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 rousee
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok--having this for 2nd time. Tried it before at BBF and thought the 2003 was 5 X better than the 04. That's why I bought it. Both are excellent but 03 seems to be considerably better --maybe the 04 will be better in a year..who knows? and this is a good example of why Stone is so highly regarded as a brewery--not only by me but by many others..

A-It pours a caramel brown -small head-no lace to speak of.
S-is a very malty -fruity--almost berry-like aroma. I guess these berries are hops that have aged properly.
T-is a sweet up-front-then malty --then hoppy then alcohol esters then some nice nuttiness. real nice taste--I'm upgrading to 5 cuz for the style it deserves it. I'm not a big brown ale fan but this one is exceptional.
MF--real positve mouthfeel. A fuzzy numbness which is very pleasant is goin' on.
D- nothing too hot here--1 bomber is plenty. (867 characters)

Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.62/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I realized I had very little in the way of tasting notes when I finished the glass of Vertical Epic because I was too busy enjoying this one.

Mahogany in color with an off-white head that dissipates to a thin covering.
Belgian type aroma of raisins, malt, alcohol, and spices.

Taste is complex and very fresh. Smooth malt backbone, raisin, fruit, spices, and yeast are all there. Well balanced and not overly sweet. Alcohol is well hidden; it contributes to the flavor, but is not overbearing and stays in the background.

Good mouthfeel.

Very smooth and drinkable.

Overall, I was blown away by this beer. I loved it. Great Belgian type flavor, but so smooth and fresh tasting. (696 characters)

Photo of zerk
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
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. (513 characters)

Photo of ark57
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It poured a clear borwn with ruby tint and a white head. The aroma is hoppy, fruity, and malty. There is a lot of dark rip fruit in the taste, blueberry, a touch of chocolate and some toffee. It finishes with a spicy bitterness and some anise. The alcohol is well hidden in this beer and it has a lingering sweetenss. It sort of reminds me of ADR Grand Cru now that it has aged a little over a year. (399 characters)

Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
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. (254 characters)

Photo of Jon
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
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. (1,389 characters)

Photo of Stoneman78
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at the Stone Storm

Appearance is a murky orange/amber hue, thin layer of dense bubbles dissipates to a ring, minimal lacing

Smell is dark fruits, big raisins, sweet malts, and alcohol

Taste is moderate raisins and dark cherries, figs, some floral hops and spices, moderate alcohol presence, finished sweet

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, rich and chewy texture, lively carbonation

Drinkability is fair, I found the flavors somewhat lacking but this was a decent Belgian overall, this was pretty hyped up at the event, so my disappointment may be a result of too high expectations, I'd try it again in the future (619 characters)

Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An apropos name for a beer of this caliber. Very nice, but comparable to an import Belgium, no way.

Poured with very little head, but presents itself a quite bubbly. Mild lacing is really basic.

Smells nice, apricot and alcohol, with a slight hint of ginger.

Taste is where I am torn. Recently I have been going Belgium beer crazy so 030303 is going uyp against some pretty stiff competition. Tastes great, but is much lighter than other Belgium’s. Doesn't have nearly the follow though nor the pungency of other similar types.

Overall a very good beer. Unfortunately for it, I consumed it at the wrong time. (622 characters)

Photo of xgrigorix
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
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. (583 characters)

Photo of hyuga
4.68/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A very dark brownish-red brew sits in the traditional chalice before me. Its tan head thins quickly, but that's usually what happens with dubbels. I agitate the brew and inhale, and I get a subtle aroma, which is slightly disappointing, but what's in the aroma makes it pleasing, not how big it is. Lots of pepper and coriander, subtle hops, and even malt peeking through all of the spiciness. Love that pepper! Dark fruits as well, characteristic of a dubbel. Some dried plum and fig. Just a touch of yeast. And now for the moment I've been waiting for... the tasting! Well, the first thing I must note is that alligator pepper. Wow, I really love the spice it put into this beer. I'll admit, I'm a pepper junkie, and I love a good Belgian-style beer with some pepper character... and this one really does it for me with more of that pepper character than I've ever experienced in any beer. Ultra-spiced just the way I like it! Okay, I should move on now. After the pepper hits, a smooth malty character comes in, as if to clean up after the pepper and prepare you for the middle, where the hops hit. Very interesting, American hops in Belgian beer. I like it! After that, the dark fruitiness comes into play more. The plum and fig, again. Coriander is present all the way through, but subtlely. This has to be one of the more flavorful of the medium-bodied brews I've had, which is, of course, a very good thing. The finish is rather smooth. I say, this is one excellent beer as is. I'm sure aging would do it good, as it's meant to, but I really do like it right now. I hope the aging wouldn't drop the pepper out any. If I didn't think it was sacrilege to do so because of its very limited availability, I'd cook with this stuff. Seems like it would be really good to marinate a steak in. Anyway, I don't really want to compare this with other dubbels, it's too unique in my opinion. I think it's a wonderful beer, and I'm definitely going to stock up on as much of this as I can before it's gone, which I'm sure will be soon. All I can say is get it when, where, while, and how you can. (2,091 characters)

Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very interesting beer sampled a year and a month after its release.

