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Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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very good
218 Reviews
Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic AleStone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by Todd on 04-07-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 218 | Ratings: 322
Photo of mzwolinski
3.84/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

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Photo of kmo1030
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

8/31/04: bright orangy amber with a thick white head. the smell has the banana lemony citrus and clove of a belgian tripel, but there is also some sweet orange and hints of chocolate in there as well, giving it nice complexity. the taste is really pretty interesting, there is a lot of bannana presence with the clove and lemon flavors showing up too. then it i gets unique... i think i taste the lime mentioned on the label (though it may just be the power of suggestion). the is a distinct trace of cocoa, as well as some light orange flavors just like i detected in the smell. a little bit like those chocolate oranges you get around christmas, except very subdued. there is a slight acidic sort of tomato flavor that appears too. the taste doesn't really deliver like 03 did. I need MORE. the mouthfeel is fairly full bodied and smooth with pretty delicate carbonation. surprisingly pretty dry or something like it.
this is a very intersting tripel. i'd like to see a little more sweetness rather than tartness develop as this ages. i'd also liek the flavors be a little more pronounced. as mentioned in previous reviews this seems like it will age nicely, but is sort of unfinished as of right now. i'm gonna let my other bottle sit unitl april and see what happens.

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

Nice copper color, white head which dies too quickly. Smell starts like Duvel and the like, but then there's a strong apple smell is the background, and maybe a little lime bitterness? (although that could just be the power of suggestion from the label...) Taste is much sweeter than I expected, but surprisingly nice. There's some complex spiciness going on under the apple-y sweetness, but it's too hard for me to identify. Nice mouthfeel, its got some good carbonation there. I'm going to knock it a little on drinkability - it's great at first, but the sweetness is overpowering after a while... so enjoy it with food or split it with friends. Decent beer, though.

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Photo of aracauna
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear true amber body with a head on the fizzy side. The aroma and flavor are dominated by vanilla and cotton candy. A little bit of caramel is involved, and after reading the the commercial description, I guess that bit of citrus isn’t from the hops after all. Still, while it’s very pleasant and quite drinkable, it’s not really all that like a Belgian in character to me.

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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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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 klewis
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured with a small white head that quickly subsided but one that left good lacing. Light golden in color with lots of carbonation clinging to the sides of the goblet.

S: A very strong smell with aromas of dark fruit, yeast, and caramel.

T: A spicy shiraz-like kick instantly meets the tongue, giving way to dominating ginger flavors. Originally, I somehow missed the lime taste until I read the other reviews and the bottle, but now it seems very apparent to me. The finish reminisces of the classic Belgian yeast taste. The overall taste is definitely unique, but I'm not sure that I'm sold on it yet.

M: This one has a smooth medium body that balances the flavor nicely. After the pour, it looked like this one was going to be a little too carbonated for my taste, but it turned out to be just right.

D: This beer's strongest asset is its originality, but for that reason, I wouldn't want to drink this one too often. I would recommend this one to beer connoisseurs but would be reluctant to do the same to someone without an appropriate palate for unique brews.

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Photo of mcowgill
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oops, I couldn't wait until 2012. This beer poured very nicely for me although I noticed not much of a head which I thought was strange. The beer looks a very attractive coppery color with many active bubbles ascending. The beer smelled of a mixture of fruit and malt. Tasting this beer was the best part. The lime fruitiness is quite enjoyable. This beer is quite smooth and drinkable considering the spice involved. Wish I had more.

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Photo of CharlesRiver
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

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Photo of DESTRO
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours out golden, clear...lively carbonation and produces a thick pillow like head. strong aroma of yeast, smells bready. light citrus notes, a bit "grassy". lightly creamy in the mouth, def. smooth. flavors. slightly sweet, fruity...pineapple and banana. huge yeast character and noticable alcohol bite. light bitterness in the finish, puckering. interesting and pretty damn delicious. not something id have often, but its quality. awesome job dudes.

cant wait to try it as it ages.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange/straw color, with a thick white foamy head. The head disappeared rather quickly, leaving a small amount of lace on the glass. Smells similar to a wheat beer, in that there is a strong banana note. Also a hint of citrus, and possibly a small amount of spice. Taste is slightly tart, with a slight citrus note. Somewhat dry and yeasty in the finish. Very smooth, and could use more carbonation for this style. Overall, an interseting beer. Whe I think Stone, I think of big, hoppy beers, and this one is not hoppy, or bitter at all. Still, I think this was a good idea by Stone, and it should age nicely. The alcohol presence is there, yet it is pretty drinkable. Seems like a saison on steroids.

