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

285 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 285
Reviews: 196
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 14.1%
Wants: 89
Gots: 42 | 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: 285 | Reviews: 196
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 Ellbert
4.06/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

Photo of fdrich29
4.14/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

Photo of budsboy
3.15/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

Photo of beerinator
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amberish red, clear with an off white thickly retentive head.

Aroma: Arrogantly bastardish aroma at first. Hints of spice and nuttiness pokes through. Aroma is nice, but is super reminiscent of Stone's other beers.

Taste: Complex. Sweet upfront with complex bitterness coming from the hops and maybe the spicing. The spices are muted, compared to the heavy caramel from the malt, and the finishing hops. This beer might be a bit awkward.

Notes: There are flavors coming from all directions. Every sip leads to different flavors, and sometimes they seem like they're conflicting with each other. A few years of aging will do nothing but make this beer better. The hops could stand to be mellowed a bit, and maybe the spices with come through a bit more.

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 chaz01
3.62/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Good sized (4-5 ounce) pour at a Stone Vertical Tasting Event sponsored by Belmont Party Supplies on 5/12/2010, served in a very cool Stone Vertical Epic tasting glass.

A: Very murky looking ruby brown color. What little head there was recedes to a ring around the edge of the pour.

S: Yeasty, fruity and floral aromas

T: Lots of belgian yeast, mellow spices of coriander and pepper, malty finish.

M: Medium to light bodied (maybe a bit watery) with low carbonation, almost flat.

D: This tasted great, but not sure it's going to make it another 2 years as it seemed like it may have been a little past it's prime. Nevertheless, it was still interesting to taste a beer 7+ years old to start off a tasting event.

Photo of RocketWidget
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The bottle states “Designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012”. Well, patience may be a virtue, but it’s certainly not one of mine…

I don’t really know what to make of this stuff. Pours a cloudy brown amber, with hints of red. Head is off white and relatively long lasting, clings to the glass. The bottle claims this brew has coriander and alligator pepper, and I think I can detect those smells, because whatever it is I’m smelling it’s not the smell of a typical brew. Taste is…unique, for lack of a better word. I can taste the pepper here, along with slight hops and malt profile. But this beer is heavy, and not in a good way. Hard to drink, and not very rewarding. This was a good try, but I won’t be buying this again…unless, I suppose, in 2013 someone offers to sell me the full set of vertical epics. But that’s pretty unlikely.

Photo of coasterfreak75
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
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!

Photo of Doppelbockulus
3.91/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into the Vertical Epic Glass.

Pours a dark brown bronze with yeast haze. The head is nearly white and low; pouring didn't generate much head.

Smells like unspiced raisin bread. There is a dark fruit presence, a bit pungent, with caramel. Smell isn't very strong.

Taste is medium in intensity. There is a very mild toasty character with vanilla and woody tea.

The tingle is light and it feels mildly tannic and lightly creamy.

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 bigbeerdrinka
4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Photo of lou91
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was very alive as I popped the cap and poured it. It had a nice thick head and a beautiful amber brown color - the head almost sparkled. The nose was also nice with sweet notes characteristic of the style. Great tastes of figs, malt, honey with pleasant alcohol warmth. The taste is crisp and clean with a drying tartness in the finish. Humm, it is hard to predict how this will taste in eight years but I would have made these first beers much heartier than 8.5%. Still this is a great American style Belgian beer.

Photo of jtw5877
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

Photo of MrSeth
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep amber color with a small white-tan head. It settles pretty quickly, but leaves small groups of suds forming and reforming throughout the duration of the drink.

Strong malt aroma. Candyish, blackcherries, something of a savory quality, like tamari soy.

Medium bodied, a bit chewy and FULL of flavor. Rich malt is the centerpiece, but there is a distinct hoppy edge. Lime zest, fresh grapefruit and ripe cherries.

This is yet another highly drinkable offering from Stone Brewing Co. If I may suggest a pairing, dry salame rolled in black peppers, fresh sliced baguettes and cheddar no less than 4 years old.

Photo of Indybeer
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle. Poured a deep dark amber color, with a healthy head that didn't stick around long, but left some lacing on the glass. Aroma is kind of sweet and slightly malty. To me the taste was all over the place with sweet hints and bitter bite intermingled, This definetly needs to mature. Can't wait to try this again in a few years!

Photo of hustlemuscle
3.15/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

Drank ok, but a bit oily.

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

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

Photo of danadeny
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A cloudy light brown color and small head. Big smell of bread dough. A little pilsner hop and a fruit that i smell often in barely wines. Fisrt i notice that it is a hint like a barely wine, overall it is mellow. Hides the alcohol very well. Mild spicy hop finish, with little aftertase. Like a 1/3 barley wine and 1/3 pilsner and 1/3 scotch ale.

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 kennyo
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brownish/copper color, hazy. Thin rising carbonation bubble stream. Pours with a nice head but disipates fairly quick until there is no head at all.

Aroma - Malty, sweet, slight alcohol

Taste - Sweet, malty, a little homebrewish. hoppy but not up to normal Stone brews. A little spicy on the back of the throat, alligator peppers???

Photo of d0ggnate
4.74/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love the VE series and found this beer to have been aged to near perfection. A phenomenal smell arose from my glass as soon as I poured from bottle. I got the oppourtunity to sample this gem at O'Briens tonight.

A: A gran red/brown hue that poured clear and headless.
S: Aroma bursting from the glass presented with a strong similarity to brandy.
T: Amazing!! Candied, brown sugar and scotch flavor abound. My words don't do this beer justice.
M: Smooth and slick. The age has polished this brew. A light coat lingers on my tongue.
D: This was a rare treat and I would raise another glass of this beer in toast to a momentous occasion.

If you get the chance, enjoy this beer with biggest beer geek you know. They will love you for it.

Photo of waldowin
4.23/5  rDev +8.5%
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!

Photo of Stingray5
4.19/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

Photo of sinistersteve
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Beer poured out to a strong head to start, then seemed to thin out a bit after a few minutes. Dark brown color which reminds me of tea. Kind of a bullish flavor to it, no surprise coming from Stone, but bullish in more of a Arrogant Bastard way and not the Ruination IPA way. The 8.5% abv is easily noticable on the nose too. Decent beer in my opinion, but Stone has lots of GREAT beers.

Photo of FranklinPCombs
4.23/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 285 ratings.