Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic AleStone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

296 Reviews

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Reviews: 296
Hads: 1,548
Avg: 3.89
pDev: 32.39%
Wants: 27
Gots: 377 | FT: 43
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: HalfFull on 12-05-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 296 | Hads: 1,548
Photo of korguy123
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle into tulip.
My brother's first child was supposed to be born on 12-12-12 and my brother is a HUGE Stone fan. We promised each other if my nephew was born on 12-12-12 him and I would split a case and share it every Christmas...

Well Liam decided to be born 6 days early. I bought one bottle lol.

Completely opaque. super dark brown/black pour. Three finger soapy, sticky tan head. Loads of sticky lacing on the sides of the glass.

Large doses of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, some all spice, peppery spice, dark chocolate and some burnt coffee. Very festive smelling. A nice change for the middle of March.

Burnt coffee, dark chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and a little too much cloves (my holiday pet peeve... but I'll survive) It has a finish of brown sugar and chocolate syrup. Definitely more of a holiday inspired stout than a Belgian Dark Ale.

Medium body, decent carbonation. Sticky on the lips.

I really enjoyed this one, I think the next time I head South I'll be getting another bottle or two to share with my brother.

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Photo of Zach225
4.28/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous, seemingly black, dark dark brown. No light shining through to speak of, but not completely opaque. A slight hint of a deep, dark mahogany at the very edge of the glass and a very attractive light mocha/tan head (about 1 finger poured moderately). Modest alcohol legs.

Nose: "Christmas Seasonal". The spices are definitely present and playing a major role here. The clove is subtle and the other wintery spices work well together with big leading notes of nutmeg, orange peel and cinnamon. The spices are surrounded by a warm blanket of darker, roasty/chocolatey notes with some deep, robust, oily espresso as well as the estery belgian yeast. The sort of doughy, fuity, zesty, breadiness of a belgian dark is subdued but still present and in balance with the roasty notes.

Taste: A well crafted ale that really fits the season it was released into, although I am drinking this in March. Three months later the flavors are melding together very well. The spices definitely have a starring role here and makes it predictably reminiscent of autumn seasonals/pumpkin beers, but it has a depth of flavor in the malt structure and belgian yeast. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied and wickedly creamy. This sort of creamy roasty quality blends nicely with the belgian dark strong flavor profile. The creaminess helps balance out the spice character but it still finishes delightfully dry.

Overall: A very enjoyable beer and a great way to end the series. Having this now, I would like to try to get my hands on a few more bottles to age for autumns and winters to come. This is possibly my favorite beer I have ever tried with this kind of blend of winter spices. Another big thumbs up for Stone.

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Photo of Gavage
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: pours a black color with a 1" head that slowly falls. Moderate lace paints the glass during the session.

Smell: allspice, pepper, and a malt sweetness is detectable by the nose.

Taste: big malt profile. Loads of spice such as cinnamon, allspice, and pepper. Belgian yeast, a decent bitterness, dark chocolate, and some alcohol rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smoother at the finish. Long lasting aftertaste.

Overall: a slow sipping beer that is bold and full of spiciness. Good beer for colder weather.

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Photo of DaveAnderson
4.48/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I guess I'm late to the Vertical Epic party. Stone has only been in our market for a year or two, so I understandably missed the first 10 or so. But hey, this was staring back at me as I perused the shelf, so why not?

Before I review the beer, I want to confess my complete ignorance about it. The bottle said it was spiced, blah, blah, blah... I don't know why, but I just ignored this. To the beer:

Right off the bat, this beer surprised me. I was not expecting a dark-as-night beer with a thick, mocha head. Looks like an amazing stout or porter. The bubbles are tight, and the head sticks around for days. I'm kind of jazzed.

What. The. Heck? This beer smells nothing like I expect. It's kind of yeasty, roasty, and spicy -- like ginger and chocolate. How strange.

But nothing could prepare me for what came next. It tastes like someone took batter for gingerbread, carrot cake and chocolate cake, mixed them together, and baked it to see what emerged. It's genius. The more I drink, the more fascinated I am.

