out and see how it's doing.

Aroma is very spicey. Still get a huge aroma from the lime leaves that makes me think of Indian food. So basically a lot of citrus with some yeast esters and brown sugary malt underneath. I'm a bit surprised that the lime aroma hasn't faded.

Appearance is light amber and very clear with very light rising bubbles. Had a small head which faded quickly but there's a rim of white that lasts around the side of the glass.

Fist sip, I notice the lime flavor but I'm now getting a lot more crystal malt flavor which I don't remember from when it was released. But the lime flavor on later sips is more like candy than fresh lime. Maybe it's the more prominant malt flavors that's doing that. Not sure. I get a ginger flavor too which I don't remember. There's a lingering aftertaste of fresh lime that I really like. There's no noticeable harsh alcohol flavor and all the citrus and spice is really starting to blend well.

The beer is pretty light in body considering it's 8+%. Very easy going down (again partly due to the citrus effect like an adult lemonade.) Carbonation level is light but definitely lively.

I think this is drinking fantastically now (at just over 2 years.) Whether or not it has peaked I'll have to wait and see. Right now it comes across as a very unique flavor profile but all the components seem to fit. I REALLY like it.

czechsaaz, May 21, 2006
Photo of SupaCelt
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured out a sort of golden honey with maybe an orange cast to it. It formed a small tannish head after a vigorous pour. Some scant lace. The nose was sweet candy with a nice hoppy essence coming through. Noble like. Yeasty and fruity. Mild and pleasant. The taste was again sweet. Somewhat subdued in light of some other tripels that have slid down my alimentary canal. The hops actually showed up for a snappy dryness in the finish that cut the sugary sweet tones and really did a nice job of rounding out the flavours. The mouthfeel was light. Quite drinkable. This was not a very rambunctious selection. It had been laying around for a couple of years though. I would say it held up nicely. Enjoyable. A good find from my City Wide Liquors excursion in South Bend.

SupaCelt, Jun 02, 2006
Photo of PatronWizard
2.88/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

See 06.06.06 review for background ...

Poured a golden bubbly with small spotty lacing. Looks good enough.

Smells of peaches with slight spice. Not bad. Or good.

Taste isn't very impressive. Peaches and car freshener is what I get.

Still has carbonation. What can I say? I bought these puppies for a mint and expected to be blown away. They were all "just" good beer. Nothing extraordinary.

Overall: wish I had the money instead

PatronWizard, Aug 29, 2009
Photo of IceAce
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: This Abbey Tripel poured into a beer-clean .5 litre glass provided a little over a two finger collar of foam which dissipated within 90 seconds leaving a quality trail of lace on the glass. The body is a slightly hazy (chill haze or intentional?) and moderately golden in color.

Aroma: True to its roots, this bad boy has a very complex nose. While the initial impression is banana esters (a la true German Hefeweizen), the backgroung is very busy with harmonious backnotes of fruits, yeast, and alcohol. Most positively an olfactory smorgasbord.

Taste: The first impression is simply one word...HUGE! This is a big, big beer with more personalities fighting for attention than Sybil. The banana shines through but the yeast refuses to release its hold on a starring role by adding hints of fruits from faraway islands in the pacific. Dryness in the finish is attributed to hops (Simcoe...Sterling...Saaz?)...just enough to balance but thankfully not enough to overpower.

Mouthfeel: Thanks to a quality malt, the mouthfeel is right in line with some of the best Tripels...and the complexity makes each taste a joy. CO² and yeast are very well balanced giving this beer a smooth coating without undesireable side effects.

Drinkability: Not only is it super today, this brew will (by design) have legs for many years to come. This should be outstanding to sample as a rounded mature offering in about three years.

IceAce, May 10, 2004
Photo of Auracom
2.55/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Talk about the most random bottle ever. Shared by Jeff near the end of a very long night. Thanks bro. 3-4 oz. poured into a FFF Teku on June 9th, 2012.

A - Very clear, bright-golden coloring. Great looking one finger eggshell head. Marginal lacing, slight legs.

S - Faded hops, a bit of wet cardboard, port-like oxidation, underlying Belgian yeast banana aroma. Part blah, part "Okay I can live with this."

T - Blended light fruit juice, pears, further oxidized cherry peel, definite clove and yeast flavor with a hint of buttered bread. Lightly bitter aftertaste.

M - Light-medium body, good carbonation for the age, semi-dry finish.

D - Ages more gracefully than I'd expected, but I'm not sure why something like this really exists. Despite its docile nature you can tell where this came from and compared to where it is now, it's not horrible.

Auracom, Jun 11, 2012
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.

TubaManJack, Dec 21, 2012
Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 305 ratings.