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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

195 Reviews
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 195
Hads: 285
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.58%
Wants: 89
Gots: 47 | 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 mickeymac
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not having seen the 02/02/02 Vertical, I nearly walked past the bottle with its nondescript (by Stone standards) label. The bottle says it can stand up to aging through December 2012. By then I might be hit by a bus, done in by anthrax, or killed by my own children, so I opened it almost immediately. The color is a very nice-looking mahogany without a trace of haze. It sends of a lot of little off-white bubbles, but the head dimishes quickly leaving nothing but memories by the time the beer is about half gone. Spice is immediately apparent in the smell. According to the bottle, it's brewed with coriander and "alligator pepper." It does have an aroma similar to fresh-ground black pepper and a hint of something akin to olive oil. The combination of spice and hops certainly make their presence known when this beer hits the tongue. While the flavor does hint at Belgian, this is an American of Belgian descent: perhaps one whose ancestors left the country under cover of darkness, only to arrive on our shores and mix with the natives. The mouthfeel is creamy and pleasant. This is an interesting beer and probably will stand the test of time. It just didn't knock me out three days after its release. Patience, Grashopper. (1,231 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale is one of the first quality beers that I bought. I immediately wrapped all four bombers in brown paper and put them in the back row of my beer fridge, mostly because I wanted to acquire more experience before drinking and reviewing such an 'Epic' brew. I am bound and determined to save at least one of my stash until 2012, but the time has come to drink my first beer in this series. I can barely wait to get the cap off.

Lucent copper with a reddish tint. The head is large, toasted tan in color and stiff/pitting. Despite the sticky appearance of the crown, not much lace is deposited; small ragged sheets and broken rings is all. Very un-Stone-like, but I'm sure that the high ABV and the relative lack of hops has a lot to do with it.

The nose was a bit of a letdown, until I reminded myself that this isn't one of Stone's hop monsters. It smells primarily of roasted, toasted caramel malt and is fruity and spicy. It's more restrained than I'd hoped, but it should open up with warming (it does).

The flavor follows the nose pretty closely: heavily toasted caramel malt with a solid up-front spiciness and undercurrents of fruitiness. A generous quantity of malt gives it a solid, bready, almost cake-like sweetness and the full, expansive mouthfeel contributes to the sense of richness. Dates and figs are at the head of the fruit parade, but I also appreciate apples; apple cider more specifically.

There's also that earthy, funky quality that comes with the use of Belgian yeast. The flavor really comes into its own with warming. The middle is now dominated by coriander and clove and the long finish by grains of paradise. It also has a phenolic character that reminds me of one of my favorite Scotch Whiskies--Lagavulin 16 year old.

Given my love affair with all things Stone, 03.03.03 can only be classified as a letdown. It isn't that they've done a bad job here, far from it. It's just that this is a style that doesn't overly appeal to me, so my enjoyment is necessarily limited. I'm glad that I have three more bottles stored away, but I won't be dreaming of them the way that I dream of this brewery's other beers. (2,180 characters)

Photo of wofat
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew hits you as soon as it is opened with hints of coffee, oak, yeast and alcohol. Its dark amber color and creamy, off-white head make quite a tempting statement.

Diving into this beer, you taste soft fruit flavors and wheat with a complex light and spicy bittering. I also detect flavors of plum, raisin, cherry and coffee.

This tasty treat is good now... but doesn't seem quite mature. Now, I probably won't be able to wait till 2013 as the bottle suggests, but one bottle made it to my basement for some long term storage. I can't wait to taste it in a couple years! (584 characters)

Photo of Ellbert
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A hazy brownish amber color with a beautiful cream colored head. That slowly fades to a nice layer over the brew.

Smell: Slightly spicy hop smell with some malt sweetness that shows through. A nice fruity smell.

Taste: Very sweet and fruity. Tastes "green" like it needs to age about 11 years. Very slight spiciness from hops and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is very nice, it has a nice tingly carbonation and a very not watery consitency.

