Brewing Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale at Home

by Lee Chase

So, it is year number 3 in the series… and we have the Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale at hand. This is an interesting beer that, as with the others, will be wonderful to see how it develops over time. This year, as you probably know, is a pale beer that has a lot going on in the flavor and aroma…with a hint of Kaffir lime leaf in there to add some complexity. I really like how this beer came together, with the medium body, distinct aroma of tropical fruits from the yeast, and that light lime essence in there to make you twist your head like my dog when he’s thinking…Then there’s the flavor of all that yeast and hops and the soft texture of the wheat and the finish with that lime leaf blending with the esters from the fermentation….mmm…I can ALMOST taste it, but this Stone IPA that I happen to have in my hand at the moment will have to do.

(Pretty tasty, nonetheless!)

Quick Stats

Starting Gravity: 18.5 Plato (1.076 SG)

Finishing Gravity: 2.75 Plato (1.011 SG)

ABV: 8.5%

IBU: 35

On to the making of the brew.

Again, if you haven’t brewed, you may want to get with a friend and/or study a little before getting into this recipe. I will give the recipe as if you are fairly knowledgeable about brewing, but if you aren’t, don’t worry, you can learn! Contact your local homebrew supply shop and they will be able to get you started.

To get started, you usually want to have a stock of a couple of beers that you are going to taste to keep you inspired. Not that it is necessary, but it can keep you focused. There are two ways to go here: you can get some great beers that are your inspiration, your goal, those you respect and think to your self “damn, this is right on!” or you can get the stuff out of your fridge that your “friends” left over and you have been looking at it for a while thinking “if a can of carbonated emptiness falls in the trash and no one hears it, is it a waste?” The latter is a great way to remind you that you are doing the right thing by bringing some flavorful beer to life (as if you needed the reassurance). Whatever you decide, you have a good few hours ahead of you, so be cautious what you choose. And try to have some Pogues cued up to help you along, starting of with Summer in Siam to put you in the Thai mood (Thailand used to be called Siam).

Because your mash system and ingredients are likely to be different than mine, I have left out some details—like how much malt and hops to add. The important stuff, like how many IBUs and the gravities are shown, but you need to figure out how to achieve these numbers.

What You Will Need

Pale 2-Row Malt – 95%

Unmalted Wheat Flakes – 5%

Sterling Hops (35 IBUs)

Kaffir Lime Leaves (about 3 grams per 5 gallons)

Bastogne Belgian Yeast from White Labs

I like to keep recipes fairly simple, but have a lot of flavor. So, despite the fact that there’s some unmalted wheat in there, I went with the single-rest infusion mash. That wheat is pre-gelatinized, so the enzymes in the pale malt can get in and break down the starch.

Start with some high-quality, pale 2 row malt.

Mill the Pale malt, and toss in the wheat as you mix the mash in the water.

Have the mash rest at 148°F for an hour. That will get the finishing gravity down pretty low.

Once the rest is up, recirculate the wort until it’s pretty clean. Collect the wort in the kettle and bring it to a boil.

Once your boil starts, add hops to achieve that 35 IBUs. Let these boil for at least an hour. Toward the end, add some irish moss, whirlfloc-G, or something like that….

Chill that stuff down to yeast-pitching temperature, get it into the fermenter, and get some yeast in it. (If you can make a “starter” for the yeast, you will be off to a better start…but either way, make sure you shake the living hell out of it to get a lot of oxygen dissolved in the wort at the beginning of fermentation. Yeast loves oxygen.)

Let that ferment at about 72°F, and chill it when it’s done fermenting. The terminal gravity should be about 2.75°P.

Once the beer has settled sufficiently, you will want to get those lime leaves together. These can be found at a good Asian market, or on the little tree in my back yard. You’d better call first before coming by though… my dog, Lester T. LoPresty, doesn’t always take well to unannounced visitors. Clean them off pretty well, they are going right into your beer. Of course, they will get sanitized first… Take the leaves, rip them into pieces, and place them in some water in a heat-proof container. You will want to just cover the leaves with some water, and then bring the water to a boil. If you are bottle conditioning, you may want to also add your priming sugar here…this is going to make a tea (with or without sugar) that is going to be funneled or siphoned into your beer. After the water has boiled, cover the container and let it sit to cool before adding it to your beer. This way, the lime leaf character gets in without the fermentation blowing it all out.

Now you should have some tasty, cold, uncarbonated beer. Once the CO2 is up, it is ready to go! Let’s see what happens to the flavors as it ages for the next eight and a half years….

Try your hand at brewing all of the Stone Vertical Epic Ales. Homebrew recipes for each can be found at:

Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 05.05.05 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 06.06.06 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale

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