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: 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: 535 | Hads: 851
Photo of Jason
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bomber.

Light brown lacing wraps around the inside of the glass almost all the way down. As close to black as you can get. Chocolatey nose, dark with some burnt sugar ... Edge of citric peel and esters. Soft and smooth creamy fullish body. Dry and spicy, maltiness ranges from dark chocolate to toasted bread to light molasses. Oaky, pulls the dryness in. Citric peel, wild herbs and vanilla show a grounded complexity. Big chocolatey finish.

One of my favorites of this series, a year of cellaring did no harm either. (531 characters)

Photo of russpowell
3.86/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks to colonelforbin for this one!

Pours ebony with 2 fingers of mocha colored head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Dark fruit & some herbal hops

T: Charred wet grain, dark fruit, especially raisin & a touch of coffee up front. Dryness & coffee dominate as this warms, plus more dark fruit, leafy hops & some baker's chocolate & a touch of white pepper, vanilla & cherry. Finishes dry, fruitty & with much coffee & some cherry

MF: Fairly chewy, low carbonation & great balance

Drinks pretty easy for the ABV, not getting a ton of Belgian character here, but I didn't expect a literal interpretation from these guys anyhow. A tasty dark brew that I'd say is more of a big stout with some Belgian tendencies. One I would consider stockpiling if feasible, cuts the chill nicely! (784 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
2.91/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A local bar put this keg on draught to celebrate the completion of the Vertical Epic series. Cost was $6.00. Served on-draught into a New Belgium branded stem-goblet in Southern California in 2013. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger khaki colour head of nice cream and thickness, and very good retention for the ABV. Body colour is a nontransparent opaque solid black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Raisin, vine, spice/mulled character, caramel, dark malts, must, brown or refined sugar, buried roast, and milk. A somewhat messy aroma, but a generally appealing one. Above average in strength.

T: Vinous, medicinal, and herbal. That's a hell of a shrewd start. Dark malts and caramel in the body. Vinous on the finish. Light raisin throughout. Some spicing. Chocolate malt. Some grainy bitterness in the third act. Strange indeed. It's off-putting. Too heavy on the spices; it's a bit earthy and grainy probably from nutmeg/coriander/other spices. Messy and imbalanced in classic Stone fashion. I like the experimentation, but this didn't turn out great.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and caramel heavy. Decently carbonated. Pretty good thickness.

Dr: Drinkable but underwhelming. Even aged (albeit in a keg), it leaves a lot to be desired. I wouldn't have it again. Another merely decent offering from Stone.

(1,340 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It took me a couple months to track this one down, I really wasn't hunting it down like years past. The series lost it's appeal for me after I drank my cellar empty of the 03,04, 05, and 06 I was holding onto after I graduated nursing school. Regardless I have to try these brews fresh in case it's something that I think should be tucked away. I had good results with my last four VEs that I cellared for some time.

My birthday month, this one appears pitch black with absolutely no ruby highlights when held toward a bright light, large mocha tan head forms after a vigorous pour into my Gulden Draak chalice, dwindles slow leaves big chunky layers of lace sporadically clinging to the sides of the glass.

Nice glowing citrus peels with roasted dark malts bring some recently tasted Swiss truffles with citrus peels to mind. A mild mineral metallic character with more roasted malt and lively fruit notes, a definite creamy mingling of dark chocolate with a touch of roasted coffee, charred oak, and soothing vanilla. A leafy herbal mint quality sticks out as well in the aromatics.

Flavor dark black patent malt has some acrid sharp tanginess to it with the citrus peels intermingling quite nicely with that dark chocolate and creamy effervescence. A Belgian approach, that may be the most believable effort from Stone yet, since the hops actually are chilled out here. Those oak barrel effects are minimal with traces of vanilla and charred oak, in addition to that actual vanilla beans that have been tossed in to the mix. A nice sugary sweetness is carried along throughout the charred dark malt and tangerine peel bitterness to end in a creamy blend of vanilla and oak characteristics, with a fresh blast of herbal mint from the hop additions here.

Mouthfeel overall is creamy slightly effervescent with a medium to fuller bodied approach. Really nice feeling overall besides that touch of acidic twang I spoke about with the harsh dark malt bitterness. The finish does strike some notes of charred oak and herbal mint that seem like they are going to show up like hop burps.

