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21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

154 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 154
Hads: 238
Avg: 3.92
pDev: 11.99%
Wants: 33
Gots: 22 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: womencantsail on 03-27-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 154 | Hads: 238
Photo of billab914
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Allagash glass. It poured black in color with a big, bubbly, frothy, tan colored head to it. The head retreated to the edge of the glass and left some nice lacing as I drank it.

The first thing apparent in the aroma is the citrusy, grapefruit like hoppiness. I get the herbal, very slightly peppery flavors I assume is the added spices. It gives the hoppiness an interesting twist. A moderate malty sweetness is behind it all with just a touch of roastiness. The alcohol is pretty apparent as well.

The taste starts out with some of the herbal flavors along with some of that hoppiness as well. Midway I get more of a dry, roasty flavor coming through. It gets sweeter in the finish with the figs really coming through as well as some of the herbal qualities lingering. Some alcohol shows through as well.

The mouthfeel is on the thicker side with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is decent, it was an interesting beer with some cool flavors. The figs were particularly interesting to me, and the spices weren't bad either. At least the spices were more reserved and didn't dominate the beer. Not a bad beer at all but one that probably falls into the interesting and cool to try once category and not a regular purchase category.

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes to BeerFMAndy for sharing this one. A strong ale from Stone? What are the odds? I didn't know they even made strong ales.

A: Pitch black with a modest finger of beige head. Soapy lace fast fading. No cap.

S: The hops show up first. Coffee and malt stir for some attention. I think I can pick up the pepper and fennel. Although it just smells like spices to me.

T: A robust smoky coffee flavor stands out. A touch of hops as well. Again I believe I taste the pepper and fennel. Yet it just comes off as spicy to me.

M: Medium body. Very mild carbonation.

D: Overall a decent and flavorful beer.

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Photo of Retsinis
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Bruery Tulip Glass.

Pour is black, that light does not really penetrate, though upon closer inspection, there are some dark brown/red edges that are visible though near the top.

Inch of head, deep tan/cappuccino color that fades to just lacing that sticks to the side of the glass.

Aroma is of coffee, chocolate, figs, a little pepper.

Taste is similar to the Aroma, dark malt, a little hops, chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit. A very small amount of pepper, but just a hint. I also pick up some vanilla. The Age is starting to meld the flavors together well, and the 9.5% ABV is well hidden.

Creamy carbonation, medium bodied, very smooth with just a hint of hops that are now blending well with the dark malts. I'm enjoying it, need to pick up more to age longer.

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

12oz. bottle: This one pours a dark, inky brown color. There was about an inch of a light brown head on it that subsided fairly quickly. This has a nice nose. I get some faint chocolate and roasty notes, as well as a hint of alcohol. I also get some dark fruits, possibly figs, and some spices. The spiciness is a bit unusual. That must be the fennel. Very nice taste. Chocolate and roasted malts on top, with some of the figs and spices. No sweetness at all, with a bit of bitterness to it. Very nice!

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Photo of portia99
3.23/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

A - Pours a deep dark brown color that is bordering on black. A thin cap of brown foam briefly pauses on top of the beer and falls to a loose collar and spotty lacing on the glass.

S - Hmm, this is definitely a case of me not reading the bottle well before opening. Not at all what I was expecting from a black ale. There is a huge waft of aroma that comes up from the glass even from a foot or two away...huge molasses and figs, practically like opening a pack of Fig Newtons. I can barely find any fennel, I do get some of the peppercorns and I honestly don't know what chia seed smells like to know if any is in there. The figs dominate giving a dark fruity aroma overall. Not getting any hops either in here. Not sure what I think of this...it is a bit weird for me, but not entirely unpleasant either.

T - Closer to what I expected...bit roasted malt flavor with coffee-like bitterness/roastiness at teh forefront. The figs surround this flavor and as the coffee fades away the figs pick up strength and create an interesting transition of flavors. Somewhat alcoholic tasting, a bit boozy. Not exactly blowing me away...

M - Medium bodied. Carbonation is ample. Roasty and tons of dark fruity figs that overpower by a quite a bit for me. Fizzy and a bit slick on the tongue with an herbal (fennel, I'm guessing) quality in the finish.

D - I'm good with the one 12oz bottle. Glad I had an opportunity to try this...an interesting experiment that didn't really hit home for me, but was still well brewed.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle split with tickwolf77 (on our birthday) into a Bruery tulip. 9.5% ABV, Age at cellar temp 55°F or below.

A - Pours black with a good clarity. A dense tan head lingers for a while before becoming a skim of foam with some lace mirroring mountain silhouettes.

S - The spice additions really create an aroma in this beer I've never smelled before. Notes of fig come through with the dark chocolate roasted malts. I don't know what Chia is but I definitely get some of the fennel and peppercorns in this. Herbal and grassy, earthy notes as well. Funky aroma!

