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:
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Ratings: 870 |  Reviews: 538
Photo of elgiacomo
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle. Served at cellar temperature.

Pours dark brown to black with a large foamy brown head that leaves nice rings of drippy lacing and holds a good cap.

Aroma is anise, cocoa, chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits such as plums and raisins, yeast and bread. Very good strength.

Flavor is lush and rich cocoa, chocolate, vanilla, some coffee, dark fruits, anise, molasses, caramel, toffee, some alcohol, very complex and layered.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, somewhat creamy, low to medium carbonation.

My first '09 VE and it was worth the wait. Fantastic stuff. Not getting much of the banana or citrus that Stone mentions, but to me this drinks sort of like a Baltic Porter with some BSDA characteristics.

I hear a store in town still has a bunch of these left and I think I'm gonna be making a special trip up there next week to secure a few more.

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Photo of bs870621345
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a small tan head that fades to a collar, leaving nice lacing down the glass.

Smells like molasses, plums, light spice, and roasty.

Taste is lightly spiced, heavy on the molasses, roast, and plum flavors. Light oxidation, but it really works. Alcohol is present too.

Mouthfeel is full, nicely carbonated.

Drinkability is great, this stuff is extremely inviting and the alcohol is nicely warming.

A really nice offering from Stone, I wished the IRS tasted more like this.

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Photo of berley31
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured with a tan, moderate-large head that had tight bubbles. Creamy, thick, and long-lasting. Body is jet-black and opaque. Not as much lacing left behind as I would have thought.

S: Dark fruit, milk chocolate, hints of vanilla, and maybe even a touch of citrus in there, too.

T: As complex, if not more so, as the aroma. Chocolatey, with dark fruit. Slight roasted flavor in the finish. When held in the mouth, a touch of orange is apparent, but only slightly so.

M: Moderate carbonation, medium-bodied.

D: An extremely complex BSDA; I was very impressed. Wish I could get my hands on more of this!

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Photo of beagle75
3.54/5  rDev -13%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Draft service into a half-pint goblet at Stone Bistro.

A: Opaque black, showing dark brown at the edges, with over one finger of diminishing beige foam head. Heavy lacing remains on the glass.

S: Raw, husky grain with a tang of lactic acidity. The presence of roast on the malt is surprisingly lacking in the smell, considering the dark appearance. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins dry, briefly fruity before distinctly cheesy and fungal yeast flavors take over. Husky roasted malt also contributes, becoming more apparent (along with a more neutral variety of umami) in the middle. The finish is still malty, low in bitterness, with some papery flavors also developing. No alcohol is detected.

M: Medium viscosity, balanced on the palate, with low carbonation.

D: This is a beer that creates interest for it with every sip. Not content to suffice with a strong dark ale tasting of dark fruit, wood smoke, or coffee/chocolate, Stone elected for a different approach. The Belgian yeast used here take this beer in an unexpected direction, making it memorably cheesy at first, but ultimately delivering a dry and savory experience resembling that of very few other beverages. If this beer was more common it would be worthwhile to test the limits of its food-pairing potential during many decadent sessions.

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Photo of cooncat
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
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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Photo of zeff80
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on 1-30-11 along with an 08 and 10.

A - Poured out a dark, dark brown color with a one-finger, tan head of foam. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S - A lot of woody notes up front wit hints of chocolate. There is a mild dried fruit flavor, too.

T - Good chocolate flavor with a woody taste. More dried fruit flavor comes through here with some plum and currants.

M - A dry beer with a sharp, crisp bite. A medium bodied ale that hides its ABV quite well.

D - This is a really tasty brew. it exceeded my expectations.

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Photo of tzieser
4.43/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2009 bottle (obviously) served into a Duvel tulip.

A: pitch black in color with a nice thick light brown head that slowly settles. happy with the carbonation level.

S: notes of chocolate and spices. subtle notes of citrus.

T: deliciously complex. a tad bitter than expected. notes of bitter chocolate, orange peel and coriander. probably couldve used a bit more time but still amazing

M&D: bubbly mouthfeel; good drinkability

great stuff. I wanna find some more.

