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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

278 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 278
Reviews: 193
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 13.78%
Wants: 91
Gots: 40 | 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: 278 | Reviews: 193 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Boto
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
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!

Photo of PhineasGage
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%

Photo of ngandhi
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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

Photo of BeerResearcher
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark amber body lies beneath an impressive beige head. The lace sticks in places, but mostly slides down atop the remaining thin coat. A candy cane, wheat malt, hop and alcohol aroma lasts in moderation throughout the glass. The rich and creamy body is caramel sweet. Complex flavors of toffee, roasted malt, molasses and camphor are quite forward. Spicy hop and some grapefruit bitterness blend in well with the large and deep body. The flavors blend more evenly as it warms. Additional flavors reminiscent of sherry, rum and bananas begin to appear. The omni-present alcohol, while fairly potent, never overwhelms. I saved one for the recommended opening on Dec. 12, 2012...providing I live that I long. In the event I don't; first come first serve!

Photo of Bighuge
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer is a clear mohagony color. A thin and dense ivory white head lays on top. A nice rimming is noticed. Lacing is evident but sporadic. I love the smell of this beer. Stone really achieves some awesome aromas with their beers. This one is yeasty, bready, doughy, spicy and musty. Astounding. I really like the spice kick in the flavor profile. I realize the Alligator pepper moreso than the corriander. It compliments the cookie dough yeast properties and West Coast hop tones nicely. If I had an aversion to spice qualities in a beer, I might not care for this one at this stage of the game, but I don't have that aversion. And even though they are a bit abrasive, they fit into the Big Picture. (I'm guessing the spicing will mellow out as the years go by.) The alcohol is very well hidden. The body is light to medium and the beer has an airy, effervescent feel on the tongue. There's a nice lingering bitterness from hops and spice. This is one great concoction.

Photo of MrSeth
4.47/5  rDev +14%
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 NeroFiddled
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Well, I was pleasantly surprised upon tasting this that it's similar to a Belgian Abbaye dubbel.

It pours a slightly hazy (even from a long-standing, refrigerated bottle) chestnut body with a crimson cast. Some softly glowing orange highlights appear at the base of the goblet, and some exceptionally fine bubbles can be seen rising in swirling plumes towards the surface. The head retention is somewhat limited, and it leaves only minor spots and splashes of lace about the glass.

In the nose some sweet, cereal-like malt is accented by dark fruit, a block of just-about-to-melt milk chocolate, and some light spice...

...and that carries over into the flavor. It starts with a drop of chocolate and some lightly juicy and subtly tart dark fruit up-front; but soon warms to reveal a combination of dark vinous fruit (along with their bitter skins) amidst a rising background of soft, sweet chocolate that carries over into the finish. As you progress through the serving some leafy and dull, pine-like hops start to show; and it's spiciness become much more peppery. Surprisingly, however, it hurries off of the palate leaving you refreshed and ready for another sip except for a mild residue of cocoa and a hint of spice and alcohol on the tongue and at the back of the mouth. It's nicely complex... but it shows itself off really quickly! Still, in many ways, that lends to its drinkability.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.43/5  rDev +13%
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.

Photo of beerguy101
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown color. Medium head. Aroma is malt, coriander and peppers. A full bodied ale. This beer is a frelling flavor fest. Malts are bold, slightly sweet and very smooth. It is not very hoppy, which is very unusual for a Stone Brew. But there are plenty of spices to balance it out; coriander, peppers (!), some fruits (apricots and cherries) and a touch of peat and smoke. Very smooth taste. Aging will only make this beer much better. Hides the 9% alcohol very well. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter with some peppery tones. Etched Beer bottle.

Photo of kennyo
4.43/5  rDev +13%
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 Higravity
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A peppered out double. Dig it. This beer was poured into my duvel tulip and I let a good tan head rise over the dark brown liquid. Very nicely carboanted small bubbles rise throughout. Smell is of belgian ester yeastyness with sweet malt with many dimensions and playable actions, just purely enjoyable to smell. The taste is sweet dark fruit that is evaporated to reveal white pepper eating into your tongue. Lively tasting as if it is fighting back. Very intense and interesting. NIce heavy body and way too drinkable. I will have to get the homebrew recipe and try my own now.

Photo of ppoitras
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of flexabull
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
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!

