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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 537 | Ratings: 866
Photo of Deuane
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Deep, dark, black with burgundy highlights and a thick, frothy tan head that slowly reduced to a thin cap and left spotty lace.

S-Dark roasted malt and rich chocolate along with subtle dark fruits (cherry/raspberry), a touch of espresso and twang from the Belgian yeast.

T-Incredibly complex with a multitude of roasted malt and dark chocolate flavours. Fruit in the finish with a sour zing of cherry and the yeast adds to the flavours. Touch of coffee bitterness in the finish.

M-Medium to medium-heavy body with plenty of lingering flavours and a dry cocoa finish. Biting carbonation zip in the end.

D-Damn tasty. Lots of complexity with a boatload of flavours but all in all it is rather light. I like it though and am glad it is a touch mild to be able and enjoy the flavours.

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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...

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Photo of klshanks
3.66/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've had this one a few times and am finally getting around to typing it out.

A- Very dark. Nice tan head at about 1" pouring into a tulip.

S- Strong sweet smell, with a strong alcohol smell. Didn't smell bad, but when I took a deep breath I got a little light headed.

T- Roasted coffee, caramel, candy sugar, slight tart flavor.

M- Thick but not too thick. Fairly well carbonated which dances on your tounge.

D- I wouldn't drink these all night, but had no problem finishing the 22 oz bomber, and wouldn't mind a little more after the bottle was finished.

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Photo of SkunkWorks
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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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.

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Photo of erosier
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

L: Pours a deep brown-black color with a medium sized and medium bodied tan colored head that laces the glass nicely on the way down.
S: Smells of deep roasted malts, dark vinous fruits, some chocolate aromas with a hint of coffee.
T: Tastes of deep roasted malts, some chocolate malt perhaps, nice mix of dark vinous fruits, coffee, caramel, and more chocolate, some spices and a slight hop finish.
M: Very smooth, rich, warming, heavy feeling, perfect amount of carbonation.
D: Pretty drinkable, I thought this was more like a stout than a strong dark ale but it could be because I let it age for a year. Overall an excellent beer.

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Photo of Brez07
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Novare Res a few weeks back. 16oz pour into my chalice

A: Dark brown pour with a 2 finger light mocha head. Eventually shows some amber highlights. I don't get any lacing

S: Small nose, not much going on. Some dark fruit, roasted malt. Maybe some earthy notes and spice

T: Some chocolate, roasted malt, raisin. Also has a smokey and chalky presence

M: Medium bodied. Carbonation attacks the palate at first, but then clears away to reveal a creamy mouthfeel. Roasted aftertaste

D: Pretty good beer, but I don't think I'd drink much more in a sitting. I have one sitting in the cellar; it was actually the first beer I ever bought to store away, so I'm glad to see it's holding up well

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Photo of Chico1985
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 year old bomber into an oversized wine glass.

Pours black with a small tan head. Turns to a ring pretty quickly but leaves some decent lacing.

Nice roasted chocolate, vanilla and nutty scents, light citrus and some booze.

Taste follows the nose pretty closely. Chocolate along with vanilla/oak up front followed with notes of fruit and Belgian yeast. General mocha-ness all around with a long sweet finish.

Very thin for what it is, but carbonation is good and booze is not overly noticeable.

As expected, more of a stout with slight Belgian qualities than the other way around.

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

Hope I'm not breaking BA protocol by reviewing this a year later. Here it goes -

Aged 1 year to the day 09.09.10. Poured into tulip.

Appearance - Carbonation still strong. Almost 2 finger white foam head.

Smell - Chocolate nose. With some roasty coffee

Taste - Bitter baking chocolate. Coffee flavor comes through, tastes almost burnt. In a tasty way. Some dark fruiits, slight raisin. Sweetness has appeared. Spices have faded some. Which is good, bringing the above flavors forward making this beer even better. Tastes less like a Belgian in my opinion.

Mouthfeel - Not heavy. Almost typical for a stout.

Drinkability - 3/4 way through bomber, still enjoying it. Looking forward to revisiting in 2011.

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Photo of tko741
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aged until 9/9/10 (don't worry, I have enough until 12/12/12)

Pours a rich, deep black, with a thin tobacco head that slowly dissipates. Very little in the way of lacing. Some deep red hues linger around the edges when held up to light.

Strong caramel, graham cracker, and kona coffee beans seduce you upon taking a whiff. Wonderful.

