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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.

536 Reviews

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Reviews: 536
Hads: 855
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 13.3%
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 536 | Hads: 855
Photo of alexgash
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle.

Dark milk chocolate-y brown body with a tall, thick, creamy, dirty khaki head. Great lacing. Intriguing nose of cocoa, milk chocolate, vanilla, light roasted coffee, cardamom, anise, and maybe a hint of orange zest. Very interesting and nice. Toasted, nutty malts, and licorice up front. Scorched brown sugar provides some sweetness. Coffee and dark chocolate bitterness picks up and swells to the finish. More dark chocolate and notes of vanilla, root beer, and cardamom. Citrus and herbal bitterness come on strong (joining the coffee) and linger for a long time. Tobacco, and minty, spicy accents also stick around for the finish. Very interesting and quite delicious. Medium-full body with a slightly creamy feel. This may be my favorite VE yet...

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Photo of MaxBrews
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
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!

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Photo of beerman207
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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Photo of larryi86
4.34/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter

A- A nice dark brown/black with a dark tan three finger head.

S- Malts, dark chocolate, with hints of different fruit ranging from citrus to dark fruits.

T- A rich roasted chocolate taste that surrounds a Belgian Ale with different fruit hints that remind of cherries and oranges.

M- Heavy, but not as heavy as it looks, and a little chewy

D- This is a unique and complex beer that is worth trying. Looking to get a few more while they are easy to find and let them age.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Single, bomber bottle just copped for $6.49 from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
Based on my review from last year, and although an entirely different beer, I was still eagerly looking-forward towards this year's annual offering...
Despite being considered as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, this beer perfectly emulated a deep, dark stout or porter pour with an intense, deep, dark, black hue, and malty, foamy, and frothy, tannish head and lacing...
Peculiar stout / dark ale aroma with slight hints of vanilla, mocha, and espresso essences... Bold, malty flavor backboned taste... Smooth and powerful (8.9% ABV) without being too cloying... A very interesting sample...
Worth a shot... What I liked best about this beer was its unobtrusive, uncloying character despite being laden with flavorful taste...

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Photo of projectflam86
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep dark brown, almost black, color with a thick frothy foam head that leaves nice rings of lace.

S- Aromas of roasted malt and spices are dominate with a slight earthy must.

T- Huge flavors of smoked peat, tobacco, burn brown sugar, chocolate malt, caramel, and a touch of alcohol in the finish. Nice and complex.

M- Medium bodied with a generous helping of carbonation. The alcohol is hidden pretty well with only a slight warming effect on the way down.

D- Overall a very tasty brew with loads of flavor.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Revisted: 16 Jul 2010
Almost A Year Later
22oz. Bomber

Poured into a chalice a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, very nice two-finger plus light tan creamy head, with some very nice thick/creamy sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, very very slight yeast note, toffee, very slight dark fruits, some spice notes. The taste is sweet, malty, toffee, some dark fruits, slightly spicy. Medium body. Very Drinkable, the age improved this brew alot. Totally different brew now.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger plus light tan creamy head, with some very nice thick/creamy sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, very very slight yeast note, toffee, very slight dark fruits, some spice notes. The taste is sweet, malty, toffee, some dark fruits, slightly spicy. Medium body. Drinkable, not a bad BSDA, but there are some way better one's out there.

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Photo of sholland119
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a deeply opaque black, not a glimmer of light gets through. A very fluffy mocha head with great retention and very good lacing.

S-Roasted malt and Belgian yeast. Unexpected for the style but not unexpected from Stone.

T-Wow! Consistent with the color, this is one incredibly roasty Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Lots of roasted malt and deep bittersweet chocolate mix nicely with an undeniable Belgian yeast strain. Also a black cherry note results in the finish from a combination of the Belgian and American elements.

M-Medium bodied and surprisingly light on the tongue given the flavor elements. Nicely carbonated.

D-A second straight winner for the VE series after the disappointment of .07.07.07. Less classically Belgian than the .08.08.08 but a fascinating American interpretation of the style.