This, of course, has me musing about ginger in beer. This is probably the third beer I have had with a pronounced ginger taste, and I have loved them all, to my utter surprise. You've won this round, Stone (shakes fist)!!!!

I have been sarcastic when reviewing some Stone beers in the past. But let me be clear here: This beer impressed me, and I don't usually care for spiced beers. Great job, Stone.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a very dark amber (almost black) in color with some moderate amounts of visible carbonation and some dark brown and garnet red highlights. The beer has a two finger tall dense creamy dark tan (almost mocha) head that slowly reduces to a mottled thick film covering the majority of the surface of the beer, a medium thin patch, and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of spices including clove, nutmeg, anise, and cinnamon along with some light to moderate aromas of roasted malts. Light notes of caramel and molasses sweetness. Light to moderate amounts of alcohol in the finish of the nose.

T: Light to moderate flavors of roasted malts upfront with a strong amount of spices - nutmeg, allspice, licorice/anise, and cinnamon. There are moderate notes of dark chocolate and spicy/clove yeast and just a touch of banana esters. Molasses sweetness and just a touch of citrus/orange hops which contribute some light to moderate amounts of lingering bitterness.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with just a touch more than moderate amounts of carbonation. Light amounts of alcohol warmth in the finish.

O: Way too much spices and alcohol heat for this beer to be an easy drinker or all that enjoyable - one of the better beers in this series but I'm guessing it will get a little better with some age on it.

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Photo of sweemzander
2.84/5  rDev -27%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

22oz. bottle poured into a taster. Thanks Chris!

(A)- Pours a near pitch black color. Some minimal tan froth.

(S)- Plenty of licorice bits with a spicy array of nutmeg, juniper berry, and cocoa.

(T)- Similar to the smell only more nutmeg and juniper berry forward. Some raisin and cocoa increases as it warms. Its a spicebox!

(M)- A good carbonation level. Overall, a spicy cornucopia of a beer. Some subtle hints of a richer background, but its just hidden with all the spices.

(O)- Easily the more unique one of the line, but is near the bottom for me despite it being the freshest example. Way too many spices to really enjoy it fully.

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Photo of impending
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


22oz into a tulip. Pours a deep slick shiny walnut black, minor dark mocha color head was brief, minor lacing.

Aroma is of intense spicing of allspice, clove, cinnamon and something my grandma hung in her linen closet. The spices mask the base entirely.

Taste too is an explosion of spicing but other flavors come forward as the taste evolves from spicy beginning to a roasty semi sweet nib, a low bitter as if from the imagined dregs of spice production if dregs could be roasted. The initial tastes are off putting but with warmth and patience it vastly improves. Full bodied appropriately lifeless mouthfeel.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - very dark pour, I don't see any light getting through. A fat finger of mocha, thick and creamy.

Aroma - the spices jump out of the bottle, allspice and clove leading the charge. Orange pops up as it sits. An undertow of something Belgian, slightly funky.

Taste - roasty, chewy malts. The spices come across like licorice and cola. The belgian yeast has the dry, slightly funky bit after the spice flavors fade. The hops just balance, not much flavor. An occasional metallic not. The finish is dry, roasty, lingering, very pleasant.

Mouthfeel - very smooth brew, the carbonation seem lively at first but quickly tames down. A touch heavy, I like it.

Overall - delicious stuff when fresh, I would guess aging it would lose the spice and bring out more of the yeast and Belgian elements. Great finish to a fun series to collect, share, and sip.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Treebs I think? Served in a tulip.

A - Dark brown body, topped by a dark tan foam that settles to wisps and a collar.

S - Rose hips, nutmeg, allspice, some light Belgian yeast, and a light lemon and hand lotion malt backdrop. Not a ton of roast, just a light touch.

T - The taste is similarly heavy on rose hips and nutmeg. Spicy yeast, roasted malts, and dark chocolate unexpectedly show up, as they were largely absent from the aroma. I actually like this better as there is more malt and less spice.

M - Pleasant moderate carbonation, smooth, medium-full body, some light alcohol warmth. Pretty creamy and enjoyable actually.

