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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
91
outstanding

828 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 828
Reviews: 531
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.78%
Wants: 35
Gots: 271 | FT: 13
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: 828 | Reviews: 531 | Display Reviews Only:
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 BeerCon5
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a murky dark coffee-like brown color with very thin tan head.

The scent is of sweet chocolate and roasted malts.

The taste is very sweet initially, but very quickly turns to a dark chocolate, bitter coffee taste. Roasted malts and a dry bitter hop finish.

Medium bodied, dry feel with not a lot of carbonation.

This is a pretty decent beer, it is fairly complex and interesting.

BeerCon5, Oct 10, 2009
Photo of cvfish
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - This beer poured a black color that produced a fluffy tan head which had great retention and laced the side of the glass nicely

S - The aromas produced by this beer were very complex, roasted malts, vanilla, bitter chocolate, sour citrus, and Belgian yeast

T - The taste of this beer was just as complex as the nose, roasted malts and bitter chocolate, vanilla, a subtle note of sour tangerine and finish with the dominate Belgian yeast

M - The mouthfeel of this beer had a medium body and a light to moderate amount of carbonation

D - This beer was one of the most unique and flavorful beer that I have ever had, if I had to describe this to someone it would be a Belgian Porter

cvfish, Oct 10, 2009
Photo of MunchkinDrinker
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Black in a snifter and doesn't let light through. Big dark cream rocky head that comes up slowly and sticks around. Retains a thin layer of foam that comes back with a swirl. Good lacing.

S - Smells like a banana split at first. Chocolate, cream, and banana dominate initially, but aren't overly powerful. Some citrus spice and belgian frutiness.

T/M - Very bitter dark chocolate up front and in the back. Hops come in the middle to add some earthiness, but cut the chocolate out momentarily. Some fruitiness comes on the back. Banana and very mild citrus. Mouthfeel is creamy and rich.

D - Not very. Rich and tasty, but high alcohol and the flavor saturates you.

MunchkinDrinker, Oct 09, 2009
Photo of UA8
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at flatbread

A- Pours an opaque mahogany brown with a creamy dark brown head.

S- Scents of heavily roasted malts, banana and light spices, and touch of light cocoa.

T- Leads with semi sweet malts. Midpalate hints of banana and spice touches. Finishes with a bit of smoke and chalk, also a touch of hop bitterness.

M- Moderately viscous with a nice smooth carbonation.

D- This beer sits somewhere between what I would expect of several different style pulling a bit from porter, stout, and belgian dark strong. Refreshingly different and I really think will become even more complex with some age.

UA8, Oct 08, 2009
Photo of Beerbuddha
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- This beer poured a nice, rich black color with a huge, foamy brown head.

Smell- HUGE chocolate flavors with hints of roasted malt and spices. Nice hints of vanilla as well.

Taste- Interesting spiciness up front followed by the chocolate, vanilla and roasted malt. Hints of citrus and banana make this one unique brew.

Mouthfeel- Very thick body but smooth.

Overall- Another fantastic brew from Stone!

Beerbuddha, Oct 08, 2009
Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Unibroue tulip. Almost smells like a imperial porter. Lots of coffee, chocolate and vanilla. Very smooth and creamy. Maybe I shouldn't review this beer after most recently drinking a 13th anniversary from Stone (breathtaking), and maybe I shouldn't review in 2009 when the beer was designed to peak after 2012, but a beer that's a slight let down from Stone 13, is still a great beer and from most other breweries, this one would be exceptional. If Stone says this will peak in 3+ years, I believe them...I believe anything they say, how could we not at this point. The beer is great and one day may be stupendous, I look forward to laying it down. This beer may be the reason that BA allows you to re-review beers.

KickbacksSteve, Oct 07, 2009
Photo of psyphin
2.5/5  rDev -38.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A - Thick and dense dark brown-black with a nice 1 inch thick tan head.

