Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic AleStone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

840 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 840
Reviews: 533
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 35
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
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Ratings: 840 | Reviews: 533 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of alkemy
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown. Opaque, even when held in direct light. I was able to see an auburn color on the edges of the glass. About a finger and a half of darkish tan head. Thin film stayed on top throughout the entire glass with lacing all the way down. Smells of vanilla, bitter chocolate, banana, and a hint of black licorice. Bitter chocolate in the taste along with oranges and spicy wood. Has a nice warm finish, but was never boozy. Very interesting, there is a lot going on here. I'm thinking I'm gonna to have to go get another bottle and try the aging thing.

Photo of apbarwood
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black with a cappuccino head of foam that doesn't quit. Smell was pleasant and strong. What was there was great though, lots of chocolate, caramel, and vanilla type flavors with a citrus layer underneath (I think they use tangerine peels) and a pleasant whiff of bananas and clove. The malt flavors really come to life on the palate. The chocolate and caramel notes are accentuated nicely by the smoothness of the vanilla and the use of oak really makes them all pop. The tangerine flavor that lurks beneath acts as a counterbalance, providing some additional bitterness and a nice fruit flavor that blends perfectly with the malt. The hops are strong but integrated masterfully with the malt and fruit flavors. I could drink this one all day long. Highly recommended.

Photo of OldSchoolGamer
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

Photo of felipe2toes
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a thick and creamy tan head that slowly receded into some nice lacing.

Smelled mostly of coffee and chocolate, and a little smoke as well. Though I detected more dark fruit aroma as it warmed.

Tasted as it smelled, though the chocolate notes were more of a bitter chocolate on the palate. Roasted malt flavors and coffee were present too, as there was also a nice smoky aftertaste. I really liked how the flavors developed as the beer warmed.

Smooth bitter chocolate provided for a chewy mouthfeel, good carbonation as well.

Even with the high ABV, I found this to be very drinkable. Finished the bomber on my own, and found myself wanting more. Definitely want to try again after some aging.

Photo of IBUnit63
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Allowed this one to breathe quite a bit and poured it into a Duvel tulip...

Develops a very nice head - a full finger of maple/brown sugar goodness...very dough-like and gelatinous. Nice! Lacing and retention aren't bad, either. Body is dark and viscous...mildly espresso-like. Solid.

It seems as if the more it warms the more prominent the tangering peel is. Very good. The chocolate is well-refined and while in the background provides a creamy scent with a fair amount of bittersweet that plays well off the chocolate. I forget the candies my parents used to get back in the day but there was something shaped like an orange, but it was chocolate with infused orange and zest. Reminds me of this. Malt is roasted well and plays off some gentle hop pine. Belgian yeast strain creates a nice abbey feel to it all.

The creaminess hits the palate and brings along very solid chocolate malt flavors. Essence/zest is a little more quiet on the palate than on the nose. Hop profile adds in some grass to the aforementioned pine. Tannins from the dark-roasted malt are very soft but they engage the ever-increasing grassiness of the hops to provide solid synergies.

Palate feel on this one can't be improved too much. It has the hop bite and a little dryness but the creaminess of the chocolate and associated malt really smooth this to a velvet touch. Maybe a little lighter weight than desired but that is a minor beef. Spiciness of Belgian yeast and...Special B maybe (?)...really play this one up well.

Right about now I'm mentally smasing a newspaper over my head for not saving any of the VEs prior to 2007, 'cause I vaguely remember how enjoyable they were. Ahhh, whaddayagonnado. Either way, I enjoyed this one more than last year's upon release but I really should go back and snag yet another 08.08.08 to see how it's coming along. This one has a greater richness and creaminess that is nicely enjoyed.

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

A- Dark brown coffee, tan head, attractive pour. Healthy, billowing head on this one.

S- I pick up barrel/smoke qualities on top of roasted malts, sugary sweetness, and a fruity essence.

T- A smoky, roasted brew. Tastes like a chocolate rauchbier. Hmm. I like it. Mild spice/sweet notes, not sure if its the tangerine zest or whatever, but its good times.

M- Moderate carbonation but it works for the beer.

D- Moderate but enjoyable. I was pleasantly suprised by this beer, it definitely impressed me. I will be buying more of this.

Photo of dwilson01
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this in a 22oz bomber, drank straight out of the bottle first and then poured the rest into a glass
Very dark ale by appearance, definitely cannot see through this beer when poured into a glass, it seriously looks beautiful.
The scent brings a solid citrus accompanied with other fruity flavors tingling on the nostrils, very reminiscent of a wheat beer in this respect and enticing.
The taste differs quite a bit when drank straight from the bottle as opposed to drining out of a glass. For me the bottle yeilded a solid spiciness right off the bat much like an ipa but at the same time this idea was muted by the dark sweet malt which is ever present when drank from a glass. Honestly, this beer is recognizably a stone without a doubt, it retains the intensity of one of theirs as well as the subtleness of that a belgian brew requires...can't really say enough about the flavor except try it! Basically if you like the Stone style and have enjoyed some Belgian beer give this a shot and I guarantee you will not be dissapointed. I'm interested but not motivated enough to see how this beer ages, 2012 is a long time and it would have to be "F-ing" good to age it that long for me, but good luck if you are attempting such a feat!