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Photo of dragonWhale
4.41/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What the f to open? Yes, sure, why not? Not even sure if I've had a taste of this creature before.
When it pours black, I yearn for comfort. There is no quarter to be found here, the rockiness of black ice on the mountain.
Roast and wood astringency with some bitter chocolate up front and through and through. There is some dark fruited malt and orange peel somewhere in the middle of the beverage, but it fades out again and gives way to the sledge of the bitter chocolate, lasting eternally. Much more stout quality than BSDA, and it is a quality belgian imperial stout. A little less "epic" than Weyerbacher 13 or Black Albert, sure, but damn fine, and certainly will hold up well through the vertical and beyond.

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Photo of claspada
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Aromas of sweet cocoa with some lesser coffee and dark fruit characteristics. Slight hints of vanilla and herbal smells.

Rich malt, dark fruit, sweet cocoa nibs, and vanilla, all highlight the palate, but also some nice earthy hop presence, similar to the aroma. Subtle Belgian yeast qualities that only add to the complexity.

The mouthfeel is really smooth and slightly creamy, but too thin for such a big beer. The Belgian yeast should add some more to the mouthfeel but somehow does not.

Overall, this beer is a really solid offering especially for the higher ABV and extreme roastiness. Wish there was some Belgian influence, also wish I tried this fresh as well to have a comparison. Regardless it's delicious.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Note: Had this in an aged bottle - don't know why it won't let me post another bottle review

Poured a blackish body w/ a tan head and lace sheaths on top of a bready and sweet malt aroma. Bitter chocolate, wood, roasted malts, hints of vamilla and some minimal hops are all prevelant. A thicker body than the sweetness allows, my first thought is that the aging (especially since last time I tried it) as allowed for a more dry, toasted and bitter sweet taste as well as alcohol to soak in. Still, I pick up a great balance of bitter chocolate and vanilla for a sweet edge and the beer is still a smooth passer and balanced with notes of roasted and espresso malts. I also pick up a little mild dark fruit notes as well. Amazingly, as you slowly sip on the beeer it gets sweeter and milder for an enjoyable drink. I would say not too much has changed since I had this last but that the beer's maltier base comes out as a little more dry and rough, but also the alcohol seems to have risen b/c this beer slowly but surely put me down for the count.

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Photo of BBP
4.02/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Pours black. Quickly fading head. Good carbonation.

S- Metallic. Slightly smoky.

T- Far better than the smell would indicate. Tons of roasted malt. Good hop presence. Lots of chocolate and a little bit of coffee. Some banana as well which was worked into the flavor quite well. I don't typically like fruit in beer, but it was done well. Hints of yeast.

M- Creamy, full, and good carbonation. Just right.

D- Very easy to drink. Only slight alcohol notes. Seemed like an imperial porter.

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Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.41/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I cant wait to pick another one of these up and let it sit for another year or two!

Pours solid black with nice tan head that fades away but leaves amazing lacing the whole way down.

Smell is light but pretty sweet from the yeast. You also get a good amount of chocolate as well.

The taste is mainly of chocolate but there is some smokiness in there for sure as well.

I wish I would have had this beer a year ago to taste the differnce but at a little over a year its very smooth and great for the drinking!

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Photo of heebes
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 pint

Pours dark black with a thick foamy tan head. The nose is roasted chocolate, spices, light malts, sweet fruitiness. Taste is where the orange peels comes in, a bitterness in the middle still roasted malts throughout adding chocolate slightly. Very subtle and blended well tastes. Smooth and warming mouthfeel makes this a delicious beer to enjoy. I think this beer achieves what Stone set out to brew. A highlight in the series I would wager when verticals take place.

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Photo of YouSkeete
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Appears black, but is really a very dark brown. Small tan head with some lacing.

S: Milk and dark chocolates, roasted coffee beans, and orange zest are all present in the nose. Some notes of other darker fruits and some earthy hops make their way to the surface as well.

