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Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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very good
307 Reviews
Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic AleStone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 307 | Ratings: 1,586
Photo of LeRose
3.49/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into snifter.

Pored black with a short mocha colored head with minimal retention. Small ring of foam, but globs of lacing on glass.

Nose was spice heavy with allspice, trace of cinnamon, clove, maybe a touch of anise. Banana and bread also present.

Taste was spice dominant following the nose laced with slight bitter chocolate. Licorice stronger in flavor than in the nose - liked that flavor note. Sweetness present. Malty, barely hints at some dark sweet fruit, dates or figs.

Mouthfeel was drying,but some sticky sweetness. Some burn and tingle. Carbonation seems lacking.

Overall, a bit spice heavy for my taste, but a good drinker. The spices seemed sort of muddled.

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Photo of Jonada
3.49/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pours nearly black in color with 1+ finger of a tan head. Body is opaque.

Smell: Smells like a spice bomb. Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, cocoa powder, slight roasted malt notes.

Taste: Gingersnap cookies, roasted malt, slight notes of chocolate and coffee. The spices really just overwhelm rather than compliment the other flavors.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Somewhat thin mouthfeel given how big the beer is. Carbonation is medium.

Overall: Not a fan of this one. They really overdid it with the spices, making it unbalanced and pretty difficult to drink after a few ounces. Best way I can describe it is an overspiced imperial winter warmer. If that sounds like your thing, then this beer is for you. Otherwise, I would avoid.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black glass holds a thin tan cover that leaves sticky tide marks as I work my way down the glass.

Smell: Clove and the other spices are pretty heavy even now almost a year later. Can't get any other scents from under the heavy spices.

Taste: Spices are front and center, and overwhelm just about everything else. A little more cinnamon than the nose, but just a hint of underlying malt sweetness pokes out before more spice flavors beat it down.

Mouthfeel: Tiny bubble carbonation keeps the medium heavy body lively. Slick oily finish and slightly numbing alcohol.

Overall: Not opening the other bottles any time soon. I'm hoping the spices will die down and let the beer come out. The hints I get are good, but damn this is licking the bottom of a spice cabinet.

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Photo of retry4z
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured chilled into a Duvel glass.

A: Respectable head with some lacing. Too dark for a Belgian Strong ale.

S: strong spice, maybe jalapeños and red pepper. Some malty and alcoholic notes.

T: Strong spices overwhelm any other beer characteristic, but a little caramel and hop flavor showed throught. Tastes almost medicinal.

M: medium bodied, average carbonation. Pleasant on tongue.

O: I expected a traditional Belgian-style ale, like Gulden Draak or Chimay, but this is an adulterated spiced version. Glad I tried, but wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.52/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From: Crane Alley, Urbana, IL
Date: On-tap (review from notes)
Glass: 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Glass

Stone's 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale seems to evoke an extremely polarized response from people, based primarily on the over-spiced nature of the beer that ultimately came across as something ill-conceived or just too over-the-top. In my single tap experience, I did not find this to be the case, though I suppose every pour can be different. While I'm not sure what style this beer should be declared as (and it shouldn't really matter what it's called, anyway), I found this to be something of a mix between a stout and a spiced ale (I wouldn't have guessed Belgian), and thought it fairly enjoyable: I'd partake of another one if I saw it around (I also wonder if the on-tap versus bottle difference had any effect).

The beer arrives with a 0.5cm tall head, tan in color, composed of bubbles that are small to medium in size. Retention is about average, lasting a minute or so, but as the head declines, it leaves significant lacing along the sides of the glass. The body is dark brown to black in color, opaque, though carbonation is visible streaming upwards from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma is heavily malty and sweet, like a spiced loaf of dark, sweet bread. Secondary, though notable scents of cocoa, roasted malt, brown sugar, cinnamon, anise, and ginger.

