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
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Reviews: 195 | Hads: 285
Photo of crookedhalo
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
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. (736 characters)

Photo of kmo1030
4.59/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

03/03/04: deep red-brown with significantly less head than when i tried it right after it came out. i pick up a big caramel and faint coffee malt in the smell, as well as fruit: figs and grapes. clove, corriander, caramel, and a lot of other really pleasing complexities to the taste. slight fig and grape too. buttery as well... more flavors keep coming out. slight pepper at the end. hops present but not overpowering at all. more subdued than a year ago, but tastier for it. belgian in character. meduim-thick bodied. this is a really superb beer that has only gotten better in a years time with the malts getting more flavorful. it will be interesting to see how this ages further. this is really an incredible beer. (720 characters)

Photo of jamie2dope
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally worked up the nerve to crack this puppy open. Appearance is a dark amber, nearly brown with a semi-thick head. Smell is of rich dark fruits, alcohol,molasses, sugar cane....damn complex. Mouthfeel is fairely heavy with a bunch of spicyness hitting you right up front. As the flavor settles theres a bit of earthiness with some toffeeish flavors going on. Alcohol is definetly there, but not overpowering...i could certainly drown a few pints of this. This brew certainly warms you up quite a bit. Overall, a great dark ale that I will hopefully find some more of.
Cheers (580 characters)

Photo of SheepNutz
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
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. (498 characters)

Photo of stewart124
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours copper to amber in color with some tan hues. Little head to speak of.

Lots of cherry in the nose with some toffee.

More toffee in the middle of the taste. Initially there is a medium body and some cherry. Little hops if any. Not picking up any warrior or centennial. Some residual sweetness but finishes fairly dry.

I am impressed with how well this has held up. No off flavors or really any flaws in my mind. (419 characters)

Photo of BeerBuilder
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a murky brown color with a tan head that reduces to a ring. The aroma is super malty, with a peppery, spicy smell too. I get a bit a diacetyl too. It has an alcohol aroma as well. The flavor is malty, and bready sweet. It reminds me so much of third coast old ale. It seems more like an old ale. Tasty, thanks so much to Fantome for this brew. (352 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 scottum
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lightish brownish color with an offed whiteness of a headskie. Taste is strong and pepperful, certainly much more so than the first time I drank this brew in early 2003. The favor has matured much over the three and a half years, and is certainly the better for the age... Smoother than ever. (300 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 ElGuapo
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A deep burnt milk chocolate color brew with a mass of tan foam on top. It will sit there for a good deal of time and leave sticky lace all over the glass. The aroma is loaded with citrus and fruits. Sweetness hits the nose first in the form of oranges and cherries. A big malty aroma comes in next with a great accompaniment of spice and pepper. Yeast and grains with subtle roastiness follow behind.

Nice full body with a big flavor. You get a big malt character that is a bit sweet, but it is kept well in check by spices. It gets a bit roasty and grainy towards the dry aftertaste. Although I have not had that many Stones, this one definitely did not have the mass of hops, but for the style, I think it is appropriate. It is well balanced and complex. It is not a perfect brew, and others in the style have more roastiness at the end and more fruits at the start. It is one hell of a beer. Stone will never fail me.

A hearty Thanks to NeroFiddled for the sample! (974 characters)

Photo of hotstuff
4.17/5  rDev +5%
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. (484 characters)

Photo of Thrasher
4.52/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

At the Stone NYC kick-off event last night at the Blind Tiger, this was perhaps the most satisfying brew I tasted. I am going from memory here, which I never do in my reviews, but I am aching to describe this beer. After being repeatedly assaulted by Stone's intense hops for the first time in my life, I nestled into this beer and let it soothe my wounds. Very unlike Stone's other brews, this is quite Belgian in style, with the typical Belgian yeast that not only evokes a dubbel but a Bavarian wheat beer as well. Refreshing, fruity, with wood and forest characteristics, quite hoppy but mild by Stone standards. It is a shame this beer is so limited; on tap, at least, it was a divine experience. I can only imagine the characteristics it would take accompanied by a meal. (777 characters)

Photo of frank4sail
4.17/5  rDev +5%
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.... (606 characters)

Photo of mzwolinski
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was nervous. The beer had been chilling for the last ninety minutes or so, and the moment had finally come. I walked to the kitchen, carefully lifted the beer from its resting spot, and walked down the hall to my computer, dreading the excitement would cause my hands to shake and the bottle to break. Sure, I had 5 more in the cellar, but – the waste! – and besides, I’m not sure my heart could have taken another 90 minute wait. When I finally poured it, the beer rose in my chalice in a dark brown, almost ruby color, with a middling head which soon settled to a silky, diaphanous top. Then there came the aroma. Truly delightful. A light malty sweetness serves as the foundation for a wonderful combination of spices, pepper, and a heapin' dose of hops. Zingy! The flavor wasn't much worse. Pretty well blended, starting with a distinctively Belgian malt sweetness, topped by ever-present doses of corriander and alcohol spiciness. A bit of fruit, mostly banana, emerges mid-palate, and the taste is compelted by a combination of tingly pepper and floral and citric hops. Fairly full in mouthfeel, with a dryish finish. Only downfall I see right now is the peppery finish, which is still a bit rough. I imagine this will improve nicely with age. A lovely beer, I was surprised and disappointed when I reached the end of the bottle! (1,340 characters)

Photo of jcalabre
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
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 (277 characters)

Photo of Hopswagger
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review date 12.12.12
Celebrating the 10 year Vertical Epic Series

P: Two-tone hazy brown and tan with translucent top and bottom with sediment floating. Creamy head that leaves delicate spider webs around the glass.

