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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

830 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 830
Reviews: 531
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.78%
Wants: 35
Gots: 271 | 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: 830 | Reviews: 531 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BarBEERian
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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 mountdew1
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a dark opaque brown, with a 1 finger light brown head. The head lasted for a long time, and clung to the sides well. Aroma reminded me of a chocolate stout. Small amounts of bitterness and burnt spiciness were also evident. Taste was a sweet slightly bitter milk chocolate, with a bit of white bread/all purpose flour in the end. Felt a bit off in the mouth. It was slightly dry, otherwise coated well and felt good. Surprisingly easy to drink, went down way faster than it should have.

mountdew1, Mar 15, 2010
Photo of JoePat
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown almost black with a light tan head that sticks around.
Smells mostly of chocolate with some toasted malts and a slight bit of orange zest.
The main flavor is bitter chocolate with chalky malt taste.
The mouthfeel is dry and chalky but sweet.
This beer tastes great and is really smooth making for a very drinkable beer.

JoePat, Mar 14, 2010
Photo of semibaked
2.17/5  rDev -46.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Black with about a 1inch of so of light colored head .

S - Chocolate malts, molasses, but no whiff of tangerine peel or vanilla bean like the bottle says.

T - Very bitter tasting, definitely unpleasant like concentrate citrus peel and bad almost burnt chocolate.

M - Nice and full bodied, easily the best part of this montrosity.

D - Pretty much no drinkability for this beer, I just can't get over the bitterness. Very disappointed, I usually really like Stone beers too.

semibaked, Mar 14, 2010
Photo of hardy008
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark black color with a dark tan head with a lot of small tight bubbles. Nice retention on the head. Smells of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, caramel, and dark fruit. The coffee smell does not seem to fit the style, but still smells good. Seems more like a Porter.

The flavor has coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruit, and there is a little bit of smoke. Very interesting. Fairly smooth to drink with a medium body and good carbonation. Nicely drinkable, even if it is not exactly to style.

hardy008, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of Arbitrator
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chilled bottle into a glass. I was saving this for a vertical tasting, but seriously... it's never going to happen. Time to start plowing through these.

A: Pours a very, very dark brown (with associated translucence at the edges), appearing nearly black in the glass. Light beige head consisting of large bubbles that leave a foamy cap and collar on the brew.

S: Roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, a nice woodsiness, and spice.

T: The Belgian part has been mostly overpowered here; it drinks like a really nice porter. Coffee, crushed cacao beans, a leafy, tannic bitterness, and vanilla. A small citric character that could be hops or the tangerine peel that Stone claimed to throw in there -- but it's really restrained, and works very well with the chocolate (I was honestly expecting a clash). I don't get any of the influence of the Belgian yeast in here, besides a little phenolic spice bite in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied, but full in flavor. Carbonation is higher than I'd expect in a porter, which is a nod to the Belgian influence and bottle conditioning. Restrained ABV.

D: I was apprehensive about trying this, because I don't think chocolates and orange flavors (which were strongly advertised) go well together. The actual execution is better than I expected. My hat is off to Stone.

Arbitrator, Mar 11, 2010
Photo of jsh420
3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours dark brown with ruby highlights - big 2+ finger tan head that leaves plenty of lacing

smell is ok - smells more like a wit then a strong dark - it has some dark fruit (figs) but not a lot

taste - wow this beer is not even close to a belgian strong dark - lots of chocolate and tobacco - at the very end i get the dark fruity malts - while the taste is good i marked it down

mouthfeel is medium - again most belgians have some life unless they are aged for a while - this is more like a stout very low on carbonation and very smooth and creamy

drinkability is so so - i doubt i would buy this again

jsh420, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of SanAnMan
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - dark, rich, and bold. Deep black with a thin, foamy white head. Poured into a Belgian-style snifter. Although light, the foam stays through and adheres slightly to the glassware.

S - roasted coffee comes through at first, followed by bits of dark chocolate and burnt wood. Continued whiffs bring memories of a good quality dark chocolate bar. I'm quickly falling in love here.

