Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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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
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Ratings: 287 |  Reviews: 195
Photo of HossMcGraw
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of CharlesRiver
3.91/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.4/5  rDev +12.8%
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 beerinator
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amberish red, clear with an off white thickly retentive head.

Aroma: Arrogantly bastardish aroma at first. Hints of spice and nuttiness pokes through. Aroma is nice, but is super reminiscent of Stone's other beers.

Taste: Complex. Sweet upfront with complex bitterness coming from the hops and maybe the spicing. The spices are muted, compared to the heavy caramel from the malt, and the finishing hops. This beer might be a bit awkward.

Notes: There are flavors coming from all directions. Every sip leads to different flavors, and sometimes they seem like they're conflicting with each other. A few years of aging will do nothing but make this beer better. The hops could stand to be mellowed a bit, and maybe the spices with come through a bit more.

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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.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.55/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 22 oz. bottle. The color is a dark amber, with a creamy white head. The smell is the typical rich, yeasty malt dubbel smell. The taste has hints of spicing like most dubbels but has a definite hoppiness to it unlike any of the Belgians I've had. Mouthfeel is remarkably smooth, with no noticable alcohol. Drinkability-wise, if I could find a bunch of bottles I'd certainly have a few more.

Wow...Stone puts its own stamp on a Belgian, and as always makes it even better. Though I sadly missed the 2.2.02 release, I'll be sure to get as many of the later releases as I can, and hopefully find my way to a 2012 vertical tasting...only 9 years to wait!

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Photo of hotstuff
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

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Photo of Running4beer
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

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Photo of BierReise
4/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of xgrigorix
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Twenty two ounce brown bottle, vintage dated (03.03.03). Enjoyed on 8/4/03 - 5 months & 1 day after its release.

Glowing dark auburn color with a creamy white head.

Spice and hop aromas fill the air.

Big caramel malt flavor, is balance out by raw wheat. This is followed by snappy pepper and coriander flavors. A hint of plums and apples lie in there as well. Big hop loaded finish. This has already taken on a bit of a port like character in just a few months.

Big full body, smooth.

Do I really need to wait to enjoy my other bottle. This is already very drinkable.

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Photo of freed
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

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Photo of Brent
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was something of a surprise. High abv, youth and description of "alligator pepper" spicing lead me to expect this to be on the harsh side. To the contrary, this beer was quite smooth. Soft, almost creamy mouthfeel. Dark fruits plus roasted malt that touched on the porter flavor range. Unlike any strong dark Belgian style I've had, and really seemed to defy categorization. Quite nice, and it will be interesting to see how this evolves with time.

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Photo of Jon
3.72/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Well, this may be the first Stone brew about which I'm not overly ecstatic. That's not to say, of course, that I won't be next year, or even nine years from now, due to the nature of this beer. The 03-03-03 Vertical Epic pours a light brown/mahogany color with reddish tints and a 1/4", cream colored head that leaves some nice lace down the chalice. The nose features notes of sweetness, although the most abundant aromas are that of pepper, yeast and coriander. Nice fresh smelling smell overall. This is one intense Belgian dubbel-style brew. The first flavor that hit my palate was that of the alligator pepper used in the brewing process. Whoa, almost too much spice for my palate. Big notes of alpha hops, as mentioned on the bottle, are present on the finish. Some notes of yeast present themselves when the beer warms up a bit, as well. As a matter of fact, the brew mellows out quite a bit as the beer reaches room temperature. The mouthfeel is somewhat creamy and it fills the mouth quite well. Overall, this is interesting -- a very much Stone take on a Belgian dubbel style ale. I plan on buying more of these and trying them during the next nine years to see how they mature. This should be a very tasty brew as it cellars, it just needs some maturation to set it right. A quality effort from the folks in San Marcos nevertheless -- it takes balls to brew something like this.

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Photo of clvand0
4.65/5  rDev +19.2%
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.

 1,103 characters

Photo of Jason
4.14/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22 oz brown bomber with a vintage date of 03.03.03

Appearance: The head billows up like a summer thunder storm rushing the land, you can almost hear the bigger bubble crackling as the head subsides. The deepest amber burgundy hue I have seen, a bit dark and murky.

