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

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

841 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 841
Reviews: 533
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 35
Gots: 274 | FT: 14
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
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Ratings: 841 | Reviews: 533 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of argock
3.45/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz brown bottle into a Chimay chalice. No freshness date. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $7.99.

A: Very dark brown with amber edges topped with 1-finger, cake batter colored bubbly head with decent retention and a few random lace formations.

S: The aroma profile is very complex but not that complementary, kind of like a palette of smells with not a lot of cohesiveness. Musty and candy sweet with major yeastiness with a twinge of citrus.

T: The flavor is also a smattering of different tastes including musty, leafy hops, chocolate, fruity yeast, orange peel, and sweet malt with a leathery edge. Unfortunately, the flavors don't work very well together although it is complex.

M: A solidly medium body with low carbonation and a musty, light chocolate aftertaste

D: I'm not sure what to say about this beer. The parts don't come together very well, but the aromas and flavors are interesting and unique. Maybe some time will take the rougher edges off and produce a more cohesive brew.

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark opaque chocolaty brown with a thick, fine-bubbled tan head. Aroma is not strong but tempting, coffee-ish with a tone of unsweetened chocolate. Flavor is richer than the aroma, mainly of roast coffee with an undertone of unsweet chocolate. Each sip seems different - one has a nutty hint, one toffee and one molasses. Tingly, sassy texture leaves a finish of fine roast coffee. Pity this is a once-only offering!

Photo of jgasparine
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Poured with a 3/4" rocky tan head, which was exceptionally well-retained. Beautiful lacing throughout. The body was a dark opaque brown... almost black. Just beautiful to look at.

S- Smells Belgian... I'm getting Belgian yeast and candy sugar off the nose. It's sufficiently roasty and spicy (nutmeg?). I also conjure up memories of Torrone Italian nougat candy when sniffing this beer. Smells absolutely delicious!

T- Big and malty up front with substantial burnt candy sugar flavor... this sweetness is wonderfully balanced with dryness that seems to come more from spices than hops (strangely). The particular spice is hard to identify... it's somewhat like nutmeg. A friend suggested "Allspice"... but I cannot identify with this spice- I've never smelled it alone. Once this sublime sip is swallowed, you're rewarded with a long, spicy and dry finish. Amazing!

M- Thick and firm with tons of unattenuated sugar and lots of soft carbonation... wonderfully textured and very chewy! Again, this is just a pleasure to be sipping!

D- What's not drinkable about this beer? Nothing I suppose! This is my first Vertical Epic (and hopefully not my last). What a treat!

Photo of hosehead83
4.72/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Stone pint glass
Deep, dark black cherry hue with big, thick tan head
Aroma-Chocolate cherry cordial,vanilla,coffee
Taste-Wow! A dizzying array of flavors-Dark chocolate, smoky vanilla, dark fruits, toasted malts, an underlying burnt, hoppy citrus, like charred orange wedges. A lot going on here to say the least. Awesomely complex, with a tingly, snappy, warming finish. Very smooth and drinkable, but definitely a sipper! Deliciously different and definitely worth a try.
Get some while you can!!

Photo of czechsaaz
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Kind of bitter that I didn't get to this on the actual date but I've been sick. First V.E. since '03 that I didn't get to on time but no need to rush it if I couldn't smell or taste it.

Really fruity right off with the aroma with a bunch of yeast esters. Malt aroma is mostly darker caramel types and a hint of roast. A little warmer and I get honey.

Deep black colored and totally opaque when held up to the light. Poured with a huge rocky head that eventually faded to a solid 1/2 inch layer of tan foam.

First impact of the flavor for me is the belgian yeast. It's spicy and has fruit esters. Malt component then kicks in with a bunch of caramel but also the hint of roast that I got in the aroma. Good hop bitterness and a hint of woody hop flavor. I get a little tannin from the oak that comes off as a dryness on the back end.

Full bodied with a lively carbonation level.

Nice beer. One of the better V.E.s fresh. It's good to drink now but strong nough and with enogh complexity to age as intended.

