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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

844 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 844
Reviews: 535
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 34
Gots: 277 | 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:
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 844 | Reviews: 535 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of alcstradamus
3.69/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

Photo of corby112
3.55/5  rDev -13%
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.

Photo of aubuc1
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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.

Photo of ehammond1
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
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.

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.

Photo of Lolli1315
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

Photo of MaxBrews
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
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!

Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.81/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

Photo of ReDave
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

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.

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.

Photo of oberon
4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Photo of himmelhuber
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer is black, nice brown foam, looks yummy!
Smell is sweet, little tangerine, little coffee, it as almost a smokey smell, lots of roasted malts.
Taste is very intense, almost overwhelming, malty, sweet, but well balanced with a lot of hops and malt bitterness.
Mouthfeel is as the taste a bit overwhelming but carbonation is good. It was no problem finishing one pint, but I did not get a second one, that would have been to much.
I think this one will get a lot better over time, it needs to mellow out a bit, now its just to much of everything.

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.

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

Enjoyed a growler of this with my brother bought from The Charleston Beer Exchange (a must-visit) this past evening.

It pours dark brown with a smooth appearance and the head looks like a foamy edible dream come true.

The smell is nothing to shake a stick at for a porter, but it still has hints of roasted chocolate malts and a hint of alcohol. For a beer ranging in 8-9% ABV it is absolutely delicious and drinkable. For a porter, it warms the chest just the right amount leaving you crying with joy wanting more.

It goes down easy and a growler was no problem for my brother and I. Ranks in the top ten of best Porter's i've had and with its exclusive nature it is a must try if you can get your paws on it.

Photo of Anthony1
3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a very dark brown color with good carbonation and a tannish head. Nose is spice, light on alcohol, vanilla, cocoa and a belgian yeast strain with some hops. Taste is so nice with cinnamon, spice, some citrus, bitter chocolate, tobacco..alot going on yet balanced ad the ABV is well hidden. Mouthfeel is nice, not to hefty or alcoholic but thought it would have been a little creamier. The spice, cocoa showed through.

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.

Photo of jsapunor
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This wasn't anything like what I expected. It's more like a strong porter than a Belgian strong dark ale. No doubt it's an experiment.

Big roasty malted chocolate and coffee flavors with vanilla accents to bring out the best in the taste. The tangerine they claim to have added is present but you have to look for it. A nice rounded mouthfeel compliments the flavor festival that's going on. Plenty of coffee in the nose of this espresso looking beer. It's big and sweet and tangy and flavorful from first sip to last. Stone got it right again.

Photo of jmalex
3.89/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I hope it doesn't make me biased, but I was really excited for this one. The chocolate-orange combo seems really nice, and I was surprised that this is the first beer I've heard of to utilize it.

APPEARANCE: Pours into a Duvel tulip very black with a thick, tan head. It's quite sturdy and holds well with its combination of large and small bubbles. Absolutely picture perfect with zero flaws.

SMELL: A really curious aroma that is low on the chocolate and caramels that one would expect from a porter-like beer, even a Belgian one. Instead it features coffee, quite a bit of smoke, burnt malt, and a nondescript fruitiness that doesn't really indicate orange peel or Belgian esters. Intriguing.

TASTE: Wow, that's weird. Dark, bitter black malt contributes a lot of bitterness. But it has some help from a dose of hops and maybe even the orange peel. The smokiness is there too alongside a little bit of chocolate (finally). It's not terribly Belgian though some esters are vaguely present. The finish shows a bit of the citrus peel off, melding with woody tannins to finish with a bang. It's insanely complex, really strange, and I think I like it.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium full in body with a slightly drier finish. A high carbonation level lightens the load as well, but a nice coating is left in your mouth after the swallow.

DRINKABILITY: Big beer is big. 8.9% seems about right, so this will be an all-night sipper for me. Not that I have a problem with that. With any luck, it'll last me until the replay of the Aussie-rules Grand Final in a couple hours. On second thought, that's unlikely.

This did not meet my expectations. But rather than falling short, it just goes in a complete other direction. If anything it's a must-try because of its uniqueness. Go out and get a bottle for now and a bottle for a long time down the road. This plus a bit of age will be VERY interesting and probably VERY good.

Photo of bum732
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark as night, nice light tan creamy head, fantastic lacing. Smells of belgian clove-like yeast, chocolate malt, vanilla, brown sugar, some citrus. Tastes of chocolate and clove-like malt, mostly chocolate. Clove mostly in the background. Subtle citrus and vanilla that comes through in the bitterness. Finishes with more chocolate without being too sweet, touch of oak. Creamy mouthfeel, medium to full bodied.

A really nice beer, very chocolate forward with just a touch of clove to cut through it. The citrus is present, but not as big as i expected, didn't pick up the tangerine peel. I also didn't taste much of the oak, not necessarily a bad thing. A really nice beer, looking forward to see how it ages.

Photo of beertunes
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip. Poured a solid black with a thick, deep tan head that dissipated much quicker than I thought it would and only left minimal lacing.

Other than a slight roast scent the aroma was fairly benign, with nothing outstanding from the mix. The flavors were much bolder, roasted malt, a hint cf chocolate and several flavors I couldn't quite put my finger on. Very enjoyable though.

The body was full, well rounded and smooth, with just a touch of a roasted aftertaste. Drinkability is very good, I drank a 22 with no trouble and generally I don't drink that much of a single beer in a row. Overall, a very good beer that is worth trying. If this had been listed as a stout, I would have given it better scores, I didn't find this very to have much Belgian character at all.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 844 ratings.