Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 537 | Ratings: 867
Photo of Klym
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Second in my morning session with Cavery and SundaySour. Poured into a stone nonic.

A: Dark dark dark with a very handsome two-finger tan foam head; this one seems special. Lacing is weak, though.

S: Chocolate, vanilla, oak, wood, molasses, some spice and a small bit of dark fruits. Not so aromatic but I love to dig my nose into it.

T: Yeah, I'm picking up another bottle of this. Roast, vanilla, sharp cheeses, chocolate, molasses, wood, pepper, banana, citrus, and a little salt bite. As complex in the flavor as it was on the nose. Loving it. Alcohol undetectable, extreme drinkability.

M: No complaints on the mouthfeel. Seems strange to drink something with this flavor profile that is relatively thin and generous in carbonation; I found it an interesting twist and plus, not a negative.

O: This is a complex beer and I learned something new about it every look, sniff, and sip. Hard to imagine regretting trying a bottle of this and keeping one in the cellar. Have you any love for the dark side, get your hands on this.

 1,036 characters

Photo of SundaySour
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drank this with Cavery and Klym, those morning lushes!

A: Big brown head and a murky chocolate brown color. Can't see through it at all, no snorkeling in this pond. Like a lot of other beers from Stone, it has great lacing.

S: Smells like roasted pumpkin seeds, salty dark chocolate, and a pinch of nutmeg. In fact, this would make a killer ass pie. The smell is rich and like autumn in a glass.

T: Mouth eruption! Initially tastes like walnuts, with a nice dark chocolate center and finish. This really does taste like a $10 candy bar you get somewhere called "Le Choc" or whatever.

M: Creamy and thick, not fizzy. Like a dessert, it stands on it's own.

O: This beer is powerful and delicious, like the stallion of beers.

 732 characters

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

[email protected]

Apperance: Very dark brown with a beige head and lots of sticky lacing.

Smell: Ripe fruit, Vanilla, Chocolate and some dark bread.

Taste: Tobacco, Hint of vanilla, Bitter chocolate, Leather, Coffee.

Mouthfeel: Very filling with a sweet and bitter ending filled with chocolate and vanilla. Low carbonation (but it is there!).

A bottle to be shared for sure as it is a true sipper. Nice ve-beer.

 410 characters

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

Poured up a wonderful, rich, inky black with a medium brown foamy head.
Smell was big vanilla, damp, freshly sawn timber, chocolate, and a bit of coffee hiding deep down.
Taste was big toasted chocolate malt with a touch of spent coffee grounds and some buttery caramel. Finished pleasantly bitter with a delightful European-style earthy bitterness.
Nice feel in the mouth and pleasantly carbonated and very smooth. Certainly very well crafted, but I expect nothing less from these guys!

 488 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a 2 inch dark tan head that fades to a thin cap. Thin clumps and broken rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smells of dark fruits (raisins/plums), brown sugar, vanilla, and citrus zest. Taste is of dark fruits and citrus zests, burnt sugar, with some chocolate and vanilla flavors. Mild citrus zest bitterness after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a thick and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a lot going on. I was expecting a standard BSDA but this one has a lot of different smells and flavors intermixed. This one has aged well.

 633 characters

Photo of Beer4Baltimore
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- from the notes and a bomber bottle
A - dark to near black with a brownish frothy head.
S - chocolate roasted malts dominate.
T - chocalate, vanilla, roasted malts and fruit tinted malts dominate.
M - heavier bodied with a lower carbonation and a very smooth feel.
D - quite drinkable but the heaviness will certainly catch up to you.

 335 characters

Photo of BrewCrew2010
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a black body with a tan head. Mild lacing on the glass with good head retention.

S: Roasted malts dominate the nose with coffee and bitter chocolate notes. Light dark fruits and some citrus.

T: Not a very complex palate, but still a nicely balanced flavor. Upfront Roasted malts balanced with the earthy hops. There are also some dark fruits, vanilla, dark chocolate, & citrus notes. Belgian yeast also plays a nice part.

M: Medium-full body; low to moderate carbonation; smooth mouthfeel.

O: Not a bad beer and a decent example for the style. I believe there are better Belgian Strong Dark Ales out there, but let's see what a few more years will do. I will drink this again obviously, but only 1 more since that's all I have left.

