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Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic AleStone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale

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

274 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 274
Reviews: 193
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 13.81%
Wants: 93
Gots: 39 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

A new Vertical Epic will be released every year, with the goal being to collect them all and have a Vertical Epic tasting once the final Epic is released on 12/12/12. Each new Stone Vertical Epic Ale will be release one YEAR, one MONTH and one DAY apart. With Vertical Epic 03/03/03, we used some pretty interesting ingredients...coriander (a "Belgian-style" beer favorite!), alligator pepper (wow, bite into these little gems and you get a bigtime spicy rush of flavor), and a bit of both unmalted wheat and dark roasted wheat. And a blend of Belgian yeast and American ale yeast. And a nice selection of high alpha hops (a decidedly non-Belgian style twist). All told it makes for a dubble-ish taken-to-San-Diego-pushed-to-the-edge-and-slapped-around-a-bit beer. So, treat it gently. It's been abused enough already. Store it upright, cool and in the dark. It would enjoy a nice long rest. It will have plenty of patience. Now let's see about you ... In addition, we are pleased to provide the homebrewing recipe:  http://stonebrew.com/timeline/030303 

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 03-03-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 274 | Reviews: 193 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bewareOFpenguin
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.

bewareOFpenguin, Jan 14, 2004
Photo of Gavage
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.

Gavage, Jan 13, 2004
Photo of WaltTrombone
4.08/5  rDev +4.3%

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 +4.9%

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 -2.8%

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 +4.9%

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 +8.7%

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 +3.6%

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 +4.9%

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 +15.9%

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 +4.9%

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 +15.1%

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 +2.3%

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 +0.5%

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 +13.3%

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 +2.3%

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
Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%

Certainly this beer will get better with age and cellaring. As it now stands it is a lesser Stone beer which is to say that it is very good, but not great. The look is of dark amber to mahogany with a lively tan head and good lacing.

The nose is complex with much going on and hinting of rich malt, spices, yeast, and some hopping. The aroma is substantial and foretells that this also is going to be complex in flavor, and it is. The predominant flavor to my mind is the base malt sweetness, followed by hints of spice and then more hop flavor than the style would normally denote. These flavors seem less integrated than they would in most beers and I belive that this is where the aging process will begin to tell another tale each year in the future.

The feel is creamy and rich feeling, more filling than a highly drinkable beer should be and the alcohol level further limts this dimension. I look forward to many more tastings of this in the future when it will have matured from a very good beer to a great beer. I sure hope so given the number of bottles I've put back.

AtLagerHeads, Sep 17, 2003
Photo of beergeek279
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%

Served in the 22 oz. bottle. The color is a dark amber, with a creamy white head. The smell is the typical rich, yeasty malt dubbel smell. The taste has hints of spicing like most dubbels but has a definite hoppiness to it unlike any of the Belgians I've had. Mouthfeel is remarkably smooth, with no noticable alcohol. Drinkability-wise, if I could find a bunch of bottles I'd certainly have a few more.

Wow...Stone puts its own stamp on a Belgian, and as always makes it even better. Though I sadly missed the 2.2.02 release, I'll be sure to get as many of the later releases as I can, and hopefully find my way to a 2012 vertical tasting...only 9 years to wait!

beergeek279, Sep 13, 2003
Photo of hotstuff
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%

This is a sipping beer due to the high ABV, and what a way to start off the weekend!!This beer had a medium sized tan head that consisted of medium sized bubbles that fully diminished.The body was cloudy and carbonated with a brown hue.The nose consisted of malts, hops and alcohol.It had an alcohol flavor and was a bit acidic as well.The mouthfeel was tingly, bubbly, smooth, light bodied with a watery texture to it.It had a fair amount of lacing to it.An enjoyable drink for sure.

hotstuff, Sep 06, 2003
Photo of Running4beer
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%

Pours out a Brown/Mahogany color with a tan almost cappuccino like in color frothy head that ends up as a ring around. Aroma is fairly strong and lots of different scents flying around, a slight yeasty smell, citrus, some malt in the backround, some spicey hops and a hint of alcohol, smells sweet. Has an initial crisp bite but rounds out and smoothes to a cream soda type of a feel. Taste sweet and flavors are of yeast and oranges and some malt, a bit of alcohol and a spicey finish. Very nice brew, I found it to be rather mello for a Stone brew but very good regardless.