T: Big bittersweet dark chocolate flavor, followed by fruity notes and thick creamy malt flavors. Pine, cedar and orange zest give this brew a subtle kick throughout. Alcohol is masked by the full flavor of the beer. Dark chocolate, vanilla beans and oak are left in the aftertaste.

M: Watery, but not in a 'bad' way. Smooth and full. Medium carbonation, medium to full body.

D: Superb. My favorite of the VE series.

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Photo of birchstick
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - pours a dark brown, almost stout-like in appearance with a 1 and 1/2 finger head

S - smells of chocolate malts, some spices, and a touch of fruitiness with a bit of piney hop

T - the taste starts with sweet chocolate malts and fades to some dark, sugary fruits (plums being the most dominant). Then, the tangerine peel came into play, with a nice touch of sweet fruits - oranges and a little bit of passion fruit. It finishes with some roasted malt and a bit of piney hop. Once everything is down, there is a tinge of oak and chocolate left on the palate. A lot of stuff going on here that blend together in a really nice way.

M - medium to full body with a decent amount of carbonation

D - this was a really good BSDA. Stone but a bunch of stuff in there that worked really well together. Luckily I have two more bottles cellaring, so I am very interested to se how this turns out over time.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

148th review on BA
Bottle to Tulip

App- A very dark brown with some lighter ruby highlights. Nice 1 1/2 finger head that had a deep tan head on it as well.

Smell- A big malty, chocolate smell had some booziness behind it as well.

Taste- Nice tasty flavor that drinks very big. A spicy, malty, chocolate and a bit bready feel.

Mouth- Smoothy, malty and a big palate pleaser. Medium bodied with a fairly medium carbontion. Really a big beer to this one.

Drink- Pretty good after two years in the cellar. It's got a lot of flavor and it's quite different.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.53/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A bit late starting on the Blind Reviews. Blind Bomber #1 The beer was served cold and allowed to warm up to a desireable temperature. Proper temperature was achieved about 25 minutes after removing from the fridge. The beer was served in a Imperial Pint glass.

A- 5 I am sucker for dark beers. The body of the beer poured dark brown nearing black. The head of the beer is a finger high and colored like the nugget of a three muscuteers bar. Major head retention it even withstood my mustache. The lacing on the glass looked like pancake batter.

S- 4.5 Traces of oak vanilla, mixed roasted nuts, a hint of banana, semi sweet cocoa, very nicely roasted and toasted notes with a bit of smokeyness bringing up the rear.

T 4.5 Nicely toasted and roasted malt flavor hits my palate, nuts rolled in cocoa brief flash of smoke. Alcohol peaks its head out. Its slightly boozey but I like a kick in my beers.

M / D 4.5 / 4.5 Very smooth medium bodied. May even be a bit more curvy than medium. The alcohol is a little hot but I like it that way. This beer disappeared very rapidly from my glass.I enjoyed the beer much more as it opened up and was just lightly chilled.

The reveal: Stones 09/09/09 Vertical Epic. I am gobbed smacked with how good this beer was. I have talked alot of smack about Vertical Hype. Very tasty and glad this beer was sent my way.

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Photo of CraftAleRookie
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in a 9 ounce tasting tumbler, number 1 in a series of tastings for the 2010 Holiday.

A- Deep blackness, but not pitch black- hints of opaque near the edges. Poured with almost no head, but what little head did form morphed to a thin lace that lingered.

S- Does not have an overpowering aroma at all- had to suck a good whiff to try to sense some smells. Chocolate, banana, slight malt.

T- Malty, slight bittersweet chocolate. Feels like a lighter stout rather than a strong dark ale (or better yet a porter). Very smooth- not overpowering at all. Slight hint of hop.

M- A bit on the flat side, but if you like a lighter mouth feel for a dark beer it's good.

D- High marks for drinkability- given that this is not overpowering or robust in some areas that could turn some folks off, this is one brew that is very repeatable and enjoyable for it's nuetrality.

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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 StarshipPoopers
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewing from notes.

