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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic AleStone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale
BA SCORE
4.08/5
Exceptional
868 Ratings
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic AleStone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States
stonebrewing.com

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.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
-
Reviews:
538
Ratings:
868
pDev:
10.54%
Bros Score:
4.25
 
 
Wants:
36
Gots:
274
Trade:
15
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 868 |  Reviews: 538
Photo of IBUnit63
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Allowed this one to breathe quite a bit and poured it into a Duvel tulip...

Develops a very nice head - a full finger of maple/brown sugar goodness...very dough-like and gelatinous. Nice! Lacing and retention aren't bad, either. Body is dark and viscous...mildly espresso-like. Solid.

It seems as if the more it warms the more prominent the tangering peel is. Very good. The chocolate is well-refined and while in the background provides a creamy scent with a fair amount of bittersweet that plays well off the chocolate. I forget the candies my parents used to get back in the day but there was something shaped like an orange, but it was chocolate with infused orange and zest. Reminds me of this. Malt is roasted well and plays off some gentle hop pine. Belgian yeast strain creates a nice abbey feel to it all.

The creaminess hits the palate and brings along very solid chocolate malt flavors. Essence/zest is a little more quiet on the palate than on the nose. Hop profile adds in some grass to the aforementioned pine. Tannins from the dark-roasted malt are very soft but they engage the ever-increasing grassiness of the hops to provide solid synergies.

Palate feel on this one can't be improved too much. It has the hop bite and a little dryness but the creaminess of the chocolate and associated malt really smooth this to a velvet touch. Maybe a little lighter weight than desired but that is a minor beef. Spiciness of Belgian yeast and...Special B maybe (?)...really play this one up well.

Right about now I'm mentally smasing a newspaper over my head for not saving any of the VEs prior to 2007, 'cause I vaguely remember how enjoyable they were. Ahhh, whaddayagonnado. Either way, I enjoyed this one more than last year's upon release but I really should go back and snag yet another 08.08.08 to see how it's coming along. This one has a greater richness and creaminess that is nicely enjoyed.

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Photo of cvstrickland
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The 22-ounce screenprinted bomber bottle features scads of the usual Stone informative puffery, but with the crown pried off it's time to let the beer do the talking...let's roll.

09.09.09 pours ruby-hued roasted chestnut in color with a finger-thick topping of creamy light khaki-colored foam. The consistency of the crowning head is firm and silky, and as the bubble-cap slowly relaxes, it deposits rings of broken sheeted lacing onto the inner walls of my D-R snifter.

The aroma is quite fruity with a mango-spritzed note of chocolate-covered ripe banana firmly front-and-center. A crisp citrusy edge provides a whiff of countering tangerine tartness, and a darkly roasted component contributes savor and depth to the profile. As the drink warms a bit, a dry-toasted oaky note becomes increasingly prominent.

The taste is richly deep and chocolatey with an edging of vanilla-infused dark-roast coffee. A mellow backing of banana lingers underneath the darkness, resting atop a long, oaky-dry finish that is laced with a touch of snappy spice and a drop of bittering citrus peel oil. Any detectable alcohol is virtually non-existent, save the warming sensation in my belly and a fleeting flash-in-the-pan flavor that comes on late in the encounter to interject the vaguest notion of plum wine.

The drink is lush, fluffy, and fullish in body with excellent, extremely fine-grained carbonation. Highly drinkable, even given the 8.9% ABV, but I'd really expect nothing less from Stone.

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Photo of Hopswagger
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed 12.12.12
Celebrating the Vertical Epic Series

P: Dark orange-brown with tan head

S: Cocoa, chocolate orange, dairy cream, roasty malt, banana, clove, peppery spices, aged oak, timid coffee and a pinch of cayenne.

T/M: Chocolate sheet cake, cocoa powder, chocolate orange, orchard fruit, hints of vanilla bean. Creamy but grainy feel in a full body with prickly carbonation. Smooth finish of chocolate and oak.

O: Huge chocolate base with varying types and a good oak aged flavor that developed nicely. Bold flavors and one to really enjoy.

