09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale
Stone Brewing

09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale
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Style:
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV:
8.6%
Score:
91
Avg:
4.09 | pDev: 10.51%
Reviews:
542
Ratings:
877
From:
Stone Brewing
 
California, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  36
Gots
  273
SCORE
91
Outstanding
09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 542 | Ratings: 877 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jtormey1
jtormey1 from Maryland

4.44/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Opened on 6/3/2020 - almost 11 years old. Basement/cellar aged. Decent head for an 11 year old beer and nice lacing. Poured dark chocolate color with a nice looking tan head. Aroma was dark malty, little fruit and spice and some yeast. Taste and mouth feel were great - chocolate and malty, but not sweet at all. I get a hint of vanilla. Feel is good with still nice carbonation. Really like this beer. I admittedly went crazy for this series, even having 3 02's left when the 2012 finally came out. This is one of my favourites.

Wednesday at 10:58 PM
Photo of bdevilbullet
bdevilbullet from Alabama

4.51/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer had been cellared for 13 years. It poured a very... very dark brown with little carbonation (not surprisingly). Very smooth with a strong coffee / dark chocolate malt flavor profile. Very tasty beer.

Dec 26, 2019
Photo of Weknow
Weknow from Georgia

4.66/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A great beer to open 10 years later! This beer was assumed to be dead, however with the wax seal, it was still low carbonation, to be expected.
The beer is smooth with powerful notes of vanilla and deep chocolate overtones. A dry finish, but nothing lingers.
I'd recommend opening NOW ........ but what do I know.
Jim drank it too fast!
Three judges of this beer. A convoluted process. but we loved it

Mar 04, 2019
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BeerDawgs from Georgia

3.76/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A 22oz beer from 2009. Aged 9 years

L - Dark brown, no clarity, not much head or lacing

S - Dried fruit and spices

T - Somewhat sweet, grapes, some chocolate

F - Medium body and not much carbonation left

O - This one aged too long, because the rating by almost 900 people is far too good than this beer is 9 years later

Aug 12, 2018
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poisoneddwarf from Idaho

4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Rated first on 9/28/2009. 22 oz bottle into a Trappist glass. Aroma is of dark roasted malt, but not overbearing--something I like. Appearance: pitch black, even when held up to the light. Tastes of dark chocolate, black coffee, lots of hops leading to a nice bitter flavor which lingers on the back of the tongue. Tastes much more like an imperial stout than anything Belgian. Another great entry in the Vertical Epic series. I have enough of these to try every year until 12.12.12. I can’t wait to see how it matures. 6, 5, 10, 5, 19 = 4.5

Second rating on 10/15/10. Got a bottle of the 10/10/10, so I want to rerank this one. Not looking at my above review from over a year ago. Aroma is amazing now, full of chocolate (think Whoppers), coffee. Smells very much like a Samuel Smith dark beer (not very Belgian!). It’s a not completely opaque black but it’s close. It’s a dark brown around the edges when held up to the light. Has a thick tan head that dissipates in a few minutes, leaving some nice lacework and a thick collar. Taste is amazing--smoke and tobacco are very noticeable; some anise in the finish. Carbonation is low to medium; way full body; oily; perfect. An amazing beer that has definitely aged well. I’ll be ranking this one again next November. 9, 4, 10, 5, 19 = 4.7

12/22/12 re-rate: Pours pitch black with a thick tan head with great retention and lace. Aroma is doughy, toasted marshmallows, maybe a little vegetal. Taste starts out sweet, turns bitter, nice and roasty throughout. Looking back at my previous reviews, it seems I was really blown away by this both times, but especially the second time. This time around, it doesn’t seem as impressive, but it’s still the best so far after the ’07 and the ’08. 7/5/8/5/17

Jun 10, 2017
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Zythophile from District of Columbia

3.89/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle Date: 2009
Palate Contaminants: other beer

This has been sitting around for waaaaaay too long. (But on the bottle it says to age it, right?) I'm just hoping I didn't create a shelf turd. Anyways, I should clear some space out of my fridge, so here we go...

