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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

535 Reviews
THE BROS
95
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 535
Hads: 851
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 6.9%
Wants: 34
Gots: 280 | 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
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Reviews: 535 | Hads: 851
Photo of DmanGTR
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
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 (496 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Prime 16's CT launch party for Stone into a 12oz pint-style glass.

A: Black body with brown highlights, topped by a quarter-inch of fine brown foam with admirable retention and good lace.

S: Roasted malts up front (chocolate and coffee), backed up with some rich yeast and a hint of citrus.

T: A lot like the nose, with malt leading off ahead of a rich fruity yeast flavor and a supremely dry bitter finish. A fair amount of alcohol heat at the end. Complex, but not entirely harmonious.

M: Medium-bodied with abundant soft carbonation; nice.

D: A little bitter and hot to score well here; will probably impress with age, however.

Notes: Certainly a unique beer - I love the combination of the Belgian yeast and the roasted malts. The citrus and vanilla don't to much for me in the style, though. I get this one will be awesome in three years, though.

Cheers! (876 characters)

Photo of cokes
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Damn near black with magenta highlights when held up to a light. A compact tan head migrates in time to the edges and shows decent stickiness from there.
The nose is full of mocha initially. Chocolately, roasty, and somewhat smoky, with traces of vanilla and tar. Over time and way in the background, an oily ciric peel emerges along with whispers of banana bread.
It wanders into the mouth very much a portly Porter or Stout, full of coffee bean roastedness, tar, smoke, chocolate, and anise. These are gripping and thorough, staying the duration. In the midsection comes a cameo from a Dubbel, with clove and banana esters, a more forward sense of vanilla, and some citric-peel fruitiness. This is especially true after the yeast pour-in. That mingles into the moderate levels of citric/pine hoppiness, that emphasizes an offsetting bitterness rather than clear hop flavors. A light, port-like alcohol vapor exists on the swallow, but is well-masked by the lingering burnt qualities.
Fairly full bodied with minor CO2 giving it an oily, silky, very Stout-like texture(and a BIG Stout feel at that).
The carbonation will be the thing to watch as this ages. With more of it, some of the subdued Belgian-esque/Dubbel traits may push towards the surface.
I like it quite a bit right now, as a sort of spiced Imperial Porter. We'll see what happens from here. (1,358 characters)

Photo of Gmann
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an almost near black color with a brown head that quickly settles into a light ring. Very much looks like a stout. The aroma is of roasted malt and milk chocolate and that is pretty much all that I am picking up. The taste is of a beautiful chocolate flavor, milk and dark chocolate with what I am thinking is a belgian candi sugar sweetness. There is some caramel and toffee characteristics to this brew. I believe that Stone is going for a Belgian stout on this one. The flavors are that of a stout but with none of the bitterness. A nice chewy feel with plenty of carbonation to make this quite drinkable. This is a damn tasty beer which is heavy yet drinkable. To me it is more stout like but has none of the roasted malt bitterness and is just darn delious. Good show.

# 800 y'all!! (794 characters)

Photo of blackie
4.28/5  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 (861 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

148th review on BA
Bottle to Tulip

App- A very dark brown with some lighter ruby highlights. Nice 1 1/2 finger head that had a deep tan head on it as well.

Smell- A big malty, chocolate smell had some booziness behind it as well.

Taste- Nice tasty flavor that drinks very big. A spicy, malty, chocolate and a bit bready feel.

Mouth- Smoothy, malty and a big palate pleaser. Medium bodied with a fairly medium carbontion. Really a big beer to this one.

