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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

273 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 273
Reviews: 193
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 13.55%
Wants: 93
Gots: 38 | FT: 3
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: 273 | Reviews: 193 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bigbeerdrinka
bigbeerdrinka

Germany

4.15/5  rDev +6.1%

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.

09-08-2004 02:15:22 | More by bigbeerdrinka
Photo of beerceller99
beerceller99

Louisiana

3.98/5  rDev +1.8%

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

09-07-2004 19:26:01 | More by beerceller99
Photo of winomark
winomark

Missouri

3.53/5  rDev -9.7%

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

09-04-2004 18:44:08 | More by winomark
Photo of fdrich29
fdrich29

Massachusetts

4.13/5  rDev +5.6%

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.

08-10-2004 01:24:47 | More by fdrich29
Photo of TinusTime
TinusTime

Virginia

3.45/5  rDev -11.8%

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

08-07-2004 04:51:04 | More by TinusTime
Photo of MuddyFeet
MuddyFeet

North Carolina

4.08/5  rDev +4.3%

Poured a dark, dirty amber in color with no head at all. Thus, no lace at all. The aroma is of mild malts that hit the palate stronger than expected. Underneath the malts are hints of coffee and some sort of nut (hazelnut perhaps?). The beer was relatively flat (but that may have been due to my roomate leaving the firdge open for a few hours, beer was still cold but not as cold as if the door had been closed). I think the warmer temperatures brought out more of the flavors. It was very smooth drinking, but almost too bold and rich to enjoy more than two bomber bottles of this stuff.

07-29-2004 02:04:28 | More by MuddyFeet
Photo of RockyTopHeel
RockyTopHeel

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +2.3%

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

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

Right now, it seems a little young and fresh, and needs some character development...

07-05-2004 01:37:57 | More by RockyTopHeel
Photo of RocketWidget
RocketWidget

Massachusetts

3.43/5  rDev -12.3%

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.

07-04-2004 23:29:07 | More by RocketWidget
Photo of rugger
rugger

Arkansas

3.98/5  rDev +1.8%

This is clearly another big beer from Stone Brewing co. however as they suggest it should be aged for a few years. You can taste the sweetness in it that is a little overbearing, however overall for the style and what it is supposed to be it is right on the money. Seeing as how Stone's beers are not available in my state or the surrounding states I will have to wait before I get any more of their beers. I did not know the story behind the beer when I bought it so I only bought one. If I knew the story I would have gotten two so that I could cellar one. I did see one on ebay the other day that I may go try to find. This beer looks good smells complex and has an even better story and homebrew competition to back it up. Hopefully I can find another one.

06-29-2004 17:11:30 | More by rugger
Photo of iokals
iokals

Massachusetts

4.53/5  rDev +15.9%

Appearance: Deep brown with gold tones in light. Small, quickly dissipating white head.

Aroma: Fantastic spicy plum aroma with a hint of pepper

Taste: Rich and full, sweet with a subtle alcohol bite on the back end. The plum aroma lends the subtle taste of that plum to the sweetness. Coriander spiciness balances well

Mouthfeel: Heavy, but not syrupy.

Overall: An excellent entry that hopefully will continue to age well (as I have more in the basement). Only problem (while very minor) is that the last couple sips were a bit more difficult than the first; owing to the thickness. Too bad they don't have 20 oz. bottles.

06-09-2004 15:27:49 | More by iokals
Photo of cbl2
cbl2

New York

4.38/5  rDev +12%

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!

05-29-2004 15:07:53 | More by cbl2
Photo of Billolick
Billolick

New York

4.38/5  rDev +12%

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.

05-26-2004 21:40:31 | More by Billolick
Photo of lou91
lou91

California

4.03/5  rDev +3.1%

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.

05-05-2004 04:31:16 | More by lou91
Photo of jvajda
jvajda

Ohio

4.18/5  rDev +6.9%

Appearance: Dark brown with a large, creamy, white head.
Smell: A wine-like sourness makes the smell pretty intimidating.
Taste: Much easier than the smell. This is one of the most complex brews I've ever had. I taste figs, bananas, even nuts. The alcohol is pretty well hidden. Has a somewhat dry finish.
Mouthfeel: Perfectly carbonated and slightly creamy, this brew is welcome in the mouth.
Drinkability: Much more forgiving than other strong ales, this one can be appreciated by a wider audience. I plan on picking up a few more bottle to age.

05-02-2004 00:20:00 | More by jvajda
Photo of RedDiamond
RedDiamond

Oregon

4.28/5  rDev +9.5%

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.

04-29-2004 03:46:54 | More by RedDiamond
Photo of kennyo
kennyo

New York

4.43/5  rDev +13.3%

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???

04-28-2004 03:26:30 | More by kennyo
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
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 273 ratings.