Photo of goodbyeohio
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this beer is all about banana and coconut, with a sprinkling of baker's chocolate and belgian dubbel-y sharp tartness/metallic quality. sippable for sure, enjoyable- yes. especially (as loren recommended) as it warms. i'm not getting any of the orange peel at all.. the vanilla.. maybe- is it the tartness? it looks like a porter and reminds me of some impy porters i've had in my day. it's schizophrenic but tasty. i'm not sure this beer will make it to 2012 in one piece but what do i care, i'm ebaying my 2nd bottle.

Photo of travolta
4.53/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

App: Beautiful espresso head, light lacing, nice retention. Pours through the head in such a great way.

Nose: Some toffee, coffee, dry chocolate up front. Sourdough or bannana nut bread in the middle. A slight pine or sage at the end.

Taste: Soft up front while bitter at the end. Chocolate malt blends to green floral bitterness. The middle has a candy fruit taste. Mouthfeel goes from watery to syrupy to dry. Tangerine is polite, but present in the end.

Notes: This will be the first of my tastings over the next 48 years. I purchased four cases and will review a bottle every year on 09-09-? until gone. I hope this works out.

Photo of waltonc
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've been looking forward to trying this after reading all of the feverish praise on the forums. Pours very dark brown to black in color with robust tan head. Smells of charred malts, porter-like, with an orange-peel twist. Taste is more of the charred malt, chocolate, strong orange presence, reminds me a bit of Von Diemen black saison. A tad of vanilla and coffee here as well. Flavor is somewhat bitter. Medium thickness, fairly high carbonation. Interesting brew, but it doesn't entice me to finish the whole bomber, making this a partial drainpour given the unnecessary 22 oz bottling. Why, other than the fact that prior VE entries have been in bombers, is this in a bomber?

Photo of ArrogantB
3.2/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Super dark black with a good two inches of brown head, it looks like a stout. It smells a lot like malty chocolate and the taste is quite similar with the addition of a belgian yeastiness that saves this from being a stout in my mind. Still, maybe its a Belgian-style stout. I got not hint of orange-chocolate candy. This was very average to me, it was neither offensive nor impressive despite the uniqueness of the beer.

Photo of edthered413
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber bottle into a Gulden Draak tulip glass. Pours very dark, almost black with garnet hues on the outside of the glass when help up to the light, Nice two finger head that holds up well. Smell is of chocolate, slight roasted coffee, slight vanilla and slightly orange. Taste up front is chocolate and roasted barley with some coffee, a little vanilla. I was sipping this slowly and as it warmed I could taste more of the vanilla and also some orange and some oak. Medium mouthfeel and smooth. Very drinkable but a sip and savor type of beer to me. I think this one will be better with some aging.

Photo of magnj
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a wine tasting glass this brew produces a big tan head that hangs around for a respectable time considering the high ABV. As a result of the quality head it leave quality lacing. The color of the body is as brown as you can get before reaching black, only revealing it's true self when a single sip is left in the glass.

S - The nose is roasty toasty with some fruity note though I would not say citrus, but rather typical stout/porter esters. Mixed in are chocolate and weak coffee as well as some toffee. Nothing indicates this is a Belgian beer. I understand the style is a topic of debate and I am no expert but it looks, smells and tastes largely like a Porter to me, regardless of what yeast was used. It's complex for sure but my poor sense of smell and lack of descriptive vocabulary leave me with little to say besides, this smells really nice.

T - Again there is a lot going on and I think at this point it is a very challenging beer to pick out all of the nuances. At it's heart is a solid porter, not overdone, harsh, or otherwise offensive. Chocolate and coffee mix with several more complex components. There is a unique flavor about it but without reading from the bottle I wouldn't guess it has tangerine, vanilla, or been oaked. All of these are good things in my opinion, they work together to create a complex experience rather than being obvious like some oaked and vanilla offerings can be. Of the "special ingredients" vanilla is the most noticeable and easy to identify after it has been pointed out, the others not so much.

M/D - Feels thin, like it has been fermented nice and low but doesn't come off as boozy at any point. Obviously some residual sweetness but not at all sticky. Dangerously tasty, this one will catch up to you. Sharing it is a very smart idea, working this one alone has been a challenge that as I write this has not yet been overcome.

