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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

(Read More)
Reviews: 536
Hads: 856
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: 856
Photo of magictacosinus
4.49/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had this on tap for the VE tasting (beers 07.07.07-12.12.12) at Pacific Coast Brewing Co. during SF Beer Week. All reviews are from my notes. Loved this one, so, just like the 07.07.07, I got this one in an 8oz flute glass after the first tasting.

Pours an opaque blackness, with a tiny ring right at the top. Doesn't seem to go away no matter how much time this sits around. Looking at this without knowing what it was prior to consumption, I wouldn't be able to say whether it was an imperial stout or Belgian dark hybrid ale. Definitely incredibly murky, with alcohol legs visible against the glass, and slight viscosity that retains slight bubbles whenever agitated. Definitely looks like a massive dessert beer, as if they suddenly turned chocolate pudding into one. And, based on the description, looks like they might have done just that.

At the nose, there's classic imperial stout like characteristics to this, which include dark chocolate, juicy vanilla beans, and yet, the Belgian yeast and Stone's whacked out experimentation brings out bright flavors resembling orange peel and a citrusy finish. Not as spicy as you might think, but it definitely smells rich and decadent, especially with the slightly smoked, smoothened out dessert aromas of chocolate, vanilla, and citrus. Some dark fruitiness is present here, although it's difficult to make out (figs? Raisins? Plums?), but the dark malts and alcohol sweetness melded with the zest seem to be the real winners here.

The flavor continues to dark cocoa aroma, yet far juicier and filled with smoked vanilla beans on the flavor. This is the equivalent of taking the bite out of a very dark chocolate bar filled with extra ingredients and a dab of sugar. There's not much sweetness to speak of here, in fact - the finish is quite bitter, yet balanced with all of these flavors. Oaky, dry characteristics at the finish. The Belgian yeast adds a little bit of fruity character to this, but it's far more subtle than you'd imagine. Very complex, and very drinkable for how decadent this is overall.

By far my favorite of all the VE beers I was able to try. Due to its astonishing cellar life, I would have bought a whole case of these if I had the chance. This is a rich dessert in a bottle without being to sweet or overwhelming on the palate. Just a solid, fantastically easy to drink, yet elaborate stout/BSDA hybrid overall. Like Founders' Breakfast Stout, this is a dark beer in a class of its own. Awesome stuff.

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Photo of jvillefan
3.32/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

A: A very dark body with a half finger mocha head.

S: Very mute aromas. There is subtle chocolate aromas present.

T: I have always heard people describe the taste of their beer as soy sauce but have never had that flavor in my beer...until now. Soy sauce is dominate in this beer. There is very subtle chocolate in the background of this beer.

M: Nice body with great carbonation.

O: This beer could have been great had it been able to age a little better. I believe at some point in time this was a 4.35 beer, now unfortunately, it is not even close.

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Photo of Treebs
3.24/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle served in a CCB snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown color, almost opaque with a tan head forming on the pour. Recedes quickly to a thin ring and splotchy lace.

S: Roasted malts with some light chocolate undertones and a little anise. There's some earthy greeness to it as well.

T: Dark fruit, prunes and some roast. A light chocolate is noticeable, but unfortunately this one is slightly oxidized as well. Light cardboard with some woody oak and dirty earthiness.

M: Medium heavy bodied with a medium low carbonation level. Roasted and dry finish.

O: There was an odd earthiness to it and the French oak didn't mesh well. Slight oxidation detracted from the overall "enjoyment" as well.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.81/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served from tap into a tulip. Poured a massively dark brown (almost black) with a one finger light tan head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, vanilla, dark chocolate, dark fruit, and wood. The flavor was of sweet malt, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark fruit, sweet alcohol, wood, earth, and vanilla. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a pretty decent brew. There was definitely quite a bit going in this brew which made the complexity aspect of it really quite nice. However, there were some of the flavors that did not play well with the others especially the earthy note that I picked up on. This honestly felt quite out of place and really distracted you from some of the other pleasant notes that were going on in this one. However, this is still a really nicely done brew that has seemed to have aged quite well in its keg. I would suggest this one to others without any hesitation.

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Photo of MDDMD
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-dark brown color with a light tan head and decent lacing

S-dark malt, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate

T-dark roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruit, vanilla, hints of coffee, brown sugar and alittle bitterness in the finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-a very nice belgian ale with good balance and flavor, my favorite of the ones I have had in this series

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Photo of Doppelbockulus
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Vertical Epic glass.

