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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.

1,410 Ratings

(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:
Photo of EricCioe
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This pours pitch black with a two finger tan head that dies down to a ring and island leaving a bit of lace. Pretty impressive given the ABV. On the nose there is a huge citric hit, tangerine in a bed of pine boughs or something, with some underlying roast deep down. In the mouth the slightly bitter roast combines with the exceedingly bitter hops into a wonderfully bitter, piney flavor. I'm not sure what else to say about it, other than the dark malts provide a welcome change in the world of extremely hoppy beers. The body is just a touch too prickly for me to rate higher, and there is some definite heat as it warms, not altogether a bad thing with many brews but pushing the bounds of ABA to me.

Overall, this is a fine, fine beer. One of the best black ales I've had and well worth seeking out.

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

Been sitting on this one for a little while, excited to finally try it. My favorite beer of this style, whatever you want to call it, is Sublimely Self-Righteous. So curious what Stone can do when they turn up the volume to 11 (in honor of Nigel Tufnel Day).

Pours very dark, essentially black, with no light coming through, even at the edges. Massive mocha-colored head, long retention and great lacing. This looks like an amazing stout, and if I were just looking at it, that's what I'd think it was.

Smell is a super-smooth blend of dark roasted malts and resiny, citrusy hops. The malts bring dark roasted coffee. The hops bring a hint of pine and a touch of grapefruit. Fantastic.

Taste is dark, rich, with a bit of char and a bit of hop bite. A nice combination, though not as smooth as the smell. Coffee comes through. Finishes bitter, slightly sharp.

Mouthfeel is thick and heavy, but smooth and silky on the tongue. Fades out right when I want it to, with only a bit of lingering bitterness. Carbonation is on the low end, but surges late, mixing the flavors up right when I want it to. Alcohol comes through late, but barely. I can hardly believe this is nearly 11% ABV.

A fantastic black ale. Heavier on the malts than many examples, and with a thick mouthfeel more typical of a stout. This beer really blurs the boundaries, even moreso than this style typically does. Drinks more like a hopped-up stout to me, but has those nice aromatic hops to brighten things up. Wonderful beer.

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

Bomber from CBX...

A: Pours an abysmal black, with no light penetrating through; a nice inch of foamy, mocha head caps the darkness, manages some superb retention and leaves quite a bit of spotty / strandy lace; looks heavy!

S: Super heavy grapefruit rind; some other citrus notes and minty hops; pine sap and raw wood.

T: The slightest bit of roast malt and some chocolate, quickly followed by an intense hop party... grapefruit and some sweeter hops - then comes the big time herbal / resiny pine kicker. Wow! Gets a little boozier with some warmth.

M: Full-bodied; low-medium carbonation; this brew has a nice, luscious mouthfeel - almost velvety; although the hops are pretty big, there is a certain degree of smoothness to this beer (considering the large abv).

O: A pretty drinkable BIG brew; a nice adventure into one of Stone’s ultra-hoppy forays - and super fresh, at that; nice story on the bottle as well. Good job, Stone!

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

Had this on 2011-09-24 in Lynchburg, VA

A - Opaque dark brown with a 2.5 finger light brown head that drops to 1-finger in a minute. Moderate lacing.

S - A nice but not overpowering smell with sweet roasted grain, melon, milk chocolate, hint of anise and some sweet hop floral.

T - Hop forward, dark roasted chocolate, light touch of coffee, grapefruit zest, anise, dried fig, pine, white grapefruit juice, mild spice. Alcohol is present. Not overly sweet. Lingering astringent aftertaste of roasted chocolate, pine and grapefruit zest. Dries nicely.

M - Medium body and light-medium carbonation. On the creamy side with some effervescence.

O - One of the better Black DIPAs I've had. I'll often pass on this style of beer but this is a good one. About as good as my previous favorite in this style, which is Founders' El Diablo del Noche.

