Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

537 Reviews
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic AleStone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.60%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by superdedooperboy on 09-08-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 537 | Ratings: 867
Photo of plaid75
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

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Photo of avalon07
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

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Photo of Klym
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Second in my morning session with Cavery and SundaySour. Poured into a stone nonic.

A: Dark dark dark with a very handsome two-finger tan foam head; this one seems special. Lacing is weak, though.

S: Chocolate, vanilla, oak, wood, molasses, some spice and a small bit of dark fruits. Not so aromatic but I love to dig my nose into it.

T: Yeah, I'm picking up another bottle of this. Roast, vanilla, sharp cheeses, chocolate, molasses, wood, pepper, banana, citrus, and a little salt bite. As complex in the flavor as it was on the nose. Loving it. Alcohol undetectable, extreme drinkability.

M: No complaints on the mouthfeel. Seems strange to drink something with this flavor profile that is relatively thin and generous in carbonation; I found it an interesting twist and plus, not a negative.

O: This is a complex beer and I learned something new about it every look, sniff, and sip. Hard to imagine regretting trying a bottle of this and keeping one in the cellar. Have you any love for the dark side, get your hands on this.

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

Ok, Stone is a very good brewery and colleagues at work know that I'm a big fan. One colleague offered me this beauty as a gift!

The color is dark black. This looks like a stout. The head is brown and very nice looking. It sticks quite well to the glass too. Almost perfect to my eyes. In the aroma, I get some yeasts which is typical of belgian beers. Chocolates notes too and some hops (Stone always some hops in the aroma).

On the taste side, it is chocolaty with some espresso notes. Nice bitterness which reminds me of espresso coffee. Moreover, I get some fruity/banana notes but not too strong. I would say the taste is complex. Oh yeah, I get some spicy notes too... my god this a complex beer! Awesome.

The body of this beer is medium with some carbonation that is present in the mouth. Also, the taste lingers in the mouth for quite a long time. Good mouthfeel.

Overall this is almost prefect! I don't know how somebody could hold on this one until 2012... impossible!

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Photo of Brad007
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle drank from my duvel tulip.

A- this one pours a dark brown, almost black colored body with a finger of coffee colored head. the head is extraordinarily thick and long lasting. impressive and stout like.

S- the smell is very complex. chocolate and banana like a dunkel. lots of coffee like a stout. orange like citrus and hops, almost like an ipa. this beer might be having an identity crisis.

T- the taste is equally complex. im liking this one alot. lots of chocolate. lots of coffee. an odd assortment of fruits. banana, orange, maybe a bit of something more exotic like pineapple. a slight amount of alcohol.

M- thick and creamy with a muted carbonation level.

D- easy to finish and very enjoyable. thought provoking. ill be crossing state lines once again to pick some more of this up. probably the best VE ive had so far.

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

A: Appears black, but is really a very dark brown. Small tan head with some lacing.

S: Milk and dark chocolates, roasted coffee beans, and orange zest are all present in the nose. Some notes of other darker fruits and some earthy hops make their way to the surface as well.

T: Big bittersweet dark chocolate flavor, followed by fruity notes and thick creamy malt flavors. Pine, cedar and orange zest give this brew a subtle kick throughout. Alcohol is masked by the full flavor of the beer. Dark chocolate, vanilla beans and oak are left in the aftertaste.

M: Watery, but not in a 'bad' way. Smooth and full. Medium carbonation, medium to full body.

D: Superb. My favorite of the VE series.

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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.

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

Poured into my Duvel tulip. I've had a few of these, but this is the first time I've gotten around to reviewing it.

Pours a VERY dark brown, so dark it looks black. Fat three finger bubbly tan head. Takes quite awhile to die down. Five minutes have gone by and still there's like a half a finger of head. Finally dies down to a soupy layer of foam on top with really crucial lacing.

Smells of coco, vanilla, banana bread and some slight citrus hops bitterness.

It taste of dark chocolate, some vanilla beans come through. Also some bananas, some spiciness, and some bread-i-ness from the Belgian yeast. Citrusy bitterness that is probably part tangerine peel and part hops. Some lingering smokiness. I almost get some oak flavor as well.