D - If you dig Christmas beers, then this might be right up your alley. It's not my preferred style, but it's appropriate for 12.12.12 I guess. Might get a bit better as the spices fade a touch and the alcohol dissipates. A surprise hit from a really underwhelming series of beers.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.45/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on-tap at Sports Page in Roseville, CA

Appearance - Pours opaque black with a light tan, finger width head. Good retention. Strong lacing with good stick.

Smell - Nutmeg and cinnamon spice. Moderate roast. Gingerbread.

Taste - Follows the nose. strong Christmas spice flavors, nutmeg and cinnamon. Gingerbread. Earthy. Slight bitterness throughout. Bittersweet finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full in body with moderate carbonation. Fair smoothness. Finishes dry.

Overall - I suppose it makes sense that a 12.12.12 release would have a Christmas-themed flavor profile, but I'm not a big fan of those flavors being in a beer. Quite comparable to the 2012 Anchor Christmas release.

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Photo of RickS95
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I can't tell if my scores are all inflated because I'm sad to see this series end or because it's simply an EPIC beer. We'll see.

The appearance is head and shoulders above other beers. I prefer dark and this is dark. I've seen darker, but that's splitting hairs. Up top is why this beer is top notch in the looks dept. The head is thick, retains exceptionally well, is brown and leaves its mark all over the glass in the form of lace. My eyes have not seen better.

I like spicy beer in the winter and this is it. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are the key players and they don't disappoint. If I stick my nose deep, I can pick up a bit of roasty something in the form of bittersweet chocolate.

The spices don't dominate on the palate like they do in the nose. The flavors are more roasty and again, bittersweet chocolate is there. Nutmeg and cloves dance on the tongue but the cinnamon is gone. Smoke.

As the bottle mentions, it's dry. There's a splash of sweet, but it quickly turns smokey and bitter, though never over the top. The dry finish means the bitterness from the chocolate and hops lingers well, well, well into the swallow. In the background, there is some heat from the alcohol. it's full bodied and while not easy to drink, it's exactly what it's supposed to be.

Overall it's a great American version of a Belgian strong dark ale. Lacks the sweetness and smoothness of those from over the sea, but it's very American in its aggressive ways. Wish I'd bought more than one.

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Photo of WissBrauSean
3.76/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I had this beer on a sampler flight last night, made some notes (untappd won't work on my phone for some ungodly reason) and am just reflecting on it now.

It poured black and opaque with a thick creamy brown head and fully sticky lacing with no pattern until minutes later!

The aroma smelled like all the components in a ginger bread cookie including a slight yeasty bready aroma mixed with light hops.

I thought the bittering hops were a bit excessive and pronounced through the entire sip and fades a little at the finish. It's actually balanced pretty well considering the amount of holiday spices in there. The bittering hops had a slight soapy taste that I think would age out of there if cellared for a few more months!

It had a full, creamy and smooth mouthfeel with light to moderate carbonation and a smally dry hoppy finish.

I am not a fan of the holiday spices and don't want to let that get in my way. Ultimately I don't know how this fits into the style as listed. It seems like a winter warmer to me. But all in all, I didn't like something about the bittering. It did resemble soap in a way. I have encountered that with some of my homebrews when using American grown coriander. But after aging 4 months, that soapiness went away and the beer quality took off! I would love to get my hands on a couple bottles to age a year!

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Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

had as part of a big VE tasting at the end of the world party, shared with many friends.

Pours a light fizzy head, almost pitch black color, fluffy lacing.

Nose has earthy malts, root and herbal earthy like, caramel, little brown malt and brown sugar.

Taste has nutty malts, earthy, nutty, herbal malts and hops, hints of cinnamon and nutty spices, creamy brown malts, floral even, hint of booze and esters.

Mouth is med ot fuller bodied, nice carb, light warming booze.

Overall not bad, decent for Belgian strong dark ale, probably would be better aging than most of the other ones that I aged.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.46/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Winter spiced beer alert! Had this on tap for the VE tasting (beers 07.07.07-12.12.12) at Pacific Coast Brewing Co. during SF Beer Week. All reviews are from my notes.

