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09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale by Stone Brewing Company
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
8.60 % ABV

Review by rhoadsrage on 01/28/13  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
54 3 6 10 3 5 2009
Drank 1/27/13
(Served in a bowtie glass)
A- This beer pours a jet black body with a lumpy coco tan head that sticks in sheets to the glass leaving only a thin ring of head on the beer. There is a gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles that glide up the glass.

S- There is a chalky hint to the chocolate malt aroma with hints of deep caramel coming through as it opens.

T- The mellow chocolate malt flavor is the main player. It has some soft dark roasted coffee malt bitterness in the finish with a slight tart hint. As it opens it takes on more of a watery taste and some stale qualities in the finish. There are also some graham notes that come through as it warms. Clean finish.

M- This beer has a light mouthfeel with no alcohol heat and a gentle fizz that takes on a flat texture on the tongue.

O- This beer is a bit 1-dimentional much more so that when it was fresh. I don’t get any yeast characteristics just the chocolate malt. The watery and stale taste were a bit off putting.

(Poured into a tulip)
drank 11/30/09
A- This beer has a jet black body with a coco powder tan head that is creamy and last for a good bit.
S- The black roasted malt notes have a cream quality to them and then give way to a stronger berry aroma with some black licorice notes.
T- The smooth chocolaty velvet flavor has some ink and dry prune qualities to it with a soft fruity note that finishes the malt. The taste of pineapple without the acid mixes with roasted bitterness in the finish. There is some tartness that comes through with the bitterness and the both linger for a moment.
M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with no alcohol heat.
D- This beer is a big tasty stout with nice roasted qualties and a good Belgian yeast mystique that is almost fruity but not jammy.

Served In: Pint Glass

Review by everetends on 01/19/10  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
80 3 8 17 4 8 0
22 oz bottle I picked up at Hop City for 8 bucks or so. Thought I missed the boat on this one but was glad to see it lying about. Served up in a tulip.

A: Much darker than I was expecting. This might as well be black, very dark. Further investigation leads me to believe this is an incredibly dark, burnt brown. There is no chance of seeing through this sucker. Just impossible. Got about a finger of dark brown head off the pour. Has some pretty good retention as it recedes down to a bubbly ring that is imcomplete but sits on the glass. Moving it around on the glass leaves some lace on the glass and a dark brown film at times. Very impressive looking but much darker and more of a dark porter or stout look to it.

S: This is yet again more of a stout or porter type aroma coming out here. Very big in the chocolate department. Heavy on the cocoa, some dark chocolate. Getting some of the grains coming through along with the Belgian yeast quality. Fruity notes are very light in the nose, maybe some light cherry and berries. Light notes of coffee on the back end.

T: Still staying in the stout range. Getting a good amount of dark chocolate and cocoa mixing with a good amount of coffee to tell the truth. Strange and really threw me off for a BSDA, so stout in flavor at times. Heavy roast and smokiness coming out at times. not really getting a huge Belgian yeast character, no heavy spiciness in here. Maybe a touch of clove and pepper peeking through. Light notes of vanilla and molasses. Light fruitiness with some berry, plum, and grape. Muted though. It tastes great, but it doesn't seem to fall into the style for me. ***As the beer warmed, I am getting a slight hint of the orange and tangerine flavors. The vanilla is coming out a bit more as well as the oak.

M: Heavy side of medium in body. Has some weight to it but if definitely too thin to be full bodied. Carbonation is on the high side at the start, but it isn't a turn off. It works well with the alcohol heat kicking in here. Seems to tone down the ABV at times but still has a good amount of heat on the throat and tummy. Aftertaste is all coffee and chocolate.

D: This isn't bad at all. I am enjoying the hell out of it but everytime I think BSDA, it doesn't seem right. So much more of a stout for sure. Is it bad? no. So we are still in business here. Shocked me a bit from the get go, but was still a good drink for sure. Easy drinking, still a sipper, but still good stuff.

Price: $8.00 Served In: Pint Glass

Review by Dr. Rockzo on 12/10/09  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
78 3 9 16 3 8 2009
Another brew courtesy of Todd the Great, thanks a million holmes! Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Surly imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a rich chocolaty burnt-brown color with faint bloody/ruby highlights when held directly to a light source. An awesomely creamy, frothy medium-mocha colored head puffs up immediately and has great retention, falling slowly into a thick cap and leaving lots of streaky/sheety lacing along the sides as it fades. Beautiful stuff.