Tasting opens with roasted malt acridness mixed with some sweetness and slight dark bread. This quickly transitions to a mid-palate full of chocolate and roasted barley malt-covered spices, including anise, cinnamon, and ginger. Back of palate finds the spices increasing in intensity, but still held in check by the roasted malt and cocoa tones. Ethanol makes a slight appearance, but it's well within reason for a 9% beer and doesn't detract from the other flavors. Lingering aftertaste of cocoa and assorted other spices.

Beer is medium to medium-heavy in weight with carbonation levels of medium intensity. The result is a fairly smooth, sippable beer with just a slight foaming across the palate. Ethanol presence is very well-hidden for a 9% beer, getting very little heat in the nostrils or burning on the throat or palate. Closes semi-dry with fairly substantial stickiness across the palate.

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Photo of PeterIngemi
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Split a 22 oz bottle poured into a duvel glass

A: looks like a deep dark imperial stout with a fat finger of dark chocolaty head, a small amount of lacing.

S: woah, spice and yeast bomb, absolutly. I get a faint bit of chocolate buried underneath a blanket of clovey and bannana yeast notes, along with the x-mas scent of the other added spices. I particuarly get thw nutmeg, cinnnamon, and orange peel. Reminds me of a very strong winter warmer.

T: again much like I described from the nose, reminds me of an evil Belgian ginger bread man, the more and more i drink it. Covered in cinnamon and nutmeg powder, with black licorice buttons and the whole Nine yards. With an alcohol bite.

M: medium bodied and dry with a lingering spice aftertaste that leavs your mouth dry.

O: I'm not a huge fan of spice beer, and that's deffiantly what that is, which it clearly states on the label, maybe it will mellow out with some time? Anyway if your looking for a super spicy winter warmer, give this a go.

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Photo of pkalix
3.54/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

super dark pour; really nice chocolate milk-looking head, dissipates slowly to a film with a nice brown coating when tilted.
smell is ALL all-spice. the all-spice dominates the aroma on this one. I don't care much for all spice. I didn't even know what all-spice was two years ago. but i'm not getting the Belgian chocolate, peanut brittle, cinnamon, orange, chili pepper... or anything else. maybe it sat too long? maybe the nutmeg...
the taste is SAME. some maltiness, but ALL all-spice, and maybe some nutmeg. as another stated, a "massive overload" of spice flavors. I think i'm at the point of quitting drinking beer, or at least quitting trying new stuff or what 'others' are calling decent. that $20 bottle of Gentlemen's crapollation with Widmer and Cigar City almost clinched it. this anniversary brew, though, I can understand it's supposed to be a different kind of brew. I get it. but I don't like it. i'm sorry; this started out good.... I even left and came back to it with a different mental approach and angle (mostly because I WANT to drink it and NOT gag...), but it's just too much. oh well, Stone is excused... i'm not a huge fan of their stuff but I respect what they've done with their company...
after note: I dumped probably the last 1/8 of this. I just couldn't do the all-spice any more.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.55/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle opened on 12.12.12

A - Pours a deep brown with ruby hilights. A thin light brown head forms, lingers, and becomes a clump in the middle of the glass.

S - Spices, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamin, roses.

T - Spices dominate, same as the nose, bitter bready, floral, cinnamin finish.

D - Lower carbonation with a heavier body.

O - Lots of spices, shocking. This one should age well.

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Photo of sommersb
3.57/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tasted On: 12-27-2012
Freshness: 2012 Vintage
Packaging: 22 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Tulip
Purchased: Single from Midtown, Nashville

Appearance has a finger's worth of tan head on a black and opaque beer. Retention is pretty low but there is a nice amount of sticky lace.

Smells are very interesting and layered, with the first impression of spice notes such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Also has a big floral aroma, plus dark fruits like fig. Certainly smells like a spiced holiday ale.

The taste is hard to describe...I get roasted malt bitterness as well as an earthy and slightly smokey bitter element. Other flavors are of bittersweet chocolate and a sharp, woody aspect with a bit of unpleasant astringency.

The mouthfeel is medium to full in body, showing some alcohol heat. Carbonation is average. The finish is of dark roasted grains and is very dry, with some vegetable aftertastes.

