1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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: 272 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 828 | Reviews: 531 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sarlacc83
3.63/5  rDev -11%

22oz bottle, split.

A: Thick oily black with a cappuccino head. Really nice lacing on this.

N: Cocoa, licorice, oxidation, char, anise, some cola and vanilla.

T: Very bitter with a balancing touch of sweetness. Heavy on the oak and hops. Hints of oxidation. Pretty nice.

M: Thick and oily. Has a full mouthfeel.

O: One of my favorites of the series. Has aged well at approximately 3 years old. More of a hoppy stout to my palate.

Sarlacc83, Sep 12, 2013
Photo of GeezLynn
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%

Enjoyed this one on tap last fall a couple times. Interested to see how this compares.

A: Deep black with a thin tan head that retreats to a light collar.

S: Initial alcohol burn followed by anise, coffee, oak, orange peel and a little chocolate. Lots there to enjoy, although the strong ethanol detracts somewhat.

T: Burnt chocolate malt, licorice, bitter coffee grounds and woodieness, with a little vanilla attempting to pull it together. Long bitter finish with a definite alcohol bite. A little sweetness in there with all that bitterness and roasted flavor. Complex, but harsh.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

This was much better on tap for me when I could pick out more of what I got in the smell in the flavor. This is kind of rough and hot right now (a la Stone RIS). No clue how it will turn out down the road.

GeezLynn, Jul 14, 2010
Photo of TheSarge
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%

Jet black body with a dark tan head... Sticky in appearance.

Aroma is sweet and cola like. A subtle hint of cherries. Slight copperish metallic hint too.

Very stout/porter like. Lots of coffee and chocolate... Very semi sweet.

Chewy feel upfront, oily and slick in the middle with a warm ethyl finish.

I'm not sure I'd call this a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, it's more of an English or American style dry stout.

TheSarge, Dec 11, 2009
Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%

Nose is softly malty with malt-fruit characteristics (grape), softly creamy. Smells pretty good, fairly light.

Pours pitch black with mild head. Looks pretty good.

Chocolaty malty and roasty bitter, slightly alcoholic, creamy smooth with medium-full body. Good amount of roasted midtones. Soft sourness, roasted malt sourness. Soft dried fruit and herbalness. Very light oak, rather understated in flavor and mildly spicy in mouthfeel. Pretty dry finish, kind of powdery dry, with cocoa nib and more roast. Tastes pretty good. Feels good. Pretty good drinkability.

A good solid stout, I don't particularly note any Belgian influence. Not worth the hype.

MrHungryMonkey, Nov 07, 2009
Photo of gawylou
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%

[A collaborative review with relenamor]

Appearance: Dark like a fine Dutch licorice, opaque as the antithesis of a polished window. The head: macchiato tan.

Smell: Sweet and toasty, i.e. campfire s'more, but only barely so, the sweet aromas were only discernible upon repeated nasal inhalations.

Taste: In chronological order: alcohol, belgian yeast, coffee. With a bitter hoppy finish. I must note the slight chocolate flavor, reminiscent of 80% cocoa Varlhona chocolate.

Mouth-feel: A shade syrupy, and lightly carbonated. As though my mother placed tiny frolicking angels on my sunday morning pancakes.

Drinkability: Exorbitantly alcoholic tasting for only an 8.6% beer. Prior to reading the bottle, I was stumbling about attempting to pounce upon with the nearest female. Later, as a friend read me the percentage, I felt a stone cold soberness fall upon me. I felt like a fool.

Overall, save your money for some Don Perignon and fresh caviar from the seas of Iran. If you prefer to expend your capital on fine ales, may I recommend Stone's Imperial Russian Stout.

gawylou, Mar 25, 2010
Photo of illidurit
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%

Pours a deep dark brown with a tan head, not much lacing. Aroma is chocolate, graham crackers, bananas, and a little too much spice. Flavor is part roasty and part chocolatey from the malt, with accents of citrus, vanilla, and clove. Interesting but too sweet and a little too thin.

illidurit, Nov 02, 2009
Photo of Beaver13
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

22 oz bottle. Pours very dark brown with a frothy tan head that quickly goes to a thin film that leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is sweet grainy malts, a little woody fruitiness, and some gummy yeastiness.

