Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

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
89
very good

195 Reviews
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 195
Hads: 285
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.58%
Wants: 89
Gots: 47 | FT: 5
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 195 | Hads: 285
Photo of RocketWidget
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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. (870 characters)

Photo of TinusTime
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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 (493 characters)

Photo of russwbeck
3.45/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Churchkey.

The beer is served a brownish yellow color with about a finger of head that is retained and laces well. It smells boozy with some malty caramel, and figs. The taste has dark fruits up front, but the booze comes quickly, and some roasted malt finishes it off. The booze is slightly offensive and takes the beer over. It's slightly under-carbonated and the drinkability isn't that great. This didn't wow me. I think it might be a bit too old. (462 characters)

Photo of sinistersteve
3.48/5  rDev -12.3%
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. (387 characters)

Photo of RBorsato
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rich mahogany color with a moderate beige head and little to no carbonation evident but leaves some lace. Strong malty barleywine-ish type aroma with a light spice aroma (coriander?). Barleywine-like flavors dominate with not much else; not very Belgian at all but balanced well enough. Full bodied, smooth and creamy with a strong bitter finish.

Pass on this one and buy a good barleywine instead .. Just above average and more like a "3.3" in keeping with the theme... :-)

Per Bottle: Limited 2,500 Case Release

Per Stone website:
Starting gravity = 19 Plato (1.078sg)
Finishing gravity = 3.5 Plato(1.014sg)
ABV = 8.2 %
IBU = 48
Malts:
Pale 2-row barley 89.45%, Unmalted wheat (red soft winter, flaked) 6.8%, Special B 2.5%, Chocolate wheat malt 1.25%.
Hops:
Warrior (17.8%aa, .666oz in boil)
Centennial hops (.2oz for dry hop)
Coriander
Alligator Pepper (aka Grains of Paradise, or Paradise seed)
Abbey Yeast strain 500 from White Labs & American Yeast strain

Brewed: 03/03/03
Tasted: 12/01/04

($6.99 / 22 oz.) (1,043 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Opened tonight by Michael, thanks for the opportunity!
Pours a solid dark brown with a bubbly off white head that shows great retention. Smells of dark sugar, caramel and some hints of chocolate and dark dried fruits. The flavor is what I expected it would be based on the nose. Lots of caramel and dark sugars with a muted but present raisin and dried sweet cherry flavor. Spicy wheat and yeast flavors round out the palette. Medium body with a light to moderate level of carbonation and a lightly sweet mouthfeel. I am glad I got the opportunity to try this one, but I really wish I had tried it sooner. There's really nothing wrong with this beer, but it feels a bit past its prime. (685 characters)

Photo of winomark
3.52/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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. (492 characters)

Photo of nomad
3.52/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had a typical color of a dubbel, that unique blend of red, brown, and black tones creating that winey but heavy look to it. Nose was a softened version of a classic Belgian of this style, with currants, grapes, pepper, some phenol, and slight coriander, but less strong and seemingly complex than, say, a trappist. Taste was similar to nose but even more toned down, though the roasted malt profile came through well as it opened and warmed. Had that definite Belgian yeast base but with less character. Probably due to the presence of those well-known Stone in-your-face hops, though they were way more balanced with the full of the beer, unlike almost all other Stone brews. The hops went from soft to strong to mild as the beer opened.

A good brew, and quite different considering Stone's typical bent and strengths (hoppy strong ales, ipas, et al), but in the end not terribly impressive. Sorry, I love dubbels and thus have high standards. (948 characters)

Photo of Indybeer
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
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! (337 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1658th Review on BA
Bottle to VE Glass
22oz

Split with StarRaptor, Callmecoon & Smarcoly

App- A nice darker brown pour with a bit of weight behind it. The head was okay on a more strong pour. I tried a gentle pour and only got a bit of bubbles. Scotty got a bit more froth and pull apart bubbles. The cling was just okay and maybe a couple lines.

Smell- This was pretty decent for as old as it was. Nothing oxidized but still a bit yeasty and flat with a bit of strong spiced malts behind it. A little bit like an older Our Special Ale from Anchor. Just lost a bit of pop behind it.

Taste- I enjoyed it for what it was. A bit of a darker beer with a bit more bread behind it than malts and spices. The normal BSDA was gone but this retained a more fluffy wheat note with some spice.

Mouth- A bit of a lighter medium body with a fairly fluffy medium carbonation. A bit thick and dull on the residual flavors of wheat, spice and yeast.

Drink- Well I had been saving this for a few years and thanks to Siggy125 for the hookup on this one a while back. No oxidation, just a bit old and lackluster. Still flavorful, but no drain pour. (1,135 characters)

Photo of axeman9182
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Alewife Queens for their VE event. Served as part of a flight.

