Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic AleStone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

535 Reviews
THE BROS
95
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 535
Hads: 851
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 6.9%
Wants: 34
Gots: 282 | FT: 17
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.60% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: superdedooperboy on 09-08-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

This is quite a complex and layered beer. Bold and smooth chocolate malt flavors combine with a Belgian yeast lending tropical fruit/banana flavors and hints of spiciness, all complemented by citrus notes from an addition of tangerine peel. Rich vanilla beans add a nice counter to the chocolate malt - actually enhancing the chocolatiness. The finish is smooth, with additional traces of vanilla and toasted characters from French Oak. The goal for this edition of the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series is to be reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 535 | Hads: 851
Photo of ImusBeer
3.15/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

It was dark at the table and the glass (11oz) although thin was completely black. The tan head seemed constant at first with about a quarter inch but did eventually die.

The aroma was just about only smoke IMHO, maybe some dark molasses or fruits. The taste was dominated by burnt malt and a finish of bitterness.

Mouthfeel was thin with the bitter aftertaste. I hoped for more but all in all a good sipping Dark Ale. (419 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
3.21/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Super dark black with a good two inches of brown head, it looks like a stout. It smells a lot like malty chocolate and the taste is quite similar with the addition of a belgian yeastiness that saves this from being a stout in my mind. Still, maybe its a Belgian-style stout. I got not hint of orange-chocolate candy. This was very average to me, it was neither offensive nor impressive despite the uniqueness of the beer. (421 characters)

Photo of Treebs
3.24/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle served in a CCB snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown color, almost opaque with a tan head forming on the pour. Recedes quickly to a thin ring and splotchy lace.

S: Roasted malts with some light chocolate undertones and a little anise. There's some earthy greeness to it as well.

T: Dark fruit, prunes and some roast. A light chocolate is noticeable, but unfortunately this one is slightly oxidized as well. Light cardboard with some woody oak and dirty earthiness.

M: Medium heavy bodied with a medium low carbonation level. Roasted and dry finish.

O: There was an odd earthiness to it and the French oak didn't mesh well. Slight oxidation detracted from the overall "enjoyment" as well. (700 characters)

Photo of rudzud
3.26/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed while doing a 07-12Belgian vertical.

A - Poured into a palm tulip a nice dark brown hue with a good one finger mocha head that left a light blanket and light side lacing.

S - Aromas of faint chocolate and esters...smells over aged?

T - Taste is a bit old light roasted malts, chocolate, faint citrus. Really did not hold up to the aging.

M - Mouthfeel is nicely carbonated but solid albeit meh for the style.

O - Overall this was an okay beer nicely smokey with chocolate and citrus. Still though there's better Belgian strongs. (541 characters)

Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared a bottle with Alucard4

Look: Black with brown rings around the edges 1/2 inch head and good retention

Smell: Belgian yeast with some vanilla and notes of chocolate

Taste: Upfront is a earthy kind of dirty Belgian yeast note and the backend has quite a bit of coffee and traces of chocolate

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation and a bit chalky

Overall: When this beer first came out I loved it so much that I bought a whole case and now that a couple years has gone by this beer has taken a turn for the worse and I feel next year when people do the huge vertical they will be even more let down (617 characters)

Photo of bulletrain76
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle. Nearly black in appearance with a light tan head of good thickness and consistency; bordering on pillowy. The aroma has a good deal of tangerine and raspberry mixed with burnt toast and charred oak. The longer the beer warms, the more the fruit pops out actually, with a striking vanilla kick coming out, and an almost sour patch kid tartness. They really seem to have crammed a lot into the aromatics. The flavor brings the same qualities of burnt malt, oaky tannic bitterness, boozy vanilla extract,and citrus sweetness together. They aren't really working in harmony, and not as well as in the aroma. There just seems to be a little too much going on right now, but I can see that changing with some age. The mouthfeel is a little hot and astringent, with the alcohol and oak ganging up on your tongue. On the one hand, this is the third year in a row that I have thought that the Vertical epic release was a little weak and unrefined in general, but at least this one tastes like three years in the cellar might actually help it out (1,049 characters)

Photo of aerozeppl
3.31/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice solid black color with 2 fingers of coffee colored head. Nice lacing as well.

S: Almost smells like a saison yeast in the first blast. Then comes the roast and chocolate. A touch of fruit but I could never really flush it out.

T: Burnt espresso beans start off with quite a bit of bitterness. It really just falls off after that. I lacked the complexity I look for in their vertical EPIC series. A little bit of chocolate in the back.

M: The mouthfeel is great. Nice and creamy. Full bodied without being a burden.

