The first one I had was the 7. It changed how I looked at anniversary ales. The next year, for the 8, I was so confident that it would be good, that I got Wes a beer, shirt and pint glass gift pack for his birthday. My only regret was underestimating the demand for the 10, and I never got a bottle for myself. So now I bring you, with much anticipation on my part, Stone’s 12th Anniversary Bittersweet Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.
First things first, I want to talk about the bottle. I liked the huge numbers. It was simple and everyone knew what you were talking about. If they didn’t, that was there loss. Now, you say 12, and you’re more likely to get a blank stare. Other than that, the bottle is great. Stone’s bottles are always a treat, especially with the novel printed on the back.
But you care about what’s inside the bottle. The 12 pours like ink, black as night with a mocha head. The aroma is a bit disappointing. I pick up the stereotypical beer aroma, but not much else. The flavor starts out with a kick from the bittersweet chocolate. There isn’t the typical sweetness that goes with dark choclate flavors in a big stout like this. The flavor of the malts and oatmeal is over powered and carries through the finish. To go with this huge rush of bittersweet chocolate is a heaping amount of alcohol.
Many reviews I read called this beer young, and I would have to agree. The question is, how young? I definitely won’t be opening another bottle until 2009, but will that be enough to allow the chocolate to mellow into the malts? Will aging, and possibly some breathing after the pour help the alcohol?
I taste a lot of potential in this brew, but right now, it just isn’t doing it for me. This disappoints me since Stone’s Anniversary Ales are typically a highlight of the summer. I will definitely revisit this brew in the future when the bottle has gained some age.