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

850 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 850
Reviews: 537
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 34
Gots: 278 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 850 | Reviews: 537
Photo of John_M
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hopefully this review won't be inadvertently purged like my last review of this beer was. On tap at Max's the other night.

The beer pours a darkish brown color with OK head retention and decent lacing. On the nose I get an intriguing aroma of rootbeer, bittersweet chocolate and coffee. Flavors on the palate generally replicate the nose, but with a considerable hop bite in the finish (naturally; after all, this is Stone). This beer has at most moderate sweetness, and it's quickly pushed asided by the drying, hoppy bitterness on the finish. In addition, there's also something of a sour apple, cardboard flavor to this beer. Hmmmm...mouthfeel is medium bodied, and I have to say that the bittersweet chocolate and somewhat noticeable alcohol detract just a bit from this beer's drinkability.

This is a nice enough beer, though one at a sitting is probably all I could ever see myself managing.

Edit from 3/15/13. Sampled at a recent vertical epic event at Pacific Coast brewing, this beer showed its age fairly well. My score was nearly identical to what I gave this beer back in 2009, with much of the original hop bite now nicely tamed by flavors of milk chocolate, vanilla and light burnt toast. The mouthfeel was a bit thin, but that was really the only sign of "old age" in this beer.

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

Pours a dark brown bordering on black with a creamy tan head that slowly dissipates to form a cap on top. Smells of chocolate right off the bat. Licorice, oranges and creme soda come to mind as well. Taste is creamy chocolaty with a slight phenolic and spicy earthy yeast. Slight astringency mixed with some citrusy hop bitterness in the finish. Creamy mouthfeel with a dry finish. Lightly carbonated with a medium body. Stone calls this a belgian porter, I think they nailed it. Its a nice take on a style that really doesn't exist. I liked it.

Photo of akorsak
3.87/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

VE09, another Belgian-style stout.

A: The BSDA has the look of a stout, all murky and black as night. An appropriate tan-colored head lingers around.

S: The nose is sweet chocolate and roasted malts. Spices linger behind the sweetness, but it is easy to get sidetracked amongst all the dark aromas.

T: The rich chocolates, chewy malt and burnt aromas take control early. A bready graham flavor, nutty, balances out the chocolate. Spices and hops hang around, a citrusy addition to the stout.

M: The mouthfeel could pass for a few imperial stouts that I've had, a full, warming feel that seems stronger than it is.

D: Order-wise, this one falls right in the middle. I like the bold flavors but I struggle with the drinkability of dark behemoths like this.

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.

Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Revisted: 16 Jul 2010
Almost A Year Later
22oz. Bomber

Poured into a chalice a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, very nice two-finger plus light tan creamy head, with some very nice thick/creamy sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, very very slight yeast note, toffee, very slight dark fruits, some spice notes. The taste is sweet, malty, toffee, some dark fruits, slightly spicy. Medium body. Very Drinkable, the age improved this brew alot. Totally different brew now.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger plus light tan creamy head, with some very nice thick/creamy sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, very very slight yeast note, toffee, very slight dark fruits, some spice notes. The taste is sweet, malty, toffee, some dark fruits, slightly spicy. Medium body. Drinkable, not a bad BSDA, but there are some way better one's out there.

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber to Bruges hybrid glass on 4/4/12
*From notes

A: Rich crayon brown. A good pour yields a two finger bubbly head. It fades in time, a leaves a decent collar behind.

S: Candied Belgian sugars and cocoa. Some vanilla becomes more evident as it warms.

T: Sweet, with a grassy quality to it. More vanilla hits the mid and rides to the finish. Not half bad - this seems to have aged reasonably well.

M: Feel could use a little work. It's just not as thick and viscous as a Belgian Strong (that comes across kinda stout-like) should be.

O: One of the better VE's in the series. It's holding up well, it's tasty and something I won't have a problem putting back again in what...eight months?

Photo of ppoitras
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle purchased as a single from somewhere localish, I would think.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" brown head over the opaque dark brown/black brew. Pillowy head holds nicely, with leggy sticking lace. Aroma is dark malts and spiciness. Taste starts with dark sweetness, touches on licorice and spices in the middle, and closes with a light hop bite and some alcohol warming. Aftertaste is a touch chalky, but past that, hard to find fault. Mouthfeel is so soft and smooth, and drinkability is excellent.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.81/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at the COOP today.. Paid about $7... poured into my Delirium goblet... shared with my bro.

2 finger lite brown head... great retention and lace.. the brew is pretty much black.

Nose isn't as rich as I was hoping for... a little phenolic with some chocolate and lite oakiness... I may be imagining vanilla... but what I think is there is helping identify the chocolate... seems fairly mild.

Much more vanilla on the palate.. still plenty of chocolate.. a little estery... bananas .... with some minor spiciness... not getting any hint of citrus zest surprisingly... Doesn't strike me as too "Belgian"... also surprising... Finish is a bit tannic which is pretty nice combined with some cocoa at the end... seems a tad hot right now, but not bad by any means... the body is a solid medium with a smooth yet ever present carbonation... again, all in all.. this seems pretty tame.

