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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

833 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 833
Reviews: 533
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.78%
Wants: 34
Gots: 275 | 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: 833 | Reviews: 533 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Geuzedad
4/5  rDev -2%

Geuzedad, Jun 23, 2013
Photo of kels
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Beer pours into my pint glass a seriously dark chocolate-brown shade with an extremely well-retained 1 finger foamy latte-colored head that started out at about 3 fingers. It looks like a Russian Imperial Stout - full bodied with a tremendous head - instead of some of the other Belgian strong darks I've had. The beer is completely opaque. Slippery tan lacing rings the glass for awhile before sliding back into the beer.

Smell: The smell definitely clarifies the style of the beer. Really sticky, dark fruit esters, bitter, toffee-like roasted malts, and a spiciness that is kind of peppery and savory. Slight yeasty presence and just a hint of alcohol finish it off.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The spice is one of the most prominent characteristics of this beer. It comes out throughout the drink, from the moment it hits the tongue all the way into the aftertaste. It almost pricks up the tastebuds a little. It's a little spicy like ginger or pepper and it's a little savory like coriander. While the spiciness takes the focus, the rest of the flavors are also nicely present in the body. There's a really nice roasted malt that has the slightest dimension of smokiness and the slight bitterness of coffee. It is joined by a bit of a citrus hop note with the slick oiliness of piney hops. Only a hint of alcohol comes across in the aftertaste. The feel is full, dark and moderate in the mouth, and finishes with a bright fizziness from the carbonation. A slight stickiness remains on the palate afterwards.

Drinkability: Pretty high, but not as easy drinking as a Belgian strong with less spice. I prefer the bolder flavors in this version, and think it was done really well.

kels, Sep 19, 2009
Photo of BrewCrew2010
3.63/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a black body with a tan head. Mild lacing on the glass with good head retention.

S: Roasted malts dominate the nose with coffee and bitter chocolate notes. Light dark fruits and some citrus.

T: Not a very complex palate, but still a nicely balanced flavor. Upfront Roasted malts balanced with the earthy hops. There are also some dark fruits, vanilla, dark chocolate, & citrus notes. Belgian yeast also plays a nice part.

M: Medium-full body; low to moderate carbonation; smooth mouthfeel.

O: Not a bad beer and a decent example for the style. I believe there are better Belgian Strong Dark Ales out there, but let's see what a few more years will do. I will drink this again obviously, but only 1 more since that's all I have left.

BrewCrew2010, May 31, 2011
Photo of beerman207
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Beer poured a nice black color with a tan head that sticks around forever!

S - Complex aroma of vanilla, chocolate, mollases, dark fruit, as well as a hint of smoke and alcohol coming through.

T - Bitter chocolate as well as vanilla and some charcoal or smoke coming through. Figs?

M - Mouthfeel was medium and very creamy. Very enjoyable.

D - I imagine that the alcohol would be better masked if one waited until 3 years from now. I'm just too impatient so I needed to crack this one open. Glad I did. I could go for another.

beerman207, Oct 11, 2009
Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First Vertical epic I've had the pleasure of trying. I can say it won't be the last.

Pours black with a nice chocolate head. Good lacing.

Ok, call me crazy, but the initial smell smelled like bacon. Not real bacon, but that dog treat bacon- sweet and meaty. Nice grain and herbal notes to compliment the mysterious bacon.

Tastes much like the nose, sweet, meaty, herbal, citrusy. Very, very nice.

Nice carbonation, creamy feel in the mouth. I know that wasn't a proper sentence, but it will suffice.

Too bad I only had a small tasting glass, this was a very pleasant beer. I guess I have to add this to my shopping list next beer trip.

RomaniIteDomum, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of cynical1027
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%

cynical1027, Feb 21, 2012
Photo of bunnyhustle
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The always anticipated VE was a bit of a let down to me. I guess it was a good let down, but still...Poured into tulip, dark as night with mocha head. Good retention and lacing. The smell was very unique I thought. A very bready and yeasty smell at first led way to a banana and bubblegum smell with some chocolate. Perhaps the most smells I've ever had in a single beer. Taste was alright but I feel it needs to age, but I guess thats what this beer is supposed to do. I think there were too many flavors to really focus on anthing particular. Chocolate, hops, orange, citrus, oak, vanilla, toasted malt...you name it! I actually thought there was a bit of smokiness to it that I did enjoy. Just a little too much. Mouthfeel was fuller but not too heavy. Overall an easy drinker. I did enjoy the beer and am very curious to see how it ages. I think this one will get much better with age.

bunnyhustle, Sep 20, 2009
Photo of czechsaaz
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Kind of bitter that I didn't get to this on the actual date but I've been sick. First V.E. since '03 that I didn't get to on time but no need to rush it if I couldn't smell or taste it.

Really fruity right off with the aroma with a bunch of yeast esters. Malt aroma is mostly darker caramel types and a hint of roast. A little warmer and I get honey.

