I'm rushing this review out because it's a beer from Stone Brewing (@stonebrewingco) still on the shelves at a few local places like Calandro's (@calandrosmkt for you twitter people, where I bought a bottle) and probably a few other usual suspects when it comes to more limited beer releases.
This is the tenth release of the Stone Vertical Epic series, starting on 02/02/02 and culminating next year on 12/12/12. I guess they thought of the idea a year too late to start in 01/01/01, but oh well, still plenty of beer to enjoy! The main point of "Vertical Epic" is the idea of a vertical tasting. In beer terms, and probably wine as well, a vertical tasting is going through and tasting many successive years of the same beer release. This of course requires the patience and storage to age beers for years and the money up front to buy beers that you might not drink for, in this case, a decade. Recently I've been working on increasing my beer cellar so of course another one of these will be added for aging, and to be drank when the 12/12/12 Vertical Epic from Stone is released!
Now on to the beer itself... of course I had to buy one for immediate consumption! This one is a "chile beer" which just means that it has some chile peppers in there but doesn't really describe the base of the brew. For this one I poured into an imperial pint, but I think a snifter would be even better for next time, or for anyone who tries one after reading this.
It's a ruby red color, clear with a couple of fingers of off white head. There isn't much lacing but some good looking pooling on the surface of the beer. I let it warm a few degrees before drinking because the fridge is at 37 and that's just too cold for a good beer like this. Once the beer fridge / kegerator is up and running I'm going to be keeping it right around 45 degrees, which is much better for a tasty beer.
The smell is rather malty with some strong cinnamon notes. There's a little Belgian floral hop note in there as well. Pretty appetizing. The taste is a lot more chile in there with a flavor that closely resembles a Belgian dubbel. I'm a big fan of the interaction. It's very easy to drink with a minimal alcohol note despite a strong 9.4% abv and the chile flavors really enhance the rest of the taste.
Another winner from Stone, grab one of these if you can, the price was very reasonable (I think $7 or $8 if I remember right.) I felt higher about it than the BeerAdvocate community, but at a decent price it's absolutely something worth trying. If you really aren't sure about a chile beer, buy one to try and if you like it find another one to age.
My Rating: A