A - Kind of underwhelming. Pours opaque black with minimal head and retention (mostly just a ring around the edge that dissipates quickly). A hard pour produced about a finger's worth of mocha coloured head that was gone quickly. Not really a beer to look at.
S - Initially the smell was quite gross. Metallic notes and other strangeness that completely puts you off wanting to try the beer. However, as the beer warms up the character changes completely and the smell becomes more of a porter smell. The dominant smell was rich chocolate.
T - Rich dark chocolate that initially lacks much bitterness, but it blends nicely with the bitterness of the hops. The hops themselves present a slight pine kick to the overall flavour.
M/D - I think this tastes and feels great when it warms up to room temperature, before that it is much more subdued. The mouthfeel of this beer is incredibly smooth, however the drinkability is a little lower because it's something I was content to enjoy over the course of a few hours. I finished the entire thing in one sitting, so the drinkability is by no means bad, it's just something meant to be enjoyed over a longer period IMO.

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Photo of jlpayne
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Two-finger, mocha head. Body is pitch black and completely opaque. Thin lacing.

S - Nuanced: Booze. Caramel. Dark Chocolate.

T - Brings me back to childhood: Tastes just like a "Sugar Daddy." Delicious. Subtle hints of mint.

M - Smooth, round, buttery, and full-bodied.

D - This is a heavy beer, which suits the style. I loved it, but could only drink one.

Great beer. Definitely pick one up while they're still around.

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Photo of DeanMoriarty
4.37/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 09/09/09 Vertical Epic

Had this out of a snifter at Holiday Wine Cellar's special event for San Diego Beer Week 2010: "Stone Vintage Archives & Decadent Chocolate Pairings" hosted by Dr. Bill Sysack of Stone Brewing. Paired with North Park's Eclipse Chocolat - Black Sesame Anise Truffle. Dr. Bill presented it as a Belgian Porter style ale.

A: Pours a dark black hue with a thin head revealing brown hues when held up to the light, leaving decent lacing in my glass.

S: Sweet and smoky malt, grainy and earthy.

T: Toasted grains, sweet malt, smoky woodiness, bready biscuit finish.

M: Medium-bodied with some viscosity - mellow carbonation with a smooth finish.

D: Surprisingly easy to drink, especially as it warms up a bit. Really not a fan of the style, but really enjoyed this one a lot.

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Photo of adamette
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Live review. Poured from the growler that I had filled at Fat Heads in North Olmsted, Ohio a few weeks ago at a cost of $28. Poured into my Brewery Ommegang Westvleteren style gold rimmed goblet.

A Light brown creamy head over a jet black body that lets no light through. It has the look of a stout even though the style is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. 4.0

S Dark roast malt with some chocolate notes. Interesting and inviting. 4.0

T Some dark roast malt but it is softened by some mildly sweet chocolate in a pleasing way. 4.0

M Smooth despite a significant dark roast malt presence and a reasonably high ABV. 4.5

D Good for the bigness of the beer, helped along by the agreeable feel. 4.0

Notes: Interesting to be able to find this on tap and available in a growler. I am glad that I picked this one up!

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Photo of taigor
4.55/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into 8oz glass.

A - Poured jet black non-transparent color with high ruby frosty head that slowly dissipated leaving average amount of lacing around the glass.

S - Malts, coffee and chocolate scents. Very complex.

T - Slightly sweet to start with and tons of roasted malts with a coffee, dark chocolate bitter finish.

M - Full bodied with high carbonation.

D - Definitely a sipper but very enjoyable. Looks and tastes more like RIS instead of Strong Dark Ale. Highly recommend it if you can get it.

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Photo of Jason
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bomber.

Light brown lacing wraps around the inside of the glass almost all the way down. As close to black as you can get. Chocolatey nose, dark with some burnt sugar ... Edge of citric peel and esters. Soft and smooth creamy fullish body. Dry and spicy, maltiness ranges from dark chocolate to toasted bread to light molasses. Oaky, pulls the dryness in. Citric peel, wild herbs and vanilla show a grounded complexity. Big chocolatey finish.

One of my favorites of this series, a year of cellaring did no harm either.

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