Overall, I wasn't too impressed with this Vertical Epic version. The dry and roasted bitterness didn't seem to go well with a Belgian spiced ale. I think it lacks malt character and sweetness for this to work.

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Photo of makopoetic
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

My first Vertical Epic! Drank straight from the bottle, did not pour. Very dark appearance. Love the bottle; simple, but with class.

Strong spice scents. Allspice? Clove? A little pepper? Will deffinately buy another bottle to try in a glass, wondering if the smell & taste change with time after opening.

Strong taste, hearty! Usually not my style, but I liked it.

Was easy in hte mouth, but still let you know it was there. not overpowering. Small afterbite for such a strong scented ale.

I enjoyed it! My first foray into the Vertical Epic series. Bummer I didn't discover the series sooner.

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Photo of spoony
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a 22 oz bottle into a snifter.

A-This brew could easily pass for a double/imperial stout. It pours black and doesn't let a single ray of light through. The head is almost one finger of dark mocha colored foam that drops to a little cap pretty quickly.

S-This brew has some serious spice scents going on: mainly clove, allspice, nutmeg. Also a bit of banana and boozy, dark fruit to go with a little chocolate. Spices are quite heavy.

T-This beer tastes much like it smells, with heavy notes of the aforementioned spices, a little bit of bitter dark chocolate, some booze, and a little banana fruit. Contrary to what you might think with the huge spicy profile, the beer is only mildly sweet.

M-Feel is on the heavy side with just a little waive of carbonation. A bit sticky on the palate.

O-This brew was a little heavy on the spices for me, which rendered the smell and flavor profile a bit one-dimensional. Also, the appearance, while attractive, and the mouthfeel were not true to the style. Notwithstanding those flaws, I think this is a nice brew for a cold December evening and would make a decent dessert-type brew in small doses. Assuming the spices mellow a bit with age, this one could be a good cellar candidate.

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Photo of cvm4
3.59/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had it on draft when it was first released and decided to finally sit down and crack open a bottle.

A - Pours a bit black with a thin, bubbly tan head.

S - Cinnamon, nutmeg and semi-sweet chocolate notes. It's like a gingerbread house in the glass when sniffing it.

T - Great taste in the beginning, cinnamon and nutmeg with hints of chocolate. Really an overabundance of spices. The back end is just really bitter. Not a smooth transition from start to finish. A very two faced start and ending.

M - Medium bodied/carbonation and a dry finish.

O - I want to like it, but this beer is two-faced on the flavor spectrum.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.59/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Opened June 2013

A - Black body, used motor oil. Dark khaki head with nice retention and lace.

S - Smoked pepers, jerk rub, allspice, black pepper, light caramel malt, milk chocolate.

T - Huge spice and floral note. Allspice, grains of paradise, blackened spice, burnt gingerbread.

M - Medium body. Dry, nutmeg finish.

O - Too much spice for my taste. Ironically this could use a few years.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.62/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a solid dark brown/black color with a smallish tan head that quickly recedes and is stingy on the lace. Smells of clove, and nutmeg on top of a solid dark sugary base. Bits of alcohol and dark dried fruits round out the nose. The flavor is filled with lots of caramel, molasses, and burnt sugars with a heavy dark dried fruit flavor. Lots of spice here, clove, nutmeg, all spice, and cinnamon are very evident in the flavor. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a chewy burnt mouthfeel. I thought this one was all right but a bit heavy on the spices for my taste. Maybe they will tone down and I can enjoy another one just before the next apocalypse.

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Photo of Dave1999
3.62/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black in colour with a tan coloured head.

The smell is spicy ginger and sweet malts.

The taste is strong on the ginger bread and bitter roasted malts.

The mouthfeel is fairly thick with low carbonation.

A half decent beer but not one I'd look out again and disappointing for a stone beer.