T - Good spice balance in the flavor thankfully. The nose is good but I was unsure of how it would translate. Fennel and peppercorn works well with the roasted malts and figs.

M - I like the medium body and slightly dry texture to the roasted bitter and spicy finish. Smooth with a good medium carbonation level.

D - No alcohol presence. Good drinkability even though it was split. The $6.99 price for a 12 oz bottle is a little steep though.

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

Stone El Camino on tap at mighty Max's on B'more, MD, served in a standard pint.

Appearance: Very dark deep ebony, almost black. Little head. No lacing.

Smell: Very opaque, not much comes through. Distant spices, a throat-scratching end. Some booze. Billed as an "American Strong Ale" here on BA but really a Black IPA.

Taste: Roasty toasty bitter! Bitterness upfront, hops. Some coffee and bitter chocolate. A lip-smacking, tongue-tickling finish.

Mouthfeel: Heavy carbonation and bitterness, medium body, full flavor. Boozier as it mellows. Slightly oily.

Drinkability: Pretty high. More difficult as it warms up and becomes a sipper, but good anyway.

This is a very solid and enjoyable beer. Nothing groundbreaking or huge-hard-on-worthy here, but a nice drinkable brew. Cheers!

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

Polished mahogany liquid in the lower half of the snifter and dark brown sugar mousse in the upper half. The head shrinks slowly, develops a little rockiness as it does so, and is leaving small scraps of melty suds on the sides of the glass.

The nose is a pleasant combination of roasted malt, hops and assorted spices. None of the unique ingredients (all from California) are appreciated per se. The brewers added chia seeds (which create Chia Pets when they sprout on pottery), pink peppercorns, fennel seeds and Mission figs. Second solid score in a row.

The following combination gets me every time: talented brewers, quality ingredients, abundant ingredients, interesting ingredients, hugely flavorful beer, huge hops. This offering is the bee's knees for those of you who feel the same. It's probably a positive that none of the ingredients really steal the show.

A massive amount of massively roasted malt might have something to do with the leveling effect on the flavor profile. Dark chocolate and charred coffee beans tend to gloss over nuance. Sweet and bitter are locked in a titanic duel, while fruity and spicy-herbal happily trail along in their wake. There may be a hint of warmth from the peppercorns and a little earthiness from the various seeds. Damn good beer!

The mouthfeel isn't sappy and sticky, which is to its credit. It's still at least medium-full for the ABV and is carbonated to perfection. There are no rough edges in sight and there's plenty of creamilicious hang-on.

El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale is yet another outstanding Stone Collaboration, this time California-only. There are too many of these to brew them all on a regular or seasonal basis, but this beautiful beast should get some serious consideration if the brewery can squeeze it into their already tight schedule.

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Photo of John_M
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours a darkish brown with good head retention and lacing. As with the bottle, the nose is impressive, though the perfumy hoppiness isn't quite as intense. Still, this beer shows some nice coffee, chocolate and underlying hoppy bitterness. Flavors replicate the nose, with some noticeable bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fairly long, fairly bitter finish. Drinkability is pretty good, with the 9.5% pretty well disguised. I can tell the alcohol is up there, but it's not over the top or too intense.

Still a very fine beer, but I thought this beer considerably better out of the bottle.

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Photo of david18
3.72/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had a draft of this at Rattle and Hum in Manhattan's mid town. It was among the many beers I hadn't tried. Another good beers and a highlight of the weekend. Very dark with a great hop aroma. The alcohol was hidden pretty well among the other flavors and this is a very balance beer overall especially for something of this strength.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours nearly black with a good tan head. The nose is really nice and brings forward some citrus and tropical hops as well as a bit of pine. Roasted malt with a bit of chocolate in there, and faint hints of pepper. I was really skeptical of this after not enjoying most of the other collaborations; however, this really worked out and the pepper didn't really go too far. Nice mouthfeel with a bit of spice. Nice roast and bitter characteristics playing off one another. Quite drinkable; a very nice collaboration that wasn't taken too far in any one direction.

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Photo of zeff80
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a small, tan head of foam. Okay head retention and some lacing

S - It smelled of boozy alcohol and sweet caramel malt. Some floral hop presence.

T - More of a roasted malt flavor you'd expect in a stout. It had some sharp citrusy hop bitterness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

D - This is another good collaboration brew that Stone has done. It almost seems like it could fit the new Black IPA category.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a short beige head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, chocolate, some dark fruit and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste likewise starts out with a hearty roasted malt character. Then some mildly sweet flavors of dark fruit, chocolate and some coffee come in followed by a strong but not over-powering hops bitterness. There's a little bit of creaminess to it and a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this is a very good strong dark beer worth drinking for a long time.