S - Citrus, dark chocolate, some malt and belgian yeast phenolics

T - The beer has too much going on and its very muddy. Chocolate hits in the forefront and citrus on the back note but inbetween is a very strange flavor resembling burnt toast.

M - Too thin for traditional belgian styles, a tad thick for a porter, but it worked together ok.

D - Not quite a drain pour but nothing I will seek out. Ive now had all the Vertical Epic series beers dating back to 04 and this is the only one that didn't blow me away.

psyphin, Oct 07, 2009
Photo of TheKingsOfHop
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber poured into tulip shaped glasses:

A: Light tan head with a dark brown almost black in color thick looking body to it.

S: Dark fruit like figs or plums, yeasty, with a hint of tobacco, and smokey malt.

T: Wow this is amazing... smokey, coffee, chocolate, delicious toffee with a warming slight alcohol burn on the end. This really has a lot going on here, but yet still very well balanced.

M: Medium body, perfect carbonation, really just overall smooth and creamy. Leaves you wanting more.

D: Could easily drink a whole 22oz on our own, but this was shared at a beer dinner with great company.

Cheers,
The Kings Of Hop

TheKingsOfHop, Oct 07, 2009
Photo of alcstradamus
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Near black pour with a mountainous 3 finger head that is as fluffy as a marshmallow and lasts for quite a while. Good lacing left behind as well. Exceptional.

First smell is light spices and citrus mostly. Not really catching any chocolate on the nose other than weak traces of cocoa powder. Actually, scratch that...some agitation combined with a bit of warming brings out a little bit of milk chocolate.

As this first hits the lips, roasted malts and a coffee-like bitterness jump out. Odd for the style, but I guess Stone was trying for something unique here so I'm not going to fault them for going outside of style guidelines. This is more like a mix of a spicy Belgian and an hoppy porter. Although it tastes good, I'm not really picking up much of the chocolate/orange combo that they were going for which is somewhat disappointing. Just a lot of coffee bitterness, hops, burnt malts, and trace spices.

Mouthfeel is medium to full with a lot of soft carbonation. This was a decent beer, but truthfully it isn't much better or different than a good hoppy porter. Considering what Stone was going for here, I think they failed....but still made something decent in the process.

alcstradamus, Oct 06, 2009
Photo of corby112
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

corby112, Oct 06, 2009
Photo of aubuc1
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in to a chimay goblet.

Pours black with a thick steady head.

Smell is lightly roasty, then sweet citrus.

Taste is how they crafted it. Chocolate with a light orange twist. Roasty dry finish. Very interesting.

Good full mouthfeel and a dry finish leave me wanting more after each taste.

aubuc1, Oct 06, 2009
Photo of GilGarp
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served cool in a pint glass.

It pours a very dark brown color, basically black in the glass, with thick bone white head that lingers on a long time leaving lacing behind.

Aroma is unusually roasty and heavy on the dark malts for a Belgian SDA. Some Belgian qualities come through including some dark fruits and raisins.

Flavor is more of a coffee stout with Belgian yeast. It has big roasty flavors including coffee and smoke. There are some of the dark fruits and spicy complexities from the aroma but roasted malt is definately the big hitter here.

Mouthfeel is velvety smooth and low in carbonation. Big on body and creamy on the tongue. Really nice. Drinkability is hindered only by the dominant malt character but it's not a bad beer by any means.

GilGarp, Oct 05, 2009
Photo of ehammond1
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (2009)

K&B Wine Cellars
San Diego, CA

Pour is very dark brown, nearly black. No light penetrates through the glass. Head is 1.5 inches thick, espresso colored, small, tiny bubbles, dissipates to a half inch head that sticks around. Sticky lacing rings the glass with every sip. A beautiful beer.

Strong smells of chocolate, coffee, cherries, vanilla, banana, and black licorice. Decidedly sweet and Belgian. I've never smelt a beer like this!