2003 Vertical Epic pours a fairly clear amber, with a good amount of lacing despite the fairly wispy head. The nose is barely there, but with some effort toffee and dried fruit aromas are appreciable. The flavor opens up a bit, with toffee being joined by a bready maltiness. Sherry and fig notes mingle next, before a delicate pepper finish. The close does seem a bit abrupt though. The mouthfeel is a bit flabby, slightly chewy and under carbonated. It's not amazing, but I'm pleasantly surprised by how well the second entry in the Vertical Epic series has held up. (642 characters)

Photo of Rutager
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance. Pours amber-brown with almost a finger of light khaki head that fades pretty quickly.

Smell. Raisins, caramel, a touch of cardboard and sweet dark fruits.

Taste. Raisins and a touch of sherry and cardboard, some caramel and light belgian yeast, and a bit of chocolate candy. Not nearly as oxidized as I would have expected.

Mouthfeel. On the lighter side of medium bodied, below medium carbonation.

Overall. A decent brew that I wouldn't have guessed is over 10 years old despite signs of oxidization. (517 characters)

Photo of chaz01
3.62/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Good sized (4-5 ounce) pour at a Stone Vertical Tasting Event sponsored by Belmont Party Supplies on 5/12/2010, served in a very cool Stone Vertical Epic tasting glass.

A: Very murky looking ruby brown color. What little head there was recedes to a ring around the edge of the pour.

S: Yeasty, fruity and floral aromas

T: Lots of belgian yeast, mellow spices of coriander and pepper, malty finish.

M: Medium to light bodied (maybe a bit watery) with low carbonation, almost flat.

D: This tasted great, but not sure it's going to make it another 2 years as it seemed like it may have been a little past it's prime. Nevertheless, it was still interesting to taste a beer 7+ years old to start off a tasting event. (716 characters)

Photo of scootny
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A nice dubble. Light cola color with a light brown head and a bit of lace here and there.

Bready nose with a surprising amount of caramel and fruit. Figs and light Belgian funk..

Taste is typical for the style, with a healthy amount of dark fruits and malt. Light bitterness in the finish is dry and earthy. A touch of alcohol and light pepper spiciness.

Feel is thick and smoothly carbonated. Good winter weight.

A nice take on the style. (446 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to the Thorpes for sharing.

The beer is copper hued with a thin tan head that quickly fades. Pockets of bubbles evident throughout the glass. The aroma offers malt, citrus, booze. Notable signs of age. Toffee and caramel flavors. Light sweetness, with butterscotch candy and caramel chews. Fairly light in body with moderate carbonation. Pretty good. (358 characters)

Photo of Stoneman78
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at the Stone Storm

Appearance is a murky orange/amber hue, thin layer of dense bubbles dissipates to a ring, minimal lacing

Smell is dark fruits, big raisins, sweet malts, and alcohol

Taste is moderate raisins and dark cherries, figs, some floral hops and spices, moderate alcohol presence, finished sweet

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, rich and chewy texture, lively carbonation

Drinkability is fair, I found the flavors somewhat lacking but this was a decent Belgian overall, this was pretty hyped up at the event, so my disappointment may be a result of too high expectations, I'd try it again in the future (619 characters)

Photo of Jon
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
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. (1,389 characters)

Photo of carln26
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep garnet/mahogany, with a mild head (off-white in color). A gentle lace slides down the glass after a sip. The aroma has some malt aroma, caramel, maybe ribbon candy with just a touch of flowery hops. The taste has a mild alcohol flavor with malt, malt and more alcohol. The malt has a roasted nut edge to it. The hops do make themselves felt towards the end of the drink. This is a big beer with a medium/heavy mouth feel. Pretty drinkable, but the strength is felt, and could get you in trouble if you’re not careful. Not a session beer, but a good one for 1 or 2. (579 characters)

Photo of Dantes
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: ~10oz. from draught in a tulip glass at the Stone 12 event. Served a bit cold. Cost: $5.

Appearance: There seemed to be three shades of color that day: reddish-amber, cherrywood-brown, and dark mahogany; this brew exhibited the latter, and was almost opaque. The beige foam cap was very airy and didn’t last very long, leaving a thin ring. The opacity and dark brown color made this somewhat muddy in appearance.

Smell: Maybe my nose was burnt-out by the time I got to this (it was #4), but the aromas were fairly restrained. Expecting a spicy onslaught, I was surprised by the faint malty sweetness and estery vapors upfront. These sensations were accompanied by a pot-still fusel quality. Only after this did some notes of pepper, cloves, and coriander poke through.

Taste: Somewhat disappointing. There is so much going on, that the net result is not very satisfying. There is a substantial amount of malt sweetness accompanied by some fruitiness, cut somewhat by alcohol and rotating spices. I expected the alligator pepper to express itself, but this only had a little bite, more like regular telicherry. That was okay though, I'm not sure I want pepper in my beer! Coriander, cloves, and lemon zest made brief appearances emerging out of the heavy brew, along with a tentative hop bitterness. This did exhibit a long finish, helped by a seemingly higher than 8.5% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Rich and lovely. This exhibited a cool, silky, and luxurious texture. The carbonation was perfect for this brew. The best aspect of this beer.

