Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

BA SCORE
87
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
Ratings:
287
Reviews:
195
Avg:
3.92
pDev:
14.03%
 
 
Wants:
91
Gots:
45
For Trade:
5
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 287 |  Reviews: 195
Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of KYGunner
3.87/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Ten year old Three set up with a mellow cognac color, light carbonation and a thin but billowing head.

The scent is all dates. The dates are hearty, fruity and robust. After a while I began to detect a soft buttery toffee.

The flavor is spicy with a peppery tone followed by a dry sherry. It's not overly diverse but very nice in its mellowness.

Speaking of mellow the feel is inordinately smooth with an expensive liquor like flow.

This was the last of the Vertical Epics I tasted at this event but found this old man to be easily the smoothest of the group.

 564 characters

Photo of RedDiamond
4.31/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Full-bodied malty aroma with lush fruity complexity. A truly profound smell. Has all the plums and figs of a Dickens novel. Pours a deep red-chestnut brown with little floaty yeasties and very soft carbonation that crafts a silky head. Pour it slowly to avert that slurry of yeast particles.

The taste expounds upon the smell and includes a mad spice rack of flavors that hint at nutmeg, allspice, and a chairlift ride up the sugar candy mountain. There’s also an alcohol edge to the taste. I’m not mad about the finish which is a little torn or fragmented, but I’m willing to give it another eight years or so to round out a bit.
This is a heavy, deliberate brew that improves notably at room temperature.

 720 characters

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.

 829 characters

Photo of Brent
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

 458 characters

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.

 718 characters

Photo of Adamostella
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%

Photo of mikeincharleston
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%

Photo of merlin48
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's always a guilty pleasure to read the amusing boasts, harangues,and information on a 22oz Stone bottle. This edition proclaims, "...designed to be aged until some time after December 12, 2012". I wonder how many will last half that long. I poured this into a St Bernardus goblet, at cellar temperature. It appears a clear dark mahogany out of the light, a striking orange/ruby amber when held to the light. The beige head quickly faded into all kinds of lacing. Aroma is very Belgian, with rum soaked fruits, bourbon dipped raisins, bubblegum, biscuity malt, coriander, dark pepper, and some piney and citrus hops that aren't so Belgian.
Mouthfeel is smooth and silky. Moderate carbonation with some alcohol bite.
Taste is impressive, but can't match the extraordinary nose. Plenty of dark fruits, coriander leads the rack of spices, some malt sweetness, wild Alpha hops, and then considerable vinous overtones. The vinous traits combine with the alcohol to overwhelm all of the wonderful ingredients in this sensous brew. This becomes overbearing to the point of being a significant distraction, but who am I to argue. I opened the bottle over eight years early. Still, this is a very good Belgian style strong sipping ale. I enjoyed it with homemade pizza.

 1,267 characters

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.41/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought a half-case of these, I better get another half-case if I get the chance. Stone presentation of all of their beers is so top notch, no other bottle gets read as fully as theirs.

I wasn't really sure what to expect on the pour. It wasn't as dark as I guessed it would be. Light hazelnut color, I poured it fairly headless, I'll have to have another and go for some bubbles next time.

Smells much like a Belgian, malty nose, some spice I cannot identify, probably coriander.

Tastes very good, excellent initial combination of malt and Belgian yeast, alcohol presence pushing through as the flavors settle across the tongue. Smooth, a little bubbly mouthfeel, an entertaining play in the mouth. Just as the carbonation burn yields from its peak, I detect the spiciness of the alligator pepper. Not a crazy, hot spiciness, rather mild, not exactly complimenting the Belgian-ness, but not fighting it either. This will be very interesting to try after aging for a few years.

This is dangerously drinkable, the alcohol level is well-masked by the flavors, it'll backdoor you if you're not watching.

 1,113 characters

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...
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.

 821 characters

Photo of ehammond1
3.13/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Stone Epic Festival 12-12-12
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido, CA

(Aged for 9 years)

Muddy dark brown with a small brown head. Leaves dots of stick down the glass.

Mild fruitcake aroma, some earth, and brown bread. There's a faint spice character, but everything is very mild. Unsurprising, at this age.

The flavor follows the aroma, with some dulled spices, mild Belgian yeast, and simple dark wheat bread. Though I wasn't fortunate enough to try this fresh, I can only imagine that this one has lost a lot from the time in the vault. It simply tastes old, dulled, and uninteresting.

Medium bodied with low-moderate carbonation.

Decent enough and interesting, and I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to try this, but the liquid in the glass wasn't particularly exciting.

 789 characters

Photo of koopa
4/5  rDev +2%

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.

 334 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the chalice crystal clear deep amber almost brown with a white and low head which did remain to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty and very fruity with a strong dark fruit complexity of raisins and prunes. The aroma also contained a nice chocolate aroma and a light phenolic high alcohol spice character. The spice contained coriander and also a tobacco aromatic.

The flavor was lighter than expected after the flourish of the aroma. The biggest component was a citrusy flavor component when first poured. As the beer warmed a chocolate and tobacco presence emerged with a nice caramel flavor and a peppery, coriander spice. The more the beer warmed the more of a molasses flavor that emerged.

The finish was dry with a lasting ligh pepper and coriander and a slight winey character coupled with chocolate and caramel into the aftertaste. The body was medium. The beer contained a definite warming after consumption from the alcohol present.

22 ounce bottle. If you have one, go ahead and consume it, this one doesn't seem to be passing the test of time as well as it could.

 1,109 characters

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!

 1,331 characters

Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%

Photo of jvillefan
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%

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

 1,692 characters

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.

 759 characters

Photo of BcOneSeven
5/5  rDev +27.6%

Photo of MickeyHops
3.22/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

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.

 640 characters

Photo of NickMunford
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Magery
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
3.92 out of 5 based on 287 ratings.
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