Sunday, July 08, 2007

07.07.07 Vertical Epic

I'm not only drinking, but also writing about a beer while it's still topical. I never thought I would live to see the day.

Brewery – Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, CA
Style – Belgian Golden Strong Ale
ABV – 8.4%
Serving Type – 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

The "Vertical Epic" series is a rather clever idea celebrating the unique patterns found at the beginning of the century that are caused by the dates when converted to numerical form. This installment was released around July 7th, 2007, or 07/07/07. This all started back in February of 2002 when the original Vertical Epic ale was released. From there a completely new beer was created and released one year, one month and one day later. This will continue until December 12th, 2012 at which point, if you have taken on the epic challenge of cellaring each years beer, you can do a vertical tasting of all of them.

This year they did an odd blending of Saison and Belgian Golden Triple styles. It looks and had the mouth feel of a Golden Triple thanks to its for different malts, but has the spiciness of a Saison thanks to the ginger, cardamom, grapefruit peel, lemon peal, and orange peel that were added to the wort. Should be interesting.

PS for all the homebrewers out there, they have the recipes for past VE ales here.

Glass – This was my first chance to use my brand new “Leader of the Pack” Pint Glass I got while visiting the Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau.

Aroma – Very predominant citrus and grapefruit aroma. Just behind that is ginger, and when things settle down and the beer warms a little there is just a touch of spice.

Appearance – It's hazy with a light orange color. The crown is white and fluffy. It's small but has good stability leaving a moderate amount of lacing.

Flavor – Tastes similar to the way it smelled. There is a definite citrus flavor and if not for the spices I might thinking this was a heavy lemon lager. Fortunately the spices keep things interesting and, once again, the ginger stands out. There a slight woodiness in the back and another flavor I can't quite place. Since I don't know what cardamom is, let's call it that. As with most Belgians there is virtually no bitterness, but unlike most there is no yeastiness to it.

Mouthfeel – It has is a medium to full body even with some prickly carbonation. It finishes dry.

Final Thoughts – This beer strikes me as being a little "green". It seems like there should be complexity in a beer like this instead of being dominated by citrus. It would make a nice refreshing beer if it wasn't so full bodied and high in alcohol. I'm also disappointed in it lack of yeastiness. It's possible that a more flavorful Belgian yeast would mess up the balance they they've been able to achieve. It could definitely hold up to a few years of cellaring, and I think that over time the citrus would mellow and the other flavors would mingle to create an entirely different beer.


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