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.

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Reviews: 537 | Ratings: 867
Photo of claspada
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
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 -0.2%
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%
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 +8.6%
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 +3.9%
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 +9.6%
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 +0.5%
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 +2.2%
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 +11.6%
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 -4.4%
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 -9.4%
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 +4.7%
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 +7.1%
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 +7.6%
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 -0.2%
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 +12.1%
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 +4.7%
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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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22oz bomber.

A - Pours a nice dark brown color with a dark tan head. Some nice dense bubbles appear as well as some bigger ones. The head recedes quick down to t ring around the glass and some sparse bubbles hanging around. Looks almost like a stout.

S - I finally get some Belgian aromas. There are some nice clove hints with some nice vanilla spice as well. Nice malty grain and fresh baked bread notes. Slight amount of phenols also present. There are some boozy esters that come out as well as some nice brown sugar and some great marzipan like bread notes. There are some slight roasted notes on the nose but just faint.

T & M - Starts off with some nice sweet clove and malt and quickly kicks in with the roasted notes. Very nice and surprising. There are some nice burnt notes that intermingle with the more traditional Belgian yeast and malt flavors. There are nice chocolate and almost some coffee notes. Very surprising take on the style and IMO doesn't really taste like a BSDA. Its a bit too roasted and not as complex. The roasted character actually takes away some from the yeast. Its interesting and there are some boozy notes on the back end but I don't think I will be thinking of this when thinking of BSDA. The body is medium with some good carbonation and slight boozy warmth on the back end.

D - Drinkability is higher because the ABv isn't too crazy but I would rather have others for better examples of the style.

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Photo of akorsak
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

VE09, another Belgian-style stout.

A: The BSDA has the look of a stout, all murky and black as night. An appropriate tan-colored head lingers around.

S: The nose is sweet chocolate and roasted malts. Spices linger behind the sweetness, but it is easy to get sidetracked amongst all the dark aromas.

T: The rich chocolates, chewy malt and burnt aromas take control early. A bready graham flavor, nutty, balances out the chocolate. Spices and hops hang around, a citrusy addition to the stout.

M: The mouthfeel could pass for a few imperial stouts that I've had, a full, warming feel that seems stronger than it is.

D: Order-wise, this one falls right in the middle. I like the bold flavors but I struggle with the drinkability of dark behemoths like this.

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Photo of beersensei305
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark color with hints of red, the ale has a tan head that laces nicely. The smell is of malts, fruit, and some sweetness. Dark Chocolate and malty flavor off the bat, and some citrus notes at the end. Very complex yet surpising light for its color. Tastey.

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black body with a small, but dense tan head that patiently gives way to a thin layer of lacing that floats around the glass and atop the beer for the duration.

Aroma consists of dark fruits and dark malts, but also a fair amount of spicy or earthy hops. There are some underlying sweet notes, perhaps molasses.

Rich malt, dark fruit, sweet cocoa nibs, and vanilla, all highlight the palate, but also some nice earthy hop presence, similar to the aroma.

A bit drying at the finish with a bite that is somewhere between hops meets abv, with a medium body and generous carbonation.

Although this may not hit the Strong Dark style dead on, it is a tasty beer with a lot to offer. Certainly well made and a great sipper.

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle.

Appearance: This is a black beer with the slightest bit of red on the edges when held right to the light. Frothy light brown head mostly fades after a few minutes, but leaves a thin, uneven sheet all the way to the bottom of my snifter. Lacing is in nice sheets, but doesnt really stick.

Smell: The major aroma is the fusion of dark fruit and roast that you only get in Belgian stouts. There is bitter citrus smell and oaky vanilla too.

Taste: Dark chocolate and coffee roasted malt flavors. There are woody and vanilla flavors and spice. All that is fine until the bitter orange takes over. The finish is all bitter citrus and roast. Think about drinking black coffee and sucking an orange peel at the same time.

Mouthfeel: Its pretty smooth and slightly creamy, but too thin for such a big beer.

Drinkability: Leaving out the orange peel would make this an excellent beer. As it is, its really good for part of the time its in my mouth. I did drink many last year on draft, served way too cold, and it was way better for whatever that's worth.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pored from a 1pt. 6oz. bottle into a Harpoon 100 Barrel series tulip glass.

The color is a complete black with about three fingers of foamy brownish head and some thin lacing.

The smell is chocolate with some nice Belgian flavor that is mixed with Belgian chocolate and some hard street flavors.

The taste is has some chocolate flavor that comes out in the chocolate flavor and really has a nice hard Belgian flavors that mixed well in the end.

The feel of this beer was hard to control at first but had a spark of of creativity and was there will the end.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Duvel tulip. 8.6% ABV, Age at cellar temp 55°F or below, Limited Release, no date.

Though 10-10-10 would be a good day to review this one. :P

A - Deep black in color with no light shining through at all, it pours with a dense tan head. Moderate retention with some patchy, thin lace on the glass.

S - Deep, rich roasted malts and a metallic hint on the finish. Hints of Belgian yeast but not as much as should be there. No real hop aroma. Cocoa and bittersweet chocolate malts with a hint of molasses in there.

T - Lots of roasted malts. Cocoa and chocolate with a hint of coffee as well. Very roasted. No real Belgian yeast or attributes through. It's more reminiscent of a rich porter. A little bit of hops poke through on the back end of the flavor.

M - Full-bodied and smooth with a round feel and roasted, dry, and bitter finish from both the malts and the hops that poke through.

D - Solid drinkability for the % it's a as well as how roasted the flavor is. No real Belgian qualities though which I find odd.

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

I kept this bottle in the fridge at 40-ish for the past year. poured into a snifter.

Wow, very frothy head. looks great, large bubbles, very dark with some browning around the edges.

Im surprised i don't notice any orange on the nose or tongue, but i would believe it has faded out by now, at the 13 month mark. This is such a smooth creamy milk chocolate powered beer, almost all those words were taken to the max with this one, but the chocolate never gets cloying like some other chocolate beers, such smooth creamy chocolate that ends with a light espresso kiss to keep it from going over board on sweetness.

I had 2 bottles, now i have one that i'll save for the end, i would have grabbed more had i tasted one right away. great stuff.

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