Drinkability is quality share with friends complexity and cohesion make for a good time, you can have loads of different flavors that may not work well together. This vertical epic ale decided to make familiar flavors glide together and intermingle off one another to provided the type of complexity that will lead to emptied glasses rather than drain pours like their 13th Anniversary release. I enjoyed the citrus and dark chocolate with a vanilla slightly charred oak finish. (2,570 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle from Discount Liquors. Served in a tulip.

A - Dark tan foam settles to a partial cap, thick collar, and very dark brown body. Spotty lace lingers on the sides of the glass.

S - Roasted malts, lightly spicy Belgian yeast, light vanilla and oak notes. Sort of Belgian stout-esque. There's a mild aged quality to this one, but it's not particularly oxidized. Solid stuff.

T - Roasty, with notes of caramel, chocolate, dark fruits and raisins, and a touch of banana bread. Alcohol is pretty well-concealed.

M - A tad watery for the ABV. Roasty, with a dry finish, lower carbonation, and minimal alcohol presence.

D - A solid roasty dark Belgian ale. I remember liking this when it was fresh, and it's still a pretty decent brew. Would drink again. (755 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Good tight, beige head and excellent ring lace. Nearly black color where no light can shine through.

Dark malt aromas with a light yeast smells in the background. Light yeast.

Very strong alcohol warmth on the initial sip. Relatively thin body with a low level of carbonation. Burnt coffee flavor with a hop kick which shows up nicely in the swallow and aftertaste. Lots of yeast bite as well. (395 characters)

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. (584 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle (of course) into a Vertical Epic Ale glass (don't you just love the correct glassware). Beer is dark, black, head is tight brown bubbles that is full at first but falls back to form a uniform layer of tiny bubbles that covers the top of the beer, lacing formed on glass. Aroma is nice. I was expecting to pick up some roasted malts in the aroma, due to the color, but instead was hit with the classic etherial aromas of a strong Belgian ale. Invites me to drink it. Second smell reveals minimal smoke and some sweetness (probably alcohol).
Delicious, not usually a fan of the darker beers but apparently I'm coming around. There are roasted malts on the back of the flavor, but the beer is full bodied and nice. It finishes with a little bit of an aftertaste. The roast builds on you as you drink. I believe this beer will age well. Looking forward to the rest of the series and 12.12.12 vertical epic ale tastings. Cheers! (945 characters)

Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottle date is obvious. Pours pitch black color with a nice 2 finger dense tan head with awesome retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Some nice spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big raisin, prune, molasses, apple, biscuit, caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, light char, earth, and herbal. Very nice aromas with good strength, complexity, and balance; very inviting. Taste of big chocolate, biscuit, caramel, molasses, prune, apple, roasted malt, raisin, light char, vanilla, earth, oak, and herbal. Lingering notes of dark fruit, chocolate, caramel, biscuit, light char, earth, and roasted malt on the finish for a good bit. Fantastic flavor complexity and balance; with a very nice roasted malt flavor profile. Medium carbonation and body; with a very nice creamy and slightly slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is completely hidden, with hardly any warming at all noticed after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent Belgian dark ale. Great amount of complexity and robust roasted flavors; with great balance and very smooth drinking. Extremely enjoyable stuff! (1,118 characters)

Photo of jwc215
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass:

Pours opaque black with a nice brown well-retained head. Dotted, then some thin-lined, lacing sticks.

The smell is of chocolate, roast, orange peel, spice, wood/oak/vanilla.

The taste is of chocolate, roast, bread/toast, vanilla, with some vinuous/woody notes with a subtle spiciness (cinnamon?). Not quite catching tthe banana and other flavours listed on the bottle (maybe a bit in the aftertaste). Chocolatey, but not overly so - it has a spicy, woody, dry balance.

It has a creamy, medium body with a nice carbonation level.

