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Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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BA SCORE
88
very good
307 Reviews
Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic AleStone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States
stonebrewing.com

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by HalfFull on 12-05-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
307
Ratings:
1,586
Avg:
3.9
pDev:
14.1%
 
 
Wants:
32
Gots:
383
For Trade:
41
User Reviews
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Reviews: 307 | Ratings: 1,586
Photo of scottmichaelland
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a good beer, but not extraordinary.

Appearance - Looked like a Belgian Strong Dark ale through and through, but not as much head/lacing as I would have liked. Something like an Abt 12 really is the peak of what a Belgian strong should look like, and this just felt a little weak compared to that, but still very nice. Dark brown, off white head.

Smell - Wow, amazing. Probably the best part about this beer. Christmas in a glass. I got cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and so much more. It smells like the candles you like around Christmas time, absolutely fantastic. Warm and sweet.

Taste - Like it smelled, but with a dry finish. You got everything, the sweetness, the spices, and the alcohol. Not overpowered but could of been a BIT more balanced. Tasted great, but in a Belgian dark I think it can be more simple than this, they went for super complexity.

Mouthfeel - Really good, thick, coated your tongue, but as it warmed it got even better.

Overall - I think it's a really good example of the style but they didn't need to go as nuts as they did with the flavoring. Keeping it simple would of been better in my opinion.

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Photo of draheim
4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz into a chalice. Pours a deep chocolate brown w/ a thin mocha head that settles to a thin film.

Aroma is big holiday spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, and orange zest. Smells like gingerbread cookies. Also, dark fruit and molasses.

Taste (naturally) follows nose. Tons of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg; almost tastes like a redhot. Brown sugar, molasses, also just a hint of coffee and bitter chocolate.

Mouthfeel is thick and coating, but not sweet. Finishes semi-dry with a lingering spicy aftertaste.

Overall a spicy, flavorful, big, bold beer that doesn't hold back. Classic Stone, for better or worse.

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Photo of cobra8u
4.88/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Its like Great Lakes Xmas Ale on Steroids...Nice lacing...to bad I am drinking this at Memorial Day...oh well. Reminds me of the Xmas season. Definitely has the appearance of a stout although the head is somewhat darker. The head btw hangs in there, I served in a Warsteiner Mug and could not see light through. This Beer definitely stood up to the appearance a beer should have served in that mug.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.51/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

This ale is as dark as a stout. I can see a tiny bit of transparity around the edges of my glass, but it's pretty much opaque black. The head is small (maybe around a half an inch), but it is made of fine (what I like to call "high-quality"), light brown foam.

It smells like the spices which are described on the bottle. I definitely get a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. There is also a bit of dark fruit, molasses, and a gingerbread scent. A wonderful aroma.

The taste is much like the smell, but even more complex to me. The spices and gingerbread character are prominent (I LOVE the spiciness), reminding me of Christmas cookies and dark fruit cake, but there is also a noticeable combination of tartness and bitterness which I'm inclined to attribute to the orange peel this ale was brewed with. The after-taste has the unmistakable roastiness of a stout, and there may also be a little of the breadiness I expcet to find in a Belgian strong dark ale, but it kind of hides underneath all the other flavors. This beer also has that signature Stone-esque bitterness, which counter-balances the sweet Christmas cookie traits. Sublime.

The mouthfeel is thick and substantial, with lively carbonation. This consistency does an excellent job of supporting the myriad flavors and deep dimensions of this beer.

This is an excellent ale, no doubt about it. And so unique as well. It may be categorized on this site as a Belgian strong dark ale, but it's so much more than that... Certainly a must-try-beer if you can find it. Expertly-crafted, distinctive, throughly enjoyable, and unforgetable.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured almost blackish brown hue with tan head that was two finger high, slow dying and left a lace ring. The first aroma I get is one of sweetness, then some yeast and citric orange peel and then a strong malt aroma, mixing some roasted/heavy malts with caramel and/or candi sugar type malts (I did notice faint sniffs of cinnamon, but the label helped me come to that conclusion). Full-bodied, thick and almost sticky, there is a heavy maltiness to this beer that is both sweet from caramel and bitter chocolate to touches of syrupy or molasses and just sugariness (I can't really explain some of the sweet notes that hit) to dry, roasted, even toasted or coffee-esque malts that provide balance. As for fruit flavors I don't get much other orange and citric and maybe some sweet fruit. The malts lead to a dry backbone of taste (ABV is hidden) but this is aided from some very minor clove/peppery spices and a touch of bitter hops. I hate to say this but I find myself agreeing with the label (I hate reading labels before or during writing a review) but this is, in a cliff notes summary one could say, a classic Belgian with a Stone twist. I found it to not necessarily be a Belgian, per se, but a quality beer that hits the sweet notes as well keeps balance so you know you're drinking a beer and not a milkshake or java.