Pours a dark, opaque color, much like 09.09.09, except with a little bit more noticeable carbonation and and nice little ring enveloping the top of the glass for the beer's entire consumption. Again, looks a lot like a stout, except with far more bubbles gliding towards the top, and extra thickness that reminds me of various Belgian spiced beers that I had the chance to try during one winter in Europe. Not sure how to rate this to style, but it's definitely a comforting looking beer for sure.

The aroma is filled with all kinds of intense, seasonal spices, ranging from freshly cut ginger, pumpernickel, clove, toasted birch bark, mulled wine spices, and blackcurrant. If a combination of those doesn't sound good to you, steer right away from this... However, for those who do love winter beers, this is a pretty much a match made in heaven. I'm pretty indifferent towards them, but definitely Stone has nailed the style pretty well here. It's still really astringent on the nostrils, often leaving behind a prickly sensation, and the combo of spices do remind me of the holidays - this is especially true as it warms up, as piney and rosemary characteristics reveal itself. But the initial festiveness might be a little too overwhelming for me in the long run.

The best way for me to describe the flavor of this thing is that it reminds me of eating a freshly baked ginger cookie with crushed pepper dunked in molasses. Indeed, there is an enormous molasses backbone going on here, combined with loads of peppermint, baking spice, and pumpkin seed. Molasses and ginger are definitely two flavors I'm pretty hesitant about putting in my beer, and while the other spices and light sweetness from the alcohol do try to settle it, they are very overpowering flavors in their own right and seem to win the battle here. As it warms up, the texture becomes far more astringent, and slightly soapy, creating a difficult drinkable experience for me. Alcohol and yeast are either masked or muted here. Feel is creamy and full bodied, which is good, as any thinness would totally ruin this for me. Quite a daunting task for me to finish even 6oz overall.

Not sure if Stone was trying to make a super festive beer or super challenging festive beer here, but they definitely succeeded at either, depending who you are. However, I did buy a bottle of this when it came out and am glad I didn't open it too soon. This should cellar well for the next holidays, and I will gladly revisit it then. My hope is that the spices will settle down (as will the soapiness) and the yeast will come more towards the front and include more fruity flavors to balance out the spices. Until then!

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Photo of UnderPressure
2.08/5  rDev -46.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Very dark almost black beer. If I hold it up to the light, I can see a slight brownish red tint. No head, just some momentary fizz.

Strong clove in the aroma. Some sweetness. I'm not picking up much else in the aroma.

Way too heavy on the spice flavors. Tastes like I'm drinking a spice rack. A mouth full of cloves. Nasty.

Medium bodied with a dry bitter finish.

Really not impressed with this beer. I'm glad I didn't cellar it for a long time and finally drink a bottle of cloves after years. Though, maybe the spice character would have faded after a while.... I'll never know.

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Photo of cbutova
3.15/5  rDev -19%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes 02/02/2013. The last of the series.

A- Pretty much black, a very dark brown, beer from the bottle into a pint glass. Mocha head about one finger in size with good retention leaving plentiful thick lace.

S- Almost like a roasted pumpkin ale because of the massive allspice influence. Clove and cinnamon add to this feeling. Some dark fruit but mostly spices.

T- Cinnamon is here but this beer is dominated by clove flavor, holy clove. Big allspice, pretty floral spiced, roasted cereal grains with a dark brown ale feel. HOLY CLOVE.

MF- Moderately carbonated body with a foamy and silky feel. Spicy finish for sure.

Seriously a clove bomb, WTF spice annihilation. Did Stone just get sick of this series toward the end?

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Photo of KomodoDragon
4.19/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Showed some respect and poured this opaque brew into a chalice. Tiny tan head, some retention but no lacing.

S - Hello allspice! and some cinnamon. Can I get some pumpkin pie to go with this?

T - First impression is a glass of banana bread.. It transitions into some fruitiness - raisins, plum - and has some burnt chocolate flavors. Adds some milk and creaminess as it warms.

M - for such complexity, there is light backbone to this

Nice holiday brew feel to this. Lots to discover, much to enjoy.

