Tuesday, December 25, 2012

An EPIC ending to another holiday season

Were you lucky enough to cellar a few of these?

It's the most wonderful time of the year... the final post of the Beer411 12 Beers of Christmas!!  Katie and I spoke several times throwing out ideas for how we would tie a bow on this year's countdown.  I didn't know if the timing would work out, but lucky for us... I found a local packy that JUST got it in stock.  Yup, you guessed it, good ol' Murph from Southington Wine and Spirits to the rescue.  The envelope please...

This year's 2012 Beer411 #1 Beer on the 12 Beers of Christmas is...

Stone Vertical Epic 12.12.12.

I've talked about the Vertical Epic series before, so here's a quick story.  Dating back to February 2nd, 2002 - Greg Koch and the folks at the Stone Brewery had the idea to release a beer when the calendar numbers lined up. 02.02.02, 03.03.03, 04.04.04... all the way to 12.12.12.  This year's offering signifies the unfortunate end to a fantastic series of beers.  Each one would consist of a different recipe ranging from Belgian styles to Chile beers.  Categorized as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, the Vertical Epic 12.12.12 seemed to be a perfect fit to our Christmas countdown.  Luckily, I also had my co-blogger here to help me with Part Two of our DUAL review.  Well, they say that all good things come to an end... but will it end with a good thing?

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Style: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
ABV: 9.0%
IBUs: 50
Website: StoneBrewing.com

The pour is dark and thick, with a large tan fluffy head.  I'd say about two fingers.  It looks so inviting, I wouldn't be opposed to using it as a pillow on Christmas Eve as visions of sugar plums dance in my head.

The nose on this beer just SCREAMS Christmas.  Malty, spicy... hints of clove, black licorice, molasses and mulled spice.  Kate asked me if I was familiar with a coffee shop in Boston that makes a really good pumpkin spice latte... that's what this reminded her of.  We also both picked up a chai tea scent as well.

We got a roasty one on our hands.  No surprise here.  Burnt caramel, dark fruits, marshmallow.  Kate hits the nail right on the head with her connection to smores.  It's not overly sweet though... I don't want to paint the wrong picture about this beer.  The level of spices make it enjoyably bitter with great roasty, malty characteristics.

The dry finish is exactly what I wanted with this.  With every sip you go on this delicious spice-tastic journey of awesomeness.  A little overly spiced to fit the Belgian Dark Strong ale profile... malty and subtlety sweet on the mouthfeel, but dry on the finish which brings up the question... Did that just happen?  So you go back in for another sip... and then the smile hits your face.  Yes... yes it did.  That. Just. Happened.

Overall: A+  (What else could I have given this beer?)

Pairings are a little tricky with so much going on... it really does stand on it's own.  But Kate and I both agreed that this would be fantastic with some curry.  The spices would fit very nicely with each other making it, without a doubt, an enjoyable experience.  Or as we're in the holiday season, you could try this beer with some light cookies.  Pizzelles or maybe ginger snaps... stay away from chocolate or heavy stuff if you are sipping this delicious treat.

So from all of us at Beer411... Thank you everyone for your continued support.  Between Facebook, Twitter, the BeerCoasters Podcast, the CT Beer Trail, Beer bloggers from around the US and so many other forms of communication, we have a lot to be grateful for.  I hope that in our research, Katie and I opened up your eyes (and your palettes) to something new.  That's one of the main reason we are here.  To help, to teach and to grow.  There is a lot that we've picked up over the last 3 years, and so much more that we are ready to learn.  THANK YOU ALL!!

Have a healthy and safe holiday... CHEERS!!

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