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Photo of C20Percent
4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a dark brown, black with a semi-bubbly head of tan foam on top.

S: Spicy. Fall spices. Nutmeg. Pumpkin.

T: Cloves! Fall spices. Nice -- unique -- sipping brew. Pretty good.

M: Velvety. Body a little thin. Smooth.

O: Better than Vertical Epic 11.11.11. Dark and Spicy -- good winter brew. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of snaotheus
2.75/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

22oz bottle poured into a large mug

Pours black with a smallish fine head. Can't see much carbonation, but that might be the opacity. Honestly, looks more like a stout than a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Smell is overpoweringly black licorice. Extremely sweet. That is all I can smell. And it's not my favorite smell.

Taste is more black licorice with some additional medicine flavor. Still very sweet. Alcohol is noticeable. It reminds me (for some reason) of jaegermeister. This is clearly not my deal.

Mouthfeel is a strange combination of sticky and dry. Overall...the black licorice character (as I perceive it) is a no go. It's not quite so bad that I'm willing to drainpour the whole thing, but I'm not sure I'll make it through the whole thing, either.

If you like black licorice, you should try this beer.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours near black with two fingers of dense light brown head that slowly faded into a melted ice cream film. A ton of stringy lace was left down the glass.
S: Nutmeg, orange zest, allspice, cinnamon, apple juice, clove, brown sugar.
T: Follows the nose with the addition of wood, caramel, black pepper, and chocolate. Tons of spice, solid hop bitterness in finish. Leafy with rose hip and a hint of tobacco. Fruity, spicy apple cider aftertaste. Clove and nutmeg standout. Complex and it all works.
M: Thick body, soft fluffy carbonation, airy, full mouthfeel.
O: Very interesting brew. Can easily pick out all the ingredients and they work together.

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Photo of arfenhouse
3.81/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Black with light brown head. Decent retention and some lacing.

S: Mainly getting clove and sweet caramel malt. Allspice and unidentified herbal smell. Barnyard. Interesting.

T: Reminds me of clove cigarettes (djarum or gudang). Some coffee, sweet malt, and clove upfront. A bit of raisin and prune. Some pepper. Cinnamon on the aftertaste. Interesting but can taste a bit weird sometimes.

M:Medium-full bodied with low carbonation. Wet.

O: Interesting beer, I was expecting worse.

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Photo of Auraan
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured a deep brown or black with a half-finger tan head. Looks quite stunning. Scent dominated by nutmeg with hints of allspice, cloves and cinnamon. I like those scents a lot so it worked for me. Flavor begins with a hit of sweet malt, sustains this throughout the sip and picks up flavors of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and a bit of allspice and orange peel. The finish is smokey, with a roast, almost smoked malt flavor that carries into the aftertaste. Unique, but I think it may be too bold. Mouthfeel is heavy bodied, with fairly high carbonation. It's a big, flavorful beer, with a lot going on, but it may be too much. I am not sure how to approach this beer. Also, despite being said to be Belgian Strong Dark in style, it drinks a lot like a cross between that and a heavily spiced stout. It's an interesting beer for sure, and I do think I'll get another bottle to age and see how it goes, but I'm just not sure what to make of it as it is right now.

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Photo of IronLover
4.11/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brown to black in color. Poured with a thick beige foam that reduced to a thick cap that left random sticky lacings on the glass. A variety of aromas: dark chocolate, dark fruit, orange zest, dark malt, and spice. On the heavier side of medium bodied with slightly delayed, dense, rich carbonation. Clove, cinnamon, and pepper flavors are dominant throughout. Dark chocolate and dark fruit flavors beneath. A subtle hop bite near the end as this finishes with a spicy aftertaste. The spice flavors are a bit overwhelming. Would be interesting to see if the flavor balance improves over time.

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Photo of Lukass
4.6/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured into an ommegang tulip.

Dark, rich black appearance, with a thin tan head. Smells wonderful. Wish I would've saved this til the holidays though. Smells like Christmas - spices, cloves, Belgian yeast and some chocolate. Even reminiscent of gingerbread..

Taste is a lot like the smell. Some cinnamon, nutmeg, hint of ginger and clove all backed by sweet, malty, chocolatey notes very similar to a stout. This beer is unique. Rich and a very good combination of flavors.