S: The aroma is a subtly complex mixture of several styles, mainly porter and BSDA (der). Cocoa powder and nibs (almost reminiscent of sniffing chocolate cake batter) intermingle with esters of banana, over-ripe pear, and some spiciness (clove, coriander mainly). Subtle citrusy notes from the tangerine peel pop in and out from the background to add another layer. A touch of oaky vanilla comes through as well, but not a ton. Not very pungent but nicely complex and very unique/interesting.

T: The taste is right on par with the aroma, only much more intense and flavorful than I would’ve assumed. Big-time porter notes of roasty (but still semi sweet/creamy) chocolate and some dark grains with hints of sherry-ish molasses mix with the yeasty esters of banana, over-ripe pears, and more spices just like in the smell. Bitterness and some dryness come along with a dose of subtle tangerine peel flavor on the backend. Again, the toasted oak and minor vanilla notes are barely noticeable in comparison to the other more dominating aspects, but they’re still there. It’s a bit “green” right now but still nicely tasty…should get better and coalesce more with a bit of age.

M: The mouthfeel is solidly on the medium portion of the spectrum, maybe a touch skewed towards the fuller end of things but the carbonation is quite high and bubbly (although not harsh), so it’s kind of diminished by this fact. The consistency starts nicely sweet but quickly turns dry and a touch chalky from the yeast while also possessing a fairly prominent bitter kick at the end from the tangerine peel and roasty malts. Alcohol is hidden fairly well for being so fresh, only a touch of warmth left on the throat. Goes down easy for being a pretty intense feeling brew.

D: I was surprised by this beer, as I went into it not expecting much (considering spiced BSDA’s aren’t my favorite). The porter-like qualities added a lot and I’m thinking the oak aging smoothed things out a bit too since it’s drinking nicely and not very hot this fresh. I’d probably sit on my bottle another 4-6 months if I had to do it again, but as is in its current state I still very much enjoyed it for what it was and would definitely drink it again.

Not having had any of the other bottled versions of the VE series I can’t say much to how this installment compares, but I will say that I did like it quite a bit. Definitely drinking good enough to crack now but I can see it making the journey to 2012 with little to no issues.

Served In: Pint Glass

Review by seaoflament on 10/05/09  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
80 3 10 15 4 8 2009
Thanks to my buddy Danny for hooking me up with this bottle.

Using my New Belgium tulip for this one. The beer sits in the glass like a stout, dark and impenetrable to light. A thick two-inch layer of mocha colored foam sits on top and leaves some lacing on the sides as it falls down. Very good looking beer. About a half inch of foam retains for a long period, and a swirl brings back about an inch to life.

Light chocolate notes, like soft chocolate shavings on a cake, is the first I detect. Next would be the vanilla beans, toast, a citrus hint, and Belgian yeast esters. The aroma reminds me of having toast with a lightly roasted coffee in the morning. A touch of sweet coffee mingles with the chocolate as well as with some spiciness, like nutmeg or cinnamon, and nuts as well. After a few whiffs I am starting to pick up the toasted French oak, I guess that's were the nuttiness and hints of chocolate also come from. Interesting combination of Belgian yeast profile and the roasted malts. A little hint of cream and just a bit of alcohol in the background. I like the aroma, it's interesting. Not robust like a porter, it seems thinner with a dark candy-like touch...I'm sure it's from the dark Belgian candy sugar that thinned the body and added that slight molasses-like sweetness. A powdery sweetness begins to develop as it warms up. The citrus character of the beer grows a bit more as the beer warms up and comes across as orange, maybe you could say tangerine as I get a little tanginess at times.

More roasted in the flavor than the aroma would lead...starts out quite dry and roasted with a chocolate and toast middle, and finished dry again with more chocolate, coffee, oak tannins, and more toast. Belgian yeast fruitiness as in prunes, dates, and raisins are detected in the second sip. Darker chocolate flavors develop in the taste with a dry, oaky finish. Quite good and I think this one will get better with some time in the bottle. Just a bit too tannic, dry, and roasty right now and would like to get a little more sweetness. Hints of nuts in the aftertaste. Almost overly-roasted flavor. An orange-like flavor appears as the beer begins to warm up. I might be just a tad generous in the score, it's above average for me but not great...somewhere in the middle..."good" maybe?

High carbonation but proper for a Belgian style beer, soft on the palate with just a bit of aggression on the tongue. Medium bodied and fairly easy to drink. My favorite vertical epic so far, much better than the last two.

Served In: Snifter

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