If you're not the literary type, at least you have this description of Stone's Vertical Epic 09.09.09, which last I saw was on tap at Max's Taphouse:
What's the beer like? Prior to our tasting, head brewer Mitch Steele described it thusly: "During the brewing process we 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 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."
While that gives you an idea of the ingredients, it doesn't begin to hint at the complexity of the taste. This is a beer that gives you three, four, even five different taste perspectives. At base, I was reminded of Guinness, in that the foundation has that kind of firm, comforting flatness. But over top of that, there's a slow-motion carnival going on. There's a definite disappearing horizon of spice in there--it's just a hint but emphatic--and then as your taste buds encounter the beer fully there's an energy and a uniqueness that's difficult to describe. The taste tends to gather and grow, until you go from something that has a friendly broad flavor to something that would make a Pinback song or Frank Zappa solo look simple--without descending into chaos. There's a definite analogy to tasting a good wine, in that there's such a confluence of different grace notes and things to experience. Again, difficult to describe, but if I had to sum it up, it's like a great orchestra piece, with many different instruments coming into play, that starts out slowly and simply, and then builds to a crescendo that's never overwrought or melodramatic. You know it's a classic because the form of it seems so perfect and so complete. The 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale is now one of my favorites--and one of the terrible, horrible things about my week is I just found out that the Fermentation Lounge here in town now has this ale on tap. This could be very, very dangerous.