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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

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RATINGS: 710   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.76   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 258   ABV: 8.6%
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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.


3.5
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
corby112 (2214) - philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - OCT 6, 2009
Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even th slight touch of amber edges when held to a light source and a 1.5 finger frothy tan head that slowly fades into a lasting ring that leaves sporadic chunks of dark lacing. Chocolate malt aroma with a peppery spiciness, dark fruit notes, chocolate and vanilla bean, citrus peel and subtle hops. There is a nice roasted character with some hints of burnt toast. Slightly minty with subtle earthy oak. Chewy fuller end of medium body with a slight roasty smokey maltiness and burnt toast. Lots of silky chocolate with hints of spicy peppery mint as well as some light citrus fruit and earthy oak. There are some subtle dark fruit notes as well with smooth vanilla beans. Slightly yeasty with some bread notes and subtle ripe banana. The tangerine citrus is very subtle are way overpowered by the dominant spice character as well as the darker fruits and roasted malt. Also a bit of alcohol burn warmth in the dry finish. This beer is unique and complex but they probably overreached on this one, adding too much to truly appreciate the chocolate covered citrus(tangerine) flavor they were going for. The spice character, especially is way overdone.

3.4
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
jblendy (519) - Hawthorne, New Jersey, USA - SEP 11, 2009
Somewhere in between guinness and youngs double chocolate. Not bad by any means, just a bit basic for Stone.

3.4
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 15/20
Naven (1000) - Poway, California, USA - SEP 12, 2009
Surprisingly thick, dark pour. Aroma of clove, banana, coffee, chocolate. Flavor is similar. Lots of chocolate. Itís been awhile since I had Serpents stout, but this reminds me of it somewhat. Big, long alcohol burn. Kind of a mish mash of flavors, but this aint bad. This should age well.

3.4
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 14/20
BleacherBum (177) - Blowing Rock, North Carolina, USA - SEP 16, 2009
The aroma and flavor mirror each other here. Too many flavors clashing with each other....yeast esters, citrus, chocolate, toastiness, oak, clove, molasses...etc. Too much going on, but itís a young beer. They should wait to release beers like this for at least a year. The finish is watery thin and has a slight alcoholic burn. Itís just too young to be "balanced" or "all together". Some time would obviously do it well, but the body is still very thin (probably thanks to very active Belgian yeast). The ingredients in this beer were obviously framed for the "beer nerd" but it falls short for those of us that actually like to drink beer ready on release. I could only purchase 1 bottle and refuse to wait 1-3 years to drink it. Muddled at the moment.

3.4
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 13/20
drjay44 (2709) - Salida, Colorado, USA - SEP 16, 2009
22 oz. bottle. 8.9% ABV per the bottle.. Pours a thin mocha head, with a bit of lacing over a clear, dark brown (SRM 40) body.....nose is dominated by coffee and chocolate, with a bit of vanilla and wood....taste initially is coffee bitterness, which evolves into mild sweet malt and finishes with further coffee/hop bitterness which lingers.....mouth feel is thick and creamy, and this is aided by the medium carbonation. I understand that this is young and needs some time to mature. I was still somewhat disappointed, because the kilned and heavily roasted malts really dominated more than I expected. It will be interesting to check its maturation. Also this is really on the absolute edge of the Belgian Strong category. How about calling it an Imperial Porter??

3.4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
Butters (3817) - Richmond, Virginia, USA - SEP 18, 2009
Bottle shared with slines and MmmcKay. Pours a very near black with ring of brown head. Nose is anise, coriander, chocolate, coffee. Flavor is not quite as good. It is íoverly blendedí imo. No real stand out flavors, just a melding of chocolate, oak, and citrus, maple, vanilla. I just donít know if I can get behind this one. Semi bitter finish. Maybe this one will be better on 12/12/12....

3.4
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
trevor211 (1305) - Seattle, Washington, USA - SEP 18, 2009
On tap at Brouwerís. Pours black. No joke. Medium tan head. Smells and tastes like I took a burnt marshmallow, made a símore out of it, and added it to a dark Belgian brew. Has some dark fruit, some candi sugar, but really isnít that sweet - the roasty toastiness takes over. Thereís definitely chocolate in here, but not as much as they claim, and I donít get orange at all - I get lots of hops. Itís tasty. Iíll take anything from Stone. But it doesnít quite fit the description, and Iím not sure what to make of it. Not one of my favorites. Thatís for sure.

3.4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
SamGamgee (2452) - down the whirlpool, California, USA - SEP 28, 2009
22oz bottle. Nearly black in appearance with a light tan head of good thickness and consistency; bordering on pillowy. The aroma has a good deal of tangerine and raspberry mixed with burnt toast and charred oak. The longer the beer warms, the more the fruit pops out actually, with a striking vanilla kick coming out, and an almost sour patch kid tartness. They really seem to have crammed a lot into the aromatics, but get it to pretty reasonably approximate dark chocolate with fruit in it. The flavor brings the same qualities of burnt malt, oaky tannic bitterness, boozy vanilla extract,and citrus sweetness together. They arenít really working in harmony, and not as well as in the aroma. There just seems to be a little too much going on right now, but I can see that changing with some age. The mouthfeel is a little hot and astringent, with the alcohol and oak ganging up on your tongue. On the one hand, this is the third year in a row that I have thought that the Vertical epic release was a little weak and unrefined in general, but at least this one tastes like three years in the cellar might actually help it out.

3.4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 13/20
bitbucket (2159) - Kirkland, Washington, USA - SEP 30, 2009
Pours opaque blackish brown with a lacy tan head. Slightly smoky aroma with bits of coffee, chocolate, spice and vanilla. Full body and fine carbonation. Somewhat sweet taste, with bit of citrus pushing through the coffee, oak and molasses. All is pretty good until I hit the dry char and ashes finish. Maybe it would discover some subtlety, given a bit more time in the bottle?

And while Iím at it, just because you use a Belgian yeast strain and the ABV is over 7, that doesnít mean youíve brewed a Belgian Strong Ale. IMHO.

3.4
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 12/20
DigitalMan (193) - Idaho, USA - OCT 1, 2009
Very, very dark with dark brown head. Aroma of melting caramel/coffee. Silky texture with not too much bitterness. Mouthfeel is very rich and full.


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