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Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

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

266 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 266
Reviews: 193
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 13.81%


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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 266 | Reviews: 193 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of donkeyrunner
donkeyrunner

Massachusetts

3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ruby red color. Smells like, what for lack of a better term, "cherry varnish" which I often get from aged barleywines or DIPAs where a lot of the hops have faded. Taste is sweet orchard fruit syrup.

We did our VE collection counting down (12,11,10,9,8,7,3) and I think we saved the worst for last. I pawned mine off on someone else.

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2013 14:58:19 | More by donkeyrunner
Photo of clvand0
clvand0

Kentucky

4.65/5  rDev +18.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2003 01:23:12 | More by clvand0
Photo of yourefragile
yourefragile

District of Columbia

3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle.

Pours clearish muddy amber with a trace ring of tan, clear bubbles. Smells old; toffee, caramel, dark fruit, paper. Flavor of caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, brown sugar, plum, raisin and cardboard. Syrupy medium thick body with minimal carbonation. Still a little boozy in the finish. Old, but a nice experience.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2013 18:34:12 | More by yourefragile
Photo of orbitalr0x
orbitalr0x

Illinois

4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting to try this one for awhile now. Pours from the bomber a deep reddish brown with a nice two finger bubbly off white head. A mix of deep caramel, pepper, clove and some banana. Quite inticing.

A nice mix of sweet caramely banana bread flavors infused with spicy, peppery nuances and hints of earthy yeast. Well balanced with a nice mellow citrus hop biterness on the back of the palate.

A super creamy, lush full body that makes it a joy to drink. Good complex flavor keeps me coming back for more...drinkability is very good here. Another enjoyable brew from Stone...I look forward to seeing how this one will hold up. Thanks to bigbeerdrinka and ppoitras for the chance to sample and cellar this one.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2004 03:03:27 | More by orbitalr0x
Photo of Rutager
Rutager

British Columbia (Canada)

3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2013 05:29:31 | More by Rutager
Photo of marc77
marc77

California

3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2003 15:23:08 | More by marc77
Photo of charlzm
charlzm

California

2.79/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Consumed on January 20th, 2013 at a private Vertical Epic tasting.

Beer pours a clear, light caramel. No head forms but there is some carbonation visible in the glass.

The aroma is sweet: honey and cider notes.

Flavor is slightly oxidized with notes of tea, coriander and caramel. Moderately bitter on the finish.

Mouthfeel is thin and slightly astringent.

This beer probably peaked a while before the tasting: not surprising, given its age.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2013 18:36:41 | More by charlzm
Photo of granger10
granger10

Wisconsin

4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Maybe, i am biased because this beer's name is my birthday but I loved this beer. It poured a deep brown color with amber highlights. The head was compact but dense and tan in color. The aroma was very spicy, I think from the alligator pepper but also from the yeast. Quite nice. The taste was very complex and out there. Lots of spice, all over the place spices were coming. Dark malts that were roasted are present. Hop flavor and a slight bitterness come out towards the end. Strong yeast in the finish along with a huge hit of alcohol. I could see how this baby needs to be aged, it could definitely do some mellowing. But it's damn good right now as is.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2004 17:21:57 | More by granger10
Photo of aasher
aasher

Indiana

4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2011 17:30:59 | More by aasher
Photo of aracauna
aracauna

Georgia

4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2003 00:25:55 | More by aracauna
Photo of portia99
portia99

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Vertical Epic glass...didn't have the 02-02-02, so this is the first of the big vertical tasting.

A - Pours a hazy dark amber color full of fine floating sediment. Small head consisting of loose off-white foam. Sparse lacing is left on the glass.

S - Full malty aroma, caramel and toffee, slight astringency, fruity esters, brown sugar, and maybe a hint of root beer.

T - A bit of hop bitterness, toasted malt, some roasted malts also - roasty, grainy, a bit of coffee, a little spicy with some mild pepper aspects, earthy and dirtlike

M - Medium Body, medium carbonation. Sweet and caramelly, slightly sticky and mouth coating, touch of pepper bite on the finish.

O - Overall, this held up pretty well for a 10 year old bottle. Some oxidation is present, rich, sweet, and earthy. Nice!

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2012 19:31:35 | More by portia99
Photo of mntlover
mntlover

Tennessee

4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium brownish/red with a thumb sized tan head that leaves some sparce lace behind.

Aroma is fruity sweet peach, grapes and apricot on a malty base almost toffee like.Spices brown sugar mixed with ginger and hints of cinnamon.

Taste is malty brown sugars an intense fruitiness that lasts for a few seconds then mellows to a nice spice finish. Peppery light cinnamon hints but the pepper lingers and mixes with some light hops flavors still left.

Mouthfeel is medium not as full as it looks but still nice finish is dry.

Drinkability is good this may be in its prime anyway much better then the 04. Want to thanks cretemixer for this treat I would have otherwise never had.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2005 18:05:42 | More by mntlover
Photo of MuddyFeet
MuddyFeet

North Carolina

4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark, dirty amber in color with no head at all. Thus, no lace at all. The aroma is of mild malts that hit the palate stronger than expected. Underneath the malts are hints of coffee and some sort of nut (hazelnut perhaps?). The beer was relatively flat (but that may have been due to my roomate leaving the firdge open for a few hours, beer was still cold but not as cold as if the door had been closed). I think the warmer temperatures brought out more of the flavors. It was very smooth drinking, but almost too bold and rich to enjoy more than two bomber bottles of this stuff.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2004 02:04:28 | More by MuddyFeet
Photo of CRJMellor
CRJMellor

Arkansas

4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2004 05:35:36 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of rajendra82
rajendra82

