Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

868 Ratings
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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 868 |  Reviews: 538
Photo of josssmith
2.5/5  rDev -38.4%

Photo of Dijeriduster
4.36/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

In the fridge for one year....
A - dark, dark beer with a big foamy head filled with the roasty colors of a coffee stout or RIS. Faded to a nice creamy cap that stuck around for the duration of the tasting.
S - again roasty flavours dominate, hints of coffee even though there is none in the beer. Oaky notes are faintly evident in the nose too.
T - Wow, after a year in the bottle this thing is even more of a monster than it was before. The citrus notes are all but gone - odd given the recipe included tangerine peel. Vanilla and mellow French oak come thru very strong now, making the beer somewhat sweet vs. its younger form. Shocking how much oak is evident, still some hop bitterness as well but that quickly fades as the beer heats up a bit, making the oak, vanilla and coffeeish notes spring forward.
M - I loved the mouthfeel, very creamy almost like a nitro stout at first which then thinned just a little on the back of a palate. The combo of a creamy feel with the oak and vanilla nose / taste is just killer.
O - Overall I think this is a brilliant beer. Its def close to being a RIS so not for the faint of heart. The oak notes are really nice, quite mellow as its French vs the harsher bourbon notes of most oaked beers. Based one how its improved in just a year I can't wait to see what this is like on the big day - 12-12-12.

 1,344 characters

Photo of Night
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours solid black with sparse and deep-hued crimson tints. Very large, long-lived tan head with tight bubbles and hints of red and gold. Collapses slowly to a foamy crown with intricate and well-developed lacing on the sides. Aroma reveals warmth, a tiny hint of dust, and mildly earthy spices amidst a swath of significantly boozy-smelling yeast tones: mostly banana, some citrus. Relatively buried scents of chocolate, date, prune. Mouthfeel is very gentle, between juicy and silky with a timid tingly bite; could perhaps use some more carbonation. Immediate flavor is banana yeast mixed with piney earth / hops. Backbone of smokey dark chocolate / coffee bitterness that is refined rather than overbearing. Mild acidity creeps in, and faint notes of paper and wood. Surprisingly not much in the way of alcohol. One last wash of pure smoke followed by strong banana finish. Aftertaste is gentle, fruity, and lightly bitter; both pine sappy hops and strong dark chocolate.

 973 characters

Photo of DanOLeary
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Grainy and slightly roasted barley malt with some herbal wood character as well. Alcohol spices float around the glass with some dark fruit, though these lean mostly toward dark cherry. No hop aroma. Oddly there seems to be a phenolic yeast presence that comes off as dark bread. While the aroma's are complex, they are generally light all around.

Appearance: Pours a thick black with a prominent nut brown head. Excellent head retention, holding well with about half a finger width. Light lacing.

Flavor: Heavy dark chocolate melted into molasses. Alcohol pulls the malt sweetness back and bites the top of the mouth with more spice than I expected from an 8.9% ABV brew. Dark cherries back again, bitter chocolate nibs accompanied by an earthy and drying hop bitterness toward the finish. Finish is drying at the back of the throat with a lingering heavy roast throughout the palate.

Mouthfeel: Full body with light carbonation. You can practically chew on the malt in this beer, and while the sweetness lingers somewhat there's enough alcohol and hop bitterness to clean the palate out in the finish. Carbonation is quite light, but no more is needed because the malt speaks for itself.

Overall: Given the complexity of the flavor profile in this beer I am a little surprised at the faintness in aroma. Yes there is a lot going on in the nose as well, but you really have to look for it. Nothing jumps out overall there. Beer snobbery aside on the aroma, this is a fantastic demonstration of a full bodied beer with complexity in flavor so deep I feel it exceeds my vocabulary. Everything balanced, nothing over powering. Where many "Big" beers seem to fall short on mouthfeel, this one exceeds expectations.

 1,723 characters

Photo of VinnyA
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bottle from Capone's in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

A - One-finger brown head with good retention, opaque and black in color, lacing on glass.