D: This beer is all about cellaring right? Right now it is an OK beer at best. That being said this probably has the best chance of all the vertical epic beers I have had to last to 2012 (Had 2005 to present) I am really torn on this series. Great idea. I just don't know how many will make it all the way. Maybe this beer is a nod to that. (875 characters)

Photo of jvillefan
3.32/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

A: A very dark body with a half finger mocha head.

S: Very mute aromas. There is subtle chocolate aromas present.

T: I have always heard people describe the taste of their beer as soy sauce but have never had that flavor in my beer...until now. Soy sauce is dominate in this beer. There is very subtle chocolate in the background of this beer.

M: Nice body with great carbonation.

O: This beer could have been great had it been able to age a little better. I believe at some point in time this was a 4.35 beer, now unfortunately, it is not even close. (556 characters)

Photo of ccrida
3.34/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip, 09.09.09 VE is a very dark brown with a very large, dark tan head, with frustratingly long last, rocky settling, leaving foamy lace.

Smell is sweet and spicy, big esters, loads of clove and way overripe banana, a mustiness to it that's not too appetizing.

Taste is okay, from the first sip, I was put off by the intensity of flavor, and the lack of integration between the many components. There's a fine line between complex and kitchen sink. However, as my palate adjusts, it starts to work better for me. Definitely a big bitter chocolate component, a hint of the vanilla, not really sure about the orange. Stone was going for the taste of orange chocolates, and I'm not sure they really hit that mark. Will be interested to see how this ages.

Mouthfeel is dry, medium-heavy bodied, but not particularly viscous.

Drinkability is not to high, this is a really robustly flavored beer that just doesn't lend itself to rapid drinking. Nor is it the type of beer that I want to have again. (1,043 characters)

Photo of cratez
3.35/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The last beer from a ridiculous haul purchased by my girlfriend at Beer World in Largo, Florida. Pours an opaque black with a thin ring of mocha tan head and threads of lacing on the snifter. Smell and taste are floral hops, vanilla beans, oak barrel, sweet dried fruit, roasted and chocolate malts, biscuit, strong bitterness, and a touch of alcohol. I get some orange peel on the nose, but not in the flavour. Mouthfeel is medium, spicy, a bit hollow, sharp carbonation, chalky and dry finish. The bold, citrusy IBUs do not complement the old ale elements in this beer. It drinks like a stale and boozy porter with IPA bitterness. Not a BSDA by any stretch of the imagination. I never thought I'd be disappointed with a Stone beer, but this one doesn't do it for me. (768 characters)

Photo of peabody
3.36/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a dark black liquid with one finger of very tan suds. Lacing here about the glass.
Aroma is very light cinnamon and star of anise and a formalahyde type smell.
Taste is a weak mishmash of sugar and charred malts with a hint of the pepper spice thrown in at the end. Not really enough going on here.
Mouthfeel is fairly clean with just a tad of sugar stickyness lingering at the end. The 8.6% is hidden well all through the tasting. The peppery feel at the back of the throat is kinda nice but that isn't enough to keep me coming back for another slug.
Overall this is another dissapointment.. It's not terrible by any means , just not noteworthy as far as good beer should be. (686 characters)

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.38/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber to Bruges hybrid glass on 4/4/12
*From notes

A: Rich crayon brown. A good pour yields a two finger bubbly head. It fades in time, a leaves a decent collar behind.

S: Candied Belgian sugars and cocoa. Some vanilla becomes more evident as it warms.

T: Sweet, with a grassy quality to it. More vanilla hits the mid and rides to the finish. Not half bad - this seems to have aged reasonably well.

M: Feel could use a little work. It's just not as thick and viscous as a Belgian Strong (that comes across kinda stout-like) should be.

O: One of the better VE's in the series. It's holding up well, it's tasty and something I won't have a problem putting back again in what...eight months? (699 characters)

Photo of elNopalero
3.4/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This pours a tawny dark amber color. I get a boozy “rummy” aroma—like rum with some strong vanilla notes to it. The flavor is … off. It’s harsh and off-balanced with an artificial vanilla flavor dominating on top a strong Belgian dark ale base beer. Time has not treated this one kindly. (297 characters)

Photo of MaineBirdMan
3.43/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle.
half inch head
appearance: Dark brown with a coffee head.

nose: candy with a hint of coffee. Some pineapple notes came to mind.

taste: Good amount of hops on the finish. Mixed with some hints of coffee and chocolate.

mouthfeel: pleasant amount of bitterness from the hops. A nice warming feel from the alcohol. Not a whole lot of carbonation.

