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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 xgrigorix
4.18/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Twenty two ounce brown bottle, vintage dated (03.03.03). Enjoyed on 8/4/03 - 5 months & 1 day after its release.

Glowing dark auburn color with a creamy white head.

Spice and hop aromas fill the air.

Big caramel malt flavor, is balance out by raw wheat. This is followed by snappy pepper and coriander flavors. A hint of plums and apples lie in there as well. Big hop loaded finish. This has already taken on a bit of a port like character in just a few months.

Big full body, smooth.

Do I really need to wait to enjoy my other bottle. This is already very drinkable.

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Photo of Stingray5
4.19/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber pours an amber-brown with a towering near white head. Sweet, fruity, bready, yeasty aroma along with some spiciness. Nice creamy mouthful with moderate to high carbonation. Taste is extremely smooth. Bready malt, spices and a peppery sensation are followed by a smooth, relaxing and ever so slight alcohol warmth. More complexities and pepper flavors as it warms. Pucker up for the dry finish, which reveals a tasteful, understated hop presence.

Being a Stout/IPA guy, this here's a style I'm slowly gaining more experienced with as my tastebuds adapt and mature. Compared to other Belgian styles I've tried, this is on the tamer side and would make a good introduction to the style. Quite drinkable.

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Photo of Brent
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was something of a surprise. High abv, youth and description of "alligator pepper" spicing lead me to expect this to be on the harsh side. To the contrary, this beer was quite smooth. Soft, almost creamy mouthfeel. Dark fruits plus roasted malt that touched on the porter flavor range. Unlike any strong dark Belgian style I've had, and really seemed to defy categorization. Quite nice, and it will be interesting to see how this evolves with time.

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Photo of coasterfreak75
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour was a murky amber-red with a good one inch head that slowly dissapated to a one eighth inch head that stuck to the glass and held on throughout the drink. This beer had one of the most complex aromas that I have ever come across: very sweet with touches of cane sugar, apricots, toffee, and dare I say apples. Though it also carried an underlying tone of malt and spice.

The drink was, wow, it started very sweet with a very slight hop bite that only peeked at me. This followed by a sweet middle and a clean but yet lingering finish. Hell, I don't really know how to describe this beer's taste, I've never encountered a beer quite this complex.

All and all a very good, no, a great beer that in my opinion if you can find you should buy. This beer will not let you down!

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Photo of mkobes
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. Copper color with a nice tannish head. Excellent. Caramel flavors. Prunes, Raisins, and fig notes. Sweet, belgian candy sugar in the aroma. Full bodied. Malty flavor. Nutty. Roasty. Smooth tasting. Enjoyable. Clean mouthfeel. Drinkable beer. Nice.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought online, ground shipping (unrefrigerated), several weeks in my fridge, reviewed 45F-75F.

A very nice, medium-sized, cream-colored thick head sits on a deep red/brown beer. Thin, foamy lacing rolls down the glass quickly, leaving sticky spots.

I smell caramel, a little fruit, a little fish, some alcohol and spice. Add some chocolate to that on the front. The pepper really jumps out in the sweet, dark, creamy, full middle. Are those apples? When cold, the finish is a little metallic, but that disappears completely at good drinking temperature. Otherwise, the finish is dry and a little chocolatey. This is a delicious beer. It's a little raw when cold, but settles down nicely. I may have to bury the others in the forest to keep from drinking them.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After I read all the stuff that went into the making of this brew, I knew tasting it would be interesting, to say the least. The nose and flavor are both really nicely complex. Pours coppery with just a little bit of a thin head. All sorts of notes in the aroma, sweet malt, alcohol, subtle hops, and a peppery spiciness. Whoa flavor whooo hooo!! Lots of things going on for me to pick out here. Very subtle in its hoppiness, especially for Stone, but enough to give you a nice little bite. Has a smoky flavor as well, in addition to caramel, clove, sweet buttery malts, and a trace of alcohol in the finish. Highly complex, nice smooth mouthfeel. They really did some very interesting things with this beer, and it turned out very nicely. Wish I had a few more to age.

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Photo of waldowin
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby haze, with a very dense tan head that fades slowly to a thick ring and a film on top.

Smells of raisins, bananas, and a kick of clove.

Taste is dark plums, some spiced rum, bananas, and strawberries in the finish, hops are almost nonexistant. Fairly smooth, in spite of the carbonation edge.

The alcohol hides in this extremely well, it's almost scary. Very tasty, I could see myself drinking quite a bit of this stuff if I could!