I am digging this right now, but I doubt I'll drink more for a while... It should do well with a year of so in the bottle.... I don't know however how well it will hold for another 3 years.

Photo of tobelerone
3.62/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

Photo of vfgccp
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- Pardon the abbreviated review, this was sampled at a free Stone tasting. Special thanks to Big Z's in Huntington NY -

A - Black with mocha highlights. Bone-white head.

S - Mellow marshmallow, brown sugar. Dried plum notes.

T - Nice chocolate character. Smooth toast. Gentle hop backdrop.

M - Smooth

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 properly cellared bottle, poured into a Maudite snifter. Pours a very dark brown, appearing opaque black in the glass. Fine two finger light brown head with great retention and lots of lacing. Delicious aroma of chocolate, dark and caramel malt, vanilla, oak and whiskey, one of the best smelling ales I've experienced. Flavor follows aroma, dominated by sweet and toasted malt, chocolate, vanilla and a touch of oak and coffee. Finish is a bit stark with charred coffee, oak and hop bitterness. Medium bodied with a hint of creaminess. An unusual Belgian influenced ale, almost approaching a Belgian stout in malt and flavor complexity. Very enjoyable and one of the best of a series that all aged remarkably well. Kudos to Stone.

Photo of beertunes
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip. Poured a solid black with a thick, deep tan head that dissipated much quicker than I thought it would and only left minimal lacing.

Other than a slight roast scent the aroma was fairly benign, with nothing outstanding from the mix. The flavors were much bolder, roasted malt, a hint cf chocolate and several flavors I couldn't quite put my finger on. Very enjoyable though.

The body was full, well rounded and smooth, with just a touch of a roasted aftertaste. Drinkability is very good, I drank a 22 with no trouble and generally I don't drink that much of a single beer in a row. Overall, a very good beer that is worth trying. If this had been listed as a stout, I would have given it better scores, I didn't find this very to have much Belgian character at all.

Photo of flagmantho
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz bomber into a tulip.

Appearance: utterly black with a two-finger beige head which clings to the glass as though for dear life. If I didn't know better, I'd call this a Russian Imperial Stout based on appearance.

Smell: the aroma is considerably more subtle than the appearance, and is one of chocolate and a tiny hint of coffee. Again, I'm expecting a stout.

Taste: now, this is a good beer. Wow. Here's the strong dark Belgian: immediate tree fruit followed by more complex esters and alcohol bite. At the end the malt is sweet and, again, has some chocolate to it. It's great now; I can only imagine the good some cellaring would do it.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body with a nice level of carbonion to make it good and creamy.

Drinkability: pretty drinkable, but this is an intense beer with an intense flavor.

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

Very dark brown with ruby edges. Fine brown bubbles topped the beer, forming a thin cap. Great head retention and lots of lace. Chocolate and mild roast aromas, light hops, slightly phenolic, a bit of spice (ginger and cloves perhaps?), and vanilla. Malty flavour, again with chocolate and roast, vanilla, and spices. It still seems like a combination of ginger and cloves, but it's well balanced within the rest of the flavour profile. Some straight up malt sweetness, a little sugary, rather than toffee or caramel. Lingering licorice and chocolate. Medium to full bodied with fine carbonation, great texture. Very well hidden alcohol. This really straddles the line between a Belgian strong dark and a Belgian stout. Quite tasty and just right for a cool afternoon.

Photo of Viggo
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Coles.

Pours a very dark and opaque brown, almost black, thick tan head forms, settles down to a thick layer that lasts the whole glass, lots of lace, is this a stout or strong dark? Smell is neat, dark fruit and chocolate, raisins, banana bread, roast and charred wood, biscuit, vanilla, a bit of alcohol, very dry and toasty. Taste is similar, dry and toast, chocolate, roast, wood, light fruit, finish is bitter, like those thin chocolate wafers, grainy feel. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation, almost a sandy mouthfeel, sweet banana finish, but very dry. Pretty nice, but isn't really a strong dark. More like a stout.

Photo of Bighuge
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark beer. Black body. Creamy brown head with great staying power. Lacing is quite full as well. Nice blend of chocolate, malt and yeast on the nose. Main flavor in this beer is bitter chocolate. I think the vanilla bean must accentuate the chocolate, because I really don't get much vanilla. Also some char and black licorice. There is a little stray tangerine flavor if I look for it. And the french oak adds a dryness. All in all, this is really quite a complex and layered beer. It's one you have to sip and ponder to pick up all the subtleties, because they weren't there for me initially. The light body and carbonation make is quite drinkable even though it's best enjoyed slowly.

Photo of Bitterbill
3.87/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this on tap at the Old Chicago on Market St in Denver Sept 26, 2009.

The pint arrived with a near pitch black, actually extremely dark brown but I had to hold it up to light in the low lighted room to see that. 1/2" of foam was brownish, as expected.

I forgot which style the 09.09.09 was supposed to be so I wnet in "blind"..I found the smell very roasted malty with notes of dark chocolate and maybe a bit of some dark fruits. It smelled good and I was hoping that it would taste good as the pint was nearly $9.

