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Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09
Posted Thursday, November 12th, 2009 by Tip Top

090909 Glass

Ok, I have had this bottle entirely too long and have been meaning to sit down with a few minutes to devote to the beer.  I guess that time will never come, so I'm making it work now.  I've had the bottle since it's release and can't thank Matt at Stone enough for it since I can't seem to find any in Western Wisconsin.  On to the beer, this is classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale here, which can mean so many things.  Time to find out what it's about...

The beer pours great.  Generous head that's thick and luscious.  Very think and dense, it's made up of super small bubbles.  It's sort of the color of toasted marshmallow.  Good retention, as the head is sticking around and it's been sitting there for a couple minutes.  Thick sheets of lacing coat the glass.  The body is dark and forboding.  Only when you bring it up to the light can you tell that it will let light through, as it shows a nice dark brown hue.

Aroma starts off with a little burnt malt to it, but then quickly moves to chocolate.  Next it's some vanilla bean and dark toasted bread.  The Belgian yeast starts to show itself, with some spicy notes of peppercorn and maybe coriander.  Cinnamon and nutmeg come in, making this remind me of some holiday spiced beers. 

Flavors are a little different than expected based on the aroma.  Starts off with chocolate flavors.  Milk chocolate and some cocoa.  There's just a hint of toffee.  Fruity flavors of banana and starfruit combine with anise and a definite spiciness that is probably coming from both the added spices and the Belgian yeast.  Some oak is present, but in the background, bringing flavors of the wood as well as some vanilla and a touch of char.  At first, the peppercorn/clove/coriander type spiciness really seemed way too much.  As I drink more, my tongue becomes more accustomed to it, but I still think that the spices need a little time to mellow out. 

Another nice Vertical Epic effort from Stone in 2009.  As this beer warms, the flavors seem to meld together better and better.  I would recommend drinking this at cellar temp or just a touch cooler to start so you can see the difference in the beer as it warms.  Grab one for now and a couple to stash away and see how it develops.