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 BarBEERian
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

When I think of Belgian dark ales, I think of a slightly muddied version of an amber-at least a beer I can see a glimmer of light through. However, after pouring a pint of the 09.09.09, I already knew I was being slightly deceived by the title on the bottle: this was a porter or stout. It poured a delicious-looking midnight black color with a head that erupted like a volcano into a fluffy and succulent light brown froth.

The smell wasn't overpowering, though, with just a slight touch of cocoa and some sweeter citrus notes. The taste was immediately velvety soft, with a touch of vanilla bean and oaky-alcohol hitting up front. The following touches included sprinklings of orange zest, lemon, a thick yeasty layer, and the light finishing power of toned-down malt. Further sips revealed a boozier profile than I initially noted, with the smooth and filmy mouthfeel really becoming noticeable. As the beer warmed, the booze became even more pronounced, but the flavors seemed to separate even more. What was once a nice and subtle transition from vanilla and malt to citrus, was now a noticeable change, and the finishing notes were even more removed from the middle flourishes, with an abrupt and unwelcome splash of malt shielding the now odd citrus sprinklings.

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Photo of bunnyhustle
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The always anticipated VE was a bit of a let down to me. I guess it was a good let down, but still...Poured into tulip, dark as night with mocha head. Good retention and lacing. The smell was very unique I thought. A very bready and yeasty smell at first led way to a banana and bubblegum smell with some chocolate. Perhaps the most smells I've ever had in a single beer. Taste was alright but I feel it needs to age, but I guess thats what this beer is supposed to do. I think there were too many flavors to really focus on anthing particular. Chocolate, hops, orange, citrus, oak, vanilla, toasted name it! I actually thought there was a bit of smokiness to it that I did enjoy. Just a little too much. Mouthfeel was fuller but not too heavy. Overall an easy drinker. I did enjoy the beer and am very curious to see how it ages. I think this one will get much better with age.

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Photo of ClevoPiwo
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I've been anxiously awaiting this release, and am happy to be able to enjoy a glass as 09 09 09 draws to an end.

Poured into a snifter, the color is an opaque black with a decent sized tan head that left a nice lacing on its way down. You could pass this porter off as an RIS - it looks great.

The smell is pleasant and complex. Roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits, yeast, peppery spice and a touch of alcohol all blend and compliment each other in an elaborate aromatic bouquet that blends elements of both Belgian dark ales and porters.

The taste definitely gets better as the beer warms, but still illustrates why the people at Stone recommend aging this (and other Vertical Epics) at least until 2012. The main thing is that the spicy flavor in the finish is a bit overpowering yet, making the overall character of the flavor rather 'hot' and markedly unbalanced. Roasted malt is evident up front along with some fruit and smooth chocolate notes. The middle and finish have a definite yeast dryness and peppery spice character, perhaps also some hop flavor coming through. The aftertaste is dry, bitter, spicy and generally hot. The alcohol is definitely discernible, warming on the way down but also contributing some heat in the taste. The one thing that is disappointing is that I don't seem to be getting any of that tangerine peel in the flavor.

Overall a very well crafted beer that exhibits some enjoyable and complex elements. The heat and spice in the finish and aftertaste is definitely a bit much, though. I am definitely looking forward to what will happen to this beer with a few years under its belt.

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Photo of froghop
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours black with a thin khaki head, above average carbonation, and some lacing.

smell is of dark chocolate, fruit, roasted nuts, and a touch of vanilla.

taste is of dark fruit, sour malt, hops, and chocolate, end is dry and nicely bitter.

a very nice belgian strong ale.

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Photo of turboedtwo
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my new love, a duvel tulip. Had about a light brown head about an inch high due to my laziness. Color is a dark chocolatey brown.

Smells first off like bananas along with a touch of alcohol and chocolate.

Has a bit of a roasted coffee flavor to it with a lingering aftertaste that is slightly bitter (but not bad).

Smooth across the tongue, not much else to say.

