Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale: Mitch's Tasting Notes


The Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale is a bit of departure from the last two Stone Vertical Epic Ale editions, which were golden in color. The newest one can best be described as a Belgian style Imperial Porter. The beer is deep brown, with intense roasted character provided by chocolate malt.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

During the brewing process, we also added dark candi sugar, vanilla bean, and tangerine peel to complement the flavors of the porter. The vanilla bean addition is fascinating, as it actually enhances the chocolate character from the roasted malts, and the candi sugar adds a nice hint of molasses flavor to the finish. The tangerine actually turned out to be quite subtle on the finish (and didn’t impart as much of an orange flavor as we reported earlier), and combines nicely with the chocolate malt character. We aged this beer on French Oak chips, which contributes a smooth and subtle woody undertone and even more vanilla flavors.

Mitch and the brew crew proudly displaying their newest creation

Mitch and the brew crew proudly displaying their newest creation. From left to right: Mitch Steele, Sean Brennan, John Egan, Jessica Gilman, Jeremy Moynier, Laura Ulrich, and Justinian Caire.

All in all the Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale is a very complex beer, the flavors evolve and develop as the beer warms in your glass, making the enjoyment of it a very fun and delicious experience!

Appearance:
This beer pours deep brown with a thick, frothy, creamy head of tan foam.

Aroma:
Many layers, starting off with chocolate and coffee from the chocolate malt, and vanilla notes from both the vanilla bean and French Oak. A balanced oak flavor comes through in the mix. As the beer warms, the influence of the Belgian yeast is more evident, as tropical fruit and spice flavors become more pronounced.

Flavor:
Begins with chocolate roast malt character and vanilla. The vanilla accentuates the chocolate nicely. Layered in are banana esters, and hints of clove, and then the finish is a bit stronger on the oak with hints of molasses and citrus from the tangerine peel.

Palate:
Medium body, very complex, and finishes very smooth. The 8.6% alcohol is not overly evident, and the flavors blend together nicely.

Overall:
A delicious, complex beer. It should age nicely over the next three years, and the flavors should continue to meld together wonderfully.

-Mitch Steele


Editor’s Note: Look out for Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale on September 9, 2009, and check the website for the latest info.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale Revealed


When I hear the term “epic,” I think of things like Beowulf and Jan Crouch’s hairdo. However, the term isn’t solely reserved for grandiose tales of heroism and towering pink wigs. It can apply to finely crafted beer too, as we’ve proven year after year with our Belgian-inspired Stone Vertical Epic Ale series. Beginning with the first release in 02.02.02, our Stone Vertical Epic Ale series is an eleven-year series with a new edition released one year, one month, and one day after the previous, culminating in a truly Epic vertical tasting on 12.12.12.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

The last few Stone Vertical Epic Ales have been lighter in color, but this year’s Ale is a sinfully dark Belgian Porter, and instead of using American hops like last year, we’re using two European hop strains: Perle and Magnum. Staying true to the series, this year’s batch also comes packed with some unique, mouth-watering ingredients. If you follow us on Twitter, you already know what some of them are. Check out what we tweeted on June 1st.

The ensuing deluge of fanatic @replies reaffirmed what we already know: Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale is going to make sweet, sweet love to your palate. Before we allow you to spend too much time on any visual imagery from the previous sentence, let’s move right along and ask and answer the question “So how did this divine libation come into being?”