Instant hits of dry citrus, followed by full, marbly notes of espresso, bittersweet chocolate, and malt are what greet your taste buds. The finish is a bit smoky, with fleeting vanilla. Quite fantastic stuff. Mouthfeel is full with a slight tingle from the carbonation.

If this stuff didn't cost so much and wasn't brewed once, oh, what an evening it would be with more.

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Photo of bobhits
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

We're about at the one year (from bottled date) so it's time to go back and open a bottle of the 09 epic and it seems get a review up.

A A very dark brown color, virtually black once poured into my vertical epic glass. Pours an impressive head which dies down to leave a nice quarter inch of a thick mocha head. I can't pin point it but not as great looking as it sounds.

S Faint earthy notes are coming through, followed by a somewhat subdued stout like burn malt character. Hint of cocoa and a bit of hops in the finish.

T My memory of this beer is of a sweet stout with tangerine accents and some Belgium yeast lingering rather subtly in the back ground. I'm not sure what has change, the beer or me but I'm getting a rather different beer today. The first thought is this is a hoppy RIS with a few years on it where the bitterness is gone but the fruity flavors remain. After a few sips the spices in the finish start to come out. I no longer feel a strong tangerine influence but more of some dark fruits, raisins, dates, mixed with a nice burnt malt flavor with some subtle notes of smoke and chocolate.

M This beer has an almost pillowy thick mouth feel. Just the right amount of alcohol and carbonation.

D It may be thick but it drinks like a far lighter beer. The 8.9% just doesn't seem to matter here. Perhaps to easy to drink what should be a touch more of a sipper.

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Photo of DovaliHops
3.47/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Pors a pitch black color with a medium sized brownish tan head. Scent is very sweet and chocolatey. A bit of alcohol as well. Sweet malts and roasted barley as well. I also pick up a slight peanut-butter scent. Taste is initially toasted malts...this beer sure has an interesting taste to it. I pick up a...shall I say, SEAFOOD kinda taste to this. Especially in the aftertaste. I don't know if my palate is playing tricks on me or what. Not really digging the flavor. I wish the chocolate and alcohol would hide this strange flavor I'm getting. The mouthfeel is quite nice though. Slightly velvety smooth with nice carbonation. Drinkability is not very high.

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Photo of ZX6Chris
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Shared at a Vertical Epic tasting with my friend Armand.

A-Midnight black, great tan head.

S-Roasted burnt chocolate. Coffee, horsy, barnyard. Is it supposed to taste like that?

T-Coffee, bitter, hay, horsy.

M-Smooth, well carbonated.

D-Not my favorite at all! I was hoping for a delicious stout but that's not what I got. Maybe my pallet was burnt out but I got some off flavors in this that I did not enjoy.

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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

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Photo of dtivp
4/5  rDev -1.5%
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 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 mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

a - Pours a very dark brown color, almost black, with one finger of tan head that lasts for several minutes and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of toasted malts, roasted malts, chocolate, bready malts, and a little smokey.

t - Tastes of chocolate, roasted malts, smoke, toasted malts, hints of fruit and coffee.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A decent beer but smelled and tasted more like a porter to me. Didn't really get much Beglian spice/yeast or fruits at all. Have another bottle I'll hold onto until 2012.

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Photo of silentjay
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours like a stout. almost black color with a decent sized tan head that quickly recedes, but leaves tons of sticky lacing on the glass.

aroma is that of a belgian dubbel. very fruity. figs, raisins, dates, dark berries. also lots of molasses. some chocolate and citrus in there as well.

taste is in between the two, not far from a "belgian stout" such as Weyerbacher Tiny or Alagash Black. roastiness that didnt present itself in the aroma comes through first. Fruitiness is there, but not as strong as in the aroma, and has a bit of a lighter fruit flavor (citrus, apple, pear, banana) added to the darker fruits. Chocolate is sweet, not bitter. Very nice.

medium-full bodied with ample carbonation and a dry chalky finish with some chocolate remaining in the back of the mouth.

goes down rather well. 8.6% ABV is already well integrated, even though this is intended to be aged for another 2 years. lots of flavor and a pleasant beer. Will pick another up to age correctly.

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

Poured from 22oz bottle into 300mL Krusovice chalice.

Appearance: Very, very dark black color with a large, thick brown head that dissipates fairly slowly and leaves behind a thick ring of lace.

Smell: Rich chocolate malt with vanilla notes and slight hop spice.

Taste: Starts chocolatey with a vanilla backbone, finishing with roasted chocolate notes with vanilla and citrus hints.

Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth body with light carbonation and a very thick finish that dries out. Warming alcohol.