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Photo of dmbfrat420beers
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22oz. bomber with typical Stone commentary printed on the bottle. This bottle was released 03/03/2003, so I am reviewing nearly two years later. It has been (for the most part) sitting in one of my fridges at about 45-50 degrees. Even though they post the recipe and reviews on the Stone website, I have not read them, so this should be an unbiased, albeit ignorant, review.

Appearance – transparent dark brown, mahogany color with a pale white head – surprisingly small for Belgian style, possibly owing to the aging? In any case, a nice lace that and small cover stays awhile.

Aroma – Sort of typical Belgian smell, with a bit of nutty earthiness to it. I don’t have the vocab to describe it properly, but there is strong, and very pleseant, perhaps a bit buttery aroma.

Mouthfeel – fairly mild carbonation, not as full-bodied as I was expecting. A bit stickier than most beers, but nothing objectionable here.

Taste – This beer is dominated by a sweet, nutty taste – as one might expect. A bit peppery in the finish and on the lips. Starts out with a lighter sweetness that dims down and a bit of sour-ish hops are reveled, but not bad at all. No apparent alcohol taste, but a decent warming sensation lets you know its there. Since I have not had this beer before, I cannot say exactly how it has aged. However, my guess is that it has progressed quite well. While it is theoretically as strong and flavorful as some of its Belgian style cousins, it seems to have smoothed out quite a bit and is very pleasant in that respect. Not astringent or overly-sweet at all. I think this has done quite well!

Drinkability – seems to go down quite well, especially compared to some heavier versions of the style.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Some 2 years and 4 months [07.03.05] after I first [03.03.03] sampled this one I fancied cracking one out of my stash to see how it fared out of interest. My original Review had straight 4.0’s across the board.

Appearance: Solid carbonation levels are still prevalent, as they were on the offering some 28 months ago. Massive creamy brown head pours with the rather embarrassingly heavy handed pour. Incredible amounts of smattered lacing, this looks great in the glass. The head lasts throughout and shows no signs of disappearing through the drink; gentle tops ups keep it voluminous. The body still retains a lucid chestnut brown body that shimmers with some ruby hints against the setting sun. Can it be that the appearance has actually improved, seems so….4.0 to 4.5.

Nose: The nose has definitely changed, long gone is the freshly mashed bananas aroma, it is now more akin now to soft Banana bread with massive dollops of yeast and a hefty nasal slapping of doughy bread. I’m not sure the nose has improved to be honest, but it is no worse than before. Stays at 4.0.

Taste: Wow, from the first taste this immediately reminded me of Lefèbvre Floreffe Meilleur/Prima Melior. It has an Olde Worlde Victorian Sweet (Candy) Shop feel to it. Deep aromatic spices and a hint of Mint Humbugs, it is coming along nicely. It seems that two types of yeast that were used in this and that certainly comes through in the developing aging complexity of this one. The malts are still here, but the finish has a lovely spicy feel, delicate aniseed and mild liquorices hint on the tongue and mix with the soothing alcohol in the swallow. The alcohol has mellowed to a point that it feels medicinal, but it is still there. The fresh cloves have depleted in strength and been replaced with a deep complicated spearmint laced spiced light banana pommel. I like the fact that the complexity has risen whilst the sweet malts have waned……4.0 to 4.5.

Mouthfeel: The deep pile carpet malts are thick and smooth, not as creamy as before but certainly very smooth. Bold and fulfilling. Solid and dependable. Stays at 4.0

Drinkability: The drinkability of this Vertical Epic hasn’t diminished at all, whilst the complexity of this one has altered; it is for the better for me. Remains at 4.0.

Overall: The VE03.03.03 is holding rather well, I originally rated this at a straight 4.0, I feel it has improved with age and is slightly better than before, upto 4.3 overall. I still have a few of these babies left and it will be interesting to see how they hold up, I think they are still good for a few more years yet.

