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 tuckevalastin
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
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 WesWes
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a pitch black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice roasted and chocolate malt scent along with a subtle Belgian yeast fruitiness. The taste is much the same. It's incredibly complex with loads of roasted and chocolate malt flavors. It goes down easy with a dry, chocolatey finish. The yeast creates a bit of fruitiness, but nothing that really deters the main taste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very good beer. It's basically a chocolate stout with Belgian yeast character.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
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 TurdFurgison
4.07/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought in October, opened on a Friday night in January, 3 months later. This looks and smells stouty, maybe quite a bit like a Belgian stout. The beer is dark brown with a light brown froth, 2 fingers of finely packed bubbles. In the nose I get chocolate malts and some phenol products (a little banana, maybe clove), maybe just a trace of citrus rind. This isn't far from my memory of Black Albert, at least based on aroma. The taste is very much a stout, less similar to Black Albert than the smell, kind of unique with the astringent hit from the orange rinds. A lot of roasted malts and some chocolate too. Very good, maybe a little too much bitterness in the aftertaste but still good overall. The body is north of water but not to the point of chewiness, just a good stout consistency. Among my favorites from the VE line.

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Photo of ccrida
3.34/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip, 09.09.09 VE is a very dark brown with a very large, dark tan head, with frustratingly long last, rocky settling, leaving foamy lace.

Smell is sweet and spicy, big esters, loads of clove and way overripe banana, a mustiness to it that's not too appetizing.

Taste is okay, from the first sip, I was put off by the intensity of flavor, and the lack of integration between the many components. There's a fine line between complex and kitchen sink. However, as my palate adjusts, it starts to work better for me. Definitely a big bitter chocolate component, a hint of the vanilla, not really sure about the orange. Stone was going for the taste of orange chocolates, and I'm not sure they really hit that mark. Will be interested to see how this ages.

Mouthfeel is dry, medium-heavy bodied, but not particularly viscous.

Drinkability is not to high, this is a really robustly flavored beer that just doesn't lend itself to rapid drinking. Nor is it the type of beer that I want to have again.

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Photo of blackearth
2.99/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a black body with a khaki tan head. Aroma is pretty much just roasted malts, nothing too exciting. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied. Flavors are molases and caramelized brown sugar and very sweet. There's a "dusty" taste as well, and some earthy smoked peat flavors. This wasn't bad, but I didn't get excited to drink it after the first sip.

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Photo of wcuberos
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Has a good dark color and a strong nose. When I poured it, it gave off a strong head and good aroma. The flavor sneaks up on you and finishes with a creamy chocolate flavor. I'd recommend drinking it alone or with a strong meal that would balance well with the flavor.

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

22oz bottle from the cellar.

Pours opaque black with a one inch head of light brown. A slow retreat revealed a partial skim coat on the surface for the duration as well as some moderate lacing.

Aromatics lead off with bitter chocolate, charred malt, and toasted raisins. Hints of nougat, coffee, and spicy phenols follow through.

Full bodied with a chewy, tacky mouthfeel. Almost velvety.

Roasted malt, dark chocolate, and coffee grounds start the palate. Lightly smokey with plenty of char and mild acridity.

Finishes with lingering bitter chocolate, a hint of raisins, and warming alcohol.

The Belgian character is quite subdued here, and the beer drinks more like a solid Porter. Nevertheless, a more than worthy cellar candidate it would seem.

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

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip.

Appearance: 1 inch tan head dissipates slowly and steadily into about a millimeter bubbly froth ring around the glass. Some islands of lacing. Pours solid dark brown.

Smell: Sweet and fruity. Pineapple, raisin, some cherry, brown sugar, and Belgian yeast. Definite alcohol notes. The smell is bright and punchy. There's a woody and toasted character to it as well.

Taste: Medium carbonation and a nice smokiness. Not as fruity as the smell, though I get some pineapple. The smokiness is porter-like, and there's a strong note of vanilla in the middle. Occasionally tastes like a smooth milk chocolate. Beginning is sometimes kind of musty, but still sweet and smoky. There's a very mild soapiness, with some licorice notes. Aftertaste is like a more standard strong Belgian ale, like a trappist. Alcohol is pretty well-masked, but somewhat present in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, and well-carbonated (the carbonation is dominant but not overpowering). It approaches chewy but doesn't quite get there. The mild heaviness matches the big smoky flavor.

Drinkability: Pretty good, albeit a little boozy and heavy as you get through the bottle. For me, it's a bit too much of a hybrid for it to be a go-to beer--why not have a high quality stout/porter or Belgian strong ale? Still, it's definitely worth bringing out occasionally. As a beer to age 3 years and bring out for a special occasion, I think it's perfect (which is, of course, exactly what the beer is supposed to be).


All in all, I was impressed by this beer. It delivers as a good trappist-influenced porter, with lots of interesting and pleasant notes in both smell and taste, and an expertly done mouthfeel. I doubt I'll drink another bottle before 2012, but I would suggest it to others, and definitely plan on cellaring some to see how the age broadens the flavor.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%
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 LittleBug31
3.83/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very black. Quite a substantial medium-tan head with tiny, foamy bubbles.

