REVIEW: Stone Brewing Vertical Epic 11•11•11
From the bottle:
(1) Heroic and impressive in quality.
(2) Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size.
(3) Of, constituting, having to do with, or suggestive of a literary epic.
The tenth in an “epic” series.
“As with any good epic, herein lies the promise of larger-than-life experiences, heroics and twists & turns as the adventure unfolds. This bottle-conditioned ale is chapter ten, and is specifically designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012. Provided you can wait that long. At that time, enjoy it in a “vertical” tasting along with its ten Stone Vertical Epic Ale brethren. Each one unique to its year of release. Each with its own “twist & turn” in the plot line. Each one release one year, one month, and one day from the previous year’s edition.
This year’s Stone Vertical Epic Ale might justifiably be considered the non-sequitor edition. We somehow came to the conclusion that adding Anaheim chilies from New Mexico’s Hatch Valley, plus whole cinnamon sticks, to an amber-hued brew fermented with Belgian Flanders Golden Ale yeast (which provides fairly invest character, with lots of clove & banana overtones) would create a very tasty result. And we believe it does! The Anaheim chili is known for its rich flavor more than endorphin-inducing heat, and the cinnamon adds a nice twist… part of the promise behind the Vertical Epic Ale series itself. As with any epic, remember that it is not just the destination, but the journey!”
[As with all Stone VE editions, a detailed home-brewing recipe is available at www.stonebrew.com/epic ]
Specs from the Stone Brewing Blog:
OG: 20.5° Plato
TG: 2.5° Plato
Malts: Pale, Crystal, Munich, CaraBohemian and Special B
Hops: Warrior, Target, Perle and Pacific Jade
(As with most reviews we post here, I try to loosely stick to the form for a BJCP review.)
The body is deep, bright ruby/brown, approximately 20 SRM. The head is dirty white, pouring rocky, and lacing the glass as it subsides.
Initially, the sweet qualities of a Belgian dubbel transition to a slightly smoky–yet very present–pepper. I’ve never had (at least as far as I can remember) an Anaheim chili. It seems similar to a chipotle pepper, only less intensely smoky, with secondary kicks of warmth.
The clove/banana notes the yeast impart shift to a spicy paper on the sides of the tongue, swinging back to a Belgian ester, then it finishes with a very mellow cinnamon punch.
The 11•11•11 is bigger than most beers, but it’s pretty standard for Stone’s limited releases. What I mean by that is they have done very well at balancing a beer with a higher percentage ABV, while at the same time, not overpowering the flavor. It’s not thin, as sometimes happens with larger beers. It’s malty and sweet, not viscous and oily. The aftertaste is very much reminiscent of an Abbey dubbel (if you can look past the notion of a Belgian beer with pepper and cinnamon).
This is only my second time sampling a beer in the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series (the first was 08•08•08, which I shared with friends in early 2009). It seems like a nice shift from others in the lineup, and I can only forecast this beer beer will be even more mellow and balanced with a year’s time in the cellar.
It would be a great beer to pair with a fajita and fried rice, since the food would accentuate the spicy flavor the Anaheim imparts, while the fruity Belgian tones from the yeast would lend a contrasting sweetness.
11•11•11 was a fun beer to try. It’s nice to throw your palette a curveball once in a while. I went into the beer expecting a very subtle, then suddenly intensely spicy beer (think Fitger’s Wildfire, a lager brewed with Serrano, habenero, and jalepeno peppers) but I ended up concluding this is a Belgian-inspired ale, like a hybrid of a golden and a dubbel, with palette curveballs of pepper and spice.
Definitely worth seeking out.
Thanks to Randy Clemens at Stone Brewing for providing me this sample.