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Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic AleStone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

195 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 195
Hads: 285
Avg: 3.93
pDev: 13.99%
Wants: 89
Gots: 48 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 03-03-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

A new Vertical Epic will be released every year, with the goal being to collect them all and have a Vertical Epic tasting once the final Epic is released on 12/12/12. Each new Stone Vertical Epic Ale will be release one YEAR, one MONTH and one DAY apart. With Vertical Epic 03/03/03, we used some pretty interesting ingredients...coriander (a "Belgian-style" beer favorite!), alligator pepper (wow, bite into these little gems and you get a bigtime spicy rush of flavor), and a bit of both unmalted wheat and dark roasted wheat. And a blend of Belgian yeast and American ale yeast. And a nice selection of high alpha hops (a decidedly non-Belgian style twist). All told it makes for a dubble-ish taken-to-San-Diego-pushed-to-the-edge-and-slapped-around-a-bit beer. So, treat it gently. It's been abused enough already. Store it upright, cool and in the dark. It would enjoy a nice long rest. It will have plenty of patience. Now let's see about you ... In addition, we are pleased to provide the homebrewing recipe:  http://stonebrew.com/timeline/030303 
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 195 | Hads: 285
Photo of HopHead84
1.63/5  rDev -58.5%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks for sharing, Mike.


A: Murky yellow brown. 

S: Cardboard and bready malt. Copper and rust. Some random fruit hides in there, beaten down by oxidation.

T: Buttery cardboard with bready malt and more random fruit. Perhaps apple? Rife with metallic notes.

M: Medium body.

Overall: This has not held up at all. Definitely the worst of the bunch.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
1.83/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Had this sometime at the end of 2012, as part of a 03.03.03 - 12.12.12 tasting. I had meant to enter these a while ago while they were fresh and add a few extra details, but that didn't happen. Review from notes. Anyway, here we go.

2.0 A: Muddy shit. Small head that falls almost instantly.

1.5 S: Smells like old homebrew and not homebrew that started out good. Rancid spicy caramel. Instead of alligator pepper, it smells like alligator hide.

2.0 T: Tastes better than it smells, but just barely. Rancid chocolate and caramel. Moldy old wheat. A bit of roast and a light, out of place, spice.

2.5 M: Heavier medium body. Sludgy mouthfeel. The only thing that impresses is that a decent amount of carbonation is still present.

1.5 D: Mostly ass beer at this point. Enough said.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.42/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to Mike for sharing this.

Pours a murky copper color with minimal foam. Smells very oxidized and slightly metallic. A bit of sweet caramel and brown sugar malt notes, maybe a hint of overripe fruit, too. Not all that appealing, though. The flavor has a definite note of pennies to it. Still sweet and malty, but definitely some cardboard oxidation and a generic, muddled fruit flavor. Medium bodied with low carbonation.

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Photo of Treebs
2.58/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bottle served in a CCB snifter.

A: Pours a hazy dark amber color with some brown in the body. A thin, light tan head forms on the pour and recedes at a normal pace.

S: Dark fruit with a light over-cooked caramel. Some artificial chocolate notes, almost like a Tootsie Roll.

T: The taste really shows the oxidation, it wasn't that prevalent in the nose. Light paper, stale saltine crackers, medium sweetness and light Tootsie Roll.

M: Medium bodied with a medium carbonation level. The carbonation saves this one form being a complete drain pour.

O: This one didn't stand up as well as the 02.02.02. It was alright, but it had an old artificial flavor to it that didn't sit well with me.

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Photo of charlzm
2.79/5  rDev -29%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Consumed on January 20th, 2013 at a private Vertical Epic tasting.

Beer pours a clear, light caramel. No head forms but there is some carbonation visible in the glass.

The aroma is sweet: honey and cider notes.

Flavor is slightly oxidized with notes of tea, coriander and caramel. Moderately bitter on the finish.

Mouthfeel is thin and slightly astringent.