Longest review I have done in a long time but for a brew that has obviously had a lot of thought put in I feel it deserves an articulate review. I look forward to trying one each September over the next 3 years as well as trying the new installments.

Photo of HopHead84
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Consumed on 9/11/2009 on tap at Stone. The beer appears black with a really thick and creamy two finger light brown head. It has surprisingly great retention and lacing, taking nearly 5 minutes to recede and leaving a thick sheet of foam on the side of my glass.

The nose seemed one dimensional until the beer fully warmed and then the complexities became apparent. The aroma is roasted malt that is well balanced by dark chocolate and to a lesser extent, vanilla. Coffee is well integrated in this beer. A spicy, clove-like character is evident and at a low level, as well as subtle banana. A swirl of the glass brings the Belgian yeast to life, bringing out citrus.

The taste is a complex interplay between chocolate, roast, and a low level of coffee. No one flavor dominates. The beer is also fruity and slightly spicy, with notes of banana esters and a touch of citrus. Vanilla is at a low level and noticeable throughout (more dominant midpalate). Some smoke and char are evident, and there's a moderate level of bitterness in the dry finish. Speaking of the finish, it confused me until I read the beer description and realized it was toasted oak that was so distinct. At the end, coffee lingers, as well as toast and later fruit character. Alcohol is well hidden. The tangerine peels became evident nearly 30 seconds after the finish.

The beer is full bodied with moderate draft carbonation and a thick, creamy, full mouthfeel. I expected nothing from this beer and was pleasantly surprised. Very complex. For the record, Overlord is upset because I beat him in arm wrestling yesterday.

Photo of Overlord
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of Tdizzle
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured into an Allagash stemmed glass, this beer pours a dark, dark brown that's almost black. Some molasses hues line the bottom of my glass as I hold it up to light. A frothy brownish-tan head subsides to a thin cap over the beer. A few streaks of lacing are left behind.

S- Bold notes of rich chocolate and roasted grain are accented by fruity notes of citrus fruit and banana. The Belgian yeast adds a nice spiciness to the aroma.

T- The taste possesses loads of chocolate and deep-roasted malt flavors with Belgian yeast adding its unmistakable imprint. A definite citrus note lingers in the background towards a finish that presents a nice roasted coffee bitterness coupled with estery flavors of banana and more of that spicy Belgian yeast. Complex stuff.

M- Full in body with nicely active carbonation and a velvety-smooth texture.

D- The flavor is so rich that it prevents me from wanting more than one glass. The 8.6% ABV is very well-hidden.

An interesting and unique beer with huge flavors and aromas that all work together really well.

Photo of Murchmac
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

To this point i've supped on the supple bottle of all the VE's, this one is the most interesting thus far.

Pours out the bottle a dark dark black, much to my suprise, like learning Rick Astley was white. Nice lacing, khaki creamy head. Leaves a sticky icky ring around the collar lacing. Like ZZ top, she's got legs.

Smells like bananas, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, citrus, and can pick up that oak smell like abyss has. Again, suprised with this one, like the versatility Delroy Lindo shows as being star of screen and stage.

Tastes like the bottle says. "artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange" Got some bitterness in there from the hops and alkeyhaul.

Can't wait to see how this one ages, I think it will be really good. It will be a good changeup after the light crispness of 06-08 on 12.12.12.

Photo of Foxtrot
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wasn't able to get a bottle on the release date, but better late than never.

Poured into chalice a jet black with a nice big foamy two finger head, with fantastic lacing and very fine bubbles. Stone did a good job bottle conditioning this brew.

Aroma is big on burnt notes and heavy malts with a good dose of belgian yeasts to balance its huge aromatic profile. Some trace amounts of vanilla are present but are hard to find because of the malt content.

Huge taste of burnt and smokey malts up front with huge burnt oak flavors about mid palate, and some light yeast barely making a appereance. This beer focuses mostly on the bitter chocolate and burnt oak to make up the core taste, but a very subtle citrus twang is found underneath it all. I don't think it comes close to being a BSDA at all, but more of a smokey stout than anything else.

