Vertical Epic 12.12.12

Got to do this review today – it’s 12/12/12, so it’s only appropriate.  I’m drinking it as I write the review this evening.  If you’re not drinking it today also, that’s  a shame, and it’s your own damn fault!

Vertical Epic 12.12.12: Stone Brewing Company, Escondido California.  9.0% ABV.  This is the last in the Stone Epic series.  They (Stone) began this series with the release of 02.02.02 on February 2nd, 2002.  The Vertical Epic series continued each year with the release of a different brew on the date named for each particular ale (03.03.03 released on March 3rd, 2003; 04.04.04 released on April 4th, 2004, etc.).  I became aware of this Stone series when I purchased the 08.08.08 Vertical Epic in 2008.  I currently have at least one bottle of each Stone Vertical Epic in my wine cellar, thanks to my (ex) boss, CLINT McCALL, who gave me one bottle each of 02.02.02 through 07.07.07.  Thank you, Clint for your generosity!!  That’s WAY beyond generous – it’s unbelievable.  CLINT, YOU ARE THE BOMB!!!!!

This beer is difficult to describe.  It’s a Belgian Abbey style dark ale, but it is different from what you would expect from that style.  It pours a deep, deep, dark ruby (it looks black until you hold it up to a bright light, then the red color becomes apparent) with a medium tan/light cocoa head.  The aroma is sweet, like you would expect from a Belgian ale.  But, there’s more to it than that.  This is brewed with spices, and those are apparent in the nose.  I would describe a slight aroma of anise, but it’s not overwhelming.

The flavor is difficult to describe.  First, it’s a full-bodied beer.  Very viscous, which I didn’t expect from a Belgian style.  It’s well-balanced, with a bit of a Belgian flavor in a dark setting.  It’s not as sweet as most Belgian style ales, in fact it’s a little dry.  The spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, orange peel, clove, etc.) come through to create a complex, but not overwhelming flavor.  The Belgian flavor is obvious, but it’s not overly sweet or fruity.  The aftertaste is not as sweet, but it’s not bitter either.  It’s hard to describe.

This beer is a little dry, especially for a Belgian or a stout ale.  It looks like a stout, and has the mouth feel of an imperial or oatmeal stout, but doesn’t taste like one – not sweet or full enough.  It is similar to an Abbey style Belgian, but also, not so sweet.

It’s an unusual beer, but I highly recommend it (what can I say, I love dark beers).  It’s not my favorite Vertical Epic brew (that would be the 2008 version, as I remember it), but it’s REALLY good (maybe my 2nd favorite of the five I’ve tasted, 2008 – 2012).  Enjoy it on an empty stomach – it will get you where you want to go in a hurry.  Reward yourself during this holiday season and buy a bottle or two.  I have one additional bottle (it comes in 22 oz bombers only) in my wine cellar right now with the other Vertical Epic treasures.  I will definitely buy some more ($6.99 at Total Wine) and enjoy it for a while.

What am I gonna do with eleven bottles (the entire series) of Vertical Epic?  They’re all 22 oz bombers, so I can’t possibly drink them by myself at one sitting.  I guess I’ll just have to invite a few other worthy ones over to help me consume them on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Thanks again, Clint, for sharing  your valuable priceless beer with me.  You’re the first one invited to my Stone Vertical Epic sampler gathering (anyone else interested?).  CHEERS!

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