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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.
very good

195 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 195
Hads: 286
Avg: 3.92
pDev: 17.09%
Wants: 89
Gots: 48 | 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: 286
Photo of flexabull
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

When I first saw this beer back in March 2003 I thought...

"Cool! That's my birthday!"

I bought three bottles, drank one right away, set one aside for 12.12.12, I decided I would drink the other one on my 33rd birthday.

So here we are, part of me wanted to hold onto this, trade it, but heck... I had to stick with my original intention.

So at 3:03:03 PM on March 3, 2007, my 33rd birthday, I popped the top off the bottle and poured into my Duvel tulip glass. (I thought about this too much!)

Onto the review...

Beer pours a bright clear brown color, carbonation is still strong, and the head looks great on this one.

Aromas are a bit sour, like a sour apple. There are also some sweet candied fruit smells.

Flavors have really muted and aged pretty nicely. There is a sour taste on the front, and then the beer settles into a creamy malty backbone. The finish is tart, crisp, spicy, and like candied apples.

Mouthfeel is quite nice, the carbonation is still quite strong.

This is a very interesting beer at this point. I remember it being more spicy when I tasted it 4+ years ago. Now it is much smoother, and subtle. It will be really interesting to taste again in 5+ years. It's actually a very drinkable beer at this point, and I am going to savor the rest of this bottle. More kudos to Stone!

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This is a slightly chilled sample. I poured it into my glass and the color is rich dark brown with hints of pink shining through. An off white heads foams up and fades slowly to nothing.
The aroma is mild overall but extremely complex. I pick up some caramel, pears and other fruitiness, and general spciy scents.
The carbonation is average and the brew has a lighter body than expected.
The flavor is tasty and complex as the aroma, I get some spiciness up front with hints of vanilla and clvoes, with a vinous fruity finish. SOme grapes and pears at the ende.
The brew is ver drinkable and smooth rightnow but I think it should be aged a few years to allow the flavors to develop a little more and become slightly more pronounced. The beer is definitely young right now but should improve with a feel years of cellaring.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Homebrew recipe on the website, check it out...
Made with coriander, alligator pepper (aka Grains of Paradise), unmalted wheat, and dark roasted wheat. Somewhat hazy chocolate in color with ruby highlights. Head is poofy, light tan with very good retention and excellent lacing. Aroma is vinous with banana and clove, amber malts, rather modest hopping considering Stone's usual overhopping. Taste begins with darkening bananas, bready sweet amber malts, alcohol, toffee. The mouthfeel is rather smooth, but the finish is ruddy and wooden with a warming alcohol sensation. The level of bittering hops is balanced but quite earthy. This reminds me more of a Leffe Cuvee or Radieuse. It is a good beer, probably the most tolerable of Stone's hyperintense unbalanced brews.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.55/5  rDev +16.1%
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.

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

8 ounce glass at Stone Winter Storm yesterday for four dollars, seemed like a great deal after seeing bottles of this in online auctions for hundreds of dollars, still wished they would have the 2002 though

Color was a deep orange with a bit of brown look, 1/2 inch slightly off white head that disappeated pretty quickly, left some sticky lacing along the glass to my surprise

Smell was sweet and malty, lots of raisins, cherries, prunes, dates, figs, also some hoppiness much to suprise, definitely a strong Belgian yeast presence

Taste was good, had most of the fruits in the aroma right at the beginning, as it warmed a faint amount of nuttiness came that provided a biscuit-like texture for a couple sips, also floral hoppy flavors, well balanced overall with a very sweet feel to it, each sip had a different unique sweetness to it, large variety of fruits, yeast was sweet to go along with it, surprised that a lot of other people do not think too highly of this one, diverse and complex beer overall

Body was full and pretty damn thick but the high level of carbonation threw me off, taste lasted long as well, sweet and chewy mouthfeel

Could have drank a few glasses of this before the sweetness got the best of me, alcohol is pretty high at eight and a half percent, fairly heavy on the stomach, although taste is diverse enough to keep you coming back for more

Have been trying to drink this since it came out pretty much, could not afford unless I went to the event and that was the main reason why I made the trek down here to Escondido, highly recommended to anybody who gets a chance to try it, one of the better VE brews, would love to have again some time in the future

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3/5  rDev -23.5%
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.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A huge thanks to warriorsoul for this one. I have had it before and I have one cellared for a tasting of all at the end, so it is a treat to taste it again. It pours a beautiful dark brown color with some amber hues when held to light. The nose is sweet, with tones of brown sugar and a slight belgian spiceyness in there as well. The flavor is pretty nice, with a slightly apparent alcohol. I get some molasses and raisen with a slight spiceyness on the finish. I like it. The feel is moderate to thick with a moderate carb. The alcohol is not apparent. I really dig this brew. I'm interested to see what it is like after a few more years.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown color. Medium head. Aroma is malt, coriander and peppers. A full bodied ale. This beer is a frelling flavor fest. Malts are bold, slightly sweet and very smooth. It is not very hoppy, which is very unusual for a Stone Brew. But there are plenty of spices to balance it out; coriander, peppers (!), some fruits (apricots and cherries) and a touch of peat and smoke. Very smooth taste. Aging will only make this beer much better. Hides the 9% alcohol very well. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter with some peppery tones. Etched Beer bottle.

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Photo of Crosling
2.84/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First time I've had this beer. Just read Stone's most recent tasting notes and I've gotta say that I disagree with most of their comments. Never did try it fresh, but I bet it was much better then. Even properly cellared my bottle showed a ton of oxidation, especially in the aroma. Some hints of wild forest fruit and roast, but mostly just oxidation in the nose. Upon tasting, there are other elements (i.e. honeyed fruit, some hints of Belgian yeast, roast, toffee), but are all muted and a bit stale and it's really oxidized.

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Photo of charlzm
2.79/5  rDev -28.8%
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.

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Photo of portia99
4/5  rDev +2%
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!

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Photo of clvand0
4.65/5  rDev +18.6%
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.

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Photo of jaasen64
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.35/5  rDev +11%
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.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The only "problem" with this one, was that it was so heavy, it would be hard to enjoy more than one at one sitting. Other than that, it was unbelieveable. It was a nice dark color w/ a tan head that was super duper thick. If you want a beer with multiple levels of depth, then you gotta have this one. It was a full malted beverage, with elements of dark fruits, chocolate, caramel, and various other malts. One of the best things about it, is that it was super smooth. It just rolled down the throat and had a little bit of creaminess to it.

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Photo of marc77
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of granger10
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
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.

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Photo of mntlover
4/5  rDev +2%
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.

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Photo of aracauna
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of Sixpoint
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one at the FUNKY beer tasting at Barcade.

My first impression is that this beer has held up remarkably well. It is now 4.5 years old at this stage, and it tastes great. I really would have liked to see how it tasted fresh.

My sample had plenty of brown sugar notes and some spice. It tastes like an interesting/complex hoppy supercharged American Brown ale brewed with some Belgian yeast.

Cheers to Stone Brewing Co and their Epic series - it really introduced a lot of folks to a whole new spectrum of beers.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of peabody
3.18/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a nice clear dark brown like really dark ice tea. 1/2 finger of offwhite suds that leave lacing around the glass.
Smell is corriander,malt,yeast burn and just a hint of the alcohol.
Taste is a little weak but I get the spice and the raisin bread right off. Goes into a boozy weak mess of malt and sugar.
Mouthfeel is a little hot but clean enough and the finish is just a tad sticky and again weak.
Overall this one didn't do too well. Stone rates low on this hyped swill.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
4.07/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

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Photo of Wildman
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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