1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic AleStone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

824 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 824
Reviews: 531
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 34
Gots: 268 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.60% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

This is quite a complex and layered beer. Bold and smooth chocolate malt flavors combine with a Belgian yeast lending tropical fruit/banana flavors and hints of spiciness, all complemented by citrus notes from an addition of tangerine peel. Rich vanilla beans add a nice counter to the chocolate malt - actually enhancing the chocolatiness. The finish is smooth, with additional traces of vanilla and toasted characters from French Oak. The goal for this edition of the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series is to be reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange.

(Beer added by: superdedooperboy on 09-08-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 824 | Reviews: 531 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of clickpush


3.98/5  rDev -2.5%

Beautiful dark body, not at all reminiscent of a Belgian beer, like an imperial stout. Great tan head. Very responsive to hard pour. Aroma is roasty, molasses, burnt toast, oaky. Flavors are the same, with a hint of that Belgian yeast strain. An interesting development of flavors... starts off w/ a lighter flavor and transitions into stout flavors. Alcohol is well masked. Carbonation is slightly larger than I'd like... would prefer something creamier. Nice beer, though.

09-30-2009 01:53:37 | More by clickpush
Photo of BobZ


4.22/5  rDev +3.4%

22 oz. Bottle poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Very dark brown almost black with a nice small 1/2” head that recedes to a 1/16” cap. Nice lacing.

Smell: Roasted malt with chocolate, those two aromas dominate the nose.

Taste: Follows the aroma with a chocolaty rich roasted malt flavor. Also getting a mild licorice flavor. Very well balanced and delicious, the flavors work very well together.

Mouthfeel: Creamy with good body and carbonation.

Overall: Very good beer, somewhere between a stout and a porter. Glad to have a few bottles tucked away.

09-23-2011 17:28:11 | More by BobZ
Photo of riored4v


4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Reviewed 9/21/09

Poured into a tulip glass. Pitch black body. 1 finger, tan head. Good lacing. Fades to thin layer rather quick.

Smell is chocolately, fruity and roasty. Hints of bitter orange peel and some nice esters.

Taste has a great complexity to it. Nice bitter chocolate in the finish that is accompanied by a lingering bitterness. Hints of oak/vanilla and lots of rich chocolate and burnt malts. Slightly citrusy hop flavors. Belgian yeast characteristics come out as the brew warms.

Mouthfeel is medium in body with medium carbonation. Slightly sticky with a crisp finish.

Drinkability is good. Lingering bitterness and slight stickiness work well together, although i might be limited to just one. No signs of ABV.

Overall i really enjoyed this one. Hard to pick out all the flavors. Very complex although very easy to drink.

09-22-2009 23:51:20 | More by riored4v
Photo of cameraman


4.6/5  rDev +12.7%

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.

02-03-2010 19:52:43 | More by cameraman
Photo of SkunkWorks

New York

4.13/5  rDev +1.2%

Cellared for a year. This is my first ever Belgian Strong Dark Ale so take this review with a grain of salt.

Look: very dark beer with a HUGE head. The head is one of the darkest I've seen. Brown highlights when held to light. The head left a sick amount of lacing in the glass.

Smell: A little hoppy bitterness, hints of coffee and some wood. Mostly its the roasted malt that I am getting.

Taste: Very sweet and mostly maltiness. There's a lot of coffee and vanilla in there as well and some woodiness. Tastes almost like a stout. There wasn't very much hoppiness that I could detect.

Feel: I'd say its medium bodied. Despite the huge head not overly carbonated.

Drink: Very drinkable. There alcohol isn't detectable and its not so strong as to require sipping.

Overall, a damn good beer. It'd be nice if this was a regular release. Stone delivers again.

09-16-2010 14:57:36 | More by SkunkWorks
Photo of GodOfBeer

Ontario (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

My first and only Vertical Epic I will be drinking from Stone. And what an epic beer it is indeed. Aged for almost 3 years, couldn't be bothered with waiting to open it after the 12th of December..

As I pour this epic ale darkness overtakes my Duvel tulip glass. A deep dark black colour with a thick whitish-brown head that just doesn't care about fading away.

Smells of coffee, molasses, dark fruity hops, milky chocolate. Nothing really special here about the aroma. Average for a BSDA.

As I begin to taste the darkness, bitter coffee and hops overwhelm my palate. My god, this tastes more like a stout. than a belgian dark ale. But either way it is a tasty treat. I'm sure the aging helped here. Lots a dark burnt malty notes, fruity hops and thick molasses on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, thick and sassy. Very nice on the tongue, something to be savoured.

