09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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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
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Ratings: 870 |  Reviews: 538
Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Rich dark brown/black that is non-transparent. HUGE sticky coffee brown head that fades to tan but fades about half way through. Leaves a great deposit of lace down the glass.

S - Right at first I get a mix of caramelized malts and dark sugars. The specialty black and/or chocolate malts can be picked up on in the background. The spices used can't really be detected by my olfactory (I do have a cold), and just the tiniest bit of ethyl alcohol aroma at the very end.

T - Again, the malts are the star in this one and there is a nice balance of base and specialty grains, not too overpowering. Nice roasted/espresso flavor as the beer warms in the mouth with a nice semi-sweet flavor cutting the palate. A sweet earthy spice character that interrupts towards the middle is pleasant and finishes with a nice bitterness.

M/D - Definitely a porter with the nice creamy medium-heavy body and feels very smooth on the tongue. Low carbonation let the flavors shine. Finishes a little bit dry due to the bittering. No real alcohol flavor but the cheek warming sensation is definitely there.

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Photo of MNPikey
3.5/5  rDev -14%

Photo of Kaveman
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of dtivp
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark deep brown with a nice tan head head that dissipated quickly leaving some sticky lacing.
Aroma of chocolate and some roasted malt.
Taste went to more coffee than chocolate with some vanilla and a roasted malt finish.
Medium body with light carbonation, smooth and a little thick feel.
This was a nice beer, I would like to buy a few bottles to cellar a year or two.

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Photo of Murchmac
3.53/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

To this point i've supped on the supple bottle of all the VE's, this one is the most interesting thus far.

Pours out the bottle a dark dark black, much to my suprise, like learning Rick Astley was white. Nice lacing, khaki creamy head. Leaves a sticky icky ring around the collar lacing. Like ZZ top, she's got legs.

Smells like bananas, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, citrus, and can pick up that oak smell like abyss has. Again, suprised with this one, like the versatility Delroy Lindo shows as being star of screen and stage.

Tastes like the bottle says. "artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange" Got some bitterness in there from the hops and alkeyhaul.

Can't wait to see how this one ages, I think it will be really good. It will be a good changeup after the light crispness of 06-08 on 12.12.12.

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Photo of aubuc1
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
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 everetends
3.83/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle I picked up at Hop City for 8 bucks or so. Thought I missed the boat on this one but was glad to see it lying about. Served up in a tulip.

A: Much darker than I was expecting. This might as well be black, very dark. Further investigation leads me to believe this is an incredibly dark, burnt brown. There is no chance of seeing through this sucker. Just impossible. Got about a finger of dark brown head off the pour. Has some pretty good retention as it recedes down to a bubbly ring that is imcomplete but sits on the glass. Moving it around on the glass leaves some lace on the glass and a dark brown film at times. Very impressive looking but much darker and more of a dark porter or stout look to it.

S: This is yet again more of a stout or porter type aroma coming out here. Very big in the chocolate department. Heavy on the cocoa, some dark chocolate. Getting some of the grains coming through along with the Belgian yeast quality. Fruity notes are very light in the nose, maybe some light cherry and berries. Light notes of coffee on the back end.

T: Still staying in the stout range. Getting a good amount of dark chocolate and cocoa mixing with a good amount of coffee to tell the truth. Strange and really threw me off for a BSDA, so stout in flavor at times. Heavy roast and smokiness coming out at times. not really getting a huge Belgian yeast character, no heavy spiciness in here. Maybe a touch of clove and pepper peeking through. Light notes of vanilla and molasses. Light fruitiness with some berry, plum, and grape. Muted though. It tastes great, but it doesn't seem to fall into the style for me.***As the beer warmed, I am getting a slight hint of the orange and tangerine flavors. The vanilla is coming out a bit more as well as the oak.

M: Heavy side of medium in body. Has some weight to it but if definitely too thin to be full bodied. Carbonation is on the high side at the start, but it isn't a turn off. It works well with the alcohol heat kicking in here. Seems to tone down the ABV at times but still has a good amount of heat on the throat and tummy. Aftertaste is all coffee and chocolate.

D: This isn't bad at all. I am enjoying the hell out of it but everytime I think BSDA, it doesn't seem right. So much more of a stout for sure. Is it bad? no. So we are still in business here. Shocked me a bit from the get go, but was still a good drink for sure. Easy drinking, still a sipper, but still good stuff.

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Photo of GeezLynn
3.65/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Enjoyed this one on tap last fall a couple times. Interested to see how this compares.

A: Deep black with a thin tan head that retreats to a light collar.

S: Initial alcohol burn followed by anise, coffee, oak, orange peel and a little chocolate. Lots there to enjoy, although the strong ethanol detracts somewhat.

T: Burnt chocolate malt, licorice, bitter coffee grounds and woodieness, with a little vanilla attempting to pull it together. Long bitter finish with a definite alcohol bite. A little sweetness in there with all that bitterness and roasted flavor. Complex, but harsh.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

This was much better on tap for me when I could pick out more of what I got in the smell in the flavor. This is kind of rough and hot right now (a la Stone RIS). No clue how it will turn out down the road.

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Photo of mixed_master7
4.75/5  rDev +16.7%

Photo of kzoobrew
4.41/5  rDev +8.4%
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 superdedooperboy
4.29/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spotted this on the shelf of one of my local beer haunts on Saturday, 09.05.09, indicating that either the beer was distributed too early or the staff stocked the shelf early; either way, it was available a full three days before the official release date of 09.08.09, four days before the date the beer is obviously supposed to be firstly consumed, 09.09.09. I didn't make a purchase that night, and there are no sales of alcohol on Sunday in Georgia; I picked up a bottle today, and it was far too tempting not to crack it open before its official release.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter glass.

