09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale
870 Ratings
09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale09.09.09 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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 870 |  Reviews: 538
Photo of flexabull
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with a decent off white head.

Aromas are of light fruits, raisins, chocolate, and nuts.

Taste is really dry with a light fruit character up front. Some spices, banana, nut flavors, and roasted malts. Beer then settles into some light sweet flavors, chocolate, cocoa, and light cream. Finish has a mineral hop bite. Subtle but tasty beer.

Mouthfeel is good with nice carbonation.

Drinkability is good. This is a pretty nice dark ale. I think it will benefit from a little aging. Pretty nice beer, I actually preferred it the other day when I had it on draft. It seemed to have a little more flavor and kick to it. This is still a nice bottle of beer, and will be interesting in a couple of years, or maybe 3+.

 737 characters

Photo of DNICE555
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at plan B

A - Pours an opaque black with a nice 1 finger head that dissipates quickly.

S - Chocolate, Vanilla, Roasted malt, yeast.

T - Chocolate, malt, yeast, citrus, hops.

M - Medium to full bodied with light carbonation.

D - Very drinkable for 8.9%. Alcohol only provided a slight warmth. Nice hop backbone on this one. Almost tasted like a hoppy stout.

 373 characters

Photo of cdkrenz
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

drizzam, You're aaalright.

A - Dark as the night with a thick medium to dark brown frothy, long-lived head. This is not a brew for the meek.

S - Fantastically long roasted malts with great aromas of smoke and oak.

T - This is a great tasting beer with burnt flavors of pork and crispy campfire that has burned through a misty night of mid july. The humidity brings a uniques flavor not found in any beer I've ever before enjoyed. The chocolote too is nothing short of strong in the flavor.

M - Smooth and easy going considering the complexity this brew holds.

~ This one I would definitely have again. I'd say this is something I would enjoy every month or so in order to really smooth an edge.

 700 characters

Photo of wknight167
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apearance - Pours an opaque near black with 1/2 finger head that is shortlived.

Nose- Chocolate, roast malt, vanilla with a faint citrus aroma followed up by a subtle belgian yeastiness.

Palate- Chocolatey goodness complimented by vanilla but juxtaposed with orange and clove.

Mouthfeel- Medium to full bodied, smooth with little carbonation.

Drinkability- Very good, but I couldn't see having more than a couple in a night.

Overall- I can't wait to see how this one ages.

 478 characters

Photo of Haybeerman
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

 692 characters

Photo of axeman9182
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, allowed to warm some before being poured into my petite Duvel tulip.

Stone's 2009 entry into their Vertical Epic series pours jet black. Three fingers of almost mousse like cocoa colored foam tops the beer. The head shows some decent (but not amazing) staying power, and covers most of the glass with chunks of lacing. I wanted to give the beer a 4.5 for looks, but the head retention just wasn't there to warrant it. The nose is wonderful, creamy chocolate with a sweet vanilla backbone, and just a hint of citrus playing off of it. It nails what Stone says they were going for with this one, and the aroma's fairly powerful to boot. The flavor profile is based around that same orange peel tinted chocolate that dominates the nose, but there's also a touch of phenols here. Specifically, there's a not too welcome touch of spicy clove that just seems out of place with the rest of the beer. The body is not quite as bone dry as some Belgian ales, but it's defintely leaning in that direction. The carbonation has a lot of the pep that one would expect for the style, but manages to stay out of the way of some of the malty flavors. As basically what I guess I'd call a Belgian Porter Stone's 2009 Vertical Epic is a pretty good beer, though I think I'd have liked it better if the same recipe was fermented out with a more neutral ale yeast strain.

 1,365 characters

Photo of Billolick
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A welcome new beer each year, ah yes, its time for the new Stone vertical epic! Pours quite stout like, dark khaki head, great retention, tiny bubble and loads of sheeting, lace and a thick collar, great looking product. Dark malts, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla in the nose. Super smooth chocolaty brew, more dark malts, vanilla, coffee grounds. Dark and tasty. Complexity perhaps a bit on the lower then expected side. Still delicious and worth a try for all dark beer and Stone lovers. Wish I had the self control to age these babies, but it never seems to be in the cards...oh well enjoy this one now or later....

 620 characters

Photo of Magpie14
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: wow, is this really a Belgian Dark? I poured this in low lights and I was convinced this was a mild mannered stout. The pour was rather lethargic with a muddy brown complexion. After examining my glass with a better light source I found no transparency apparent. Pretty much an inky brew. A nice dirty gold colored head fluffed up and dissolved away leaving some remnants glued to the glass

S: sweet chocolate malts with a light kiss of fruitiness, most notably oranges. My nose also gathered a faint whiff of fresh baked grainy breads with some grassy hops. That fruitiness has a bubblegum depth to it

