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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

839 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 839
Reviews: 533
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 34
Gots: 274 | FT: 14
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:
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 added by: superdedooperboy on 09-08-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 839 | Reviews: 533 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jacobseyb
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter. Dark brown, slightly opaque. Tan head of about 3 fingers, laces nicely throughout. Initial malt tones in the aroma followed by peppery spiciness, with some slight citrus notes. Taste is peppery and spicy, with the malts balancing nicely. Feels smooth with a crisper finish, and light carbonation. Very drinkable and enjoyable.

Photo of billshmeinke
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Duvel tulip. I've had a few of these, but this is the first time I've gotten around to reviewing it.

Pours a VERY dark brown, so dark it looks black. Fat three finger bubbly tan head. Takes quite awhile to die down. Five minutes have gone by and still there's like a half a finger of head. Finally dies down to a soupy layer of foam on top with really crucial lacing.

Smells of coco, vanilla, banana bread and some slight citrus hops bitterness.

It taste of dark chocolate, some vanilla beans come through. Also some bananas, some spiciness, and some bread-i-ness from the Belgian yeast. Citrusy bitterness that is probably part tangerine peel and part hops. Some lingering smokiness. I almost get some oak flavor as well.

The mouthfeel is full bodied. Slightly viscous. Well carbonated which helps with the the full body of this one. Prickly, assertive bubbles. Decently smooth.

I honestly forgot how good this beer is. I can still get it pretty easily, and I think I might buy a bunch to age. I've only had the good fortune to try 08 and 09 of the Stone Vertical Epic series, but damn, I don't know how the other vintages are, but it is hard for me to imagine that the blow this one out of the water. Stone kills it, nuff said.

Photo of AsymptoticOrbit
5/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Dark brown with thin dark tan head.

S - Dark fruit with a hint of sweetness.

T - Lots of chocolate with dark fruit. Not much hops. Hints of Belgian spices. Finish is reminiscent of coffee.

M - Smooth and robust.

D - I love this beer. It's definitely delicious and very drinkable. I'll open another in a few years to see how it ages.

Photo of thisisxxmyIPA
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark brown with a dark tan head that pours thin but lasts

S- Citrus and dark fruits with dark malts

T- Heavy chocolate malt with dark fruit Belgian flavors from the yeast. Finishes a bit more roasty than I would have expected. Low hop flavors. The Belgian flavors battle with the dark malts. Dark malts seem to dominate the Belgian flavors too much.

M- Creamy at first then thins.

D- Very drinkable, just not as impressive as I would have hoped it had been.

Photo of scottfrie
2.98/5  rDev -27%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a very dark brown with two fingers of foamy light brown-orange head that reduced down into a thick film leaving some streaky lacing.
S: Dark fruits and Belgium spices. Slight sweetness and faint yeast. Not potent smelling.
T: Woody, toasted grains, some fruit, hints of Belgium spices, with some alcohol notes. Leaves a dark coffee aftertaste in your mouth. Also has chocolate notes, especially in the aftertaste. None of these flavors are huge however. Aftertaste is slightly off-putting.
M: Surprisingly thin. Not much flavor either. Has a predominantly toasted flavor.
D: This might be an okay porter, but this was a very unimpressive Belgium strong dark ale. Not much flavor was present and it has a disappointingly thin body. Flavor was surprisingly toasted without a lot of sweet fruits, spices or yeast. This beer didn't have much of a smell either. What flavors were present were decent though. I was pretty let down by this Stone offering.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.55/5  rDev -13%
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.

Photo of cratez
3.3/5  rDev -19.1%
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.

Photo of sitarist
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice deep plum color, a shade away from black, almost opaque. The head is an inch thick and falls quickly to a ring consisting of huge bubbles that leave some decent lacing.

The smell of this beer is wonderful and inviting. The first thing you smell is chocolate, its a sweet chocolate, there are some sweet fruit scents as well (banana, grapes, and a hint of citrus).