Running4beer, Sep 04, 2003
Photo of BierReise
4/5  rDev +2.3%

A cloudy deep amber ale resembling unfiltered apple cider and a rocky tan head that collapsed within 15 minutes, leaving a thick lacing around the glass. Aroma seems like a Belgian Dubbel with a bready spiciness and slightly fruity. Full bodied with a highly carbonated crispness to it. Flavor is malty and fruity like a dubbel with noticable alcohol giving a nice warming effect. A decent offering from Stone that I just couldn't wait 9 years to try.

BierReise, Aug 11, 2003
Photo of xgrigorix
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%

Twenty two ounce brown bottle, vintage dated (03.03.03). Enjoyed on 8/4/03 - 5 months & 1 day after its release.

Glowing dark auburn color with a creamy white head.

Spice and hop aromas fill the air.

Big caramel malt flavor, is balance out by raw wheat. This is followed by snappy pepper and coriander flavors. A hint of plums and apples lie in there as well. Big hop loaded finish. This has already taken on a bit of a port like character in just a few months.

Big full body, smooth.

Do I really need to wait to enjoy my other bottle. This is already very drinkable.

xgrigorix, Aug 05, 2003
Photo of freed
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%

I hadn't been the one who read the bottle, so I wasn't aware that this beer should have been cellared. Tasting it though, it was obvious.

The 22 oz bottle split nicely into two pints, a murky, brown liquid that looked an awful lot like wort. Carbonation was rampant, and it looked like a full scale evacuation of the beer was going on. The smell was nice, with a molasses nose and other subtle notes. The taste was similarly fresh, in the not pleasing sense. It was very sugary, though other flavors helped to mask this. The spiciness was pleasing, though the alcohol somewhat overbearing. Due to the mixture of green flavors, it was difficult to drink. However, I know now that I must get another to hide somewhere so it can age.

freed, Aug 05, 2003
Photo of Brent
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%

This beer was something of a surprise. High abv, youth and description of "alligator pepper" spicing lead me to expect this to be on the harsh side. To the contrary, this beer was quite smooth. Soft, almost creamy mouthfeel. Dark fruits plus roasted malt that touched on the porter flavor range. Unlike any strong dark Belgian style I've had, and really seemed to defy categorization. Quite nice, and it will be interesting to see how this evolves with time.

Brent, Aug 03, 2003
Photo of Jon
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%

Well, this may be the first Stone brew about which I'm not overly ecstatic. That's not to say, of course, that I won't be next year, or even nine years from now, due to the nature of this beer. The 03-03-03 Vertical Epic pours a light brown/mahogany color with reddish tints and a 1/4", cream colored head that leaves some nice lace down the chalice. The nose features notes of sweetness, although the most abundant aromas are that of pepper, yeast and coriander. Nice fresh smelling smell overall. This is one intense Belgian dubbel-style brew. The first flavor that hit my palate was that of the alligator pepper used in the brewing process. Whoa, almost too much spice for my palate. Big notes of alpha hops, as mentioned on the bottle, are present on the finish. Some notes of yeast present themselves when the beer warms up a bit, as well. As a matter of fact, the brew mellows out quite a bit as the beer reaches room temperature. The mouthfeel is somewhat creamy and it fills the mouth quite well. Overall, this is interesting -- a very much Stone take on a Belgian dubbel style ale. I plan on buying more of these and trying them during the next nine years to see how they mature. This should be a very tasty brew as it cellars, it just needs some maturation to set it right. A quality effort from the folks in San Marcos nevertheless -- it takes balls to brew something like this.

Jon, Jul 31, 2003
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 274 ratings.