Overall a very good beer. Pretty opulent, I must say. If only I had the opportunity to try their other beers in this Epic series..

08-31-2012 02:10:58 | More by GodOfBeer
Photo of Beerbuddha


4.22/5  rDev +3.4%

Appearance- This beer poured a nice, rich black color with a huge, foamy brown head.

Smell- HUGE chocolate flavors with hints of roasted malt and spices. Nice hints of vanilla as well.

Taste- Interesting spiciness up front followed by the chocolate, vanilla and roasted malt. Hints of citrus and banana make this one unique brew.

Mouthfeel- Very thick body but smooth.

Overall- Another fantastic brew from Stone!

10-08-2009 01:20:11 | More by Beerbuddha
Photo of PthPndr


4/5  rDev -2%

01-01-2012 02:19:58 | More by PthPndr
Photo of Wisconsinality


4.05/5  rDev -0.7%

A- Pours almost a pitch black with very little light breaking through. About two fingers worth of head that recedes somewhat quickly but leaves nice lacing on the side of the glass.
S- A nice aroma of chocolate malt with some roasted malt is present. There is also some Belgian yeast on the tale end.
T- This is a nice complex beer that only gets better when it warms up. Toasted malt with some chocolate right off the bat. Then comes the sweet yeastiness. It says to age it a few years to get its full flavor so obviously this beer has some maturing to do.
M- This is a nice medium bodied beer that is really smooth. The carbonation is balances nicely and the finish is a little dry.
D- It goes down nice and I can only imagine how good this is going to be in a few years. Also gives a little warming sensation from the alcohol.

10-12-2009 03:22:33 | More by Wisconsinality
Photo of Brez07


4/5  rDev -2%

Had this on tap at Novare Res a few weeks back. 16oz pour into my chalice

A: Dark brown pour with a 2 finger light mocha head. Eventually shows some amber highlights. I don't get any lacing

S: Small nose, not much going on. Some dark fruit, roasted malt. Maybe some earthy notes and spice

T: Some chocolate, roasted malt, raisin. Also has a smokey and chalky presence

M: Medium bodied. Carbonation attacks the palate at first, but then clears away to reveal a creamy mouthfeel. Roasted aftertaste

D: Pretty good beer, but I don't think I'd drink much more in a sitting. I have one sitting in the cellar; it was actually the first beer I ever bought to store away, so I'm glad to see it's holding up well

09-11-2010 14:59:22 | More by Brez07
Photo of alkemy


4.03/5  rDev -1.2%

Pours a very dark brown. Opaque, even when held in direct light. I was able to see an auburn color on the edges of the glass. About a finger and a half of darkish tan head. Thin film stayed on top throughout the entire glass with lacing all the way down. Smells of vanilla, bitter chocolate, banana, and a hint of black licorice. Bitter chocolate in the taste along with oranges and spicy wood. Has a nice warm finish, but was never boozy. Very interesting, there is a lot going on here. I'm thinking I'm gonna to have to go get another bottle and try the aging thing.

09-19-2009 00:30:52 | More by alkemy
Photo of TommyW


4.53/5  rDev +11%

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!

01-18-2010 14:07:19 | More by TommyW
Photo of wspscott


3.55/5  rDev -13%

On tap at Pazzo's in a pint glass

A: Completely black with a tan head that leaves lots of lace
S: A little bit of sweetness with a hint of belgian yeast, relatively muted
T: Very roasty, some bitter hops and dark/bitter chocolate. As it warms up, the roast malts completely dominate. I think, a little too much on the roasty side. Like an unbalanced (too roasty) porter
M: A high level of carbonation helps to off-set the "thicker/creamy" malts.
D: A very complex beer on the surface, not easy to drink, but ultimately feels like it lacks depth. Definitely worth trying, but I don't think I will reach for a second one. This is a weird beer, feels unbalanced, maybe better with some age.

09-29-2009 19:29:00 | More by wspscott
Photo of scottiethebody


3.75/5  rDev -8.1%

08-25-2012 15:31:54 | More by scottiethebody
Photo of obywan59


4.33/5  rDev +6.1%


I went into Kroger tonight intending to get 2 10.10.10s and didn't realize that one row was still the 09s. Lucky break. I had tried this several times, but never reviewed it.

Pours darkly into my Duvel tulip, with a 1 to 1 1/2 finger tan head that recedes rather quickly to a ring around th4 glass and slight haze over the surface of the beer. Good lacing.

A wonderfully fruity, chocolaty aroma reminiscent of cheesecake. A nicely sweet Belgian aroma.