Mouthfeel was quite full, the carbonation lifts the flavors off the tongue very well allowing for deeper tastes.

Drinkability is a give or take. Alcohol is hidden well, but some may be put off by its huge brunt notes. Different strokes for different folks.

Photo of Spiderhouse
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A--Dark, oliy brown with minimal foam, but not undercarboanted.

S--Strong coffee, vanilla; a bit of bitter chocolate and some toffee. Some fruit notes too...maybe a little black cherry or plum?

T--As others have mentioned, tastes like it smells. But it has a delightful carbonation and delicious, lingering finish that echoes for a long time on the tongue.

M--Again, the carbonation lends a nice effervescence, and the bpdy is pleasingly substantial without being overbearing.

D--Very drinkable, though for my personal taste, 22 oz. is more than enough. An excellent, complex beer with very good potential. I look forward to my next glass...probably around the end of the Mayan calendar.

Procured at Whole Foods Valencia, CA

Photo of danielharper
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black body, very thin brown head that dissipates quickly. Body is completely opaque and allows no light through. Head should be much greater for a Belgian-style ale.

Smell: Rich chocolate backbone, some spices (coriander?) on top. Notes of chocolate-covered cherries, sweet, inviting. Some alcohol astringency.

Taste: Alcohol astringency is very present in the flavor, particularly in the finish. Otherwise strong flavors of chocolate malt, with a nice bitterness and some vanilla-like spicy undertones. Finish is strongly of vanilla. No tartness present at all, which leads me to suspect that an American-style yeast was used.

Mouthfeel: Thick, luxurious. Low carbonation, mild hops. Slightly chewy.

Drinkability: Very nice beer, although perhaps slightly misclassified as a Belgian-style. It'd be interesting to see how it ages (which is, after all, the point).

Photo of srandycarter
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Very dark, almost black. Tan head leaves cling lace on sides, reduces to disk pretty fast.

S - Dusky, dry smell of cocoa and spices, with a little Belgian yeast note.

T - Cinnamon, cocoa powder, winter spices malty and finish with mild classic Belgian yeast strain.

M - Creamy, medium bodied, good balance.

D - Fun, but not a session beer for me.

Photo of WhatsNewinBooze
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On 9-9-09 Stone brewery released the eighth edition of their Vertical Epic Series exactly 1 year, 1 month and 1 day from the previous years release. These beers are built and designed to be aged until sometime after 12-12-2012, but good luck keeping your hands off of it. This years release is a Belgium style ale brewed with spices and is in fact a complex and layered beer. This beer pours toasty brown color with a creamy caramel colored head. Aromas of vanilla, chocolate and citrus leap out of the glass and make the first sip intriguing. Smooth chocolate malts meld well with the Belgium yeast giving it slight banana flavor and hints of baking spice. The addition of tangerine peel balances the palate with notes citrus. The finish is smooth and lingering with additional flavors of vanilla and toasty french oak.

Photo of HalfFull
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a fresh 22 oz. bomber into a large wine glass. This beer is young and beautiful and I'm just not willing to let it come of age. As such, I consumed this in international waters for legal purposes.

Shows a rich black in color with just a light hint of murky brown highlights. Very little light transmission. A bubbly inch of tan head settles to a surface cap after a few minutes, yielding some nice lacing through the glass.

Offers a nice yeasty nose with a blend of mild and dark chocolate. Touch of slippery vanilla/alcohol and some moderate dried fruit, somewhat bright in flavor.

Interesting that Stone refers to this as a 'Belgian Porter' which seems quite apropos given its profile. Belgian notes are present but subdued both on the aroma and flavor, and there is more chocolate than one might expect from a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Not overly complex on the nose in a yeast sense but quite pleasant. Offers a good level of carbonation and is a bit chewy on the finish with an abundance of chocolate malts. Aroma improves with warming, bump.

Nice drinkability that should improve for a couple years, particularly in regard to yeast notes as compared to the malt structure. 'Somewhat' lightly hopped for a Stone brew, but hop notes become richer and more evident with some air. Nice brew and an interesting take on whatever style it's trying to be.