This beer probably peaked a while before the tasting: not surprising, given its age.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
2.83/5  rDev -28%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bomber served lightly chilled in a Brewer's Art chalice. The third beer of the Greer, PintOfAle, AragornUnplugged, and ManekiNeko "Release the Wisdom" beer tasting. Bottle provided by yours truly.

Appearance: Murky tea-like brown topped by a scanty head that quickly formed a slight film of bubbles. No lacing.

Smell: I was completely reminded of a mixture of Cocoa and Fruity pebbles, nose-wise. Very sugary.

Taste: Chocolatey malts with bready overtones. Light splashes of peppery spice on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, relatively crisp and effervescent.

Drinkability: Relatively drinkable, but the kid-tested/mother-approved breakfast cereal aspects of this bring back memories of childhood. Unfortunately, I was not reminded of a Saturday morning spent watching such animated gems as "Alf," "Schoolhouse Rock," or "PeeWee's Playhouse." No, I was reminded of such dubious offerings as "Snorks," "Saved by the Bell," and those numerous shows that were mere marketing ploys for shoddy Hasbro products.

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Photo of Crosling
2.84/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First time I've had this beer. Just read Stone's most recent tasting notes and I've gotta say that I disagree with most of their comments. Never did try it fresh, but I bet it was much better then. Even properly cellared my bottle showed a ton of oxidation, especially in the aroma. Some hints of wild forest fruit and roast, but mostly just oxidation in the nose. Upon tasting, there are other elements (i.e. honeyed fruit, some hints of Belgian yeast, roast, toffee), but are all muted and a bit stale and it's really oxidized.

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Photo of MasterSki
2.89/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Bottle I got in a trade many years ago - think it was from KAME. Served in a tulip.

A - Tan foam quickly settles to a thin collar and wisps, leaving behind minimal lacework. Hazy dark brown body.

S - Oxidized, with a mix of cardboard, caramel, toffee, and an unexpected floral note.

T - The taste is similar, albeit a tad better. Nebulous sweetness, with notes of honey and caramel. A tad bitter in the finish.

M - Medium-full body, active carbonation, chewy texture, and a dry finish. Not much alcohol present after 10 years.

D - Not good, but not terrible either. Didn't hold up as well as the 02.02.02, but I didn't want to drainpour it either.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ruby red color. Smells like, what for lack of a better term, "cherry varnish" which I often get from aged barleywines or DIPAs where a lot of the hops have faded. Taste is sweet orchard fruit syrup.

We did our VE collection counting down (12,11,10,9,8,7,3) and I think we saved the worst for last. I pawned mine off on someone else.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown, nearly black color with amber highlights. No sediment. Aroma is belgian like but with a bigger malt note than usually found in the style. Elements of caramel, toffee and cocoa come to mind. Some sherry also.

The taste has more dark fruit, Berry wine, cocoa, soy and coffee elements. A bit of wood type flavor not sure if it's hop, wood, or oxidation playing tricks on me. Still holding onto a low carbonation.

Interesting beer, like an old Belgian, but lacks the finer qualities it once had fresh. Similar to port wine. Held for 12 years in honor of 12 Vertical epics, and this just appeared in my fridge for a tasting.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Beachwood I,

A: Pours a ruddy brown with a small white head with fair head retention, some spotty lace.

S: Spicy notes, bread, some pumpernickel, yeasty character that held up.

T: Dark malt and yeast, but tired and one-dimensional. It tastes good enough to drink no problem, just boring.

M: Medium-bodied, soft carbonation, creamy, does have an elegance.

O: As with the '04, this is past its prime. I wouldn't recommend investing in a bottle of this at this time. This thing is almost 10 years old and needs to be drunk ASAP.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.02/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle poured into a taster. Major thanks to Chris for sharing!

(A)- Pours a tawny port-like mahogany caramel color. Some minimal tan froth and lacing.

(S)- Some leathery oxidation leads to a figgy raisin and caramel sweetness.