T - ok, the dark roasted notes I mentioned earlier SCREAM out loud in the taste. Slightly bittersweet, with taste of dark cocoa and a strong earthy balance. A nice mellow alcohol taste comes through in the finish, with some dryness. Really good stuff here.

M - the dark hues make it hard to take on too much of this beer at once. But if you take the time and appreciate a good quality porter, this is one to enjoy. The alcohol content provides a nice warmth to a very savory beer.

T - as someone who LOVES porters and stouts, this is a must try, even if it is in limited release. I wouldn't have even known this was brewed in a Belgian style if I hadn't known any better. Classic porter flavors that borders into stout characteristics. If you like your beer big, black, and bold, you gotta give this a try.

SanAnMan, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of plaid75
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Chip Shop, Brooklyn, NYC.

Poured a deep black hue with a half finger foamy tan head there was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured a roasted malt and slight ester.

The taste consisted of a full roasted malt, some smoke, a touch of sugar and a bit of ester.

The mouthfeel was full and finished dry.

Overall a tasty delight.

plaid75, Mar 05, 2010
Photo of ZorPrime
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ok, Stone is a very good brewery and colleagues at work know that I'm a big fan. One colleague offered me this beauty as a gift!

The color is dark black. This looks like a stout. The head is brown and very nice looking. It sticks quite well to the glass too. Almost perfect to my eyes. In the aroma, I get some yeasts which is typical of belgian beers. Chocolates notes too and some hops (Stone always some hops in the aroma).

On the taste side, it is chocolaty with some espresso notes. Nice bitterness which reminds me of espresso coffee. Moreover, I get some fruity/banana notes but not too strong. I would say the taste is complex. Oh yeah, I get some spicy notes too... my god this a complex beer! Awesome.

The body of this beer is medium with some carbonation that is present in the mouth. Also, the taste lingers in the mouth for quite a long time. Good mouthfeel.

Overall this is almost prefect! I don't know how somebody could hold on this one until 2012... impossible!

ZorPrime, Mar 01, 2010
Photo of djaeon
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a standard pint glass. Has a dark amber/red color when pouring. Finished with a one finger head that dissipates after about a minute. Leaves a good amount of lacing.

S: Smells a bit spicy. Peppery hints maybe?

T: To me, this seems to have a big hop taste up front, which is followed by a sort of bitter bakers chocolate flavor.

M: This has a moderate amount of carbonation, with an excellent mouthfeel.

D: More drinkable than the last couple VE's.

djaeon, Feb 27, 2010
Photo of avalon07
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had an appropriately dark color and impenetrable consistency. There was a half inch of light brown colored head and very good lacing.

S: A good aroma of coffee, chocolate, malt and some other spices.

T: This beer had a big taste that reminded more of a porter than of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Dark chocolate, coffee, malt, mild spices, and some other indeterminate ingredients. Complex, with lots of focus.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a very dry finish.

D: Another extremely drinkable beer from Stone.

avalon07, Feb 23, 2010
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Polished mahogany with black cherry highlights when viewed with late afternoon sunshine behind the glass. The golden brown sugar colored crown isn't Belgianesque, but it's close. The foam is lightly creamy and marshmallow sticky, which is leading to lots of eye pleasing lace.

So this is what a Belgian Imperial porter smells like. It doesn't seem that different from an American Imperial porter since the Belgian yeast isn't going great guns.... at least where the aroma is concerned. Dark chocolate and coffee are easily appreciated, but the more exotic ingredients (see below) aren't. It's still wonderful smelling beer.

Vertical Epic 09.09.09 doesn't quite measure up to the recent excellence of this series. Having said that, there's still more than 20 ounces to go and a whole lot more time to be impressed. At least the spiciness of the Belgian yeast has made an appearance on the palate.

