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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

274 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 274
Reviews: 193
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 13.81%
Wants: 93
Gots: 39 | FT: 4
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:
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 added by: kbub6f on 03-03-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 274 | Reviews: 193 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very good beer, but not what I expected! This beer tastes almost *exactly* like a lighter version of the Bethlehem Brew Works 'Rudolphs Reserve'. The resemblance is uncanny. This beer poured a dark red, brown colour with a decent head. The aromas are of belgian candy sugar, yeast, various spices, and hops. This beer has a medicinal aroma that reminds me of Orval quite a bit. This beer gets more mellow and malty as it warms up, and I suggest drinking it slighlty below room temperature. The mouthfeel is quite thick and the drikability is very good for this big belgian-style brew!

This was a damn good beer from Stone, but I have been here before!
Cheers to The Long Beach Bum, for this very limited offering!
-F

francisweizen, Jun 13, 2003
Photo of aasher
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

aasher, Nov 24, 2011
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

TheLongBeachBum, Jul 04, 2005
Photo of sweemzander
3.01/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle poured into a taster. Major thanks to Chris for sharing!

(A)- Pours a tawny port-like mahogany caramel color. Some minimal tan froth and lacing.

(S)- Some leathery oxidation leads to a figgy raisin and caramel sweetness.

(T)- Fairly high oxidation levels lead to plenty of leathery prune characters in front of very subtle and subdued caramel.

(M)- Very mellow carbonation level. Due to its level of oxidation, this feels to be a bit thin; flavors starting to fall off.

(O)- I think this is definitely showing its age at this point, but still has some enjoyable qualities at this stage, but if you have any, I would start drinking them now because they are not going to get any better.

sweemzander, Mar 12, 2013
Photo of pathman
4/5  rDev +2.3%

pathman, Jul 17, 2013
Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

TheBeerAlmanac, Apr 29, 2013
Photo of FosterJM
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1658th Review on BA
Bottle to VE Glass
22oz

Split with StarRaptor, Callmecoon & Smarcoly

App- A nice darker brown pour with a bit of weight behind it. The head was okay on a more strong pour. I tried a gentle pour and only got a bit of bubbles. Scotty got a bit more froth and pull apart bubbles. The cling was just okay and maybe a couple lines.

Smell- This was pretty decent for as old as it was. Nothing oxidized but still a bit yeasty and flat with a bit of strong spiced malts behind it. A little bit like an older Our Special Ale from Anchor. Just lost a bit of pop behind it.

Taste- I enjoyed it for what it was. A bit of a darker beer with a bit more bread behind it than malts and spices. The normal BSDA was gone but this retained a more fluffy wheat note with some spice.

Mouth- A bit of a lighter medium body with a fairly fluffy medium carbonation. A bit thick and dull on the residual flavors of wheat, spice and yeast.

Drink- Well I had been saving this for a few years and thanks to Siggy125 for the hookup on this one a while back. No oxidation, just a bit old and lackluster. Still flavorful, but no drain pour.

FosterJM, Dec 17, 2012
Photo of RedDiamond
4.28/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

RedDiamond, Apr 29, 2004
Photo of Reagan1984
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

Reagan1984, Dec 16, 2012
Photo of Brent
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

Brent, Aug 03, 2003
Photo of CheapBeerBuzz
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

CheapBeerBuzz, Dec 13, 2012
Photo of kscaldef
2.5/5  rDev -36.1%

kscaldef, Aug 13, 2013
Photo of Bierman9
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Taking a day off today (12OCT09) and having some brews... Save this one for a big-ass vertical in 2012? Screw it! I just felt like having my last bottle of 03.03.03... Is there a better reason?

Still a clear, ruby/garnet, with a thin, tan head. Aroma is dark fruit and dry. No diff for mouthfeel. Dark fruit is here in the flavor, too. It is quite dry now, almost chalky. NBD, overall. Best quaffed way back when. If you're saving it, think twice and drink it now, before it degrades more....

Prosit!

*** ***

Tried another today (02APR05).... Color is actually more of a ruby/garnet as opposed to mahogany.... crystal clear.... creamy tan. finely bubbled head... lacing does stick well...
Fruity aroma...dark fruit, actually. Suggests dryness. Not quite medium bodied... a slight bit of prickliness on the tongue... Bier is indeed dry.... combo of dark fruit with a bit of tropical fruit notes, though mild... slight pepperiness... flavor lingers in the dry finish.... seems like I enjoyed it more 2 years ago... Will try another in a few years or so....