Deep black colored and totally opaque when held up to the light. Poured with a huge rocky head that eventually faded to a solid 1/2 inch layer of tan foam.

First impact of the flavor for me is the belgian yeast. It's spicy and has fruit esters. Malt component then kicks in with a bunch of caramel but also the hint of roast that I got in the aroma. Good hop bitterness and a hint of woody hop flavor. I get a little tannin from the oak that comes off as a dryness on the back end.

Full bodied with a lively carbonation level.

Nice beer. One of the better V.E.s fresh. It's good to drink now but strong nough and with enogh complexity to age as intended.

czechsaaz, Sep 13, 2009
Photo of clickpush
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful dark body, not at all reminiscent of a Belgian beer, like an imperial stout. Great tan head. Very responsive to hard pour. Aroma is roasty, molasses, burnt toast, oaky. Flavors are the same, with a hint of that Belgian yeast strain. An interesting development of flavors... starts off w/ a lighter flavor and transitions into stout flavors. Alcohol is well masked. Carbonation is slightly larger than I'd like... would prefer something creamier. Nice beer, though.

clickpush, Sep 30, 2009
Photo of riored4v
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed 9/21/09

Poured into a tulip glass. Pitch black body. 1 finger, tan head. Good lacing. Fades to thin layer rather quick.

Smell is chocolately, fruity and roasty. Hints of bitter orange peel and some nice esters.

Taste has a great complexity to it. Nice bitter chocolate in the finish that is accompanied by a lingering bitterness. Hints of oak/vanilla and lots of rich chocolate and burnt malts. Slightly citrusy hop flavors. Belgian yeast characteristics come out as the brew warms.

Mouthfeel is medium in body with medium carbonation. Slightly sticky with a crisp finish.

Drinkability is good. Lingering bitterness and slight stickiness work well together, although i might be limited to just one. No signs of ABV.

Overall i really enjoyed this one. Hard to pick out all the flavors. Very complex although very easy to drink.

riored4v, Sep 23, 2009
Photo of cameraman
4.6/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer is poured a dark brown color, with hints of garnet along the bottom of the glass. A thick half inch head, tan in color, lacing down the glass. A roasted melt scent, followed by a chocolate fragrance, with hints of Belgian yeast spiciness at the end of each scent. The chocolate come out at the front, the yeast brings the fruity esters and spiciness. Then a unique citric bitterness strikes the palate, with touches of grass and earth. The citrus flavor lingers on the palate long after each taste is gone. The texture is tad watery at the front, but grows to a rich and smooth feel, rolling across the palate. A medium dryness is left on the backend. The aroma is intoxicating, the color is very inviting. The flavor a chocolaty delight, the smooth and rich feel just adds to this very drinkable beer.

cameraman, Feb 03, 2010
Photo of SkunkWorks
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cellared for a year. This is my first ever Belgian Strong Dark Ale so take this review with a grain of salt.

Look: very dark beer with a HUGE head. The head is one of the darkest I've seen. Brown highlights when held to light. The head left a sick amount of lacing in the glass.

Smell: A little hoppy bitterness, hints of coffee and some wood. Mostly its the roasted malt that I am getting.

Taste: Very sweet and mostly maltiness. There's a lot of coffee and vanilla in there as well and some woodiness. Tastes almost like a stout. There wasn't very much hoppiness that I could detect.

Feel: I'd say its medium bodied. Despite the huge head not overly carbonated.

Drink: Very drinkable. There alcohol isn't detectable and its not so strong as to require sipping.

Overall, a damn good beer. It'd be nice if this was a regular release. Stone delivers again.

SkunkWorks, Sep 16, 2010
Photo of brywhite
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%

brywhite, Aug 15, 2013
Photo of GodOfBeer
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first and only Vertical Epic I will be drinking from Stone. And what an epic beer it is indeed. Aged for almost 3 years, couldn't be bothered with waiting to open it after the 12th of December..

As I pour this epic ale darkness overtakes my Duvel tulip glass. A deep dark black colour with a thick whitish-brown head that just doesn't care about fading away.

Smells of coffee, molasses, dark fruity hops, milky chocolate. Nothing really special here about the aroma. Average for a BSDA.

As I begin to taste the darkness, bitter coffee and hops overwhelm my palate. My god, this tastes more like a stout. than a belgian dark ale. But either way it is a tasty treat. I'm sure the aging helped here. Lots a dark burnt malty notes, fruity hops and thick molasses on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, thick and sassy. Very nice on the tongue, something to be savoured.

Overall a very good beer. Pretty opulent, I must say. If only I had the opportunity to try their other beers in this Epic series..

