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
92
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 xgrigorix
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of freed
3.43/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Photo of Brent
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Jon
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of clvand0
4.65/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

They ask on the back if you can store the beer and wait until 12.12.12 to drink it. Well, no, I can't :-) So I bought two and put one away. This pours a color that I would call a dark red. It has a small head that dissipates quickly and it has a moderate amount of lacing on the glass. Very attractive beer. The aroma is fruity with hints of malt and sweetness with a little bit of spice - smells great. The flavor is very fitting for the Belgian ale classification. It is a mix between a Belgian Dark Strong ale and a spicy Belgian Blonde. There is a moderate amount of spiciness to the flavor that is just enough to give it a small kick, but not enough to make it spicy. Very smooth and easy to drink. I might have to seek this one out again so I don't have to open the one I've put in reserve. Great looks, great aroma, great flavor. What more can you ask for? Unfortunately I've missed the 02.02.02 version, but I will be sure not to miss the one for next year ... and next year ... etc. Hopefully my other bottle of 03.03.03 will make it until the end. Congrats to the people at Stone for this one.

Photo of Jason
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22 oz brown bomber with a vintage date of 03.03.03

Appearance: The head billows up like a summer thunder storm rushing the land, you can almost hear the bigger bubble crackling as the head subsides. The deepest amber burgundy hue I have seen, a bit dark and murky.

Smell: Coriander gives a hard flick to the nose then a ten car pile up of smells; clove, solvent alcohol, ripe pear, nutty yeast, orange peel, starburst candies, tobacco, musty leather, spicy pepper and toasted malt. Baboom!

Taste: Slick with a smooth and creamy mouth feel as it slides around the palate, very spicy with a smack down of clove and other peppery treats. The warmth of the alcohol is quick and tries to subdue with its fruitiness yet it scratches the mouth with a nail of solvent alcohol. The malt does not rock the boat yet seems to hold this brew together. Finishes spicy sweet with a long lingers phenolic.

Notes: The spiciness and phenols won’t let you forget this beer, Stone Brewing pulled this one out of the mystery bag … a spectacular turn out to say the least.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Ruby mahogany tone this is one massive beer that sits in front of me, with a huge tiny bubbled tan creamy head sitting at least three fingers thick just awesome appearance with huge thick annular rings of lucious lace. Aroma is packed with a peppery spiced up edge to it some coriander evident along with softness of wheat sweetness there are hops flowing through the air not as harsh as I had thought they were going to due to the fact that this beer is supposed to last until December 12, 2012 but very nice floral pine cone hops. A very hopped up bitterness yet balanced by caramelly sweet belgium malts and spices a bit peppery in the finish has an edge to it that still shows signs that it is going to mellow out. Mouthfeel is full and fluffy textured but silky smooth at the same time, I cannot wait to grab a few more bottles of this delightful nectar to store and determine how it's going to change with time. Drinkability, suprisingly is very smooth not totally ripe but not too green to enjoy this one, what a journey our friends at Stone have started for us true beer lovers, wow!!!

Photo of Indybeer
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle. Poured a deep dark amber color, with a healthy head that didn't stick around long, but left some lacing on the glass. Aroma is kind of sweet and slightly malty. To me the taste was all over the place with sweet hints and bitter bite intermingled, This definetly needs to mature. Can't wait to try this again in a few years!

Photo of Stingray5
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber pours an amber-brown with a towering near white head. Sweet, fruity, bready, yeasty aroma along with some spiciness. Nice creamy mouthful with moderate to high carbonation. Taste is extremely smooth. Bready malt, spices and a peppery sensation are followed by a smooth, relaxing and ever so slight alcohol warmth. More complexities and pepper flavors as it warms. Pucker up for the dry finish, which reveals a tasteful, understated hop presence.

Being a Stout/IPA guy, this here's a style I'm slowly gaining more experienced with as my tastebuds adapt and mature. Compared to other Belgian styles I've tried, this is on the tamer side and would make a good introduction to the style. Quite drinkable.

Photo of frank4sail
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fruity yeast, bready, sweet smell. Original pale head but it does not last long. You are left with a slight fine outer ring of fuzz on the goblet thereafter. Light brown/ruby color. Quite regal looking, lower carbonation in the bubble action. Original taste is dominated by rich malt, corriander, and white pepper. The original rich smooth mouth dries quickly on the tongue after swallowing. Very clean hop/pepper finish. A big bold spicy beer with a dry pepper finish. After time in the cellar the sharp initial spice and the dry pepper finish should mellow nicely. I will wait 2 years and we will see....