The appearance is a very dark brown, and there's still some carbonation left, enough for a good head.

The smell has a little soy sauce, but it has more of cloves and wildflower honey. There's also a little bit of clean clothes, like you get with detergent residue. The thing is, overall it's pretty pleasant; the exact smells I'm relaying are approximations. I get some molasses in there, too.

The good stuff volatilizes, and what was there in the nose is weaker, yet still the best things about the taste. Well, that's what I get. There's some dark woodiness that joins in, and it has a little unsweetened cherry. I just didn't consume it soon enough. If you still have a bottle, get what you can out of it while you can.

In spite of the reasonable amount of head, there's not much carbonation left. It's a little thinner than I'd hope, but again, that might be my fault.

I have some ribs in the fridge, and I'm soaking 'em in the last quarter of the bottle.

Oct 29, 2016
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SPLITGRIN from Kentucky

4.09/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes when originally drank on 3/29/10.

A beautiful and sexy beer with its bold thick black body boasting a creamy two finger sandy brown head that is very dense. Retention is excellent and leaves a wall of lace as it slowly fades. Nose is of softly smokey rich malts and a noticeable Belgium style yeastiness. With first sip I am really taken by how well put together this beer is. Definite malty choclateness is there, with a bit of a dry character also. The yeast brings a fruity feel that really brightens to this beer. I was hopping the vanilla would shine a bit more for me. Overall the palate is a bit dry and thick as is the mouthfeel. Hops do play a big part towards the end with a little bitter addition. This is a nicely drinkable brew. This one screams to be barrel aged.

Sep 27, 2015
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drpimento from Wisconsin

3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is difficult- the beer is very good, but key claims appear to have mostly vanished - with time? For instance the tangerine/orange is just barely noticeable and if it wasn't suggested, maybe I wouldn't have noticed it at all. That said lovely beer to look at. Rich beer to drink. Probably not one to lay by.

Apr 27, 2015
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DavoleBomb from Pennsylvania

3.59/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

Jan 18, 2015
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GPHarris from Alabama

4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a - poured a one finger thick tan-colored head into a snifter that left good lacing throughout. the body was dark black.
s - chocolate malt with some roast. vanilla and bananas with a hint of belgian sugar.
t - chocolate, bananas, fruity yeast, finishes with a hint of oak.
m - medium body with a dry finish.
o - i had this at a VE tasting after the last release. this was one of my favorites and in the two years since the tasting nothing has changed about that.

Jan 12, 2015
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dcscientist from Colorado

4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is the 2009 vintage of their special Vertical Epic series, and it's a really good Belgian dark ale. It sat cellared for a couple of years, but aged quite nicely. Happy to have shared part of a bottle.

Sep 26, 2014
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.16/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Stone snifter

A- pours a nearly pitch black color with a small khaki colored foamy head that reduces to a ring around the edges

S- chocolaty malt with some charred malt aroma, sweet vanilla with some fruity hop aroma, burnt sugar

T- fruity yeast mixes with some sweet dark chocolaty notes up front, hints of vanilla, orange peel and burnt sugar, chocolate continues to linger on the palate long after finishing with some lingering woodsy notes that compliments it nicely

M- medium body and carbonation lead to a foamy mouthfeel and a foamy , dry finish, just a hint of lingering alcohol

O- the chocolate malt is enhanced by the additional of vanilla, fruity yeast notes add a nice dimension

Jul 20, 2014
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katan from Colorado

3.63/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz into a pint

A - Brown with amber highlights. mocha head.

S - Some very nutty notes in the nose.

T- Comes off that it has sat too long. The edge is off all the flavors I think matter. The hopiness has turned offly grassy in the middle.

M - Moderate mouthfeel, lightly sticky.

O - Would have been better a while back.

Feb 13, 2014
Photo of tmm313
tmm313 from Georgia

4.63/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

9.9.9 enjoyed on 1.30.14

A- Black from a distance. Darkest possible brown when you get up close. Beautiful khaki 1 finger head with excellent trailing/lacing.

S- Chocolate covered raisins! Vanilla and oak with a slight hint of booze.

