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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: 855
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 10.59%
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 schinebd
3.62/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Very black with a thick brown head that retains somewhat and laces a little. No highlights or translucence, just deep blackness.

S - A very inviting blend dominated by the Belgian yeast that gives the smell a dominant banana bread aroma. Underneath is roasted chocolate malt, light vanilla, and citrus, providing good complementary variety.

T - Certainly all of the flavors from the smell are there, but rather than presenting themselves, they are piled on top of each other. The roasty malts are most present. Imagine mixing a lot of your favorite foods in a bowl and eating - though it doesn't taste terrible, the flavors don't seem to complement each other or have any order. Not very enjoyable in its current state, but hopefully the flavors can mellow with age.

M - Medium carbonation, but some thick smoothness that does bring forward the chocolate and citrus that the brewer is going for and complements the medium/full body.

D - As mentioned above, the flavors work laboriously on the palette and the high ABV work against the drinkability of this beer.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.62/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A black bodied beer with a smallish tan head. Not much retention, minimal lacing. Aroma is roasty, with bittersweet chocolate, orange peel, slightly vinous and fruity. There’s also a spicy note and a hint of wood or tobacco that’s kind of hard to put a finger on.

Interesting but not entirely satisfying taste; perhaps a little oxidized after 3 years in the bottle; not sure how this one will hold up till the end of the entire Vertical Epic series.
There’s dark, bitter chocolate, orange and peel flavor, as well as other more vague fruit notes; again a vinous quality, with oakiness, char, a hint of a metallic/mineral aspect; phenolic spiciness, overall very dry; could actually use a bit more sweetness. Maybe a touch chalky. Alcohol well-masked. Not terrible, just a little odd.

Medium-bodied and carbonated with that very dry finish. Feels like it could be a bit heavier and smoother in the mouth. Interesting beer I didn’t particularly love but it definitely made me think and dig in, examining its many layers.

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Photo of cnally
3.62/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I know I am cracking into this four years too soon, but whatever. Judge it now, edit it later.

Appearance is a very deep brown, close to black. Red tints come through around the edges of the glass. Soapy tan head, plenty of lacing.

Aroma is a smoky, nutty, bit of cherry nose, heavy alcoholic finish.

Big time nutty flavor, burnt caramel, very dark. Reminicent of a porter rather than a Belgian Dark. Finishes very smoky, heavily bitter.

Mouthfeel is syrupy and sticky.

If labeled a porter or stout, I could see the consistency and flavor. But as a Belgian Dark? I know this should sit for four years, and theoretically it should mellow, right? But I have a hard time tasting this as nothing more than a syrupy stout.

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Photo of Yesac
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark black color. Chocolate brown head that forms a ring around the glass. One sexy looking beer in my chalice.

S- Belgian yeast, chocolate malt, caramel, bubblegum. Like a stout crossed with a dark Belgian.

T- Roasted malt.. Belgian yeast.. black licorice, caramel.

M- Medium carbonation. Medium bodied. Dry sticky finish.

D- An interesting drink. Like a nice Stone stout with Belgian yeast. I'll definitely revisit this one soon.

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Photo of claminat420
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of ZX6Chris
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Shared at a Vertical Epic tasting with my friend Armand.

A-Midnight black, great tan head.

S-Roasted burnt chocolate. Coffee, horsy, barnyard. Is it supposed to taste like that?

T-Coffee, bitter, hay, horsy.

M-Smooth, well carbonated.

D-Not my favorite at all! I was hoping for a delicious stout but that's not what I got. Maybe my pallet was burnt out but I got some off flavors in this that I did not enjoy.

