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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.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

844 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 844
Reviews: 535
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 34
Gots: 277 | 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:
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 844 | Reviews: 535 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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

22oz bottle poured into a Chouffe tulip

A deep, dark brown, borderline black on the pour with a huge khaki head that fills the tulip perfectly. Some pretty fantastic retention and lacing, this guy holds shape really well.

Bittersweet dark chocolate notes right off the bat. The Belgian yeast strain adds a bit of tang and a noticeable presence of orange peel. Deep roast, tiptoeing char, and a herbal, earthy hop presence. A lot to offer here.

The flavors do not disappoint. Deep roasted malt with dark Belgian chocolate up front and orange peel throughout. The yeast adds a level of tartness that melds well with the sweetness of the chocolate. Dark fruits make an appearance briefly before a dry, coffee flavor grabs hold for the finish.

Smooth and lush. The carbonation is near perfect giving this a well balanced mouthfeel. Hearty and full, but light and playful in the right spots.

Some warming in the finish, but not a lot. The flavors really complement each other nicely and make this a fine drinking stout, er, belgian porter.

Photo of blackie
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

billed as a Belgian imperial porter

a: snifter serving, pours pitch black with a thick coating of creamy mocha head, very nice retention and light lace

s: smooth, dark roasted barley gives loads of bittersweet chocolate coated caramels carrying a subdued hop aroma, some smoky espresso, the oak and vanilla really start to push through after considerable warming, lightly yeasty underneath the dominant roast profile

m: carbonation delicate and smooth on the medium-full bodied beer, creamy

t: rich dark chocolates and smoky espresso creme drizzled with caramel, thick with a full range dark barley flavors, earthy hop profile provides a nice bitterness as the flavor turns slightly towards the charred side, at this point the oak and vanilla reveal themselves alongside a light dusting of yeast

d: no problems here, my favorite of the vertical epic series

Photo of asabreed
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber into a Brooklyn tulip.

Quite honestly, after I didn't enjoy the 05.05.05 a few weeks ago as much as I was hoping, I decided to try this fresh and see what happens instead of cellaring.

Appearance: Nearly opaque in color, but very very dark, with a good mocha-colored head, leaving nice thick lacing above the glass, along with some raindrops and snake-like drops sliding down the glass.

Smell: A clean roasted malt presence is here, along with some spice and pepper, a little earthy phenolics, and some charred malt, leaving some coffee and chocolate to make itself known.

Taste: What I like here is the initial burst of semi-raucous hops that hit the palate first, with good acidic bitterness. Followed are dark and roasted malts, a bit of tar and charcoal, a bit of phenolic earthiness, and some discernible yet unsweetened chocolate and mild coffee. Lingering leafy and rind-like hoppy finish, along with some roasted and charred malts and tar and earthiness, and mild mild chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Bright and intense champagne-like carbonation initially, but then it moves into some creaminess as it goes toward the back end, finishing with a bit of interesting graininess that I like. A triumvirate in its movement, which you don't seem to find often.

Drinkability: A thoroughly good and enjoyable brew, with nice nuance and complexity. It seems like the same thing may happen here that happened with the 05.05.05 in a few years: the hop presence will fade, leaving the sweeter malt characteristics to come to the forefront. However, it almost seems like cellaring a good IPA, one where the hop presence works nicely with the malt presence, so much so that maybe you don't want to have almost an entirely malty base and let the hops die off. If that makes any sense. That said, I've enjoyed this a lot, and I'm not surprised many others have also.

Photo of cnally
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Rich dark brown/black that is non-transparent. HUGE sticky coffee brown head that fades to tan but fades about half way through. Leaves a great deposit of lace down the glass.

S - Right at first I get a mix of caramelized malts and dark sugars. The specialty black and/or chocolate malts can be picked up on in the background. The spices used can't really be detected by my olfactory (I do have a cold), and just the tiniest bit of ethyl alcohol aroma at the very end.

T - Again, the malts are the star in this one and there is a nice balance of base and specialty grains, not too overpowering. Nice roasted/espresso flavor as the beer warms in the mouth with a nice semi-sweet flavor cutting the palate. A sweet earthy spice character that interrupts towards the middle is pleasant and finishes with a nice bitterness.

M/D - Definitely a porter with the nice creamy medium-heavy body and feels very smooth on the tongue. Low carbonation let the flavors shine. Finishes a little bit dry due to the bittering. No real alcohol flavor but the cheek warming sensation is definitely there.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Rustico back in 2009.

Poured near black with same faint garnet highlights. A nice, big tan head with a lot of lacing as it went down. Smelled of roasted malt, Belgian yeast, chocolate, orange, vanilla, and a bit of oak. The taste was quite similar, with the oak and orange peel really coming out. Medium mouthfeel, but a bit too dry, likely from the oak. Overall, a very nice and interesting addition to the series, and I'm looking forward to tasting it again over the next few years.