It taste wine-like to me, it has fruity flavor, with faint hints of coco. The hops add a tannin like bitterness. This could use some time for the flavors to marry.

Medium body that packs a punch, its dry and has an almost astringent finish.

The drinkability is high and they don't even recommend opening this beer until at least 12-12-12.

Photo of gawylou
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

[A collaborative review with relenamor]

Appearance: Dark like a fine Dutch licorice, opaque as the antithesis of a polished window. The head: macchiato tan.

Smell: Sweet and toasty, i.e. campfire s'more, but only barely so, the sweet aromas were only discernible upon repeated nasal inhalations.

Taste: In chronological order: alcohol, belgian yeast, coffee. With a bitter hoppy finish. I must note the slight chocolate flavor, reminiscent of 80% cocoa Varlhona chocolate.

Mouth-feel: A shade syrupy, and lightly carbonated. As though my mother placed tiny frolicking angels on my sunday morning pancakes.

Drinkability: Exorbitantly alcoholic tasting for only an 8.6% beer. Prior to reading the bottle, I was stumbling about attempting to pounce upon with the nearest female. Later, as a friend read me the percentage, I felt a stone cold soberness fall upon me. I felt like a fool.

Overall, save your money for some Don Perignon and fresh caviar from the seas of Iran. If you prefer to expend your capital on fine ales, may I recommend Stone's Imperial Russian Stout.

Photo of BarBEERian
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

When I think of Belgian dark ales, I think of a slightly muddied version of an amber-at least a beer I can see a glimmer of light through. However, after pouring a pint of the 09.09.09, I already knew I was being slightly deceived by the title on the bottle: this was a porter or stout. It poured a delicious-looking midnight black color with a head that erupted like a volcano into a fluffy and succulent light brown froth.

The smell wasn't overpowering, though, with just a slight touch of cocoa and some sweeter citrus notes. The taste was immediately velvety soft, with a touch of vanilla bean and oaky-alcohol hitting up front. The following touches included sprinklings of orange zest, lemon, a thick yeasty layer, and the light finishing power of toned-down malt. Further sips revealed a boozier profile than I initially noted, with the smooth and filmy mouthfeel really becoming noticeable. As the beer warmed, the booze became even more pronounced, but the flavors seemed to separate even more. What was once a nice and subtle transition from vanilla and malt to citrus, was now a noticeable change, and the finishing notes were even more removed from the middle flourishes, with an abrupt and unwelcome splash of malt shielding the now odd citrus sprinklings.

Photo of mountdew1
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a dark opaque brown, with a 1 finger light brown head. The head lasted for a long time, and clung to the sides well. Aroma reminded me of a chocolate stout. Small amounts of bitterness and burnt spiciness were also evident. Taste was a sweet slightly bitter milk chocolate, with a bit of white bread/all purpose flour in the end. Felt a bit off in the mouth. It was slightly dry, otherwise coated well and felt good. Surprisingly easy to drink, went down way faster than it should have.

Photo of JoePat
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown almost black with a light tan head that sticks around.
Smells mostly of chocolate with some toasted malts and a slight bit of orange zest.
The main flavor is bitter chocolate with chalky malt taste.
The mouthfeel is dry and chalky but sweet.
This beer tastes great and is really smooth making for a very drinkable beer.

Photo of semibaked
2.17/5  rDev -46.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Black with about a 1inch of so of light colored head .

S - Chocolate malts, molasses, but no whiff of tangerine peel or vanilla bean like the bottle says.

T - Very bitter tasting, definitely unpleasant like concentrate citrus peel and bad almost burnt chocolate.

M - Nice and full bodied, easily the best part of this montrosity.

D - Pretty much no drinkability for this beer, I just can't get over the bitterness. Very disappointed, I usually really like Stone beers too.

Photo of hardy008
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

Photo of Arbitrator
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chilled bottle into a glass. I was saving this for a vertical tasting, but seriously... it's never going to happen. Time to start plowing through these.

