Today is a monumental day all around the world on multiple levels. What is so important about August 8th 2008? AH ha. Glad you asked!
First of all, today marks the official start for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. I am very honored to know a handful of athletes competing in this year’s Olympic Games. A few 2008 Summer Olympians are fellow ex Ohio State student-athletes and teammates. I send to all of them my love and best wishes! Go Bucks!
The 2008 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremonies is airing at this very moment in the United State, EST. Most of you may not be aware of this, but the Olympic Games have always been extremely important to me.
Being a competitive athlete for the majority of my childhood and early adulthood predisposed me to love the Olympics and its celebration of sport. For my sport of swimming, the Olympics is like the Super Bowl for football. It is the highest level in which a swimmer can compete. Olympic swimmers are our celebrities, the “pro football players” if you will.
My family received a tremendous opportunity back in the Summer of 1996. My father was employed by IBM at the time, which was one of the main sponsors for the 96′ Atlanta Olympic Games. My parents were accepted as volunteers for the games and we were able to live in Atlanta that summer for a few weeks. Even though I was only 13 at the time, my parents gave me free reign of the city while they worked during the day. It was amazing, truly amazing. My family and I were able to attend at least 9 different sporting events while there. And of course, one of those was swimming.
Then in 2002, I was offered a once in the lifetime opportunity to run the Olympic Torch in Albany, NY for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. My mother ended up buying the very torch with which I ran the relay. To this day, I still have the uniform and torch – both in almost mint condition. The charred remainents of THE Olympic flame still coat the glass on my torch.
But I digress, this post is not all about The Olympics (although it very well could be … I have more content on it than you probably want to know!)
Today also marks the date in which the 7th annual Stone Vertical Epic Ale should be consumed – AKA 08.08.08!
Stone Brewing Company started brewing its Vertical Epic Ale annually in 2001. The first release was 02.02.02 and every release thereafter has been one year, one month and one day from the previous year. Stone describes its Vertical Epic as follows:
As with any good epic, herein lies the promise of larger-than-life experiences, heroics and twists & turns as the adventure unfolds. These bottle-conditioned ales are specifically designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012. Provided you can wait that long. At that time, enjoy them in a “vertical” tasting. Each one unique to it’s year of release. Each with its own “twist & turn” in the plotline. Each one released one year, one month and one day from the previous year’s edition.
This year’s Verical Epic Ale is a strong Belgian golden ale, similar to the style of Duvel. Belgian golden ale is characterized by a very high ABV, hovering around 9%. Stone Vertical Epic comes in at 8.6% ABV. This style bares a resemblance to the abbey style tripel, but with a few significant differences. Tripels are frequently cloudy where Belgian golden ales are quite clear, although bottle conditioned. Golden ales are a touch paler in color and has a less fluffy, dense head. They also tend to have a cleaner taste, revealing malt and hops more than fruity esters or the character of yeast.
Now, whereas I would love to have the patience to cellar such a jewel for another four years – let us not kid ourselves. My impulsive nature wants it NOW NOW NOW. Perhaps after the initial tasting, I will be compelled to buy a bottle of two for cellaring. We shall see.
AND NOW … drum roll please … THE TASTING! (Yes, yes. I understand that it has been a long time since I last reviewed a beer. So long, in fact, that I am sure many of you do not believe in my tasting powers anymore. For this I apologize and promise to post tasting notes more frequently!!!)
STONE VERTICAL EPIC ALE 08.08.08
Glass: The Tulip. [Notes from Beer Advocate: The Tulip is a stemmed glass, obviously tulip-shaped, wherein the top of the glass pushes out a bit to form a lip in order to capture the head and the body is bulbous. Benefits: Captures and enhances volatiles, while it induces and supports large foamy heads.] It is suggested for American IPAs and most Belgian Ales.
APPEARANCE: The ale pours a mostly clear, pale gold with hint of copper and a white, thick and foamy head. The head disappears rather rapidly, leaving a very thin lacing on the glass.
AROMA: Ridiculously fruity, with subtle hints of spice. Fruity aroma is strong banana with a small essence of tropical fruits (sounds crazy, but a bit coconut-esque). Subtle hints of clove, which is typical to many Belgian yeast strands. Doughy yeast also protrudes the nose, with a subtle hint of alcohol. Hops are almost nonexistent in the aroma.
TASTE: WHAM BAM THANK YOU MAM. Where the heck were those hops hiding? Where the aroma lacked in hops, the taste definitely makes up in flavor. Initially, the ale yields a subtle fruity taste of banana and malt. Mild acidity also makes its way through. But the fruity taste of the Belgian yeast and any hints of acidity are quickly beaten aside by the powerful punch of American hops. Please sir, can I have some more?
PALATE: This is a medium light bodied ale with a slight alcoholic undertone. Carbonation is moderate, with a pleasant amount of effervescence. The bitterness of the hops completely coats the tongue, leaving behind a very bitter finish that lingers … and lingers … and lingers.
OVERALL: Could this ale be the best of both worlds? We all know The Beer Wench loves her hops, but she also loves her thick and malty Belgian ales. I thoroughly enjoyed being kicked in the pants by the American hops of this ale, all the while loving the super fruity aroma and subtle taste of the Belgian yeast. Once again, Stone has impressed my ever-learning palate.
And so now, I find myself at a bitter sweet moment. Simultaneously, as I pour the last of the Vertical Epic Ale 08′ into my glass – the parade of Olympic athletes has commenced in Beijing, China. I raise my glass to the finest athletes in all the world. Cheers! Good luck to all! May the best man and woman win!!!