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Photo of natelocc787
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Far from a chocolate quad, not a quad at all. Definitively a BSDA from start to finish. Dark brown, close to black in appearance. Had to give this one a 4.5 score in the taste category because of the complexity it offered. It has a very sharp tobacco bite, black malt, roasted malts, maple syrup, overripe banana, chocolate covered blackberries, Belgian yeast notes and even more. One of those beers you could pull all night from. Definitely young, still a pleasure, the mouthfeel should improve with age as well, understated carbonation with a small bubble feel on the lip but a bigger bubble feel as it's swallowed. I still think this would have been better using any yeast strain that wasn't Belgian.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Chouffe tulip

A deep, dark brown, borderline black on the pour with a huge khaki head that fills the tulip perfectly. Some pretty fantastic retention and lacing, this guy holds shape really well.

Bittersweet dark chocolate notes right off the bat. The Belgian yeast strain adds a bit of tang and a noticeable presence of orange peel. Deep roast, tiptoeing char, and a herbal, earthy hop presence. A lot to offer here.

The flavors do not disappoint. Deep roasted malt with dark Belgian chocolate up front and orange peel throughout. The yeast adds a level of tartness that melds well with the sweetness of the chocolate. Dark fruits make an appearance briefly before a dry, coffee flavor grabs hold for the finish.

Smooth and lush. The carbonation is near perfect giving this a well balanced mouthfeel. Hearty and full, but light and playful in the right spots.

Some warming in the finish, but not a lot. The flavors really complement each other nicely and make this a fine drinking stout, er, belgian porter.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a snifter.

Pitch black with a tight tan colored head that thinned out to a ring leaving patches of lacing.
Smell is dark fruits (dates, raisins, figs) and yeast.
Taste follows through on the aroma with some smokiness tossed in. The finish is not bitter but far from being overly sweet.
Medium/Full bodied with a rich, creamy feel.
Easy to drink as the abv is very well hidden.

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Photo of bonkers
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured from a bomber into a snifter. It pours a deep opaque black with a fluffy white head. The aroma is strong deep dark chocolate. The flavor has a few levels, chocolate, vanilla and a bit of alcohol. The beer is creamy, rich, smooth and the alcohol is a bit hot. The flavor profile is similiar to a stout. The residual alcohol makes it a bit of a sipper, but a damn fine beer overall.

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Photo of WhatsNewinBooze
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On 9-9-09 Stone brewery released the eighth edition of their Vertical Epic Series exactly 1 year, 1 month and 1 day from the previous years release. These beers are built and designed to be aged until sometime after 12-12-2012, but good luck keeping your hands off of it. This years release is a Belgium style ale brewed with spices and is in fact a complex and layered beer. This beer pours toasty brown color with a creamy caramel colored head. Aromas of vanilla, chocolate and citrus leap out of the glass and make the first sip intriguing. Smooth chocolate malts meld well with the Belgium yeast giving it slight banana flavor and hints of baking spice. The addition of tangerine peel balances the palate with notes citrus. The finish is smooth and lingering with additional flavors of vanilla and toasty french oak.

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Photo of danielharper
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black body, very thin brown head that dissipates quickly. Body is completely opaque and allows no light through. Head should be much greater for a Belgian-style ale.

Smell: Rich chocolate backbone, some spices (coriander?) on top. Notes of chocolate-covered cherries, sweet, inviting. Some alcohol astringency.

Taste: Alcohol astringency is very present in the flavor, particularly in the finish. Otherwise strong flavors of chocolate malt, with a nice bitterness and some vanilla-like spicy undertones. Finish is strongly of vanilla. No tartness present at all, which leads me to suspect that an American-style yeast was used.

Mouthfeel: Thick, luxurious. Low carbonation, mild hops. Slightly chewy.

Drinkability: Very nice beer, although perhaps slightly misclassified as a Belgian-style. It'd be interesting to see how it ages (which is, after all, the point).

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Photo of timtim
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

wow. nuff said. some great reviews. the nose is fantastic, and the vanilla really brings out the orange kind of like the smell from your mom's baking when you were a kid. taste and smell are just unbalanced perfectly for development, and i can't wait to try my other one in a few years. i kind of dig this one. more please. is it 101010 yet?

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark brown coffee, tan head, attractive pour. Healthy, billowing head on this one.