T: this is an admirably complex brew. Judging by the bodies hue and from what I smelled, the flavors are pretty dark as guessed. At first sip, the maltiness pairs with a burnt bread-like character, somewhat of a rugged baked dry yeasty character. This mainstay flavor is augmented by a light bakers chocolate character. And then, on the other hand, you have some spicy mellow dark fruit characters with a hop presence all its own working about. The hops are more or less grassy and florally

However, the overall profile is just kind of clammy and dark, if that makes sense. Things are briefly bitter after each sip and then a battle of chocolate and spices pursue the tongue. Warming proves to accentuate flavors in a good-natured way with alcohol unfortunately popping up

M: a medium to full body makes things pretty smooth. Carbonation is in the tongue tickler category, maybe a bit strong for how fat the body is. I always associate most Belgians as fuzzy or full of life, this one is doing moderate work during my consumption

D: wow, a rather interesting complex beer. I was assuming a usual Belgian type of beer when I bought it. I guess what surprised me the most was the girth of the beer, which is a good surprise. This baby drinks good and I might try to grab another before the next one rolls around, better make work of that soon

 1,952 characters

Photo of LukeD23
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beautiful pour. Magagony black with a tan head

Chocolate dried figs and slight toasted bread for aroma

Flavor is very smooth. Really complex beer. Again cocoa is a key player. Slight herb. subtle earthy Belgian flavors of clove and spice.

I like it. Nice Belgian stouty beer. Obviously a good ager

 303 characters

Photo of Casey10
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very nice beer can't wait to see how this one tastes in a couple of years.

A - pours very dark with a very brown head with nice lacing. As others have noted reminds me of a stout. Very nice though

S - faint notes of chocolate other faint spices as well.

T - good although well definately have to follow up with a review after ageing. Light chocolate, after warming up can definately taste the Belgian spices which gives it a slight banana like taste in the background.

M - Creamy again feel of the Belgian spice is there slight banana stings a bit as well.

D - I really liked this looking forward to seeing what some ageing will do to this.

 645 characters

Photo of WesWes
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a pitch black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice roasted and chocolate malt scent along with a subtle Belgian yeast fruitiness. The taste is much the same. It's incredibly complex with loads of roasted and chocolate malt flavors. It goes down easy with a dry, chocolatey finish. The yeast creates a bit of fruitiness, but nothing that really deters the main taste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very good beer. It's basically a chocolate stout with Belgian yeast character.

 605 characters

Photo of GJ40
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 22oz bottle in my DFH snifter.

A - A deep dark brown with little light coming through. It's got a big tan head that starts strong but doesn't stick around too long.

S - Molasses, brown sugar and cocoa with a hint of fruit.

T - A nice blend of brown sugar, honey and oak. It's sweet but not overly sweet. The flavors are nicely balanced and seem to linger forever.

M - Silky and creamy with a nice low carbonation of very fine bubbles.

D - A nice balance of being very drinkable yet still flavorful. This one goes down easily and has no sign of the 8.9% alcohol.

 581 characters

Photo of Kendo
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from the bomber into a Duvel tulip. A 2-finger light-chocolate-brown head settles over a BLACK body. Good head retention. Leaves behind lots of splotchy lace.

S: Roasted malt, some chocolate. Not as strong as expected.

T: First impression: finishes like dark chocolate with a hint of coffee at the back of the sip. Some alcohol heat is felt down the gulley but not really evident in the taste. Drying bitterness at the finish provides some balance, and as it warms some citrusy hops become evident. Not much for Belgian-type notes (e.g., cloves, yeast, candied sugar, etc.).

M: Medium in heft, good carbonation.

D: Very good. Whatever this is supposed to be, it went down easily and packed a solid buzz.

 717 characters

Photo of JoePat
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown almost black with a light tan head that sticks around.
Smells mostly of chocolate with some toasted malts and a slight bit of orange zest.
The main flavor is bitter chocolate with chalky malt taste.
The mouthfeel is dry and chalky but sweet.
This beer tastes great and is really smooth making for a very drinkable beer.

 338 characters

Photo of elgiacomo
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle. Served at cellar temperature.

Pours dark brown to black with a large foamy brown head that leaves nice rings of drippy lacing and holds a good cap.

Aroma is anise, cocoa, chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits such as plums and raisins, yeast and bread. Very good strength.

Flavor is lush and rich cocoa, chocolate, vanilla, some coffee, dark fruits, anise, molasses, caramel, toffee, some alcohol, very complex and layered.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, somewhat creamy, low to medium carbonation.

My first '09 VE and it was worth the wait. Fantastic stuff. Not getting much of the banana or citrus that Stone mentions, but to me this drinks sort of like a Baltic Porter with some BSDA characteristics.

I hear a store in town still has a bunch of these left and I think I'm gonna be making a special trip up there next week to secure a few more.

 861 characters

Photo of SkunkWorks
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

 864 characters

Photo of ne0m00re
4.14/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

07/13/10- Had this one on-tap at Bodega.
A: Black with a thin ruby hue and good tan lacing but not a lot of head.
S: Roasted cocoa beans, sweet caramel, banana alcohol, raisins, brown sugar, oats, and very welcoming.
T: Roasted chocolate over molasses with raisins, banana, cherry, and lingering roasted malt.
M: Mildly frothy and slightly sticky.
D: Very good.