Regarding style, Belgian Imperial porter or Belgian stout work as well as anything. There is too much roasted malt for it to be a BSDA. In any case, the beer isn't as complex as its ingredients list would suggest. Still, Stone deserves kudos for brewing (slightly) outside the box. No 'same old, same old' for these guys.

Specifics include chocolate wafer cookies, dark caramel, black tea leaves, ground clove, black pepper, vanilla beans and several staves worth of oak. Tangerine peel is nowhere to be found. In addition, there's a surprising amount of bitterness for a beer that is approaching six months of age. Alcohol masking is expertly done.

The mouthfeel barely hangs onto the score seen above. More heft and more creaminess would have made it a solid 4.0 rather than a tenuous one. The bubbles are slightly harsh early and settle down nicely in the bottom half of the bomber.

Stone Vertical Epics from 2005 to 2008 were outstanding. Unfortunately, this 2009 version doesn't quite reach that level of excellence. My hopes aren't high that it will improve by the 2012 vertical tasting, but stranger things have happened.

BuckeyeNation, Feb 18, 2010
Photo of Onenote81
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 2/15/10.

Bottle poured into a tulip glass. Pours a very thick dark black. No light is getting through this beer at all. A decent-sized tan head rests on top. Great retention; left lots of webbing on the glass. Scents of chocolate malts, some yeast, mulch, dark breads, and slight booze.

Great deep body here. Moderately carbonated with a rich full finish. Complex flavors including dark chocolate, black coffee, pipe tobacco, light yeast, and just hints of the booziness I found in the nose. This wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was surprising. What a treat! I've got another bottle I'm going to sit on awhile. I'm interested to see how some of these flavors develop.

Onenote81, Feb 16, 2010
Photo of projectflam86
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

projectflam86, Feb 15, 2010
Photo of Xul
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown with a one finger tan head, leaving behind some solid lacing.

S: Predominant aromas of chocolate and banana with a bit of roastiness in back, along with a slight hint of coffee and some caramel. Bitterness comes from the chocolate and coffee along with some earthy hoppiness.

T: Massive amounts of roastiness up front, giving way to a complex mix of flavors through the middle and int othe back. Chocolate comes through later along with some orange zest and caramel. Coffee-ish bitterness comes through, leaving a well-balanced aftertaste.

M: Smooth with medium carbonation, coats the tongue well.

D: Immensely drinkable for the style and gravity, could definitely drink a few of these if not for the rarity factor.

Xul, Feb 14, 2010
Photo of tpd975
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice darker shade of brown with a nice tan head. Some nice lace was noted.

S: Aromas of chocolate, mild coffee and banana like Belgian yeast.

T: Flavors of chocolate covered dark fruit. Hints of anise, light smoke and a touch of Belgian yeast.

M: Medium in body, smooth nice carbonation.

D: Good my favorite of the series. Pretty tasty beer.

tpd975, Feb 13, 2010
Photo of DmanGTR
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Review from notes (9/22/09) at MacGregor's

A - poured very dark brown with short lived tan head that left a nice cap and laces well. 4.5

S - strong roasted barley and a hint of coffee beans. Some cream and caramel. Mild fruity undertones. 4.5

T - rich toasted malt, caramel, and expresso. Wow this is awesomely roasty like an intense porter. I only complain of the booziness. 4.0

M - thick and full bodied but not sticky at all. Smooth. 4.5

D - I cannot find flaw with its drinkability. 5.0

DmanGTR, Feb 10, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

(A)- Pours a very dark black color that produced a 3+finger foamy tan colored head with some good retention behind it. Left lacing everywhere; all the way down the glass.

(S)- Orange peel & lemon. Bits of dry cocoa. Just a tiny dash of wheaty hay & banana.

(T)- Exactly as the smell predicted, only with a much more pronounced roasted & cocoa profile. Great orange peel finish.

(M)- A good carbonation level & balance. Definitely not your average Belgain strong dark. A bigger roasted profile with a great cocoa essence.

