Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vertical Epic 11.11.11 (Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA)

I picked the 11.11.11 tonight (Wednesday) because it's the closest to catnip. Let me explain.  We recently remodeled our kitchen with new marble floors, and just today I put the spices back up from the pantry.  One was catnip for our kittens, all three of which have passed away in the last year.  Mannie, Claude and Rajda loved catnip, and I regret not giving it to them more often.  For me, today at least, I'm giving myself the catnip.

Bring out your glass slippers, so this ruby colored ale can take you to the ball!  Great lace on the side of the glass from very light brown and tightly bubbled head.  Great nose that's not overpowering--smells of citrus, lemon, anise, light cherry and pepper, plus floral notes, all floating on top of a caramel, bready malt and  subtle yeast.  Slight sour note underneath that doesn't assert itself against a moderate hotness from the 9.4% ABV.  Hops listed online are Warrior, Target, Perle and Pacific Jade.  Complex nose that drew me in because of my love of spice accented beers.  Hop punch is distinct but not biting.  Hop blended with continued anise and a fruity base that rises above the lighter mouthfeel and malt.  Alcohol is apparent, and pleasant as well.  Falls nicely off the back of the tongue with a slight sour bitterness.  As it warms, the body thins out and the alcohol becomes more pronounced and loses balance.  Some of the lower BA reviews for the beer, I believe, might come from the latter part of the warmth cycle; or, the subtle, spicy character might disappoint Stone hop heads.

The very small print on the side of the bottle says that the beer was brewed with cinnamon sticks, Anaheim chilies and Belgian Flanders Golden Ale yeast. Guessing the peppers are accounting for the full and complex spice notes along with the cinnamon.  The yeast is said to throw off banana and clove, which I can smell and especially taste now that I'm paying attention to it specifically.

Good beer and worth the effort to go find.  Tenth in the series of Vertical Epic ales, next year's 12.12.12 is the last (and coincidentally on my birthday).   I was not able to acquire any of the 02.02.02 of the series, but happily have bottles for the rest.   It has been a long wait, but it will truly be a fun time tasting all of them side by side. Since Stone shares recipes for all of the Vertical Epic beers, I'm hoping to brew a clone of the .02.02.02 this summer so that the vertical tasting is complete.

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