Featured Beer #21 – Stone Brewing Company 11.11.11 & 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale

Save the Date, Part One of Two.

Numbers, man.  What good are they?  There’s numbers in your bank account, but they’re never the numbers you’d like to see.  You get a new number each year for your birthday, but as we all know that’s nothing to celebrate.  Don’t even get me started on the numbers for your company’s yearly performance reviews that determine your annual raise, both of which are more numbers you won’t like.  And now here I am, drinking Stone Brewing Company 11.11.11 & 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale.

There’s just no escaping these numbers.

My question is who out there is really that big a fan of numbers anyway?  Sure, there are those types that wear the black-rimmed glasses with the lenses you can see the past, present and future through that dig numbers.  The same guys that still regularly utilize a graphing calculator and, to this day, if they ever walk past a row of lockers they start to convulse from the memories of all the times they unwillingly resided in them.  Those people might become sexually aroused from numbers, but most down to earth people could care less.  Now, regardless whether you have a deep passion for numbers or not, you damn sure better know that from time to time, numbers carry significant weight.

Let me set a scene for you:

INTERIOR – A MARRIED COUPLE’S HOME IN ANYWHERE SUBURBIA – NIGHT

A HUSBAND sits on the couch in his living room flipping channels on the TV.  Just another evening of doing nothing.  Into the living room enters his WIFE.  She takes her place directly in front of the TV, arms folded, obstructing the HUSBAND’S view.  She’s nonplussed and staring him down.

WIFE: So I’ll just come out and ask; are we going out tonight for our anniversary?

HUSBAND: Shit, that was today?

EXTERIOR – A MARRIED COUPLE’S HOME IN ANYWHERE SUBURBIA – NIGHT

A BURLY EMT quickly emerges from inside the couple’s house out onto the front porch and proclaims loudly to all that can hear:

BURLY EMT: We got a bleeder!

Hopefully you know the movie reference, and, hopefully you’re smart enough to know it wasn’t the WIFE that was the bleeder.

Dates are numbers and from time to time dates, such as wedding anniversaries, are important.  As much as I hate to admit it, we’re all beholden to numbers one way or another.  Life forces us to be number crunchers.  Productivity at our jobs, our mortgage balance and its due date, or beers we’re able to consume before slipping into a coma.  Those are all important numbers.  Within the last ten years, when the month, day and year numbers line up, Stone Brewing Company decided to deem those numbers important as well and release a new beer on each date in the Vertical Epic series.  I chose to accept their importance when I tried two from the series for the first time.

Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale

"Stone 11.11.11. Vertical Epic Ale"

It’s Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic, drank on 12.11.12. Quick math; the beer aged a year.

The Vertical Epic series by Stone Brewing Company is unique, even for craft beer standards.  The first in a series of eleven was released on 02.02.02, and each one then released one year, one month and one day later until yesterday, 12.12.12, finished it out.  The beers run the gamut on styles and ingredients used for each brew.

I bought Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale in a 22 oz. bottle a month or so ago.  Reading the description on the bottle, it states this it was brewed with the intention of aging until sometime after 12.12.12, so basically a year later.  I was able to wait over a month until 12.11.12, so my levels of self-control have improved over the years.  23 year old me would have killed it as soon as I got it home.
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The beer was brewed with Anaheim chilies and cinnamon.  Yes, you read that correctly.

It’s really an interesting tasting beer.  Definitely the cinnamon dominates from what my taste buds detect, but the finish has a very subtle sweet chili pepper taste, as opposed to being hot and spicy.  The closer I got to the bottom of the bottle the more chili pepper flavor emerged, otherwise it was pretty heavy on the cinnamon.  Also, it’s 9.4% alcohol so it definitely had the taste of a higher alcohol content beer.  Not something I see being terribly appealing to drink in the spring or summer, but as the seasons change to the fall and winter months I could envision the 11.11.11 being a good choice on a cold night.

So an unexpected amalgamation of ingredients going on with 11.11.11, but what about…

Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale

"Stone 12.12.12. Vertical Epic Ale"

Hey, now it’s Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic, drank on 12.12.12. More quick math; ah, forget the math, I was thirsty.

I actually drank Vertical Epic 12.12.12 as a draft on the day it was released so clearly there was no aging with this one like it suggests to do with the others in the series.  In fact, recently at Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, California they had a panel of beer tasting experts try every one in the series, which includes the first Vertical Epic, 02.02.02, that has been aging for over ten years.  My 12.12.12 aged for about 15 minutes in my glass before its aging process came to an abrupt end.

What’s interesting about these two beers is that while they have very different colors to them, they both are predominantly cinnamon.  The 12.12.12 was not brewed with chilies like the 11.11.11 was, but once again the cinnamon flavor takes center stage.  Perhaps as the beer ages the more subtle flavors, such as fruity banana and hints of citrus as the description states, will surface.  Maybe I just don’t have a sophisticated enough palette?  Maybe I drank it too fast?

I’m going with a bit of both.

Either way I thought the 11.11.11 had a little bit more going on than the 12.12.12 did.  Now, it should be noted that with the 11.11.11 that was the only beer I drank that night.  Last night I had, uh, a few before I had the 12.12.12.

So if you can find any of the Stone Vertical Epic series, and it might be difficult, give them a try.  They were designed with the intent of aging so don’t be deterred by an older bottle.  It’s probably going to be better the older it is.  You really need to dig cinnamon to enjoy these two particular entries and even though I’m not obsessed with cinnamon, I’m glad I was able to try them while they still exist.

Now next week is another entry from Stone Brewing Company and yet another number-date related beer.  While these two Vertical Epics contain dates that some might find amusing in their rare synchronization, next week’s date could potentially hold much greater significance for all of mankind.

Yes, it’s that serious.

I mean, probably not, but you’ll find out next week and then we’ll all find out soon enough.

Intrigued?  Let’s count down the days.

More numbers.  Swell.

Cheers number crunchers!!!

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