Drink- Pretty good after two years in the cellar. It's got a lot of flavor and it's quite different. (557 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
2.99/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a very dark brown with two fingers of foamy light brown-orange head that reduced down into a thick film leaving some streaky lacing.
S: Dark fruits and Belgium spices. Slight sweetness and faint yeast. Not potent smelling.
T: Woody, toasted grains, some fruit, hints of Belgium spices, with some alcohol notes. Leaves a dark coffee aftertaste in your mouth. Also has chocolate notes, especially in the aftertaste. None of these flavors are huge however. Aftertaste is slightly off-putting.
M: Surprisingly thin. Not much flavor either. Has a predominantly toasted flavor.
D: This might be an okay porter, but this was a very unimpressive Belgium strong dark ale. Not much flavor was present and it has a disappointingly thin body. Flavor was surprisingly toasted without a lot of sweet fruits, spices or yeast. This beer didn't have much of a smell either. What flavors were present were decent though. I was pretty let down by this Stone offering. (997 characters)

Photo of EgadBananas
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Black for the most part, with some browning around the edges of the glass. Pronounced stout-colored head, very creamy. Retention is good, with some pretty tan splotches of lace.

S - Has a very dark smell to it. You can definitely make out the sweetness of chocolate and roastiness. Theres a tiny sting of spice, with mixed in bitterness. It smells mighty tasty.

T - This is an intense beer. The spices jump out at me first, immediately following a chocolate sweetness mixed with some bitterness of some coffee or expresso. Theres an underlying fruitiness to it that adds to the complexity. With all the other flavors, it's hard to detect much, if any, alcohol.

M - Medium to full body; rests comfortably inbetween in my opinion. Goes down smooth without feeling too heavy or filling.

D - With nearly every Stone, one just never seems enough. I wish I had the patience (or means to acquire all vintages of the "Epics") to see this 10 year concoction in its full glory. (977 characters)

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. (880 characters)

Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  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. (356 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle.

Dark milk chocolate-y brown body with a tall, thick, creamy, dirty khaki head. Great lacing. Intriguing nose of cocoa, milk chocolate, vanilla, light roasted coffee, cardamom, anise, and maybe a hint of orange zest. Very interesting and nice. Toasted, nutty malts, and licorice up front. Scorched brown sugar provides some sweetness. Coffee and dark chocolate bitterness picks up and swells to the finish. More dark chocolate and notes of vanilla, root beer, and cardamom. Citrus and herbal bitterness come on strong (joining the coffee) and linger for a long time. Tobacco, and minty, spicy accents also stick around for the finish. Very interesting and quite delicious. Medium-full body with a slightly creamy feel. This may be my favorite VE yet... (767 characters)

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 9/25/2009. Bottle. Pours black with a pretty, small chocolate colored head. Aroma of rich roasted malt, smoke, bitter chocolate, roasted nuts, and a touch of Belgian yeast. Flavor of roasted and charred malt and wood/cedar with some roasted nuts/peanut butter notes. Subtle notes of citrus eventually make their presence. Very nice, great beer from Stone. (367 characters)

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.59/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this sometime at the end of 2012, as part of a 03.03.03 - 12.12.12 tasting. I had meant to enter these a while ago while they were fresh and add a few extra details, but that didn't happen. Review from notes. Anyway, here we go.

3.0 A: Black color. Not much of a head.

4.0 S: Nose on this is quite impressive. Semi-sweet tangerine peel, oak, chocolate. Herbal and earthy hoppiness. Caramel and lots of spiciness.

3.5 T: Like the nose, but not as impressive.

3.5 M: Medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Lightly creamy. Good here.

3.5 D: Good enough. This tastes like palate fatigue. (609 characters)

Photo of argock
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
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. (1,031 characters)

Photo of prototypic
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

09.09.09 pours a dark mahogany color. Looks a little cola-esque. It's nearly opaque, save for a few burgundy highlights at the edges. A very attractive mocha head tops it off. It's big and stands about three fingers tall. Retention is very good and lacing was thick and sticky. Good lookin' stuff.

The nose is good. It kicks off with a nice, sweet mix of chocolate and caramel. The chocolate scent is very cocoa like. There's an interesting, and delicious smelling, coffee presence. It's fairly strong in the overall mix. Yeast is easily noted, and it smells a little like Belgian yeast. I'm hopeful it's stronger in flavor. There is some evidence of spices, but not much. Alcohol is blended very well.

