1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

282 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 282
Reviews: 195
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 14.07%
Wants: 92
Gots: 41 | 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:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 03-03-2003

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: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 282 | Reviews: 195 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jdhilt
4.11/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

Photo of CRJMellor
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Boilermaker88
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

Photo of Gusler
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

As I missed the first batch, I have waited with great anticipation knowing that was going to have a 6 pack as soon as it came out. The beer pours a sanguineous color, the head modest in size, frothy in texture, the color a nice light tan, and the residual lace a very fine sheet to cover the glass. Malt dominates the nose, sweet and just a light hint of the coriander, crisp and fresh, quite pleasant. Sweet malt at the start, the top I’d say middling, the finish has a purposeful acidity, the hop persistent in their spicy bite, maybe a tinge of the pepper in the aftertaste. The alcohol is well hidden, but is felt in the tummy as the warming is noticeable, quite a quaffable brew, and yes it will be tough to wait till 04.04.04 to sample the next along site the 03.03.03, but I feel this beer is still a bit "raw", and will mellow nicely over the coming years.

Photo of aracauna
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Me gusta. I really wish I had two bottle so I could age the other one to see how it changed with age. But I'm really wondering if it would be any better with age. The appearance is just a little too brown to be ruby and the cascading bubbles almost look like golden flakes. The head is a very pale tan but forms easily and holds up nicely. Coriander is definitely evident up front as well as a peppery aroma. A bit of orange pulp wafts up as well. The flavor continues with the coriander and the pepper becomes stronger. Oddly they didn't use real pepper this time around. I guess the grains of paradise are aptly nicknamed "Alligator Pepper." Under the caramel cake malt, I'm picking up the faintest hint of banana. I'm actually a bit surprised that Stone made a beer so unabashedly not hoppy. Sure they used high alpha hops in the boil, but I'm not picking them up at all. They blend into the overall mix nicely. Very balanced, but big flavored beer. I'm actually surprised the beer is getting so many blah ratings here. Maybe something as subtle as a dunkel wit made by Stone throws people off, but I really like it.

Photo of crookedhalo
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

Photo of travolta
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

Photo of Wildman
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Due to the law change, I never got to try 02.02.02, so I can't really compare it to previous ones. This beer poured a dark amber color and formed a small light tan head that subsided leaving trace lace. An aroma of malt, pepper and a slight hint of corindar and other spices. A flavor of malt, spices and touch of pepper. An interesting finish to it, almost of burnt wood. A good beer, but probably better served warmer and maybe allowed to age for awhile.

Photo of mschofield
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

Photo of jvajda
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Jason
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
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 fdrich29
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of MJR
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a color that's somewhere between brown and ruby. The body has good clarity, with lots of carbonation bubbles racing to the top. A light tan head starts out o.k., then quickly shrinks down to a mostly complete, thin cap.

Smell: The nose is fairly spicy with a good dose of coriander and hops being the dominant scents. Underneath them is a small suggestion of dark fruits.

Taste: First and foremost, the flavor is spicy with a firm bitterness. It's an inviting spiciness, which comes from both the grains of paradise (which is a fancy name for a type of pepper) and the hops used. Of course, the coriander is here. There's a strong undercurrent of phenols which serves as a base for the other flavors. I pick up on a very small suggestion of dark fruits, but it's really faint. It darts in and out and provides a touch of sweetness, which helps to balance the bitterness and spiciness. Ends with a bready, yeasty note, as well as a touch of alcohol.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is medium in body, but it doesn't have enough of that 'chewy' feel that characterizes really good dubbels. It's more crisp and dry than it is thick and chewy.

Drinkability: Good overall drinkability. This is an interesting take on a dubbel. While it's lacking the chewy feel and rich, dark fruits that are paramount to the style, it's spiciness and hop flavor and bitterness bring a dimension that's usually not present. Quite the unique brew...

Photo of hotstuff
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of frank4sail
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
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 aasher
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared with the staff at work on Thanksgiving. 03.03.03 shared on 11.24.11, some eight and a half years after its release. I was sixteen and was a sophomore in high school when it came out.

This beer pours a very smooth, medium bodied, rich amber in color with no lacing or head. The aromas are rich and malty. It smells like an aged English barleywine. You get a lot of honey, cherry, and mead like qualities with toffee as well. It has a really nice citrus aspect and a lot of port notes. Very complex nose. The flavor isn't quite as stellar but it's solid. You get alot of red fruit with a J.W. Lees Harvest esque flavor. The carbonation is really surprising. It looks still but when you start to drink it the carbonation aggressively stimulates your palate. I've never quite experienced that before. It's like dropping a cut of fresh meat into a pool of piranhas. Very interesting. It drinks well and on the lighter side of medium in body. The flavor is nice but really it's nice to try this beer this old. I wonder what it was like when it was fresh. It's probably better classified as a Belgian barleywine.

Photo of beernut7
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
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 xgrigorix
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
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 Stingray5
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
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 Brent
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
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 coasterfreak75
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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!

Photo of vma
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%

Photo of mkobes
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. Copper color with a nice tannish head. Excellent. Caramel flavors. Prunes, Raisins, and fig notes. Sweet, belgian candy sugar in the aroma. Full bodied. Malty flavor. Nutty. Roasty. Smooth tasting. Enjoyable. Clean mouthfeel. Drinkable beer. Nice.

Photo of kbub6f
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought online, ground shipping (unrefrigerated), several weeks in my fridge, reviewed 45F-75F.

A very nice, medium-sized, cream-colored thick head sits on a deep red/brown beer. Thin, foamy lacing rolls down the glass quickly, leaving sticky spots.

I smell caramel, a little fruit, a little fish, some alcohol and spice. Add some chocolate to that on the front. The pepper really jumps out in the sweet, dark, creamy, full middle. Are those apples? When cold, the finish is a little metallic, but that disappears completely at good drinking temperature. Otherwise, the finish is dry and a little chocolatey. This is a delicious beer. It's a little raw when cold, but settles down nicely. I may have to bury the others in the forest to keep from drinking them.

Photo of IrishRedRock
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.