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Photo of jucifer1818
3.96/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: very, very, very dark amber with a thick head

s: thick xmas spice. allspice, clove, cinnamon, coriander, etc. A little pit of pumpkin pie spice as well.
Exceptional. 5/5

t: light on the spice (for the smell), but with a heavy hoppy backbone. Slight smokey/earthy flavors in the after taste.

m: Grainy, but heavy mouthfeel 4/5

Overall: I was surprised by the smell of this beer, and It got me excited for the beer, but it ended up being like any other stone brew, hoppy, hoppy, hoppy. To be honest, this may be my opinion, but it does not work here.
This brew would had worked better to work off of its malt and spice character, which is exceptional, but is blighted by its heavy and unnecessary hoppyness

This beer might taste amazing with some decent cellaring to cut down on its hops and bring out the good beer that I know is in here somewhere. but as it is, I just see it as being slightly above average

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Dark beige head, good retention on a black body. Soapy, sticky lacing. Aroma dominated by spices...white pepper, clove, cardamon, mint. Taste includes all of the above, they actually work very well together. Certainly never tasted anything quite like this one. Looking forward to trying this one into the future. Paired well with my shrimp stir fry.

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Photo of richj1970
4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz bottle into snifter glass.

A: Poured pitch black with less than one finger tan head. Some nice lacing on the glass.

S: Smell is all spice with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, all spice mixed with some bread and banana.

T: Spices dominate here along with hints of bitter chocolate or expresso. Much different flavor than your average brew.

M: Medium body with average carbonation and finishes a bit dry.

O: Interesting beer. The spiciness is nice on a cold winter night. I'm not sure I want to drink bottle after bottle of this one, but it is a very nice change of pace from other things I've had lately.

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Photo of sjones5045
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this on tap a few months back, now reviewing out of a bottle.

Pours jet black, much like the color of a stout but this has a great head and lace. Appearance is a mind trip since you think you should be drinking a stout with a great head, yet you know it's a Belgium Strong.

The smell is great. Tons of nutmeg and cinnamon. Two smell that I love. It does have a small metallic smell hidden behind the nutmeg and cinnamon but to be honest I only pick it up after I tasted it.

The taste is velvety with what you would expect from the smell. The nutmeg and cinnamon are very dominant and very well blended into the beer. However, I pick up a bit of metallic aftertaste from time to time which then I picked up from the smell too.

Overall, a very well put together beer which really is meant to drink in the winter rather than when I'm drinking it. Only a small flaw of a twinge of an aftertaste that knocks this down a bit. I really enjoyed this beer as a different kind of feel and would definite recommend it.

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Photo of Treebs
3.13/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle served in a CCB snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown color with a tan head forming on the pour. Some splotches of lace are left down the glass.

S: Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Some roast with an odd citrus zest component mixed in.

T: Same from the nose. The is a spice bomb. Cinnamon stick, nutmeg and some citrus zest. Sweet cracker malts with some rice cake as well.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation level. The spices attack the tongue and really linger a long time making each sip a little less palatable.

O: Too much spice going on and not enough malt profile. Maybe in a year or so when the spices die down it'll be a little more palatable.

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Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle bought at Tully's in Wells. Pours an opaque black body with a half inch of tan head. Smells like chocolate and vanilla. Dark chocolate, espresso, vanilla, spice, and nut comprise the flavor. Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Pretty damn good.

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Photo of Chico1985
3.09/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

The final Vertical Epic....

Pretty much a black body, some red highlights give off some clarity. Tan head retains as a thick cap with some lace left behind.

Not much strength in the scent, but definitely getting a spicy feel, breadiness.

Holy spice. Xmas trees, cinnamon, toasted bread, yeast, a mix of sweet+slightly roasted malts, some dark fruits, and more Xmas spices for good measure.

No real booze presence, good mouthfeel overall, but the drinkability suffers for sure.

Yikes. I don't mind my spice bombs sometimes but this was a little too much for me.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The vertical epoch 12-12-12 reminded me of a black Saison. The beer poured a dark opaque black with rich tan head that laced well. The smell had burnt Maise, roasty malts and hops. The taste was much like the smell with a great blend of alcohol. The mouthfeel was full bodied with good carbonation. Overall it was a good beer!

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Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 296 ratings.