Taste is of roasted coffee beans, fresh espresso, and dark chocolate. Alcohol is hidden very well. I've had this beer before and remember tasting some banana, but I don't this time.

Body is medium to heavy in the mouth; this is a filling beer! 22oz. is more than enough for me.

An expertly crafted and incredibly complex brew released by Stone. Few beers can pack this many different smells and tastes in to a glass and still remain drinkable and enjoyable.

ehammond1, Oct 04, 2009
Photo of bernardus1212
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from tap into a chimay glass. Almost black in color with a slight tint of brown when inspected in light. A dusted brown head that lingered for about 5 mins. Smells of rich chocolate, spice i.e.. cinnamon and brown sugar. Taste like coffee with chocolate vanilla and cinnamon. Picture a Stout in the beginning and a Belgium Quad at the end. Enjoyed it very much. Got me the next day.

bernardus1212, Oct 03, 2009
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 10/1/09 at British Beer Company in Walpole, MA, served in a large flute glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a large light brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of chocolate, Belgian yeast, spices, caramel, roasted malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out malty and bready with a strong flavor of Belgian yeast. Then there are flavors of dark chocolate, spices and some fruit that add some semi-sweetness and complexity. The hops presence is mild but complementary and helps provide some balance. The after-taste is bitter-sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, while this beer does have a complexity in flavor, I was expecting a little more harmony amongst the different flavors, which may improve with age. Overall, it's a good beer to drink for a while and it will be interesting to see how some time will effect it.

TheManiacalOne, Oct 02, 2009
Photo of mithrascruor
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a dark, nearly black, color. Nice tan head, but not the best retention. Becomes a thin film pretty quick.

Smell: Has an aroma of very strongly roasted malts... a bit of toffee too. A tad hint of sweetness in there.

Taste: Very strong and bold roasted flavors (a bit hard to identify what is roasted, though). Some bitterness, but not overwhelming. Hints of cream and/or some mild sweetness at the finish, and possibly an even smaller hint of yeast. Aftertaste continues with the roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with light carbonation. Pretty smooth too.

Drinkability: Strong ABV, but with the strong (& good) flavor it drinks slowly & nice.

The taste at first rather surprised me, as this is more like a Smoked Porter than a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. That being said, I am really enjoying it. Nothing mind-blowing, but a solid and enjoyable ale that can be consumed slowly. This is definitely the best of the Vertical Epics I've had, and I'll probably buy a few more before it goes off the shelves.

mithrascruor, Oct 02, 2009
Photo of Lolli1315
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first of two 09 verticals, aging the other one for three years.

A- Almost black color with a tan to light brown head. Nice head retention and lacing. Feel like this is a little darker than the majority of Belgian Strong Dark Ales, I could be wrong though.

S- So much going on in the smell, love it. Dark fruits galore including most notably cherries and plumes. Alcohol is well hidden in the fruit with sweet malt smell coming through the from start to finish.

T- The fruit tastes described sneak their way in the beginning of this beer, but quickly fade. Rather than the sweet malt in the smell, there is a bitterness that is surprising and unexpected. Alcohol does come through in the taste much more than in the smell. On the end the alcohol gives a medium body warming sensation. I'm stuck as to whether to put this at 3.5 or 4.0, would like to put it somewhere in between. The fruit flavors have begun to come out much more as the beer has warmed, don't drink this one too cold.

M- Medium mouthfeel that fits well with the beer. Not quite chewy but moving towards that direction.

D- Not to hard to finish this beer, but not sure if I would grab another one immediately after (if I could find another). Nice beer.

Lolli1315, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of MaxBrews
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber poured in my Chimay chalice Intially but then in snifter to check the head.

Appearance: Pours with two finger latte colored head, color is a coffee black. Lacing isn't much but a thick brown ring around the glass with a nice swirl in the middle. Lacing sticks to the glass as well.