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

22 oz bottle I picked up at Hop City for 8 bucks or so. Thought I missed the boat on this one but was glad to see it lying about. Served up in a tulip.

A: Much darker than I was expecting. This might as well be black, very dark. Further investigation leads me to believe this is an incredibly dark, burnt brown. There is no chance of seeing through this sucker. Just impossible. Got about a finger of dark brown head off the pour. Has some pretty good retention as it recedes down to a bubbly ring that is imcomplete but sits on the glass. Moving it around on the glass leaves some lace on the glass and a dark brown film at times. Very impressive looking but much darker and more of a dark porter or stout look to it.

S: This is yet again more of a stout or porter type aroma coming out here. Very big in the chocolate department. Heavy on the cocoa, some dark chocolate. Getting some of the grains coming through along with the Belgian yeast quality. Fruity notes are very light in the nose, maybe some light cherry and berries. Light notes of coffee on the back end.

T: Still staying in the stout range. Getting a good amount of dark chocolate and cocoa mixing with a good amount of coffee to tell the truth. Strange and really threw me off for a BSDA, so stout in flavor at times. Heavy roast and smokiness coming out at times. not really getting a huge Belgian yeast character, no heavy spiciness in here. Maybe a touch of clove and pepper peeking through. Light notes of vanilla and molasses. Light fruitiness with some berry, plum, and grape. Muted though. It tastes great, but it doesn't seem to fall into the style for me.***As the beer warmed, I am getting a slight hint of the orange and tangerine flavors. The vanilla is coming out a bit more as well as the oak.

M: Heavy side of medium in body. Has some weight to it but if definitely too thin to be full bodied. Carbonation is on the high side at the start, but it isn't a turn off. It works well with the alcohol heat kicking in here. Seems to tone down the ABV at times but still has a good amount of heat on the throat and tummy. Aftertaste is all coffee and chocolate.

D: This isn't bad at all. I am enjoying the hell out of it but everytime I think BSDA, it doesn't seem right. So much more of a stout for sure. Is it bad? no. So we are still in business here. Shocked me a bit from the get go, but was still a good drink for sure. Easy drinking, still a sipper, but still good stuff.

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

A- Black with some faint ruby highlights coming through; bubbly, tan head.

S- Roasted malt with some burnt notes, chocolate malt and some vanilla.

T- Nice roasted/burnt malt flavor with some chocolate notes, complemented nicely with some citrus rind flavors.

M- Medium to full feel with a nice flow of flavor across the palate.

D- A unique twist on a porter; the Belgian yeast give in some very interesting qualities. Really worth trying!

Photo of dasenebler
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark but not thick and brooding. It might be opaque, but I don't really give a hoot. Light tan head. Okay lacing.

Spicy aroma with ethanol fumes. Touch of fruit.

Flavor is roasty and smoky. I'm not really getting the complex fruit character that Stone advertises. Somewhat hoppy. Basically this is a porter with the alcohol content of an imperial, but not the flavor to back it up. Mouthfeel was smooth, but not creamy. It's going down very easy right now though.

This Vertical is tasty, but far from "epic", and kind of disappointing given the price (7 bucks a bomber). Nevertheless, it's good, well-crafted beer. I'd expect nothing less from Stone.

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

22 oz bottle

A: Dark brown under a good sized light brown head. Great lace and retention.

S: Sweet malt, dark fruit, hint of roasted character and nuttiness, mahybe a little bit of oak and a bit of banana and bubble gum. Malt still dominates here, so I'm interested to see if in a few years some of the other character will come out. Still a good aroma.

T: Sweet again, but this time a definite Belgian yeast character. Bitterness is fairly high, no surprise considering the brewer, roasted and chocolate character blend with the bitterness well. Alcohol is there, hint of oak. Dark fruit sticks to the tongue and appears in the aftertaste.

M/D: Full bodied, a little prickly on the tongue. Alcohol is apparent. Drinkability is nice, very complex beer. Will be interesting to see how these complexities evolve over time.

Photo of tuckevalastin
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pure black with a large foamy tan head.

S: Surprisingly it has a fuit tone that comes across the strongest.

T: Toasty and smoked with a hoppy finish. Some coffee flavors in the after taste. Not much of the choclate or fruit flavors comes through but some of their sweetness does. No strong alcohol taste.

M: A bit heavy but not so thick and without any heat. Relatively smooth. Feels alot like your average stout.

D: A nice casual drinker. It's a bit heavy but nit a task to finish.

Overall a nice beer. It's my first introduction to the Vertical Epic series and I'll certainly pick up the 10/10/10 when it comes out.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 844 ratings.