Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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: 1,589
Photo of KYGunner
3.79/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Twelve poured a dark cherry hue with a ever rising head of thick foam.

The aromas are spicy with more nutmeg and cinnamon for the nose. I encountered some allspice and clove but the malt was more hidden to me.

The flavor was relatively complex but some of these were not my favorites. I tasted some light smoke, anise, spruce and carroway but also got an earthy, leafy parsley.

The feel was light, bubbly and effervescent without any true sharpness making it easy to drink.

This is a very different example of a Belgian Strong, maybe not the best but certainly worth the money.

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

12.12.12 drank on 12.13.13

A - Pitch black with caramel hues. 5% transparency with slight foamy head on pour. very little lacing
S- Spice on the nose similar to a clove, banana, syrup and some bitter malts
T- Spices, chocolate, banana, sweet malts and a little alcohol esque taste probably due to aging
M- Medium-heavy body with some carbonation
O- A little more spiced than I anticipated but a nice sweetness. Enjoyed trying but since it is no more am OK with just the one try.

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Photo of tmm313
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12.12.12 drank on 12.8.13

A - Almost black with reddish hues. Poured a creamy, quickly dissipating, 1 finger head. OK lacing. Noticeable alcohol legs.
S- I get banana off the top, but spices like clove and nutmeg follow with big dark fruits: raisin, cherry, fig and dates. There's also some dark chocolate in there.
T- Mainly dark fruits. Raisins, dates, cherries, fig, etc. Big roasted malt character with notes of chocolate, banana, and spices.
M- Medium body with nice carbonation. Creamy and drying.
O- I enjoyed this beer. It was nicely balanced and complex with great flavors and aromas. Sad to see the Epics go, but glad to say I had it.

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Photo of DanielDomigan
4.31/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

pitch black in appearance thin gingerbread color head

strong boozy smell hints ov malts and cloves

taste slightly smokey. small notes of cocoa and caramel. some bitterness lightly hoppy. spices through out the mouth. and a little booze well hidden deep in.

little milky kinda sticky low carbonation

this is my second time having this brew and will not be my last. stone has yet to disappoint and i doubt they ever will. looking forward to there beers to come. cheers!

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Photo of DrinkNewport
4.27/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours DARK. I didn't know what style it would be, as it only says "Ale Brewed With Spices", so I'm thinking "stout".

But when you smell it, you realize that it's got that Belgian dark ale thing going. They weren't kidding about the spice. If there were any more, Paul Atreides would be fighting the Harkonnens for it.

And the flavor...this thing has so much of a clove thing going, my college freshman self wants to smoke it. There's almost enough spice to cover up any trace of booze. Almost.

Overall, an interesting but not perfect beer.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I think this is my first Vertical Epic ale.
Interesting and unexpected spicing in the aroma. Cinnamon, an allspice kind of spice, clove. Firm dark malt, seeming almost like a stout.
Nice dense dark head, pretty cool. Very black and minimal highlights (brown to black).
Very holiday like, seems like a Christmas beer in the spicing. Matches pretty closely to the aroma. Additional flavors of caramel, touching close to roast, Body isn't quite as heavy as I expected, maybe even a tad thin. The drink itself is drying and this is enhanced by the spices which linger. Pretty quick shot of warmth in the gut and a ping in the pre-frontal cortex too. Pretty fully carbonated ,but it is fairly soft. Not much spice from yeast, in fact, not much yeast flavors at all that I can pick up. But i do like some of the malt flavors.

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Photo of thegodfather1076
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Very simple yet attractive and classy label in the Stone painted on style. Front label gives ABV info, states “Ale brewed with spices.”, and a bit brewery info. Back label gives an excellent back story on the Vertical Epic series, as well as a back story and description of the beer, states “Limited Release”, gives cellaring info, states that there may be sediment. Very nice and informative.

Appearance: An aggressive pour from 22oz brown bomber into a 16oz snifter glass led to a 3 finger fairly thick amazing looking tan head resting atop a deep opaque dark brown if not black beer. Head retention was excellent at 5min 11sec before fading to a thick frothy coating and ring with excellent lacing.

Smell/Aroma: Smell is heavy on spices with hints of cinnamon, strong clove, nutmeg, and black pepper coming through. Also has a dark molasses sweetness in the nose along with a nice hint of Belgian yeast. Has a nice orange zest scent. Not much in the way of hops detected.

Flavor/Taste: Spices and dark chocolate malt rule the front end with the cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg easily detectable along with a slight black pepper kick. Mid point is sweet with a brown sugar and molasses infused with an orange zest coming through along with a slight bit of hops and yeast coming through. Midpoint fades to a deep charred malt yeasty finish with hints of dark fruit. Charred aftertaste.

MouthFeel/Drinkability: Full bodied thick and creamy with a smooth chewy mouthfeel. Very drinkable.