This is nicely done - sophisticated, and complex, sweetish but with a dry finish. Alcohol well-covered for strength. (675 characters)

Photo of WesWes
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a pitch black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice roasted and chocolate malt scent along with a subtle Belgian yeast fruitiness. The taste is much the same. It's incredibly complex with loads of roasted and chocolate malt flavors. It goes down easy with a dry, chocolatey finish. The yeast creates a bit of fruitiness, but nothing that really deters the main taste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very good beer. It's basically a chocolate stout with Belgian yeast character. (605 characters)

Photo of mdaschaf
3.77/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had on tap at Brouwers on 12/12/12, review from notes.

A: Quite dark, pretty much black with a small tan head that sticks around for a bit and leaves some random lacing down the glass.

S: Some light Belgian yeast, a bit of chocolate, roasted malt, banana, and some wood.

T: Quite similar to the aroma, some banana, more dark fruit in the flavor profile than the aroma, with a bit of chocolate, cloves, and raisins.

M: Medium bodied, maybe a little thin. Slightly dry finish.

O: This one was fine, not my favorite, but not bad overall. (543 characters)

Photo of mothman
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours 1 finger of tan head. Pretty decent retention with very nice lacing. Color is pretty much black.

Aroma: Lots of roasted malts, nut flavors, grassy hops, chocolate, caramel, and slight coffee notes. Pretty decent.

Taste: Lots of roasted and burnt malts again. I get a bunch of burnt brown sugar and caramel flavors. Tons of grassy hops to balance it out. Nice coffee notes. Not to bad.

Mouthfeel: Roasted, smooth, and refreshing. Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends super dry and roasted.

Overall, I would not age this beer. The flavors taste fine and I don't expect this one getting and better. Glad I got to try this one fresh. (686 characters)

Photo of stakem
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first experience with an Epic. I don't have the willpower to let this one sit around and age, I am throwing myself in there now.

Pours a black color with a lacy finger of tanned head. The head does not retain long and leaves only a bit of lacing on the glass. Nose has some citrus (orange-like) notes that do not seem to come from hops. It also smells of alcohol, licorice, chocolate and caramel. It has a bit of astringency about the smell as well. Taking a sip it is bitter in both the front and the finish however the middle of the taste is filled with a mild and pleasant sweetness of bitterish chocolate. It finishes quite warming and has a lingering taste of chocolate and "spice." As the beer warms, it takes on more of the bitterness and chocolate profile. However, it also has some smoky oakish qualities as well with a bit of caramel taste.

This beer is nothing like I had imaged an "Ale reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange" would taste like, it is a lot better. I hope I can find this beer again in the distant future...I don't have the willpower to let it sit around and not enjoy it but I would definately like to try it after it spent some quality time in the bottle aging. (1,217 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to the Thorpes for sharing.

The beer is near black with a thin beige collar. The aroma offers licorice, molasses, light spice. Smells ok. A touch of dark roast. Mild sweetness with a sturdy malt backbone. Medium bodied with a touch of chocolate. Pretty good. (267 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-Tap into a Weyerbacher tulip.

Nine Nine Nine holds a shoeshine black look with some mudy brown around the edges. On top the cap just barely covers the surface breaking into a bunch of scattered islands. Splattered paintball lace with a light tan line. Some good stick here and there but not strong holding. Easy to bring the head back with just some swirls.

The smell reminded me of a mix of a american porter with a touch of BSDA. Some hershey's chocolate and cocco nibs. Getting some piney hops in the back with a mix of bananers and orange peel. A bit of roasted burnt coffee in the back. I did not pick up on the Belgian yeast.

A fruity robust porter in my mind. The orange and banana mix really shows itself strong in the beginning and holds out. Some underlining spices with some Belgian yeast with alot of warming. Some piney hops onthe tounge not to overpowering. Light vanilla bean and not as much chocolate as expected. Some roast and smoke towards the back, this is good beer.

Smooth, easy and no interference from the slightly large alcohol, but some shows itself towards the end of the glass, no heat though. Slick with a medium feel and some carb felt. The finish is just a bit of every flavor integrated. Beautiful.

This is one tasty ass brew. After being very dissapointed in last years version, stone redeems itself with this unique BSDA/Porter, whatever you want to call it. I would not mind having a bottle of this to myself one day over some time and smoked meats. (1,492 characters)

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

Appearance: clear dark brown in color with a 1/2" head. Some moderate lace develops.

Smell: yeast, earthiness, and some sweetness is mild but enjoyable.