Our Head Brewer, Mitch Steele, had a dream. And that dream involved a beer with orange and chocolate in it. “I’ve always liked orange and chocolate,” said Mitch, “and always wanted to brew a really chocolaty beer with some orange in it.” Turns out that Stone CEO Greg Koch’s favorite childhood dessert was orange sherbet with hot fudge (fairly irrelevant really as that fact did not come into play in the creation of this beer, but instead was simply inserted by him as he was reviewing this blog post and no doubt is an attempt to simply see his name worked into the blog somewhere). The delicious combination of tangerine peel and chocolate malt lends the beer its orange-chocolate character, and the addition of vanilla beans actually enhances the chocolate character of the chocolate malt. Stone Assistant Brewer Jessica Gilman, who helped Laura Ulrich bring Mitch’s creation to life, confessed her love for the beer. “It was fun to brew, and the brew day actually went really well. When I was checking the gravity the other day, I couldn’t help noticing that it smells really good—the tangerine peel is CRAZY in that thing!” As if the beer wasn’t decadent enough, the brew crew decided to age it on French Oak, further enhancing the vanilla character and adding to the overall complexity. I’ll give you a moment to wipe up the drool. We’ll assume it’s from the description of the aroma and flavor, and not from the previous paragraph above that. Sicko.

Bottles of Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale going through the filler

Bottles of Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale going through the filler

With three more chapters to go in our Vertical Epic Ale series, our masterpiece is still incomplete. It’s still uncertain whether Beowulf will triumph valiantly over Grendel, or if that legendary pink wig will stand the test of time. But like with most Epics, the climax is usually the best part.

Hey, what? There you go again. That’s a perfectly legit word and doesn’t only mean that. Really, I’m starting to wonder about you.

Look out for Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale on Wednesday, September 9, 2009, and stay tuned for a detailed homebrew recipe.

-Matt Steele

Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Beans – Laura Ulrich’s Delicious Brainchild


Sure, Stone Smoked Porter is delicious by itself. No question. But it’s also pretty damn tasty with some artisanal vanilla bean ice cream in it. Hordes of Bistro-goers agree that our Real Beer Float made with Stone Smoked Porter and Niederfranks Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is out of this world. That’s exactly how Stone Brewer Laura Ulrich got the idea for Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Beans.

Around the time our Bistro first opened, Laura tried a Real Beer Float and had an epiphany—you know, the old light goes on above the head moment. “I don’t really like ice cream,” said Laura, “but I tried it and it was like nothing I’d ever had, and I said ‘I bet vanilla beans would be amazing in a cask of Smoked Porter.’” Laura presented her brilliant idea to our Head Brewer, Mitch Steele, and he agreed to try it. It was difficult to achieve the right beans-to-beer ratio at first, but our brew crew has nearly perfected it. “At first the vanilla beans were pretty potent,” said Laura, “so we cut back. We’ve cut back ever since.”

Stone Brewer Laura Ulrich with her prized creation

Stone Brewer Laura Ulrich with her prized creation

Laura used to get the vanilla beans for the brew from our Bistro kitchen. She would show up on the Bistro’s back porch like a poor stray brewer and beg for a few vanilla beans. Our kind kitchen crew obliged her for a while, but as the beer became more popular they finally told Laura to get her own vanilla beans. So she lined up a distributor, and the rest is history.

Thinking of adding vanilla beans to your homebrew? It’s super easy. Think of it like brewing a tea with vanilla beans and tossing it in your brew. Here’s how we do it:

-    Slice the beans down the side w/out slicing the whole bean in half
-    Open the beans and scrape out the goo
-    Cut up the leftover bean shells
-    Boil the goo and diced shells in water
-    Let it cool to the proper temperature and add it to your brew!

So why did Laura want to add vanilla beans to our Smoked Porter? Why fix it if it ain’t broke? “I think it’s just a little more rich,” said Laura. “The C02 with the vanilla beans just has that old school flavor to it—that flavor that you remember as a kid growing up and having a root beer float.”

Stone Smoked Porter Real Beer Float

Stone Smoked Porter Real Beer Float

Whatever your reason for enjoying Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Beans, be it nostalgia for a past era of roller-skating waitresses and root beer floats or plain old gustatory indulgence, you won’t be disappointed.

Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Beans is only available on special occasions in the Bistro and in the Stone Company Store for growler fills. Check out our growler fill schedule to see when it will be available again, and follow @StoneStore on Twitter for advanced notices on growler fills and Twitter-only specials.