A: Pours a very, very dark brown (with associated translucence at the edges), appearing nearly black in the glass. Light beige head consisting of large bubbles that leave a foamy cap and collar on the brew.

S: Roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, a nice woodsiness, and spice.

T: The Belgian part has been mostly overpowered here; it drinks like a really nice porter. Coffee, crushed cacao beans, a leafy, tannic bitterness, and vanilla. A small citric character that could be hops or the tangerine peel that Stone claimed to throw in there -- but it's really restrained, and works very well with the chocolate (I was honestly expecting a clash). I don't get any of the influence of the Belgian yeast in here, besides a little phenolic spice bite in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied, but full in flavor. Carbonation is higher than I'd expect in a porter, which is a nod to the Belgian influence and bottle conditioning. Restrained ABV.

D: I was apprehensive about trying this, because I don't think chocolates and orange flavors (which were strongly advertised) go well together. The actual execution is better than I expected. My hat is off to Stone.

Photo of jsh420
3.55/5  rDev -13%
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

Photo of SanAnMan
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - dark, rich, and bold. Deep black with a thin, foamy white head. Poured into a Belgian-style snifter. Although light, the foam stays through and adheres slightly to the glassware.

S - roasted coffee comes through at first, followed by bits of dark chocolate and burnt wood. Continued whiffs bring memories of a good quality dark chocolate bar. I'm quickly falling in love here.

T - ok, the dark roasted notes I mentioned earlier SCREAM out loud in the taste. Slightly bittersweet, with taste of dark cocoa and a strong earthy balance. A nice mellow alcohol taste comes through in the finish, with some dryness. Really good stuff here.

M - the dark hues make it hard to take on too much of this beer at once. But if you take the time and appreciate a good quality porter, this is one to enjoy. The alcohol content provides a nice warmth to a very savory beer.

T - as someone who LOVES porters and stouts, this is a must try, even if it is in limited release. I wouldn't have even known this was brewed in a Belgian style if I hadn't known any better. Classic porter flavors that borders into stout characteristics. If you like your beer big, black, and bold, you gotta give this a try.

Photo of plaid75
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Chip Shop, Brooklyn, NYC.

Poured a deep black hue with a half finger foamy tan head there was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured a roasted malt and slight ester.

The taste consisted of a full roasted malt, some smoke, a touch of sugar and a bit of ester.

The mouthfeel was full and finished dry.

Overall a tasty delight.

Photo of ZorPrime
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ok, Stone is a very good brewery and colleagues at work know that I'm a big fan. One colleague offered me this beauty as a gift!

The color is dark black. This looks like a stout. The head is brown and very nice looking. It sticks quite well to the glass too. Almost perfect to my eyes. In the aroma, I get some yeasts which is typical of belgian beers. Chocolates notes too and some hops (Stone always some hops in the aroma).

On the taste side, it is chocolaty with some espresso notes. Nice bitterness which reminds me of espresso coffee. Moreover, I get some fruity/banana notes but not too strong. I would say the taste is complex. Oh yeah, I get some spicy notes too... my god this a complex beer! Awesome.

The body of this beer is medium with some carbonation that is present in the mouth. Also, the taste lingers in the mouth for quite a long time. Good mouthfeel.

Overall this is almost prefect! I don't know how somebody could hold on this one until 2012... impossible!

Photo of djaeon
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a standard pint glass. Has a dark amber/red color when pouring. Finished with a one finger head that dissipates after about a minute. Leaves a good amount of lacing.

S: Smells a bit spicy. Peppery hints maybe?

T: To me, this seems to have a big hop taste up front, which is followed by a sort of bitter bakers chocolate flavor.

M: This has a moderate amount of carbonation, with an excellent mouthfeel.

D: More drinkable than the last couple VE's.

Photo of avalon07
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had an appropriately dark color and impenetrable consistency. There was a half inch of light brown colored head and very good lacing.