Poured it without yeast the first time, but it's so dark it wouldn't have mattered. If you look through the edge of the beer where beer meets air meets glass, you'll notice only a faint brown light.

The smell is earthy, dark malt, coffee, and dark chocolate.

After three years all of the sweetness is gone and it is very reminiscent of an average stout, even though it isn't. It is full of earthy malt and black coffee, and is a bit astringent.

Astringency is apparent in the taste as well as tannin and a light tingle.

Fresh, this beer tasted like figs and other dark fruits. I wish it had held up better, but I have two more to open in the future, so it could be different later.

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Photo of elNopalero
3.4/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This pours a tawny dark amber color. I get a boozy “rummy” aroma—like rum with some strong vanilla notes to it. The flavor is … off. It’s harsh and off-balanced with an artificial vanilla flavor dominating on top a strong Belgian dark ale base beer. Time has not treated this one kindly.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Gatch
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep, dark brown, almost black. A big, fluffy, pillowy, light brown head that leaves behind great lace and great head retention. Bubbles hang around forever.

S: Big chocolate, roasted malt, and charred wood aromas. Some fruit and yeast in there. Pretty boozy.

T: Interesting stuff. Fruity, yeasty, roasty, woody, earthy. Chocolate and charred malt stand out. A pretty good drinking experience. This beer has aged well.

M: Smooth and boozy. Flavors are good. Very roasty.

O: A really good beer that has made the two-plus year journey. BSDA is a broad category so I'd say this is definitely a Belgian Stout or something similar. From what I've gathered, this is one of the better VE's for aging so I'm glad this is one of the few that I tried.

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Photo of rudzud
3.26/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed while doing a 07-12Belgian vertical.

A - Poured into a palm tulip a nice dark brown hue with a good one finger mocha head that left a light blanket and light side lacing.

S - Aromas of faint chocolate and esters...smells over aged?

T - Taste is a bit old light roasted malts, chocolate, faint citrus. Really did not hold up to the aging.

M - Mouthfeel is nicely carbonated but solid albeit meh for the style.

O - Overall this was an okay beer nicely smokey with chocolate and citrus. Still though there's better Belgian strongs.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Type: Draft
Glass: Snifter
From: Ciro’s Pizza in Pacific Beach (San Diego, Calif.), on Jan. 4, 2013
Price: $7.00
Misc.: N/A

Poured a black color with two fingers (when I got it) of tan head. Below average lacing on the sides, good retention on the top all the way down.

Smelled sour fruit, bourbon, vanilla, tobacco, earthy red wine, raspberries and toffee.

Tasted similar to the nose, bourbon, tobacco, earthy red wine, raspberries and chocolate.

Medium body. Thin, oily texture. Average carbonation. Smooth finish.

A decent beer for sure. I would be like to try another and see if my ratings differ.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: half finger head on a near jet black body with slight tinge of light getting through. scattered lacing.

S: dark fruit, mostly strawberry and cherry, dark chocolate, oak

T: dark chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts, minimal dark fruit, oak, breads.

M: full body, light to moderate carbonation.

Overall: pretty flavorful, has held over very well. complex and memorable. Nicely made.

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

A - Pours with half a finger of light tan foam on top of a opaque, black body. The head settles fairly quickly and leaves light lace.

S - chocolate, nutty malt, and a touch of vanilla.

T - Smooth chocolate, caramel, and smoky coffee up front. Some molasses and dry roasted malt in the middle and a finish of spicy yeast, and more bakers chocolate.

M - Medium thick body, moderate carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - This has not only held up well, but improved dramatically with age. The dark malt is smooth and complex and it is a very well balanced, drinkable beer.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2013-01-03 in Lancaster, PA at The Fridge

A - Almost opaque dark brown with a 1/2-finger tan head and mild lacing.

S - Fruity with tart grape, plum and light malt. Mild but nice aroma.

T - Chocolate, dark cherry, grape skin, chalk, fig, not bitter but there's a bit of roasted flavor. Very balanced. Elegant.

M - Medium body and light carbonation. Smooth. Good for the style.

O - An enjoyable brew that doesn't assault the senses but has enough complexity that I kept adding to my tasting notes as I worked through the goblet. Nice.

