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Vertical Epic Ale 12.12.12

Judges Rating: 
21 / 24
6 / 6
35 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

The last in a distinguished string of Vertical Epic Ale releases, 12.12.12 is Stone Brewing’s homage to Belgium’s dark, powerful and spicy Bières de Noël. Overflowing with spicy notes of ginger, cinnamon, and clove, all punctuated by a dark pumpernickel bread maltiness, this brew imbues the room with aromas reminiscent of a country bakery. Pete enjoyed the bright licorice and cinnamon notes wafting above the dark, espresso roast maltiness, but found the nose was “tilted just a bit too far into the spices.” Contrarily, Tom felt the “prodigious notes of rum raisin, currants, and treacle” more than kept the spices in check, yielding a very complex, deeply intriguing nose. Stygian in its blackness, yet crowned by a dollop of creamy beige foam, this is one supremely dark, mysterious beer, draining light from the room. Rich, savory notes of hearth baked bread, pecan pie, and cinnamon dominate the flavor, with hints of licorice and French roast coffee riding in the background. Tim found the flavor “laced with bitter chocolate, blackstrap molasses, and ginger snaps,” enjoying the beer but having difficulty finding any “Belgian” character. Overall, he opined the beer was “intensely rich and filling – like a torte in a glass.” Sadly, this is the final installation in Greg Koch’s decade-long exploration of the Vertical Epic – do whatever you must to get your hands on a bottle.