 745 characters

Photo of trappistlover
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(22oz bottle from AJ’s Via Linda). Pours black with red hue when held up to the light. Tan head with some lacing. Aroma has chocolate, liquid smoke, vanilla and some citrus. Taste is sweet with more citrus and some roasty bitterness. The sweetness balances the roastiness out nicely. Medium bodied with an oily texture. Bitter finish. Pretty nice beer.

 354 characters

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

A - Deep black with purple notes and a tan colored finger head after an aggressive pour. Lots of big bubbles along with some really tiny bubbles and very splotchy lacing.

S - Loving this smell; milk chocolate, honey, roast, lots of nuts, bread, some wood. Somewhat dry and very little sweetness. Despite it smelling pretty good, the aroma is very faint.

T - Plenty more of that milk chocolate I found in the nose - milk chocolate with some dark chocolate, plus some mocha action going on. It actually almost has a chocolate milk type of flavor going on. The chocolate is very dry and mixes well with a dry, wood flavor found in the end. Lots of roast and hearty bread, faint nuts, tobacco, dry & salty leather, coffee grounds, star anise and the tiniest amount of plum and grape in the finish. This is pretty much a flavorful porter...

M - thin to medium body with a fantastic smooth mouthfeel. If the body was a touch thicker, this would get a 5/5.

O - I wish I would have had the chance to try this fresh, but even at almost 2 years old, this is mighty tasty. Like I said earlier, this has more characteristics of a porter than it does a BSDA, but I'm not complaining. I will look forward to this one the next time I do a vertical epic.

 1,243 characters

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Stone 09.09.09, bottle bought at Beverage World in Peekskill, NY, for $7.99 plus tax and deposit.

Appearance: Served in my Sierra Anniversary snifter, 09.09.09 pours thick and oily, with a glug and a gurgle. Sligthy less than a one-finger head that dies quickly, leaving a rim and a mantle and some thick bubbles. Good carbonation and decent lacing. Color is damn black! Sure does look like an Imperial Stout... some auburn tones when swirling the glass.

Smell: Chocolate, roastiness, dark sugars. A tad of coffee. Damp grass, barnyard, past-its-prime weed. Very earthy and rural.

Taste: Follows nose, with a carbonated chocolate touch on the tip of the tongue and some old hops coming up afterwards. Dry, chalky cocoa and a tad of spice and wood. Hops at the end of the sip. Strange, unique.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and flavor, full carbonation. There is a bitter hop bite around that lingers, and again that barnyard-y dampness, like a cow pen after a heavy rain where the straw bed gets all messed up and it smells. This is supposed to age well until late 2012, but I get the feeling that it might not be totally right. Dry, slightly spicy and prickly finish.

Overall: Drinkability is alright, a little heavy and boozy and "earthy", not super appetizing. I expected more of this brew, but then again, I guess we can't expect THAT much of the Stone Verticals!!?? :-) Interesting, but not great. I thought aging would do more to this epic and bring some wonders out. A semi-fail, but still enjoyable. Glad I tried it.

 1,523 characters

Photo of Sam21
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased for $8 in January of 2010.

Appearance - Black body with an excellent brown head cuing you in to the strong roasted malt presence. Great retention and lacing.

Smell - Dark chocolate is noticeable first and foremost. Bit of roasted coffee and some caramel. Mysterious layers of dark fruit, vanilla, oak, and marl sweetness.

Taste - Dry dark fruits and bittersweet dark chocolate. Layers of chocolatey sweetness throughout with a touch of dark roasted coffee. The oak enters towards the end with a supporting cast of vanilla, dark malt, and a light bitterness. Finish sees everything come together into a long velvety finish. Oak lingers.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied and very creamy. The carbonation is thick and soft. Very smooth, although I wish it were a tad lighter.

Drinkability - A complex adventure in a bottle. Wonderful as an after dinner sipper and one that I really enjoyed.

 893 characters

Photo of SuperNova777
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A:Pours a very dark brown color with ruby highlights when held up to the light. Fingers worth of khacki color head that falls slowly, excellent lacing is left hanging on the glass.

S:Intial smell picks up a lot of roasted chocolate then followed up with a slight fruit orange hint. Also picking up some vanilla in the mix as well, a very good smelling brew.