I'm not really wowed by this but I could probably have a few of these. I'd like to try it again in a few years to see how it is, thankfully I've already got some bottles ready to age.

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Photo of Gtreid
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Almost opaque, just a hint of light brown laces the edges of the beer. The pour produces a nice latte colored head that receedes quickly and leaves some spotty lace.

A: I get bitter chocolate first, followed by oatmeal and molasses. I get a good amount of bittering aroma and some suble hints of citrus. I guess that's from the orange peel.

T: Very interesting. Very complex. I definately get the chocolate, it is very forward in the brew. The combination of the hops, citrus, and molasses create an unique biterness that I have not tasted before in a beer.

M: Agressive carbonation. Heavy body. Mouthfeel is crisp but smooth.

D and overall impression: Drinkability is limited due to the complexity of the brew. Overall, this is a very interesting and unique beer. Don't know if I've ever had this flavor profile before. I won't have my other bottle for 3 more years, so we'll see how it holds up. Skal.

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Photo of Overlord
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hophead84 is wrong. This beer shouldn't get "4.5s across the board."

Pours ... black. Yeah, kind of looked like a porter or stout, actually. Black, with maybe some translucently brown edging and a surprisingly robust (for the ABV) light brown head.

Smells ... charred. Like smokey malt, some chocolate, and a bit of bitter orange and citrus. I was expecting a sweet beer from the description, and this smells like anything but.

The taste is actually sweeter than expected. A dash of coffee, a big dollop of dark and milk chocolate, and a weird bitter citrus/orange bite. Some surprising vanilla and a hint of dark fruits in there as well. Surprisingly, the citrus and orange end up counterbalancing the sweetness, rather than adding to it. The smokiness/charred malt sensation carries into the flavor, and it becomes very, very distracting after a while. Towards the end of the bottle, it almost seemed salty.

Yeah. I don't know about this one. Interesting to try, but certainly not a beer I'd want to revisit anytime soon. Maybe it's designed for aging, as the complex flavor profile and extraordinarily distracting smoky/charred aftertaste might meld or mellow.

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Photo of Pencible
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured an opaque dark mahogany (nearly black) with some dark tan head. It smelled like roasted coffee with dark chocolate and creamy yeast and nutty malt. It tasted like bitter coffee and dry dark chocolate, with copper hops and some creamy yeast and alcohol. It was somewhat thick with a bit of carbonation, and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this seemed much more like a stout than a dark Belgian ale. It was also definitely too hot fresh, with only decent flavors and without much complexity. The bottle indicates that it needs to be cellared for some years, and I agree. It's pretty messy fresh, but it will probably be much better in 2012 as intended.

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Photo of FleeVT
3.71/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a goblet.

A: Pours like a stout-porter hybrid. Looks like a chewy black iced coffee with a frothy tan head. Lacing clings to the glass throughout the session. Beautiful beer.

S: Mild bready malts. The coffee metaphor applies here as well with faint mocha (roasted malts) and hints of bitter coffee. Sweetness comes through in the form of dark berries and a touch of hops for balance.

T/M: A bit tight on the palate, which is probably why the bottle recommends cellaring unti 2012. Hops tend to dominate the middle and aftertaste while the front portrays a dry smokey spiciness that is very stoutlike. A great medium body with perfectly carbonation.

D: Good nightcap, will definitely cellar one to see how the flavors develop.

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Photo of Aenema
3.71/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours pitch black with a soapy tan head and nice bands of lacing.
Smell - Sweet chocolaty malts, citrus/tangerine and perhaps some dark fruit.
Taste - Roasted, chocolate malts, hint of cherry and citrus notes.
Mouthfeel - Smooth / slightly creamy; medium-bodied, moderate carbonation; slightly dry finish.
Drinkability - Smooths out as it warms and the flavors meld together seamlessly. High ABV, but not distractingly so.
Overall - Enjoyable beer, but missing the rich chocolate flavor I was hoping for. I'm interested to see how this tastes in a few years, but won't be purchasing additional bottles for immediate consumption.