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Photo of Boto
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle: I was surprised I hadn’t recorded this one earlier. This one pours a dark, inky brown color. There was a bit of a light brown head on it that lingers a bit and leaves some lacing. This has a very nice nose to it. Chocolate, vanilla, yeast, spices, perhaps some orange and a hint of coffee. The taste is very good. Rich and full, with actually a touch of bitterness on top of all those malts. Chocolate, coffee, caramel, dark fruits, some spiciness, citrus. An excellent combination.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 properly cellared bottle, poured into a Maudite snifter. Pours a very dark brown, appearing opaque black in the glass. Fine two finger light brown head with great retention and lots of lacing. Delicious aroma of chocolate, dark and caramel malt, vanilla, oak and whiskey, one of the best smelling ales I've experienced. Flavor follows aroma, dominated by sweet and toasted malt, chocolate, vanilla and a touch of oak and coffee. Finish is a bit stark with charred coffee, oak and hop bitterness. Medium bodied with a hint of creaminess. An unusual Belgian influenced ale, almost approaching a Belgian stout in malt and flavor complexity. Very enjoyable and one of the best of a series that all aged remarkably well. Kudos to Stone.

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Photo of portia99
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a Vertical Epic glass as part of a 03-03-03 to 12-12-12 tasting. (ratings are for this tasting)

A - Near opaque, dark brown in color with a finger of fizzy dark khacki head and leaving behind sparse lacing

S - Hoppy bitterness, chocolate, a bit of alcohol and some citrus.

T - Bitter chocolate, cocoa, bitter hops, citrus, spicy, coffee

M - Medium body, medium carbonation that is tingly on the tongue, bitter chocolate, smooth overall.

O - Easiest drinker of the series, bitter, dry, lightly astringent, aged well...favorite of the series.

22oz bottle, fresh off the shelf and chilled. Poured into a Portsmouth goblet.

A - Pours an opaque brown with two full fingers of tan, creamy head that lingers a long time, eventually leaving behind really nice lacing. 4.5

S - Very spicey, some cloves, bitter chocolate and some vanilla. Getting some citrus, after the beer warms a little bit, mostly on the inhale before the beer hits the tongue. 4.0

T - Flavor largely follows the aroma. Strong backing of chocolate flavors, cocoa powder, with a variety of flavors on top - vanilla, cloves, bubblegum, banana, vanilla. Decent amount of bitterness here too. Lots of Belgian character on this one. Somewhat alcoholic. 4.0

M - Smooth and creamy. Mild carbonation. A little bit on the thin side. Good feel overall. 4.0

D - Drinking this 22oz bottle by myself tonight. This is just about right. One full glass wasn't enough, but the extra half glass made for a perfect dose. Somewhere between a sipper and a session beer - closer to a sipper. Very interesting beer. Definitely will come back to this one again...and one more time for the vertical on New Years Eve 12/31/12... 4.0

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Photo of Strix
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Extremely dark brown with a tan head that leaves steps of lace down the glass.

Lots going on in the nose, mostly citrus/dark chocolate but also subtle spices.

Malt, clove, vanilla, wood, orange, tangerine, dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel.

Creamy, silky mouthfeel.

A beer like this makes me wish I had greater access to Stone. This dark belgian could pass for a RIS, good stuff.

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Photo of VinnyA
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bottle from Capone's in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

A - One-finger brown head with good retention, opaque and black in color, lacing on glass.

S - Bread, sugar, chocolate and raisins

T - Had a bready taste to it, hints of toffee, some dark fruit and an alcohol taste on the back end that lingered a little bit.

M - Low carbonation, smooth, not very heavy for such a dark beer. Dry finish

O - Definitely a winter warmer. The alcohol taste is not masked well, but this is compensated by the flavor that is present as it hits the tongue. Not an overly "heavy" beer. I've sampled each Epic from '06-12 and for the darker styles, this one is only slightly above "average" for the series. the '06 is the more superior "Belgian Strong Dark Ale", in my opinion. Porter is probably a more accurate classification for this brew. A pleasure to try, but likely won't revisit this, if presented with the opportunity in the future.