Smell: Chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Banana split even, with the pineapple and banana-bready aromas. Bright, crisp, and clean with a hoppy spiciness.

Taste: Whoa! Very roasty with lots of chocolate. Intense flavor. The sweetness of pineapple mixes with a smoky, burnt vanilla bean for an interesting taste. Shocks my mouth with each sip! --Flavors mesh and calm down quite a bit as it warms.

Mouthfeel: A strong jolt to the tongue. A bit too bitter for me. Overall very smooth; mild carbonation that is very pleasant.

Drinkability: Very enjoyable in small quantities, but the full-bodiedness and intensity makes me hesitant for more.

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

A: Pours an intriguing black, with brown edges when held up to the light. An initial lively medium-tan head, dying down to a mere coating within a minute or two.

S: Fruity, roasty, chocolatey. The fruitiness is beyond what you would expect from just the yeast--it has a bright character (from the tangerine?) which fits together well with the citric hop notes. The roasted and dark malts manifest as chocolate, and char. Overall, it reminds me very much of a variety of incense.

T: Light unsweetened chocolate flavour with a interesting fruitiness. Smoke, roasted character. The finish is of bittersweet chocolate. I think Stone came pretty close in their attempt to "imitate a chocolate bar with orange." The flavours imparted by the vanilla beans are not prevalent, and I didn't seem to taste them at all before searching for them. The toasty character from the French oak is definitely there--fitting in nicely with the dark chocolate and roasty/smoky malt.

M: Medium carbonation, and velvetty smooth on the tongue.

D: The roast/toasty flavour would get to me for sure after more than a glass or two. An interesting beer from Stone, one that's progress will be checked sometime in the future...

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Photo of ozzyCobblepot
4.01/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought this 22 oz. bomber back in late September from De Vinos in Adams Morgan, DC. Let it sit in the back of the fridge until today, which I must say, I'm very proud of. Even through tough times I left this bottle alone until 2010 came around. Don't know if it did anything, but a personal victory Ill take it.

A: Pours a nearly black, totally opaque drink with a big, chocolaty frothy head, clings well to the sides of the glass.
S: Deep coffee notes and bitter chocolate, touch of spicy hops.
T: Slightly sweet chocolate, mild dark fruit flavors intermixed with grassy hops, brown sugar, toffee flavors. Not bitter at all.
M: Medium bodied, slight carbonation, very refreshing.

Overall a slightly sweet, darkly toasted brew--subtle, but with many different flavors present. Many flavors, but none so pronounced that they dominate or take over. Moreover, the taste seems to progress through stages, allowing room for the complexity of the flavors to take their course. A filling and unique beer, done as well as anything in the style.

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Photo of mothman
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours 1 finger of tan head. Pretty decent retention with very nice lacing. Color is pretty much black.

Aroma: Lots of roasted malts, nut flavors, grassy hops, chocolate, caramel, and slight coffee notes. Pretty decent.

Taste: Lots of roasted and burnt malts again. I get a bunch of burnt brown sugar and caramel flavors. Tons of grassy hops to balance it out. Nice coffee notes. Not to bad.

Mouthfeel: Roasted, smooth, and refreshing. Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends super dry and roasted.

Overall, I would not age this beer. The flavors taste fine and I don't expect this one getting and better. Glad I got to try this one fresh.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted on 12/27/2009. This Belgian Strong Ale pours a very dark brown color from a 22oz bottle. Medium sized beige foamy head, with nice retention and good lacing. The aroma is chocolate, dark fruit and roasty malts. A medium bodied Belgian Strong Ale. The malts are chocolate, fruity, roasted malts and estery. The hops are citrusy and floral. Nice carbonation. Lots of interesting flavors going on here, orange, chocolate, vanilla, a touch of oak, a little banana and clove. Hides the alcohol well. Nice beer. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter and chocolaty.

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Photo of merlin48
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours a deep dark brown body that is opaque in the glass. Medium tan head leaves island chain lacing.

Interesting and complex aroma. Chocolate, roasted coffee, dark fruits, ripe bananas, and some charred wood.

Medium body has a solid smooth carbonation.

Taste has a roasted coffee bitterness, dark chocolate, malty nuttiness,smoke, Belgian yeast, a hint of licorice, ripe bananas,a hint of vanilla, and some citrusy hops. Alcohol is hidden very well. I don't pick up the tangerine peel.

Very nicely done. Certainly one of the better VE's in my book. Tasty and complex.

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

I bought mine back in september, no dought, at my beloved Anderson store Now Closed in Lima. I bought the very last bottle & the very last V.Epic in town. Now i'll have to roadtrip in 2010. Enough!! The "09"

I opened thisone on New Years eve as I do all my Vertical Epics. So with three months of cellar age I was surprised at this dark ale. With other holiday tastes on the palate this beer is best on its own or as a desert brew.

It pours dark. Medium body. Cocoa colored head that does fade with minimal lace. Trace lace at best.