Pours ink-black and virtually opaque; it takes a real effort of glass-adjusting and light bending to get the deep brown color to show through the edges. A very small head of light tan froth appears briefly, resting atop the brew in patches with a thin crown, and leaving behind some wisps of lace as it recedes.

Light notes of roast and chocolate appear in the nose, followed by a nice whiff of citrus peel and a little banana; perhaps a touch of mango as well. Vanilla notes follow, and are expected and welcome.

Body is lighter and more effervescent than expected, with a medium-full feel and a moderate level of carbonation. Initially full of roasty and bitter chocolate notes, with a rich show of vanilla and a dry astringency, likely attributable to the French oak aging. As things warm, yeast-derived characteristics show themselves, with a complex show of spices and a bit more dry astringency. Vanilla shows itself even more, not surprising with the use of both vanilla bean and wood aging; nicely complex and delectable, and, along with a bitterness most likely from the hops, providing a bone-dry finish that leaves one thirsting for another sip. Roasted malt and a bit of slightly sweet molasses linger in the finish.

Quite a complex beer, with a full spectrum of flavors and aromas that almost directly correspond with the ingredients used, making this a nicely crafted concoction, and a style that breaks any guidelines: hailed as a Belgian-style Imperial Porter by the head brewer, it's tough to pin down. It will be nice to see how this one ages, though this seemingly fresher-than-fresh example is nothing to balk at.

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Photo of DantheMan75
4.75/5  rDev +16.7%

Photo of OneDropSoup
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick black with only a few little ruby highlights, a bubbly mocha head of about half a finger. Some sheets of lacing.

Smells of caramel, some roasted/slightly burnt notes. Not a whole lot of smell at first. As it warms, though, a meaty kind of character shows up.

At first taste, a smokiness like bacon or charcoal hits me. A bitter roasted flavor follows with sort of a light marshmellow sweetness, some kick from hops. Dark fruit skins, there are kind of a taste & mouthfeel of tannins. As it warms, there's a lemon-orange citric finish. Very complex taste, but in a way that nearly overwhelms my mouth.

Along with that tannic quality, the mouthfeel is full & rich, foaming up nicely & leaving a bitter & acidic aftertaste. One of these is plenty, & I had to drink this slowly.

I enjoyed this, but found the onslaught of flavors to be almost too much, especially the bitterness & astringency that's so dominant. I realize Stone is all about making big, complex & challenging beers, but I'm finding that a lot of them are challenging in the same way. Not sure how many more of Stone' specialties I'm going to up for trying.

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Photo of PhineasGage
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of Buckeye982
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of vacax
3.91/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another down, three more to go.

Pours pure black with a moderately large mocha head. High retention and plenty of lacing. Thick layer of foam sits for quite some time. Looking pretty pretty pretty good.

The nose comes as a surprise to me: intensely roasty, smokey, clear presence of vanilla beans, bittersweet chocolate. I cannot detect the tangerine in the nose, but a bit of bright fruity esters shine through the darkness.

The beer starts off sweet chocolate malts and an increasing torrent of smoked dark malts. Esters and dark fruits lighten the dark malts. Almost a protein-like quality to the beer, maybe smoked salmon. Vanilla. Finish is bitter roasted coffee and maybe a hint of that citrus I heard so much about. Cookie and biscuit character lingers. I think this is a nice beer, hard to believe this was pitched as a chocolate orange, tastes like what I might imagine a Belgian Rauchbier to be. As it warms up, more of the orange citrus quality appears in the finish.
Full, slick, body with a nice moderate carbonation that lets me really appreciate the body.

Smokey, tasty Belgian interpretation of an Imperial Porter. The citrus twang doesn't really show up until the beer is warm. A bit strong on the smoke and dark malts, but seeing as how this needs to last three years, I really look forward to seeing how this develops.

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Photo of slimntubbs
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of timtim
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
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 Hopswagger
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
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 blknikon
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of treehugger02010
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My buddy brought a bottle of this over and I poured it into a pint glass.
Appearance: The body is a deep brown almost black color. The head is three fingers tall, eucre in color, great retention and thin but lots of lacing.
Smell: The aromas are booze, vanilla and coffee.
Taste: The flavors are very roasty, burnt toast and pine.
Mouthfeel: The body is oddly thin, and crisp.
Drinkability: This beer is pretty darn good.
Don't drink and review.

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Photo of MordorMongo
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of donniecuffs
3.68/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Purchased a bottle of this last year from Boonton Liquor Outlet in Boonton, NJ. Into a red wine glass, it poured black, with two fingers of beige that retained and laced very well. Subtle visible carbonation. Smell was all roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate, with a tiny bit of anise; dare I say it smelled like a poor man's Stone RIS. The taste revealed a dry roasted coffee/chocolate blend throughout, with a dry chocolate/anise/plum finish, and lingering chocolate/plum flavor afterward. Not much of a hint of the alcohol content. Thinner than I had expected, given the appearance, with a subtle carbonation factor. Good beer, but I didn't find it to be as intensely flavorful as Stone's offerings usually are. If given a choice, I'd rather reach for a RIS.

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Photo of ClePaul
4.04/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of MrGone
4/5  rDev -1.7%

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