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Photo of metter98
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger high tan head that has very good retention properties and consistently left a thin head covering the surface.
S: Moderate aromas of spices are present in the nose - allspice and nutmeg seem to stand out in particular.
T: Like the smell, the taste is quite spicy but there is more complexity as hints of cinnamon and clove are also noticeable. Among the spices, nutmeg stands out in particular.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The spices lend some dryness.
O: This beer is very enjoyable and has an interesting mix of spices, but not of the peppery variety. It is a nice beer for Christmas. It is very drinkable because the spices are well balanced and no traces of alcohol are perceptible.

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Photo of MisSigsFan
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 11/29/12. Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a thick black oil with a 2 finger brown head that leaves a ton of lacing all around the glass. Smell is mostly sweet with a lot of banana and Belgian yeast. Some spices in there too. My smell might be slightly off from having a bit of a cold. Taste is mostly of those spices. A lot of cinnamon and allspice with some banana. Some other dark fruits as well. A lot of banana in the aftertaste actually. The alcohol is very well hidden. The only way of telling is from the warming sensation I get from drinking it. Has a very dry malt finish. Mouthfeel is pretty smooth. Below average carbonation, which I think is just right for an ale like this. Very dry finish and not overly full. Overall, this was a great way to end the Vertical Epic series. It's immensely flavorful and bold, yet incredibly classy and not overdone with sweetness. Stone does it again.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a deep black color ale with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of cinnamon and cloves are quite strong with some light roasted malt notes and some light residuals sugar notes. Taste is also a good mix of roasted malt with some cinnamon and cloves and some residual sugar. Light spicy ginger notes are also distinguishable. Body is full with light creamy texture and good carbonation. Interesting mix of spices with solid malt backbone. I would have liked this better with some toned down roasted malt.

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Photo of aCharlie
3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark, light low head, quickly disappears after pour
S - Avg smell, nothing too pronounced
T - Spices/pepper. Dry on the front, yet pleasant. Delicate roasted malts
M - Alcohol is hidden very well
O - A very unique BSDA. Strong on the peppery spices, the pepper is in the foreground. Subtle malts.

 300 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance:
Pours a nice light brown head and the beer itself is an opaque black. The lacing is nice and what you would expect from a Belgian dark.

Smell:
The smell has a strong gingerbread presence with a hint of cinnamon that is underscored by a light orange smell. I can smell a little bit of clove but the gingerbread dominates most of the smell.

Taste:
Similar to how the beer smells. The gingerbread seems to be dominant but there are also hints of orange peel and possibly some other spices.

Mouthfeel:
Fairly thick and heavy bodied. The texture almost feels as if I'm drinking a moist gingerbread cookie.

Overall:
A decent Belgian dark but a little heavy on the gingerbread for any time that is not Christmas.

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Photo of Trifecta1
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Oasis in Rockford, IL on 12/21/12.
A - Dark brown, maybe even dark red. Thick tan head. Looks good, but in hindsight, deceiving of the what the flavor was gonna bring.

S - Nutmeg, clove, gingerbread, orange zest, but not much of that hefty bready yeastiness I enjoy in Belgian-styles. Christmas ale, though, is right on.

T - Nutmeg and clove in your face, spicy pepperiness and gingerbread come in strong too. Alcohol nearly non-existant. Leaves your palate with a gingerbread taste, and the taste of the smell of a pine tree, if that makes any sense. This is probably the first Stone beer I've personally had that has literally no hop taste.

M - Moderate carbonation, thicker like a Belgian quad. Personally I enjoyed it moreso for the latter, but some of my friends disagreed.

O - A great Christmas ale and fitting end to the Epic series. I went to the store prior to drinking this on tap and bought 3 bombers to age. Really looking forward to how those will turn out down the road.

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Photo of ChugMan
4.4/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Opaque, becoming deep dark red/brown at its thinnest. Light foamy head was abundant, settled, and left more of a wall of foam than mere lacing. Pretty neat!
S - Beautiful. If this was placed before my nose while I was blindfolded, I'd swear it was my mom's walnut banana bread. Ripe banana with that slightly sharp nutty bready butteryness.
T - As is remarkably standard for this brewer: this beer is complex. Immediate taste of clove, reminding me of the Fall season and pumpkin beer- but none of those can compare to this. Suffice to say it's like a mouthful of exotic, cloying, nearly perfumy spice. The flavors boomerang around your mouth, changing with each pass. Fun, interesting, very satisfying.
M - Drinkable for such a dark and bold beer, but there's definitely some thickness here. Hops make themselves well known on the back of the tongue and are a nice counterpoint to the beer's otherwise sweet spicyness, a bit overstated for me but otherwise it's fine. Leaves a tingling sensation on the tongue and roof of the mouth.
O - Stone doesn't mess around. Clearly the work of many-a sure hand, this beer exemplifies their mastery of the craft.