Poured a murky brownish red color with a off-white head, but nothing of belgian spectacularness. It receded quickly to a little bit of lacing. Plenty of large bubbles on the bottom of my chalice. Smell was very sharp and peppery with notes of espresso ice cream, dark malty smokiness and a slight hop presence not found in most belgians. Taste was just as sharp with a much more noticable west-coast hop kick. More chocolatey taste and plenty of spicyness. Mouthfeel was a tad thin and didn't hold up well to the flavors that were abounding. Overall this is a strange interpretation of a belgian with Stone's fingerprints all over it. (705 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 Dmann
4.92/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of the most unique beers I have ever tasted! It's a dubbel, yet it is not a dubbel. It has that characteristic Stone mouthfeel and hop taste to an extent, but it is nothing like they have ever made before. This beer poured a dark brown color with a small head that faded rather quickly. The smell of spices and pepper hit me as soon as I poured it and I knew I was in for a treat...and that flavor...! This is by far the most spice-flavored beer I've ever had, and that is definantly a good thing. The beer is malty sweet in the beginning, then the hop and alchohol flavor creap in and set you up for the peppery bite and aftertaste in the end. And the great spice flavors are present through all the stages of the tasting experience. I can definantly tell that this one will age very well, and I plan to buy much more so I can sample it on it's way to the 12/12/12 maturity date. Grab it while you can! (915 characters)

Photo of RockyTopHeel
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark mahogany in appearance with little to no head and malty, distinctly Belgian aromas.

Flavor (mostly typically Belgian, with sweetness and malts intersperced with wheat tones and a nice, round mouthfeel) is very good now, but I'm willing to bet only a foreshadowing of what this brew will become down the road.

Right now, it seems a little young and fresh, and needs some character development... (406 characters)

Photo of goz
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium/dark mahogany, with a medium light tan head, medium diminishing, leaving good lacing on the way down. Aroma is fruity (banana, some apple and pear sneaking through, too), some spiciness (coriander & hops providing most of that). Flavor starts with the banana (apple and pear come through more as it warms up), middle is crisp, and the end has some good hoppiness, and a hint of pepper. Body is full, taste is complex and changes slightly as the bottle warmed, light alcohol showed up towards the end. (515 characters)

Photo of m1ked
4.52/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this thanks to a generous beer geek/ friend, d0ggnate. Luckily it was pay day, so he bottle poppin! I had yet to try this one, so pretty excited.

A- Clear copper/red with a thin foam.

S- Deep candied sugar/ burnt sugar, roasted & carmelized banana. Some fig or raisin.

T- The carmelized banana, candied brown sugar. SLight biscuity yeast. Roasted malts and grains.

M- Smoooth, with a little heat.

D- If I could afford it, I could drink multiple. I would have to say that the 04 is my favorite. (502 characters)

Photo of TinusTime
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok I might be the only one, but to me the Verticals just dont stack up. It pours the colour of a light Dr.Pepper and smells of Spice and animal feet. Well and a little hops and malt. The taste is just kinda dull. Im glad I have 4 more of these to see how they turn out.. As for now I would rather drink Allagash 4 or triple to get my expense on.. Its good but not that good.. YET.. Oh well at least in 10 years i dont want the reast the beer knurds will be beggin for them.. God bless you EBAY (493 characters)

Photo of rkhaze
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
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. (964 characters)

Photo of beerceller99
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle Sampled Nov. 2003
Pours a copper color with a decent head, but left no lacing behind.Mostly a caramel spicy smell. Strong sweet taste of burnt caramels and brown sugar followed by Stone's signature hop character though a very mild version of it.Medium body with a decent mouthfeel .Finishes with a warming, spicy-alcohol tang. Not a typically hoppy Stone brew.
Nice. (382 characters)

Photo of silenius
3.85/5  rDev -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. (1,060 characters)

Photo of tr4nc3d
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got the chance to try this beer at a tasting I went to which had many other great beers

Good size portion was poured into my tasting glass

Appearance was dark brown with a tan one inch head. Average head retention with a bit of lacing sticking to my glass. Pretty impressive I must say.

Aroma was very good with cherries, prunes, figs, dates, along with caramel malts and toffee.

Taste was vastly of caramel all throughout with some toffee and raisins midway and a bit of a yeasty finish.

Moutfheel was very smooth and had good carbonation for a 7 year old bottle.

Overall I was very pleased with this beer and it was a while since I last had a BSDA (655 characters)

Photo of soper2000
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was extremely surprised to find a rather large stash of this at my local liquor store, so i grabbed a couple. 1 to age and one to enjoy right now. The beer pours a deep burnt amber color. This may be one of the most appetizing pours I have ever seen and the aroma grabs my attention too. Smells of dark fruits dominate and are backed up by a little spice. Taste is very intriguing. Again dark fruits (plums, raisins?) dominate but this has the strongest hop bit of any dark Belgian I've had. However the taste doesn't remain on the palate as i would like. Mouthfeel is good, smooth but not too creamy. Drinkability seems pretty high as I finished off the bomber of this beauty before knowing it. Overall I think it is a wonder that I can compare this beer to St. Bernardus Abt 12 as Stone is fairly young. I can't wait to see how the other Vertical Epics stack up to this. (874 characters)

Photo of winomark
3.52/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Mdium brown with a slight red hue. Soft, fluffy light tan head. Good malt and candy sugar aromas. Some smoked/toasted notes also there. Very inviting. Spicy (pepper?) upfront and sweetness in the mid-palate. Finish has the coriander flavor, and is long and dry. Flavorful and coating mouthfeel. Slightly cloying upfront, but son drys. A very intruguing beer. Wish I could have remembered what it tasted like 17 months ago. I hope my other bottles have th elongevity to show well through 2012. (492 characters)

Photo of NorCalYeti
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
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 (647 characters)

Photo of cretemixer
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
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. (613 characters)

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