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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

272 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 272
Reviews: 193
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 13.55%
Wants: 93
Gots: 39 | FT: 2
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: 272 | Reviews: 193 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of FranklinPCombs
FranklinPCombs

Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

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.

04-25-2004 00:59:36 | More by FranklinPCombs
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

4.05/5  rDev +3.6%

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale is one of the first quality beers that I bought. I immediately wrapped all four bombers in brown paper and put them in the back row of my beer fridge, mostly because I wanted to acquire more experience before drinking and reviewing such an 'Epic' brew. I am bound and determined to save at least one of my stash until 2012, but the time has come to drink my first beer in this series. I can barely wait to get the cap off.

Lucent copper with a reddish tint. The head is large, toasted tan in color and stiff/pitting. Despite the sticky appearance of the crown, not much lace is deposited; small ragged sheets and broken rings is all. Very un-Stone-like, but I'm sure that the high ABV and the relative lack of hops has a lot to do with it.

The nose was a bit of a letdown, until I reminded myself that this isn't one of Stone's hop monsters. It smells primarily of roasted, toasted caramel malt and is fruity and spicy. It's more restrained than I'd hoped, but it should open up with warming (it does).

The flavor follows the nose pretty closely: heavily toasted caramel malt with a solid up-front spiciness and undercurrents of fruitiness. A generous quantity of malt gives it a solid, bready, almost cake-like sweetness and the full, expansive mouthfeel contributes to the sense of richness. Dates and figs are at the head of the fruit parade, but I also appreciate apples; apple cider more specifically.

There's also that earthy, funky quality that comes with the use of Belgian yeast. The flavor really comes into its own with warming. The middle is now dominated by coriander and clove and the long finish by grains of paradise. It also has a phenolic character that reminds me of one of my favorite Scotch Whiskies--Lagavulin 16 year old.

Given my love affair with all things Stone, 03.03.03 can only be classified as a letdown. It isn't that they've done a bad job here, far from it. It's just that this is a style that doesn't overly appeal to me, so my enjoyment is necessarily limited. I'm glad that I have three more bottles stored away, but I won't be dreaming of them the way that I dream of this brewery's other beers.

04-24-2004 21:02:23 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of GreatPondBrewer
GreatPondBrewer

California

4.05/5  rDev +3.6%

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.

04-23-2004 17:11:35 | More by GreatPondBrewer
Photo of ark57
ark57

Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev +12%

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.

04-19-2004 18:41:02 | More by ark57
Photo of budsboy
budsboy

Ohio

3.13/5  rDev -19.9%

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.

03-31-2004 13:34:26 | More by budsboy
Photo of coasterfreak75
coasterfreak75

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +7.9%

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!

03-29-2004 07:24:12 | More by coasterfreak75
Photo of CRJMellor
CRJMellor

Arkansas

4.1/5  rDev +4.9%

Poured a cloudy, murky deep amber. Aminor ecru head develops then disappears. No real lace but alcoholic tannins are visible.
Aroma notes fo candy sugar, raisins and prunes, wheat bread, spicy yeast, maduro cigar, toffee and maybe apricot were noted.
Flavor of sweet malt and robust dark fruits rise in the 1st wave. Next comes a spicy, bready falvor and finished with a coating of alcoholic joy. Very nice but obviously young.
Mouthfeel is sweet almost tart to start then procedes quickly into a long dry spicy phase with a peppery and somewhat gritty finish. Again shows signs and youthful power.
Drinkability is good, as noted can tell its young and a little rough around the edges but this is going to be a beauty. Glad I have 2 bottles in the cellar.

03-26-2004 05:35:36 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of soper2000
soper2000

Texas

4.38/5  rDev +12%

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.

03-26-2004 00:34:01 | More by soper2000
Photo of hustlemuscle
hustlemuscle

Ohio

3.13/5  rDev -19.9%

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.

03-22-2004 01:06:04 | More by hustlemuscle
Photo of ngandhi
ngandhi

Illinois

4.47/5  rDev +14.3%

Yet another hybrid beer from Stone, the 030303 seems to bridge the gaps between all non-lambic Belgian styles. The nose is almost intrusive with coriander seed -- begging me to call this a witbier. It opens with the richness of an abt, moves to a coriander-laden witbier midpalate, and finishes with a prick of spice, tons of rubbery yeast, and a unifying, but barely discernable, riff of cocoa. And then it has the audacity, on the latent aftertaste, to evolve into plums, chocolate-covered raisins, spiced custard, and everything the six Belgian monasteries have tried all these years to achieve. I'm also reminded of altbier.