S- I pick up barrel/smoke qualities on top of roasted malts, sugary sweetness, and a fruity essence.

T- A smoky, roasted brew. Tastes like a chocolate rauchbier. Hmm. I like it. Mild spice/sweet notes, not sure if its the tangerine zest or whatever, but its good times.

M- Moderate carbonation but it works for the beer.

D- Moderate but enjoyable. I was pleasantly suprised by this beer, it definitely impressed me. I will be buying more of this.

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

It took me a couple months to track this one down, I really wasn't hunting it down like years past. The series lost it's appeal for me after I drank my cellar empty of the 03,04, 05, and 06 I was holding onto after I graduated nursing school. Regardless I have to try these brews fresh in case it's something that I think should be tucked away. I had good results with my last four VEs that I cellared for some time.

My birthday month, this one appears pitch black with absolutely no ruby highlights when held toward a bright light, large mocha tan head forms after a vigorous pour into my Gulden Draak chalice, dwindles slow leaves big chunky layers of lace sporadically clinging to the sides of the glass.

Nice glowing citrus peels with roasted dark malts bring some recently tasted Swiss truffles with citrus peels to mind. A mild mineral metallic character with more roasted malt and lively fruit notes, a definite creamy mingling of dark chocolate with a touch of roasted coffee, charred oak, and soothing vanilla. A leafy herbal mint quality sticks out as well in the aromatics.

Flavor dark black patent malt has some acrid sharp tanginess to it with the citrus peels intermingling quite nicely with that dark chocolate and creamy effervescence. A Belgian approach, that may be the most believable effort from Stone yet, since the hops actually are chilled out here. Those oak barrel effects are minimal with traces of vanilla and charred oak, in addition to that actual vanilla beans that have been tossed in to the mix. A nice sugary sweetness is carried along throughout the charred dark malt and tangerine peel bitterness to end in a creamy blend of vanilla and oak characteristics, with a fresh blast of herbal mint from the hop additions here.

Mouthfeel overall is creamy slightly effervescent with a medium to fuller bodied approach. Really nice feeling overall besides that touch of acidic twang I spoke about with the harsh dark malt bitterness. The finish does strike some notes of charred oak and herbal mint that seem like they are going to show up like hop burps.

Drinkability is quality share with friends complexity and cohesion make for a good time, you can have loads of different flavors that may not work well together. This vertical epic ale decided to make familiar flavors glide together and intermingle off one another to provided the type of complexity that will lead to emptied glasses rather than drain pours like their 13th Anniversary release. I enjoyed the citrus and dark chocolate with a vanilla slightly charred oak finish.

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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.

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

A: Pouring into my Piraat tulip glass gives a very fluffy tan head atop a beautiful black beer.

S: The first whiff reveals tons of chocolate and dark fruits. Further sniffs give coffee, toffee, spice, and sweet malt. A mild citrus aroma is present, but certainly not a major player.

T: The flavor is very interesting. A slight coffee bitterness pairs well with sweetness from chocolate, fruit, and caramel malt. The spice is a bit more subdued than in the nose, but lends a little something to the beer.

M: This is a very full bodied beer. The carbonation is moderate and quite appropriate for this beer.

D: While this is a "Belgian" beer, the porter characteristics come through much more than the Belgian yeast and spice. This is certainly a "different" beer, but one that I enjoyed and look forward to trying with some age on it.

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Photo of erikm25
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep darkened brown that is just the smallest shade short of black. Head is pillowing a oaked caramel color with strong retention. Lacing is mediocre. After the initial pour both the body and head reminded me of the Abyss. Overall, very nice looking and having not known anything about what to expect the appearance got me psyched more than the previous Verticals.

S: Chocolate with dark cherries and grapes. Roasted bananas peppered in smoked cloves. A strong coffee aroma with oak undertones. As it warms there are more mango and pineapple smells yet they are still well coated with vanilla and spice. Like a porter mixed with a Belgian.

T: This is one, at times almost too, complex tasting beer. My initial impression was a great woody and nutty upfront taste with ginger. A wild ride between candy sweetness, burnt tangerines, and vanilla creaminess. Cocoa and molasses tastes are subtle and warming. This beer isn't so much layered as it is a whirlwind of flavor. Even the much anticipated slight hops finish is present towards the end.