Photo of jamie2dope
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally worked up the nerve to crack this puppy open. Appearance is a dark amber, nearly brown with a semi-thick head. Smell is of rich dark fruits, alcohol,molasses, sugar cane....damn complex. Mouthfeel is fairely heavy with a bunch of spicyness hitting you right up front. As the flavor settles theres a bit of earthiness with some toffeeish flavors going on. Alcohol is definetly there, but not overpowering...i could certainly drown a few pints of this. This brew certainly warms you up quite a bit. Overall, a great dark ale that I will hopefully find some more of.
Cheers

Photo of rousee
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting to try this one for awhile now. Pours from the bomber a deep reddish brown with a nice two finger bubbly off white head. A mix of deep caramel, pepper, clove and some banana. Quite inticing.

A nice mix of sweet caramely banana bread flavors infused with spicy, peppery nuances and hints of earthy yeast. Well balanced with a nice mellow citrus hop biterness on the back of the palate.

A super creamy, lush full body that makes it a joy to drink. Good complex flavor keeps me coming back for more...drinkability is very good here. Another enjoyable brew from Stone...I look forward to seeing how this one will hold up. Thanks to bigbeerdrinka and ppoitras for the chance to sample and cellar this one.

Photo of Billolick
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Some say the stone brews are over rated. I disagree. Every stone I try, blows me away. This one was no differant. Bomber bottle. Poured dark and cloudy. Strong nose of phenolics, yeast and spice. Rich flavorful brew, vanilla, yeast, leather. malty and strong. This one left intricate lace. Very enjoyable, style buster. Strong, rich, intense flavors. seek out, store if you can. Enjoy this classy sipper.

Photo of soper2000
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

Photo of Brewfan
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ok, so I've sat on my cache of VE-03's for 2 years now without even trying one. Don't ask me why. Decided tonight was the night to crack one open. I'm glad I did.
Made some marinated tenderloin tips and an asian slaw to go with this. Kick ass meal, I might say.

Nice thick off-white 1/4 inch head which dissapeared into some whispy lace reletively quickly.
Glorious deep murky amber color.
Aromas of bananas, clove, anise and coriander immediately turn my head. There's some brown sugar and musty grain in the background. More cloves and some pepper come out the longer I drink this, but this is very well balanced.
Medium mouthfeel. Nice and soft like cotton caressing your tongue.
Taste is peppery, malty and yeasty. Nice and dry, moreso than I would have though. I sit here and wonder how this was 2 years ago upon conception. Sadly I'll never know.
Finishes dry and peppery with still a hint of lace around the edge of the glass.
Beautifully done Stone. Can't wait to see how this is going to be in 5, 10, or 15 years. That is, if my last 4 bottles make it that long.

Photo of Sixpoint
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one at the FUNKY beer tasting at Barcade.

My first impression is that this beer has held up remarkably well. It is now 4.5 years old at this stage, and it tastes great. I really would have liked to see how it tasted fresh.

My sample had plenty of brown sugar notes and some spice. It tastes like an interesting/complex hoppy supercharged American Brown ale brewed with some Belgian yeast.

Cheers to Stone Brewing Co and their Epic series - it really introduced a lot of folks to a whole new spectrum of beers.

Photo of cbl2
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance:

A hazy orange brown with a nice inch thick tan white head.

Smell:

Very intriguing. Aroma is muted, subtle, though extremely complex. The coriander and pepper promised on the label shine here. Can't wait to taste.

Taste/Mouthfeel:

I was scared of Stone after Arrogant Bastard, but this is amazing. The pepper dances on the tongue, and the coriander subtly reminds you of the belgium influence on this decidedly american ale. Cellaring without drinking will be tough!

Photo of ark57
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I made an error when I popped the cap on this one, for I had just downed a bomber of Old Guardian Barleywine. Was I in fit condition to discern the myriad nuances of this awesome ale? Perhaps, perhaps not. I transcribe directly from my notes:

"Appearance: a dark, ripe red, big, creamy head.
Aroma: fresh, frothy, citrusy, sea-air, the very aromatic picture of a witbier.
Drink it deep, that's the whole, beautiful witbier style. Oh, delicious, but dark!
Complex stuff! Definitely darker than a witbier.
I can't understand how they can create a brew that tastes like a witbier but doesn't look like one.
I don't know what to think!"
Now, I know there were additional ingredients, alligator peppers, of all the things in the world, and roasted wheat. Made for a still smooth and flavorful, but quite intriquing beer. Seemed to keep a step in two worlds at once, light, yet deep and powerful, refreshing, though full of complex, even harsh flavors.
Quite an astounding beer! Got to try this one again!
Mucho gracias to el mocoso for making this possible!

Photo of jcalabre
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Originally sampled on 7 March 2003. 03.03.03 is a nice, medium brown color w/ a thin head. The flavor finishes slightly sweet w/ hints of pepper. The nose also has some pepper in it. The alcohol is nicely masked. The more I slowly drank, the more flavors I picked up. great job

Photo of JISurfer
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 278 ratings.