Georgia

4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Go this in a trade a while ago (can't remember from whom), and just had the fancy to open this tonight. The pour was clear, and reddish brown, and the head atop was small but durable. The beer looked a lot like coke sitting in the tulip. The aroma was like cherries and apples, and was quite mild. The taste was very mellow and sweet, which can be anticipated after six years of aging. There was a spicy edge right under the sweetness, which was surprising. There were no signs of oxidation or other deterioration. I found it a little thin and slippery in the mouth. Very easy to drink for the style with not a whole lot of alcohol burn.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2009 02:22:31 | More by rajendra82
Photo of Wildman
Wildman

Ohio

4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2003 14:44:53 | More by Wildman
Photo of AtLagerHeads
AtLagerHeads

Ohio

3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Certainly this beer will get better with age and cellaring. As it now stands it is a lesser Stone beer which is to say that it is very good, but not great. The look is of dark amber to mahogany with a lively tan head and good lacing.

The nose is complex with much going on and hinting of rich malt, spices, yeast, and some hopping. The aroma is substantial and foretells that this also is going to be complex in flavor, and it is. The predominant flavor to my mind is the base malt sweetness, followed by hints of spice and then more hop flavor than the style would normally denote. These flavors seem less integrated than they would in most beers and I belive that this is where the aging process will begin to tell another tale each year in the future.

The feel is creamy and rich feeling, more filling than a highly drinkable beer should be and the alcohol level further limts this dimension. I look forward to many more tastings of this in the future when it will have matured from a very good beer to a great beer. I sure hope so given the number of bottles I've put back.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2003 00:26:56 | More by AtLagerHeads
Photo of AlexJ
AlexJ

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice surprise at a friend's BBQ last weekend, this Epic pours a dark, rusty garnet color with a beige collar that lasts well in spite of it's higher abv.

Aroma is rather authentic in it's Belgian attributes when sampled cold; dark fruit, toffee, and musty yeast notes with plenty of dark berry. As it warms, more of the caramel, cocoa, and hoppy notes come out.

Flavor follows a similar structure; great overripe dark fruit, strawberry, and dry woody earthiness slowly fades to rich caramel , chocolate and light coffee bitterness. It's plenty hoppy as i expected. I don't know what Alligator pepper is but I don't taste it at all. Alcohol tastes higher than the claimed 8.5%, although it's not hot. Strange, but still good.

Body is pretty big, with a chewy mouthfeel that is more akin to a barleywine. I prefer a more effervescent BSDA.

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2006 22:44:48 | More by AlexJ
Photo of BeerResearcher
BeerResearcher

Massachusetts

4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
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!

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2003 19:11:44 | More by BeerResearcher
Photo of Westsidethreat
Westsidethreat

California

3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Stone Winter Storm

A: Full creamy light tan head spreads out across a burnt umber toffee colored body. There is no bubble activity going on inside the body what so ever.

S: Subtle toffee with a coffee candy approach to it.

T: Subdued caramel and butterscotch with hints of lemon and grapefruit. Slightly cloying across the palate like a candy would be. Finishes with nips of honey and red apple.

M: Medium body with a bit of prickly carbonation.

D: This one was past its prime. Most of the desirable flavors had left the party.

Serving type: on-tap

12-30-2006 03:26:17 | More by Westsidethreat
Photo of WanderingFool
WanderingFool

Massachusetts

4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2003 13:15:38 | More by WanderingFool
Photo of Treebs
Treebs

Illinois

2.58/5  rDev -34%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bottle served in a CCB snifter.

A: Pours a hazy dark amber color with some brown in the body. A thin, light tan head forms on the pour and recedes at a normal pace.

S: Dark fruit with a light over-cooked caramel. Some artificial chocolate notes, almost like a Tootsie Roll.

T: The taste really shows the oxidation, it wasn't that prevalent in the nose. Light paper, stale saltine crackers, medium sweetness and light Tootsie Roll.

M: Medium bodied with a medium carbonation level. The carbonation saves this one form being a complete drain pour.

O: This one didn't stand up as well as the 02.02.02. It was alright, but it had an old artificial flavor to it that didn't sit well with me.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2013 03:31:12 | More by Treebs
Photo of guinness33
guinness33

New Jersey

3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a slightly cloudy amber colour with a nice creamy, thick off-white head. very sticky with nice lacing. the smell is of butter, caramel fruit (mostly berries), bread and molasses. quite complex and quite nice. the taste simply lacks the complexity of the smell. tastes very "young" so to speak (which is understandable as this brew is set to mature properly 9 years from now) and the alcohol which was barely noticeable in the smell simple overpowers everything else here. it's warmth is nice but it's domintant flavour is not. whilst still enjoyable, hopefully this one gets better with age.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2003 18:37:49 | More by guinness33
Photo of goodbyeohio
goodbyeohio

Oregon

4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

this beer pours a dark ruby color with some slight head to it, not much. looks rich like a barleywine, but pours thin. reminds me of a fine wine.

smells of dark, roasted malts. burnt sugar and strong licorice. some orange is evident as well. could sniff this puppy all day.

tastes surprisingly hoppy for a belgian style.. belgian flavor in the background.. a true stone brew. wondering if they didn't rebottle double bastard with a dash of la trappe quad mixed in. this beer is not really what it claims to be on the side of the bottle, but sure is rich and flavorful. hops and coffee dominate the taste.

good, light mouthfeel balances the complex tastes. a winner. unexpected.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2005 20:01:23 | More by goodbyeohio
Photo of taez555
taez555

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-30-2003 23:27:50 | More by taez555
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 266 ratings.