Greetings fellow craft brew fanatics, Brandon here with an early edition of the Saturday Night Sixer! Well, the end of the world is rapidly approaching (ha-ha), and if you’re not sure what brew would accompany the end of times, let this be your guide! As always, all of our beers in the Sixer can be found in your local packaged liquor stores … and if they don’t have ’em, ask the friendly folks how you can get your hands on them. Quick, before a meteor approaches and we have to send Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck into space to blow it up, grab a beer!
Oh, Stone Brewing Company, how many ways can we possibly love thee? Well, let us count the ways: there is the Smoked Porter, the hop-tastic Ruination IPA, an old standby in Arrogant Bastard Ale, Levitation Ale … we could go on. Oh, right, we can’t forget such seasonal favorites as Double Bastard, and the Old Guardian Barley Wine, and collaboration beers like the Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout they recently did with Iron Fist Brewing Company and homebrewer Ken Schmidt (which yours truly reviewed previously). There are plenty of others, but now we have a new reason, and this one comes in the form of Stone’s latest release, the 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale. Boy, I’m starting to sound like a fanboy …
If I do sound like one it is with good reason. Stone is simply consistent at making ridiculously good beers, specifically ones that are bold in their flavors; the last installment in the Vertical Epic series is no exception to this. Now for those not familiar with this series, here is a brief backstory: the Vertical Epics are a series of limited (and I mean VERY limited) release bottle-conditioned brews, each year having a unique style differing from the last and released one year, one month and one day from the previous year’s edition. According to Stone’s website, they are specifically made to be aged and enjoyed after 12/12/12, but of course you can pop the top on one whenever you feel like. For those of you who are like me, asking one to wait to try something so awesome is just an exercise in futility. Luckily the final beer in the series was recently released and I don’t have to wait to try one!
The 12.12.12 Vertical Epic is a wonderfully big and complex beer of the strong Belgian-style. It possesses a deep, dark brown color with a nice frothy head that mellows to a smooth swirl. The aromas are amazing — you get an initial heavy burst of cinnamon and other spices, and hints of banana as well. As it warmed a bit in my glass, the spices, roasted malts, and caramel hints became more pronounced. I found myself constantly taking in a whiff of the aromas after each sip. The taste is heavy on the spices, but they all play well with the chocolate and roasted malts that coat the palate with a smooth mouthfeel. There is a subtle but noticeable hint of citrus that hits in the middle and helps cut through the bitterness, mingling beautifully with the spices. It finishes dry but smooth with slight coffee hints and subtle alcohol warming, but not much bite. There is just enough spice and citrus there to cut through the bitterness, making this a very drinkable brew. After sipping on it for a bit, the natural warming in my glass brought out more hints of clove in the aromatics, a welcome addition to the party. For a large-bodied beer, this would still go well with a meal, or even by itself.
Overall, the 12.12.12 Vertical Epic is an excellent finish to this series of beers, with a complex but enjoyable blend of spices and malts that is perfect for these cold winter days, or just an evening next to a fireplace with friends. This series of beers is EXTREMELY limited; they often sell out quickly due to the demand and limited supply, so make sure to get your hands on one while they last. If you happen to be one of the lucky few who has some of the older brews in the Vertical Epic series, we here at the NMDSBC would love to hear about the tastes found in some of the older brews, so send some comments our way here or on our Facebook page as well. Also, if anyone wants to give me a Christmas gift of a bottle of 02.02.02 that you have stored away … no? Well, it was worth a shot! Until next time …
— Brandon Daniel (Cryptogrind)