Very drinkable even though this beer is very young. Alcohol hides itself.

I cannot wait to try this beer aged as it is supposed to age very well. (602 characters)

Photo of MuddyFeet
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark, dirty amber in color with no head at all. Thus, no lace at all. The aroma is of mild malts that hit the palate stronger than expected. Underneath the malts are hints of coffee and some sort of nut (hazelnut perhaps?). The beer was relatively flat (but that may have been due to my roomate leaving the firdge open for a few hours, beer was still cold but not as cold as if the door had been closed). I think the warmer temperatures brought out more of the flavors. It was very smooth drinking, but almost too bold and rich to enjoy more than two bomber bottles of this stuff. (589 characters)

Photo of WaltTrombone
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was opened on New Year's Eve, which makes it just about 10 months old. It poured with a dark maroon body, and off-white head. The aromas were malt, caramel, coriander, leather. Tastes were malt, coriander, lemon, and grapefruit. Mouthfeel was smooth, with a medium carbonation. It finished with grapefruit.

I'm of the opinion that this should sit in the cellar for at least 2-3 years, as the flavors did not really blend or develop in the last 10 months. As it is now, it's way too brash and hoppy to be representative of most Belgian styles. If I can find another bottle, I might revisit this in a few years. (617 characters)

Photo of scottum
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lightish brownish color with an offed whiteness of a headskie. Taste is strong and pepperful, certainly much more so than the first time I drank this brew in early 2003. The favor has matured much over the three and a half years, and is certainly the better for the age... Smoother than ever. (300 characters)

Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed on 09/07/04..

This brew poured a deep brown chestnut like color with mahogony and ruby hues. A dense offwhite head forms showing off a nice carbonation which laces the glass majestically. Aromas are a bit faint in this brew.. (though I've never tried it fresh its truly hard to pick up much of a bouquet in this one). Of what's left of the aromas, I found there to be bits of carob and cocoa, a hint of spice (maybe coriander) and an almost nutty character to it. Other than that my nose could not pick up much else. For flavor this beer packs a much bigger punch than its aromatic qualities. Initial flavors are of carob and an almost slight smoky characteristic. These flavors are quickly masked by a scotch like raisiny flavor, some brown sugar sweetness, a bit of spice, and a bit of a phenolic flavor from the yeasties. The final tones of this brew show off an almost cherry like flavor which is only slightly subdued, a warm alcohol, and a nice dry finish. The carbonation to this brew is quite crisp for being nearly a year old, while the mouthfeel is just a bit on the thin side. Overall this brew has amazing flavors, though its aromatic qualities have not kept up as well IMHO, but for anyone who is aging these bad boys, i would only give them another 6 months.. I don't see how this one would hold up the last 9 years of the Vertical Epic series. (1,370 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a four-fingered faint brown head, fades slowly and leaves a good lace. Cloudy amber color. Nose is a honey raisin. Hints of alcohol. Starts sweet and raisiny, finishes crisp with raisin. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Their site lists the ABV at 8.2%. $8.19 for a 22oz bottle. (288 characters)

Photo of CRJMellor
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy, murky deep amber. Aminor ecru head develops then disappears. No real lace but alcoholic tannins are visible.
Aroma notes fo candy sugar, raisins and prunes, wheat bread, spicy yeast, maduro cigar, toffee and maybe apricot were noted.
Flavor of sweet malt and robust dark fruits rise in the 1st wave. Next comes a spicy, bready falvor and finished with a coating of alcoholic joy. Very nice but obviously young.
Mouthfeel is sweet almost tart to start then procedes quickly into a long dry spicy phase with a peppery and somewhat gritty finish. Again shows signs and youthful power.
Drinkability is good, as noted can tell its young and a little rough around the edges but this is going to be a beauty. Glad I have 2 bottles in the cellar. (759 characters)