T- Wonderful! Rich cocoa with vanilla, raisins, and hints of orange up front. Dark chocolate and dark fruits, like prune and dark cherry, follow. Finish is charred oak, citrus rind, and earthy hop spices over more dark chocolate, a little booze, and hints of licorice. Beautifully balanced and complex.

M- Thicker side of medium. Smooth on the tongue with subtle drying. Even the mouthfeel is balanced.

O- I've given Stone some rave reviews in my day. This will be no different. Incredible complexity; incredible balance; incredible flavors. I'm super stoked to have had this masterpiece, but just as sad to know I'll never have it again. I'm kind of new to aging beers, but if this is what usually happens, I'm all in.

Jan 31, 2014
Photo of KYGunner
KYGunner from Kentucky

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Four year old Nine pours much like a porter with a dark brown color and a gentle thin wispy head.

The aromas hold plenty of robust scents such as prune, fig, and date with tinges of caramel and soft tones of chocolate.

The taste starts chocolatey but move towards a chocolate covered raisin. It finishes with a roast coffee and malt that rounds things nicely.

The feel is quite smooth with a low level of carbonation.

This has great character overall with subtle complexities and robust elements.

Dec 14, 2013
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Sarlacc83 from Oregon

3.63/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle, split.

A: Thick oily black with a cappuccino head. Really nice lacing on this.

N: Cocoa, licorice, oxidation, char, anise, some cola and vanilla.

T: Very bitter with a balancing touch of sweetness. Heavy on the oak and hops. Hints of oxidation. Pretty nice.

M: Thick and oily. Has a full mouthfeel.

O: One of my favorites of the series. Has aged well at approximately 3 years old. More of a hoppy stout to my palate.

Sep 12, 2013
Photo of lordofstarside
lordofstarside from Nevada

4.68/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

enjoyed today, 9.9.13! bomber to a snifter, vintage is exactly 4 years old

Pours jet black with almost three fingers of mocha tinged foam, transparency is 0%, even on the edges when held to the light. Great lacing and retention, after three or four minutes we still have a finger of foam. Kept much of it's carbonation over the years

Smells strongly of chocolate, oak, raisin, molasses, brown sugars, vanilla and a bit of caramel malt. Not picking up much of the orange notes the bottle mentions, smells incredible though

Taste is spot on with the nose- strong upfront chocolate and vanilla that mix with the oak. The orange is next, much more present than in the aroma. Finishes with some all spice and a touch of clove. Very impressive

Feel is I think my favorite part. Very smooth and silky, almost like drinking chocolate milk. Finishes pretty well, very pleasing going down. Medium bitterness, no alcohol present. Dangerously drinkable

Overall this aged incredibly, I weep this was my only bottle

Sep 10, 2013
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macrosmatic from Florida

4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Poured from bomber into a Weyerbacher pint glass.

A: Dark brown, nearly opaque, with a thin light tan head and low visible carbonation.

S: Chocolatey, a bit boozy, nutty, dark fruit, a touch of coffee and roasted malts. Overall impression is pretty sweet without being cloying.

T: Chocolate, toffee, nutty, dark fruit (plums and raisins), vanilla, with sweetness and a bit of roasty bitterness in the end.

M: Medium to a bit lighter-than-expected body, but sticky mouthfeel. Alcohol noticeable but doesn't detract. Low carbonation sensation.

O: I thought this was pretty tasty, but not blowing me away. Glad to have tried it, but there are better examples of style out there.

Sep 09, 2013
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donkeyrunner from Massachusetts

3/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown with a shy foamy head. With the humidity and 4 years in the cellar I'll give it a pass. Smells like chocolate and orangey grape drank. Tastes like it smells: chocolate malty dark fruit.

I think this would have been better when it was released.

Jun 30, 2013
Photo of JohnnyMc
JohnnyMc from Ohio

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Never tried it fresh, but trying it now!!

Pours out a dark black with a nice 2 fingers of cocoa looking head.

The aroma has a nice blast of citrus upfront and that's followed by a mix of bittersweet dark chocolate and some vanilla. There is a bit of oak in there, but not much and some roasted notes as well. Kinda smells like a Porter.

