Vertical Epic

Stone: Vertical Epic 12.12.12 (USA: Belgian Strong Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Islands of caramel froth.

Nose: Lots of Christmas spice. Cinnamon sticks. Cloves. Ginger. Dry shortbread and honey.

Body: Cherries. Raisins in a rum soaked style. Cloves. Ginger. Cinnamon. Treacle toffee. Roasted nuts. Vanilla.

Finish: Gingerbread. Cloves. Charring. Greenery. Raisins. Light hop character.

Conclusion: Perfectly timed, I drank this just before Christmas and it is so a Christmas beer. Tons of Christmas spices all the way through the beer. Now, I’m often not a fan of overly spiced beers, and this one definitely doesn’t skimp on the spice. I’m often not a fan mainly because they can often quickly become samey and one note due to the spice becoming the only element.

Possibly solely due to only being served in thirds this manages to avoid that fate. Just. If you have a big bottle then I highly recommend sharing it. Still, even with the high level of spices it doesn’t hide the Stone Brewing high quality craftsmanship meaning it isn’t solely spice. There is, unusually for Stone Brewing, a very remarkable restraint in its use of hops. Yes, I thought that would shock you.

There is instead rum soaked raisins and cherries behind the spice, especially main body. Still very Christmas styled but soothing and winter warming, with some dark treacle and toffee sweetness besides. The sweet and fruit elements are by far not the focus, the emphasis is on providing Christmas in a glass.

It is a good beer, and surprisingly complex for the spiced beer range, but compared to other Belgian ales it is still very one note comparatively. It is still one of the better Christmas spiced beers, and if you like spice you will love it, but you really have to want the spice.

A beer of selective audience and range, but enjoyable enough within that.

Background: Something a bit festive, for this Christmas Day Review (Oh and a merry new Doctor Who day to you all). This was drunk at Brewdog Bristol after their Stone Brewing tap takeover, the last of the Vertical Epics, which came over a year ago so I thought I had best grab it while I still could. A Belgian ale made with cinnamon, ginger, allspice, orange peel, clove and rosehip. I am a big fan of Stone, and love their often hugely hopped beers.