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Featured Reviews - November 2009 Archives

Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09
Posted Thursday, November 12th, 2009 by Tip Top

090909 Glass

Ok, I have had this bottle entirely too long and have been meaning to sit down with a few minutes to devote to the beer.  I guess that time will never come, so I'm making it work now.  I've had the bottle since it's release and can't thank Matt at Stone enough for it since I can't seem to find any in Western Wisconsin.  On to the beer, this is classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale here, which can mean so many things.  Time to find out what it's about...

The beer pours great.  Generous head that's thick and luscious.  Very think and dense, it's made up of super small bubbles.  It's sort of the color of toasted marshmallow.  Good retention, as the head is sticking around and it's been sitting there for a couple minutes.  Thick sheets of lacing coat the glass.  The body is dark and forboding.  Only when you bring it up to the light can you tell that it will let light through, as it shows a nice dark brown hue.

Aroma starts off with a little burnt malt to it, but then quickly moves to chocolate.  Next it's some vanilla bean and dark toasted bread.  The Belgian yeast starts to show itself, with some spicy notes of peppercorn and maybe coriander.  Cinnamon and nutmeg come in, making this remind me of some holiday spiced beers. 

Flavors are a little different than expected based on the aroma.  Starts off with chocolate flavors.  Milk chocolate and some cocoa.  There's just a hint of toffee.  Fruity flavors of banana and starfruit combine with anise and a definite spiciness that is probably coming from both the added spices and the Belgian yeast.  Some oak is present, but in the background, bringing flavors of the wood as well as some vanilla and a touch of char.  At first, the peppercorn/clove/coriander type spiciness really seemed way too much.  As I drink more, my tongue becomes more accustomed to it, but I still think that the spices need a little time to mellow out. 

Another nice Vertical Epic effort from Stone in 2009.  As this beer warms, the flavors seem to meld together better and better.  I would recommend drinking this at cellar temp or just a touch cooler to start so you can see the difference in the beer as it warms.  Grab one for now and a couple to stash away and see how it develops.



Beer Review: Stone 13th Anniversary Ale
Posted Friday, June 19th, 2009 by Tip Top

Stone 13th BottleI was lucky enough to receive an advance bottle of this brew.  It's been a while since I have been as excited for a Stone beer as I am this one.  The anticipation is almost as high as it was when Stone 10th was released.  When I had by first bottle of Stone 10th, I immediately ordered another case.  The talk about this beer has built up excitement that is close to that level.  Time to see if this one can live up to my high expectations.

Pour produces a thick tan head that is made up of small, uniform sized bubbles.  Dense and thick, it doesn't look to be going anywhere anytime soon.  The body is a dark amber color that when shown to the light glows a vibrant garnet.  Nice looking brew. 

The nose screams hops, as I really hoped it would.  The aroma reminds me of fresh Dead by Dawn from AleSmith.  Vibrant hops bring a nice citrusy mix, along with a hint of resiny bitterness.  There's a touch of pine in here as well, but citrus is the main hop aroma.  Malt backs it up very well without covering up the hops.  Sort of caramelly and toffee-like.  Enough of this, I need a taste...

This one doesn't wait around.  The bitter hop blast hits right off the bat.  Piney bitterness covers your tongue and doesn't really let go.  The malt backbone is strong, but like the aroma, it isn't getting in the way of the hops being the star of this beer.  I took my last sip over a minute ago and there is still bitterness sitting on my tongue.  That's good news to this certified hop head.  The caramel and toffee malt flavors combine nicely with the resiny hops that just don't let up.  There's a touch of citrus happening in the flavor, but you really don't get the citrus like you do in the aroma.  Flavor is all bitter pine sap.  Did I mention it's bitter?  It's sort of medium to full bodied, but drinks pretty easily for 9.5%.  Sticky hops cover your tongue and don't wash away quickly.

This doesn't quite make it to Stone 10th territory for me, but it's definitely the best Anniversary beer that Stone has put out since 10th.  This from someone who adored fresh 10th Anniversary.  A hop head's type of beer.  Very much recommended.  Now the only problem is I have to wait until this makes it's way to WI after the release on the 29th to be able to hop the border and get more.