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Photo of illidurit
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

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Photo of nova009
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

A- pours a deep dark brown the color of cola, a one finger tan head emerges and dissipates down to a covering, decent amount of bubbles pop at the surface

S- roasty dark malt, bittersweet chocolate, alcohol, candi sugar, dark fruits particularly figs and raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg

T- black coffee, cocoa nibs, vanilla, alcohol, extremely roasty and overpowers anything close to belgian flavors

M- medium body, decent carbonation, slightly creamy but finishes dry

O- Slightly disappointed in this one, the body was a bit too thin for my liking, additionally most of the belgian flavors were either non-existant or, and more likely, they dissipated over time with the aging, still drinkable but nothing to write home about

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Photo of sweetbrew82
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22 oz. into a pint glass

P: Jet black and almost completely opaque in the glass with a beautiful head of thick, creamy foam that holds firm and stays impressively dense. Displays some gorgeous dimples as it sinks with a rocky texture. Shows excellent retention before settling to a thin cap on top with some thick sheets of lace.

A: Huge blasts of lightly roasted malts that lend a chocolatey/mocha espresso character. Lots of vanilla in here as well, along with some subtle oak, zesty citrus peel, dark fruits, and a healthy amount of clove from the Belgian yeast. Boy, I really don't get the impression that this is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. This smells much more along the lines of an 'Imperial Belgian Porter'...

T: ...and it tastes like it too! Although, who the hell am I to say what style it is! It starts out as more of a traditional American Porter with lightly roasted malts that just ooze that same chocolatey/mocha espresso flavor, while sweet vanilla notes and dark fruits ride right underneath with subtle hints of oak peeking through nicely. Then in the middle, the Belgian yeast seems to grab this beer by the horns and transform it into an 'Imperial Belgian Porter' by imparting a slightly powdery yeast that emits that unmistakable clove flavor, along with banana and some dark fruits as well. On the back end, the addition of tangerine peels really comes to the forefront with a bittering astringency (also probably from hops) that tastes like tangerine peels dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with clove. Leaves a bitter citrusy, yeasty aftertaste that hangs on for a while.

M: This edition of Vertical Epic is medium-full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation that seems to keep it from being as silky smooth and luxuriously rich as it could be. It does have some nice creaminess under the prickles, though. While it's not chewy, it does stick to the palate enough for the flavor to grab traction.

Notes: This is a pretty good Imperial Belgian Porter. However, it seems as if the flavors are kind of disjointed in spots and never really melds together to form one cohesive unit, which hurts the flavor score. I love the sweet start, but the bitter, citrusy astringency in the back half of the mouthful becomes distracting after a while, which also makes the drinkability of this one suffer a bit as well. Good thing the fine folks at Stone brewed this one with the intention to cellar, because I think it could develop quite nicely. Maybe with some age on it, the flavors will work together more harmoniously and the bitter citric notes will calm down a bit. Here's to hoping!

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a black body with a tan head. Mild lacing on the glass with good head retention.

S: Roasted malts dominate the nose with coffee and bitter chocolate notes. Light dark fruits and some citrus.

T: Not a very complex palate, but still a nicely balanced flavor. Upfront Roasted malts balanced with the earthy hops. There are also some dark fruits, vanilla, dark chocolate, & citrus notes. Belgian yeast also plays a nice part.

M: Medium-full body; low to moderate carbonation; smooth mouthfeel.

O: Not a bad beer and a decent example for the style. I believe there are better Belgian Strong Dark Ales out there, but let's see what a few more years will do. I will drink this again obviously, but only 1 more since that's all I have left.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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.

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Photo of katan
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz into a pint

A - Brown with amber highlights. mocha head.

S - Some very nutty notes in the nose.

T- Comes off that it has sat too long. The edge is off all the flavors I think matter. The hopiness has turned offly grassy in the middle.

M - Moderate mouthfeel, lightly sticky.

O - Would have been better a while back.

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Photo of TheViolator666
3.64/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

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.

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Photo of GeezLynn
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of Norfawkers
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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..

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Photo of klshanks
3.66/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of gawylou
3.66/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

[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.

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Photo of TheSarge
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of donniecuffs
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of erz316
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of Darien
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.69/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of Reagan1984
3.69/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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