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Photo of FranklinPCombs
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a nice murky golden brown with a little bit of smooth foamy head, and very little lace. The smell was very bready (specifically pumpernickle), some fruity smells, including raisins and figs, a distinct peppery smell as well. An interesting musty fungus smell was there too, along with the backdrop of yeast and malt, with a touch of hops. Taste was pleasantly sweet, and very peppery. It had a bitter hoppy end with some subtle fig and plum notes and that same odd musty taste, which was not at all unpleasant, just unexpected. The mouthfeel was relatively smooth and light, with tiny yet sharp biting bubbles of carbonation. The alcohol became more apparent as the night wore on, of course. I broke out this beer with my brother as part of a kind of double hitter. He brought the Epic, and I brought the Double Bastard that I had been aging for a few months. Great beer to go along with the DB.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.24/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was nervous. The beer had been chilling for the last ninety minutes or so, and the moment had finally come. I walked to the kitchen, carefully lifted the beer from its resting spot, and walked down the hall to my computer, dreading the excitement would cause my hands to shake and the bottle to break. Sure, I had 5 more in the cellar, but – the waste! – and besides, I’m not sure my heart could have taken another 90 minute wait. When I finally poured it, the beer rose in my chalice in a dark brown, almost ruby color, with a middling head which soon settled to a silky, diaphanous top. Then there came the aroma. Truly delightful. A light malty sweetness serves as the foundation for a wonderful combination of spices, pepper, and a heapin' dose of hops. Zingy! The flavor wasn't much worse. Pretty well blended, starting with a distinctively Belgian malt sweetness, topped by ever-present doses of corriander and alcohol spiciness. A bit of fruit, mostly banana, emerges mid-palate, and the taste is compelted by a combination of tingly pepper and floral and citric hops. Fairly full in mouthfeel, with a dryish finish. Only downfall I see right now is the peppery finish, which is still a bit rough. I imagine this will improve nicely with age. A lovely beer, I was surprised and disappointed when I reached the end of the bottle!

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Photo of rkhaze
4.24/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a clear ruby/orange color with a good dense off white head and great lacing. Complex sweet and spicy smells. A melange of fruits that gave it a slight bubblegum aroma. I also got something that reminded me of marshmallows? The malt was there with a slight roasted character and coriander led the spices. There was also a small yeast presence. Outstanding!
Flavor didn't deliver on the promises of the aroma but tasty nonetheless. Roasted sweet malt, sugared fruits, spiciness and the pepper showed up as well. Tangy hop bitterness and a slightly tart yeast finish. Small alcohol taste. Lots of stuff, it just didn't seem to all come together. Maybe with some age.
This seemed a little light in the body but had a rich, creamy and full mouthfeel. Good carbonation and a decent job of hiding the alcohol helped the drinkability.
Will this be better in 9 years? Hmm...don't know, glad I have a few extra bottles set aside to be able to answer that question.

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Photo of Jables
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled 03.03.04

Poured a dark hazy amber with minimal head and nice lacing.

Definite candi sugar and dried, dark fruits on the nose. Some caramel can be detected as well.

Tastes sweet with strong fruity notes. The hoppy bitterness comes through about midway and proves to be exceptionally balancing. The finish may be what I like best, it's dry, slightly sweet, and clean.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth.

Drinkability is hurt by apparent alcohol, though slight, and is helped by the excellent finish.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.27/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a very cloudy, muddy brown color, with a very thin light tan head. What little head there is fades sllowly, leaving a small lacing.

This beer smells primarily of alcohol. Behind that, I smell some spice. Coriander is present. Also, I smell some earthy yeast. A slight malty caramel aroma is present.

As with the aroma, this beer tastes of alcohol. It has a sweet caramel malt flavor. It tastes slightly spicy. Also, some yeasty flavors are present. Much of the flavor of this beer are very subtle since it is somewhat old.

This full bodied beer goes down smooth. It is crisp and refreshing, despite the alcohol like flavors. It is very low in carbonation, but over 3 years in a cellar will do that.

I think that this beer would make a decent session beer. The only problem is that it is next to imposible to find.

Overall: Finally, I have had the chance to try this beer. Thanks to O'Brien;s Pub for making it available.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.27/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ummmm...tasty stuff!. Enjoyed at Dilly Deli's Stone tasting in Cincinnati last night and it did not disapoint. Uniquely Belgian in it's woodyness, tartness, and belgian yeast twang. Very well aged, matured, and conditioned for a very smooth, full, and drinkable beverage. Quite musky without the vineous flavors that usually accompany such beers. Spices fall on the more mellow and subdued side, rather than the harsh or acidic flavors. Quite a vanilla and caramel flavor that becomes more apparent in the finish. Less dry and hot than I expected. Very solid brew

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wait how long? How about 1 day? That's all it took for me. Nice dark brown, cloudy with a good head. Tasted like a good Belgium, with spices. More malty than usual, but still a good beer. I'm thinking of buying another and attempting to celler it. Right.

