JohnC (3000) - Mission Viejo, California, USA - NOV 11, 2011
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
Poured from a 22oz bottle, this beer was a clear amber/red with a small off white head. The taste is, interesting, some cinnamon, clove, and definitely pepper. This is a very different beer. If I were to have it again, Iíd definitely want to have it with food, not sure what food though.
LtDan (1743) - Los Angeles County, California, USA - NOV 11, 2011
3.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Appearance: Pours a dark red. With a quick pour, you get a light tan foamy head that fades to nothing. Fairly clear after it settles.
Aroma: Big red(gum) from the Belgian yeast and cinnamon. At first I smelled straight up bubble gum, but as it warmed, the cinnamon intersected. A little bit of clove too.
Taste: Bitter earthy cinnamon, burnt crust and dominating fruity spicy belgian yeast. Very dry. Oily pepper essence in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Lively prickly bubbles. Full bodied.
Overall: Never had a beer like this beer before. I happened to have made a pan of gingerbread cake, and Iíll tell you, it was an accidental perfect pairing. Is this a beer you would want multiple glasses of? Probably not, but it is for sure a standout beer that will have you smelling, thinking and talking.
FlacoAlto (3737) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - NOV 11, 2011
3.1 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
A solid pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a three finger thick, pale amber tinged, tan colored head. The beer isa a dark, concentrated amber color that shows a brilliantly clear, cranberry tinged, amber hue when held up to the light. The beer smells of caramelized cotton candy, bubblegum, lots of clove and ample pear and apple like fruit notes. This is backed by some toasted, whole grain, a touch of sweet tea like character (but only just a touch), . The beer is a bit unbalanced towards bubblegum, fruitiness and clove notes from the Belgian yeast, though not so much so that this is bad. Hmm, there it is in the far finish, the green chile comes through with a distinct vegetal, green chile like note as well as a some spiciness that smells of green and pepper.
The beer tastes extremely sweet, but most of this is perceived sweetness due to huge fruit, bubblegum and clove flavors that plays such a big role in the flavor. I donít notice any of the green chile in my first sip. This definitely tastes a bit like bubblegum flavored cotton candy and there is a huge, slightly tongue numbing, phenolic clove note in the finish. There is an apple cider note (slightly oxidized cider tasting, though this is not actually oxidized), perhaps a touch of caramelized pear. The phenolic character contributes some cured plastic like notes that can be a bit much when combined with the clove character. The malt contributes a sharp, sort of roasted, spicy toasted, whole grain character. The green-chile character from the nose is a lot more subtle in the flavor; there is perhaps a hint of pepper in the finish, but this could almost be attributable to the spiciness from the yeast character. The chile, during a sip, is more noticeable as an oral nasal note rather than a flavor. The texture is not overly heavy, but it is definitely has a certain chewiness to it.
This really is just a bit too unbalanced; somehow the yeast character runs rampant in this beer in a bit of a simplistic manner with its focus on bubblegum, clove, plastic and too expressive fruit character. There is a chance that this will mellow out a bit, so if you have the patience I would recommend that you let this beer sit for 6 months or perhaps better a year. If the green chile character was a bit more prominent in the flavor and the yeast character was toned down just a bit this would be quite a bit better.
J_man (666) - Tustin, California, USA - NOV 10, 2011
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Pours a crystal clear medium amber with a slight ruby tinge and light tan head. The aroma has a candy sweetness to it with some grassy, vegetal notes and an alcoholic fullness. My first impression of the taste is that itís a holiday/Christmas beer due to the malty sweetness combined with a spicy, herbal flavor. Thereís some milk and bittersweet chocolate flavors as well as vanilla combined with a light vegetal, herb flavor with a slight spicy/peppery kick. Thereís a dry, earthy/woody bitterness underlying this along with a somewhat farmhouse style Saison yeastiness. The herbal/yeast flavors remind me a bit of the flavors in the Stone collaboration ale Saison du Buff (another excellent beer). Washes out with a nice alcohol bite while leaving a little of both the vanilla sweetness and the vegetal bitterness behind. I donít think this was necessarily intended to be a "holiday beer", but it makes an excellent one regardless. The Vertical Epic series has produced some great beers and this ranks high on that list.
after4ever (5934) - Brier, Washington, USA - NOV 10, 2011
3.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 13/20
Draft at elliott bay pizza. Pours a slightly hazy medium bronzeycamber. Loose gray head. Big spicey pie like nose, dark and savory sweet. Sticky thick body. Spicy, syrupy flavor profile. Almost hot. Long sticky dry finish.
mjg74 (2459) - La Mesa, California, USA - NOV 10, 2011
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Bomber from Bevmo. Nose is yeasty with a bit of an earthy rootbeer type of aroma. Maybe a slight hint of chili, but only because I knew it was there. Deep clear amber in color. Smooth mouthfeel. Sweet and malty up front. Decent yeast character. Finish is kind of odd. Some grapefruit peel and maybe some chili.
DaSilky1 (2606) - San Diego, California, USA - NOV 9, 2011
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Bottle. transparent deep burnt amber. Thick dark cream colored head. Nose as a creamy element to it and I smell the chile, I think...the cinnamon, not so sure of...but certainly some sort of spice and a toned down belgian yeast character too, luckily not as robust as the yeast profile in the nose of previous vertical epic beers...just some subtle banana coming through from that at this point. Flavors are a bit more yeasty though...and the yeast seems to drive most of whatís going on here, as is expected with these beers. I think i get a little of the capsicum heat from the chiles too but unfortunately, I canít seem to get any of their flavor as the yeast overpowers it. In fact, this might have a good amount of capsicum heat to it, not sure, i had a little chili before hand and not sure if that heat is from that or this beer....im thinking itís from the beer. This is actually pretty tame and straight forward and I think had they used a non-belgian yeast strain in this beer that it could possibly be quite a successful chile beer...and im not even saying it clashing with the yeast, its just hard to get a clear cut view of the chile presence with a yeast strain that tends to be quite forward with itís flavor profile. Not too shabby though really and certainly better than the majority of vertical epic beers to date. Good thing thereís only one more; then they can do something like a vertical epic series of imperial stouts with different barrels or different chilies or something that isnít belgian.
BOLTZ7555 (2706) - Phoenix, Arizona, USA - NOV 9, 2011
3.1 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Dark crimson, garnet, chestnut, and ruby red pour with a 1/2 inch eggshell head. Only a dot or two dispersed inside the glass. Mild, quite subtle aroma with caramel, malt, and perhaps a touch of chili. Flavor shows a hint of burn in the back of the throat, pinch of pepper, but otherwise nothing distinct or unique to pick out. Very average. Not sure why I expect more from this series as most are epic failures!
Hophead22 (2880) - Redlands, by way of Wisconsin,, California, USA - NOV 9, 2011
3.6 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Tap at Eureka Burger. Rating #3. Dark amber red pour. Nice aroma, dark fruits were prominent. Rich fruity flavor, slight belgian thing going on. Very enjoyable. (1986)
BadAprilia1000 (215) - Sevierville, Tennessee, USA - NOV 9, 2011
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Stone comes to surprise me every year with the vertical epic. Last yearís Belgian Strong was fantastic and this yearís does not disappoint, This beer has a nice nose. Smells of booze typical of a belgian strong. Nose is very strong cant pick out all thatís going on. Flavor in this beer is huge as well. Nice Sweet booze note followed by a nice spicy cinnamon. I imagine the spice comes from the chilies. Good beer will rate agin after i have had a few more.