S - Bread, sugar, chocolate and raisins

T - Had a bready taste to it, hints of toffee, some dark fruit and an alcohol taste on the back end that lingered a little bit.

M - Low carbonation, smooth, not very heavy for such a dark beer. Dry finish

O - Definitely a winter warmer. The alcohol taste is not masked well, but this is compensated by the flavor that is present as it hits the tongue. Not an overly "heavy" beer. I've sampled each Epic from '06-12 and for the darker styles, this one is only slightly above "average" for the series. the '06 is the more superior "Belgian Strong Dark Ale", in my opinion. Porter is probably a more accurate classification for this brew. A pleasure to try, but likely won't revisit this, if presented with the opportunity in the future.

 929 characters

Photo of LukeD23
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
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 jheiss
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%

Photo of Texaseddie
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of Westsidebuddha
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought at Whole Foods Pasadena, Calif(Arroyo Parkyway)

Poured a black color with a slight head with bubbles. Slightly carbonated on top. The smell of burnt wood is noticable. Nice interesting taste on the first sip. The belgian taste is there but it's also combined by other flavors like vanilla and a slight chocolate taste. I was expecting a more heavier chocolate taste like a Hershey's bar but this works out just fine. Slight alcohol back end. Nice mouthfeel with a definite carbonation taste. This is a good Vertical Epic which seems it would get more interesting with age.
Definitely the most interesting Epic I tasted so far. I could go for a couple more of these.

 673 characters

Photo of nectar14
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle.

A: Like a dark porter/ light stout, nearly opaque brown with a tan head that fluffs up to 2 fingers before dissipating down to a thin layer.

S: Nose of roasted coffee beans, chocolate, and bitter citrus peel. A hint of clove in there too.

T: Best at room temp. Moderately intense chocolate, coffee, and grain. Finishes with a citrus peel bitterness, and probably a bit of hops also. Lingers nicely, but is not sticky.

M: Smooth and well carbonated, lifting the flavors up nicely. This shows some restraint.

D: The alcohol is well concealed, but it does hit ya. Easy to toss it back, though.

Really liked this. I think it's good right now, though the bottle recommends waiting until 2012. I oughta go grab a couple of more so I can go ahead and do that...

 778 characters

Photo of javincik
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got around to drinking this.

22 oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A-Color is a deep, dark brown that appears nearly opaque black when the pour is finished. Results in a towering brown head that slowly settles into little islands of thin foam.

S-Absolutely the strongest aspect of this beer. Tons of good stuff going on. Chocolate is the most prominent. Vanilla, brown sugar, bread, coriander and faint fruit aromas (banana?) also come through. Perhaps a touch of roasted coffee. Quite complex.

T-Taste is lots of chocolate up front with some coffee and a bit of roastiness. Some brown sugar and bread comes thru also, with the yeast lending "Belgian" characteristics. In the middle, I get lots of fruit flavors; some banana and orange along with less prominent citrus characteristics. Vanilla is present underneath all this with the faintest hint of some oakiness. Finishes with a nice balance of hop bitterness, roastiness, and coffee. Slight alcohol burn at the end, although nothing off putting.

M-Probably the weakest aspect. Medium bodied, low to medium carbonation. With everything going on in the nose and taste, it just feels thin in the mouth. I feel like it should be more substantial; would love some more chewiness to savor the flavor.

D-Makes a great dessert beer. The flavors really make it a sipper and something to savor, but it certainly goes down easily. There is a slight hint of alcohol in the finish, but it doesn't really detract from the drink-ability at all. The thin mouthfeel allows it to go down easier than one would think at first appearance.

Looking forward to seeing what the other bottle does in two and a half years.

 1,665 characters

Photo of Zaplt
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Extremely thick dark appearance, brownish tones with a creamy head with decent lacing.

Smell - Fruity smell with a relatively strong alcohol presence, chocolaty as well.

Taste - Very unique, chocolate and coffee strangely mixes well with the citrus and other fruity flavors that are apparent in the beer. The Belgian yeast is subtle but well balanced.