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Photo of zerk
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy light brown with a thin but very persistent white head. There are patches of lace all over the glass. The aroma is of vanilla, figs, nutmeg, and it has a light herbal note. Flavor begins sweet and fruity, with some vanilla that makes way for a spicy hop bitterness and a light alcohol finish. The hops become more dominant the warmer the beer gets. Mouthfeel is full and smooth... very thick and almost velvety. This is a most excellent beer, and a very interesting take on a Belgian dubbel.

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Photo of Running4beer
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a Brown/Mahogany color with a tan almost cappuccino like in color frothy head that ends up as a ring around. Aroma is fairly strong and lots of different scents flying around, a slight yeasty smell, citrus, some malt in the backround, some spicey hops and a hint of alcohol, smells sweet. Has an initial crisp bite but rounds out and smoothes to a cream soda type of a feel. Taste sweet and flavors are of yeast and oranges and some malt, a bit of alcohol and a spicey finish. Very nice brew, I found it to be rather mello for a Stone brew but very good regardless.

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Photo of t0rin0
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The other day at stone was my first time trying this beer. It was my favorite of the vertical epics (03-07).

It poured a nice dark orange color that was hazy. There was a small head on it but it dissapeared quickly and left no lacing behind.

It smelled like dark fruits and sweet malt. It wasn't as caramel as to suggest a ton of crystal malts but there was most definitely some sweetness in the aroma. No hops in the aroma but there was still a tiny bit of bitterness left after 4 1/2 years, although some of this may be due to the alcohol. I would have drank more of this but there were so many other beers to try that day.

I wish I could have tasted this when it was new but from what I can tell it hasn't started going bad yet so I can't wait to see what its going to taste like in 2012.

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Photo of RedDiamond
4.31/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Full-bodied malty aroma with lush fruity complexity. A truly profound smell. Has all the plums and figs of a Dickens novel. Pours a deep red-chestnut brown with little floaty yeasties and very soft carbonation that crafts a silky head. Pour it slowly to avert that slurry of yeast particles.

The taste expounds upon the smell and includes a mad spice rack of flavors that hint at nutmeg, allspice, and a chairlift ride up the sugar candy mountain. There’s also an alcohol edge to the taste. I’m not mad about the finish which is a little torn or fragmented, but I’m willing to give it another eight years or so to round out a bit.
This is a heavy, deliberate brew that improves notably at room temperature.

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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Multiple bottles sampled by multiple BA's at the fine Brew's Cafe in Granville, Ohio. Kudos to Rocky for parting with some of this fine brew.

Appearance: Deep ruby red on the pour. Minimal head but I was rewarded with a very nice lacing effect in the glass.

Smell: Raisins all the way...with a spciy character that was hard to nail down with any conviction. Plus, the requisite hoppy influence of the Stone brewery.

Taste: I'm not the world's biggest (or even average) raisin fan, but this beer really tasted lovely to me. Raisin-flavored up front, with other intoxicated fruits playing second fiddle to the raisin. A good bit of hoppy bitterness is evident as well, but blends surprisingly smoothly with the fruity notes. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and creamy.

Drinkability: A thick, almost syrupy-sweet finish. Not much of an aftertaste and just a smidgen of a warming effect from the alcohol.

Note: I'd be curious to see how this ages. As you may know, the bottle states that "ideally" it should be aged until 12.12.12. I'll be interested to see how these reviews progress as cellared sampled are tried.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Originally sampled on 7 March 2003. 03.03.03 is a nice, medium brown color w/ a thin head. The flavor finishes slightly sweet w/ hints of pepper. The nose also has some pepper in it. The alcohol is nicely masked. The more I slowly drank, the more flavors I picked up. great job

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Photo of Mitchster
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Homebrew recipe on the website, check it out...
Made with coriander, alligator pepper (aka Grains of Paradise), unmalted wheat, and dark roasted wheat. Somewhat hazy chocolate in color with ruby highlights. Head is poofy, light tan with very good retention and excellent lacing. Aroma is vinous with banana and clove, amber malts, rather modest hopping considering Stone's usual overhopping. Taste begins with darkening bananas, bready sweet amber malts, alcohol, toffee. The mouthfeel is rather smooth, but the finish is ruddy and wooden with a warming alcohol sensation. The level of bittering hops is balanced but quite earthy. This reminds me more of a Leffe Cuvee or Radieuse. It is a good beer, probably the most tolerable of Stone's hyperintense unbalanced brews.

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Photo of jtw5877
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a medium brown hue with a tannish white head. Tastes like a hoppy brown ale brewed with Belgian yeast, throw in some spicy alligator pepper, and you have a enjoyable beer. I am glad I had a chance to experience some of this beer. It makes me wish Stone would produce a Big Yeasty Triple.

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