Photo of sinistersteve
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Beer poured out to a strong head to start, then seemed to thin out a bit after a few minutes. Dark brown color which reminds me of tea. Kind of a bullish flavor to it, no surprise coming from Stone, but bullish in more of a Arrogant Bastard way and not the Ruination IPA way. The 8.5% abv is easily noticable on the nose too. Decent beer in my opinion, but Stone has lots of GREAT beers.

Photo of tavernjef
4.58/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep, dark, rustic mahoganey in color with an inch high luscious, rich, puffy thick, ivory colored frothy head, great sticking thickly stringed lace. Nice aroma of toffee and dark fruits with a note of nuts and spice. Taste is complex, smooth, rich full bodied, and quite yummy, good dark toffee and caramel candy sense, dark fruits of plum, raisin, and orange. Solid grab and feel of balanced hops in the middle right into the lightly dancing bitter drying finish with a hint of nuts, spice, and alcohol. Good full body feel with awesome smoothness and lingering light tang in the mouth after each sip. This is is some great stuff, yummy as hell, and to hell with waiting to open this brew, live now, its worth it!

Thanks to Gusler for the bottle.

Photo of stegmakk
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Originally tasted 6/23/03
Poured a beautiful shade of brown with a nice tan head that left nice lacing...
Aroma...couldn't get much aroma...some spices...hint of malt maybe...
Taste...mmmmm...tasted like a mellow belgian...had initial maly clove...with a definate pepper end...very nice...cant wait to try some in a year or so to see how complex this can get...
Mouthfeel was perfectly done...thick yet smooth
Drinkability...good...when I buy some more I just have to resist the urge to drink them right away...

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 francisweizen
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very good beer, but not what I expected! This beer tastes almost *exactly* like a lighter version of the Bethlehem Brew Works 'Rudolphs Reserve'. The resemblance is uncanny. This beer poured a dark red, brown colour with a decent head. The aromas are of belgian candy sugar, yeast, various spices, and hops. This beer has a medicinal aroma that reminds me of Orval quite a bit. This beer gets more mellow and malty as it warms up, and I suggest drinking it slighlty below room temperature. The mouthfeel is quite thick and the drikability is very good for this big belgian-style brew!

This was a damn good beer from Stone, but I have been here before!
Cheers to The Long Beach Bum, for this very limited offering!
-F

Photo of Mitchster
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Homebrew recipe on the website, check it out...
http://stonebrew.com/timeline/030303/recipe.html
Made with coriander, alligator pepper (aka Grains of Paradise), unmalted wheat, and dark roasted wheat. Somewhat hazy chocolate in color with ruby highlights. Head is poofy, light tan with very good retention and excellent lacing. Aroma is vinous with banana and clove, amber malts, rather modest hopping considering Stone's usual overhopping. Taste begins with darkening bananas, bready sweet amber malts, alcohol, toffee. The mouthfeel is rather smooth, but the finish is ruddy and wooden with a warming alcohol sensation. The level of bittering hops is balanced but quite earthy. This reminds me more of a Leffe Cuvee or Radieuse. It is a good beer, probably the most tolerable of Stone's hyperintense unbalanced brews.

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 SheepNutz
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer in a 22oz. bomber poured into a Belgian-style chalice. The color is a dark reddish-brown. There is one finger of head, and only a little bit of lacing. The smell is a little bit spicy, maybe cloves. The taste is a strong spicy bite with some alcohol to the taste. There is a bit of pepper to the finish. The mouthfeel is fairly heavy and smooth. Even with the alcohol making its presence known, this is still a fairly drinkable brew. I can't wait to see what it tastes like in 2012.

Photo of marburg
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks big, smells big, seems big -- but isn't quite as large as perhaps I was expecting. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed this and think that it'll be interesting to see the reactions 9 years from now.

Pours with the look of a solid Belgian dubbel or other dark ale. The slightly off-white head, though short-lived for the most part, lingers in small islands atop the brew and around the edges of the glass. Strong peppery, phenolic aromas. This smells like a big, Belgian brew -- well-spiced and strong. Some notes of sweet fruit hide underneath the spice. A nice transition to the flavor, which is a solid base of malt sweetness followed by a burst of spicy flavor which begins the dry finish and somewhat lingering aftertaste of alcohol and, perhaps, light hoppy bitterness. It seemed to lose its luster -- and some of its flavor and mouthfeel -- as the beer warmed a bit.

