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 waldowin
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby haze, with a very dense tan head that fades slowly to a thick ring and a film on top.

Smells of raisins, bananas, and a kick of clove.

Taste is dark plums, some spiced rum, bananas, and strawberries in the finish, hops are almost nonexistant. Fairly smooth, in spite of the carbonation edge.

The alcohol hides in this extremely well, it's almost scary. Very tasty, I could see myself drinking quite a bit of this stuff if I could!

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 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 FranklinPCombs
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a nice murky golden brown with a little bit of smooth foamy head, and very little lace. The smell was very bready (specifically pumpernickle), some fruity smells, including raisins and figs, a distinct peppery smell as well. An interesting musty fungus smell was there too, along with the backdrop of yeast and malt, with a touch of hops. Taste was pleasantly sweet, and very peppery. It had a bitter hoppy end with some subtle fig and plum notes and that same odd musty taste, which was not at all unpleasant, just unexpected. The mouthfeel was relatively smooth and light, with tiny yet sharp biting bubbles of carbonation. The alcohol became more apparent as the night wore on, of course. I broke out this beer with my brother as part of a kind of double hitter. He brought the Epic, and I brought the Double Bastard that I had been aging for a few months. Great beer to go along with the DB.

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

I really want to like this more. Really I do. Appearance is flawless. It's a very dark ruby with a billowing pillow of foam and great lacing. Aroma is pretty weak. It pretty much smells like a typical dubbel. And the taste: Ommegang. They're very similar with dark fruit flavors of molasses, prunes and spices, although this has a certain trademark flavor to it that I've come to associate with Stone's beer. I think it's the hops. At any rate, I'd take this any day over Ommegang. The mouthfeel is very full and almost perfect. Doesn't seem very "Belgian" per se, but that's probably not what they were going for. Overall, interesting and worth trying.

Photo of ZX6Chris
4.9/5  rDev +25%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Vertical Epic tasting by my friend Armand.

A-Carmel color great carbonation. Light tan head that stays around pretty impressive for 7 year old beer

S-Strong sweet Carmel flavor a little alcohol.

F-Big Carmel taste.

M-Very nice. Smooth, well rounded reminds me of candy.

D-I wanted more of this! It was like carmel candy and I really enjoyed it

Photo of byrd
4.53/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first pour from the bottle was a clear deep reddish-copper. The light tan head is small, but stays as a thick lace on the surface. The aroma is wonderful. Sweet malts, some fruitiness, banana, brown sugar, light yeast, clove spiciness, and very light alcohol. The hops are restrained (maybe a little grassy). Great brew! Very smooth start of subtly sweet malt. Spiciness, namely clove, comes in towards the middle and stays for the finish. The finish is a great balance of hops and spices. A light tart hop bitterness remains in the aftertaste. Upon the second pour from the bottle, the brew picks up quite a bit of cloudiness as the yeast is drained from the bottom of the bottle. Not surprisingly, the yeast notes pick up a bit on the palate, and there’s a slight nuttiness that is also noticeable. There’s a moderate carbonation of fine bubbles on the tongue, with a medium mouthfeel. The alcohol is very subtle and blends very well with the rest of the flavors, leaving a slight warming sensation. Wonderfully balanced, smooth, easy drinking brew. This brew is top notch right now, but if it only gets better as it is aged, it’s certainly going be to one hellova brew in 2012!

Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
3.08/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours with a very thin, oatmeal-colored head of miniscule bubbles that crowd up along the liquid's edge, leaving icicles of lace. Held to the light, the color ranges from a distinguished rosewood at the center of the goblet to iridescent garnet highlights at the edges, with all shades of amethyst and blood and grape in between. Drop dead gorgeous. My first sniffs are of sandalwood, marzipan, malt balls. Warmer, the beer smells like a strange mixture of plums, nutshells, and turkish delight. At room temperature, coriander and herbal cough drops hit my nose with a rummy, medicinal nosefeel... still not bad. The taste, though: bitter, salt-cured plum or pomegranate...? cracked white pepper with equal parts malt balls and pickled ginger...? finally everything obliterated in a wash of soy sauce. Ick. I even tasted a few drops of soy sauce to make sure I wasn't totally off base. But yeah, I was right, and the aftertaste just won't quit. Ick. Filmy water ho hum mouthfeel. And just slightly more drinkable than soy sauce. I mean, what the hell?

Photo of sandiego67
4/5  rDev +2%

Photo of jtfest
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep amber color with a moderate diminishing light tan head, the aroma is sweet, slightly alcoholic and a little musty. The mouthfeel is lighter than anticipated, with a somewhat fizzy feel. Despite the lightness, it feels full on the palate. The taste is very smooth with the alcohol noticeable but well blended in spice/citrus flavors -- most notable is clove and orange. It’s a nice brew to drink now -- I can't wait to try it again in 2012 ...

Photo of jvajda
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
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 WaltTrombone
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was opened on New Year's Eve, which makes it just about 10 months old. It poured with a dark maroon body, and off-white head. The aromas were malt, caramel, coriander, leather. Tastes were malt, coriander, lemon, and grapefruit. Mouthfeel was smooth, with a medium carbonation. It finished with grapefruit.

I'm of the opinion that this should sit in the cellar for at least 2-3 years, as the flavors did not really blend or develop in the last 10 months. As it is now, it's way too brash and hoppy to be representative of most Belgian styles. If I can find another bottle, I might revisit this in a few years.

Photo of Jables
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled 03.03.04

Poured a dark hazy amber with minimal head and nice lacing.

Definite candi sugar and dried, dark fruits on the nose. Some caramel can be detected as well.

