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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,410 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,410
Reviews: 713
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 12.8%
Wants: 55
Gots: 139 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  10.80% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: HopHead84 on 08-16-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,410 | Reviews: 713 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Pahn:
Photo of Pahn
4.69/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Free pour yields a two inch fluffy tan head that dissipates steadily leaving a tight lacing ring. Pours jet black and leaves short lasting spots of lacing.

Smell: From the bottle: cutting grapefruit in a greenhouse. In the glass: Potent citrus, pine, and general damp forest freshness. Bit of sweet malt underneath, but not much getting past these huge hops. I didn't know what late boil Citra additions or Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Jade dry hopping would do (never even heard of Pacific Jade), but the answer is apparently: big fucking hop aroma. This thing is more pungent than most top DIPAs, and intoxicating and satisfying enough for the price of admission all on its own.

With time, more cookie and marzipan malt notes come out, and mindbendingly seem to show similarities with the dank pine, citrus, and marijuana hops. Really don't see how a black IPA is supposed to smell better than this one does.

Taste: Beautiful hops, identical to the nose but somehow blending perfectly with the cookies and roasted flavors underneath. Starts with straight, pungent hops, then melds naturally (!?) to cookie dough and roast, finishing pricklingly bitter with a roasted and boozy aftertaste (some bitterness lingers on the tongue as well).

After just the first sip, I'm stunned by how well thought out this beer is. It takes skill and knowledge to deliver hop flavor this good, but to somehow prove that it matches with malt flavors this far on the side of decadent/dessert-- that takes genius.

Further into the glass, the heavy, oily but refreshing and bright hops just refuse to quit. If you've come to this beer for your hop fix, you're going to get it and then some. The malt is quieter than the hops, but it grows in complexity; dark chocolate, coffee, and more cookies come with warmth and time.

I'm only keeping this from a 5 because it's perhaps a bit too bitter (trying to be objective--the heavy bitterness is just right for me, but it's pretty aggressive), and I think the malt could be just a bit more prominent.

Mouthfeel: Light side of full bodied, sufficiently but invisibly (ie perfectly) carbonated. Silky smooth up front, then intensely bitter (mainly hop bitterness), finishing semi-dry, hot, and long. Very good.

Overall: Easy 5.0 from me... not only is this delicious, but it's one of those educational beers (like great food) that expands your conceptions of where certain flavors can go and how well they can work in different contexts. It also has awakened my inner hop head (I usually swing toward malt bombs), reminding me that I can't get enough of any beer that can skillfully turn the hop flavor up to eleven.

I've mentioned in several reviews that I think Stone is the best brewery in the world at taking extremely bold flavors and putting them in balance. This beer continues the trend, and stands as a very fitting 15th anniversary beer. I will be buying and drinking as many bottles of this as I can before this amazing hop flavor fades.

In short, this beer is a homerun.

More User Reviews:
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased at The Old Toad in Rochester, NY. Bottled in '11, so this guy is 3 years old. How does a 3 year old Imperial Black IPA hold up? Really well, apparently.

Pours a very dark black, looks thick and oily, with a thick, foamy off-white head, and a lot of lacing.

Dude, smells awesome. A bit smokey and ashy, with some powdery chocolate, a little bit of pine, and rich milk chocolate.

This has aged amazingly, honestly. The chocolate flavor is really overwhelmingly dominant, it's got a powdery rich flavor that's like a cross between Nesquik and Belgian chocolate, if that makes sense. It's rich, powdery and chalky, with some smokey flavors behind it, with the smallest vestiges of hop flavor left, some pine, a tiny bit of juicy sweet citrus. There's also vanilla and espresso beans at various points too.

This is really thick. I gave some to the bartender who had it fresh. He said it's thickened with age. It's got a really creamy, but slightly dry mouthfeel, with a lower level of carbonation.

This was really good, honestly mind-blowing at this age.

Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well for number #3000 I had to go with this,its worthy of such a lofty number.Poured into my Stone imperial nonic a jet black with a blooming mocha colored head that becomes a substantial frothy mass after leaving a few broken globs of lace as it kinda, sorta settled.Big resiny and herbal hops overtop of a dryer bitter chocolate base,a tinge of sweet boozy alcohol comes into play as it warms.Herbal hops really stand out on the palate along with unsweetened chocolate and light roast,there is a "meaty" element to the beer that I cant quite pinpoint.Full and creamy feel it glides down nicely.For my money this is the best Stone Anniversary beer that I have had,its as complex as all get out,hell of a job here.