S: Molasses, candied plums, chocolate, bread, bananas, clove, coriander, toffee, wheat and oxidation on the rather boozy aroma.

T/M: Super malty, molasses, big time toffee, fruity, buttery herbs, sweetness backed by wood, white pepper, candy sweetness followed by aged cherries. Silky body that is smooth and finishes dry with surprisingly good level of carbonation.

O: Totally surprised by how well this aged. A beer that is 10 years old and shows a little oxidation but nothing like I expected. Stone has done a fantastic job of brewing a beer that will last. Great beer that come across more as a dubbel. (831 characters)

Photo of CharlesRiver
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

The ending is warming as the alcohol starts to come through. This beer seems a little sharp around the edges. Some time in the cellar, as I believe this is intended, should do this beer some good. (478 characters)

Photo of freed
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
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. (734 characters)

Photo of Higravity
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A peppered out double. Dig it. This beer was poured into my duvel tulip and I let a good tan head rise over the dark brown liquid. Very nicely carboanted small bubbles rise throughout. Smell is of belgian ester yeastyness with sweet malt with many dimensions and playable actions, just purely enjoyable to smell. The taste is sweet dark fruit that is evaporated to reveal white pepper eating into your tongue. Lively tasting as if it is fighting back. Very intense and interesting. NIce heavy body and way too drinkable. I will have to get the homebrew recipe and try my own now. (579 characters)

Photo of mickeymac
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not having seen the 02/02/02 Vertical, I nearly walked past the bottle with its nondescript (by Stone standards) label. The bottle says it can stand up to aging through December 2012. By then I might be hit by a bus, done in by anthrax, or killed by my own children, so I opened it almost immediately. The color is a very nice-looking mahogany without a trace of haze. It sends of a lot of little off-white bubbles, but the head dimishes quickly leaving nothing but memories by the time the beer is about half gone. Spice is immediately apparent in the smell. According to the bottle, it's brewed with coriander and "alligator pepper." It does have an aroma similar to fresh-ground black pepper and a hint of something akin to olive oil. The combination of spice and hops certainly make their presence known when this beer hits the tongue. While the flavor does hint at Belgian, this is an American of Belgian descent: perhaps one whose ancestors left the country under cover of darkness, only to arrive on our shores and mix with the natives. The mouthfeel is creamy and pleasant. This is an interesting beer and probably will stand the test of time. It just didn't knock me out three days after its release. Patience, Grashopper. (1,231 characters)

Photo of ManekiNeko
2.83/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bomber served lightly chilled in a Brewer's Art chalice. The third beer of the Greer, PintOfAle, AragornUnplugged, and ManekiNeko "Release the Wisdom" beer tasting. Bottle provided by yours truly.

Appearance: Murky tea-like brown topped by a scanty head that quickly formed a slight film of bubbles. No lacing.

Smell: I was completely reminded of a mixture of Cocoa and Fruity pebbles, nose-wise. Very sugary.

Taste: Chocolatey malts with bready overtones. Light splashes of peppery spice on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, relatively crisp and effervescent.

Drinkability: Relatively drinkable, but the kid-tested/mother-approved breakfast cereal aspects of this bring back memories of childhood. Unfortunately, I was not reminded of a Saturday morning spent watching such animated gems as "Alf," "Schoolhouse Rock," or "PeeWee's Playhouse." No, I was reminded of such dubious offerings as "Snorks," "Saved by the Bell," and those numerous shows that were mere marketing ploys for shoddy Hasbro products. (1,037 characters)

Photo of BierReise
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (451 characters)

Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 1Pt. 6oz Bottle. Appearance: The body is red wood to a dark mahogany color depending on the light angle; it holds a short lived small creamy head that is beige in color.
On the nose some notes of the alligator pepper and coriander. On the palate I got a huge peppery flavor, it simmered after the first few sips then some alcohol-soaked fruits come through, tentative hop bitterness, tiny bit of malt sweetness, roasted wheat and that spicy/peppery taste…the 8.5% abv was hardly noticed, which made this brew very drinkable. The mouth feel is fairly smooth and silky. A very tasty brew. Much thanks to Nero for the bottle... (641 characters)

Photo of travolta
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
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. (1,110 characters)

Photo of ngandhi
4.46/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Yet another hybrid beer from Stone, the 030303 seems to bridge the gaps between all non-lambic Belgian styles. The nose is almost intrusive with coriander seed -- begging me to call this a witbier. It opens with the richness of an abt, moves to a coriander-laden witbier midpalate, and finishes with a prick of spice, tons of rubbery yeast, and a unifying, but barely discernable, riff of cocoa. And then it has the audacity, on the latent aftertaste, to evolve into plums, chocolate-covered raisins, spiced custard, and everything the six Belgian monasteries have tried all these years to achieve. I'm also reminded of altbier.

The malt profile is remarkably complex, the coriander so deep, and the yeast so entirely perfect. But I'm really missing out on this Alligator Pepper. I think it's partly because I have no idea what to look for, but also that the wit character is dominant to a fault in this beer. There's a hint of trappist-inspired phenols as this brew warms that I think are supported by whatever the Alligator Pepper is contributing.

But it looks perfect and I could drink it forever. At cellar temp, it becomes so slightly warming in the stomach and the back of the throat half way down the pint, yet this brew insists on remarkable balance and control.

I can't see this evolving over the next 8 years, but after 1 it's become something quite special. Hopefully the malts will recuse their sweetness and this will become the spicy beast I was expecting. Unfortunately, as hops mellow in aroma as a brew ages, I expect the spices to as well. This is probably going to get too subtle over the years and, if the alcohol comes out, too Rochefort. Which is something no other American brewery will ever achieve.

Relax, relax.
ng (1,755 characters)

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