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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
86
very good

278 Ratings
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 278
Reviews: 193
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 13.78%
Wants: 92
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 278 | Reviews: 193 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Jables
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Jables, Mar 04, 2004
Photo of kmo1030
4.58/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

kmo1030, Mar 03, 2004
Photo of jtfest
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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 ...

jtfest, Feb 16, 2004
Photo of Bachus
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Bachus, Feb 16, 2004
Photo of travolta
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

travolta, Feb 09, 2004
Photo of merlin48
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
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 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.

JISurfer, Feb 04, 2004
Photo of sulldaddy
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

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.

sulldaddy, Jan 18, 2004
Photo of rkhaze
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

rkhaze, Jan 15, 2004
Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

bewareOFpenguin, Jan 14, 2004
Photo of Gavage
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Gavage, Jan 13, 2004
Photo of WaltTrombone
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was opened on New Year's Eve, which makes it just about 10 months old. It poured with a dark maroon body, and off-white head. The aromas were malt, caramel, coriander, leather. Tastes were malt, coriander, lemon, and grapefruit. Mouthfeel was smooth, with a medium carbonation. It finished with grapefruit.

I'm of the opinion that this should sit in the cellar for at least 2-3 years, as the flavors did not really blend or develop in the last 10 months. As it is now, it's way too brash and hoppy to be representative of most Belgian styles. If I can find another bottle, I might revisit this in a few years.

WaltTrombone, Jan 04, 2004
Photo of crookedhalo
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish-amber color with a big beige head that dissipates into lacing and stickage on the sides of the glass. Haven't tried this beer since it was first released. I remember it being rather hoppy for a Belgian style dubbel. Still has a pretty hoppy nose, mixed with some biscuity, bready malt characteristics and some spice, fruit, peat and cocoa notes, too. Malty and rich, the hops have subsided a touch since March, still rather hoppy, though. Very unique taste, minerally (salt?), bready, hoppy and some complex organic notes to it as well. Finishes drier and with lingering hoppiness. Nice carbonation. Very enjoyable brew that will get better with age, although I'm not totally convinced it's truly a Belgian-style dubbel.

crookedhalo, Jan 02, 2004
Photo of SixpointJMH
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a slightly cloudy amber colour with a nice creamy, thick off-white head. very sticky with nice lacing. the smell is of butter, caramel fruit (mostly berries), bread and molasses. quite complex and quite nice. the taste simply lacks the complexity of the smell. tastes very "young" so to speak (which is understandable as this brew is set to mature properly 9 years from now) and the alcohol which was barely noticeable in the smell simple overpowers everything else here. it's warmth is nice but it's domintant flavour is not. whilst still enjoyable, hopefully this one gets better with age.

SixpointJMH, Dec 27, 2003
Photo of mschofield
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted at 9 months (12/03) old:
Hazy copper-brown, 3 finger frothy tan head.
Very strong roasted malt aroma, nutty, coriander, dark wheat orange, highly hopped.
Caramel, fruit (pear, apricot and raisin), smoky, peat type note as well, buttered bread. Almost a whisky taste, peppery, and tangy, nicely warming.
Drinkability is a fairly moot point for a limited brew, but the only thing holding this back is the ABV. I have one more stocked away in the cellar.

mschofield, Dec 12, 2003
Photo of IrishRedRock
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After I read all the stuff that went into the making of this brew, I knew tasting it would be interesting, to say the least. The nose and flavor are both really nicely complex. Pours coppery with just a little bit of a thin head. All sorts of notes in the aroma, sweet malt, alcohol, subtle hops, and a peppery spiciness. Whoa flavor whooo hooo!! Lots of things going on for me to pick out here. Very subtle in its hoppiness, especially for Stone, but enough to give you a nice little bite. Has a smoky flavor as well, in addition to caramel, clove, sweet buttery malts, and a trace of alcohol in the finish. Highly complex, nice smooth mouthfeel. They really did some very interesting things with this beer, and it turned out very nicely. Wish I had a few more to age.

IrishRedRock, Dec 12, 2003
Photo of Ellbert
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A hazy brownish amber color with a beautiful cream colored head. That slowly fades to a nice layer over the brew.

Smell: Slightly spicy hop smell with some malt sweetness that shows through. A nice fruity smell.

Taste: Very sweet and fruity. Tastes "green" like it needs to age about 11 years. Very slight spiciness from hops and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is very nice, it has a nice tingly carbonation and a very not watery consitency.

Very drinkable even though this beer is very young. Alcohol hides itself.

I cannot wait to try this beer aged as it is supposed to age very well.