Viewed as a Baltic Porter of sorts. Hoppier and more ale like and with an ancient yeast. Full body for a Porter yet average for a Belgan, which this isn't really...

Photo of turboedtwo
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of neenerzig
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got it! Poured into my tulip glass. Pours a very dark brown color that lets in no light at all. nice tan head is about 1/2 inch when poured, eventually settling to a nice thick ring lining the inside of the glass. Very nice lace indeed. A nice, slightly roasted malty aroma with hints of vanilla and chocolate along with a slight spice smells as well. Hints of banana and some dark fruit, such as apple and plum round it out. the smell of alcohol is also slightly noticeable. Has a nice chocolate, roasted malt flavor upfront. Sweet, but not overly sweet and also some bitter chocolate notes as well here. Nice vanilla flavor as well, followed by some citrus and a bit of the dark fruit flavor and rounded out with a slight touch of hop bitterness. Very complex flavors here with so much going on a once. The taste of alcohol is present just a little bit on the back end. Has a nice crisp and frothy, full bodied mouthfeel with minimal to moderate carbonation. Has a sort of oily mouthfeel that I get from a lot of stouts and DIPA's, really coats the palate. Another fantastic beer from Stone. they really put their own stamp on this style of beer! Glad I got a bottle to age, can certainly see myself going and getting this again in the near future to drink again fresh and getting another bottle or 2 to age as well.

Eric

Photo of originalsin
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My first experience with Stone's Vertical Epics... I've heard good things from everyone about this so far.

Pours a deep dark ruby red with a very light tan head that forms and dissipates instantly with no lace. Second pour- way vigorous pour yielded an awesome looking tan head that was like a living entinty- receding and coming forwards, spots of darker tan. Bubbles all over. Pretty cool to just watch. Sorry buddy bout to drink you anyway.

The aroma is quite interesting. Some sweetness from belgian yeast is followed by hints of hazelnut, some citrus zest even, and vanilla notes. I like this. Taste follows the bottle description quite well, almost to a T- though the vanilla isn't quite as present as I had expected it to be.

Drinkability suffers a bit from a somewhat awkward and viscous mouthfeel. Nonetheless, I'll be buying more of this. And more of this. It's a good beer. See for yourself.

Photo of Diablerie
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Alright, so where to begin? I'm a big fan of the Vertical Epic Ales--they're very innovative concoctions and tend to "break the mold", if you don't mind me using a cliche. I managed to procure a few bottles from the local Beverages & More, which had literally received its shipment but minutes before I walked in. Such sweet serendipity.

Anyway, enough of my banter...on to the important stuff.

Appearance -
The look of this beer was quite inviting, having a subtle orange tint to an otherwise dark coloration. It looks thick, and, misleadingly enough, it appears heavier than it actually tastes. An ephemeral, tan head appears.

Aroma -
I smell banana, cloves, maybe a bit of hazelnut, and a predominant note of smoke. I don't really catch a vanilla aroma, although I do catch the sweet scent of the Belgian yeast. The chocolate malts aren't as noticeable here as they are in the taste (ostensibly)--I think the scent of smoke overpowers it.

Taste -
There's a nice harmony of chocolate, zesty citrus, some vanilla (though, again, I struggle to taste it--I kind of expected it to be less subtle, I guess?), balanced out hoppiness, and of course, smoke (akin to slightly burnt coffee grounds).

Mouthfeel -
Contrary to other reviewers and patrons here, I have to say that I thought the mouthfeel was a bit rough from what the VE's usually present. The alcohol was, I'm sorry to say, a bit too noticeable, and that accompanied with a bit of a heavy hand on the carbonation contributed, I felt, to a bit of an unpleasant feel. The taste definitely helps buttress this fault though, so it's certainly not a defeat for Stone here.

Drinkability -
After considering the mouthfeel, its drinkability was a bit impaired. However, after the taste and the complexity factor in, the beer is a very interesting and engaging experience. I, without a doubt, enjoyed the hour spent sipping it.

As a closing thought, while I still think that the '07 VE was by the far the best yet, this is a formidable addition to the ranks. I recommend trying it, if you can.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 841 ratings.