Aroma of dark fruit. I get tyhe citric note as tangerine peel and grapefruit and the softness of bananna.

Taste the color reveals its dark side of plum, fig,cocoa dark chocolate, expresso. Earthy notes of wood char and smoke.

Mouthfeel is good. Malty cocoa bitterness is left with a silky expresso bean slight alcohol dryness.

Drinkability, Oh ya. On its own is best I think.

Note; a Good "News years" Day morning brew as well. Heres to ageing!!

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

22oz bomber purchased at Tully's in Wells, ME. Split with BA member MrHurmateeowish. we figured it would be an appropriate way to say Goodbye to 2009. pours an opaque ebony color with a quarter of an inch of tan head that quickly dissipated. scents of dark chocolate, espresso, and toffee immediately hits the nose with nut, date and a bit of alcohol in the background but not really strong. tastes of dark chocolate and dates immediately grace the tongue with tinges of espresso, wood, and nuts. Moderate carbonation and full bodied. definitely a sipper the alcohol is very warming but leaves no traces of it in the taste. Quite an exceptional beer. Two Thumbs up to Stone!


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Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.72/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber purchased at Tully's in Wells, Maine, split with BA CheckMate. Pours a pitch black body with a good inch of slowly-dissipating tan head. Espresso, dark chocolate, date, nut, a touch of alcohol, and toffee characterize the aroma. Dark chocolate, espresso, fruit (mainly dates and grapes), wood, smoke, nut, with touches of caramel and toffee, spice, and just a bit of alcohol warming, though none in the flavor. Full-bodied but not viscous like some beers of this type, with ample but not overpowering carbonation. Wow. I cannot say enough good things about this beer. While I have no doubt it ages great, it tastes amazing as it is. A slam-dunk for Stone, probably the best beer I've had from them.

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Photo of NCBeernut
3.87/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Happy New Years! Grabbed a bomber of this at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville. Poured into a Unibroue tulip. Pours thick and black with a big fluffy head with excellent retention. Looks rich and dessert-like. Aroma is subdued. Bits of spices with the contribution of a very slight phenolic yeast character. A little chocolaty on the nose.

Heavy roasted flavors and caramel of decent strength. Definite alcohol. Thick heavy extra dark chocolate takes the lead. Hop bitterness is present but not overwhelming. Slight spiciness, with a very subtle hint of cinnamon. Rich and decadent. Tastes a lot like a heavy imperial stout - I would actually classify it as such if it were me. Flavors are still a bit muddled, this beer is still coming together, but pretty good. Really creamy, velvety and big-bodied with a definite alcoholic edge.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am saddened that this is the first time I have seen this annual brew from Stone. But I do not believe this is available in New Hampshire where I live. I found this one on a visit to Vermont. It pours a very dark brown to almost charcola black with about a half-inch of creamy tan had that is long lasting. The aroma is of banana bread, chocolate malts, and vaguely sweet as well. The taste is a complex combo of sour hops and chocolate malts. This was a nice brew.

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Photo of mntlover
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black some light showing through nice sized coco head falls slow to a cap, some lace left behind.

Aroma is wonderful chocolate malts, light fruity notes citrus tangerine, mango mingled with bananas. Aroma is soft smooth very inviting.

Taste is well different then the nose sadly. Chocolate malts but hops kick in soon to add minty notes that come out quick with the carbonation. Hops are minty and earthy in.

Mouthfeel is big medium with way too much carbonation, even constant swirling cant get rid of it.

Drinkability well would be fantastic if aroma was all there was. Sadly taste is not up to par with the aroma, still not bad be even better if the CO2 was cut in half.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a snifter.

Pitch black with a tight tan colored head that thinned out to a ring leaving patches of lacing.
Smell is dark fruits (dates, raisins, figs) and yeast.
Taste follows through on the aroma with some smokiness tossed in. The finish is not bitter but far from being overly sweet.
Medium/Full bodied with a rich, creamy feel.
Easy to drink as the abv is very well hidden.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. It smells like roasted malt, chocolate, caramel, coffee, and some vanilla. Taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of some charred malt and smoke, along with a bit of banana. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's somewhat creamy and slick with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and goes down easy. Also, the alcohol isn't noticable in the aroma and taste, however it does catch up to you later. I think this is a good brew, can't wait to see how this one ages.

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Photo of russpowell
3.86/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks to colonelforbin for this one!

Pours ebony with 2 fingers of mocha colored head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Dark fruit & some herbal hops

T: Charred wet grain, dark fruit, especially raisin & a touch of coffee up front. Dryness & coffee dominate as this warms, plus more dark fruit, leafy hops & some baker's chocolate & a touch of white pepper, vanilla & cherry. Finishes dry, fruitty & with much coffee & some cherry

MF: Fairly chewy, low carbonation & great balance

Drinks pretty easy for the ABV, not getting a ton of Belgian character here, but I didn't expect a literal interpretation from these guys anyhow. A tasty dark brew that I'd say is more of a big stout with some Belgian tendencies. One I would consider stockpiling if feasible, cuts the chill nicely!

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