A bit of sweetness, but nearly overpowered by the bitterness. Tastes of bitter chocolate, burnt malt, and a hint of coffee. I get no hops--unusual for a Stone brew. The malts reign supreme.

Medium-bodied. Just slightly sticky. Nice warming alcohol burn in the throat.

A good drinker, but the ABV slows you down.

I took no notes, but I seem to remember this being sweeter before. Like my last homebrew (a Baltic Porter) it seems to be less sweet, more bitter, and more Kick-Ass, now.


This time around, I get a 4 finger tight, tan colored head that becomes chunky as it recedes, leaving some magnificent lacing. The body is black with no highlights.

Overall, the aroma reminds me of chocolate milk. Still, I can almost get my original impression of cheesecake. Hints of vanilla, chocolate, and oak, with tropical fruits and spice.

Light sweet malt upfront, but soon followed by bitter chocolate and roasted flavors. A hint of coffee, and some tart citrus aspects as well. A bit of dark molasses and vanilla shine through. Caramel and oak in the finish.

I call it medium-thick this time around. Moderate syrup becoming drying in the end. Light warming alcohol in the throat.

Not only does this beer smell like chocolate milk, but the thick tan head acturally looks like frothy chocolate milk. I think both the bitterness and the alcohol have mellowed in the two years and four months since I first reviewed this. Unlike the "08, this beer has improved, I believe it's a better beer now. I've knocked the taste up to a 4.5 from a 4.0. This is an elegant brew. Nothing harsh about it. I wish I'd saved more. I guess I'll have to brew it myself.

With 3 more of the series to resample, I'm saying this is likely the best brew of the the VEs I've tried (2007-2012)

03-21-2013 04:58:55 | More by obywan59
Photo of bulletrain76


3.25/5  rDev -20.3%

22oz bottle. Nearly black in appearance with a light tan head of good thickness and consistency; bordering on pillowy. The aroma has a good deal of tangerine and raspberry mixed with burnt toast and charred oak. The longer the beer warms, the more the fruit pops out actually, with a striking vanilla kick coming out, and an almost sour patch kid tartness. They really seem to have crammed a lot into the aromatics. The flavor brings the same qualities of burnt malt, oaky tannic bitterness, boozy vanilla extract,and citrus sweetness together. They aren't really working in harmony, and not as well as in the aroma. There just seems to be a little too much going on right now, but I can see that changing with some age. The mouthfeel is a little hot and astringent, with the alcohol and oak ganging up on your tongue. On the one hand, this is the third year in a row that I have thought that the Vertical epic release was a little weak and unrefined in general, but at least this one tastes like three years in the cellar might actually help it out

09-28-2009 04:09:33 | More by bulletrain76
Photo of Jstark5150


5/5  rDev +22.5%

11-19-2011 06:57:25 | More by Jstark5150
Photo of hawkmage


4.5/5  rDev +10.3%

12-31-2011 17:27:25 | More by hawkmage
Photo of Vengeance526


3.85/5  rDev -5.6%

Pours a dark brown color with a moderately sized dark tan head that holds up well and leaves a good bit of lacing.

Smells of chocolate and dark fruits all around.

Taste starts with dried fruits, raisins and rig are very prominent. Some dark cherries with nutmeg and cinnamon follow and the finish reveals a hint of dark chocolate.

Medium to full body with moderate carbonation. Overall, not as exciting as I had hoped but still enjoyable. Great to try but I'm not too interested in having again until it has enough age on it.

06-29-2010 00:58:22 | More by Vengeance526
Photo of Lerxst


3.95/5  rDev -3.2%

A-Pours a very dark brown, almost black with a decent two finger head that faded fairly quick but left some lacing.

S-Very complex nose. Chocolate, citrus, vanilla, a bit of yeast and malt. Smells great.

T-Taste is right in line with the nose with malt, chocolate, vanilla, citrus.

M-Mouthfeel was a medium body, but thinner than expected with a bit of a harsh carb sting in the finish.

D-I enjoyed it, but can't see having more than one of these.

10-10-2009 13:42:46 | More by Lerxst
Photo of hyuga

North Carolina

4/5  rDev -2%

11-15-2011 05:37:29 | More by hyuga
Photo of jerz


4/5  rDev -2%

11-18-2011 05:17:07 | More by jerz
Photo of mrandypandy


3/5  rDev -26.5%

12-30-2012 18:29:53 | More by mrandypandy
Photo of josefnewsong

New York

5/5  rDev +22.5%

12-04-2011 05:19:50 | More by josefnewsong
Photo of nollie77


4/5  rDev -2%

11-12-2012 02:43:44 | More by nollie77
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 824 ratings.