Photo of tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of jcr8611
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of TCHopCraver
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes taken on 11/3/11.

This Black IPA pours very dark brown to black with a light brown, one-finger head into a large snifter. The body is impenetrable by the eye with great, quick-rushing carbonation when agitated. The lacing is exquisite- fine and detailed.

The smell is a great blend of hefty chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, biscuit malt, prominent pine, citrus, grass and herbal hop aromas. This is a very deep and complex bouquet. As it warms a bit, the hefty malt profile takes over.

Wow, that is a huge flavor! The first wave is of roasted, chocolate malt, followed by a burst of pine and grapefruit hop profile. At the finish, thick malts and hops merge together to combine into a truly delicious beer. The aftertaste is hop bitterness, a little booze, and a lingering roastiness.

As one might expect from the ingredients, the mouthfeel is a combination of a medium-full coating malt presence and a puckering hop bitterness. The finish carries a bit of a boozy sting, along with a dry pucker from the piney and grapefruity hops.

I really like this beer. It is a big, bad Black IPA that really showcases the strong maltbill and a kickass hop profile. Very roasty, very chocolate-y, but also bitter and hoppy. Lovely.

Photo of AdamToomey
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first adventure into the world of Black IPA's and as this review will show, I was not the least bit disappointed.

A - I poured this beer from the bomber into a snifter. As other reviews noted, the beer is pitch black. If I saw someone drinking this I would immediately think they were sipping on an imperial stout. This dark beauty also has an incredibly thick, creamy coffee head that slooowly dissipates with great lacing. I was sipping on this beer for over an hour and the head was still present. Beautiful beer.

S - The nose of this beer is a hop-punch. Pine, citrus and grass like aromas explode out of the glass with the ever so slightest hint of roasted chocolate malts finishing it off. If you have had the Stone IPA, the hop aromas are very similar with an added roasted hint. Overall, a bit confusing but enticing all the same.

T - Man was this beer unique. At first the hops completely dominate the pallet but in a way that makes sense, not simply an overload of bitterness as in their Ruination. The different hops play off each other to create a nice harmonious beverage. What is most surprising about this beer is the way the dark/roasted malts work with the hop presence. The mild chocolate and coffee flavors that are present accompany the hop profile perfectly to create an astonishingly unique beverage. This is one of those beers which you say "wow" after those first few sips. Wow of course being both a "wow" of confusion and a louder "wow" that this confusion works so well. What does get lost, however, is the alcohol. It is completely hidden. At 10.8 percent, be careful or you will forget that it is even there!

M - The mouthfeel is more on par with IPA's and the dark malts do little to elevate the mouthfeel to a chewier, sweeter thickness. Rather, it maintains its crisp and bitter finish. Kind of disappointed. This was the least unique characteristic of the beer.

O - Overall, this beer was an absolute pleasure to drink. I am definitely going to track down a few more bottles of this before it is all gone. In addition, this brew has definitely turned me on to the world of Black IPA's. This was a refreshingly unique brew. I will say, however, that this style is definitely not for everyone. To enjoy, you definitely have to expand your beer tasting horizons beyond tradition. This beer is not exactly a stout, nor is it exactly an IPA. It's simply a hybrid of the two that works and works exceptionally.

Photo of ricksrealm
3.5/5  rDev -17.1%

Photo of blackwingedhorde
1.5/5  rDev -64.5%

Photo of KevlarBrewing
5/5  rDev +18.5%

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cracking the bomber, the brew pours into my glass a deep, super dark black with two fingers of creamy dark tan head atop the brew. Patchy lacing as it falls with aromas of dense pine and resinous green hops along with plenty of tropical citrus. Roasted chocolately malt backbone as well.

First sip brings big roasted malts upfront with plenty of chocolate. Pungent hops roll in with a great mix of tropical fruit and resinous pine tones as well. Plenty of bitterness as it flows down to counteract the malty sweetness. Touch of alcohol heat on the way down.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, medium bodied with just enough carbonation. This brew goes down pretty darn easy for clocking in at 10.8%. A solid, super hoppy black IPA, much better than the 14th Anniversary IMHO and well worth trying!

Photo of danthehopslamman
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was black, really black, with a tan head and a little bit of lace.

Aroma of roasted malt and herbal hops.

Things came through more in the taste. Chocolate, a lot of chocolate. Pronounced espresso taste. Resinous, piney hops.