Overall/Comments: Excellent beer that definitely has the feel of a winter warmer with the spices and flavor profile. The Belgian yeast throws a bit of curve ball and really make this tasty while keeping it interesting. This would be perfect on a late fall or winter evening. If you can still find this grab it up!!! Classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale @9%. Consumed 8/16/2013.

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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 Duhast500
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a Harpoon snifter glass.

The color is a dark black with a finger or two of foamy brownish/tan head that relaxes back into the darkness of this beer.

The smell is a complete surprise. There is a nice belgian chocolate aroma that is top notch. Some great malt flavor in the nose that reminds me of peanut brittle and caramel.

The taste is coffee and dark chocolate throughout and it hits the palate and pushes open the curtains and just walks right in. A big kick toward the end with a bit of a oak flavor that lets the chocolate and coffee bean ride on top.

This beer does kick but it hides the boozy overtones with some well places flavors and a nice warm feel in the back that feels like a warm blanket on a cold night. There is some carbonation that lightens the heavier ABV and and is the glue that seems to hold everything in place.

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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 Sarlacc83
2.68/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle. The end.

A: Opaque black with a thin brown head. Sticks to the side of the glass.

N: Orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, chili pepper, molasses allspice, and pumpkin. To call this Christmas in a bottle might make it sound better than it is, but it’s apt.

T: Bitter and spicy. Lots of flavor, but they’re not what I’d call good - in fact it’s more of a massive overload.

M: Thick and dry. Medium bodied.

O: This is my least favorite by far. There’s just too much going on here, and it never comes together - it’s the throw everything into the kettle approach which I don’t much like.

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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 stella77artois
3.74/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into pilsener glass.

A - Pours dark. And I mean dark. It's black, even in the light. A smallish brown head formed after a slow pour. Could be pronounced with an aggressive pour. Good looking beer.

S - Lot's of malt, and a huge roasty smell. Cocoa, roasted chestnuts, and sugar. Even a hint of ash. Very nice smelling beer.

T - Suprisingly, I didn't love this stuff. The taste itself wasn't bad, it just wasn't great to my taste buds. The roasted characters of a bock as noted in the aroma, those were quite plesant. However, I noticed a sourish aftertaste that I can't really put my finger on, which was not pleasant. A lot going on, and while the taste is good, that aftertaste was odd. I was not in a hurry to finish because of that reason. Possibly past the expiration date, who knows.

F - As a dark ale should be, the beer is very thick. Was still drinkable, although it's certainly a sipping beer. Easy enough on the throat and gut, though.

O - I usually love Stone brews, and while I didn't hate this stuff, I doubt I'll buy it again. Good enough tasting Dark Ale (Bock and Dopplebock fans will like this, too), but the aftertase really hurt my rating. I would drink this again if I happen upon, but as I said, probably won't buy it again. I would recommend it though, for fans of dark and flavorful beers. Just not worth the $9 I paid for it.

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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 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 Libationguy
4.49/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown/black with a light brown 1-finger head with medium+ retention. Fine lacing.

Christmas in a glass: cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, fig, dates, gingersnaps, deep roasted malt, black strap molasses and a rich, dark earth note in the background.

Molasses, coffee, cocoa powder, ginger bread, black bread. A moderate level of bitterness underscoring everything.

Full-bodied with a hop bitterness cuts the sweetness and holds the beer at nearly dry with a long finish.

Very rich and lush. Be a really decadent bomber near the end of your drinking session.

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

Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a medium light brown head that fades quickly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, spices, licorice, some chocolate, some dark fruit and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a huge burst of an herbal conglomeration of spices (mint, ginger, licorice, cinnamon among others). Then a hearty but not too heavy roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is very mild but provides some balance for the strong spice flavors. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this is a solid dark and strong beer. Honestly, it tastes like an intense version of Anchor Christmas Ale, which I mean as neither a complement nor a detriment, just an observation.

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Photo of mntlover
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a black red around the edges when held to the light. Nice two finger dark tan head falls to a ring with good lace.

Aroma is sweet candy sugars, roasted malts, fruit cake, licorice and nice spices, Christmas like.

Taste is wow lots going on some roasted malts, lots of licorice and spice. Some underlying fruit notes. Lots of spice Belgian candy sweetness that I don't really dig but a good Christmas ale for that style. Just comes off a little to sweet for my tastes.

Mouthfeel is a good medium with medium level of carbonation.

Overall this one isn't bad not my favorite style but considering lots of these verticals have come off as very average this one is pretty good.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.37/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brownish black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of deep tan head that fade into a thin creamy layer. Leaves a good amount of creamy lacing around the glass.

