9-9-09 Vertical Epic Ale (Stone Brewery)

9-9-09 Vertical Epic Ale is the eighth beer in the Stone ‘Vertical Epic’ series. A series of beers released using a common date format and designed to be consumed in a “vertical tasting” (one beer after another).  This year’s beer is an “Ale brewed with Spices” and comes in at 8.6% ABV.

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 completed 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 addition of the Stone Vertical Epic Ales series is to be reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange.

9-9-09 pours with a thick brown body, that quickly settles into a deep black color. Absolutely zero light gets through, and if I didn’t know better I would think that this was a stout. The head is a sight to see as it cascades into a cream-colored foamy crown. This is a very heady beer and it leaves mucho amounts of lacing along the walls of the glass.

The description on the bottle is spot on in describing the smell. Straight from the bottle the Belgian yeast dominated the nose (banana, cloves), but once it was poured into the glass the scent opened up nicely. When sticking my nose into the glass I was reminded of drinking a chocolate malt. Yummy!

Stone wasn’t joking when they say this is an ale brewed with spices. The chocolate and malt are the dominating flavor, but the spices wait til you think that it’s safe before attacking your tastes buds. I can’t quite figure out what spices are present, but there definitely is something not traditionally found in beer. Wow, this is a flavorful brew! The traditional Stone hops are present, but thankfully not as overpowering as with some of their other offerings. And as it warms up the spices (thankfully) mellow out a bit, making this an even more enjoyable treat.

p.s. When the beer hit room temperature the orange peel finally made its presence known. Very, very interesting.

The mouthfeel isn’t nearly as thick as you would expect from a beer this dark. Spices tickle your tongue as the brew sticks to the inside of your mouth. There is a slight warming sensation (probably due to the high ABV) that leads to mild drying.

9-9-09 Vertical Epic ale is an interesting brew. A beer that skews styles and reminds you that many things are possible in the world of craft brewing.  Now I can’t wait to crack open that bottle of 8-8-08 I just bought!

Overall: 7.5 out of 10

As a SPICED ALE: 7.5 out of 10

FOR FANS OF: Almost anything made by Dog Fish Head, Trader Joe’s VINTAGE ALE 2009,

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