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Stone 20th Anniversary Encore Series: 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Country: USA
ABV: 7.5%
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Other Notes: 2016 rerelease. 40 IBUs. Hops – Centennial. Special ingredients – Sweet orange peel, Curaçao orange peel, coriander & black pepper

Brewer Description: (from bottle) Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale is quite easily the rarest and most highly sought-after beer we have ever brewed – with winning bids at one time surpassing $1,200 on eBay. It was so rare that even at the time of its release our own team could barely get their hands on the first bottle of this millennium-inspired, sequentially released series. We produced just 300 cases and one of our delivery drivers at the time dropped and broke one (if calc’d @ $1,200/bottle, that was a $14,400 case!). This bumped-up, Stone-ized version of a Belgian witbier was our first Belgian-inspired beer. Featuring orange peel, wheat, coriander and black pepper, it was our first beer brewed with ingredients beyond the four beer-making essentials of malt, hops, water & yeast. The first time in which co-founder and original Brewmaster Steve Wagner gave former Head Brewer Lee Chase free rein. And, to really pile on the firsts, it was the first time a brewery created a series of different beers designed to be enjoyed together in an epic eleven-part vertical tasting so far into the future (10 years, to be exact…originally sometime after 12.12.12). The cache was more than just in the numbers. Boasting impressive high notes of citrus, spicy hops and honey-like character, Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale was a bright, if less-than-obvious, way to begin this eleven-movement symphony of flavor. Today, while it’s impossible for all but the most uber collector to experience the original, those who desire can once again taste what was the start of something truly epic.

My rating: 3
My beeradvocate.com rating: 3.89
My ratebeer.com rating: 3.8

Intro: A 22 fl. oz. bomber, bottled on 22nd July 2016. Poured into a Holy Mountain tulip glass.
Appearance: A clear golden colour with a big three finger white head that had decent retention and left lots of nice sticky lacing.
Aroma: Orange peel, clove, banana, coriander, orange creamsicle, Belgian yeast, with some light funk.
Taste: Orange creamsicle, orange peel, clove, banana, coriander, Belgian yeast and a light but spicy pepper finish.
Mouthfeel: Dry, medium bodied with moderate carbonation.
Overall: I enjoyed the first glass and could see how it was ground breaking in 2002, but despite this, a whole bomber by myself might just have been a bit too much.

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Stone Loral & Dr. Rudi’s Inevitable Adventure Double IPA

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Country: USA
ABV: 8.9%
Style: American Double IPA
Other Notes: Limited. Double IPA w/ Loral & Dr. Rudi

Brewer Description: (from bottle) A pairing like this was bound to happen. Loral hops were released in 2016 and quickly became one of our favorite new varieties. It was highlighted in our Stone Hop Revolver single hop IPA series, and was the featured hop in our hugely popular 2017 summer seasonal beer: Stone Ghost Hammer IPA. Then there’s Dr. Rudi, which has been around since 1976. Originally known as Super Alpha, this hop brings classic resin and piney notes, which pair it perfectly with the floral, citrusy aroma of Loral. Traditionalist GenX meets adventurous Millennial. What do they talk about? Nothing. Hops don’t talk. Together however, they speak. It’s apparent that a pairing like this was bound to happen. At Stone, we call it inevitable.

My rating: 3
My beeradvocate.com rating: 3.86
My ratebeer.com rating: 3.7

Intro: A 22 fl. oz. bomber with an enjoy by date of 11th April 2018. Poured into a Lost Abbey teku glass.
Appearance: A nice clear copper amber colour with a three finger off white head that had great retention and left lots of nice sticky lacing.
Aroma: Mandarin, orange peel, grapefruit rind, pine, floral, herbal and some very light caramel.
Taste: Moderate bitterness, grapefruit, citrus rind and peel, pine resin, herbal with hints of sweetness from caramel malt and a touch of booze.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation and light alcohol warming.
Overall: I’m generally not a huge fan of floral and herbal beers, but this was still quite good as it was balanced by the nice citrusy fruitiness and lasting bitterness.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout Chai-Spiced

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Country: USA
ABV: 10.6%
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Other Notes: 2015 odd year release. Ale with tea and spices added

Brewer Description: (from bottle) As it stands, the classic version of Stone Imperial Russian Stout is deep, dark , rich, roasty and perhaps even a bit sinful. The “Odd Beers for Odd Years” part of the journey means the coming of each odd-numbered year provides the opportunity to take this traditional beer to new and mysterious places, embarking on an exploratory odyssey enabled by strikingly flavorful elements applied to a lovely onyx canvas. This beer, the latest “Odd” transubstantiation, takes inspiration straight from the spice aisle, incorporating an array of ingredients assembled to emulate the flavors of authentic chai tea. Cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, a dash of black pepper and a dose of black tea combine with Stone Imperial Russian Stout’s incumbent flavors to take it deep into exotic, previously unfathomed territory. Expect a touch of earthiness in combination with a warm, tantalizing spiciness. As a one-time brew with enduring character, Stone CHAI-SPICED Imperial Russian Stout is crafted to be contemplated fresh or cellared under proper conditions for many years so that it may live on not only in one’s memory, but on his or her taste buds as well.