Drinkability: Hard to rate. While interesting, I didn’t find this to be very satisfying and was more than happy to move on to the Old Guardian and Imperial Stout. Not so high in alcohol to prevent having a few, but there are better choices out there. More of a novelty than anything else.

I don’t think that this beer knows what it wants to be when it grows up and I’m not so sure aging will help it. New, dominant flavors could develop, or the interesting spiciness could just fade away. Worth cellaring a bottle or two for interest. As to its Belgian heritage, I don’t think this beer knows Brussels from Biloxi.

Bottom Line: Paging Dr. Freud, your patient Sybil is here. (2,268 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

030303 - consumed 121212

appearance: served in my great lakes chalice, muddy amber-mahogany body, still carbonated and revealing a nice tan ring

smell: toffee, holiday spiced bread, caramel malt

taste: I dunno - this held up better than I anticipated - clearly in the vein of the belgian dubbel style - sure, there is that permeating stale-hop presence, but this is almost 10 years old. toffee, caramel, stale pumpernickel, raisin, dried fruit

mouthfeel: still decently carbonated, slick medium body

overall: exceeded expectations, DUE TO AGE (547 characters)

Photo of gford217
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

No better time to open this one, 03.03.03, than on my 33rd birthday. Bottle courtesy of sunnydlyte23, poured into a tulip.

Pours a deep, dark clear copper with a rocky off-white head that hangs on as a cap and leaves decent lacing on the way down.

The aroma is very sweet with tons of molasses and dark fruit, especially raisins and figs. Hints of Belgian yeast in the bacground as well as the remnants of some citrus hops.

The taste has a little hop kick up front that I imagine was much, much bigger when fresh. As it is, it feels like it's missing something up front in the taste before the malts and Belgian yeast take over. The taste had some toffee and caramel sweetness but not nearly as much as the aroma suggested.

The mouthfeel was fairly thin, surprisingly so, and the carbonation didn't seem to come through on the palate. Slightly dry finish with less sticky sweetness that I was expecting.

I've been looking forward to cracking this one and was contemplating holding onto it until the last vertical release. I'm glad I opened it now as I have to think it's only going downhill from here. A good beer that was probably great a couple years ago. Big thanks to Sherwin for the opportunity to try this rarity. (1,224 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Inflatablechair hooked this one up.... It was a minor coup to score this for the 10/10/10 gathering... but we persevered!!

Tan head flecked with brown bits.. good retention.. deep brown brew is pretty cloudy.

Nose is a bit oxidized... brown sugar and some off putting sherry.. pretty sweet dark fruits... prunes... golden raisins..

The aroma showed really no standard Belgian qualities, but the flavor is better... hints of clove and background spiciness... a little dark cherry/plum... still seems pretty stale.. caramel malt and bits of toffee and dark toast..

Body and carbonation were surprisingly good.. but the overall brew was way past prime.

I know this is an old bottle, but it is no where near worth what we traded for it.

3.5/3.5/4/4.5/3.5 (758 characters)

Photo of jaasen64
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap for Lord Hobo's Vertical Epic Night. Part of Flight "A" (03, 04, 05). 5oz serving served in a flight glass.

A- Appears an amber that is slightly on the darker side with fairly minimal carbonation and head.

S- Lots of peppers, spices, candied sugars, light dark fruits. Smells like a Belgian Dubbel only very spicey. Decently aromatic and fairly flavorful except dominated a little bit too much by the spices at this point.

T- Peppery kick to it although not as much as in the aroma, some dark fruits, plums, a little bit sugary, fairly sweet and a little bit malty.

M- Medium bodied, low carbonation, smooth, easy to drink.

O- This beer seemed to hold up decently well after 9 years. I imagine it was better fresh and has probably fallen off a little bit, but it still tasted nice. It was definitely dominated a little bit too much by the peppery spices (Aligator Pepper) but other then that it was very nice. It had a nice sweet aspect to it that made it easy to drink. It definitely wasn't my favorite of the series but it was definitely interesting to try. (1,072 characters)

Photo of stegmakk
3.81/5  rDev -4%
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... (516 characters)

Photo of thagr81us
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks goes out to my boy aasher for handing this one off to me in our last big in-person trade as this was a long-time want due to this being when I graduated High School! Thanks Al! I was looking for a special reason to open this one, so I decided to open it at StayWhatYouAre2’s pre-wedding tasting along with his brother Mississipping! Served from bottle into a Stone Vertical Epic glass (proper!). Poured a reddish brown-orange with a half finger light tan head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, sugar, and sweet alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, brown sugar, wood, and sweet alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty decent brew. I was honestly really surprised at how well this one has held up with time. I was partially concerned about this as I even apologized in advance if this one bombed. We were all pleasantly surprised with what we found though. It seemed to have taken on a nice English Barleywine aspect here. Even with 9 years on it, it is still worth seeking out. A must try at least once in my honest opinion. (1,204 characters)

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 195 ratings.