All in all, it's very good. I was perhaps so excited by the premise that I'm selling the taste a bit short. But compared to some other Belgian-inspired beers and to Stone's other beers, this is surprisingly low key on the taste buds, I think. I'm definitely going to try to snag another bottle to keep for the future, and I'll be picking up 2 of each of the subsequent years to continue the drink-one-now-drink-one-later pattern.

Photo of WanderingFool
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This has to be one of the most uniquely flavored beers I've tried. It seems sweet, bitter and spicy all at the same time. It is a very dark ruby red color with a thin head that fades to a ring around the beer. Spots of lace cling to the side of the glass. An aroma typical of a belgian beer (coriander, pepper) floats above the surface.

The beer is medium bodied and smooth as silk. Each sip begins with a bit of spicyness before more subtle flavors take over. I can detect bubblegum. It finishes slightly hoppy with a mild alcohol presence.

I don't know if I can wait unitl after December 12, 2012 to try my other bottle of vertical epic. I just might have to get a couple more bottles before they are all gone.

Photo of taez555
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was very curious about this beer after reading about the competition for homebrewers on their website. They have all the ingredients listed as well as the proper procedure for making it. So I was excited to see it on the shelf to give it to a try, to see if I might try making it for my next batch.

so...
It poured a brown/ruby mahogony color with a very fine bubbled but thick tan head. It took it's time to die down over the course of a few minutes.

The nose was very subtle. Even after swirling for a bit and letting it warm up it still was very soft. What I could make out though were the classic belgian smells. Subtle fruit and spices.

The initial taste was very soft also. Some light roasty flavors. A nice bit of grape, plum, maybe even some apple fruit flavors.

What was really impressive about this beer was the finish. The first sip is soft but then as it tapers off you get this beautiful bump where you get hit with a bitter floral grapefruit hop and black pepper taste. The thing is, at no time is it ever overpowering. Full hop and pepper taste, but soft.

Overall it's a very smooth beer from start to finish. A little sublte, but a great belgian ale for a non belgian ale. I was a bit surprised to learn by reading at the website that this beer is made with half belgian yeast and half american yeast. It definately leans heavily towards the belgian side. Overall a really nice easy to drink beer. I am a big fan of the pepper kick at the end.

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 marc77
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy tawny chestnut hue. Dense, creamy, persistent almond white head. Sparse lace remains. Bubblegum esters, heaty fusels and pronounced clove phenol upfront in aroma, tapered by notes of rounded carob and mellow, herbal coriander and citrus. Banana laced sweetness initially in flavor is ensued by raisiny dark caramel and mild toffee. Becomes transiently dubbel esque mid palate, with notes of clove, peppery alcohol coupling with residual sweetness to lend a black licorice impression. Hop bitterness above the norm emerges concomitantly with subtle dark chocolate hints, resulting a pleasantly lingering bittersweet chord. Moderate in body, and quite dextrinous, perhaps due to the all malt grist. Finishes with notes of sweet bubblegum and sandalwood fading into a warm envelope of ethanol. A unique, flavorful creation seemingly a hybrid of an American strong ale and a Dubbel. Being this young, the flavors haven't quite coalesced yet. This certainly has cellaring potential for those who have patience.

Photo of beernut7
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I spotted this on the shelf the day after visiting the brewery. I hadn’t remembered seeing anything about this brew there so of course I had to grab as much of it as I could just for good measure. What a unique ass kicking brew. Pours a deep hazy brown underneath a thing lace. Strong ester yeast aroma with undertones of coriander. The flavor is just as heavy with a strong bitterness and Belgian white yeast flavor and the lingering essence of floral pepper. The heavy malt presence rounds out the complex build of this beer. Can be described on a whole as a concrete block pumped filled with a Belgian ale and dropped on your head from afar. Very heavy, very flavorful.

Photo of irishmoss
4.95/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I tried and I tried, but this one didn't last long. I had four bottles wrapped tight in brown paper and string in the corner of my refrigerator and when I sampled one of them, I only had one left when I woke up the next day.
This poured a very nice dark reddish-brown color with a nice tan one and a quarter finger head. It had a nice sticky lace that clung to the sides of the glass all the way to the bottom. The aroma was of malty orange and a faint hint of pepper. The taste was indescribable, but I'll try. It was a sweet malt with citrus and touch of piney pepper. The hops were there but is shocked the hell out of me that they weren't as overpowering as I expected. Very well done, I couldn't imagine this being any better. But time will tell and this is going to age very very well. Like so many seasonal brews, this should be around all year long. But fate makes this even worse, is this really a once in lifetime beer? Will 4-4-04 be drastically changed? Time will tell........

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