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Photo of crookedhalo
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear golden color with a bit of light orange highlights. Bready, fruity and yeasty aromas with some suggestions of pepperiness. Very dry finish to a beer that starts off sweet. Light hopping and the addition of lime leaves give it a saison-like feel and adds nicely to the dryness. Alcohol definately noticable. Tropical fruit esters come into play as it warms up to temperature. Pretty nice tripel, but slightly one-dimensional.

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Photo of Truh
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

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Photo of quasimoto
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - It is a deep golden/ light amber color with a nice off white head, A nice stream of carbination is constantly rising from the center. Very pretty.

S - Hoppy.. and what I believe to be cotton candy. Coconut,apple, pineapple, some spices and unfortunatly a little bit of alcohol & band aid in there .

T - The hops are so damn mellow that they blend perfectly with the rest of this brew. The rest being some slight caramel, and nutty malts. Little bit of alcohol.

M - The mouthfeel is nice ands smooth, cool but warmed by the alcohol.

D - This is one hell of a year for this.

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Photo of PSUDREW
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

hmmm how to describe this... part hefe, part dunkle, part belgian triple...very interesting mix, and I am facinated to see how this will taste when I review it again in a couple of years.

It pours a nice golden color, with a frothy head that dissapates rather quickly.

Like I said before, the best way to describe the flavor is that of a mix. It has the sugary/abv taste that you might find in any one of the belgian styles. it has light peppery twist.

no hop presence that I notice, and that easy bananna/citrus taste that I would get from a hefe/dunkle

And, as the lable notes, there is a lime taste, but only present in the aftertaste, (which finish crisp and smooth) and only slightly so. hopefully, it will progress over time, becuase I feel it is a very nice addition.

For the sweet and heavy taste, it is highly drinable. I am rathere interested in what this brew will taste like in a couple of years

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Photo of markman
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale:

OK, here we go. Nice alabaster head on a crystal clear brass body…very inviting. Yeasty fruity nose is big, with hints of bubblegum . Up front the taste is slickly bitter, hoppier than most triples…Stone, no shit. Creamy middle leads to a spicy-sweet finish that coats the tongue…well. This puts me in the mind of a tripel wheat, like Unibroue’s Don de Dieu but not as well integrated. Not a bad beer, but not one I’m in a hurry to return to as there are so many other better tripels out there.


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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 KYGunner
3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nine year old Four had an entrancing brightness of darkened gold color that was topped of with an effervescent bubbling head.

Cider is evident in the nose with a peppery spiciness and then a dry cereal malt finish.

The flavors are interesting in that they don't really go together yet they seem to flow effortlessly. It starts with a lavender taste with some juniper. Then a wine like fruit flavor followed by toffee and pecans. Finally it ends in a peppermint like coolness which lends to feel.

You never know what your going to get after almost a decade but this one still looks and tastes good.

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

This beer pours a nice golden with a white head that disapears fast leaving laces on the glass. It looks unfiltered, but not as unfiltered as a hefe wiezen. Smells fruity and spicy. Hints of lime in the taste. Also ginger. Tastes very clovey. It leaves a sweet aftertaste. It goes down nicely. This beer could be consumed all night. The alcohol content is above average, but it doesnt taste like it. I would drink this beer again. Too bad it will probably never come out again.

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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 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 pentathlete
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
3.99/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a transparent schoolbus orange with highlights of brass. A 1/8th inch deep head of pure white foam fades quickly to a skim of bubbles, under which very sparse lines of carbonation float lazily to the surface. Seems kind of uncharacteristic for Stone... Very fragrant aroma, full of honey and emergent nectarine flesh. Finishing with tangy fumes of lime juice and menthol (or perhaps vermouth?), the whole thing conjures an image of a banana split with vanilla ice cream topped by creme de menthe. Groovy. The flavor is a pleasant contest of sweet vs. spice, far more assertive than the typical Belgian Tripel. The taste of green tea abounds, as does poached peach with honey, with mango at the sides of the tongue. The spiciness of ginger and nutmeg lingers slightly in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel has a filmy, sweet finish, but desperately needs carbonation--or something to lift the flavors back up from the tongue. With the alcohol more or less undetectable, this is quite the drinker. I'd like to try this with creme brulee or mascarpone. A fun beer, this one.

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Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
3.89 out of 5 based on 322 ratings.
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