Get some.


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Photo of jeremyd365
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a thick, dark, ambery-brown with a slight head. It smelled of chocolaty coffee with hints of dark fruit. It tasted of chocolate and coffee. It had a solid mouthfeel and was very drinkable for it's heaviness. The alcohol was hardly noticeable.

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Photo of paulieatworld
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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

In a snifter the beer was dark brown/black with a thick mocha head that disappeared quickly. A lot of aromas: chocolate, roasted malt, fruit. A lot of tastes also. Chocolate and tangerine to start with, some other fruit, and a n espresso finish. Nice rich beer. Liked it a lot.

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Photo of obywan59
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


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.


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)

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Photo of sarahloca44
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The S.O. tried a few years back to homebrew a Chocolate Mandarin Stout, and this is what it SHOULD have been.

Very dark brown in appearance with an impressive head. The tangerine is very subtle and the vanilla accentuates the chocolate malt more than it adds it's own flavor.

Drinkability: While this was delicious, like many special beers, splitting the 22oz. bottle with a friend was plenty for me. I, however, could drink one everyday.

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Photo of soupyman10
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown almost black color. Small tan head with just a touch of lacing. Thin film on top. Nice looking beer.

Complex nose - light roasty malt, some dried fruit, chocolate and cookies.

A lot of roasted malt up front in the taste. Dried fruit and chocolate. A touch of hops that grow stronger through the beer warming. Very light alcohol.

Body works well, solid with good carbonation. Overall, another nice offering. I can continue my love affair with Stone beers.

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Photo of jsapunor
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

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

I had this beer on tap at Aces and Ales in Las Vegas.

Look: This beer pours very dark, it has a little chocolate colored head.

Smell: Smells of chocolate and malts.

Taste: A little bitterness on the tip of the tongue and a nice coat of chocolate and coffee on the back of the mouth.

Feel: This beer is kind of thick and coats the mouth.

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

Close enough to the end date for the epic vertical. Review is from notes taken on 8/9/2012 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is a dark, chocolate brown with some nice ruby highlights; starts with a big, lush head that is a dark tan color; head has decent retention, eventually fades down to a thick, uneven cap; body is dark, nearly opaque; some fast, thin streams of carbonation bubble up near the sides of the glass;

Smell: Smell is solid -- some sweet and bittersweet chocolate; plenty of dark fruit -- reminiscent of sweet cherries, perhaps raisins; dark, bready and chewy maltiness to it; touch of Candi, but really well blended; sometimes I find that the Candi is overpowering and makes the beer taste a little like cough syrup, but if the taste is anything like the smell, it should avoid that perfectly.

Taste: OK, so far this is the best of the series that I've come across -- tastes a lot more like an RIS brewed with some of the Belgian ingredients (a la Dark Truth?); plenty of dark chocolate with a strong bitterness to it; a roasty, earthy and even a little nutty espresso beans; slight Belgian spiciness with the dark fruit; touch of alcoholic burn, a little more than I would have expected considering it's not quite 9% and has been sitting for three years, but it's a good flavor and adds to the overall array.

Mouthfeel: Body is pretty thick, soft and smooth; carbonation is strong and adds a touch of prickle, but overall, it's easy on the palate and avoids sharpness; a rough and gritty coating is left on the teeth; gums are left a little tingly.

Overall: I had this on tap when it was first released and thought it was great then -- even a bit more like a Belgian, I feel that some of the "stoutier" aspects have come through, even though I don't think that was intentional; an excellent beer that has held up well and I'm sure it would have held up a little longer, but hell, it's not doing anyone any good sitting on my shelf. It is a bit of a sipper, but it's not big enough to deter me from sitting through the whole bomber. Cheers to Stone, they should bring this one back under a different name.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted on 12/27/2009. This Belgian Strong Ale pours a very dark brown color from a 22oz bottle. Medium sized beige foamy head, with nice retention and good lacing. The aroma is chocolate, dark fruit and roasty malts. A medium bodied Belgian Strong Ale. The malts are chocolate, fruity, roasted malts and estery. The hops are citrusy and floral. Nice carbonation. Lots of interesting flavors going on here, orange, chocolate, vanilla, a touch of oak, a little banana and clove. Hides the alcohol well. Nice beer. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter and chocolaty.