The malt profile is remarkably complex, the coriander so deep, and the yeast so entirely perfect. But I'm really missing out on this Alligator Pepper. I think it's partly because I have no idea what to look for, but also that the wit character is dominant to a fault in this beer. There's a hint of trappist-inspired phenols as this brew warms that I think are supported by whatever the Alligator Pepper is contributing.

But it looks perfect and I could drink it forever. At cellar temp, it becomes so slightly warming in the stomach and the back of the throat half way down the pint, yet this brew insists on remarkable balance and control.

I can't see this evolving over the next 8 years, but after 1 it's become something quite special. Hopefully the malts will recuse their sweetness and this will become the spicy beast I was expecting. Unfortunately, as hops mellow in aroma as a brew ages, I expect the spices to as well. This is probably going to get too subtle over the years and, if the alcohol comes out, too Rochefort. Which is something no other American brewery will ever achieve.

Relax, relax.
ng

03-19-2004 05:21:29 | More by ngandhi
Photo of ppoitras
ppoitras

Massachusetts

4.4/5  rDev +12.5%

22ozer bottle from Austin Liquors, Shrewsbury, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a uniformly bubbled 1/2" tan colored head. Laces nicely, like memories of beer gone by. Malt dominates the nose, but the spiciness described on the bottle makes its presence known, but not overpoweringly. As expected, the taste has an orchestra of flavors playing; You've got the mouthful of smoth malt playing the main tune, but there's the subdued hop bite waving for your attention over there, and then out yonder the alligator pepper is sounding a dog whistle at the periphery. And let's not forget the sneaky little EtOH, slithering in under the radar, but leaving warmth wherever he travels. Altogther, they play a great tune, and I look forward to cellaring my other bottle for a later date.

03-08-2004 22:49:24 | More by ppoitras
Photo of ManekiNeko
ManekiNeko

Virginia

2.85/5  rDev -27.1%

22 oz. bomber served lightly chilled in a Brewer's Art chalice. The third beer of the Greer, PintOfAle, AragornUnplugged, and ManekiNeko "Release the Wisdom" beer tasting. Bottle provided by yours truly.

Appearance: Murky tea-like brown topped by a scanty head that quickly formed a slight film of bubbles. No lacing.

Smell: I was completely reminded of a mixture of Cocoa and Fruity pebbles, nose-wise. Very sugary.

Taste: Chocolatey malts with bready overtones. Light splashes of peppery spice on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, relatively crisp and effervescent.

Drinkability: Relatively drinkable, but the kid-tested/mother-approved breakfast cereal aspects of this bring back memories of childhood. Unfortunately, I was not reminded of a Saturday morning spent watching such animated gems as "Alf," "Schoolhouse Rock," or "PeeWee's Playhouse." No, I was reminded of such dubious offerings as "Snorks," "Saved by the Bell," and those numerous shows that were mere marketing ploys for shoddy Hasbro products.

03-06-2004 16:54:45 | More by ManekiNeko
Photo of granger10
granger10

Wisconsin

4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

Maybe, i am biased because this beer's name is my birthday but I loved this beer. It poured a deep brown color with amber highlights. The head was compact but dense and tan in color. The aroma was very spicy, I think from the alligator pepper but also from the yeast. Quite nice. The taste was very complex and out there. Lots of spice, all over the place spices were coming. Dark malts that were roasted are present. Hop flavor and a slight bitterness come out towards the end. Strong yeast in the finish along with a huge hit of alcohol. I could see how this baby needs to be aged, it could definitely do some mellowing. But it's damn good right now as is.

03-04-2004 17:21:57 | More by granger10
Photo of silenius
silenius

Illinois

3.85/5  rDev -1.5%

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.

03-04-2004 16:55:44 | More by silenius
Photo of Jables
Jables

Illinois

4.28/5  rDev +9.5%

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.

03-04-2004 06:06:46 | More by Jables
Photo of kmo1030
kmo1030

Massachusetts

4.58/5  rDev +17.1%

03/03/04: deep red-brown with significantly less head than when i tried it right after it came out. i pick up a big caramel and faint coffee malt in the smell, as well as fruit: figs and grapes. clove, corriander, caramel, and a lot of other really pleasing complexities to the taste. slight fig and grape too. buttery as well... more flavors keep coming out. slight pepper at the end. hops present but not overpowering at all. more subdued than a year ago, but tastier for it. belgian in character. meduim-thick bodied. this is a really superb beer that has only gotten better in a years time with the malts getting more flavorful. it will be interesting to see how this ages further. this is really an incredible beer.