(D)- A big & rich Belgain Dark made with some dynamic orange & cocoa. Should only get better with age; it should mellow out some of the edges. Another fantastic brew by Stone.

sweemzander, Feb 07, 2010
Photo of natelocc787
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Far from a chocolate quad, not a quad at all. Definitively a BSDA from start to finish. Dark brown, close to black in appearance. Had to give this one a 4.5 score in the taste category because of the complexity it offered. It has a very sharp tobacco bite, black malt, roasted malts, maple syrup, overripe banana, chocolate covered blackberries, Belgian yeast notes and even more. One of those beers you could pull all night from. Definitely young, still a pleasure, the mouthfeel should improve with age as well, understated carbonation with a small bubble feel on the lip but a bigger bubble feel as it's swallowed. I still think this would have been better using any yeast strain that wasn't Belgian.

natelocc787, Feb 03, 2010
Photo of cameraman
4.6/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer is poured a dark brown color, with hints of garnet along the bottom of the glass. A thick half inch head, tan in color, lacing down the glass. A roasted melt scent, followed by a chocolate fragrance, with hints of Belgian yeast spiciness at the end of each scent. The chocolate come out at the front, the yeast brings the fruity esters and spiciness. Then a unique citric bitterness strikes the palate, with touches of grass and earth. The citrus flavor lingers on the palate long after each taste is gone. The texture is tad watery at the front, but grows to a rich and smooth feel, rolling across the palate. A medium dryness is left on the backend. The aroma is intoxicating, the color is very inviting. The flavor a chocolaty delight, the smooth and rich feel just adds to this very drinkable beer.

cameraman, Feb 03, 2010
Photo of PorterLambic
3.18/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours black with a big, fluffy brown head that is slow to dissipate. Some waterfalling. Looks rich and forboding at the same time.
Smell is mostly absent. Very light smoke, hops and malt.
Taste is malt, coffee, smoke, alcohol, earthy with some light spice.
Medium body,light effervescence, warming. Good but sadly nothing special.

PorterLambic, Feb 02, 2010
Photo of Mosley1212
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Completely opaque. Rich black color with a full inch of brown head.

S - Roasted malt, chocolate, coffe, and a hint of fruit? Banana maybe?

T - A lot like it smells. You first get a taste of the roasted malt with hints of black coffee and bitter chocolate. It's an ok taste, not the best.

M - Really bitter taste. I'm not that big of a fan.

D - It's on ok brew, but I prefer Stone's other products. I love this brewery, but I'm not a fan of this one. Overall, it's ok. Not much else to say.

Mosley1212, Jan 31, 2010
Photo of fastsrt
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle poured in duvel tulip
A: opaque black, poured rather rough to make a billowing 3 soapy brown head. looked sexy in the glass.
S: belgian yeasts, coriander mostly, background banana, in the initial nose. smells great, roasted chocolate malts. my mouth started to water.
T: not what i expected form the nose, it caught me off guard. very stout like, interesting with the combinations of yeasts and spices, tastes green like the flavors have potential but, have not yet balanced out yet, the beer lacks balance that i look for in Belgian style ales.
M: the malts coat the mouth and does not let go, it finishes dry and bitter. which both the malts and hops contribute, full body that the carbonation does allot to lift for a lighter feel.
D: drinks like 10% alcohol. Astringent tastes, goes down but its a bit harsh would be better in 2012. (if you think this is an A+ give rochefort 8 or even chimay blue a try)

fastsrt, Jan 30, 2010
Photo of Hershdawg
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pour from a bottle in to Vertical Epic Glass.

Appearance: Black, opaque. Lightly tan head. Good lacing.

Smell: chocolate, coffee, caramel. banana?

Taste: heavy chocolate feel after 4 months. First time I had it it had a banana flavor to it from the yeast but that fell out. Fresh and aged this is still a great porter. hints of vanilla, and tangerine. These diminish after short aging.

Mouthfeel: Thick, not quite as thick as nitroed-Guiness. Feels good on the tongue.

Drinkability: As extreme as this brew may seems I could drink it forever.

Hershdawg, Jan 30, 2010
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 830 ratings.