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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.
BA SCORE
87
very good

284 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 284
Reviews: 195
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 14.1%
Wants: 91
Gots: 41 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 284 | Reviews: 195
Photo of Jon
3.72/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Well, this may be the first Stone brew about which I'm not overly ecstatic. That's not to say, of course, that I won't be next year, or even nine years from now, due to the nature of this beer. The 03-03-03 Vertical Epic pours a light brown/mahogany color with reddish tints and a 1/4", cream colored head that leaves some nice lace down the chalice. The nose features notes of sweetness, although the most abundant aromas are that of pepper, yeast and coriander. Nice fresh smelling smell overall. This is one intense Belgian dubbel-style brew. The first flavor that hit my palate was that of the alligator pepper used in the brewing process. Whoa, almost too much spice for my palate. Big notes of alpha hops, as mentioned on the bottle, are present on the finish. Some notes of yeast present themselves when the beer warms up a bit, as well. As a matter of fact, the brew mellows out quite a bit as the beer reaches room temperature. The mouthfeel is somewhat creamy and it fills the mouth quite well. Overall, this is interesting -- a very much Stone take on a Belgian dubbel style ale. I plan on buying more of these and trying them during the next nine years to see how they mature. This should be a very tasty brew as it cellars, it just needs some maturation to set it right. A quality effort from the folks in San Marcos nevertheless -- it takes balls to brew something like this.

Photo of SoCalBeerIdiot
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of HaveUSeenMyCellar
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of carln26
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep garnet/mahogany, with a mild head (off-white in color). A gentle lace slides down the glass after a sip. The aroma has some malt aroma, caramel, maybe ribbon candy with just a touch of flowery hops. The taste has a mild alcohol flavor with malt, malt and more alcohol. The malt has a roasted nut edge to it. The hops do make themselves felt towards the end of the drink. This is a big beer with a medium/heavy mouth feel. Pretty drinkable, but the strength is felt, and could get you in trouble if you’re not careful. Not a session beer, but a good one for 1 or 2.

Photo of Dantes
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: ~10oz. from draught in a tulip glass at the Stone 12 event. Served a bit cold. Cost: $5.

Appearance: There seemed to be three shades of color that day: reddish-amber, cherrywood-brown, and dark mahogany; this brew exhibited the latter, and was almost opaque. The beige foam cap was very airy and didn’t last very long, leaving a thin ring. The opacity and dark brown color made this somewhat muddy in appearance.

Smell: Maybe my nose was burnt-out by the time I got to this (it was #4), but the aromas were fairly restrained. Expecting a spicy onslaught, I was surprised by the faint malty sweetness and estery vapors upfront. These sensations were accompanied by a pot-still fusel quality. Only after this did some notes of pepper, cloves, and coriander poke through.

Taste: Somewhat disappointing. There is so much going on, that the net result is not very satisfying. There is a substantial amount of malt sweetness accompanied by some fruitiness, cut somewhat by alcohol and rotating spices. I expected the alligator pepper to express itself, but this only had a little bite, more like regular telicherry. That was okay though, I'm not sure I want pepper in my beer! Coriander, cloves, and lemon zest made brief appearances emerging out of the heavy brew, along with a tentative hop bitterness. This did exhibit a long finish, helped by a seemingly higher than 8.5% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Rich and lovely. This exhibited a cool, silky, and luxurious texture. The carbonation was perfect for this brew. The best aspect of this beer.

Drinkability: Hard to rate. While interesting, I didn’t find this to be very satisfying and was more than happy to move on to the Old Guardian and Imperial Stout. Not so high in alcohol to prevent having a few, but there are better choices out there. More of a novelty than anything else.

I don’t think that this beer knows what it wants to be when it grows up and I’m not so sure aging will help it. New, dominant flavors could develop, or the interesting spiciness could just fade away. Worth cellaring a bottle or two for interest. As to its Belgian heritage, I don’t think this beer knows Brussels from Biloxi.

Bottom Line: Paging Dr. Freud, your patient Sybil is here.

Photo of Rothobinide
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of malfunxion
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of quetzal013
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of jvillefan
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of dirtylou
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

030303 - consumed 121212

appearance: served in my great lakes chalice, muddy amber-mahogany body, still carbonated and revealing a nice tan ring

smell: toffee, holiday spiced bread, caramel malt

taste: I dunno - this held up better than I anticipated - clearly in the vein of the belgian dubbel style - sure, there is that permeating stale-hop presence, but this is almost 10 years old. toffee, caramel, stale pumpernickel, raisin, dried fruit

mouthfeel: still decently carbonated, slick medium body

overall: exceeded expectations, DUE TO AGE

Photo of gford217
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

No better time to open this one, 03.03.03, than on my 33rd birthday. Bottle courtesy of sunnydlyte23, poured into a tulip.

Pours a deep, dark clear copper with a rocky off-white head that hangs on as a cap and leaves decent lacing on the way down.