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Photo of dasenebler
3.72/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark but not thick and brooding. It might be opaque, but I don't really give a hoot. Light tan head. Okay lacing.

Spicy aroma with ethanol fumes. Touch of fruit.

Flavor is roasty and smoky. I'm not really getting the complex fruit character that Stone advertises. Somewhat hoppy. Basically this is a porter with the alcohol content of an imperial, but not the flavor to back it up. Mouthfeel was smooth, but not creamy. It's going down very easy right now though.

This Vertical is tasty, but far from "epic", and kind of disappointing given the price (7 bucks a bomber). Nevertheless, it's good, well-crafted beer. I'd expect nothing less from Stone.

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Photo of Doppelbockulus
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Vertical Epic glass.

Poured it without yeast the first time, but it's so dark it wouldn't have mattered. If you look through the edge of the beer where beer meets air meets glass, you'll notice only a faint brown light.

The smell is earthy, dark malt, coffee, and dark chocolate.

After three years all of the sweetness is gone and it is very reminiscent of an average stout, even though it isn't. It is full of earthy malt and black coffee, and is a bit astringent.

Astringency is apparent in the taste as well as tannin and a light tingle.

Fresh, this beer tasted like figs and other dark fruits. I wish it had held up better, but I have two more to open in the future, so it could be different later.

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Photo of beertunes
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip. Poured a solid black with a thick, deep tan head that dissipated much quicker than I thought it would and only left minimal lacing.

Other than a slight roast scent the aroma was fairly benign, with nothing outstanding from the mix. The flavors were much bolder, roasted malt, a hint cf chocolate and several flavors I couldn't quite put my finger on. Very enjoyable though.

The body was full, well rounded and smooth, with just a touch of a roasted aftertaste. Drinkability is very good, I drank a 22 with no trouble and generally I don't drink that much of a single beer in a row. Overall, a very good beer that is worth trying. If this had been listed as a stout, I would have given it better scores, I didn't find this very to have much Belgian character at all.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I drank this from a 22oz bomber into my Rochefort chalice.

The aroma is light mostly coffee not much else.

The taste is light a little coffee and bitter. There is a light smokiness to it.

The feel is ok, not very drinkable.

This beer is ok, nothing special.

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Photo of trappistlover
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(22oz bottle from AJ’s Via Linda). Pours black with red hue when held up to the light. Tan head with some lacing. Aroma has chocolate, liquid smoke, vanilla and some citrus. Taste is sweet with more citrus and some roasty bitterness. The sweetness balances the roastiness out nicely. Medium bodied with an oily texture. Bitter finish. Pretty nice beer.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep black color ale with a large light brown foamy head with good retention and some pretty good lacing. Aroma of chocolate malt with some notes of roasted malt though bitterness is pretty tame. Taste is quite enjoyable with lots of black chocolate notes with a nice touch of roasted malt - not sure I could taste the vanilla or orange notes. Body is about average with great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well done though a bit shy of character and I still have to wonder how this is going to improve with time.

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Photo of TheJollyHop
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep brown to black body; very little light penetration. Frothy caramel brown head which fades fast.

Alcohol, deep roasted malt character, chocolate as well. Full bodied, medium-to-light carbonation, and heavy on the tongue; and dry as well. Grassy notes, resinous, and a hops bitterness that isn't astringent. Malt and hops are layered in a balance interplay, with a touch of salt as well.

Opinion: Many subtle nuances have been lost due to age. With intense effort, orange rind and vanilla can be perceived; just barely.

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Photo of CA_Infidel2o9
3.76/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber to a Tulip

A- jet black w/ a 1/8" quick fading brown head, nice lacing after every sip and swirl

S- dark chocolate, vanilla, red wine, floral hops, earthy, wet cardboard grows more and more intense as it warms

T- dark milk chocolate, earthy, oak, vanilla, fruit, floral hops, slight wet cardboard

M- medium body, crisp carbonation

O- sadly she is past her prime. It has so many great aromas/flavors, yet wet cardboard is ever present. As it warmed the wet cardboard scent grew so intense that i had to stop smelling it and just enjoy the flavor as it only showed up slightly in taste. Wish i had tried this fresh.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.77/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

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Photo of tuckevalastin
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pure black with a large foamy tan head.

