The Beer Baron's Epic Vertical Epic Tasting was (as the name implies) epic. It was a great time, with good friends, good beer, and good food. All of the beers were very good, and I would rate all of them in the 3.5-4.5 range. There was also an apparent progression to the Vertical Epic beers. When tried in order, each beer is very different from the previous, while still sharing characteristics that tie them together.
Without further ado, here is my ranking of the Stone Vertical Epic beers:
1) 05.05.05My favorite beer of the tasting was the 05.05.05, which is a dark beer with chocolate in the aroma. This sweet beer has a strong toffee flavor, as well as figs and brown sugar. It has a medium body and light carbonation; a creamy mouthfeel makes this a very enjoyable beer to drink. The "beef roll-ups" (braised ginger flank steak, sliced thin) were excellent as well.
Another standout from our Vertical Epic tasting was the 04.04.04. The 04.04.04 has a strong fruit and lime taste, with honey and bready flavors. It is a silky beer with medium body and carbonation.
The 11.11.11 was my third favorite of the Vertical Epics, a definite step below the previous two, however it went very well with the chili pepper flowerless chocolate cake. The 11.11.11 and chocolate cake was the pairing that I felt complemented each other the best; the pepper flavor and heat in the beer goes very well with the creamy chocolate.
Calling the 08.08.08 a disappointment would be too extreme, but it is in the back of the pack. It was clean and smooth, but the flavors could have been a little more pronounced.
This was definitely my least favorite, but we didn't have the official 02.02.02. The Big Guy's homebrew hadn't been aged for 11 years, and while still a good beer, it didn't quite stack up against the others.