Tastes sweet with strong fruity notes. The hoppy bitterness comes through about midway and proves to be exceptionally balancing. The finish may be what I like best, it's dry, slightly sweet, and clean.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth.

Drinkability is hurt by apparent alcohol, though slight, and is helped by the excellent finish.

Photo of Brewfan
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ok, so I've sat on my cache of VE-03's for 2 years now without even trying one. Don't ask me why. Decided tonight was the night to crack one open. I'm glad I did.
Made some marinated tenderloin tips and an asian slaw to go with this. Kick ass meal, I might say.

Nice thick off-white 1/4 inch head which dissapeared into some whispy lace reletively quickly.
Glorious deep murky amber color.
Aromas of bananas, clove, anise and coriander immediately turn my head. There's some brown sugar and musty grain in the background. More cloves and some pepper come out the longer I drink this, but this is very well balanced.
Medium mouthfeel. Nice and soft like cotton caressing your tongue.
Taste is peppery, malty and yeasty. Nice and dry, moreso than I would have though. I sit here and wonder how this was 2 years ago upon conception. Sadly I'll never know.
Finishes dry and peppery with still a hint of lace around the edge of the glass.
Beautifully done Stone. Can't wait to see how this is going to be in 5, 10, or 15 years. That is, if my last 4 bottles make it that long.

Photo of Running4beer
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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........

Photo of blindtiger24
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

4oz draft pour into a tulip glass.

A: Deep ruby color with limited carbonation and quickly fading head.

S: Fig and raisin aromas.

T: Sweet bourbon, fig, plum, fruit cake, and caramel flavors.

M: Maple syrup like mouthfeel.

O: Enjoyable holiday evoking ale, but mouthfeel was too viscous for my liking.

Photo of FARGO619
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

BASED ON NOTES:

A-Carmel color great carbonation. Light tan head that stays around.

S-Strong sweet Carmel flavor a little alcohol.

F-Big Carmel taste.

M-Very nice. Creamy, medium bodied.

D- Such a great beer. Went down warm and smooth. Like vanilla silk. Wish I had more.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of jaybrough
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%

Photo of rugger
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is clearly another big beer from Stone Brewing co. however as they suggest it should be aged for a few years. You can taste the sweetness in it that is a little overbearing, however overall for the style and what it is supposed to be it is right on the money. Seeing as how Stone's beers are not available in my state or the surrounding states I will have to wait before I get any more of their beers. I did not know the story behind the beer when I bought it so I only bought one. If I knew the story I would have gotten two so that I could cellar one. I did see one on ebay the other day that I may go try to find. This beer looks good smells complex and has an even better story and homebrew competition to back it up. Hopefully I can find another one.

Photo of dmbfrat420beers
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22oz. bomber with typical Stone commentary printed on the bottle. This bottle was released 03/03/2003, so I am reviewing nearly two years later. It has been (for the most part) sitting in one of my fridges at about 45-50 degrees. Even though they post the recipe and reviews on the Stone website, I have not read them, so this should be an unbiased, albeit ignorant, review.

Appearance – transparent dark brown, mahogany color with a pale white head – surprisingly small for Belgian style, possibly owing to the aging? In any case, a nice lace that and small cover stays awhile.

Aroma – Sort of typical Belgian smell, with a bit of nutty earthiness to it. I don’t have the vocab to describe it properly, but there is strong, and very pleseant, perhaps a bit buttery aroma.

Mouthfeel – fairly mild carbonation, not as full-bodied as I was expecting. A bit stickier than most beers, but nothing objectionable here.

Taste – This beer is dominated by a sweet, nutty taste – as one might expect. A bit peppery in the finish and on the lips. Starts out with a lighter sweetness that dims down and a bit of sour-ish hops are reveled, but not bad at all. No apparent alcohol taste, but a decent warming sensation lets you know its there. Since I have not had this beer before, I cannot say exactly how it has aged. However, my guess is that it has progressed quite well. While it is theoretically as strong and flavorful as some of its Belgian style cousins, it seems to have smoothed out quite a bit and is very pleasant in that respect. Not astringent or overly-sweet at all. I think this has done quite well!

Drinkability – seems to go down quite well, especially compared to some heavier versions of the style.

Photo of mkobes
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
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 stoutlove77
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow!, this is really a taste sensation. The look was a a nut brown with a very light head that diminished the moment it was being poured. The smell, the aroma, the fragrance, yes... I got a whiff of mild pears, ripe granny smith apples and sweet cloves, the taste.. oh yes, the taste a smooth balanced of tart nectar and plenty spice, this is a treat now, I believe it will be a blessing when it gets aged!!. The mouthfeel is real smooth, plenty of high end flavor. So if you have a chance to get this one unique brew, treat it like the candy you steal at the candy store, drink some now and save some for later, you wont regret it!!!!!

Photo of wofat
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew hits you as soon as it is opened with hints of coffee, oak, yeast and alcohol. Its dark amber color and creamy, off-white head make quite a tempting statement.

Diving into this beer, you taste soft fruit flavors and wheat with a complex light and spicy bittering. I also detect flavors of plum, raisin, cherry and coffee.

This tasty treat is good now... but doesn't seem quite mature. Now, I probably won't be able to wait till 2013 as the bottle suggests, but one bottle made it to my basement for some long term storage. I can't wait to taste it in a couple years!

Photo of Boolshot
4.55/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love all Stone brews, and this is no exception. Beautiful pour, and that sweet fruity/sweet/spicy aroma that wafts from the glass made my mouth water. I think the allegator peppers were alittle much, but it was still a great brew. Can't wait to see what it tastes like on 12/12/12

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