The flavor is sweet chocolate malts, some dark fruits with a big roasted/charred bitter finish that's fairly harsh. The mouthfeel medium to full with soft carbonation.

Overall, an interesting beer. I kept not wanting to like it, but kept changing my mind. It's a bit harsh in the bitterness, but it'll be interesting to see how this ages.

Beaver13, Oct 19, 2009
Photo of BarBEERian
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

When I think of Belgian dark ales, I think of a slightly muddied version of an amber-at least a beer I can see a glimmer of light through. However, after pouring a pint of the 09.09.09, I already knew I was being slightly deceived by the title on the bottle: this was a porter or stout. It poured a delicious-looking midnight black color with a head that erupted like a volcano into a fluffy and succulent light brown froth.

The smell wasn't overpowering, though, with just a slight touch of cocoa and some sweeter citrus notes. The taste was immediately velvety soft, with a touch of vanilla bean and oaky-alcohol hitting up front. The following touches included sprinklings of orange zest, lemon, a thick yeasty layer, and the light finishing power of toned-down malt. Further sips revealed a boozier profile than I initially noted, with the smooth and filmy mouthfeel really becoming noticeable. As the beer warmed, the booze became even more pronounced, but the flavors seemed to separate even more. What was once a nice and subtle transition from vanilla and malt to citrus, was now a noticeable change, and the finishing notes were even more removed from the middle flourishes, with an abrupt and unwelcome splash of malt shielding the now odd citrus sprinklings.

BarBEERian, Mar 23, 2010
Photo of alcstradamus
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

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 bunnyhustle
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

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

bunnyhustle, Sep 20, 2009
Photo of claminat420
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

A- poured black with a light brown head. thick two finger head that vanished quickly.

S- raisony, dark malts. nothing to crazy.

T- malty with just the slightest chocolate feel. more chocolate then the raison fruit smell. alcohol is very well hidden.

M- light to medium bodied. nice carbonation.

D- could drink two or three of these tops. after that i'm good.

Overall- i like this one alot better than last year's vertical epic (08). i say pick one up if you can. this brew reminds me of a more lighter bodied chocolate porter.

claminat420, Nov 19, 2009
Photo of turboedtwo
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

Poured into my new love, a duvel tulip. Had about a light brown head about an inch high due to my laziness. Color is a dark chocolatey brown.

Smells first off like bananas along with a touch of alcohol and chocolate.

Has a bit of a roasted coffee flavor to it with a lingering aftertaste that is slightly bitter (but not bad).

Smooth across the tongue, not much else to say.

I'm not really wowed by this but I could probably have a few of these. I'd like to try it again in a few years to see how it is, thankfully I've already got some bottles ready to age.

turboedtwo, Sep 11, 2009
Photo of Gtreid
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Almost opaque, just a hint of light brown laces the edges of the beer. The pour produces a nice latte colored head that receedes quickly and leaves some spotty lace.

A: I get bitter chocolate first, followed by oatmeal and molasses. I get a good amount of bittering aroma and some suble hints of citrus. I guess that's from the orange peel.

T: Very interesting. Very complex. I definately get the chocolate, it is very forward in the brew. The combination of the hops, citrus, and molasses create an unique biterness that I have not tasted before in a beer.

M: Agressive carbonation. Heavy body. Mouthfeel is crisp but smooth.

D and overall impression: Drinkability is limited due to the complexity of the brew. Overall, this is a very interesting and unique beer. Don't know if I've ever had this flavor profile before. I won't have my other bottle for 3 more years, so we'll see how it holds up. Skal.

Gtreid, Oct 10, 2009
Photo of Overlord
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

Hophead84 is wrong. This beer shouldn't get "4.5s across the board."

Pours ... black. Yeah, kind of looked like a porter or stout, actually. Black, with maybe some translucently brown edging and a surprisingly robust (for the ABV) light brown head.

Smells ... charred. Like smokey malt, some chocolate, and a bit of bitter orange and citrus. I was expecting a sweet beer from the description, and this smells like anything but.