Photo of Boilermaker88
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found bottles of Stone’s ‘03 Vertical Epic in every store I checked out while in Indianapolis. I bought one for tasting purposes so I could store away the two bottles I already had. Presented as pictured, the ‘03 V.E. poured a clear dark brown color with a wispy off-white head and lots of lace.
The smell was a wide ranging blend of bready malt, caramel and molasses, some dark fruit and coriander and peppers. Overall, pretty sweet with a spicy edge. The taste had an earthily malty platform which served as a launching pad for flavors of coriander, pepper, some plum/prune, and caramel. The finish had a light bitter edge to it along with some alcohol, especially as it warmed. The feel was full, rich, and a bit raw.
Overall, the ‘03 V.E. is still a youngster at only eight months. The flavors still haven’t found the balance necessary for it to be a great beer. The alcohol content seeps through, limiting its drinkability. Nevertheless, this year’s offering in the Vertical Epic series holds a lot of promise and I can’t wait to see how it ages. (1,062 characters)

Photo of Gusler
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

As I missed the first batch, I have waited with great anticipation knowing that was going to have a 6 pack as soon as it came out. The beer pours a sanguineous color, the head modest in size, frothy in texture, the color a nice light tan, and the residual lace a very fine sheet to cover the glass. Malt dominates the nose, sweet and just a light hint of the coriander, crisp and fresh, quite pleasant. Sweet malt at the start, the top I’d say middling, the finish has a purposeful acidity, the hop persistent in their spicy bite, maybe a tinge of the pepper in the aftertaste. The alcohol is well hidden, but is felt in the tummy as the warming is noticeable, quite a quaffable brew, and yes it will be tough to wait till 04.04.04 to sample the next along site the 03.03.03, but I feel this beer is still a bit "raw", and will mellow nicely over the coming years. (865 characters)

Photo of aracauna
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Me gusta. I really wish I had two bottle so I could age the other one to see how it changed with age. But I'm really wondering if it would be any better with age. The appearance is just a little too brown to be ruby and the cascading bubbles almost look like golden flakes. The head is a very pale tan but forms easily and holds up nicely. Coriander is definitely evident up front as well as a peppery aroma. A bit of orange pulp wafts up as well. The flavor continues with the coriander and the pepper becomes stronger. Oddly they didn't use real pepper this time around. I guess the grains of paradise are aptly nicknamed "Alligator Pepper." Under the caramel cake malt, I'm picking up the faintest hint of banana. I'm actually a bit surprised that Stone made a beer so unabashedly not hoppy. Sure they used high alpha hops in the boil, but I'm not picking them up at all. They blend into the overall mix nicely. Very balanced, but big flavored beer. I'm actually surprised the beer is getting so many blah ratings here. Maybe something as subtle as a dunkel wit made by Stone throws people off, but I really like it. (1,119 characters)

Photo of crookedhalo
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish-amber color with a big beige head that dissipates into lacing and stickage on the sides of the glass. Haven't tried this beer since it was first released. I remember it being rather hoppy for a Belgian style dubbel. Still has a pretty hoppy nose, mixed with some biscuity, bready malt characteristics and some spice, fruit, peat and cocoa notes, too. Malty and rich, the hops have subsided a touch since March, still rather hoppy, though. Very unique taste, minerally (salt?), bready, hoppy and some complex organic notes to it as well. Finishes drier and with lingering hoppiness. Nice carbonation. Very enjoyable brew that will get better with age, although I'm not totally convinced it's truly a Belgian-style dubbel. (736 characters)

Photo of travolta
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving: 1Pt Bottle. Served into a regular cheap restaurant glass (Just to push it's buttons). Could not find the Alc./Vol. on the bottle!

Appearance: Minimal head retention. Judging from the buildup; I thought I would have a gnarly head to deal with, but I didnt. Milk chocolate, toasted brown in artificial light, apricot skin color from the sunlight.

Nose: Immediate Pear & Orange, I end up with that distinct "drink me" Stone lace. If you smell a stone too long, you'll drool. Very sweet and plesant.