Prosit!

overall: 4
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5

*** ***

(Original review of 26APR03): The Epic has hit NH!! Scored a couple of bottles at The Wine Society ($6.99)....one for now, one (hopefully) for a lot later....
The triple-3 pours a dark mahogany color, and has just a slight wisp of cloudiness, though not much. Head is a very-finely bubbled thin layer, a smidge off-white in color. Lacing tries to make it, but can't quite stick.
3-cubed has a spicy, peppery-like nose. The "wheatiness" makes itself evident too. These aromas are in addition to a slight Belgian-like aspect. All-in-all, quite interesting, and pleasant!
Body and mouthfeel are both nice, medium and pleasure inducing! A nice feel in the mouth for this bier....
This one tries to be a bit of a Dubbel, with a little sweetness and fruitiness there, but then it becomes more like a Strong Belgian Pale, with the spicy and peppery characteristics. Finish is a bit dry, with the pepperiness lingering.... the 8.5% abv assists in the belly warming being felt....
Tasty stuff....must check back here in 9 years to see how it holds up, with the rest of the series...if I can!! (4.0/4.0/4.0/4.0/4.0 = 4.0)

Prosit!!

537

Bierman9, Apr 02, 2005
Photo of merlin48
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's always a guilty pleasure to read the amusing boasts, harangues,and information on a 22oz Stone bottle. This edition proclaims, "...designed to be aged until some time after December 12, 2012". I wonder how many will last half that long. I poured this into a St Bernardus goblet, at cellar temperature. It appears a clear dark mahogany out of the light, a striking orange/ruby amber when held to the light. The beige head quickly faded into all kinds of lacing. Aroma is very Belgian, with rum soaked fruits, bourbon dipped raisins, bubblegum, biscuity malt, coriander, dark pepper, and some piney and citrus hops that aren't so Belgian.
Mouthfeel is smooth and silky. Moderate carbonation with some alcohol bite.
Taste is impressive, but can't match the extraordinary nose. Plenty of dark fruits, coriander leads the rack of spices, some malt sweetness, wild Alpha hops, and then considerable vinous overtones. The vinous traits combine with the alcohol to overwhelm all of the wonderful ingredients in this sensous brew. This becomes overbearing to the point of being a significant distraction, but who am I to argue. I opened the bottle over eight years early. Still, this is a very good Belgian style strong sipping ale. I enjoyed it with homemade pizza.

merlin48, Feb 05, 2004
Photo of Reidrover
4.63/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ok the "big guy" for tonight the 03/03/03.
Pours a nice rich brown with a lovelly off white creamy head that lingers quite some time..very good.
How can I explain but the aroma of this beer is truelly wonderful stuff..its rich yet sweet and sherbety..very spicy..malty just great.
A lovelly well balanced taste yes there is sweetness..but its balanced very well..quite "spicy" good belgian style here.
exceptional in every way on the taste buds..
very very drinkable brew i love this.
I was told when i bought it..it would be even better cellared for 6 months..think i will buy a few more to cellar..who knows in 6 months this could be my first perfect 5!

Reidrover, Apr 16, 2003
Photo of ehammond1
3.13/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Stone Epic Festival 12-12-12
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido, CA

(Aged for 9 years)

Muddy dark brown with a small brown head. Leaves dots of stick down the glass.

Mild fruitcake aroma, some earth, and brown bread. There's a faint spice character, but everything is very mild. Unsurprising, at this age.

The flavor follows the aroma, with some dulled spices, mild Belgian yeast, and simple dark wheat bread. Though I wasn't fortunate enough to try this fresh, I can only imagine that this one has lost a lot from the time in the vault. It simply tastes old, dulled, and uninteresting.

Medium bodied with low-moderate carbonation.

Decent enough and interesting, and I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to try this, but the liquid in the glass wasn't particularly exciting.

ehammond1, Dec 16, 2012
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.43/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought a half-case of these, I better get another half-case if I get the chance. Stone presentation of all of their beers is so top notch, no other bottle gets read as fully as theirs.

I wasn't really sure what to expect on the pour. It wasn't as dark as I guessed it would be. Light hazelnut color, I poured it fairly headless, I'll have to have another and go for some bubbles next time.

Smells much like a Belgian, malty nose, some spice I cannot identify, probably coriander.