Photo of hosehead83
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz. bomber bottle into my Arrogant Bastard pint glass.
Deep, dark oily blackness with a big two-inch head of thick tan foam.
Aroma-Dark chocolate, coffee, earthy hops
Taste-Tangy, dank, earthy hops, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, pine resin, and tobacco all forced into a small room at gunpoint and forced to play nice and get along. Big bold flavors come creeping out of the darkness and are held, just barely, in a compromising balance. Not a "beginner" brew by any means, and be warned as the 10.8ABV will blackjack you in the bushes if you try and have your way quickly with this one.
So sip slowly and enjoy the fantastic flavors of this brew. Maybe with a char-grilled steak or a big burger with the works. Highly recommended.

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

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Stone IRS tulip aggressively. 4 fingers of very fluffy, stiff tan head. Takes almost 5 minutes for it to mostly die. Lots of sticky lacing. Black. Citrus on first whiff (lemon). Lots of sweetness and anise on a second smell, followed by roastiness and floral hops. Loving the nose. Some chocolate and anise up front on the palate, citrusy sweetness, a roasty dry finish. Chocolate. Bitter chocolate. Extremely bitter finish. More dryness and hops. Very very creamy and smooth going down. Ridiculously easy to drink for almost 11%. Fantastic. There's a reason I always buy Stone beers the first day I can get them.

Photo of nimrod979
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber pours an ever so dark black. No light getting through this baby. Big creamy tan head. Pretty awesome looking "IPA"
Complex aromas going on here. Stuffing my nose down into the glass I find dark chocolate. Dried fruit and citrusy hops. Resinous and alcoholic. Dank, dark, and roasty.
Taste is not quite what the aromas would lead you to believe. The beer is quite sweeter and less bitter than I expected. Not quite as hoppy either. Definitely semi-sweet chocolate flavors. Along with some burnt hoppy and citrusy flavors flowing around. A bit of a lingering bitterness. Alcohol is pretty prevalent as well. Pretty good overall flavor. I do enjoy it. To me it's almost like a hoppy imperial stout.
Very smooth on the palate and full bodied.

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

Creamy head that shifts on top like a foamy wave coming in Louisiana after the BP Oil spill. Held up to the sun I couldn't see through it at all, it's black y'all! Vanilla, some dark fruits, stone IPA on the nose and taste. Lacing reminiscent of dried pumpkin guts. If this beer were an animal it would be a California Black Bear after itching its back on a pine tree.

Photo of gopens44
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - About as good as it gets. Ginormous thick tan head with tremendous lacing on top pitch black liquid that gently suspends a quaint amount of sediment.

S - Incredibly fresh hop presence overwhelms anything else that may have tried to climb out. But there is a certain quality that suggests an effort to showcase a roasted malt presence.

T - Bold espresso taste battles with a fantastic hop forward tongue bite. Finish leaves a burnt dark chocolate coffee memory for a while.

M - Speaking of aftertaste, that's where this starts. The magnificent burnt chocolate coffee aftertaste that settles in after a well carbonated, dry and full bodies quaf (I may or may not have used that word right...)

O - It has attitude, character and arrogance. I love this bastard.

Photo of etaggie09
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance: black as any stout. no light gets through this at all. huge two finger head easily forms. color is light mocha. good thick lacing.

aroma: it's barleywine and double ipa mixed together. heavy sweet maltiness mixed with very citrusy hops. this is making me very excited to dig in. Big Pine presence and big grapefruit presence, but has some malt to back it up. there's some nuttiness in the middle there to provide some balance, but this is very much about the hops.

