Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic AleStone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale
BA SCORE
3.9/5
Very Good
287 Ratings
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic AleStone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States
stonebrewing.com

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by kbub6f on 03-03-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
-
Reviews:
195
Ratings:
287
pDev:
14.1%
Bros Score:
4.14
 
 
Wants:
91
Gots:
45
Trade:
5
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 287 |  Reviews: 195
Photo of codynevels
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of aracauna
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

 1,119 characters

Photo of Sixpoint
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

 521 characters

Photo of JTomczak
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of MuddyFeet
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

 589 characters

Photo of Wildman
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

 456 characters

Photo of Eriktheipaman
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of taez555
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

 1,477 characters

Photo of Bnoise11
4.25/5  rDev +9%

Photo of scootny
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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

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

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

Feel is thick and smoothly carbonated. Good winter weight.

A nice take on the style.

 446 characters

Photo of BeerResearcher
4.43/5  rDev +13.6%
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!

 753 characters

Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.9/5  rDev 0%
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.

 1,083 characters

Photo of AlexJ
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

 848 characters

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.2/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

 552 characters

Photo of Treebs
2.58/5  rDev -33.8%
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.

 698 characters

Photo of SixpointJMH
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

 597 characters

Photo of jkball01
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of goodbyeohio
4.04/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

 686 characters

Photo of fox227
4.46/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of BeerManDan
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a beautiful "Belgian-Style" ale.

When poured, a nice dark amber brown with little foam and a lot of lace in the glass. The smell of spices, yeast and wheat just is overpowing and pleasanto to the nose. The taste is a well balance of malts, spices, yeast and malts, combined it makes for a winning combination. This brings together a complex balance of a sweet/bitterness nature and is so pleasant in the mouth ond after taste.

Bring on more, I can't get enough of a good brew. Will store for future use!

 515 characters

Photo of russwbeck
3.45/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Churchkey.

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

 462 characters

Photo of mschofield
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted at 9 months (12/03) old:
Hazy copper-brown, 3 finger frothy tan head.
Very strong roasted malt aroma, nutty, coriander, dark wheat orange, highly hopped.
Caramel, fruit (pear, apricot and raisin), smoky, peat type note as well, buttered bread. Almost a whisky taste, peppery, and tangy, nicely warming.
Drinkability is a fairly moot point for a limited brew, but the only thing holding this back is the ABV. I have one more stocked away in the cellar.

 462 characters

Photo of BuckTuckian
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of CityofBals
2/5  rDev -48.7%

Photo of beernut7
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I spotted this on the shelf the day after visiting the brewery. I hadn’t remembered seeing anything about this brew there so of course I had to grab as much of it as I could just for good measure. What a unique ass kicking brew. Pours a deep hazy brown underneath a thing lace. Strong ester yeast aroma with undertones of coriander. The flavor is just as heavy with a strong bitterness and Belgian white yeast flavor and the lingering essence of floral pepper. The heavy malt presence rounds out the complex build of this beer. Can be described on a whole as a concrete block pumped filled with a Belgian ale and dropped on your head from afar. Very heavy, very flavorful.

 673 characters

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.9 out of 5 with 287 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.