Drinkability: Couldn't drink too many of these. Nice to have one by the fire on a cold night. (470 characters)

Photo of bruachan
3.43/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

it's quite dark, if not opaque. good head up front, though it diminished (never disappeared, however)

chocolate and dark fruit aromas. vinous

heat, as to be expected from and Epic brew (should be ironed out in three years). plenty of hop asserts itself with a big bitterness. spicy all around and some dried fruit (cherry) dances. a touch of chocolate or coffee (how is it that i can't decide?). man, very bitter

i can't quite decide how i think this will age. it's not so very deep that the future is obvious. the heat and spice will obviously minimize but it's a little thin to begin with (which will only increase with time)

good brew; excited to see how it will be in a few years. (689 characters)

Photo of craftaholic
3.46/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: On tap in a tulip glass. Poured a completely opaque jet black hue with a finger length of deep tan head that left behind splotchy lacing.

Smell: The scent is that of burnt espresso, tinges of belgian yeast and even slight touches of coriander, orange peel and currant.

Taste: Starts off with a big pillowy malt that floats over your palate and deposits nuances of the citric orange peel and heavy amounts of yeast. There is an abundance of dark chocolate in the malt and it carries the touches of spice and slight hop bitterness till a big dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Had a medium body and is has a lingering aftertaste much like that guy at every party who doesn't realize you want him to leave.

Drinkability: An OK beer that is definitely a sipper, even though the abv is low the flavors are high.

Overall: Needs age in my opinion and was even intended for that, it has too much bittersweet cocoa in it for me and not enough other malt offering for me to really love it. With age however hopefully overpowering flavors will mellow and it will be well rounded

(will edit upon revisit in a few years) (1,116 characters)

Photo of DovaliHops
3.47/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Pors a pitch black color with a medium sized brownish tan head. Scent is very sweet and chocolatey. A bit of alcohol as well. Sweet malts and roasted barley as well. I also pick up a slight peanut-butter scent. Taste is initially toasted malts...this beer sure has an interesting taste to it. I pick up a...shall I say, SEAFOOD kinda taste to this. Especially in the aftertaste. I don't know if my palate is playing tricks on me or what. Not really digging the flavor. I wish the chocolate and alcohol would hide this strange flavor I'm getting. The mouthfeel is quite nice though. Slightly velvety smooth with nice carbonation. Drinkability is not very high. (659 characters)

Photo of argock
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz brown bottle into a Chimay chalice. No freshness date. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $7.99.

A: Very dark brown with amber edges topped with 1-finger, cake batter colored bubbly head with decent retention and a few random lace formations.

S: The aroma profile is very complex but not that complementary, kind of like a palette of smells with not a lot of cohesiveness. Musty and candy sweet with major yeastiness with a twinge of citrus.

T: The flavor is also a smattering of different tastes including musty, leafy hops, chocolate, fruity yeast, orange peel, and sweet malt with a leathery edge. Unfortunately, the flavors don't work very well together although it is complex.

M: A solidly medium body with low carbonation and a musty, light chocolate aftertaste

D: I'm not sure what to say about this beer. The parts don't come together very well, but the aromas and flavors are interesting and unique. Maybe some time will take the rougher edges off and produce a more cohesive brew. (1,031 characters)

Photo of rapidsequence
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle.

Appearance: This is a black beer with the slightest bit of red on the edges when held right to the light. Frothy light brown head mostly fades after a few minutes, but leaves a thin, uneven sheet all the way to the bottom of my snifter. Lacing is in nice sheets, but doesnt really stick.

Smell: The major aroma is the fusion of dark fruit and roast that you only get in Belgian stouts. There is bitter citrus smell and oaky vanilla too.

Taste: Dark chocolate and coffee roasted malt flavors. There are woody and vanilla flavors and spice. All that is fine until the bitter orange takes over. The finish is all bitter citrus and roast. Think about drinking black coffee and sucking an orange peel at the same time.

Mouthfeel: Its pretty smooth and slightly creamy, but too thin for such a big beer.

Drinkability: Leaving out the orange peel would make this an excellent beer. As it is, its really good for part of the time its in my mouth. I did drink many last year on draft, served way too cold, and it was way better for whatever that's worth. (1,065 characters)

Photo of Murchmac
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

To this point i've supped on the supple bottle of all the VE's, this one is the most interesting thus far.

Pours out the bottle a dark dark black, much to my suprise, like learning Rick Astley was white. Nice lacing, khaki creamy head. Leaves a sticky icky ring around the collar lacing. Like ZZ top, she's got legs.

Smells like bananas, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, citrus, and can pick up that oak smell like abyss has. Again, suprised with this one, like the versatility Delroy Lindo shows as being star of screen and stage.

Tastes like the bottle says. "artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange" Got some bitterness in there from the hops and alkeyhaul.