The flavor is quite good. Cocoa and coffee seem to be the most prominent flavors throughout. There is a hint of sweet caramel, but it's subtle. A little more sweetness might just be a good thing. I am getting more Belgian yeast in flavor, but it doesn't seem to work its usual magic. Perhaps the strong coffee flavor is responsible. I'm a big fan of all things coffee, so it still works pretty well for me. Maybe a little less coffee would help though. As far as spices go, I'm getting a little pepper and clove, but not much else. Alcohol seems light as well. Nice job there.

09.09.09 has a medium body. Carbonation is light and helps give it a really smooth feel. Drinkability is quite good. The flavor is growing on me more and more, and it's going down easy. A bomber = no trouble.

To date, I haven't been blown away by any of the Vertical Epic releases. While I do like 09.09.09 quite a bit, I'm still not blown away. For what it is, it just seems a little too simple. I like the combo of chocolate, coffee, and Belgian yeast, but it doesn't come together perfectly. Maybe the respective proportions need to be adjusted just a bit. It could also use a little something extra in terms of spices. Still good stuff that's definitely worth checking out. (1,961 characters)

Photo of birchstick
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - pours a dark brown, almost stout-like in appearance with a 1 and 1/2 finger head

S - smells of chocolate malts, some spices, and a touch of fruitiness with a bit of piney hop

T - the taste starts with sweet chocolate malts and fades to some dark, sugary fruits (plums being the most dominant). Then, the tangerine peel came into play, with a nice touch of sweet fruits - oranges and a little bit of passion fruit. It finishes with some roasted malt and a bit of piney hop. Once everything is down, there is a tinge of oak and chocolate left on the palate. A lot of stuff going on here that blend together in a really nice way.

M - medium to full body with a decent amount of carbonation

D - this was a really good BSDA. Stone but a bunch of stuff in there that worked really well together. Luckily I have two more bottles cellaring, so I am very interested to se how this turns out over time. (900 characters)

Photo of Daniellobo
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A complex and stimulating dark ale. Worth enjoying now, and exciting to wait for its growth after a few years of aging.

Presentation: 22 Oz bottle. Vertical label design and narrative highlighting the year batch of the brew 2009 and as in these series reminds that each bottle is released one year, one moth, and one day from the preceding edition so 09.09.09. Quick and playful-pretentious narrative on the side, noting greatness, main ingredients, and style. Show beer freshness date (Jun 24, 2012) but lacks any other info other than Alc. by Vol (9.5%). Poured into a snifter.

A - Black color with a deep brown edge. Generous brown fine bubbled head that goes down slowly to a persistent cap leaving very rich lacing.

S - Sweetness around a middle malt roast, with some chocolate, maybe even a touch of coffee, A subtle and strange spices comes up with a resiny touch, maybe hoppy but tied to the spice profile.

T - Nice malt complexity. The roasted malt profile is in command with a sweet range that emerges slowly. Chocolate maltiness with a vanilla hint and nice profile of spices around some fruitiness. In particular there is a nice long lasting and lingering tingle of spices in the tongue. I can´t pinpoint it but there is a memory of pine, festive winter flavor that feels so familiar and at the same time remote. It is leaving me quite intrigued but it is a very nice memory to leave floating.

M - It´s fairly creamy and very smooth with generous carbonation that works very well in a subdued manner with the rhythm of the drink. In particular with the way that the spice profile lingers in the mouth.

D - Feeling great now. Starts a bit straightforward but does not take long to gain a rich range of tones. Looking forward to find out how it ages.

Notes: I had had others in the vertical series, but I recall little other than I was not too impressed. But I may have not been paying enough attention and certainly did not take notes back then. Things have changed and for one reason or another this one is clearly a great brew. Better enjoyed as a sipper, complexities and subtleties emerge slowly in what might seem otherwise a straight forward dark ale. The tingling spiciness is there at the end not leaving the tongue and quite a few flavors and in sync pushing to emerge. Without hesitation I´m getting at least one or two more of this and see if I can put them aside for a while and see how they behave. (2,433 characters)

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a snifter.