The mouthfeel is full bodied. Slightly viscous. Well carbonated which helps with the the full body of this one. Prickly, assertive bubbles. Decently smooth.

I honestly forgot how good this beer is. I can still get it pretty easily, and I think I might buy a bunch to age. I've only had the good fortune to try 08 and 09 of the Stone Vertical Epic series, but damn, I don't know how the other vintages are, but it is hard for me to imagine that the blow this one out of the water. Stone kills it, nuff said.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber pours a black color without much highlighting visible. Fluffy brown foam has decent retention and lacing. Neither great looking, nor has any negatives either.

Belgian trappist-like yeast greets the nose with maybe some cloves, cinnamon and cardamom spices. Chocolate maltiness is there and the hops are rather restrained for a Stone brew.

Can definitely taste some spices in here, kind of clovey and sweet cinnamon-sugar. Yeast does not seem overly estery and had some breadiness. Malts lean towards baking cocoa and a little roasty. Drinking really smooth right now, couldnt imagine it improving too much with some age as it is delicious right now. Bittering hops are in there and give it kind of an earthy, dusty grab on the finish. Just the right amount of sweetness. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer - more than I thought I would actually, and would love to snag a bottle or two more. Solid 'A' in my book...well done Stone.

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Photo of tzieser
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2009 bottle (obviously) served into a Duvel tulip.

A: pitch black in color with a nice thick light brown head that slowly settles. happy with the carbonation level.

S: notes of chocolate and spices. subtle notes of citrus.

T: deliciously complex. a tad bitter than expected. notes of bitter chocolate, orange peel and coriander. probably couldve used a bit more time but still amazing

M&D: bubbly mouthfeel; good drinkability

great stuff. I wanna find some more.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got it! Poured into my tulip glass. Pours a very dark brown color that lets in no light at all. nice tan head is about 1/2 inch when poured, eventually settling to a nice thick ring lining the inside of the glass. Very nice lace indeed. A nice, slightly roasted malty aroma with hints of vanilla and chocolate along with a slight spice smells as well. Hints of banana and some dark fruit, such as apple and plum round it out. the smell of alcohol is also slightly noticeable. Has a nice chocolate, roasted malt flavor upfront. Sweet, but not overly sweet and also some bitter chocolate notes as well here. Nice vanilla flavor as well, followed by some citrus and a bit of the dark fruit flavor and rounded out with a slight touch of hop bitterness. Very complex flavors here with so much going on a once. The taste of alcohol is present just a little bit on the back end. Has a nice crisp and frothy, full bodied mouthfeel with minimal to moderate carbonation. Has a sort of oily mouthfeel that I get from a lot of stouts and DIPA's, really coats the palate. Another fantastic beer from Stone. they really put their own stamp on this style of beer! Glad I got a bottle to age, can certainly see myself going and getting this again in the near future to drink again fresh and getting another bottle or 2 to age as well.


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Photo of ahalloin
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured at a tasting on the beers namesake date, reviewed from notes.

A: Pours an almost black fluid with slight brown hues visible at the edge when held up to the light. A healthy light tan head formed with a moderately vigorous pour.

S: Typical high quality Stone aroma with a dry roasty character coupled with hints of vanilla, tangerine, and a Belgian tangy yeast. I find Stone aromas to always be effervescent in nature in that there is a true presence of smell, but layered in a way that all nuances can shine through.

T: The body is a nice malty chocolate with hints of tangerine peel, and vanilla. The finish is very dry and roasty. A very nice flavor combo that I look forward to trying in years to come.

M: The mouthfeel is full and smooth as a stout should be with relatively low carbonation.

D: Drinkability is quite exceptional really as there is much about this beer to love. I can't find anything here that might turn someone off.
A typical great product from Stone!

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Photo of dantecl
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased a few bottles from Stone Brewing Co. several hours ago. Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: Nice dark black with small head that dissipated fast. This beer pours thick.

Smell: The alcohol is definitely there, with a malty roasted aroma following it right away.