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Photo of peabody
3.36/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a dark black liquid with one finger of very tan suds. Lacing here about the glass.
Aroma is very light cinnamon and star of anise and a formalahyde type smell.
Taste is a weak mishmash of sugar and charred malts with a hint of the pepper spice thrown in at the end. Not really enough going on here.
Mouthfeel is fairly clean with just a tad of sugar stickyness lingering at the end. The 8.6% is hidden well all through the tasting. The peppery feel at the back of the throat is kinda nice but that isn't enough to keep me coming back for another slug.
Overall this is another dissapointment.. It's not terrible by any means , just not noteworthy as far as good beer should be.

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Photo of Hopswagger
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed 12.12.12
Celebrating the Vertical Epic Series

P: Dark orange-brown with tan head

S: Cocoa, chocolate orange, dairy cream, roasty malt, banana, clove, peppery spices, aged oak, timid coffee and a pinch of cayenne.

T/M: Chocolate sheet cake, cocoa powder, chocolate orange, orchard fruit, hints of vanilla bean. Creamy but grainy feel in a full body with prickly carbonation. Smooth finish of chocolate and oak.

O: Huge chocolate base with varying types and a good oak aged flavor that developed nicely. Bold flavors and one to really enjoy.

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Photo of TheBrewo
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew was served on draft at the Tap and Mallet Vertical Epic tasting event. It arrived in a tasting glass, showing a dark brown coloring, with light ruby letting up around the edges. It held a one finger head of light tan bubbles, showing great retention. Lacing was minimal, but carbonation did appear to be active. No haze or sediment was noted. The aroma gave syrupy fig and a twang of molasses against roasted coffee malts, and thick caramel malts. Chalky dryness of pales echoed somewhere on the back, with tangerine rind bite and sourness being definitely apparent. Light vanilla smoothness came out with heat, alongside hearty booziness. Our first impression was that there was a crazy depth to the malts, with nice warming burnt smokiness to balance the sweetness of fig. As we sipped, dark fig syrups, fusel booze, burnt liquid caramel, faintly toasted pale malts, metallic yeastiness, buttery diacetyls, and juicy saltiness mixed for a complex start. The peak came with added complexity of plum sugars, stronger fig sweetness, depth and metallics of coffee malts, and a lighter seaweed vegetable quality. The end was with molasses, the return of cloying sugary sweetness, a nice and enhanced depth of caramel malts, pale drying toast, and that maintained coffee smokiness. The aftertaste breathed of salt, molasses, anise, light smoke, leathers, caramel syrups, and toasty coffee malts. The body was medium to full, and the carbonation was medium. There was nice slurp and froth to the sip, with good cream and foaminess left around the mouth. This was quickly followed by an astringent drying bite, eliminating most of the initial juicy wetness. The abv was appropriate, and the beer drank easily.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was the depth to the malts. There was such a nice roast and smoke to the coffees and caramels by the end you would swear that you were drinking separate beers. The flavor really does develop and enhance throughout the tasting, keeping you guessing until the last drops. Additionally, the big molasses and buttery qualities added oily slickness, keeping the mouth soft. This was a nice blend.

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Photo of CA_Infidel2o9
3.76/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber to a Tulip

A- jet black w/ a 1/8" quick fading brown head, nice lacing after every sip and swirl

S- dark chocolate, vanilla, red wine, floral hops, earthy, wet cardboard grows more and more intense as it warms

T- dark milk chocolate, earthy, oak, vanilla, fruit, floral hops, slight wet cardboard

M- medium body, crisp carbonation

O- sadly she is past her prime. It has so many great aromas/flavors, yet wet cardboard is ever present. As it warmed the wet cardboard scent grew so intense that i had to stop smelling it and just enjoy the flavor as it only showed up slightly in taste. Wish i had tried this fresh.

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Photo of russwbeck
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The body of this one is dark black with a nice amount of brown head. The above average lacing and retention of the head help make this the nicest looking beer of the evening. 4.5

The aroma starts off with vanilla, which gives way to a big roasty character. Mixed in with those is oak and weirdly some oranges. 4

The vanilla and roast hit you right up front. The booze is not featured on this beer, which was a rarity throughout the night. The finish is very roasty and a lot of chocolate is noted throughout. 4

"The body is heavy, yet carbonated very well. I found the balance of the taste made this a very drinkable beer. One that I would buy again. 4.5

Value: $3 for 4oz. You don't say! This was a steal at that price 5

My initial thoughts were, 'they should have made more stouts.' Sadly, this isn't a stout, but it's darn close as a BSDA. They really should have made more like this. 4

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