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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

536 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 536
Hads: 855
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 13.3%
Wants: 35
Gots: 281 | 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: 536 | Hads: 855
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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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Photo of DaveJanssen
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Split a 22, poured into globe. Reviewed 9/23/2009.

Ar: spice, orange, chocolate and coffee, smooth powdery floral, lightly chalky, dark caramel/toffee, light plum, tobacco, clove, gingerbread and molasses cookies

Ap: whipped tan head, rocky, good retention, black with brown highlights

F: roast and burn, dark fruit, dark chocolate, candied orange, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, raisin, a lot going on, reasonably balanced but sweet throughout, definitely different than other stone beers in balance and yeast character, gingerbread and molasses, reminds me of holiday beers like anchor christmas

M: full mouthfeel, thicker than most belgian beers, med/high carbonation, light alc warmth, finish slightly rough

O: not something i would have very often but enjoyable, good for sipping, the candied orange character and spice come across too much for me

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Photo of Anthony1
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a very dark brown color with good carbonation and a tannish head. Nose is spice, light on alcohol, vanilla, cocoa and a belgian yeast strain with some hops. Taste is so nice with cinnamon, spice, some citrus, bitter chocolate, tobacco..alot going on yet balanced ad the ABV is well hidden. Mouthfeel is nice, not to hefty or alcoholic but thought it would have been a little creamier. The spice, cocoa showed through.

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Photo of corby112
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even th slight touch of amber edges when held to a light source and a 1.5 finger frothy tan head that slowly fades into a lasting ring that leaves sporadic chunks of dark lacing.

Chocolate malt aroma with a peppery spiciness, dark fruit notes, chocolate and vanilla bean, citrus peel and subtle hops. There is a nice roasted character with some hints of burnt toast. Slightly minty with subtle earthy oak.

Chewy fuller end of medium body with a slight roasty smokey maltiness and burnt toast. Lots of silky chocolate with hints of spicy peppery mint as well as some light citrus fruit and earthy oak. There are some subtle dark fruit notes as well with smooth vanilla beans. Slightly yeasty with some bread notes and subtle ripe banana. The tangerine citrus is very subtle are way overpowered by the dominant spice character as well as the darker fruits and roasted malt. Also a bit of alcohol burn warmth in the dry finish.

This beer is unique and complex but they probably overreached on this one, adding too much to truly appreciate the chocolate covered citrus(tangerine) flavor they were going for. The spice character, especially is way overdone.

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Photo of jsh420
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours dark brown with ruby highlights - big 2+ finger tan head that leaves plenty of lacing

smell is ok - smells more like a wit then a strong dark - it has some dark fruit (figs) but not a lot

taste - wow this beer is not even close to a belgian strong dark - lots of chocolate and tobacco - at the very end i get the dark fruity malts - while the taste is good i marked it down

mouthfeel is medium - again most belgians have some life unless they are aged for a while - this is more like a stout very low on carbonation and very smooth and creamy

drinkability is so so - i doubt i would buy this again

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown/black color with a good sized tan head, lingers for quite awhile and leaves a cap on top, fair amount of lacing.

Smell is mostly roasted malt and a bit of a metallic presence.

Taste is well carbonated, feels a bit on the thin side though, roasted malt is the primary flavor with an odd bitter aftertaste, kind of coffee-ish but not as pleasant.

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Photo of OldSchoolGamer
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The Stone Vertical series continues with this new release. A Belgian style Imperial Porter. Here is my review:

A: Pours a deep black. Pretty thick looking. Head sticks around nicely and leaves nice lacing.

S/T: The Belgian character is the first thing I notice on the nose. Yeast and spice. Along with that is a very smokey and roasted character. The aroma is a little lacking in intensity. The taste is also somewhat lacking. The beer is very smokey with a nice roastyness. A little coffee. The Belgian character is just as prominant as the Porter characteristics. Yeast and spice. Maybe some brown sugar in there with a touch of cherry. Somewhat metallic. Its definetly a unique beer, but doesn't come together as well as I would like. Seems more like a Yin and Yang with the Porter and Belgian characteristics.

M/D: Nice and creamy mouthfeel. Thicker than a lot of stouts I have had. Pretty smooth drinking beer. I could drink a bomber, but not something I would want to revisit often.

I have very fond memories of Stones 08.08.08 because that is the day I turned 21, the legal drinking age. I remember that one being superior to this. This is okay, but it just lacked the quality and flavor blending I have come to expect from great craft brewers.

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Photo of himmelhuber
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer is black, nice brown foam, looks yummy!
Smell is sweet, little tangerine, little coffee, it as almost a smokey smell, lots of roasted malts.
Taste is very intense, almost overwhelming, malty, sweet, but well balanced with a lot of hops and malt bitterness.
Mouthfeel is as the taste a bit overwhelming but carbonation is good. It was no problem finishing one pint, but I did not get a second one, that would have been to much.
I think this one will get a lot better over time, it needs to mellow out a bit, now its just to much of everything.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Black with ruby highlights and 2 fingers of tan head. A thick looking head that looks like you could float a quarter on it leaves spotty lacing.