Photo of aewinte1
3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a very dark brown with minimal 1" head.
S- Smell is of alcohol, coffee, chocolate, and spices.
T- taste is somewhat boozy with strong hits of coffee and chocolate. Some belgian ale style spiciness can be detected also. Warm going down, but very tasty.
M- Not that carbonated, but feels crisp enough.
D- Taste is a little boozy, but it drinks very smooth. A little warm going down from the alcohol, but not that big of a deal.

Photo of kegger22
3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown with a moderate head that faded to fat collar. The aroma was coffee and chocolate. The taste closely followed the aroma, chocolate and coffee. I had also heard rumors of chocolate covered oranges and I thought that would have been interesting, but I couldn't find the oranges in aroma or flavor. The feel was medium bodied with a reasonable, not overwhelming, amount of carbonation. Drinkability was good. Overall, this is not a typical BSDA, and I am a little disappointed with 09.09.09. I was really looking forward to the rumored marriage of oranges and chocolate. However, I am going to buy two more bottles and cellar for 1 year and 2 years. Based on the fresh taste, I'm pretty sure I can wait.

BTW, the 4.0 might be a little generous for taste.

Photo of rye726
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours near black with a creamy tan head. Good lacing. Nose has cocoa, orange, Belgian yeast, oak, fruity malts and vanilla. Taste has chocolate malts, dark fruits, vanilla, citrus, herbal hops and peppery yeast. Creamy body is well carbonated. Well done Stone, way to keep things interesting.

Photo of Zorro
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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

Have had this since last Friday and am finally having it.

Appearance - Pours a very dark chocolate giving way to a nice finger of fluffy mocha colored head. The head dissipates relatively fast and leaves light lacing - looks "pretty."

Smell - I can straight away smell chocolate followed by coffee notes, toffee, a fruitiness (orange peel), vanilla, and some malt.

Taste - Begins with a bit of bitterness from the hops and orange peel (citrus). This is immediately followed by the chocolate/coffee flavors followed with almost a smokey and earthy aftertaste. This is pretty complex to be honest. I'm getting quite a bit out of this.

Mouthfeel - Pretty smooth. Decent carbonation - light to medium bodied. I would have pegged this to be a bit more full but in actuality it is great how it is.

Drinkability - Relatively so. A very odd mixed brew imo. Not quite porter - a bit of hops I can taste. But as for ease of Drinkability - I can't taste the alcohol in this and for almost a 9% abv...yikes. Smooth and tasty. I'm enjoying this on a nice quiet evening outside on the porch. Good brew.

Photo of Goldfish19
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

~Purchased this 22 oz bomber from Big Z Beverage in Huntington, NY. Wow! Does this beer have an identity crisis going on here or what? It's a Belgian Strong Ale, but no wait, its a porter, but wait again, it's a stout! I am a little muddle-headed as to which way Stone wanted to go with this offering? Well, I checked out Stone's website, and it is best described as a Belgian style Imperial Porter; so I guess I will go with that for now.

A strong smokey aroma, almost as if someone snuck a charcoal briquette into my glass when I was not looking. Also, I detect hints of dark chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. The taste is absolutely mind-blowing! There is so much going on here that after the first few sips it almost doesn't make sense, so I let the beer sit for a while, and things started coming together.

This beer reminded me a lot of Cazeau Tournay Noire, which just so happens to be a true Belgian Stout - go figure! ~

Photo of vacax
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another down, three more to go.

Pours pure black with a moderately large mocha head. High retention and plenty of lacing. Thick layer of foam sits for quite some time. Looking pretty pretty pretty good.

The nose comes as a surprise to me: intensely roasty, smokey, clear presence of vanilla beans, bittersweet chocolate. I cannot detect the tangerine in the nose, but a bit of bright fruity esters shine through the darkness.

The beer starts off sweet chocolate malts and an increasing torrent of smoked dark malts. Esters and dark fruits lighten the dark malts. Almost a protein-like quality to the beer, maybe smoked salmon. Vanilla. Finish is bitter roasted coffee and maybe a hint of that citrus I heard so much about. Cookie and biscuit character lingers. I think this is a nice beer, hard to believe this was pitched as a chocolate orange, tastes like what I might imagine a Belgian Rauchbier to be. As it warms up, more of the orange citrus quality appears in the finish.
Full, slick, body with a nice moderate carbonation that lets me really appreciate the body.

Smokey, tasty Belgian interpretation of an Imperial Porter. The citrus twang doesn't really show up until the beer is warm. A bit strong on the smoke and dark malts, but seeing as how this needs to last three years, I really look forward to seeing how this develops.