GodOfBeer, Aug 31, 2012
Photo of Wisconsinality
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours almost a pitch black with very little light breaking through. About two fingers worth of head that recedes somewhat quickly but leaves nice lacing on the side of the glass.
S- A nice aroma of chocolate malt with some roasted malt is present. There is also some Belgian yeast on the tale end.
T- This is a nice complex beer that only gets better when it warms up. Toasted malt with some chocolate right off the bat. Then comes the sweet yeastiness. It says to age it a few years to get its full flavor so obviously this beer has some maturing to do.
M- This is a nice medium bodied beer that is really smooth. The carbonation is balances nicely and the finish is a little dry.
D- It goes down nice and I can only imagine how good this is going to be in a few years. Also gives a little warming sensation from the alcohol.

Wisconsinality, Oct 12, 2009
Photo of PthPndr
4/5  rDev -2%

PthPndr, Jan 01, 2012
Photo of Brez07
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Novare Res a few weeks back. 16oz pour into my chalice

A: Dark brown pour with a 2 finger light mocha head. Eventually shows some amber highlights. I don't get any lacing

S: Small nose, not much going on. Some dark fruit, roasted malt. Maybe some earthy notes and spice

T: Some chocolate, roasted malt, raisin. Also has a smokey and chalky presence

M: Medium bodied. Carbonation attacks the palate at first, but then clears away to reveal a creamy mouthfeel. Roasted aftertaste

D: Pretty good beer, but I don't think I'd drink much more in a sitting. I have one sitting in the cellar; it was actually the first beer I ever bought to store away, so I'm glad to see it's holding up well

Brez07, Sep 11, 2010
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.

alkemy, Sep 19, 2009
Photo of wspscott
3.55/5  rDev -13%
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.

wspscott, Sep 29, 2009
Photo of obywan59
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11/21/2010

I went into Kroger tonight intending to get 2 10.10.10s and didn't realize that one row was still the 09s. Lucky break. I had tried this several times, but never reviewed it.

Pours darkly into my Duvel tulip, with a 1 to 1 1/2 finger tan head that recedes rather quickly to a ring around th4 glass and slight haze over the surface of the beer. Good lacing.

A wonderfully fruity, chocolaty aroma reminiscent of cheesecake. A nicely sweet Belgian aroma.

A bit of sweetness, but nearly overpowered by the bitterness. Tastes of bitter chocolate, burnt malt, and a hint of coffee. I get no hops--unusual for a Stone brew. The malts reign supreme.

Medium-bodied. Just slightly sticky. Nice warming alcohol burn in the throat.

A good drinker, but the ABV slows you down.

I took no notes, but I seem to remember this being sweeter before. Like my last homebrew (a Baltic Porter) it seems to be less sweet, more bitter, and more Kick-Ass, now.

03/21/13

This time around, I get a 4 finger tight, tan colored head that becomes chunky as it recedes, leaving some magnificent lacing. The body is black with no highlights.

Overall, the aroma reminds me of chocolate milk. Still, I can almost get my original impression of cheesecake. Hints of vanilla, chocolate, and oak, with tropical fruits and spice.

Light sweet malt upfront, but soon followed by bitter chocolate and roasted flavors. A hint of coffee, and some tart citrus aspects as well. A bit of dark molasses and vanilla shine through. Caramel and oak in the finish.

I call it medium-thick this time around. Moderate syrup becoming drying in the end. Light warming alcohol in the throat.

Not only does this beer smell like chocolate milk, but the thick tan head acturally looks like frothy chocolate milk. I think both the bitterness and the alcohol have mellowed in the two years and four months since I first reviewed this. Unlike the "08, this beer has improved, I believe it's a better beer now. I've knocked the taste up to a 4.5 from a 4.0. This is an elegant brew. Nothing harsh about it. I wish I'd saved more. I guess I'll have to brew it myself.

With 3 more of the series to resample, I'm saying this is likely the best brew of the the VEs I've tried (2007-2012)

obywan59, Mar 21, 2013
Photo of TommyW
4.53/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Black with some faint ruby highlights coming through; bubbly, tan head.

S- Roasted malt with some burnt notes, chocolate malt and some vanilla.

T- Nice roasted/burnt malt flavor with some chocolate notes, complemented nicely with some citrus rind flavors.

M- Medium to full feel with a nice flow of flavor across the palate.

D- A unique twist on a porter; the Belgian yeast give in some very interesting qualities. Really worth trying!

TommyW, Jan 18, 2010
Photo of scottiethebody
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%

scottiethebody, Aug 25, 2012
Photo of vma
4.52/5  rDev +10.8%

vma, Sep 22, 2014
Photo of Lerxst
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a very dark brown, almost black with a decent two finger head that faded fairly quick but left some lacing.

S-Very complex nose. Chocolate, citrus, vanilla, a bit of yeast and malt. Smells great.

T-Taste is right in line with the nose with malt, chocolate, vanilla, citrus.

M-Mouthfeel was a medium body, but thinner than expected with a bit of a harsh carb sting in the finish.

D-I enjoyed it, but can't see having more than one of these.

Lerxst, Oct 10, 2009
Photo of Buckeye982
4/5  rDev -2%

Buckeye982, Mar 30, 2013
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 833 ratings.