T:Taste is more dull then the nose but still good. Chocolate on the front and middle make way for slight fruitiness on the backend that is then dominated by big roasty flavor that lingers around.

M:Very rich and creamy body that seems to just melt in the mouth once it is entered. Lips left with a little stickiness and palate has a roasted chocolate covering that just hangs around.

O:Can't really say what a little of time did for this one since I did not have it fresh but right now it is drinking extremely easy for the ABV with good flavors still coming out strong. The body is a really nice feature that this has going on for it along with the solid flavors, well reccomended.

 1,044 characters

Photo of vfgccp
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- Pardon the abbreviated review, this was sampled at a free Stone tasting. Special thanks to Big Z's in Huntington NY -

A - Black with mocha highlights. Bone-white head.

S - Mellow marshmallow, brown sugar. Dried plum notes.

T - Nice chocolate character. Smooth toast. Gentle hop backdrop.

M - Smooth

 304 characters

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

Served at Pazzo's Pizza Pub in Lexington, KY. I was surprised and happy to see it on tap!

A- 4.5 This brew is a deep brown/auburn red with a foamy khaki head that has good retention. Thick lacing off the bat and it sticks all over the glass throughout the drink. This looks like a great beer.

S- 4 There's a lot going on here. I get hops, roasted malts, coffee, maybe even a little chocolate... Very intriguing.

T- 4 Like the aroma, there is quite a bit of flavor to take in... but that's a good thing! It is rich and nutty. There's a slight malty/chocolatey sweetness to it that is promptly addressed by a bittering hop flavor. It is slightly boozy on the finish, my only downside..

M- 4.5 This brew is a great medium body with nice carbonation. It starts clean and crisp and finishes smooth and creamy.

D- 3.5 As much as I enjoy this craft ale, I couldn't handle too much of it. Its booziness and strong (although balanced) flavors could be overwhelming after a bit. Nonetheless, it's a great brew and recommended for anyone that can get their hands on it.

 1,063 characters

Photo of beermanbrian
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown almost black with just the faintest red hints around the edge. Tan head drops to a nice cap. Thin lacing. Great chocolate nose with some dark cherries in the background. Taste of bitter chocolate up front, some dark fruits follow and then finishes with a little alcohol bite and a solid bitter aftertaste. Medium body on this one. I don't recall enjoying this one as much when it was fresh, I think it's aged nicely. This one is really strong overall. One of the better epics in the series. I really enjoyed and I'm glad I have 7 more in the cellar. Went great with a dark chocolate truffle.

 607 characters

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
4.02/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from optimator13, great selection man!!

Black and stout/porter like in appearance. Not that much head but nice fine lacing that coats the glass in sheets.

Smell is dark roasted malts and chocolate/coffee, with a touch of dark fruits.

Taste is very nice, good roasted malt character blends well with a dry, chocolate/coffee flavor and hints of anise, plums, figs, and just a touch of hops. Just a touch sweet, but still somewhat dry at the same time.

Feel is pretty full bodied, although a bit lighter than you'd expect from looking at the stuff. Bitter chocolate and coffee flavors linger, along with a slight sweetness in the aftertaste. Carbonation is smooth and silky.

This bottle must be at least a year and a half old, and it's aged well since production. Drinkability would be quite high, although I doubt there are many of these left on the shelves. A fine beer tho.

What else can I say but Stone, as usual, kicks ass.

 948 characters

Photo of harrymel
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured to NB globe during 06-10 VE tasting.

A: Dark, opaque, mocha head (single finger) which sticks around. Good lacing. Sticky appearence. Good looker.

S: Cocoa, malts, anise, cocoas, coffee. I would go on, but why waste my time - this is excellent!

T: Again: cocoa, malt, anise, coffee, back end vanilla from oak. Just outstanding.

M: Heavy, lower carb. Tacky. Viscous. Resonant.

D: This was the best of the bunch. Absolutely outstanding! I will be seeking more of this out.

 482 characters

Photo of elgiacomo
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

 861 characters

Photo of bs870621345
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

 491 characters

Photo of berley31
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
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!

 609 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.54/5  rDev -12.8%
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.

 1,311 characters

Photo of cooncat
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
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!

 1,447 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

 539 characters

Photo of tzieser
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

 478 characters

Photo of dragonWhale
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

 717 characters

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
4.06 out of 5 based on 867 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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