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

poured a dense brown to black into tulip with tan head. 3 fingers deep, dissipated within two minutes.

smells deeply of chocolate and coffee malts with the most subtle hints, reminiscent of a wheat ale - coriander, orange spice.

i have to disagree with the categorization of this beer as dark belgian style. it most definitely has all the makings and structure of a stout. a real mellow chocolate, reminiscent of young's dc, overflows coffee notes that interplay with orange peel, wood notes and a perfect dry finish, courtesy of the bittering hops.

gaaahhh. silky smooth and creamy mouth feel. this one just slips down the glass. such body without being cloying.

i haven't had the pleasure of becoming familiar with many of the other epics, but i gotta say, if they're anything like this one, i missed out. regardless, i think i found the perfect beer to start my cellar with.

Photo of yemenmocha
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

Photo of kylephillips
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up tonight in Blacklick

Poured from 22 oz bottle into Chimay glass

Beer is extremely dark. Just a hint of red when put under the light. The foam looks creamy, with a decent amount of head.

The smell is very intense and complex. It seems to balance somewhere between fruity and malty, with an earthy quality to it.

The taste is very well balanced. There is some brown sugar and chocolate towards the front, more brown sugar, as well as a smoky/burnt flavor towards the back. The aftertaste lingers and is bitter and smoky. The mouthfeel is medium (not as thick as it looks) and the carbonation is fairly light. There is a bite from alcohol, although some of this a very sharp hop bitterness I think.

Overall is not too dry, and not too sweet, with just enough complexity to keep it interesting. A great beer to start the fall with.

Photo of kurp001
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very deep brown with scant ruby highlights. A one finger tan head sticks around for a while before receding, with a fair amount of lacing left on the glass.

Smell consists of hints of fruit and dark chocolate, with a slight citrus presence.

The chocolate hints become more apparent after taking a sip, along with more of a spice kick and a pronounced orange peel essence. The finish is smooth, with a slight hop bitterness. As the beer warms, a coffee flavor seems to pull through as well.

The mouthfeel is full-bodied and smooth, with lively carbonation but not enough to overpower the flavors of the beer.

Drinkability is excellent for the considerable ABV, I can't really detect any sort of alcohol burn, nor do I find the strong flavors to become too much to handle at any point. I split the bomber with a friend, but I think I could have finished this myself. Overall, I'd have to say I was very happy with this beer, and am looking forward to see how it will do with a bit of age on it.

Photo of glid02
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of roasted malts with hints of dark chocolate. As it warms very light hints of dark fruits waft out but roasted malts are in control throughout.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Huge roasted malt flavors up front with hints of unsweetened chocolate. A good amount of bitterness comes in midway through the sip and intensifies through the finish. As with the smell small amounts of dark fruit flavors make an appearance as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is good. It has a solid thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I finished my glass rather quickly and could have another.

Overall I'm not sure I agree with the fact that this is a BSDA - I thought it was definitely more of a stout and even the dark fruit characteristics are eclipsed by other big stouts. Still, it's a good one and is worth a shot.

Photo of jfmorey
4.78/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured like a stout, very dark with a creamy tan head that disappeared slowly.

Good aroma of chocolate and spice, which continued in the taste with many flavors of coffee; citrus, complex but balanced.

Have two bombers, one for now one for later: can I resist until the 2012?

Photo of Halcyondays
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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

Pours dark brown with a tan head. The aroma is chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. The flavor is complex and layered with notes of chocolate, fig, oak, citrus, vanilla, and a firm bitterness on the finish. This is one unique brew, not really sure what I can compare it to. Varied flavors play off each other to perfection. Nicely done. Now, where am I going to find a second bottle?

Photo of Westsidebuddha
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought at Whole Foods Pasadena, Calif(Arroyo Parkyway)

Poured a black color with a slight head with bubbles. Slightly carbonated on top. The smell of burnt wood is noticable. Nice interesting taste on the first sip. The belgian taste is there but it's also combined by other flavors like vanilla and a slight chocolate taste. I was expecting a more heavier chocolate taste like a Hershey's bar but this works out just fine. Slight alcohol back end. Nice mouthfeel with a definite carbonation taste. This is a good Vertical Epic which seems it would get more interesting with age.
Definitely the most interesting Epic I tasted so far. I could go for a couple more of these.

Photo of Proteus93
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours black as a stout or porter, complete with a tan coloured semi-creamy head. Lacing is quite nice, and a collar rings the glass all the way down.

S: The oak scents stand out to my nose... chocolate, along with some citrus notes - orange/tangerine fruitiness. Something in there reminds me of nutmeg, but not quite. Nice, complex smelling beer.

T: Malts and citrus offering more of the zest bitterness in flavour. The oak / vanilla follows closely behind, though it smooths out to allow a bitter chocolate to finish

M + D: Carbonation is pretty much spot on for the body and flavours, and there's a bit of a slick feeling to it. There's enough going on in this beer that I feel the need to revisit it again to really feel like I got to know the brew. Very nicely done, and I look forward to more.

Photo of argock
3.45/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 840 ratings.