Smell: Belgian yeast spice, and orange peel smells dominate the aroma. Surprisingly the coffee smell of roasted and/or chocolate malt stay hidden the background. Vertical Epic smells much like a Trippel or Belgian strong pale with a hint of coffee and chocolate.

Taste & Mouthfeel: First sip is very bizarre; its an earthy combination of sourness from the Belgian yeast and orange peel combined with a roasted coffee-like malt. It catches you off guard. The taste of this beer is a delicate balance of the spicy orange peel and yeasty flavors of Belgian strong ale and the coffee and roasted malt flavor of a porter. As it warms up the coffee and chocolate flavors are more pronounced. There is a very mild vanilla characteristic to this beer. The after-taste is very nice mesh of brown sugar and coffee, orange peels and spices.

The body is this beer is large but not overbearing. It's very creamy and smooth. Its never bitter but is a bit dry. Alcohol content is very concealed you won't notice it but you will feel it.

Drinkability: Wow this is one hell of an ale. Combining two great styles Belgian ales and porters. The key word of this beer is juxtaposition between spicy citrus flavors with earthy chocolate and coffee flavors. It is a contrast, but they also mesh nicely. I can't type enough about this beer, just go buy one and enjoy!

MaxBrews, Oct 01, 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 JohnGalt1
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at the COOP today.. Paid about $7... poured into my Delirium goblet... shared with my bro.

2 finger lite brown head... great retention and lace.. the brew is pretty much black.

Nose isn't as rich as I was hoping for... a little phenolic with some chocolate and lite oakiness... I may be imagining vanilla... but what I think is there is helping identify the chocolate... seems fairly mild.

Much more vanilla on the palate.. still plenty of chocolate.. a little estery... bananas .... with some minor spiciness... not getting any hint of citrus zest surprisingly... Doesn't strike me as too "Belgian"... also surprising... Finish is a bit tannic which is pretty nice combined with some cocoa at the end... seems a tad hot right now, but not bad by any means... the body is a solid medium with a smooth yet ever present carbonation... again, all in all.. this seems pretty tame.

I am digging this right now, but I doubt I'll drink more for a while... It should do well with a year of so in the bottle.... I don't know however how well it will hold for another 3 years.

JohnGalt1, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of ReDave
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark not the usual vertical epic.

Very earthy flavor very different.
This seems to need to want to sit for awhile, more than the others, but tasty now too.

some chocolate i suppose, this is not a belgian ale it seems. more like a porter or stout.

Nice lacing.

Guess i need to get a couple more and have at least one sit for a bit.

ReDave, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of saintwarrick
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first Vertical Epic and it does not disappoint. Pours a dark black with a nice foamy head that recalls a porter or a stout. Aroma is chocolatey but with a lot of hops mixed in. Some Belgian sugars in there with an almost earthen-like aroma. Very porter-like in taste but also very wood-aged, oaky taste is there before a nice spicy bitterness takes over. Also finishes very dry, like some porters. Finish is smooth but bitter.

A lot of things to like here, sort of a hoppy, Belgian porter-like brew here. Might have to set down a bottle for a while to see how it changes.

saintwarrick, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of jeffjeff1
4.6/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an excellent beer.

Appearance- black color, good tan head, good lacing, opaque

Smell- roasted malt, sweet

Taste- roasted malt, molasses, sweet

Mouthfeel- full bodied, smooth

Drinkability- excellent, I love it. I will try to pick up some more cuz it's awesome.

jeffjeff1, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I missed last years VE so I grabbed this as soon as I saw it.Poured into a chalice a deep dark brown,nearly black, with a thinner deep tan colored head.Aromas of candied sugar,dark fruit,caramel.and light phenolic spice,a good mix of aromas for the style.Phenols are bigger on the palate giving off a clovey-like spice,alcohol dipped dark fruit with a tinge of earth round out the flavors.Its a tad hot but its new so its understandable,a very nice rich flavored brew brew here.

oberon, Sep 30, 2009
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 828 ratings.