I like to think of myself as more than just a one trick pony…and this goes for my alcohol consumption as well. Truth be told, I was into beer, specifically the craft beer scene, before I even whiffed a hint of peat. And arguably there are few better places better to be than in California for a front row seat in watching the craft brewery scene. I lived in San Diego for a couple of years and as a result I have always had a soft spot for Stone Brewing Company located in Escondido California. I have enjoyed their Arrogant Bastard, Ruination IPA, Imperial Stout and Old Guardian Barley Wine to name a few. But I have been much intrigued by one of their on going releases called the Vertical Epic. Each year since 2002, Stone has been releasing a special edition brew. The release date corresponds to all three numbers in the calendar being the same. February 2, 2002, March 3, 2003, April 4, 2004 and so on. This year the Vertical Epic was being released on October 10th.
This year’s release is definitely an interesting one. This is a direct quote from Stone’s website regarding this year’s release: “Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale is mighty tasty right out of the gate. Fermented with the legendary Ardennes strain of Belgian yeast, 10.10.10 is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed with pale malt and triticale (a cross of wheat and rye), hopped with German Perle hops, and steeped with chamomile during the whirlpool stage. In secondary fermentation, we added a juice blend of Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties. The wine grapes came from Temecula’s South Coast Winery, located about 30 miles north of our brewery.”
Being up in Northern California it took me a little while to find a bottle. Well today I finally picked up two bottles at my favorite beer store in San Francisco The City Beer Store. If you haven’t been there and you live in the area, you are missing out. Immediately upon nosing it you can identify its Belgian pedigree. Deep rich fruits and a soft subtle spice invigorate the nose. The taste is a little beguiling: fruity Belgian notes mixed in with the sweetness of the wine grapes, it is also very dry. The spices linger and are very pleasant. I forgot what chamomile tasted like, so I broke out my chamomile tea to refresh my memory and bam! there it was.
This edition of the Vertical Epic is an excellent complex beer. If you are looking for a beer that you can sit with and really dig into this is it. But be warned, get it while you can as this is a limited release.