Can't wait to see how this one ages, I think it will be really good. It will be a good changeup after the light crispness of 06-08 on 12.12.12. (809 characters)

Photo of jjayjaye
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque darkness with a full finger loose light brown head that fades slowly leaving a good amount of Belgian lacing behind. The smell is more like an American Porter...roasted malt and chocolate. The flavor is the same...not satisfying my BSDA jones at all. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice ale, but nothing special. It has a nice hoppy zing to the aftertaste that lingers nicely. It has a little warmth to it too. I've got one set aside for a few months down the road. We'll see about it then. This one's gotta drain though. Where is my complex dark fruity thing? (572 characters)

Photo of hardy008
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark black color with a dark tan head with a lot of small tight bubbles. Nice retention on the head. Smells of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, caramel, and dark fruit. The coffee smell does not seem to fit the style, but still smells good. Seems more like a Porter.

The flavor has coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruit, and there is a little bit of smoke. Very interesting. Fairly smooth to drink with a medium body and good carbonation. Nicely drinkable, even if it is not exactly to style. (489 characters)

Photo of beagle75
3.54/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Draft service into a half-pint goblet at Stone Bistro.

A: Opaque black, showing dark brown at the edges, with over one finger of diminishing beige foam head. Heavy lacing remains on the glass.

S: Raw, husky grain with a tang of lactic acidity. The presence of roast on the malt is surprisingly lacking in the smell, considering the dark appearance. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins dry, briefly fruity before distinctly cheesy and fungal yeast flavors take over. Husky roasted malt also contributes, becoming more apparent (along with a more neutral variety of umami) in the middle. The finish is still malty, low in bitterness, with some papery flavors also developing. No alcohol is detected.

M: Medium viscosity, balanced on the palate, with low carbonation.

D: This is a beer that creates interest for it with every sip. Not content to suffice with a strong dark ale tasting of dark fruit, wood smoke, or coffee/chocolate, Stone elected for a different approach. The Belgian yeast used here take this beer in an unexpected direction, making it memorably cheesy at first, but ultimately delivering a dry and savory experience resembling that of very few other beverages. If this beer was more common it would be worthwhile to test the limits of its food-pairing potential during many decadent sessions. (1,311 characters)

Photo of msubulldog25
3.54/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From a 22 oz. bottle, an annual ritual. The first pour went to a typical pint glass; after that success, the second filled a wide-mouthed 'Chimay' goblet.

A: The look is a stunner; so dark it appears 'black' at first glance. Closer inspection showsdeep, alluring mocha with traces of glowing ruby. Head is a thick mound of tan meringue, taking over 5 minutes to drop from its 2-finger apex to a thin coating sheet. Lace is strong, a webwork of sponge-like blots.

S: Strength of the aroma burst straight out the bottle, cascading as it poured; A+ for vigor. Make-up is an oddity, though, one that both delights and confuses (and, at moments, repulses) my sense of smell. Smoky wood hits first, wrapped around a slightly vinegared dark fruit (raisins, prunes - but not sweet). Dark chocolate, and more smoke (bacon? definitely meaty...). Not picking up any of the orange peel, the vanilla beans or tropical fruit (all of which are noted in the description). Hmmm...

T: Pow! A punishing jolt of burnt malt, the driest/bitterest of chocolates. Wasn't expecting so many hops to show, a spicy greenness and a juicy citrus. Allowed to warm for 30 minutes, then an hour - the chocolate 'burn' mellowed and a slight 'tropical' toasted coconut came out (aged in French Oak explains that), but very little vanilla or gentler spice. A 'Belgian Strong Dark'? Only by the loosest of terms...

M: Mouthfeel is on the heavy side, as it coats the cheeks and tongue with a malt-bitter blanket. Some tingling carbonation and a spice residue. Finish is pronounced, could still taste an hour later. 9% ABV needs time to mellow.

D: Really tough to drink right now; it's hot and heavy with alcohol and heavy, taste bud-killing flavor. Anyone who is giving high drinkability scores right now either has a much different palate than me or is drinking a different beer altogether. Will return to this in a year (a couple more were bought to be cellared) to see how it mellows, but on 10.04.09 the 09.09.09 has a ways to go... (2,004 characters)

Photo of wspscott
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Pazzo's in a pint glass

A: Completely black with a tan head that leaves lots of lace
S: A little bit of sweetness with a hint of belgian yeast, relatively muted
T: Very roasty, some bitter hops and dark/bitter chocolate. As it warms up, the roast malts completely dominate. I think, a little too much on the roasty side. Like an unbalanced (too roasty) porter
M: A high level of carbonation helps to off-set the "thicker/creamy" malts.
D: A very complex beer on the surface, not easy to drink, but ultimately feels like it lacks depth. Definitely worth trying, but I don't think I will reach for a second one. This is a weird beer, feels unbalanced, maybe better with some age. (688 characters)

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 535 ratings.