Monday, March 4, 2013

Epic Vertical Epic Party

For those of you who do not know what the Vertical Epic is, Stone Brewery has been releasing a Belgian Strong beer every year since 2002. The first one was released on February 2nd, 2002 - 02.02.02. The second was released on March 03, 2003 - 03.03.03, and so on all the way till last December with 12.12.12. They were all bottle conditioned, and were made to be tasted after 12.12.12 was released. Each beer is a unique twist on a Belgian Strong with a seasonal flavor from the month that it represents. The beers are only available for a limited time after they are released. After that you have to beg borrow and steal to try and get your hands on the older brews.

After six months of searching, I was able to acquire ten of the eleven Stone Vertical Epic Beers. The 02.02.02 was going on the net for more than $300 per bottle and there was no way I was going to pay that price, even to complete the Vertical Epic. Stone was kind enough to put home brew recipes on their website so you could replicate, or at least come close to, their brew. I made two cases of 02.02.02 (which I have decided to call International Incident). We had one bottle of 03, 04 and 05 and then two of everything else.

I invited nine of my best beer buddies and co-writers to my house and assigned everyone a beer to do a food pairing with. Stone gave descriptions of all of the beers' aroma, color and taste, plus pairings for food, dessert and cigars.

My friends did not disappoint; the food was outstanding. Since the 02 was a home brew I did not have anyone bring food for that. (The home brew turned out great. Thanks to the guys at Great Fermentations, the Scene post to come soon, for helping me tweak the recipe to get it going here). The pairings were as follows:

The 03 was paired with a light monchego cheese and a grilled portabella mushroom. 
The 04 was paired with a nice soft brie cheese
The 05 was paired with a ginger marinated thinly sliced beef
The 06 was paired with Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese
The 07 was paired with a coconut lime marinated shrimp 
The 08 was paired with mini fish tacos with avocado, cilantro and home made salsa 
The 09 was paired with mini BBQ pork sliders and spicy slaw
The 10 was paired with bacon wrapped nectarines with basil and balsamic vinegar
The 11 was paired with a chili pepper flowerless chocolate cake
The 12 was paired with chocolate covered espresso beans and, my favorite, a nice dark cigar

The food did such a great job accentuating the beer. It was a well put together pairing list by Stone. My personal favorite, other than the wonderful shrimp cooked by my wife, was the chocolate chili flowerless cake. It was a great pairing with Stone's chili Belgian Strong 11.

Over the next couple of days each of us will put a post up with our favorite beers, favorite pairings and those that were less impressive. 

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