El Duque has set the bar high. There are so many epics that we look to these days. I thought nothing would be better than Homer's Odyssey, but then I remembered that it's been too long since I read that in high school and I can probably only name one character without googling it. What I do know, is A Game of Thrones!!!
These days you can talk about aGoT with just about anyone nerds, business professionals and of course beer geeks.
The second most impressive beer was Vertical Epic 07.07.07, so we will call it our House Lannister. Unlike 05 this was light and bubbly. The flavor was complex and subtle. There was intrigue mixed in with malts, hops and yeast. The ginger provides a great soft flavor that rides throughout the entire beer. It is bubbly and effervescent. The beer is outgoing and social just like the Lions of Lannister. It was a strong flavored brew but finished off dry and bitter. A clean end to a very exiting drink.
The beer that I thought was most under appreciated was Vertical Epic 11.11.11, so we will call it our House Targaryan. I love dark beers with some big off flavors. This beer was infused with a dash of spicy fire. The hot pepper was in the aroma and in the flavor. The hops complimented with peppers very well. They had just a hint of spice and floral flavor. The Belgian flavor was strong in this one as well. It was a true Belgian Strong with an awesome West Coast American kick. This was also one of the stronger beers, with 9.4% abv. Between the chili and the booze this one brought dragons fire to the party in a big way.
The beer I was least impressed with was the Vertical Epic 04.04.04, so we will call it our House Tyrell...don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, it was just a bit lame. There was nothing wrong with the beer, it just had nothing particularly exciting going on with it. It was a pretty traditional light refreshing Belgian beer. The 8.5% abv had mellowed out very nicely after eight years of aging, so that didn't stand out. The flavors were soft and sweet with just a light bit of flavor.
I agree with El Duque, the Vertical Epic 12.12.12, was just misunderstood. Like the men of the Iron Islands, House Greyjoy, it was bold and harsh. It was a strong beer with some pretty overpowering flavors. Please keep in mind that it'd also aged the least, so it hadn't mellowed much at all. The cigar was needed to reign in the dark spicy holiday flavors of the 12. This would be a great after dinner drink, but be ready for it to be in your face.
All of these beers were awesome. The worst of them was much better than a 4. The best of these was absolutely fantastic. This was a modern day epic for your taste buds. It was distinctly Belgian, with an incredibly forceful hint of California from our friends at Stone. They embraced someone else's tradition and made it their own for all of us to enjoy. Like with all good books, movies and TV shows, we are sad when they end, but happy we got to experience them. If you can get your hands on any of these beers, even if it is only two or three of the recent ones, do it. It was a great experience.