Mouthfeel - Light carbonation and very smooth

Drinkability - Absolutely delicious, the best Stone beer out of the last 3 they have made. Keep it up stone. Particularly for the bizarre mixture of styles and flavors that they were going for - good in my opinion.

 632 characters

Photo of Hershdawg
4.78/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pour from a bottle in to Vertical Epic Glass.

Appearance: Black, opaque. Lightly tan head. Good lacing.

Smell: chocolate, coffee, caramel. banana?

Taste: heavy chocolate feel after 4 months. First time I had it it had a banana flavor to it from the yeast but that fell out. Fresh and aged this is still a great porter. hints of vanilla, and tangerine. These diminish after short aging.

Mouthfeel: Thick, not quite as thick as nitroed-Guiness. Feels good on the tongue.

Drinkability: As extreme as this brew may seems I could drink it forever.

 547 characters

Photo of bearisprime
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of Hamburgers
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of Krevee
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank: 24 June, 2010 @ My Home
Serving Type / Glass: 22 oz bottle / Bruery tulip
Vintage: N/A
Price: $
From Notes: Y

A - Dark brown with a small beige head. And a small amount of lacing.

S- Belgian yeast. Sweet caramel. Roasted malts. Chocolate and several fruits including citrus.

T - Similar to smell. The flavor is dark chocolate and roasted malts upfront. Some molasses and bread comes through along with Belgian yeast flavor. In the middle there is lots of fruit flavors; some orange along with other citrus flavors. There is vanilla and a slight oak flavor present throughout. Finishes with a mixture of light bitterness and roast, along with that there is a slight alcohol burn, but is not some much as to be unpleasant.

M - Medium bodied and quite Smooth. Normal amount of carbonation.

D - Pretty easy drink. Not as good as the 07 in the series. But another pretty good entry in the Vertical Epic series for stone. Not my favorite but not bad by any stretch of the imagination, and I will definitely be drinking more of these.

 1,041 characters

Photo of MufflnMan
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of TheKingsOfHop
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
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 CoreyCramer
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of robinsmv
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of samyoung
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a good one.

A - Dark, dark brown with a creamy white head.
S - Picking up roasted malt and chocolate, glorious chocolate!
T- Big vanilla feel, in addition to chocolate malt goodness.
M -Hits big at the front...but then dissipates.
D - Very smooth beer. The chocolate-malt sensory experience of this one makes it well worth it.

California does it again...

 364 characters

Photo of tjsprague
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The beer is a dark dark dark brown almost black color with a mocha colored head.

The smell is rich and malty with hints of fruity sweetness from the Belgium yeast.

The taste is big. There malts taste dark and very toasted. Its almost a little bit burnt tasting, but it seems like it will mellow out after time. The toastiness is almost smokey. The aftertaste is very sweet and pleasant. It almost tastes like a very dark bitter chocolate with a fruit finish.

The mouthfeel is very thick and pleasant, almost creamy. This beer tastes like it looks. It delivers.

This is not the kind of beer you are going to want to drink all night, but is perfect for a night cap. For how strong this beer is it is very drinkable.

Another excellent offering from Stone and a beer that is very good today but will be incredible in three years.

 830 characters

Photo of jaybrough
4.75/5  rDev +17%

Photo of kurp001
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very deep brown with scant ruby highlights. A one finger tan head sticks around for a while before receding, with a fair amount of lacing left on the glass.

Smell consists of hints of fruit and dark chocolate, with a slight citrus presence.

The chocolate hints become more apparent after taking a sip, along with more of a spice kick and a pronounced orange peel essence. The finish is smooth, with a slight hop bitterness. As the beer warms, a coffee flavor seems to pull through as well.

The mouthfeel is full-bodied and smooth, with lively carbonation but not enough to overpower the flavors of the beer.

Drinkability is excellent for the considerable ABV, I can't really detect any sort of alcohol burn, nor do I find the strong flavors to become too much to handle at any point. I split the bomber with a friend, but I think I could have finished this myself. Overall, I'd have to say I was very happy with this beer, and am looking forward to see how it will do with a bit of age on it.

 1,007 characters

Photo of creaghphish
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
4.06 out of 5 based on 868 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.