I took some sips and what I got in the smell, I got in the taste. Very roasty with chcocolate notes running second, some toffee ran third, err..this wasn't a horse race, Bill! lol.

All in all, it was a tasty brew that had a good medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Drinkability? Though the alcohol wasn't a big factor, I found that 1 pint was sufficient. I guess I'd rather drink a roasty stout than a BSDA that is *that* much of roasted malt monster, if that makes any sense, which it probably doesn't. ;^)

Photo of cjgator3
3.82/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle

A- Poured into a tulip. Pours a dark black color with an off-white head.

S- The aroma is very unique, I love it. The aroma features a lot of chocolate malts with spices, vanilla and orange peel.

T- The taste like the aroma is dark roasted malts and chocolate with a hint of banana and spices. The finish is on the bitter side. 

This one is very tasty fresh, but I imagine that it would improve greatly with some age to balance and smooth out the flavors.

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodie with a good amount of carbonation. 

D-

Photo of Brad007
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black color with a brown two-finger head into my fluted glass. The head fades down, leaving some lacing.

Aroma is full of roastiness with a bit of cream and and chocolate showing through. Seems enough like a stout, though it's not categorized as one.

Taste is what sets this apart from a stout. It's strong with candi sugar, chocolate, cream and dark fruits as the primary tastes. Just a bit of alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering flavors as mentioned above but the roastiness lingers along with a bit of cream. Only minimal alcohol heat and carbonation seems right.

Very good and probably better fresh. I've had 08.08.08 and 07.07.07 and I'd say that this year's version is better than both.

Photo of Haybeerman
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black; no light comes through - even on the edges. Poured less than a 1 finger chocolate-colored head that dissipated slowly. Sheets of wispy lace on the glass.

S: Semi-sweet chololate and brown sugar. Dark-colored fruits - raisins and cherries - come through. Toasted smoky malt and yeast esters too.

T: Big smokey malts and fruits. Consistent with smell, all those flavors assault the taste buds; this is a very complex beer. Very dry with warming alcohol.

M: Medium-to-Light body. Medium carbonation. Surproisingly thin and dry.

O: Very drinkable (sippable). Complexity grows and the beer changes as it warms. I have 3 more that I'll space out and see what happens with some aging.

Photo of glid02
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of roasted malts with hints of dark chocolate. As it warms very light hints of dark fruits waft out but roasted malts are in control throughout.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Huge roasted malt flavors up front with hints of unsweetened chocolate. A good amount of bitterness comes in midway through the sip and intensifies through the finish. As with the smell small amounts of dark fruit flavors make an appearance as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is good. It has a solid thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I finished my glass rather quickly and could have another.

Overall I'm not sure I agree with the fact that this is a BSDA - I thought it was definitely more of a stout and even the dark fruit characteristics are eclipsed by other big stouts. Still, it's a good one and is worth a shot.

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought in October, opened on a Friday night in January, 3 months later. This looks and smells stouty, maybe quite a bit like a Belgian stout. The beer is dark brown with a light brown froth, 2 fingers of finely packed bubbles. In the nose I get chocolate malts and some phenol products (a little banana, maybe clove), maybe just a trace of citrus rind. This isn't far from my memory of Black Albert, at least based on aroma. The taste is very much a stout, less similar to Black Albert than the smell, kind of unique with the astringent hit from the orange rinds. A lot of roasted malts and some chocolate too. Very good, maybe a little too much bitterness in the aftertaste but still good overall. The body is north of water but not to the point of chewiness, just a good stout consistency. Among my favorites from the VE line.

Photo of puboflyons
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am saddened that this is the first time I have seen this annual brew from Stone. But I do not believe this is available in New Hampshire where I live. I found this one on a visit to Vermont. It pours a very dark brown to almost charcola black with about a half-inch of creamy tan had that is long lasting. The aroma is of banana bread, chocolate malts, and vaguely sweet as well. The taste is a complex combo of sour hops and chocolate malts. This was a nice brew.

Photo of bluejacket74
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. It smells like roasted malt, chocolate, caramel, coffee, and some vanilla. Taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of some charred malt and smoke, along with a bit of banana. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's somewhat creamy and slick with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and goes down easy. Also, the alcohol isn't noticable in the aroma and taste, however it does catch up to you later. I think this is a good brew, can't wait to see how this one ages.

Photo of claspada
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Aromas of sweet cocoa with some lesser coffee and dark fruit characteristics. Slight hints of vanilla and herbal smells.

Rich malt, dark fruit, sweet cocoa nibs, and vanilla, all highlight the palate, but also some nice earthy hop presence, similar to the aroma. Subtle Belgian yeast qualities that only add to the complexity.

The mouthfeel is really smooth and slightly creamy, but too thin for such a big beer. The Belgian yeast should add some more to the mouthfeel but somehow does not.

Overall, this beer is a really solid offering especially for the higher ABV and extreme roastiness. Wish there was some Belgian influence, also wish I tried this fresh as well to have a comparison. Regardless it's delicious.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 850 ratings.