(T)- Fairly high oxidation levels lead to plenty of leathery prune characters in front of very subtle and subdued caramel.

(M)- Very mellow carbonation level. Due to its level of oxidation, this feels to be a bit thin; flavors starting to fall off.

(O)- I think this is definitely showing its age at this point, but still has some enjoyable qualities at this stage, but if you have any, I would start drinking them now because they are not going to get any better.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.05/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I am hoping I have the patience to get one of each of the V.E. beers to actually do the vertical tasting. This beers pours a solid amber color with a medium beige head. Aroma is spicey and malty at the same time. For some reason when I tasted it I was reminded of one of those god-awful "12 Greatest Brews of the World" monstrosities brewed by Gluek. Some kind of cardboard taste maybe? This wasn't a bad brew but I could not get the comparison out of my head. Finish is hoppy and toasty. Overall the cardboard flavor and general oilyness kind of ruined what is definitely a brew that will improve over time.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.13/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Stone Epic Festival 12-12-12
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido, CA

(Aged for 9 years)

Muddy dark brown with a small brown head. Leaves dots of stick down the glass.

Mild fruitcake aroma, some earth, and brown bread. There's a faint spice character, but everything is very mild. Unsurprising, at this age.

The flavor follows the aroma, with some dulled spices, mild Belgian yeast, and simple dark wheat bread. Though I wasn't fortunate enough to try this fresh, I can only imagine that this one has lost a lot from the time in the vault. It simply tastes old, dulled, and uninteresting.

Medium bodied with low-moderate carbonation.

Decent enough and interesting, and I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to try this, but the liquid in the glass wasn't particularly exciting.

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Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
3.13/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours with a very thin, oatmeal-colored head of miniscule bubbles that crowd up along the liquid's edge, leaving icicles of lace. Held to the light, the color ranges from a distinguished rosewood at the center of the goblet to iridescent garnet highlights at the edges, with all shades of amethyst and blood and grape in between. Drop dead gorgeous. My first sniffs are of sandalwood, marzipan, malt balls. Warmer, the beer smells like a strange mixture of plums, nutshells, and turkish delight. At room temperature, coriander and herbal cough drops hit my nose with a rummy, medicinal nosefeel... still not bad. The taste, though: bitter, salt-cured plum or pomegranate...? cracked white pepper with equal parts malt balls and pickled ginger...? finally everything obliterated in a wash of soy sauce. Ick. I even tasted a few drops of soy sauce to make sure I wasn't totally off base. But yeah, I was right, and the aftertaste just won't quit. Ick. Filmy water ho hum mouthfeel. And just slightly more drinkable than soy sauce. I mean, what the hell?

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Photo of hustlemuscle
3.15/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The idea of a brew built to age for 8 years really intrigued me, and I bought two to get a feel for it, one for now, one for... later.

So Budsboy and I got together, along with his dogs, and sampled a lightly chilled bottle.

It poured a cloudy amber, with a good head and lacing. Pretty well carbonated.

The aroma was very fruity, a bit more childs drink than beer.

Sips a smokey, fruity alchohol tangy something. Very complex, but with an unfinished feel to it. Too much alchohol at the end.

Drank ok, but a bit oily.

I don't think I could drink too many of these, indeed, a pint out of the big bomber was quite enough.

You can tell the stuff was built to be aged. A very unfinished feel to it, with the alchohol showing up far too much, in my opinion, and it comes out even more as the beer warms. This is a thinking beer, one to drink while ruminating about beer, but not one to sit around and enjoy for the sake of drinking a good beer. I am very interested to see how this progresses, in fact, I may even pick up another to have double the samples over the next few years.

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Photo of budsboy
3.15/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours cloudy amber, some lacing of white head. Fruity banana smell and some alcohol too.

There is a fruity, alcohol taste with a woody quality towards the finish, tangy and bitter in the end.

Well-balanced carbo and a wee bit heavy-bodied.