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Photo of dfillius
4.53/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Thanks to ksullnh for the bottle!
A: Aggressive pour yields 3/4 finger tight brown head with stellar retention. Opaque nearly black liquid. Amazing looking.

S: Bright citrus hops, tropical fruit, coconut, coffee, chocolate, slight boozy character that grows as it warms is only negative.

T: Nutty, milk chocolate, roasted beets, slight smarties candy flavor (from fennel seed?). Great malt sweetness with slight estery alcohol. Tastes great with Kettle BBQ chips.

M: Smooth and creamy (lactose?). Moderate and pleasant bitterness. Could be really boozy but stays creamy and mellow.

D: I like it a lot and would order another. I would maybe buy six, but it's definitely not a session beer

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.36/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served from a growler purchased at Charleston Beer Exchange on 8/31/10. Pours into a snifter a nearly opaque black with black cherry colored highlights along the bottom of the glass. A huge, tan/mocha colored head forms on top and is quite dense and rocky.

Aroma is sweet and alcoholic and roasty, loads of piney hops, with not much else going on. Hints of dark fruits.

Flavor is sweet up front with a big alcoholic kick and warmth. Bitter hops and oily, piney residue. The roast components are hidden or muddled because of the large pine hop presence. Quite fruity as well in the beginning, and then all fades to piney bitterness.

Perhaps too bitter and way too piney. The hops are the star here and basically cover up everything else except the alcohol. Minimal coffee and roasted flavors, but mostly, this is a hop bomb. As much as I love hops and bitterness, this one is way too oily for my tastes. Doubtful I will ever try this again.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled August 2010
A vigorous pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a four-finger thick, richly browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is quite dark in color, near black but with some dark chocolate notes to it. The beer shows quite opaque when held up to the light, but does show a touch of a concentrated amber hue around the edges. The aroma smells quite interesting; fruity, a sort of anise like character, a bit of herbal notes, some definite prune, green peppercorn and something a bit like herbal coriander. A touch of dark malt adds a hint of roast towards the end; it gets wrapped up in the fruit character and comes off as burnt prune and perhaps burnt caramel more than anything. Other dark malt notes that are more sweet make the entirety that is this beers aroma remind me of a rich, black, dense, very sweet, spice cake / bread.

Smooth tasting, creamy and viscous up front, the beer finishes with some roast grain bitterness, some spicy notes and a lingering, almost chalk-like, cocoa and toasted malt character. This is fairly sweet (though it finishes dry because of the previously mentioned character), which accentuates notes of prunes and dried figs. A soft, but firm bitterness helps the spices in the finish balance out the up front sweetness and fruit character, though the latter is definitely the dominant note in this beer. This is most definitely a sipping beer, what with the sweetness, the spices and the medium body; it is not overly heavy for its strength though.

Wow, I am quite a bit more impressed with this beer than I was expecting. To be honest, when I purchased this beer I figured it would be another hoppy, dark beer. I really like the interplay of spices and dark malt character here; this ended up pretty darn tasty and the whole thing really reminds me of a rich, black, dense, very sweet, spice cake / bread. The spices can be a little strong here (though so can the rest of the beer) and I am glad that I am splitting this bottle of beer (the alcohol contributes to this as well). And the smaller portions make this a great dessert beer (I bet you it would be quite tasty as a vanilla ice cream beer float).

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Photo of thagr81us
2.41/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had at the Stone Tap Takeover in Charlotte. Served from tap into a tumbler. Poured basically black with a minimal tan head. Maintained decent lacing throughout. The aroma was comprised of bready malt, oregano, and pepper. The flavor was of malt, pepper, skunky hops, with a bad bitter oregano aftertaste. It had a light feel on the palate with low carbonation. Overall this brew definitely extended my palate, only not in a good way. I was not really a fan of the brew at all. The aftertaste just killed it for me. Also the aroma and flavor were very strange with the oregano being the overpowering factor in this one.

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Photo of salvo
2.62/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Appearance is like motor oil: dark, thick, opaque, clings to the glass, with a half inch of brown head. Actally, and I've never sen this before, the head started white and then mixed with brown to make a cappucino-like froth that mixed milky white with coffee brown.

Nose was heavy and complex. Fig and fennel come through as do chocolate, coffee, roasty, smoky, earthy and bready malts. There's certainly some hops here, but the malt and fruit ingredients are so pungent and strong that the hops are challenging to pick out other than to acknowledge that they are there.

Coats the tongue and mouth: thick, sickly sweet; too much in many ways. Coffee and chocolate dominate, with fig, coriander, and fennel just behind. Undrinkable in my estimation, but some extreme seekers will undoubtedly love this. It's too much in ten different ways all blended together to create a very unpleasant and overwhelming mishmash.

