Stone Brewing Co.'s Vertical Epic series, which began in 2002 with 02.02.02 and ends next year with 12.12.12, is designed with "vertical tastings" in mind. In a vertical tasting, bottles of different vintages of the same beer (or wine) are opened and tasted at the same time, so drinkers can perceive the effects of aging. Stone's Vertical Epic releases, however, have all been different styles, so it is a bit of a twist on the idea.
In theory, Vertical Epic 11.11.11 is a strange beer. It's a Belgian-style ale brewed with green chilies and cinnamon. Wait, where are you going? Come back. It's actually quite a tasty beverage.
Pristine ruby, the beer smells almost exactly like Troegs Mad Elf, which is odd because that beer is brewed with cherries. Indeed, though, Vertical Epic 11.11.11 boasts an unusual aroma of cherries, licorice, and cinnamon. Interestingly, the chilies don't rear up in the aroma.
They do, however, spring up in the taste, as do the cinnamon and Belgian yeast. Yes, there they are, the chilies, without the heat. Any burn comes from the alcohol, since 9.4 percent of this beer is alcohol. The finish is bitter, with those chilies showing themselves again on the aftertaste.