10.10.10 Is Upon Us

Jacob McKean

As the calendar rapidly approaches October 10th, 2010, we’ve been inundated with (at least half a dozen) inquiries as to the composition of this year’s Stone Vertical Epic Ale. Eagerly anticipated by beer geeks and numerology nuts alike, the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series is our homage to Belgian yeast and the benefits of aging beer.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Stone Vertical Epic Ales are designed to be able to be consumed in, well, an epic vertical tasting on 12.12.12.

Initiated in 2002—when the notion that Stone might still be around in 2012 was more hope than certainty— the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series has given Stone brewers an avenue for creative expression while helping spread the good word about the benefits of cellaring beer.

Those conscientious enough to cellar the complete Stone Vertical Epic Ale series under proper conditions (55 degrees or less and dark), will be treated to a rare liquid education on the effects of age on beer when December 12th, 2012 rolls around.

That said, Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale is mighty tasty right out of the gate. Fermented with the legendary Ardennes strain of Belgian yeast, 10.10.10 is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed with pale malt and triticale (a cross of wheat and rye), hopped with German Perle hops, and steeped with chamomile during the whirlpool stage. In secondary fermentation, we added a juice blend of Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties. The wine grapes came from Temecula’s South Coast Winery, located about 30 miles north of our brewery.

Stone Head Brewer Mitch Steele, who studied enology at UC Davis and spent 8 years toiling as a vintner in his early days, made the trek up to South Coast to watch the grapes that would become 10.10.10 go from vine to juice:

The juice and beer blend fermented with surprising vigor to produce a dry, complex, full-bodied beer brimming with floral, fruity aromas. The beer cannot be described as “grapey” or “herbal,” as neither the juice nor the chamomile overwhelm the Belgian yeast character; in fact, identifying the ingredients would be a challenge for even the most astute nose. The constituent parts instead impart layer upon layer of nuance and flavor, with the result being a highly drinkable and royally delicious Belgian-style beer.

Having tasted the beer and liked it immensely, the vintner’s at South Coast informed us that the wine character will develop with age, making 10.10.10 the perfect candidate for a little over two years of cellaring (how convenient!)

The beer was bottled on Monday and will, ironically, be released on October 11th, 2010, since the 10th is a Sunday. It can be found wherever Stone special releases typically land. And while Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale is drinking great right now, we highly recommend tucking some away for 12.12.12.

Mitch’s Tasting Notes:

The Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale pours hazy gold with a creamy white head of foam. The aroma is a blend of banana, wine and berry esters, with hints of clove and chamomile. The taste shows an increased intensity of fruit flavors as the varietal character of the Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc juice starts to assert itself mid-palate. The beer is tart and extremely dry, a result of the acidity of the grapes, and finishes with a lingering aftertaste of wine, banana esters and a hint of chamomile. It is an enjoyable beer to taste, possessing an elegance and complexity of flavors that show different aspects throughout the palate.

26 comments

  1. Carol Jackson
    /

    My husband and I visited our son and his wife in San Diego for the first time last month. They took us to Stonebrew for lunch. It was awesome! The food was very good, but the beer was the very best I’ve ever tasted. Can’t remember the name of the one I had but it was near the top of the menu and rather light tasting. If you have not been there you MUST go. Wish i could buy it in Texas!

  2. Darn, had the 07.07.07, 08.08.08 and 09.09.09 at Alewife on Friday. Can’t wait to try this one!

  3. Release of the brew not on the actual date…No…No…NO!!!! I already have flights booked to come get it and I leave Monday before the brewery opens. How can Stone adhere to a non-release of it a day early when it made sense because it has to be the actual date just to baffle us devotees by changing the date???

  4. Kristy!
    /

    If we head down to the brewery on 10.10.10 will it be available on draft?

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  7. Hey folks,

    Just wanted to let you know, we’ve decided to sell bottles of Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale at the Stone Company Store on 10.10.10 (starting at 10:10AM.) Simultaneously, at the Bistro, we’ll be serving 10.10.10 along with the 5 previous vintages of Stone Vertical Epic Ale.

    Cheers,
    Jacob McKean
    Social Media Coordinator, Stone Brewing Co.

  8. Pingback: Beer notes: Stone, The Bruery, Oakshire, Marin, New England Brewing | SuperBrewing.com

  9. I have been collecting Vertical Epic since 2004. I store them in the kitchen fridge, bottom shelf, upright, and undisturbed, but could they be getting too much light from the daily opening and closing of the fridge door?

    CAN’T WAIT FOR 101010!

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  11. Matt Barker
    /

    Super stoked about the 10.10.10 release…It’s my birthday and to top that off I was born at 10pm, no kidding! I have all the Vertical Epic’s except for the 02.02.02 so if ever there was a sweet ass birthday present for one not worthy, wink, wink! You guys are awesome! Can’t wait to get my hands on the new release!
    Cheers,
    Matt

  12. So bummed that it won’t be released on 10-10-10. That’s my birthday, and we’ve been planning for three years to share a 10-10-10 Vertical Epic to celebrate the big date. No good. But still look forward to it whenever we can get it, dangit.

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  14. Short Bus James
    /

    Matt, I store my Vertical Epics in paper bags I get at TJ’s when I buy wine. It also cuts down on the temptation to drink before its time.

  15. Have two bottles of each going back to 02-02-02, stored refrigerated, wrapped in foil and standing upright since purchase. One to drink the other goes to the highest bidder, three years to go.

  16. Daniel
    /

    Any chance a homebrew recipe will be posted? Assuming someone wants to go through the effort of procuring grapes/juice.

  17. 101010. Very nice marriage of spices and malt with dry finish. This will lay down nicely. When will the homebrew recipe be available?
    Cheers

  18. steve
    /

    Being a huge fan of ruination and Stone beers, I was truly disgusted by the taste of the vertical epic 10 10 10. It was the first beer I have ever thrown out. The taste reminded me of a cross between Hawaiian Primo beer and swamp water.

  19. Erik Lopez
    /

    This beer is amazing. I might even say it’s the best beer I have ever had. I love all stone beers to begin with, But with the birth of my 2nd son on 10/10/10 at 10:10 a.m. I had to go out and buy a couple of the new Vertical Epic only to find out it is so good that I will have trouble keeping one around for his 21st birthday. It will most definently be a problem but a good one to have. Now if we can only find a way for you guy’s to make this beer a permanent resident of the stone list. Hell I’ll even accept just a seasonal release. Thanks’

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  22. jessica hall
    /

    this was so highly anticipated that every store in town was sold out by the time i returned home from a work assignment. So i will have to wait until 11 11 11 which is my birthday so i am very excited but if anyone knows where i can order or find some i would be so very appreciative. it has become a tradition in my cirle of closest friends. thank you for doing what you do for the world of fine beer drinkers

  23. Mike Baz
    /

    I have been buying and saving Vertical Epics since the 6/6/06 edition, but as I don’t have a cellar, I’ve been keeping them in sub-par conditions. They are exposed to light and room-tempurature heat, and some have been through a few warm summers. Have I ruined my beer?

  24. It’s impossible to say until you open them. Sometimes beer can survive all kinds of conditions, sometimes not. The only way to assure quality beer is to store it properly. We’ve got our fingers crossed for you. Good luck!

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