S: A good aroma of coffee, chocolate, malt and some other spices.

T: This beer had a big taste that reminded more of a porter than of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Dark chocolate, coffee, malt, mild spices, and some other indeterminate ingredients. Complex, with lots of focus.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a very dry finish.

D: Another extremely drinkable beer from Stone.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Polished mahogany with black cherry highlights when viewed with late afternoon sunshine behind the glass. The golden brown sugar colored crown isn't Belgianesque, but it's close. The foam is lightly creamy and marshmallow sticky, which is leading to lots of eye pleasing lace.

So this is what a Belgian Imperial porter smells like. It doesn't seem that different from an American Imperial porter since the Belgian yeast isn't going great guns.... at least where the aroma is concerned. Dark chocolate and coffee are easily appreciated, but the more exotic ingredients (see below) aren't. It's still wonderful smelling beer.

Vertical Epic 09.09.09 doesn't quite measure up to the recent excellence of this series. Having said that, there's still more than 20 ounces to go and a whole lot more time to be impressed. At least the spiciness of the Belgian yeast has made an appearance on the palate.

Regarding style, Belgian Imperial porter or Belgian stout work as well as anything. There is too much roasted malt for it to be a BSDA. In any case, the beer isn't as complex as its ingredients list would suggest. Still, Stone deserves kudos for brewing (slightly) outside the box. No 'same old, same old' for these guys.

Specifics include chocolate wafer cookies, dark caramel, black tea leaves, ground clove, black pepper, vanilla beans and several staves worth of oak. Tangerine peel is nowhere to be found. In addition, there's a surprising amount of bitterness for a beer that is approaching six months of age. Alcohol masking is expertly done.

The mouthfeel barely hangs onto the score seen above. More heft and more creaminess would have made it a solid 4.0 rather than a tenuous one. The bubbles are slightly harsh early and settle down nicely in the bottom half of the bomber.

Stone Vertical Epics from 2005 to 2008 were outstanding. Unfortunately, this 2009 version doesn't quite reach that level of excellence. My hopes aren't high that it will improve by the 2012 vertical tasting, but stranger things have happened.

Photo of Onenote81
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 2/15/10.

Bottle poured into a tulip glass. Pours a very thick dark black. No light is getting through this beer at all. A decent-sized tan head rests on top. Great retention; left lots of webbing on the glass. Scents of chocolate malts, some yeast, mulch, dark breads, and slight booze.

Great deep body here. Moderately carbonated with a rich full finish. Complex flavors including dark chocolate, black coffee, pipe tobacco, light yeast, and just hints of the booziness I found in the nose. This wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was surprising. What a treat! I've got another bottle I'm going to sit on awhile. I'm interested to see how some of these flavors develop.

Photo of projectflam86
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep dark brown, almost black, color with a thick frothy foam head that leaves nice rings of lace.

S- Aromas of roasted malt and spices are dominate with a slight earthy must.

T- Huge flavors of smoked peat, tobacco, burn brown sugar, chocolate malt, caramel, and a touch of alcohol in the finish. Nice and complex.

M- Medium bodied with a generous helping of carbonation. The alcohol is hidden pretty well with only a slight warming effect on the way down.

D- Overall a very tasty brew with loads of flavor.

Photo of Xul
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown with a one finger tan head, leaving behind some solid lacing.

S: Predominant aromas of chocolate and banana with a bit of roastiness in back, along with a slight hint of coffee and some caramel. Bitterness comes from the chocolate and coffee along with some earthy hoppiness.

T: Massive amounts of roastiness up front, giving way to a complex mix of flavors through the middle and int othe back. Chocolate comes through later along with some orange zest and caramel. Coffee-ish bitterness comes through, leaving a well-balanced aftertaste.

M: Smooth with medium carbonation, coats the tongue well.

D: Immensely drinkable for the style and gravity, could definitely drink a few of these if not for the rarity factor.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 839 ratings.