M: Good mouth feel without being to overwhelming. Solid carbonation.

D: This is a very interesting and impressive beer and the idea that this will improve with age is enough to get your hands on a couple. Great tasting but one to be enjoyed at a reasonable pace.

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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.

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Photo of Bilco
4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of poisoneddwarf
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
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

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Photo of Beerbuddha
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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!

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Photo of Oakenator
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark - black in fact - with little to no light showing through. A finger of head on a 9 oz pour - cream clored. Great mouthfeel - solid carbonation up front with a rise towards the back end. Smell reveals spices and banana. Taste is sweet fruits on the front end with rich, dark malts dominating the finish. Another excellent and complex VE.

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- from the notes and a bomber bottle
A - dark to near black with a brownish frothy head.
S - chocolate roasted malts dominate.
T - chocalate, vanilla, roasted malts and fruit tinted malts dominate.
M - heavier bodied with a lower carbonation and a very smooth feel.
D - quite drinkable but the heaviness will certainly catch up to you.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a bomber bottle into a pint glass in two parts.

Appearance was dark brown to black and opaque. There was a one finger mocha head and decent retention. Smell hit with nice notes of bananna and dark fruit. Some smokiness also makes it way through. Taste hits hard with the chocolate malt. Dark chocolate, espresso, and smoke notes all take center stage. They are balanced by the bananna and light citrus peel notes. Mouthfeel is full bodied and smooth without much carbonation. Drinkability is good considering the ABV. The booze is hidden nicely, still cannot imagine having more than a bomber in a night.

Overall, a nice smokey, chocolate belgian beer with good balance. A good offering from Stone that would be even better with some years on it.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottle date is obvious. Pours pitch black color with a nice 2 finger dense tan head with awesome retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Some nice spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big raisin, prune, molasses, apple, biscuit, caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, light char, earth, and herbal. Very nice aromas with good strength, complexity, and balance; very inviting. Taste of big chocolate, biscuit, caramel, molasses, prune, apple, roasted malt, raisin, light char, vanilla, earth, oak, and herbal. Lingering notes of dark fruit, chocolate, caramel, biscuit, light char, earth, and roasted malt on the finish for a good bit. Fantastic flavor complexity and balance; with a very nice roasted malt flavor profile. Medium carbonation and body; with a very nice creamy and slightly slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is completely hidden, with hardly any warming at all noticed after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent Belgian dark ale. Great amount of complexity and robust roasted flavors; with great balance and very smooth drinking. Extremely enjoyable stuff!

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Photo of aubuc1
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in to a chimay goblet.

Pours black with a thick steady head.

Smell is lightly roasty, then sweet citrus.

Taste is how they crafted it. Chocolate with a light orange twist. Roasty dry finish. Very interesting.

Good full mouthfeel and a dry finish leave me wanting more after each taste.

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Photo of cooncat
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Since I had 2 of these, decided to pop one open on Superbowl Sunday. Decanted at fridge temp into my SA glass.

A vigorous pour produces a nearly opaque beer, with garnet highlights at the edges. The head is a light suede brown, not particulary huge or long lasting. Guess that at 8.6%, that shouldn't be a big set back, but I've brewed beers of that size which had better head/retention.

The nose is malty with some dark fruit in it, along with some spiciness (probably from the Belgian yeast). Nose isn't huge, but it's there, and very inviting.

The taste first reminded me of my Baltic Porter. There's roasty malts in there, some dark fruit and cherries with just a hint of spice. Hard to tell if the spiciness if from the yeast or the hops, but its pleasant, and a nice balanced mix. If you like porters, you'll like this brew. Mouthfeel is medium. I guess that would be appropriate for this style ... I've never brewed a Strong Dark Belgian myself. All in all, quite a tasty brew, and the alcohol makes no appearance, except for perhaps a slight warming in the tummy. I'm going to finish this bomber, and could easily do another, so I'd say the drinkability is good. If it leaves you wanting more, that's a good thing.

Stone is one of my favorite craft brewers, and in general, I like most of their offerings. Guess I'll add this one to that column, and will look forward to trying this again next year for the vertical blast.

Na Zdravje!

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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.08 out of 5 with 868 ratings
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