The taste is actually sweeter than expected. A dash of coffee, a big dollop of dark and milk chocolate, and a weird bitter citrus/orange bite. Some surprising vanilla and a hint of dark fruits in there as well. Surprisingly, the citrus and orange end up counterbalancing the sweetness, rather than adding to it. The smokiness/charred malt sensation carries into the flavor, and it becomes very, very distracting after a while. Towards the end of the bottle, it almost seemed salty.

Yeah. I don't know about this one. Interesting to try, but certainly not a beer I'd want to revisit anytime soon. Maybe it's designed for aging, as the complex flavor profile and extraordinarily distracting smoky/charred aftertaste might meld or mellow.

Overlord, Sep 12, 2009
Photo of erz316
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

Poured into maudite snifter.

A - looks more like a stout than a bsda. a good two finger head of darker tan colour. the body is pitch black. head falls down to a chunky bunch of gobs in about 2 minutes. the absolute darkness of the body puts me a bit off and makes me wonder how belgian this dark strong will be.

S - huh, well, it also smells more like a stout than a bsda. roasted malts and a touch of hops. did they really try to make this one taste belgian at all? I am quite skeptical at this point.

T - huh, well it tastes like a slightly fruity stout. its bitter like one and has the body of one. the initial taste is bitter, slightly fruity, though no where near as much as it should be. there is no spice there are no dark ripen fruits. the malts and hops are the most notable, the malts are big and roasty, while the hops are just plain bitter. the finish is hoppy and has some definite coffee bitterness. the aftertaste is quite good, if it were a stout. it is a combination of a chalky coffee bitterness, and the roasted malts, maybe even a bit chocolaty.

MF&D - body is extremely creamy and velvety. the big carbonation really coats the mouth and makes the body really chewy. it is also slightly astringent. the drinkablity is fine, but if i wanted a bsda then i would go get one that doesnt border its own style.

Where the hell is the spicy alcohol? Where is the bruised ripen fruit? What of all the yeast! I know this is supposed to be aged till 2012, but it is no where near what a belgian should be. though arguably it gets some of that alcohol character at then end, the choco-coffee malt flavour overwhelms it. I guess I need to get another and age it properly.

erz316, Sep 24, 2009
Photo of Darien
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

Poured into a pint glass and quickly built up a nice 3 finger think dark tan head, very dark brown color like a Porter. Smells lightly roasted and nutty with some type of citrus smell (odd). Tastes of toasted caramel upfront with sort of a piney citrusy aftertaste, these flavors don't mesh well together in my opinion. Mouthfeel is very smooth and light to medium, just looking at this beer in the glass I expected it to be heavier but it's still nice. Very easy to drink but nothing really stands out to me and the citrus aftertaste I could do without. A good beer overall though.

Darien, May 28, 2010
Photo of Norfawkers
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

Appearance: Opaque brown with minimal tan head

Smell: Spicy, chocolate, malts

Taste: You can really taste the alcohol in the beer, slight toast and malt as well.

Mouthfeel: Thin and bitter throughout

Drinkability: The bitterness drowns out the flavors and spices. I'm not sure what they were going for with this beer..

Norfawkers, Oct 13, 2009
Photo of Reagan1984
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

Leaving original review of fresh bottle intact, but updating scores for drinking with the entire VE on 12/15/12

Having enjoyed the '08 Vertical Epic, I was really looking forward to the 09 edition. Unfortunately, I was not nearly as fond of this years version. I did get my two bottles. One for now and one for the end of the world.

The beer poured with a fairly think tan head that faded quite quickly. The beer was a bark brown (not black at all) with some slight red/purple tones. Not much lacing to speak of.

The beers flavor was decidedly spicy. Raisins, lots of yeast notes and spice. Somewhat nutty. Almost a fruit peel bitterness. Not really that pleasing. I fear this is my least favorite Stone item, that I've tried.

Fairly thick mouth feel. Heavy in the glass.

Was not wanting more at all, so I guess it wasn't that drinkable. Hopefully on 12/12 it will be better.

Reagan1984, Nov 23, 2009
Photo of TheViolator666
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

22 oz. bomber poured into Stone nonic glass.

A: Wow! Pitch black, opaque. Beautiful full 2-3inch light brown head that leaves an excellent amount of lacing.