Full-bodied, filling. Very enjoyable.

I'm still not sure what to make of the proliferation of black ales. This one was very good, but tasted like a hoppy stout.

Photo of warnerry
3.61/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pitch black with one and a half fingers of creamy brown head. Head has nice retention and leaves spotty lacing.

S - Lots of chocolate malt and citrus hops, with some floral aromas as well. Definitely some alcohol in the nose. Good, but doesn't really grab me.

T - Still a good bitter hop presence after four months. Never had it fresh, so don't know how this compares. Significant chocolate malt and roasted malt presence throughout, a bit ashy. Citrus and grassy hops. Finish is dry and lingering bitterness.

M - Nice, creamy mouthfeel with a very bitter finish.

O - Good black ale, which is a style I have a hard time getting excited about. Nice bitterness, but a little too much ash from the malt component.

Photo of Beaver13
3.21/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle. Pours a dark brown black with a frothy creamy brown head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is roasted malts with piney hops and a little fruit.

The flavor is a some sweet fruity malt followed by a big roast bitterness with a lot of char in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied.

Overall, pretty similar to other black IPAs that just don't do it for me. Too much roast and char bitterness rather than hop flavors. There is some sweetness and a little fruit and pine, but it just doesn't seem to go well with the roasted char.

Photo of bishopdc0
3.74/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared a bomber with my wife. Pours a black color with a decent head that dissipates.
The nose is sweet smooth and mostly RIS. A slight vanilla aroma mellow with a generous amount of crystal malts. The hops make an appearance but fade...the aroma is quite nice...not what I expected from stone.

The taste is a mix of their RIS and their Subllimly but perhaps not as good as either. Smooth choc and mix of a slight fruity fig flavor which slowly turns to a hop bitterness. The bitterness melds with the roasted finish and leaves a dry mouth. There is no hint of alcohol in this beer.

Photo of Britton
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of Jason
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bomber, vintage date on bottle.

LOOK: Black as can be, thick brown head.

SMELL: Booze, dark chocolate, dank hop resin, dark fruit, burnt bread, orange zest.

TASTE: Roasty, dry toasted bread, hop bitterness, tobacco, earthy, smoky ash, brown bread, booze.

A solid brew, hits all the right buttons for what it is supposed to be. A bit too much alcohol and the hops seem to cloud ... Meaning the flavors don't mesh as well as I thought the would have.

Photo of Billolick
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

32 ounce growler pour ($10.99) @ DeCicco's in Ardsley, NY

Pours BLACK, dark tan head, initially large, then going to a quick meraingue, then quickly again to a film and collar, quality lace left behind.

Rich nose of black coffee, dark chocolate and I get some hop cones...

Suprise-suprise a celebratory beer from Escondidian heavy weight Stone Brewery that is densly flavorful, hoppy, bold and kickin all sorts of ass...lots more coffee, more dark bitter chocolate, more hoppy goodness...thick, creamy and viscous...fine creation...get some..drink it fresh...

Photo of Hoops4life511
5/5  rDev +18.5%

Photo of olradetbalder
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of Skye1024
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%

Photo of GarrettB714
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of bsp77
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Pitch black with thick, foamy, root beer float head that leaves intricate lacing webs.

Smell: Citrus, pine, roses, chocolate and charbroiled meat.

Taste: Perfect integration of chocolatey roasted malts and citrusy hops. Elements of char, coffee and pine enhance the experience. Finish is bitter and spicy, with both a hop bite and a roasted malt bite. Becomes somewhat fruity as it warms.

Feel: Exceedingly smooth and creamy with a massive warming sensation. Moderately low carbonation, fairly dry finish.

Overall: Besides for the warming sensation, I can't tell that this is anywhere near 11% abv. Unbelievably smooth and tasty; the best American Black Ale / Black IPA / yada-yada I have had. Of course, one could argue that this is really a hoppy, citrusy Imperial Stout.

Photo of amidabha
4.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a vigorous pour into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass produced a deep coffee one inch tan head with abundant lacing. the hops aroma is great which confuses me by the appearance.

i've only had a few black ipa's before but i find this one tasty. starts off sweet and creamy like a stout with an ipa bite which gives me the best of both since it helps hide the high abv.

a great mix that changes as it warms complimenting both styles equally well. the hoppiness encourages me to drink this faster than normal. this sucker has such a great kick i wish i had bought two.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 1,410 ratings.