Yesterday saw the release of Stone Brewing’s 12-12-12 Vertical Epic Ale: the culmination of one of American craft brewing’s most ambitious brewing projects. Whether you’ve been caching bottles for the last 11 years, planning to attend a tasting event to celebrate the end of the Epics, or you just want to try Stone’s take on a Belgian Christmas ale, you are going to want to grab some VE12.
Background on the Vertical Epics
In late 2001 Stone’s founder Greg Koch had an idea to create a series of beers that were meant to be aged. The first release would be on February 2nd 2002, and each successive release in the series would come one year, one month, and one day later than the last. The beers would all be takes on traditional Belgian styles, and they would all be bottle-conditioned to help them survive and develop during their slumbers until the long-off final release on 12-12-12. Once the final beer in the series was released collectors and fans could have a vertical tasting of all 11 beers and hopefully get a glimpse of the brewer’s wizardry.
The eleventh release in the Vertical Epic series is here, and the 12-12-12 is a 9%ABV Belgian Noel ale that uses cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, orange peel and rosehips to provide a Stone-heavy hit of spices to its rich malt backbone .
You can peruse the details and tasting notes on all the different beers in the series at Stone’s Vertical Epic site.
Insight from the Brewers
In addition to the dedicated Vertical Epic site, there is also extensive coverage on the beers and the releases on the Stone Blog.
For even more insight into the concept, execution, and results of the Vertical Epic project check out this recording of a recent live-streamed tasting hosted at Stone World Gardens and featuring many craft beer luminaries:
The panel provides the background of each beer as they are tasted in series, and while the video is lengthy, the discussion is high-quality and very interesting. If you’d prefer the highlights only, you can check out this under-five minute recap of the tasting and the results.
Getting a Taste
I was a little late to the Vertical Epic party, and I’ve only been collecting bottles since the 7-7-07 release. For five long years these bottles have sat in various closets, refrigerators, and cabinets as I’ve moved around Hollywood, and I’m quite excited to host a tasting event with the six years that I’ve managed to collect. We’ll run a feature on the tasting so you can see how the beers has held-up under more real-world conditions.
If you haven’t been hoarding bottles of the yearly releases don’t give-up hope. Stone is hosting an official tasting party at the brewery that will get you a 3oz taster of all 11 beers. The $150 ticket also includes pours of barrel-aged and cask versions of the VE beers, tasting stations with food selected for each beer, and access to a cash-bar pouring more rare variants of the VE beers (as well as other special Stone releases). The whole things goes down, when else, on December 12th at 12:12pm.
If you can swing the admission fee and the time mid-day on a Wednesday for the official party, then you should consider getting some tickets to this once-a-lifetime event that is sure to be filled with the most dedicated craft beer fans around. There are sure to be other events around town that should be more accessible, if not as comprehensive as the Stone tasting. We will update the list below as we hear about tasting opportunities around town.
- Blue Palms in Hollywood will be having a tasting of 5-5-05 – 12-12-12 on December 15th. See their Facebook events page for details.
- Little Bear Downtown has 5-5-05 through 12-12-12 paired with food on December 13th.
- Library Alehouse in Santa Monica will will be pouring 12oz glasses of 8-8-08 through 12-12-12 as well as a variety of different taster flights of 03-03-03 through 12-12-12 on Wednesday.
Of course you don’t need to have the whole, or even a part of the line-up to enjoy the newest Vertical Epic release. The Belgian Noel ale is a perfect holiday winter warmer, and it is sure to be a hit at holiday parties this year, and – as the beer is just as age-able as the others in the line – for years to come.
Stone Brewing Vertical Epic 12-12-12 is available now. Have you tried it? What do you think of the final beer in the long-lived series?