Heavy--unpleasantly so. Coats the mouth. Again, not in a good way. If you have any hesitations, pick something else off the shelf. Life's too short.

Not a successful collaboration. What's a camel? A horse designed by committee. This is a camel.

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Photo of PTMcB
3.51/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Dark black with chocolate colored head. The head slowly recedes while leaving a good display with the brown lacing and dark stout.

S - The smell is of sweetened hops. There may be some chocolate, but there is a sweet and spicy smell in there.

T - It's very rich with roasted malt, but nothing like a syrup. Very good hops with the twist of an IPA bitterness. Hint of chocolate and caramel, but some oatmeal as well. A slight spicyness also.

M - Great carbonation, rich and creamy.

T - Much better than I expected! It pours thick, but the drink does not fill you up quickly at all. The sweetness of it is not overwhelming, but I don't think this is something I would have to often. All in all, quite a good beer. At the least a recommended "try."

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty dark black-brown colour, head is ochre, fairly humble with a bit of sinkage, but leaving some pretty spectacular lace behind, pretty sticky and thick. Yeah, looks pretty good.

Smell is fairly strong, but a really nice dark roasty malt all over it. Slightly meaty on there and a slight floral hint to it as well. Yeah, quite dark, with chocolate and mild coffee. Nice, and interesting.

Taste is fairly dark as well with mild espresso notes and a slight meaty flavour. Yeah, nice alcohol warmth as well on the back, but overall it's a nice just slightly toasty flavour, with licorice spice, a hint of pepper and some burnt sugar as well. Yeah, nice sweetness that is still nicely dark overall, with a hint of boozey bite on the back.

A little bit thinner than I would want on the front, but the warmth at the back gives it a kick.

Yeah, a pleasant beer, nicely mellow blend for the most part. A little odd but enjoyable.

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Photo of yemenmocha
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours nearly opaque black with tan head. Nose is rich with dark roasted coffee. Even more roasty flavors come together with the coffee on the palate, with some toasted grain sweetness as well, and a rich and roasty bitter finish/aftertaste. It's very slow drinking, and some of the bitterness is a bit too far for me.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.27/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a Bells Tulip. Thanks to Alex for this one. Stone, please stop the collaborations, am I the only one that has not been impressed with one of these yet? Anyway a light black and watery pour, not much carbonation...The taste and aroma are the same, tons of figs, brown sugar, and its way too boozy, alcohol seeps through. The finish is a huge alcohol burn not at all appitizing...Tough to drink.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ah, what a nostalgic beer. I remember driving along El Camino Real myself. Unfortunately, I've never made it as far as Stone, but I've still managed to pick up this brew, and drag it back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @ToBeerOrNotToBe.

Very black and very heavy body; opaque, and forming fantastic reverse cascading throughout. Nice foamy head of light chocolate foam that dissipates to a half-centimetre. Minimal lacing. Looks pretty good though.

Slightly sweaty on the nose, with sweet overtones, a little herbal influence and peppery bite. The funky, slightly sweaty character is dominant though. It's odd. I can't say I'm a huge fan.

Taste is quite light, but exceptionally long. Long and languid black malt notes reign, and the pepper hints linger to the very back giving a slight prickling on the finish. Bit of heat to be felt as well. Feel is slick and the languidity and length really aids it (as, probably, does the Thievery Corporation playing in the background). An interesting brew, no doubt.

It's an unusual beer, but the Stone collaborations I've had in the past have been better. This one falls a little short for me -- it doesn't have the dimensionality of the others, although it's still a very interesting and robust brew.

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Photo of BTPete
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured to tulip.

A: Dark black, small head that dissipated away, reducing to nothing.

S: roasted malt and some coffee. Spice and black licorice.

T: nice smooth roasted malt, bitter coffee notes, spicy and peppery, licorice again in the mouth.

M: medium to full bodied, medium carbonation. smooth on the tongue.

D: Not my favorite collab by stone, still solid. Not a huge black licorice fan and usually ask for fennell to be removed from my food.

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Photo of samie85
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a pretty dark brown almost black color with a dark chestnut colored one finger head.

S-Definitely some oak with a little vanilla, some rich chocolate notes and figs with a hint of fennel on the finish.

T-Chocolate and roasty upfront with hit of spice in the middle (combo of peppercorn and fennel) with somewhat sweet and drying finish with a slight bit if sweet alcohol.

M-Pretty viscous and mouth-coating at frst with medium body and medium carbonation. It finishes dry and with a warming back of the mouth- and throat-feel.

D-Pretty high considering everything got thrown into this one. i really like the chocolate notes and the spice was an interesting counterpoint to that sweetness. The spice also hurt the drinkability a little, but the complexity it creates was one I've never experienced before.

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21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 154 ratings.