Monday, April 2, 2012

Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic

We have two firsts on this episode. Firstly, Craig of joins me for his first ever Skype review and appearance on this show. Secondly, it's the first time I'm trying a beer that was released about a year and a half ago that's been sitting in my basement ever since. I really had no idea what to expect with this one, but since Craig suggested reviewing it I pulled it out and dusted it off. Would this one improve with age?

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (640) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 1, 2012
A lot of American brewers try to "improve upon" authentic Belgian styles, but few are able to pull it off. But when they manage to do it right, as Stone did with their "10.10.10 Vertical Epic", the result is amazing! Though similar to many popular Belgian strong golden ales, it’s American at the core. U-S-A! U-S-A!

I pulled a 22oz bottle out of my basement and poured it into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Hazy dark gold color bordering on light orange. Forms a small, white, soapy head but it dissolves rather quickly and leaves no lacing. Plenty of active carbonation is still visible, though.

Smell: Strong, natural, sweet smells of apple juice, spiced cider, and white wine.

Taste: Like any good strong Belgian brew worth its salt, Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic is both robust and complex and highly drinkable. If you’re a craft beer drinker with some experience you’ll find a lot of the flavors here familiar: apple juice, hard cider, white wine, caramel, butterscotch, black pepper, and a potpourri of spices. It starts out with a raw, authentic taste of apple juice and white grape. It’s very tasty, nectary light fruits without any added sweeteners or other flavors. It gives way to a brief burst of tartness, not unlike a hard cider or a white wine. The finish is very delectable with a rich, sweet taste of caramel and butterscotch, plus the more traditional Belgian notes of pepper.

Not that this beer is representative of your "typical" strong Belgian golden ale (not in the traditional sense, anyway). It’s brewed with dried chamomile flowers, triticale, muscat, Sauvigon Blanc grapes, and some other ingredients I can’t spell (much less pronounce). It all adds up to make for a beer that has a lot of familiar flavors, but arranged in a way you’ve never experienced before. It’s delicious to say the least - I could see most drinkers enjoying this immensely, regardless of their experience level.

Drinkability: Drinking Stone 10.10.10. Vertical Epic was a very interesting experience not only due to the palate, but the delivery. The mouthfeel was a little thinner than I expected, but still very effervescent even after 18 months in the cellar. The carbonation works perfectly with the palate to essentially scrub away any cloying, sticky qualities it might have since it is very noticeably sweet. There’s a bit of a dry finish, but no doughy or powdery aftertaste. At 9.5% it’s not surprising there’s still some warmth in the throat, but the alcohol doesn’t upstage the palate in the least. It’s a shame this beer was only brewed once.

Grade: 10/10

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