S: Faint smell of sweet roasty malts, a bit of ethanol and some yeasty spiciness. Dark chocolate is most prevalent.

T: Sweet chocolate dominates the flavor followed by the alcohol that comes in. Complimenting the chocolate are velvety smooth notes of vanilla. The background has a fair amount of yeasty spiciness, that almost becomes a little much. The tangerine peel/zest comes in with the spiciness, but it's a bit weak. Finish leaves a nice sweetness behind.

M/D: Very full bodied and smooth. The alcohol presence isn't too bad.

A very nice beer, would love to see what a few years could do to this one.

TheViolator666, Sep 24, 2009
Photo of Pencible
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%

This poured an opaque dark mahogany (nearly black) with some dark tan head. It smelled like roasted coffee with dark chocolate and creamy yeast and nutty malt. It tasted like bitter coffee and dry dark chocolate, with copper hops and some creamy yeast and alcohol. It was somewhat thick with a bit of carbonation, and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this seemed much more like a stout than a dark Belgian ale. It was also definitely too hot fresh, with only decent flavors and without much complexity. The bottle indicates that it needs to be cellared for some years, and I agree. It's pretty messy fresh, but it will probably be much better in 2012 as intended.

Pencible, Nov 02, 2009
Photo of FleeVT
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%

22oz bomber into a goblet.

A: Pours like a stout-porter hybrid. Looks like a chewy black iced coffee with a frothy tan head. Lacing clings to the glass throughout the session. Beautiful beer.

S: Mild bready malts. The coffee metaphor applies here as well with faint mocha (roasted malts) and hints of bitter coffee. Sweetness comes through in the form of dark berries and a touch of hops for balance.

T/M: A bit tight on the palate, which is probably why the bottle recommends cellaring unti 2012. Hops tend to dominate the middle and aftertaste while the front portrays a dry smokey spiciness that is very stoutlike. A great medium body with perfectly carbonation.

D: Good nightcap, will definitely cellar one to see how the flavors develop.

FleeVT, Nov 11, 2009
Photo of klshanks
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%

I've had this one a few times and am finally getting around to typing it out.

A- Very dark. Nice tan head at about 1" pouring into a tulip.

S- Strong sweet smell, with a strong alcohol smell. Didn't smell bad, but when I took a deep breath I got a little light headed.

T- Roasted coffee, caramel, candy sugar, slight tart flavor.

M- Thick but not too thick. Fairly well carbonated which dances on your tounge.

D- I wouldn't drink these all night, but had no problem finishing the 22 oz bomber, and wouldn't mind a little more after the bottle was finished.

klshanks, Sep 17, 2010
Photo of Doppelbockulus
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%

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.

Doppelbockulus, Jan 20, 2013
Photo of donniecuffs
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%

Purchased a bottle of this last year from Boonton Liquor Outlet in Boonton, NJ. Into a red wine glass, it poured black, with two fingers of beige that retained and laced very well. Subtle visible carbonation. Smell was all roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate, with a tiny bit of anise; dare I say it smelled like a poor man's Stone RIS. The taste revealed a dry roasted coffee/chocolate blend throughout, with a dry chocolate/anise/plum finish, and lingering chocolate/plum flavor afterward. Not much of a hint of the alcohol content. Thinner than I had expected, given the appearance, with a subtle carbonation factor. Good beer, but I didn't find it to be as intensely flavorful as Stone's offerings usually are. If given a choice, I'd rather reach for a RIS.

donniecuffs, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of Aenema
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%

Appearance - Pours pitch black with a soapy tan head and nice bands of lacing.
Smell - Sweet chocolaty malts, citrus/tangerine and perhaps some dark fruit.
Taste - Roasted, chocolate malts, hint of cherry and citrus notes.
Mouthfeel - Smooth / slightly creamy; medium-bodied, moderate carbonation; slightly dry finish.
Drinkability - Smooths out as it warms and the flavors meld together seamlessly. High ABV, but not distractingly so.
Overall - Enjoyable beer, but missing the rich chocolate flavor I was hoping for. I'm interested to see how this tastes in a few years, but won't be purchasing additional bottles for immediate consumption.

Aenema, Nov 08, 2009
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 828 ratings.