03-03-2004 22:43:29 | More by kmo1030
Photo of jtfest
jtfest

Oregon

4.05/5  rDev +3.6%

Deep amber color with a moderate diminishing light tan head, the aroma is sweet, slightly alcoholic and a little musty. The mouthfeel is lighter than anticipated, with a somewhat fizzy feel. Despite the lightness, it feels full on the palate. The taste is very smooth with the alcohol noticeable but well blended in spice/citrus flavors -- most notable is clove and orange. It’s a nice brew to drink now -- I can't wait to try it again in 2012 ...

02-16-2004 03:58:49 | More by jtfest
Photo of Bachus
Bachus

Rhode Island

4.03/5  rDev +3.1%

A 22 oz brown bomber with a vintage date of 03.03.03 was the setting--to be quaffed in a chalice.

The head of this lovely brew foams up like the surf after a hurricane on the isle of Aquidneck. It has a deep brown-burgundy colour--quite lovely.

The smell of solvent alcohol is significant--spicy pepper, orange, malt, clove, old leather too.

The taste is alcoholic, spicy, peppery--instantly warming. I don't find much sweetness. It finishes with a kick of spicy pepper and alcohol.

Pretty good--I have another that I will cellar for a while--if I can wait that long.

02-16-2004 03:29:05 | More by Bachus
Photo of travolta
travolta

California

4.1/5  rDev +4.9%

Serving: 1Pt Bottle. Served into a regular cheap restaurant glass (Just to push it's buttons). Could not find the Alc./Vol. on the bottle!

Appearance: Minimal head retention. Judging from the buildup; I thought I would have a gnarly head to deal with, but I didnt. Milk chocolate, toasted brown in artificial light, apricot skin color from the sunlight.

Nose: Immediate Pear & Orange, I end up with that distinct "drink me" Stone lace. If you smell a stone too long, you'll drool. Very sweet and plesant.

Taste: (Finally!) I initially received more of a toasted pepper from this beer. I expected something lighter to hit the tounge, but was pleasantly suprized. It is quite spicy, and herbaceous for a Stone. It is rough on the tongue. This beer exemplifies the fear one feels before drinking an EPIC. I thought I was going to grapple this fruity smelling '03 to the ground. I was taken, don't let it happen to you....admit it, we are not worthy.

Note: I was being pulled in either direction. Should I taste it or not? I was alone and thirsty...I convinced myself if I wanted more I could buy it.

02-09-2004 06:27:17 | More by travolta
Photo of merlin48
merlin48

Kentucky

3.9/5  rDev -0.3%

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.

02-05-2004 00:19:01 | More by merlin48
Photo of JISurfer
JISurfer

South Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +11.3%

The only "problem" with this one, was that it was so heavy, it would be hard to enjoy more than one at one sitting. Other than that, it was unbelieveable. It was a nice dark color w/ a tan head that was super duper thick. If you want a beer with multiple levels of depth, then you gotta have this one. It was a full malted beverage, with elements of dark fruits, chocolate, caramel, and various other malts. One of the best things about it, is that it was super smooth. It just rolled down the throat and had a little bit of creaminess to it.

02-04-2004 01:19:17 | More by JISurfer
Photo of sulldaddy
sulldaddy

Connecticut

3.88/5  rDev -0.8%

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.

01-18-2004 15:36:52 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of rkhaze
rkhaze

California

4.2/5  rDev +7.4%

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.

01-15-2004 02:33:13 | More by rkhaze
Photo of bewareOFpenguin
bewareOFpenguin

Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev +10.7%

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.

01-14-2004 14:42:02 | More by bewareOFpenguin
Photo of Gavage
Gavage

New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev -0.8%

I couldn't stand seeing this sitting there, so I opened it 2 months short of 03.03.04. It poured a murky brown color with a thin spotty head. The aroma was of nuts, spice, and wheat. The flavor was quite different and intriguing. A pepper flavor is noticeable. It reminded me of a belgian dubbel with some wheat tones and kicked up spiciness.

The finish is smooth (with a minor tingle) and dry. The carbonation level was near nil. The malt and wheat seemed to last on the tongue after swallowing. A very different beer but not one I could drink several of. The bomber was enough. Interesting, but this is my least favorite Stone brew to date.

01-13-2004 23:56:09 | More by Gavage
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 272 ratings.