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

Had the 09.09.09 on tap in a goblet from Aces & Ales

Dark, with a medium brown head that fades quickly, leaving moderate lacing.

Had a mild chocolate aroma, slightly smokey or roasted (almost like Starbucks coffee to me).

Chocolate seems to overpower the other flavors, with roasted malt and a hint of bitterness following. Subtle alcohol kick, but nothing overwhelming.

There was a surprising bit of carbonation (very fine bubbles), but full bodied and smooth.

The 09.09.09 tops the list of Stone beers I've had. The richness of the flavors really hide the alcohol well, and it would be easy to have several of these sneak up on you if you're not careful.

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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.

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

- Pardon the abbreviated review, this was sampled at a free Stone tasting. Special thanks to Big Z's in Huntington NY -

A - Black with mocha highlights. Bone-white head.

S - Mellow marshmallow, brown sugar. Dried plum notes.

T - Nice chocolate character. Smooth toast. Gentle hop backdrop.

M - Smooth

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

I drank this with Cavery and Klym, those morning lushes!

A: Big brown head and a murky chocolate brown color. Can't see through it at all, no snorkeling in this pond. Like a lot of other beers from Stone, it has great lacing.

S: Smells like roasted pumpkin seeds, salty dark chocolate, and a pinch of nutmeg. In fact, this would make a killer ass pie. The smell is rich and like autumn in a glass.

T: Mouth eruption! Initially tastes like walnuts, with a nice dark chocolate center and finish. This really does taste like a $10 candy bar you get somewhere called "Le Choc" or whatever.

M: Creamy and thick, not fizzy. Like a dessert, it stands on it's own.

O: This beer is powerful and delicious, like the stallion of beers.

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

Poured from 22oz. bottle dark brown with a reddish hue, looks like a Coke. Thin tan head, with minimal lacing. Lots of different aromas from the glass like chocolate, cherry, vanilla, malt, hazelnut, oak, and spice. Complex flavors of espresso, dark chocolate, vanilla, orange, oak, and some hops. Tasting some Belgian yeast in the mix. Medium bodied with a dry oaky finish. Overall, a very good brew worth a try.

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

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.

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Photo of DanOLeary
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Grainy and slightly roasted barley malt with some herbal wood character as well. Alcohol spices float around the glass with some dark fruit, though these lean mostly toward dark cherry. No hop aroma. Oddly there seems to be a phenolic yeast presence that comes off as dark bread. While the aroma's are complex, they are generally light all around.

Appearance: Pours a thick black with a prominent nut brown head. Excellent head retention, holding well with about half a finger width. Light lacing.

Flavor: Heavy dark chocolate melted into molasses. Alcohol pulls the malt sweetness back and bites the top of the mouth with more spice than I expected from an 8.9% ABV brew. Dark cherries back again, bitter chocolate nibs accompanied by an earthy and drying hop bitterness toward the finish. Finish is drying at the back of the throat with a lingering heavy roast throughout the palate.

Mouthfeel: Full body with light carbonation. You can practically chew on the malt in this beer, and while the sweetness lingers somewhat there's enough alcohol and hop bitterness to clean the palate out in the finish. Carbonation is quite light, but no more is needed because the malt speaks for itself.

Overall: Given the complexity of the flavor profile in this beer I am a little surprised at the faintness in aroma. Yes there is a lot going on in the nose as well, but you really have to look for it. Nothing jumps out overall there. Beer snobbery aside on the aroma, this is a fantastic demonstration of a full bodied beer with complexity in flavor so deep I feel it exceeds my vocabulary. Everything balanced, nothing over powering. Where many "Big" beers seem to fall short on mouthfeel, this one exceeds expectations.

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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 536 ratings.