The aroma is very sweet with tons of molasses and dark fruit, especially raisins and figs. Hints of Belgian yeast in the bacground as well as the remnants of some citrus hops.

The taste has a little hop kick up front that I imagine was much, much bigger when fresh. As it is, it feels like it's missing something up front in the taste before the malts and Belgian yeast take over. The taste had some toffee and caramel sweetness but not nearly as much as the aroma suggested.

The mouthfeel was fairly thin, surprisingly so, and the carbonation didn't seem to come through on the palate. Slightly dry finish with less sticky sweetness that I was expecting.

I've been looking forward to cracking this one and was contemplating holding onto it until the last vertical release. I'm glad I opened it now as I have to think it's only going downhill from here. A good beer that was probably great a couple years ago. Big thanks to Sherwin for the opportunity to try this rarity.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Inflatablechair hooked this one up.... It was a minor coup to score this for the 10/10/10 gathering... but we persevered!!

Tan head flecked with brown bits.. good retention.. deep brown brew is pretty cloudy.

Nose is a bit oxidized... brown sugar and some off putting sherry.. pretty sweet dark fruits... prunes... golden raisins..

The aroma showed really no standard Belgian qualities, but the flavor is better... hints of clove and background spiciness... a little dark cherry/plum... still seems pretty stale.. caramel malt and bits of toffee and dark toast..

Body and carbonation were surprisingly good.. but the overall brew was way past prime.

I know this is an old bottle, but it is no where near worth what we traded for it.

3.5/3.5/4/4.5/3.5

Photo of jaasen64
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap for Lord Hobo's Vertical Epic Night. Part of Flight "A" (03, 04, 05). 5oz serving served in a flight glass.

A- Appears an amber that is slightly on the darker side with fairly minimal carbonation and head.

S- Lots of peppers, spices, candied sugars, light dark fruits. Smells like a Belgian Dubbel only very spicey. Decently aromatic and fairly flavorful except dominated a little bit too much by the spices at this point.

T- Peppery kick to it although not as much as in the aroma, some dark fruits, plums, a little bit sugary, fairly sweet and a little bit malty.

M- Medium bodied, low carbonation, smooth, easy to drink.

O- This beer seemed to hold up decently well after 9 years. I imagine it was better fresh and has probably fallen off a little bit, but it still tasted nice. It was definitely dominated a little bit too much by the peppery spices (Aligator Pepper) but other then that it was very nice. It had a nice sweet aspect to it that made it easy to drink. It definitely wasn't my favorite of the series but it was definitely interesting to try.

Photo of stegmakk
3.81/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Originally tasted 6/23/03
Poured a beautiful shade of brown with a nice tan head that left nice lacing...
Aroma...couldn't get much aroma...some spices...hint of malt maybe...
Taste...mmmmm...tasted like a mellow belgian...had initial maly clove...with a definate pepper end...very nice...cant wait to try some in a year or so to see how complex this can get...
Mouthfeel was perfectly done...thick yet smooth
Drinkability...good...when I buy some more I just have to resist the urge to drink them right away...

Photo of thagr81us
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks goes out to my boy aasher for handing this one off to me in our last big in-person trade as this was a long-time want due to this being when I graduated High School! Thanks Al! I was looking for a special reason to open this one, so I decided to open it at StayWhatYouAre2’s pre-wedding tasting along with his brother Mississipping! Served from bottle into a Stone Vertical Epic glass (proper!). Poured a reddish brown-orange with a half finger light tan head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, sugar, and sweet alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, brown sugar, wood, and sweet alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty decent brew. I was honestly really surprised at how well this one has held up with time. I was partially concerned about this as I even apologized in advance if this one bombed. We were all pleasantly surprised with what we found though. It seemed to have taken on a nice English Barleywine aspect here. Even with 9 years on it, it is still worth seeking out. A must try at least once in my honest opinion.

Photo of NorCalYeti
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

taste- same as the smell...belgian yeast strain present, bready, spice

color- rusty-copper

clarity- clear

smell- roasted malt, maple syrup, chocolate, flowers, gingerbread

body- alcohol has fallen off some but still a nice hop bite to the finish, nice malt/hop balance, lean mouthfeel, tart notes, peppery finish

appearance- nice color, thin, off-white, oily, candy-colored head, no residual lace to speak of, visible active carbonation

overall impression- above average for an aged beer

notes- served at cellar temperature, recently pulled this out of the cellar...it's been resting for six plus years...well done to stone

glassware: pint

Photo of cretemixer
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours beer bottle brown in color with a fast fading, off-white head that barely leaves a cling-ring on my glass. The spicy aromas of pepper, corriander & yeast are foremost. Very "Belgian" in aroma. Candied sugar and dark fruits. The first sip exposes the peppery spices. Very dry opening. Yeasty and immature at this time. Hopefully, this beer will benefit from some time in the cellar. It has that "Belgian style" thing down, it's just not quite there yet in my book. Hoppy on the finish. Medium-full body with appropriate carbonation & a nice alcohol warmth. In time it should do well, just a little young yet.

Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the chalice crystal clear deep amber almost brown with a white and low head which did remain to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty and very fruity with a strong dark fruit complexity of raisins and prunes. The aroma also contained a nice chocolate aroma and a light phenolic high alcohol spice character. The spice contained coriander and also a tobacco aromatic.

The flavor was lighter than expected after the flourish of the aroma. The biggest component was a citrusy flavor component when first poured. As the beer warmed a chocolate and tobacco presence emerged with a nice caramel flavor and a peppery, coriander spice. The more the beer warmed the more of a molasses flavor that emerged.

The finish was dry with a lasting ligh pepper and coriander and a slight winey character coupled with chocolate and caramel into the aftertaste. The body was medium. The beer contained a definite warming after consumption from the alcohol present.

22 ounce bottle. If you have one, go ahead and consume it, this one doesn't seem to be passing the test of time as well as it could.

Photo of SheepNutz
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer in a 22oz. bomber poured into a Belgian-style chalice. The color is a dark reddish-brown. There is one finger of head, and only a little bit of lacing. The smell is a little bit spicy, maybe cloves. The taste is a strong spicy bite with some alcohol to the taste. There is a bit of pepper to the finish. The mouthfeel is fairly heavy and smooth. Even with the alcohol making its presence known, this is still a fairly drinkable brew. I can't wait to see what it tastes like in 2012.

Photo of SixpointJMH
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a slightly cloudy amber colour with a nice creamy, thick off-white head. very sticky with nice lacing. the smell is of butter, caramel fruit (mostly berries), bread and molasses. quite complex and quite nice. the taste simply lacks the complexity of the smell. tastes very "young" so to speak (which is understandable as this brew is set to mature properly 9 years from now) and the alcohol which was barely noticeable in the smell simple overpowers everything else here. it's warmth is nice but it's domintant flavour is not. whilst still enjoyable, hopefully this one gets better with age.

Photo of sulldaddy
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This is a slightly chilled sample. I poured it into my glass and the color is rich dark brown with hints of pink shining through. An off white heads foams up and fades slowly to nothing.
The aroma is mild overall but extremely complex. I pick up some caramel, pears and other fruitiness, and general spciy scents.
The carbonation is average and the brew has a lighter body than expected.
The flavor is tasty and complex as the aroma, I get some spiciness up front with hints of vanilla and clvoes, with a vinous fruity finish. SOme grapes and pears at the ende.
The brew is ver drinkable and smooth rightnow but I think it should be aged a few years to allow the flavors to develop a little more and become slightly more pronounced. The beer is definitely young right now but should improve with a feel years of cellaring.

Photo of silenius
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Opened this one on it's first birthday. Served in Spiegelau Burgundy glasses.

The beer pours a reddish brown that is slightly hazed with a short-lived finger-thick head that is tan.

The beer smells like dried fruits and spices, something more like what Dogfish Head might make than my experiences with Stone. Dried apricot, figs, and spices like coriander on the nose.

The beer has a pleasant waming sensation from the alcohol which is evident on tasting. The beer tastes the same as it smells, a bit spicy, a bit sweet, and dried fruits being most dominant.

The mouthfeel was a bit lacking in my opinion. There was something thin and hollow in the middle of this one. Nice attack, then a thinness, then a nice but subdued sweet dried fruit finish. I was expecting more.

Strangely, this beer lasted through the movie I watched last night, and my girlfriend was drinking some too. I think half a bomber is enough for me in a sitting. If I was going to drink another beer, I would pick something different for #2.

I will try this again in 2005.

Photo of OldSock
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Picked up at Marty's earlier today. 22 oz bottle. This is a cloudy brew with only a thin off-white head that sticks around for mere seconds.

Smell – More like an aged English beer than something Belgian inspired. Dark fruits with a touch of chocolate. Some sweetness, but without a trace of alcohol.

Taste – Dark fruit, plums and raisins, and sweetness upfront with the chocolate only appearing in the aftertaste. The Belgian character is more apparent in the taste with spice and yeast being contributing components. An odd combination that seems to have harmonized over the nearly 3 years in the bottle. Still no hint of alcohol.

Mouthfeel – Medium high carbonation, the body is a bit syrupy for me. This could have used some sugar to thin it a bit.

Drinkability & Notes – Age has rendered this very drinkable, the only detraction being the full body. A tasty beer to be sure, glad I picked one up because I'm not sure if I'll ever see it again.

Photo of blindtiger24
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

4oz draft pour into a tulip glass.

A: Deep ruby color with limited carbonation and quickly fading head.

S: Fig and raisin aromas.

T: Sweet bourbon, fig, plum, fruit cake, and caramel flavors.

M: Maple syrup like mouthfeel.

O: Enjoyable holiday evoking ale, but mouthfeel was too viscous for my liking.

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Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 284 ratings.