Smell: Coriander gives a hard flick to the nose then a ten car pile up of smells; clove, solvent alcohol, ripe pear, nutty yeast, orange peel, starburst candies, tobacco, musty leather, spicy pepper and toasted malt. Baboom!

Taste: Slick with a smooth and creamy mouth feel as it slides around the palate, very spicy with a smack down of clove and other peppery treats. The warmth of the alcohol is quick and tries to subdue with its fruitiness yet it scratches the mouth with a nail of solvent alcohol. The malt does not rock the boat yet seems to hold this brew together. Finishes spicy sweet with a long lingers phenolic.

Notes: The spiciness and phenols won’t let you forget this beer, Stone Brewing pulled this one out of the mystery bag … a spectacular turn out to say the least.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Ruby mahogany tone this is one massive beer that sits in front of me, with a huge tiny bubbled tan creamy head sitting at least three fingers thick just awesome appearance with huge thick annular rings of lucious lace. Aroma is packed with a peppery spiced up edge to it some coriander evident along with softness of wheat sweetness there are hops flowing through the air not as harsh as I had thought they were going to due to the fact that this beer is supposed to last until December 12, 2012 but very nice floral pine cone hops. A very hopped up bitterness yet balanced by caramelly sweet belgium malts and spices a bit peppery in the finish has an edge to it that still shows signs that it is going to mellow out. Mouthfeel is full and fluffy textured but silky smooth at the same time, I cannot wait to grab a few more bottles of this delightful nectar to store and determine how it's going to change with time. Drinkability, suprisingly is very smooth not totally ripe but not too green to enjoy this one, what a journey our friends at Stone have started for us true beer lovers, wow!!!

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Photo of Indybeer
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle. Poured a deep dark amber color, with a healthy head that didn't stick around long, but left some lacing on the glass. Aroma is kind of sweet and slightly malty. To me the taste was all over the place with sweet hints and bitter bite intermingled, This definetly needs to mature. Can't wait to try this again in a few years!

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Photo of Stingray5
4.19/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of frank4sail
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
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....

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Photo of sinistersteve
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.56/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep, dark, rustic mahoganey in color with an inch high luscious, rich, puffy thick, ivory colored frothy head, great sticking thickly stringed lace. Nice aroma of toffee and dark fruits with a note of nuts and spice. Taste is complex, smooth, rich full bodied, and quite yummy, good dark toffee and caramel candy sense, dark fruits of plum, raisin, and orange. Solid grab and feel of balanced hops in the middle right into the lightly dancing bitter drying finish with a hint of nuts, spice, and alcohol. Good full body feel with awesome smoothness and lingering light tang in the mouth after each sip. This is is some great stuff, yummy as hell, and to hell with waiting to open this brew, live now, its worth it!

Thanks to Gusler for the bottle.

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Photo of stegmakk
3.81/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Originally tasted 6/23/03
Poured a beautiful shade of brown with a nice tan head that left nice lacing...
Aroma...couldn't get much aroma...some spices...hint of malt maybe...
Taste...mmmmm...tasted like a mellow belgian...had initial maly clove...with a definate pepper end...very nice...cant wait to try some in a year or so to see how complex this can get...
Mouthfeel was perfectly done...thick yet smooth
Drinkability...good...when I buy some more I just have to resist the urge to drink them right away...

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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!

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Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very good beer, but not what I expected! This beer tastes almost *exactly* like a lighter version of the Bethlehem Brew Works 'Rudolphs Reserve'. The resemblance is uncanny. This beer poured a dark red, brown colour with a decent head. The aromas are of belgian candy sugar, yeast, various spices, and hops. This beer has a medicinal aroma that reminds me of Orval quite a bit. This beer gets more mellow and malty as it warms up, and I suggest drinking it slighlty below room temperature. The mouthfeel is quite thick and the drikability is very good for this big belgian-style brew!

This was a damn good beer from Stone, but I have been here before!
Cheers to The Long Beach Bum, for this very limited offering!
-F

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Photo of Mitchster
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Homebrew recipe on the website, check it out...
http://stonebrew.com/timeline/030303/recipe.html
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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Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.9 out of 5 with 287 ratings
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