Aside from making some great beers, the people at Stone Brewing are marketing geniuses. They have grown their brand from coast-to-coast with very little traditional marketing and advertising. Their series of Vertical Epic Ale releases is the perfect example of how to hook consumers and keep them coming back for something unique year after year.
The Stone Vertical Epic Ale series started with the first release of Stone 02.02.02 Verical Epic Ale on February 2, 2002. This was the first in a series of eleven total releases culminating with the release of 12.12.12 this Wednesday. While all of the beers were great to drink fresh upon their release, the idea was to construct each beer to hold up for years so that all of them could be enjoyed as a vertical when 12.12.12 is released.
Unless you have all of these releases squirreled away in your cellar, your best bet to see how they have aged is to head to Brouwer’s Cafe this Wednesday. Starting at 6pm they will be pouring ten vintages of the Vertical Epic Ales, including 03.03.03 and going all the way through the new 12.12.12. The initial 02.02.02 release is the only one missing from the lineup, and I don’t think that one is making it out of the brewery. All beers will be available on tap (probably in 6oz pours) and commemorative glassware will be available for purchase.
I had the chance to try 03.03.03 through 09.09.09 a few years ago compliments of a generous friend, and it was quite interesting to see how the releases had held up. I can’t say that everything was tasting great, but many were still quite enjoyable. I’m guessing these kegs have been well cared for and stored since their releases, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the quality on the older releases is still very good.
Here is a description for each of the beers they will be pouring:
03.03.03: Dubbel inspired, brewed with dark candi sugar, and spiced with alligator Pepper (Grains of Paradise) and Coriander.
04.04.04: Strong golden ale with Kaffir Lime leaves added at the finish.
05.05.05: Quad, brewed with dark crystal and candi sugar. No spices.
06.06.06: Another Quad, this one all malt, with wheat and Carafa dark malt.
07.07.07: Trippel/Saison inspired, brewed with several malts and spiced with Ginger, Cardamom, Lemon peel, orange peel and grapefruit peel.
08.08.08: Our Belgian IPA–inspired by Duvel Triple Hop. Pale malt, flaked oats and candi sugar. Simcoe and Amarillo hops in the dry-hop.
09.09.09: Belgian Imperial Porter with tangerine peel, vanilla bean and hints of French oak.
10.10.10: Strong Golden fermented with 10% (by volume) added white wine juice-a blend of Muscat, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer.
11.11.11: Belgian amber with added Hatch chili and cinnamon.
12.12.12: Belgian Holiday Ale, spiced with Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, clove, sweet orange peel and rosehips