Tastes very good, excellent initial combination of malt and Belgian yeast, alcohol presence pushing through as the flavors settle across the tongue. Smooth, a little bubbly mouthfeel, an entertaining play in the mouth. Just as the carbonation burn yields from its peak, I detect the spiciness of the alligator pepper. Not a crazy, hot spiciness, rather mild, not exactly complimenting the Belgian-ness, but not fighting it either. This will be very interesting to try after aging for a few years.

This is dangerously drinkable, the alcohol level is well-masked by the flavors, it'll backdoor you if you're not watching.

brewdlyhooked13, May 27, 2003
Photo of malfunxion
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

malfunxion, Aug 25, 2014
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

GCBrewingCo, Oct 09, 2005
Photo of flexabull
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

When I first saw this beer back in March 2003 I thought...

"Cool! That's my birthday!"

I bought three bottles, drank one right away, set one aside for 12.12.12, I decided I would drink the other one on my 33rd birthday.

So here we are, part of me wanted to hold onto this, trade it, but heck... I had to stick with my original intention.

So at 3:03:03 PM on March 3, 2007, my 33rd birthday, I popped the top off the bottle and poured into my Duvel tulip glass. (I thought about this too much!)

Onto the review...

Beer pours a bright clear brown color, carbonation is still strong, and the head looks great on this one.

Aromas are a bit sour, like a sour apple. There are also some sweet candied fruit smells.

Flavors have really muted and aged pretty nicely. There is a sour taste on the front, and then the beer settles into a creamy malty backbone. The finish is tart, crisp, spicy, and like candied apples.

Mouthfeel is quite nice, the carbonation is still quite strong.

This is a very interesting beer at this point. I remember it being more spicy when I tasted it 4+ years ago. Now it is much smoother, and subtle. It will be really interesting to taste again in 5+ years. It's actually a very drinkable beer at this point, and I am going to savor the rest of this bottle. More kudos to Stone!

flexabull, Mar 03, 2007
Photo of tommyguz
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

tommyguz, Aug 07, 2013
Photo of koopa
4/5  rDev +2.3%

koopa, May 12, 2013
Photo of Boto
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was very lucky to find this on a recent trip to AZ: Only brewing 2500 cases they don't ship many (or any) east at all.

I had seen the bit of hype about the yearly release of this line, but it being Stone, I was ready for it to live up to the hype. I was not disappointed.

I got some of the familiar smells is a Belgian Strong Ale that you would expect, plums, raisins, and caramel aroma. But, to no suprise, there were hops, and lots of them. While they were quite evident in the taste, they did not overpower the taste. Incredible well balanced. Hats off to them!

I wonder how my other bottle will taste in a year or 2? Probably even better!

Boto, Apr 26, 2003
Photo of Mitchster
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Homebrew recipe on the website, check it out...
http://stonebrew.com/timeline/030303/recipe.html
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.

Mitchster, Jun 12, 2003
Photo of Floydster
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

8 ounce glass at Stone Winter Storm yesterday for four dollars, seemed like a great deal after seeing bottles of this in online auctions for hundreds of dollars, still wished they would have the 2002 though

Color was a deep orange with a bit of brown look, 1/2 inch slightly off white head that disappeated pretty quickly, left some sticky lacing along the glass to my surprise

Smell was sweet and malty, lots of raisins, cherries, prunes, dates, figs, also some hoppiness much to suprise, definitely a strong Belgian yeast presence

Taste was good, had most of the fruits in the aroma right at the beginning, as it warmed a faint amount of nuttiness came that provided a biscuit-like texture for a couple sips, also floral hoppy flavors, well balanced overall with a very sweet feel to it, each sip had a different unique sweetness to it, large variety of fruits, yeast was sweet to go along with it, surprised that a lot of other people do not think too highly of this one, diverse and complex beer overall

Body was full and pretty damn thick but the high level of carbonation threw me off, taste lasted long as well, sweet and chewy mouthfeel

Could have drank a few glasses of this before the sweetness got the best of me, alcohol is pretty high at eight and a half percent, fairly heavy on the stomach, although taste is diverse enough to keep you coming back for more

Have been trying to drink this since it came out pretty much, could not afford unless I went to the event and that was the main reason why I made the trek down here to Escondido, highly recommended to anybody who gets a chance to try it, one of the better VE brews, would love to have again some time in the future

Floydster, Jan 29, 2008
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 274 ratings.