Drinkability: This is a very good beer, and tastes like it would be perfect for again- maybe I'll pick up a bottle for that purpose. Aged or not, this is very tasty and should be had.

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Photo of Liverpool08
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a DARK brown with a hint of red. Small tan/mocha colred head. Nice aroma, dark cherries and dried fruits. Taste is roasted malt with hints of cocoa, backed up by dark cherries and more roasted coffe notes. A very interesting brew. At first it has that dark Belgian Ale flavor, but then it almost morphs into a nice malty porter. Very good. The only thing I didn't like was the mouthfeel was a little syrupy. Flat at first and then a little thick. But its not enough to prevent the enjoyment. Definately worth stocking up on, especially a 7.95$ a bomber.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.14/5  rDev +2%
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.

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

(Originally Reviewed on 05/01/2010)

Stone vertical epic - 09/09/09 release

$8 (Pinocchio's beer garden)
Glass - yuengling black & tan pint glass
1 pt 6 fl oz

A - licorice black, no light passing through. Alabaster head that dissapates quickly.

S - mocha, cocoa, vanilla and citrusy hops. Belgian-like yeast recognizable. I think I sense some caramel as well. Nice aroma, add it to my 'candle scent series'. Belgian aspects give it that 'banana bread' aroma

T - deep roasted malts first recognizable flavor - nice combination of coffe and dark cocoa. Dark fruits, maybe vanilla. Carmel is present, coats the mouth well

M - medium to full body, not very hoppy, decent carbonation, chalky but the flavor does stay with you. Warming.

D - hey, it's a stone's product. Not one of their monster hop products but full of flavor as expected from stone. Good drink worthy of storing for a year or two or 2012 as recommended by the brewery. I will likely buy another and find the strength to store it until 2012

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Photo of Phelps
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks: I was worried at first because the bottle released such a pitiful hiss of air when I removed the cap, I thought it might've gone flat. But, my fears were unfounded -- a bubbly, cappuccino-colored head rises to cap the liquid as I pour. The beer below is of the deepest purple, revealing cranberry highlights when held to a lamp. The head, now a simple but persistent ring, grips the sides of the glass tightly, leaving layers of lace.

Smells: interesting. Lots and lots of milk chocolate, sweet orange juice, plums, red wine, oak, and a hint of bananas.

Tastes: like a porter with Belgian yeast. A slight metallic tinge. Heavily roasted grains impart a chocolate char, while a surge of dark fruit sweetness hits at the swallow, while waves of chocolate and hop bitterness wash across the mouth in the aftermath. The bright flavors of orange peel, paired with the chocolate, are really working here. I'm still getting the faintest bit of grassy hops and even a little bit of vanilla and oak.

Feels: lightly carbonated, medium body, smooth. Love the way this rolls about the mouth. A slight warmth flows down the throat and warms the chest.

Drinks: Nearly a year of age seems to have done a bit of melding to this beer, and all the flavors seem to be in great balance. The sweetness never gets cloying; the bitterness never gets overpowering. Good across the board. I'm interested to see if the subtle fruit flavors remain when I open my second bottle in 2012.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Chimay goblet.

A- pours jet black with a paper thin brown colored head which fades quickly. No lacing.

S- getting a lot of dark cherries and chocolate, with a good bit of booziness in there too. Smells ridiculously powerful.

T- I'm getting a lot of VERY bitter chocolate. Some booziness...hints of cherries and dark fruits...its nice. Not outstanding

M- feel is really good. Carbonation is nice, has a decent thickness to it.

D- definitely a sipper, and the bitterness makes it even more so...but its very, very tasty. Yummy

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber pours a black color without much highlighting visible. Fluffy brown foam has decent retention and lacing. Neither great looking, nor has any negatives either.

Belgian trappist-like yeast greets the nose with maybe some cloves, cinnamon and cardamom spices. Chocolate maltiness is there and the hops are rather restrained for a Stone brew.

Can definitely taste some spices in here, kind of clovey and sweet cinnamon-sugar. Yeast does not seem overly estery and had some breadiness. Malts lean towards baking cocoa and a little roasty. Drinking really smooth right now, couldnt imagine it improving too much with some age as it is delicious right now. Bittering hops are in there and give it kind of an earthy, dusty grab on the finish. Just the right amount of sweetness. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer - more than I thought I would actually, and would love to snag a bottle or two more. Solid 'A' in my book...well done Stone.

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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
4.06 out of 5 based on 866 ratings.
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