 361 characters

Photo of ehammond1
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (2009)

K&B Wine Cellars
San Diego, CA

Pour is very dark brown, nearly black. No light penetrates through the glass. Head is 1.5 inches thick, espresso colored, small, tiny bubbles, dissipates to a half inch head that sticks around. Sticky lacing rings the glass with every sip. A beautiful beer.

Strong smells of chocolate, coffee, cherries, vanilla, banana, and black licorice. Decidedly sweet and Belgian. I've never smelt a beer like this!

Taste is of roasted coffee beans, fresh espresso, and dark chocolate. Alcohol is hidden very well. I've had this beer before and remember tasting some banana, but I don't this time.

Body is medium to heavy in the mouth; this is a filling beer! 22oz. is more than enough for me.

An expertly crafted and incredibly complex brew released by Stone. Few beers can pack this many different smells and tastes in to a glass and still remain drinkable and enjoyable.

 913 characters

Photo of cokes
4.15/5  rDev +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 diamondlie
4.15/5  rDev +2%

Photo of RAFH
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type: a 22 ounce bottle was purchased in Winter of 2010 from J.B. Russo & Sons in Grand Rapids, Michigan for $6.99 (the label was still on the bottle). I remember the beer-guy there recommending that this beer be purchased and held for aging and maturing. Since Shangy's in Emmaus, Pennsylvania had a case of Vertical 09.09.09 available, which I greedily bought for $73, I had to drink the 22 ounce bottle I purchased from J.B. Russo & Sons right away.

Appearance: Hard pour into tall pilsner glass resulted in two-finger head. Foam cohered for over a minute and with an even film on the glass. Beer was dark tan with just a little light passing through the beer's darkness.

Smell: Mmmm...delicious sweet smelling aromas. A little nut and wood aromas as well.

Taste: The nut and wood smells were quite noticeable right away. The ale went down smooth and had an excellent aftertaste, but this ale feels like it needs another year for the flavors to mature.

Mouthfeel: Very compatible with my palette. Like I mentioned above, the aftertaste was excellent...especially as it got warmer. NOTE: this beer was poured straight from the fridge, so it tasted better as it warmed.

Overall: I wanted to give the overall a 4.5, but I feel the flavors may need another year to mature, so I settled for a 4.0. I'll update this review in about a year since I have a case of 09.09.09's to store and age.

 1,400 characters

Photo of TheKingsOfHop
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber poured into tulip shaped glasses:

A: Light tan head with a dark brown almost black in color thick looking body to it.

S: Dark fruit like figs or plums, yeasty, with a hint of tobacco, and smokey malt.

T: Wow this is amazing... smokey, coffee, chocolate, delicious toffee with a warming slight alcohol burn on the end. This really has a lot going on here, but yet still very well balanced.

M: Medium body, perfect carbonation, really just overall smooth and creamy. Leaves you wanting more.

D: Could easily drink a whole 22oz on our own, but this was shared at a beer dinner with great company.

The Kings Of Hop

 638 characters

Photo of mountdew1
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a dark opaque brown, with a 1 finger light brown head. The head lasted for a long time, and clung to the sides well. Aroma reminded me of a chocolate stout. Small amounts of bitterness and burnt spiciness were also evident. Taste was a sweet slightly bitter milk chocolate, with a bit of white bread/all purpose flour in the end. Felt a bit off in the mouth. It was slightly dry, otherwise coated well and felt good. Surprisingly easy to drink, went down way faster than it should have.

 532 characters

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Unibroue tulip. Almost smells like a imperial porter. Lots of coffee, chocolate and vanilla. Very smooth and creamy. Maybe I shouldn't review this beer after most recently drinking a 13th anniversary from Stone (breathtaking), and maybe I shouldn't review in 2009 when the beer was designed to peak after 2012, but a beer that's a slight let down from Stone 13, is still a great beer and from most other breweries, this one would be exceptional. If Stone says this will peak in 3+ years, I believe them...I believe anything they say, how could we not at this point. The beer is great and one day may be stupendous, I look forward to laying it down. This beer may be the reason that BA allows you to re-review beers.

 729 characters

Photo of Xul
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown with a one finger tan head, leaving behind some solid lacing.

S: Predominant aromas of chocolate and banana with a bit of roastiness in back, along with a slight hint of coffee and some caramel. Bitterness comes from the chocolate and coffee along with some earthy hoppiness.

T: Massive amounts of roastiness up front, giving way to a complex mix of flavors through the middle and int othe back. Chocolate comes through later along with some orange zest and caramel. Coffee-ish bitterness comes through, leaving a well-balanced aftertaste.

M: Smooth with medium carbonation, coats the tongue well.

D: Immensely drinkable for the style and gravity, could definitely drink a few of these if not for the rarity factor.

 741 characters

09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.07 out of 5 with 870 ratings