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Photo of 1Nrwyscotch
4.14/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a pint glass

A. extremely dark it looks almost black with a medium brown colored head

S. It smells very belgian with some sweet yeast and some spice, nutmeg coriander.

T. The taste is consistant with the smell, its somewhat sweet spicy and delicious. A little warming but the alcohol is well hidden and it is very balanced.

M. It has a medium body with a little carbonation.

O. It is a very tasty Belgianish beer with some good balance between the sweetness and spice.

 492 characters

Photo of Pencible
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a nearly opaque black ruby with moderate thick tan head.
S: It smelled like strong ginger and cinnamon and other spices, with some herbal hops and wild Belgian yeast.
T: It tasted like cinnamon and clove, with waxy and herbal hops and wild Belgian yeast. It had a spicy and waxy aftertaste.
M: It was thick with smooth natural carbonation. Nice slick body.
D: This was an interesting brew with a fairly complex scent and taste. Not delicious, but not bad. The body was great, but the finish was a bit harsh, so it must be sipped. Age would probably help. Fitting ending to this series.

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Photo of CraftBeerTastic
4.6/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ba Review #267
Served On: 4/06/2013
Glassware: Duvel Glass
Labeled ABV: 9.0%
Date/ Code: 2012 Release

This was a 22oz bomber from A.K.A. Friscos in Frederick.

Look: Poured a pitch-black color with a nice dirty tan cap for a head. The lacing appeared as some sort of gothic calligraphy on the glass. A very nice looking brew that is already screaming with character.

Smell: Warm Autumn-like spices of nutmeg and some peppery clove. Heavy notes of molasses and roasted chestnut. I swore I could almost detect some pumpkin meat in there too.

Taste: Wow, first up was a heavy roasted barley character with spices that seemed to play off the almost porter-like mouth feel. A pumpkin ale quality seemed to hit towards the middle with some pumpkin pie spices. The finish was of strong cinnamon heat that coated the back of the tongue. The finish had some dry bitterness and that roasted character retuning with some gram cracker notes that made for a really enjoyable aftertaste.

This beer was amazing. It was the best pumpkin ale that Stone never brewed. I actually picked up two bombers so I could cellar one, but I’m almost afraid to with the high level of spices. I noticed that spices can subside and that’s one of the best qualities I get in the brew.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Brouwers on 12/12/12, review from notes.

A: Deep brown color with a small tan head, foamier than most of the VEs that reduces quickly. Thin lacing forms down the sides.

S: A good bit of molasses, some clove and cinnamon along with faint Belgian yeast aromas.

T: Rather heavy on the spices - cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, sort of a turn off for me. Some darker roasted malt mixed in as well.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: Not really my thing, but I can certainly see why some people might like it.

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Photo of superspak
4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass; obvious November 2012 bottling. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger dense dark tan head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of huge dark chocolate, roasted malt, toast, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, clove, dark bread, pepper, floral, orange peel, light char, roasted earth, and yeast spiciness. Fantastic aromas with great balance, complexity, and strength of dark malt, spice, and yeast ester notes. Taste of dark chocolate, roasted malt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, clove, toast, pepper, dark bread, orange peel, light char, floral, roasted earth, and yeast spiciness. Lingering notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, toast, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, clove, pepper, dark bread, floral, light char, roasted earth, and yeast spiciness on the finish for a while. Very nice balance, complexity, and robustness of roasted malt and spices flavors; with a great sweetness/spice balance; and zero cloying flavors present after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very creamy and slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent spiced Belgian dark ale! Great robustness and balance of dark malt and spice flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of curasowa
3.16/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Inky black color, no light is penetrating this one. Two fingers of tan head that just hangs around and around.

Aroma: Strong spice aroma, reminding me of gingerbread. Lots of clove and allspice.

Taste: Thick, creamy with lots of roasted malt and a ton of spice in the middle, also some hints of cocoa. Goes out with a dry and chalky finish.

The Rest: This strongly resembles an Our Special Ale, only with more body. And in that regard, it's a very good winter warmer/holiday ale. However, a good Belgian SDA this is not. One of my least favorite in the series I would have to say.

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Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
3.9 out of 5 based on 1,586 ratings.
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