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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 harrymel
3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 29NOV12

Pours opaque dark brown with a sheet of mocha foam. Smells really, really spicy. Nutmeg and allspice, cinnamon, cloves (stronger than I had anticipated), some floral notes and it all comes together to smell like tee tree oil. Tastes sweet and spiced - the aforementioned collage comes into play, the malts are charred, sweet and accented with a classical belgian yeast character. Medium to full bodied with lighter carb, the beer has a really fine feel. This is an interesting beer, I think it falls into a well done example of the style.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.64/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Served on tap in brew dog Manchester

Dark near black body with big tan head.

Hints of treacle and muscovado sugar on the nose.

The taste was pretty much Pernod and black the keg serving method dispensing a little too cold and a little too fizzy

I enjoyed this sure enough but I was expecting a little more epic.

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Photo of rdilauro
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was waiting for this one. The end of an era with the epics

I was shocked at the pour. Almost a jet black like a stout. But thats where it ended. The aroma, was all malt, tar and ginger.
The taste was basically the same, very malty and almost like bitting into a gingersnap cookie.
Not a strong finish
This is one stone I will pass on the next time someone has one

August 27, 2013

Pours jet black, like a rich stout. The almost perfect white head lasted for several minutes. Finally, the head disappeared.
The aroma and bouquet was so very strong. Malt, Ginger and Sweet were the first things that came to my senses.
The first taste was very big and soft, and was full of malt , ginger, just like a fresh ginger snap cookie and a fair amount of sweet syrup/molasses/etc
As I was drinking this one, it remained full and the malt/ginger just kept on coming out me.
To a point where I felt it was too much. I think I would have preferred a little less of that and some crispness.
The finish was the same as the start, malty and full of ginger.

I just needed to review this one again... Still not on my top 10 list

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Photo of jrenihan
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer is black with a smallish tan head. Head fades quickly, leaving a bit of lace.

I have not read anything about this year's vintage, and was surprised to find the nose initially dominated by spices. Clove, nutmeg and cinnamon in particular jump out, along with a bunch of cardamom. Very Christmas like. I can't really get anything beyond the spices.

Taste follows the nose closely. Spice city. Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg. Also contains a minty flavour, a but herbal. Fairly dry. Some bready malt beneath and a bit of chocolate but certainly does not taste like a typical BSDA, even of the noel variety. Perhaps an enjoyable beer for those who like lots of spices in their beer, but I am not one of those people.

Medium to full bodied, low to moderate carbonation.

Overall, over-spiced for my liking. Obscures the rest of the beer.

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Photo of stevoj
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Dark and spicy, lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove. Near black body with beige creamy head. Some chocolate in the aroma and taste, mildly dry finish. Overall very complex, lots of flavors combined.

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Photo of rand
3.66/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From tap to snifter

Pours dark brown in color (touching black), forms a foamy coffee-tan head on the pour. Big notes of clove and toasty sugar in the nose. Alcohol and malts step up while hop presence takes a back seat. The flavors are layered and rich, carried by a robust, chewy complexion. Holiday spice and toasted sugar rub elbows with ripe fruit and ground pepper. A little hop astringency dries the palate, ushering in a surprisingly short and balanced finish.

Not the best of the Verticals, but world's better than last year's edition and a nice bookend to an interesting series of brew.

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Photo of Retta123
3.66/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance: Dark dark brown, with little head.

mouthfeel: smooth, low carbonation.

taste: Clove, sweet, pecan, dark spices,

overall: I liked this, but couldn't have too many due to the strong clove flavor and sweetness. It would be good for an after dinner/special beer.

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Photo of ajm5108
3.67/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A strong clove note on the nose along with some sweet fruit, lots of cinammon & nutmeg in the body with some lasting dark molasses. Lots of hefty winter flavor, but a little strong on the spice.

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Photo of abaer123
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - rich dark (black?) color. beautiful lacing left on the glass.

S - slighrly strong alcohol - but doesn't taste it.

T - smooth and rich. yummy!

M - full and good body.

O - Overall a good ale. I have enjoyed Stone's vertifcal offerings every year, and this one does not disappoint. I can pretty much rely on Stone's offerings. I would not mind visiting the tap room to have each of the vertical epics poured side by side to compare and contrast. I think they are always pushing the envelope a little and usually with great success!

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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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