zizzybalubba (1891) - Raleigh, North Carolina, USA - SEP 29, 2009
22 oz. bottle from Grape & Gourmet. Pours black with a beautiful beige head. Licorice dominates the nose with hints of oak, vanilla, and chocolate as well. Interesting flavor; peatmossy does come to mind. Some dark fruit as well. I’m not sure I can pinpoint all of the flavors and I don’t think I’ve had anything quite like this. I expect this to be very different depending on when it is reviewed and I am excited about that. In the early stages of this beer I think it is good and I hope it becomes great. It’s certainly unique. Snojerk321 (2984) - San Diego, California, USA - SEP 29, 2009
Tap @ La Jolla Brew House. Pours a deep mocha brown with a wispy tan head. Nose held hints of vanilla, oak, citrus peel and some spice. Flavor was dominated by roasted chocolate malts with citrus zest and a touch of coffee and spice. A decent brew overall, nothing to write home about IMO. caresville (106) - Vernon, New Jersey, USA - SEP 29, 2009
pours black with basically no head. aroma is of chocolate, raisins, malts and some black licorice. the taste didnt knock me over either and i was expecting it to from what i had heard about this. mostly coffee, and hops but it was bitter and peatmossy. i was super excited to have this and kinda let down. stone makes great stuff, but im sorry i cant classify this one as topping the charts. poisoneddwarf (2688) - Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, USA - SEP 28, 2009
UPDATED: DEC 22, 2012 carruthm (1400) - Seattle, Washington, USA - SEP 28, 2009
Rated first on 9/28/2009. 22 oz bottle into a Trappist glass. Aroma is of dark roasted malt, but not overbearing--something I like. Appearance: pitch black, even when held up to the light. Tastes of dark chocolate, black coffee, lots of hops leading to a nice bitter flavor which lingers on the back of the tongue. Tastes much more like an imperial stout than anything Belgian. Another great entry in the Vertical Epic series. I have enough of these to try every year until 12.12.12. I can’t wait to see how it matures. 6, 5, 10, 5, 19 = 4.5
Second rating on 10/15/10. Got a bottle of the 10/10/10, so I want to rerank this one. Not looking at my above review from over a year ago. Aroma is amazing now, full of chocolate (think Whoppers), coffee. Smells very much like a Samuel Smith dark beer (not very Belgian!). It’s a not completely opaque black but it’s close. It’s a dark brown around the edges when held up to the light. Has a thick tan head that dissipates in a few minutes, leaving some nice lacework and a thick collar. Taste is amazing--smoke and tobacco are very noticeable; some anise in the finish. Carbonation is low to medium; way full body; oily; perfect. An amazing beer that has definitely aged well. I’ll be ranking this one again next November. 9, 4, 10, 5, 19 = 4.7
12/22/12 re-rate: Pours pitch black with a thick tan head with great retention and lace. Aroma is doughy, toasted marshmallows, maybe a little vegetal. Taste starts out sweet, turns bitter, nice and roasty throughout. Looking back at my previous reviews, it seems I was really blown away by this both times, but especially the second time. This time around, it doesn’t seem as impressive, but it’s still the best so far after the ’07 and the ’08. 7/5/8/5/17
Yeah it’s early, so what? Pours a dark dark brown with a tanish head that’s dense and laces the sides. Aroma is malty in a scotch ale kind of way, with some caramel and other sweet sugars embedded within. Chocolate and banana fruits round out the nose. Pleasing and intriguingly layered. Flavor has a stronger chocolate bitter to it. Might be better with age but it’s pretty damn good right now. Good show.
Cletus (6368) - Connecticut, USA - SEP 28, 2009
Draught at Gingerman. Pours dark brown with a light brown head. Smells of licorice, vanilla, some chocolate, dark fruit. Tastes roasty and sweet with some vanilla and fruity elements. Beerman6686 (6611) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - SEP 28, 2009
This poured a very dark brown with a llgiht tan head. Aroma was of chocolate, belgian esters and deep roasted malts. Flavor started out very roasted and smokey, onlly to finish with a sweet chocolate and dark fruit flavor, decent mix of flavors Lakes (18) - post falls, Idaho, USA - SEP 28, 2009
Had some out of a 22oz bottle at a beer tasting.
Beer has existed for a very long time so maybe there’s a reason for some (not all) of the established styles. Maybe there’s good reason that there are no (or precious few) Belgian spiced Porters. I found this beer to be just a bit “off”. There was just something about it that tasted and smelled incorrect. I was truly looking forward to it but it failed to deliver. I think the combination of the darker roasted malts with the Belgian yeast just didn’t mesh. I also question the logic behind pairing tangerine with vanilla, though either were barely noticeable. Stone makes some excellent beers. The 07/07/07 and the 08/08/08 are amoung my favorites. This one may become one of them with age but right now I don’t think it measures up.
SamGamgee (2585) - 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 aren’t 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. dwyerpg (6493) - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - SEP 27, 2009
A little tiny bit of banana in the aroma. Surprisingly dark-stout-like. Whos. This is smoky, almost like lox. Excellent beer. Very chewy, smoky peaty and amazing.