Review: Stone Vertical Epic 12.12.12
Since 2002 Stone has been making a powerful “epic” beer commemorating the one day of each year where it doesn’t matter what order the day, month, and year in. Naturally, assuming a radical calendar shift doesn’t occur, that means that 12.12.12 was the last time this will happen in a century—so when I received a bottle of this limited run, I was naturally excited and overwhelmed with anticipation for what joys may be lurking within that cool glass exterior. This was Christmas. Flash forward to May 30th, 2013. I’ve somehow managed to protect this rare artifact from myself and any other beer seeking Gollum of the underworld. Stone made their Vertical Epic beers to stand the test of time—there is no drink by label, but a suggestion to age them at 55 Fahrenheit or below. After months in the cellar this little six month old is about to be sacrificed to the gods, for the Day of Judgment hath arrived, and my buddy Charlie has returned from months in the crucible that is a public school in Greenville, Mississippi. So let us drink and be merry! This beer is truly a vertical masterpiece; the head rises to Olympian heights even with a soft pour. Below, lies the treasure: Oily and opaque, and smelling of a caravan of spices and coffee traversing the deserts on their voyage to my mouth. Stone simply calls this an ale brewed with spices, but to those who taste its glory, that seems inaccurate. 12.12.12 has the heavy dark malt profile of an imperial stout, with the toasted and espresso laden flavors to match. Oh, and there’s the booze. This is a 9%er, and there is no attempt to hide that. This is dessert beer, warm and, as Stone does, heavily hopped and bitter. The spices they’ve thrown in there add just another layer of complexity to this canvas; nutmeg and cinnamon give this the feel of a winter beer—if only I’d been more patient this would have done perfectly by the wood stove, but I wasn’t so I drank it when it was 90 degrees. I do what I want. In sum, this is a beast of a beer, truly worthy of the Vertical Epic label. If you still have one, hold it for a cold evening. If you want one, sorry, that’ll require a mythic quest at this point—good luck and Godspeed friends.