Taste: (Finally!) I initially received more of a toasted pepper from this beer. I expected something lighter to hit the tounge, but was pleasantly suprized. It is quite spicy, and herbaceous for a Stone. It is rough on the tongue. This beer exemplifies the fear one feels before drinking an EPIC. I thought I was going to grapple this fruity smelling '03 to the ground. I was taken, don't let it happen to you....admit it, we are not worthy.

Note: I was being pulled in either direction. Should I taste it or not? I was alone and thirsty...I convinced myself if I wanted more I could buy it. (1,110 characters)

Photo of Wildman
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Due to the law change, I never got to try 02.02.02, so I can't really compare it to previous ones. This beer poured a dark amber color and formed a small light tan head that subsided leaving trace lace. An aroma of malt, pepper and a slight hint of corindar and other spices. A flavor of malt, spices and touch of pepper. An interesting finish to it, almost of burnt wood. A good beer, but probably better served warmer and maybe allowed to age for awhile. (456 characters)

Photo of mschofield
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted at 9 months (12/03) old:
Hazy copper-brown, 3 finger frothy tan head.
Very strong roasted malt aroma, nutty, coriander, dark wheat orange, highly hopped.
Caramel, fruit (pear, apricot and raisin), smoky, peat type note as well, buttered bread. Almost a whisky taste, peppery, and tangy, nicely warming.
Drinkability is a fairly moot point for a limited brew, but the only thing holding this back is the ABV. I have one more stocked away in the cellar. (462 characters)

Photo of jvajda
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark brown with a large, creamy, white head.
Smell: A wine-like sourness makes the smell pretty intimidating.
Taste: Much easier than the smell. This is one of the most complex brews I've ever had. I taste figs, bananas, even nuts. The alcohol is pretty well hidden. Has a somewhat dry finish.
Mouthfeel: Perfectly carbonated and slightly creamy, this brew is welcome in the mouth.
Drinkability: Much more forgiving than other strong ales, this one can be appreciated by a wider audience. I plan on picking up a few more bottle to age. (551 characters)

Photo of Jason
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22 oz brown bomber with a vintage date of 03.03.03

Appearance: The head billows up like a summer thunder storm rushing the land, you can almost hear the bigger bubble crackling as the head subsides. The deepest amber burgundy hue I have seen, a bit dark and murky.

Smell: Coriander gives a hard flick to the nose then a ten car pile up of smells; clove, solvent alcohol, ripe pear, nutty yeast, orange peel, starburst candies, tobacco, musty leather, spicy pepper and toasted malt. Baboom!

Taste: Slick with a smooth and creamy mouth feel as it slides around the palate, very spicy with a smack down of clove and other peppery treats. The warmth of the alcohol is quick and tries to subdue with its fruitiness yet it scratches the mouth with a nail of solvent alcohol. The malt does not rock the boat yet seems to hold this brew together. Finishes spicy sweet with a long lingers phenolic.

Notes: The spiciness and phenols won’t let you forget this beer, Stone Brewing pulled this one out of the mystery bag … a spectacular turn out to say the least. (1,079 characters)

Photo of fdrich29
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1 Pint, 6fl. oz bottle. "Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic ALe" Limited 2500 Case Release.

Just by reading the blurb on the side of the bottle you know there's a lot going on with this special beer. Some of the ingredients are listed on the bottle and they include coriander, alligator pepper, unmalted and dark roasted wheat, high alpha hops and Belgian and AMerican ale yeast. Ummm...WOW.

Head rises up and forms quite quickly into a large head but shrinks down to the width of a few pieces of paper just as fast. Leaves rings of lacing around the glass.

As the list of some of the ingredients would lead you to believe, the smell of this bad boy is mind blowing. So much going on I just had to smell it for a few minutes to soak it all in.

Tastes distinctly Stone, and as also stated on the bottle shares some characteristics wtih dubble style.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, very fun to drink.