Smell: A dark yeasty Belgian style aroma with a huge presence of spices. Big upfront scent of Holiday style spices with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves. Belgian yeast with some funk and some burnt candied sugar. Fruit hints of dried banana and some light citrus orange. Dark roasted malts with hints of cocoa, biscuit, caramel, toffee, and toast. Sweet hints of molasses. Dark dried fruit hints of raisin, cherry, plum, fig, and dates. Hops are very light. A very nice and complex aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a very spice forward Belgian style taste with some good roasty notes. Big upfront taste of spices with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Belgian yeast with some funk. Sweet notes of molasses and burnt candied sugar. Dark roasted malts with a taste of chocolate, caramel, toffee, toast, and smoke. Fruit notes of dried banana and citrus orange along with dark fruit notes of plum, raisin, fig, dates, and black cherry. Tastes kind of like a liquid chocolate gingerbread cookie. Very interesting and good.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Rich, creamy, and somewhat syrupy. Some alcohol heat is felt.

Overall: A pretty interesting and good twist on a dark Belgian style ale. Its like a winter warmer Belgian style.

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Photo of BucBasil
4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the tap into a tulip.

The beer is almost totally black with some light in the side. Dark tan frothy head. Inviting.

Gingerbread and lots of spice. Loving the holiday character here with some cinnamon an wood.

Wow first impressions is that this is like eating a clove. Plenty of gingerbread in here. Wood. A faint roast deep in there. Really unique.

Glad I tried this. Definitely not going to bring this in as a regular but very tasty if a bit much. One is enough...

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Photo of JamesStreet
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - pours an opaque black with a mahogany/brown head. Nice long lacing down the side of the glass. Barely any bubbles almost a creamy layer of head on this one.

S - the first thing that comes to mind are the spices. A little alcohol also comes through

T - i immediately get carrot cake and pumpkin pie here. The nutmeg, as well as ginger, come out followed by a syrupy,alcohol presence. Interesting flavors here. Get a little roasty taste on the back end. Slight bitterness from the hops but not much.

M - medium-bodied with some moderate carb.

O - where to begin? Interesting beer. Don't get the BSDA (well it is strong and dark but don't really get the typical Belgian yeast taste.). To me this tastes what carrot cake would taste like in liquid form. It would be a nice dessert beer but not something I would sip on repeatedly.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A deep ruddy black-brown. Head is tan and dissipates quickly to a small bubbly head. Carbonation is on the high side of moderate. Some lacing, but not much.

Smell: Loaded with spice. Cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, all the usual suspects. Almost something like pepper spiciness as well. Yeast adds another spice element that's distinct. Minimal hopping, with some hints at citrus. Deeply sweet, pushing toward molasses and brown sugar at times. Some alcohol heat as well. Bready with a rich dark fruit component layered throughout. It's decidedly Christmas.

Taste: A bit burnt with a deep roasted character. The spice plays a huge role, running the entire gamut. The yeast drops esters like a pro. Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, it's all there and there's a solid amount of it. Gets a little overbearing as it warms. Dark brown bread and deeply caramelized malts. Sweet. A good bit of caramel and deeper brown sugars. Alcohol pushes through.

Mouthfeel: Mediumish body with a slightly above average carbonation. Nice and smooth with a surprisingly almost clean finish.

Overall: Better than most series finales.

An Imperial Belgian Winter Warmer. It's good.

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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 Boto
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber: This one pours a fairly opaque dark brown color. There was a huge tan head on it that lingers awhile and leaves some lacing. The nose is interesting. There are a lot of spices in there. Allspice, cinnamon, faint ginger clove and orange. While they aren’t overpowering on their own, they seem to be keeping any malts and hops hidden. Interesting taste. Pretty fair amount of spices mingling together, along with some chocolate. There is some bitterness coming through, as well as some fruits in the finish. A very interesting brew.

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

The beer poured an opaque dark chocolate color with a 1/2 finger head. Very attractive looking beer.

The aroma is an overwhelming chocolate-spice combo. Cinnamon, and possibly gingerbread.

The mouth feel was smooth.

The imbalance in the beer starts with the taste. The chocolate-spice notes are completely dwarfed by the hoppiness and bitterness in the finish. I was looking for a smooth transition from aroma to taste: it was absent.

This would have been a great beer if there were more chocolate-spice notes in the finish.
Regrettably, the focus in the final stages of the tasting is on the hops and bitterness.

Re-evaluation: on the second night, the beer was better. The aroma wasn't as pronounced, it was a mellower chocolate spice. The mouth feel was more carbonated.

A snifter may be better for this beer than a tulip.

Most importantly, the hops and bitterness didn't mask the chocolate-spice taste. There was more balance to the flavor, and the finish wasn't overwhelming.

I generally don't like leaving a beer like this in the fridge too long- however, the fridge sometimes helps to mellow out the beer and bring more balance.

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Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
3.9 out of 5 based on 1,589 ratings.
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