Ellbert, Nov 12, 2003
Photo of Boilermaker88
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found bottles of Stone’s ‘03 Vertical Epic in every store I checked out while in Indianapolis. I bought one for tasting purposes so I could store away the two bottles I already had. Presented as pictured, the ‘03 V.E. poured a clear dark brown color with a wispy off-white head and lots of lace.
The smell was a wide ranging blend of bready malt, caramel and molasses, some dark fruit and coriander and peppers. Overall, pretty sweet with a spicy edge. The taste had an earthily malty platform which served as a launching pad for flavors of coriander, pepper, some plum/prune, and caramel. The finish had a light bitter edge to it along with some alcohol, especially as it warmed. The feel was full, rich, and a bit raw.
Overall, the ‘03 V.E. is still a youngster at only eight months. The flavors still haven’t found the balance necessary for it to be a great beer. The alcohol content seeps through, limiting its drinkability. Nevertheless, this year’s offering in the Vertical Epic series holds a lot of promise and I can’t wait to see how it ages.

Boilermaker88, Nov 07, 2003
Photo of byrd
4.53/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first pour from the bottle was a clear deep reddish-copper. The light tan head is small, but stays as a thick lace on the surface. The aroma is wonderful. Sweet malts, some fruitiness, banana, brown sugar, light yeast, clove spiciness, and very light alcohol. The hops are restrained (maybe a little grassy). Great brew! Very smooth start of subtly sweet malt. Spiciness, namely clove, comes in towards the middle and stays for the finish. The finish is a great balance of hops and spices. A light tart hop bitterness remains in the aftertaste. Upon the second pour from the bottle, the brew picks up quite a bit of cloudiness as the yeast is drained from the bottom of the bottle. Not surprisingly, the yeast notes pick up a bit on the palate, and there’s a slight nuttiness that is also noticeable. There’s a moderate carbonation of fine bubbles on the tongue, with a medium mouthfeel. The alcohol is very subtle and blends very well with the rest of the flavors, leaving a slight warming sensation. Wonderfully balanced, smooth, easy drinking brew. This brew is top notch right now, but if it only gets better as it is aged, it’s certainly going be to one hellova brew in 2012!

byrd, Nov 04, 2003
Photo of jdhilt
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a four-fingered faint brown head, fades slowly and leaves a good lace. Cloudy amber color. Nose is a honey raisin. Hints of alcohol. Starts sweet and raisiny, finishes crisp with raisin. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Their site lists the ABV at 8.2%. $8.19 for a 22oz bottle.

jdhilt, Nov 01, 2003
Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This one gave off a monster head that almost raged out of control. The body is sugary brown and the head a triple “L” (long, lasting, and lacing), creating a shaving cream-like cover to the body and pitting like volcanic lava.

Smell – The lightly-toasted malt aroma makes itself known. The traditional Stone hops come out as well, creating quite the balance. The sweet raw and table sugar smells blend perfectly with this concoction.

Taste – The aggressive aroma gives way to a nicely balanced ale. The molasses and sugar sweetened malts lead the way, followed by balancing Stone hops and a sugary finish. The traditional BSDA spices are present as well, making this an extraordinary brew.

Mouthfeel – Well-carbonated with a sweet, malty start and a dry, almost bitter hop finish. This one is full and chewy.

Drinkability – You don’t have to wait until 2012 to enjoy this offering.

Comments – BigDog (xlperro) gave me the bottle to take home when I was in town on business (as if he hadn’t extended himself enough already). This was an excellent and thoughtful gift and well appreciated. I popped this for my 300th review. Cheers to the BAs of SoCal!

RoyalT, Oct 20, 2003
Photo of HossMcGraw
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I really want to like this more. Really I do. Appearance is flawless. It's a very dark ruby with a billowing pillow of foam and great lacing. Aroma is pretty weak. It pretty much smells like a typical dubbel. And the taste: Ommegang. They're very similar with dark fruit flavors of molasses, prunes and spices, although this has a certain trademark flavor to it that I've come to associate with Stone's beer. I think it's the hops. At any rate, I'd take this any day over Ommegang. The mouthfeel is very full and almost perfect. Doesn't seem very "Belgian" per se, but that's probably not what they were going for. Overall, interesting and worth trying.

HossMcGraw, Oct 14, 2003
Photo of CharlesRiver
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark reddish brown in color with a nice white fluffy head. The smell is very sweet. The taste is mild in the beginning but gains intensity as it finishes. Raisins, nuts, malt and something bready. About half way through I pick up some kind of citrus taste? A bit dry in the end.

The ending is warming as the alcohol starts to come through. This beer seems a little sharp around the edges. Some time in the cellar, as I believe this is intended, should do this beer some good.

CharlesRiver, Oct 11, 2003
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.

beerguy101, Sep 25, 2003
Photo of beerinator
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

beerinator, Sep 23, 2003
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 278 ratings.