My excitement built over the last couple of days as a bottle of Stone Vertical Epic 12.12.12, the culmination of a 10 year series, sat chilling in my refrigerator, waiting for the perfect moment to give it its due attention. Perfect moments, as it turns out, are hard to come by. I could wait no longer, so a Tuesday night around 11:00pm seemed as good a time as any. As I poured the opaque, midnight brown brew into my glass, the rich body of the beer became evident, and produced a thin, caramel colored head that quickly dissipated. My nose immediately detected spicy notes that were confirmed by my first sip. A strong winter warmer, my mind was quickly brought to the spices of the season, including cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice. The mouthfeel was full and rich, as if I had just taken a big bite of pumpkin pie, sans the pumpkin. Roasty malts came through in the middle, finishing with hints of chocolate and coffee which became more evident as the beer warmed, as did its sweetness. Bitterness that I had expected in the end was not present. Instead the brew finished very smoothly, with a bit of effervescence where bitterness would have been. A beer with spices such as these would not normally be something I would gravitate toward, but this beer is put together so skillfully and is so well-balanced that I found myself drawn to it. Its 9% alcohol content doesn't hit you right away, but as you make your way through the bottle you know your drinking a big beer. Having yet to read the bottle, or any other review of this beer for that fact, I don't know how my thoughts stack up against the brewer's intentions or others' impressions. I've spelled out what I tasted, plain and simple. I'd love to hear what you think of this final "epic" release.