Taste: Strong chocolaty flavor, with some hints of citrus. The aftertaste is a bit acid and hoppy (bitter), and the chocolate flavor lingers around for some time.

Mouthfeel: Nice and soft, with a medium grade of carbonation.

Drinkability: Although this beer has an excellent taste, the alcohol is somewhat noticeable and this beer will hit you fast.

Overall, I am saving at least one bottle until 2012, but it's nonetheless a marvelous beer to enjoy at any point.

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Photo of Trappissed
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a beautiful beer to watch as it is poured. Huge tan head with a dramatic rush of carbonation rapidly churning and rising. Almost pitch black, with a tinge of reddish brown. Smells a bit like dark chocolate milk with some roastiness, and little alcohol.

Taste is very enjoyable. Coffee, vanilla, chocolate, and perhaps a bit of citrus on the back-end. A touch of bitter astringency on the finish as well. The roasty qualities linger on. Also getting some woodsy and charcoal elements throughout. Have to mention the hint of that familiar Belgian yeast bubblegum flavor. Alcohol is adequately hidden.

Mouthfeel is spot on. Coats the palate nicely. Very pleased with this brew and glad I got an extra to cellar(or drink). I'll probably end up getting a few more.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

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Photo of recons54
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Since we just got Stone into the state of Maine last year (Fall 2008), this was the first time I had an opportunity to try this yearly Stone series of beer...

Appearance - The look of this beer was quite inviting, with dark coloration. It looks thick and appears heavier (stout or Porter) than it actually tastes. A great tan head appears.

Aroma - I smell some hazelnut, cloves, and a hint of smoke. There was a note of something sweet, maybe I was picking up on the chocolate malts.

Taste - Layered with a variety of flavors for your taste buds to enjoy! I first caught the chocolate, then followed with some spicier hints of citrus. The Complexity is outstanding, and I wasn't disappointed.

Mouthfeel - As I said in the appearance, it is a bit deceiving when poured into a glass so I was expecting a dark, heavy beer that your needed a fork/knife to enjoy. This wasn't the case (for me), although the alcohol was somewhat noticeable for me.

Drinkability - I liked it a lot and have enjoyed several, either on its own and with a meal (great to wash down that Thanksgiving turkey).

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Photo of stakem
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first experience with an Epic. I don't have the willpower to let this one sit around and age, I am throwing myself in there now.

Pours a black color with a lacy finger of tanned head. The head does not retain long and leaves only a bit of lacing on the glass. Nose has some citrus (orange-like) notes that do not seem to come from hops. It also smells of alcohol, licorice, chocolate and caramel. It has a bit of astringency about the smell as well. Taking a sip it is bitter in both the front and the finish however the middle of the taste is filled with a mild and pleasant sweetness of bitterish chocolate. It finishes quite warming and has a lingering taste of chocolate and "spice." As the beer warms, it takes on more of the bitterness and chocolate profile. However, it also has some smoky oakish qualities as well with a bit of caramel taste.

This beer is nothing like I had imaged an "Ale reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange" would taste like, it is a lot better. I hope I can find this beer again in the distant future...I don't have the willpower to let it sit around and not enjoy it but I would definately like to try it after it spent some quality time in the bottle aging.

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Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I cant wait to pick another one of these up and let it sit for another year or two!

Pours solid black with nice tan head that fades away but leaves amazing lacing the whole way down.

Smell is light but pretty sweet from the yeast. You also get a good amount of chocolate as well.

The taste is mainly of chocolate but there is some smokiness in there for sure as well.

I wish I would have had this beer a year ago to taste the differnce but at a little over a year its very smooth and great for the drinking!

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Photo of dragonWhale
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What the f to open? Yes, sure, why not? Not even sure if I've had a taste of this creature before.
When it pours black, I yearn for comfort. There is no quarter to be found here, the rockiness of black ice on the mountain.
Roast and wood astringency with some bitter chocolate up front and through and through. There is some dark fruited malt and orange peel somewhere in the middle of the beverage, but it fades out again and gives way to the sledge of the bitter chocolate, lasting eternally. Much more stout quality than BSDA, and it is a quality belgian imperial stout. A little less "epic" than Weyerbacher 13 or Black Albert, sure, but damn fine, and certainly will hold up well through the vertical and beyond.