Taste: nice maltiness here. Yeast, earthy flavors, banana, soft chocolates and vanilla tones, and a mild spiciness shows up late. Alcohol is lightly noticeable.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp throughout. Very long aftertaste as the flavors linger in the mouth.

Drinkability: bold flavor beer that needs a bit of aging to round out the edges. Nice flavors but one bomber is enough in a session. (566 characters)

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. (997 characters)

Photo of Billolick
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A welcome new beer each year, ah yes, its time for the new Stone vertical epic! Pours quite stout like, dark khaki head, great retention, tiny bubble and loads of sheeting, lace and a thick collar, great looking product. Dark malts, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla in the nose. Super smooth chocolaty brew, more dark malts, vanilla, coffee grounds. Dark and tasty. Complexity perhaps a bit on the lower then expected side. Still delicious and worth a try for all dark beer and Stone lovers. Wish I had the self control to age these babies, but it never seems to be in the cards...oh well enjoy this one now or later.... (620 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle.

Pours a thick, dark brown with ruby tinges and a thin cream colored head. Aroma of cocoa, chocolate powder, orange, cinnamon and toffee. Slight ashiness to flavor with restrained sweetness. Powdery chocolate and cocoa, faint citrus. Thick body with moderate carbonation. Good, would happily drink again. (318 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love me some dark Belgians. This one has a dark brown/ruby/blackish body to it with a choppy, off tan head that had density just shy of being rocky. Lacing is thin after the initial head calms down.
First aroma I got was banana, then a wave of black plum and alcohol. The banana gives way to clove and some soft vanilla hints. Very complex.
Taste is layered. A quick jolt of coffe and it's off to banana. Vanilla and lightly baked caramel moves in. Vanilla is subtle and background-ish. Bready throughout and some coriander kicks in towards the end. very soft chocolate finishes it off.
A dry finish. Alcohol is there, but it works well with flavors. This one will age well methinks (685 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

9*9*09 hopes to be reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange. I haven't tried the real thing, but I can try it in liquid form tonight. On to the beer:

Into a globe it goes, the beer is black...pitch black. The head is lightly tanned, has a rocky lid, and has very good retention. Spiced like licorice upfront in the nose. Very citric orange as well. Faint powdery cocoa.

This beer is more spiced than expected. Spiced upfront, then a touch of the yeast adds a layer of creamy banana. Bitter citric acid touches down and creates the bitterenss to the beer. The malt creates an astrignent bitter chocolate flavor which lightly lingers in and into the aftertaste. Very soft in the mouth, silky feel.

It doesn't remind me of a fruit infused gourmet chocolate as much as I expected. It will, however, remind me of another quality beer from Stone I've tried. (874 characters)

Photo of tempest
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ordered a glass at Tap and Table in Emmaus - very, very tasty. This is a big chocolatey, but balanced and dry, beer with a little Belgian influence. It's not that close to the few Belgian stouts, but it's also no traditional double stout. The flavor is dominated by semi-sweet dark chocolate and cocoa powder while citrus-orange hops peek through and leave a bitter finish. Yum. (378 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Please note that there is a pretty big difference between the Kegged and Bottled versions. My bottled review was lost in a data crash this is for the Kegged version only.

Poured on-tap into a snifter. Pours a dark motor oil in color with a small brownish head.

Aroma of coffee, chocolate malts, slight tobacco.

Flavor centers around a smokey/roasted malt profile. Hops have died down to just an earthy flash of bitterness. Unsweetened chocolate is on the back end, with a slight smokey/cured meat flavor. Port like wine finish. Hearty.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and drinks pretty smooth overall.

A good beer for sure, but decidedly different that its bottled counterpart, which I enjoyed more. The bottled version had more of a piney hop character and also offered more fruityness and complexities. Still, the keg has a rauchbier meets stout like character and drinks well enough. (884 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I always look forward to this release, and its so nice to just be ablee to drive down to my local beer store in Georgia and get this now. I like this year's release. Pours a rich dark brown, almost black. Smells of licorice and coffee with some piney hops and port wine notes in the mix. Very nice. Very smooth, and with similar tastes as the aroma, but the licorice and coffee are more muted and the piney hops are much more present. Nice bitterness in the finish. Very nice. (476 characters)

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