S - Oak with a touch of smoke, chocolate with citrus and orange, some holiday spices.

T - Malty with some bitterness, light banana, chocolate, citrus, vanilla and a touch of smoke.

M - Medium body with good carbonation and a lingering bitterness.

D - Interesting beer when you read the bottle but I don't think the flavors mix together very well.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

a - Pours a very dark brown color, almost black, with one finger of tan head that lasts for several minutes and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of toasted malts, roasted malts, chocolate, bready malts, and a little smokey.

t - Tastes of chocolate, roasted malts, smoke, toasted malts, hints of fruit and coffee.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A decent beer but smelled and tasted more like a porter to me. Didn't really get much Beglian spice/yeast or fruits at all. Have another bottle I'll hold onto until 2012.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.59/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this sometime at the end of 2012, as part of a 03.03.03 - 12.12.12 tasting. I had meant to enter these a while ago while they were fresh and add a few extra details, but that didn't happen. Review from notes. Anyway, here we go.

3.0 A: Black color. Not much of a head.

4.0 S: Nose on this is quite impressive. Semi-sweet tangerine peel, oak, chocolate. Herbal and earthy hoppiness. Caramel and lots of spiciness.

3.5 T: Like the nose, but not as impressive.

3.5 M: Medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Lightly creamy. Good here.

3.5 D: Good enough. This tastes like palate fatigue.

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Photo of mikey711
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I guess it is pretty fitting to enjoy this beer today.

It a very dark brown that cannot be seen through with a big tan two finger thick head. The head is very lacing, taking plenty of time to simmer.

S: Chocolate vanilla, some wheat perhaps, roastiness, fruitiness. Many things going on at once.

T: The first sip was quite a surprise. While there are alot of different aromas, it wasn't all that intense. This however was a bit like a punch in the face with big bold flavors of coffee, chocolate, vanilla. There is a nice bittern roastiness in the back ground and some fruitiness to go along with it.

M: Pretty hot. This one was fun to try but needs some time to mature. The flavors are very intense at this point.

D: I wish I had someone to share this with.

Overall, I think this was a very young beer that clearly needs more time to mellow out.

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Photo of VinnyA
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bottle from Capone's in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

A - One-finger brown head with good retention, opaque and black in color, lacing on glass.

S - Bread, sugar, chocolate and raisins

T - Had a bready taste to it, hints of toffee, some dark fruit and an alcohol taste on the back end that lingered a little bit.

M - Low carbonation, smooth, not very heavy for such a dark beer. Dry finish

O - Definitely a winter warmer. The alcohol taste is not masked well, but this is compensated by the flavor that is present as it hits the tongue. Not an overly "heavy" beer. I've sampled each Epic from '06-12 and for the darker styles, this one is only slightly above "average" for the series. the '06 is the more superior "Belgian Strong Dark Ale", in my opinion. Porter is probably a more accurate classification for this brew. A pleasure to try, but likely won't revisit this, if presented with the opportunity in the future.

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Photo of Zorro
3.61/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black colored beer with a strong brown head. This looks much more like a stout to me.

Strong chocolate scent and roasted malt with spices added. Spice is mostly cloves with a little ginger. Additional scents of vanilla and Irish Crème.

Starts out spice and deeply roasted malt. Spice actually tickles the tongue here. Very much like a Black and Tan made with Belgian Strong Pale Ale and Guinness Extra Stout. Not super flavorful but smooth.

Mouthfeel is smooth and silky.

An OK beer but not one I will lust for. This is just OK.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.61/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours a dark dark brown, much darker than I thought it would be with a 2 finger light tan head, great lace. It looked like motor oil coming out. Impressive.

S: Chocolate covered oranges, light vanilla, wood.

T: Dominated by dark chocolate, lots of coffee-style roast bitterness that I wasn't the hugest fan of but didn't take over the beer. Tangerine, lemon and vanilla are secondary and don't really come out until the finish. Full flavoured.

M: Creamy, milkshake like, full-bodied, spot on carbonation, very well done.

D: This has the potential to be really good by 2012 when everything has a chance to meld together, it's a bit one-dimensional on my palate right now. Solid, but not great stout type beer right now.

December 2012 Edit - I was right, the beer melded together and is a much better drink right now. Orangey chocolate with a chai like spice on the nose. Similar character in the flavour, very light carbonation. Real good stuff. The best of the aged so far.

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Photo of yemenmocha
3.61/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with tan head that is modest in size, and retains a thin layer. Nose is somewhat restrained & not so assertive as far as Stone beers go, even with allowing the ale to warm up to ideal drinking temps. Soft chocolate aromas dominate with some of the vanilla bean behind the chocolate.

Palate offers a big chocolate flavor with some of the subtle fruits in the background, and a fair amount of bitterness towards the finish and through the long aftertaste. I see where they're going with the "artisanal chocolate orange" but it's just mostly chocolate and bitterness.

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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 536 ratings.