My rating: 3
My beeradvocate.com rating: 3.84
My ratebeer.com rating: 3.7

Intro: A 22 fl. oz. bomber, 2015 odd year release, bottled on 23rd March 2015. Poured into a snifter glass.
Appearance: Black in colour with a thin half finger brown head that dissipated quickly to a ring around the glass, while leaving some sparse lacing.
Aroma: Strong cinnamon and cardamom with roasted malts, cocoa and chocolate in the background. There were also hints of ginger and clove.
Taste: Follows the aroma quite closely with lots of spices, cinnamon and cardamom, spicy ginger and clove with hints of roastiness, cocoa and chocolate in the background.
Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation.
Overall: Almost three years on, and the “Chai” is still dominating the aroma and taste. Personally I would say it was still a bit too dominating while the nice flavours of the base Imperial Russian Stout were overpowered.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Country: USA
ABV: 10.8%
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Other Notes: 2016 release. 65 IBUs. Hops – Warrior

Brewer Description: (from bottle) Stone Imperial Russian Stout is so thick, rich and, well, sinful, you might feel certain that you will be doomed to the fiery pits just for thinking about taking a sip. It almost seems evil. Rest assured, however, that our ever-faithful gargoyle has done his job well by successfully warding off all evil spirits. In fact, we guarantee that no sin was committed in the production of this seemingly pernicious brew. We will admit to using copious doses of decadence in creating the viscous beauty you have before you, but no actual sin.., you’ll have to add that on your own. Brewed in the authentic, historical style of an imperial Russian stout, this beer is massive. Intensely aromatic (notes of anise, black currants, coffee, roastiness and alcohol) and heavy on the palate, this brew goes where few can-and fewer dare even try. The style originated from Czarist Russia’s demand for ever-thicker English stouts. Expect our version of this mysterious brew to pour like Siberian crude and taste even heavier!

My rating: 4
My beeradvocate.com rating: 4.23
My ratebeer.com rating: 4

Intro: A 22 fl. oz. bomber, 2016 release, bottled on 23rd March 2016. Poured into a snifter glass.
Appearance: Black in colour with a just under one finger brown head that dissipated fairly quickly to a ring around the glass while leaving only sparse lacing.
Aroma: Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee with some sweet dark fruit, plum, black currant and cherries.
Taste: Similar to the aroma with roasted malts, lightly burnt smokiness, dark chocolate and coffee, followed by dark fruit sweetness of plum and prunes.
Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, full bodied with light carbonation.
Overall: Great aroma and nice taste at the beginning, but perhaps feeling that it was a bit too sweet towards the end, after finishing a full bomber by myself. Alcohol is well hidden though, and it’s a great bottle to share.

Stone x Paul Bischeri & Patrick Martinez x Abnormal Neapolitan Dynamite

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co. x Paul Bischeri & Patrick Martinez x Abnormal Beer Company
Country: USA
ABV: 8.5%
Style: American Imperial Stout
Other Notes: Imperial Stout brewed w/ chocolate, vanilla, strawberries and coffee. 2017 Stone collaborations

Brewer Description: (from bottle) An Imperial Stout scooped from the freezer into your glass. At Stone Brewing we are proud to partner with the American Homebrewers Association to host a chapter member rally and homebrew competition in the commons at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. Every year for the last 8 years, San Diego region AHA members have submitted their homebrews to be judged by their peers, and a team of Stone folk (that always includes Steve and Greg, natch). The prize? A chance to strut their stuff in front of craft beer fans on the national stage. You hold in your hands the most recent winner. Finding inspiration in that humble box of striped ice cream from our childhoods. Neapolitan Dynamite is an intense Imperial Stout brewed with vanilla, strawberries and chocolate, revved up with a shot of coffee to fuel the ultimate dance contest on your palate, gosh! You seem this specialty Imperial Stout is the Rex Kwon Do of Imperial Stouts. It’s got nunchuck skills, computer hacking skills AND bow hunting skills. Pair this dynamite stout with life’s finer things, like quesadillas, tater tots and freestyle dancing. This also answers the eternal question: Can you pair a stout with a liger? Hell yes you can. We just did.

My rating: 4
My beeradvocate.com rating: 4.05
My ratebeer.com rating: 3.9

Intro: A 22 fl. oz. bomber with a bottled on date of 25th August 2017. Poured into a snifter glass.
Appearance: Black in colour with a nice one finger brown head that had decent retention and left some spotty lacing.
Aroma: Coffee with light melted and mixed Neapolitan ice cream.
Taste: Lightly sweet beginning as coffee dominates followed closely by vanilla and roasty malts. The strawberry and chocolate are lurking around in the background before a finish that is lightly bitter from the coffee.
Mouthfeel: Creamy, medium bodied with low carbonation.
Overall: This was quite nice but not quite Neapolitan enough for me as only the coffee and vanilla dominates the aroma and flavours while the strawberry and chocolate were not strong enough. I’m a big fan of mixing melted Neapolitan ice cream, so that was what I was hoping for. Body was also thinner than I hoped for, but not too much of a problem. I may seem a bit overly critical here, but it really is quite good and enjoyable.