Pitch black with a tight tan colored head that thinned out to a ring leaving patches of lacing.
Smell is dark fruits (dates, raisins, figs) and yeast.
Taste follows through on the aroma with some smokiness tossed in. The finish is not bitter but far from being overly sweet.
Medium/Full bodied with a rich, creamy feel.
Easy to drink as the abv is very well hidden. (399 characters)

Photo of david18
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I didn't know this was considered a strong dark belgian. After pouring and smelling it i got more of a stout quality. In any case this, like the other vertical epics, is an excellent beer. Great dark color and woody aroma. Pours a great head and the alcohol is perfectly balanced with the hops and malt.

I'd been waiting for this since September 9 and am glad it finally showed up somewhat that I shop, Whole Foods. (416 characters)

Photo of jsh420
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
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 (607 characters)

Photo of Oakenator
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark - black in fact - with little to no light showing through. A finger of head on a 9 oz pour - cream clored. Great mouthfeel - solid carbonation up front with a rise towards the back end. Smell reveals spices and banana. Taste is sweet fruits on the front end with rich, dark malts dominating the finish. Another excellent and complex VE. (347 characters)

Photo of ffejherb
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Brass Rail Deli on 9/17/09.

A - Deep burnt wood-colored, almost black body with a pinky finger's width of frothy tan head that reduced to a patchy film, yielding thick, ornate cake-like lacing around the glass.

S - Chocolate, coffee, earthy and woody notes all merge together nicely with some citrusy attributes underneath it all. A hint of musty yeast creeps out, imparting a spicy character to the aroma.

T - Hints of spice and orangey citrus notes with lots of roasted malt. Very dark, earthy and woody initial flavor with plenty of coffee bitterness. Gets quite leafy and earthy in the backend and lasts through to the finish, although the hops are accompanied by some sweet chocolate for the long journey down into my gut.

M - Medium bodied with a smooth texture that's trying its best to be creamy, yet is never fully realized. Mouthfeel is perhaps a tad thin overall. Finishes with an assertive hop bite on the back of the tongue.

D - Quite a complex Vertical Epic here. Very roasty, almost like a coffee-infused Dunkel lager or Schwarzbier perhaps. While I don't have much Vertical Epic experience to releate to past releases, I found this one to be quite enjoyable. (1,194 characters)

Photo of merlin48
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours a deep dark brown body that is opaque in the glass. Medium tan head leaves island chain lacing.

Interesting and complex aroma. Chocolate, roasted coffee, dark fruits, ripe bananas, and some charred wood.

Medium body has a solid smooth carbonation.

Taste has a roasted coffee bitterness, dark chocolate, malty nuttiness,smoke, Belgian yeast, a hint of licorice, ripe bananas,a hint of vanilla, and some citrusy hops. Alcohol is hidden very well. I don't pick up the tangerine peel.

Very nicely done. Certainly one of the better VE's in my book. Tasty and complex. (580 characters)

Photo of Boto
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle: I was surprised I hadn’t recorded this one earlier. This one pours a dark, inky brown color. There was a bit of a light brown head on it that lingers a bit and leaves some lacing. This has a very nice nose to it. Chocolate, vanilla, yeast, spices, perhaps some orange and a hint of coffee. The taste is very good. Rich and full, with actually a touch of bitterness on top of all those malts. Chocolate, coffee, caramel, dark fruits, some spiciness, citrus. An excellent combination. (498 characters)

Photo of Deuane
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Deep, dark, black with burgundy highlights and a thick, frothy tan head that slowly reduced to a thin cap and left spotty lace.

S-Dark roasted malt and rich chocolate along with subtle dark fruits (cherry/raspberry), a touch of espresso and twang from the Belgian yeast.

T-Incredibly complex with a multitude of roasted malt and dark chocolate flavours. Fruit in the finish with a sour zing of cherry and the yeast adds to the flavours. Touch of coffee bitterness in the finish.

M-Medium to medium-heavy body with plenty of lingering flavours and a dry cocoa finish. Biting carbonation zip in the end.

D-Damn tasty. Lots of complexity with a boatload of flavours but all in all it is rather light. I like it though and am glad it is a touch mild to be able and enjoy the flavours. (788 characters)

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 535 ratings.