Easily drinkable, so fight the temptation and cellar a few of these for down the road. (1,000 characters)

Photo of MJR
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a color that's somewhere between brown and ruby. The body has good clarity, with lots of carbonation bubbles racing to the top. A light tan head starts out o.k., then quickly shrinks down to a mostly complete, thin cap.

Smell: The nose is fairly spicy with a good dose of coriander and hops being the dominant scents. Underneath them is a small suggestion of dark fruits.

Taste: First and foremost, the flavor is spicy with a firm bitterness. It's an inviting spiciness, which comes from both the grains of paradise (which is a fancy name for a type of pepper) and the hops used. Of course, the coriander is here. There's a strong undercurrent of phenols which serves as a base for the other flavors. I pick up on a very small suggestion of dark fruits, but it's really faint. It darts in and out and provides a touch of sweetness, which helps to balance the bitterness and spiciness. Ends with a bready, yeasty note, as well as a touch of alcohol.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is medium in body, but it doesn't have enough of that 'chewy' feel that characterizes really good dubbels. It's more crisp and dry than it is thick and chewy.

Drinkability: Good overall drinkability. This is an interesting take on a dubbel. While it's lacking the chewy feel and rich, dark fruits that are paramount to the style, it's spiciness and hop flavor and bitterness bring a dimension that's usually not present. Quite the unique brew... (1,449 characters)

Photo of hotstuff
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a sipping beer due to the high ABV, and what a way to start off the weekend!!This beer had a medium sized tan head that consisted of medium sized bubbles that fully diminished.The body was cloudy and carbonated with a brown hue.The nose consisted of malts, hops and alcohol.It had an alcohol flavor and was a bit acidic as well.The mouthfeel was tingly, bubbly, smooth, light bodied with a watery texture to it.It had a fair amount of lacing to it.An enjoyable drink for sure. (484 characters)

Photo of frank4sail
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fruity yeast, bready, sweet smell. Original pale head but it does not last long. You are left with a slight fine outer ring of fuzz on the goblet thereafter. Light brown/ruby color. Quite regal looking, lower carbonation in the bubble action. Original taste is dominated by rich malt, corriander, and white pepper. The original rich smooth mouth dries quickly on the tongue after swallowing. Very clean hop/pepper finish. A big bold spicy beer with a dry pepper finish. After time in the cellar the sharp initial spice and the dry pepper finish should mellow nicely. I will wait 2 years and we will see.... (606 characters)

Photo of aasher
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared with the staff at work on Thanksgiving. 03.03.03 shared on 11.24.11, some eight and a half years after its release. I was sixteen and was a sophomore in high school when it came out.

This beer pours a very smooth, medium bodied, rich amber in color with no lacing or head. The aromas are rich and malty. It smells like an aged English barleywine. You get a lot of honey, cherry, and mead like qualities with toffee as well. It has a really nice citrus aspect and a lot of port notes. Very complex nose. The flavor isn't quite as stellar but it's solid. You get alot of red fruit with a J.W. Lees Harvest esque flavor. The carbonation is really surprising. It looks still but when you start to drink it the carbonation aggressively stimulates your palate. I've never quite experienced that before. It's like dropping a cut of fresh meat into a pool of piranhas. Very interesting. It drinks well and on the lighter side of medium in body. The flavor is nice but really it's nice to try this beer this old. I wonder what it was like when it was fresh. It's probably better classified as a Belgian barleywine. (1,113 characters)

Photo of beernut7
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I spotted this on the shelf the day after visiting the brewery. I hadn’t remembered seeing anything about this brew there so of course I had to grab as much of it as I could just for good measure. What a unique ass kicking brew. Pours a deep hazy brown underneath a thing lace. Strong ester yeast aroma with undertones of coriander. The flavor is just as heavy with a strong bitterness and Belgian white yeast flavor and the lingering essence of floral pepper. The heavy malt presence rounds out the complex build of this beer. Can be described on a whole as a concrete block pumped filled with a Belgian ale and dropped on your head from afar. Very heavy, very flavorful. (673 characters)

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