S: Surprisingly it has a fuit tone that comes across the strongest.

T: Toasty and smoked with a hoppy finish. Some coffee flavors in the after taste. Not much of the choclate or fruit flavors comes through but some of their sweetness does. No strong alcohol taste.

M: A bit heavy but not so thick and without any heat. Relatively smooth. Feels alot like your average stout.

D: A nice casual drinker. It's a bit heavy but nit a task to finish.

Overall a nice beer. It's my first introduction to the Vertical Epic series and I'll certainly pick up the 10/10/10 when it comes out.

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Photo of klikger
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

4 oz pour into a standard pint glass

A - Dark brown, small white head, and quality lacing

S - Honey, roasted grains

T - Medium-roast malt, vanilla, and smoke. It's not too bitter nor too sweet, which lets one concentrate on the interesting combo of flavors.

M - Medium-heavy and a bit hot

D - Middle of the pack. This is good, but I doubt that I'd want a bomber to myself.

Enjoyable beer here. It didn't blow me away, but the variety of flavors kept me intrigued.

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Photo of ATPete
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle

Pours a pitch black color, thin slivers of red/brown glow around the edges and contours of the glass, zero light penetration below a monstrous and sticky brown head. Waves of mild alcohol and a bit of a fruity sweetness lay slightly above a solid and rich roasted chocolate malt aroma. Nice flavor, burnt and ashy chocolate malt, coffee bean bitterness and a very restrained orange/tangerine character which fizzles to a near citrus (lime?) tingle on the tongue. Im almost turned off initially after each sip by a very potent but brief coffee/cream bitter tangy flavor left on the palate. Oily and slick in the mouth, sticky sweet on the lips. Ample carbonation makes up for its lack of body, especially during the end of the quaff where the beer falls off rather quickly. The end result is a very drinkable porter that, in my opinion, is clashing at the moment, this one needs a little longer in the bottle to let all the goodness harmonize and meld together.

Cheers, the Vertical Epic series feels like a holiday that gets pushed back a month each year. I look forward to the next one.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to the Thorpes for sharing.

The beer is near black with a thin beige collar. The aroma offers licorice, molasses, light spice. Smells ok. A touch of dark roast. Mild sweetness with a sturdy malt backbone. Medium bodied with a touch of chocolate. Pretty good.

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Photo of Thur123
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ok so...this brew pours an opaque brownish black with about a pinkies worth of tan head that fades quickly. This is a deep and dark beer. The retention is light and I can't make out anything about the carbonation. The smell is Belgian yeast and spices, but more specifically, there is a low kind of toasty nuttiness, in addition to a faint whiff of alcohol and maybe a bit of ripe banana.

Glug glug glug

Whoa, odd flavors here...I'm getting coffee and definitely a bit of cocoa and a hot spiciness that does not help with the alcohol flavor in this. I want to say that burnt toast is a big part of the flavor up front, which tastes like caramelized anything really. A bit of citrus in involved in a slightly lemony tang. Overall this isn't bad, but there is a sharp flavor I'm getting somewhere in the middle of the taste profile that's just off to me.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber served into a snifter

Pours a nice blackish color. It's pretty dark, as is the roasty, brown head. A pretty active, sizable head, at that.

The smell still has some of that tangerine peel quality. I figured it would fade away over the years of aging; it has, but not by as much as I figured. That citrus peel note blends pretty well with the spiced chocolate aromas. This is definitely a Belgian yeast strain.

The flavor is pretty smoothed out at this point: floral spiciness, milk chocolate, a bit of orange. I'm not in love with it, and I'm a person who loves Belgian stouts. I think what I'm looking for is more roast to match up with the phenols. As is, this is like a lesser variant of something like Boulevard Dark Truth.

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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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