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Photo of kzoobrew
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An aggressive pour produces a four finger thick creamy coffee stained head. Excellent retention and lacing. Body is an opaque black with ruby highlights which are picked up only when held to the light. Appearance is near perfect.

The aroma is rather unique. Unusual blend of roasted malt and chocolate in which you may find in a stout or porter along side a spicy rather fruity aroma of your typical Belgian Pale. However strange the combination may be, it works quite well. Whiffs of vanilla are intertwined which further increase the complexity.

Rich decadent chocolate flavors overwhelm the taste buds as the liquid first crosses the tongue. Roasted malt flavor with a slight char melds together with the chocolate flavors creating a very full flavor up front. Sweet citric bite shines through the darker heavy flavors add a very welcome dimension to the flavor. Vanilla flavors are subtle and smooth, seemingly playing hide and seek with you as you drink.

Full bodied with a rather creamy mouth feel. Extremely smooth.

A very satisfying brew. Rich flavors with layered complexity which I assume will only increase with age. Easy to drink while more or less being a sipper. One bottle may be more than enough for the simple fact your taste buds may experience fatigue. A masterpiece of a brew if I have ever seen one. I tip my hat to the people at Stone, fine job.

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Photo of berley31
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured with a tan, moderate-large head that had tight bubbles. Creamy, thick, and long-lasting. Body is jet-black and opaque. Not as much lacing left behind as I would have thought.

S: Dark fruit, milk chocolate, hints of vanilla, and maybe even a touch of citrus in there, too.

T: As complex, if not more so, as the aroma. Chocolatey, with dark fruit. Slight roasted flavor in the finish. When held in the mouth, a touch of orange is apparent, but only slightly so.

M: Moderate carbonation, medium-bodied.

D: An extremely complex BSDA; I was very impressed. Wish I could get my hands on more of this!

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Photo of HopHead84
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Consumed on 9/11/2009 on tap at Stone. The beer appears black with a really thick and creamy two finger light brown head. It has surprisingly great retention and lacing, taking nearly 5 minutes to recede and leaving a thick sheet of foam on the side of my glass.

The nose seemed one dimensional until the beer fully warmed and then the complexities became apparent. The aroma is roasted malt that is well balanced by dark chocolate and to a lesser extent, vanilla. Coffee is well integrated in this beer. A spicy, clove-like character is evident and at a low level, as well as subtle banana. A swirl of the glass brings the Belgian yeast to life, bringing out citrus.

The taste is a complex interplay between chocolate, roast, and a low level of coffee. No one flavor dominates. The beer is also fruity and slightly spicy, with notes of banana esters and a touch of citrus. Vanilla is at a low level and noticeable throughout (more dominant midpalate). Some smoke and char are evident, and there's a moderate level of bitterness in the dry finish. Speaking of the finish, it confused me until I read the beer description and realized it was toasted oak that was so distinct. At the end, coffee lingers, as well as toast and later fruit character. Alcohol is well hidden. The tangerine peels became evident nearly 30 seconds after the finish.

The beer is full bodied with moderate draft carbonation and a thick, creamy, full mouthfeel. I expected nothing from this beer and was pleasantly surprised. Very complex. For the record, Overlord is upset because I beat him in arm wrestling yesterday.

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Photo of Fillpott
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured this from a 22oz bottle that I happened upon. It poured dark w/ a mocha-colored head. Surprisingly, it didn't have any lacing. The smell was roasted malt, dark chocolate, and intense hop spice and bitterness. The taste reflected the same as the smell. Dark fruit and chocolate were evident in the taste, also. I didn't taste or smell the tangerine that was mentioned on the bottle, but I did get a slight banana smell. Vertical 090909 has a full, chewy mouth w/ plenty of complexity. It isn't for everyone, though. I am looking forward to aging the entire Vertical Epic and tasting them.

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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

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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
4.06 out of 5 based on 867 ratings.
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