The taste is also very upfront in the citrus department with notes of orange and tangerine. The chocolate notes go between the bittersweet dark chocolate, but a sweet milk chocolate too. The vanilla is there, but it doesn't stand out as much as in the nose and the oak is present in the back as well. There are decent roasty notes throughout.

The body is medium and the mouthfeel is rich and creamy. The ABV is hidden completely at this point.

It's a very tasty beer, but I assume since this was brewed in a Belgian style that all the Belgian characteristics have faded with time. Tastes more like a Porter, but still worth trying if you can still find any somehow.

May 17, 2013
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nova009 from Kentucky

3.63/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

A- pours a deep dark brown the color of cola, a one finger tan head emerges and dissipates down to a covering, decent amount of bubbles pop at the surface

S- roasty dark malt, bittersweet chocolate, alcohol, candi sugar, dark fruits particularly figs and raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg

T- black coffee, cocoa nibs, vanilla, alcohol, extremely roasty and overpowers anything close to belgian flavors

M- medium body, decent carbonation, slightly creamy but finishes dry

O- Slightly disappointed in this one, the body was a bit too thin for my liking, additionally most of the belgian flavors were either non-existant or, and more likely, they dissipated over time with the aging, still drinkable but nothing to write home about

May 04, 2013
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mdaschaf from Washington

3.77/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had on tap at Brouwers on 12/12/12, review from notes.

A: Quite dark, pretty much black with a small tan head that sticks around for a bit and leaves some random lacing down the glass.

S: Some light Belgian yeast, a bit of chocolate, roasted malt, banana, and some wood.

T: Quite similar to the aroma, some banana, more dark fruit in the flavor profile than the aroma, with a bit of chocolate, cloves, and raisins.

M: Medium bodied, maybe a little thin. Slightly dry finish.

O: This one was fine, not my favorite, but not bad overall.

Apr 10, 2013
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obywan59 from Virginia

4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11/21/2010

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.

03/21/13

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)

Mar 21, 2013
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MasterSki from Canada

3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle from Discount Liquors. Served in a tulip.

A - Dark tan foam settles to a partial cap, thick collar, and very dark brown body. Spotty lace lingers on the sides of the glass.

S - Roasted malts, lightly spicy Belgian yeast, light vanilla and oak notes. Sort of Belgian stout-esque. There's a mild aged quality to this one, but it's not particularly oxidized. Solid stuff.

T - Roasty, with notes of caramel, chocolate, dark fruits and raisins, and a touch of banana bread. Alcohol is pretty well-concealed.

M - A tad watery for the ABV. Roasty, with a dry finish, lower carbonation, and minimal alcohol presence.

D - A solid roasty dark Belgian ale. I remember liking this when it was fresh, and it's still a pretty decent brew. Would drink again.

Mar 09, 2013
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kojevergas from Colorado

2.91/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A local bar put this keg on draught to celebrate the completion of the Vertical Epic series. Cost was $6.00. Served on-draught into a New Belgium branded stem-goblet in Southern California in 2013. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger khaki colour head of nice cream and thickness, and very good retention for the ABV. Body colour is a nontransparent opaque solid black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Raisin, vine, spice/mulled character, caramel, dark malts, must, brown or refined sugar, buried roast, and milk. A somewhat messy aroma, but a generally appealing one. Above average in strength.

T: Vinous, medicinal, and herbal. That's a hell of a shrewd start. Dark malts and caramel in the body. Vinous on the finish. Light raisin throughout. Some spicing. Chocolate malt. Some grainy bitterness in the third act. Strange indeed. It's off-putting. Too heavy on the spices; it's a bit earthy and grainy probably from nutmeg/coriander/other spices. Messy and imbalanced in classic Stone fashion. I like the experimentation, but this didn't turn out great.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and caramel heavy. Decently carbonated. Pretty good thickness.

Dr: Drinkable but underwhelming. Even aged (albeit in a keg), it leaves a lot to be desired. I wouldn't have it again. Another merely decent offering from Stone.

C

Mar 01, 2013
09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 877 ratings