This beer doesn't really suit my taste. My first Belgian strong dark, and I had high hopes and an open mind, but I yam what I yam. I'd like to try one that is longer in the tooth, though.

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Photo of peabody
3.18/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a nice clear dark brown like really dark ice tea. 1/2 finger of offwhite suds that leave lacing around the glass.
Smell is corriander,malt,yeast burn and just a hint of the alcohol.
Taste is a little weak but I get the spice and the raisin bread right off. Goes into a boozy weak mess of malt and sugar.
Mouthfeel is a little hot but clean enough and the finish is just a tad sticky and again weak.
Overall this one didn't do too well. Stone rates low on this hyped swill.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
3.2/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Stone Winter Storm

A: Full creamy light tan head spreads out across a burnt umber toffee colored body. There is no bubble activity going on inside the body what so ever.

S: Subtle toffee with a coffee candy approach to it.

T: Subdued caramel and butterscotch with hints of lemon and grapefruit. Slightly cloying across the palate like a candy would be. Finishes with nips of honey and red apple.

M: Medium body with a bit of prickly carbonation.

D: This one was past its prime. Most of the desirable flavors had left the party.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.26/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Had on tap at Brouwers on 12/12/12. Review from notes.

A: Hazy red/purple with no head or lacing.

S: Very bready with some dark fruit, caramel and a little spice. It is a little phenolic.

T: Light citrus, slightly bitter with a little caramel, raisin, and bread.

M: Low to medium bodied with no carbonation.

O: Not awful considering age, but didn't exactly hold up well either.

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Photo of TKEbeerman
3.27/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A. Poured into my VE glass, this brew pours a murky brown with some caramel tones.
S. The aroma has some very woody natural tones, some brown sugar, and light dark chocolate.
T. The flavor follow suite, but with more chocolate, and a lack of belgium yeasty tones.
Mf. Mf is a little on the thin side and carbination is light.
Overall, not bad, but I expected bigger from a bsda

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.3/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle (Drank in May 2005): Poured a dark amber color ale with a medium head with almost no retention. Aroma of light roasted malt, coriander with some bitter hops. Coriander is easily detectable as well as the bitter hops. It seems to lack a bit something to make it truly special. I really do applaud the fact that the brewer tried to come up with something original (i.e. Belgian ale mix with some American ale component) but I don’t really appreciate it in this particular case. Also, I’m not so sure this is going to help up that well over the years…

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Photo of yourefragile
3.42/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle.

Pours clearish muddy amber with a trace ring of tan, clear bubbles. Smells old; toffee, caramel, dark fruit, paper. Flavor of caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, brown sugar, plum, raisin and cardboard. Syrupy medium thick body with minimal carbonation. Still a little boozy in the finish. Old, but a nice experience.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.43/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear garnet reflected medium brown. Head is thin and not lasting. Strong aroma, nostrils burning strawberries soaked in cinzano. Generous maltiness didn’t miss the flight in the chocolate and marzipan kingdom. Peppery and nutty with a fitting dryness. Remarkable well controlled basic flavors (bitterness, sweetness and acidity) by Stone’s standards. Medium bodied with moderately high carbonation. Very good take on the style if not for the remaining heat after almost 2 years and perhaps lacking in appearance and palate.

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Photo of freed
3.43/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I hadn't been the one who read the bottle, so I wasn't aware that this beer should have been cellared. Tasting it though, it was obvious.

The 22 oz bottle split nicely into two pints, a murky, brown liquid that looked an awful lot like wort. Carbonation was rampant, and it looked like a full scale evacuation of the beer was going on. The smell was nice, with a molasses nose and other subtle notes. The taste was similarly fresh, in the not pleasing sense. It was very sugary, though other flavors helped to mask this. The spiciness was pleasing, though the alcohol somewhat overbearing. Due to the mixture of green flavors, it was difficult to drink. However, I know now that I must get another to hide somewhere so it can age.

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Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 195 ratings.