taste: whew we are in for a big one! big boozy maltiness and some big hops are definitely at play here. gives your tongue quite a thrashing, but a flavorful one. the malt is very upfront in this beer. it has a definite nuttiness to it with some faint smoke undertones. Huge in the hope bitterness that kicks through at the end. Some residual bitterness on the finish as well as some peppery hop and alcohol burn, but it is all enjoyable. Now I'm getting a little more of that grapefruit flavor, but it's matched so well to the dark flavors of the malt. Almost like a chocolate covered ruby red grapefruit, but it is definitely not sweet chocolate. It has a wonderful leafiness to it, but it is all checked so well by the maltiness. I really got a lot of malt in the beginning, and now I am noticing more hops, but it definitely stays balanced. The two do not combat each other in this beer. flavors stay silky and well delivered.

mouthfeel: nice and full without being cloying. hops dry things out nicely and a good amount of carbonation keeps things lively. just really smooth stuff.

overall: I am loving the Black IPA style. So far both the sublimely self righteous and this one have been my favorites. I would have to say that between the two stone blacks, I would definitely choose this one. It's just a bigger beer but it still manages to have the same level of harmony that the sublimely self righteous does. Definitely hop centered, but with just enough malt to balance. My only complaint is that as I get down towards the end of the bottle, the finish gets spicier and spicier, which kind of reduces the drinkability. This is more of a serving size issue to me rather than an actual flavor issue. If this beer were a 12 oz'er this probelm wouldn't be there. Ultimately, I waited patiently for this one, and it was well worth the wait.

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

A: Pours a jet black color with brown highlights. The head is thick, two fingers, and a dark tan color, which takes a while to dissipates and leaves some nice lacing.

S: The scent is very earthy, a serious hop aroma is coming from the glass, even at a slight distance. There is a slightly roasted scent as well, but it is masked by the strong floral hop presence.

T: Wow, this is a tasty beer! There is a lot more to this beer than you'd expect from the smell. I was expecting all hops, but there is a nice mocha and roasted flavor that goes along well with the hops. Not as much of an alcohol presence as anticipated, but it's there. Finishes with bitters that stick around for a while in the palate.

M: Medium bodied with little carbonation, actually kind of flat considering the head was large. There is a nice mocha and hop feel in the palate.

D: This is without question one of the best Black IPA's I've had, Stone really knows how to brew the style. I wasn't expecting a well balanced beer based on the smell, but it is very delicious.

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

on tap at good dog in philly

Pours an opaque black with a slightly tanned head resting on top. Tones of patchy lacing is left on the glass in rings, along with thick, filmy retention.

Pungent hops in the nose with grapefruit and citrus sweetness. Some roasted malt and light nuttiness with a touch of caramel. Very faint hint of boozy warmth.

Bitter and juicy up front with pine hops and sticky resin. Stiff notes of grapefruit tempered by lighter fruit sweetness. Thick roasted, nutty malt backbone, some touches of caramel and bittersweet caramel. Finishes bitter and long with a flash of pine and a soft bite of alcohol.

Medium body, fine carbonation, sticky and a little chewy. One of the best black IPAs I've had, and I'd definitely drink this again. I was also surprised at how well they masked the double-digit ABV.

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

Served on-tap in a 10oz clear glass snifter at Beer Run (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Black with light brown cap of had with a few bits of lacing down the glass.

S: Roasted and hoppy aromas are both pretty light and a dense maltiness dominates.

T: This is a black IPA that manages to showcase both the orange, fruity citrus hoppiness and the coffee and chocolate roasted notes and making them work together rather than having both of them stick out like two sore thumbs. The hoppiness is restrained along with a very significant dark malt breadiness that fades to some roast, chocolate, coffee, and lighter licorice notes. A very well-crafted beer that I wish had a little more character.

M: The thick maltiness leaves a full-bodied feel with no acrid character but a wonderful smoothness with very little blatant alcohol.

O: I really liked this beer a lot more than I though I would, mainly because I have not had very good luck with black IPAs generally. This one doesn't really fit that category too well, but it doesn't fit any category very well all-around. Instead, this beer balances the roast and citrus hops notes very artfully rather than hitting you over the head with them both.

Photo of Celtics76
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. bomber into my Star Wars Cantina glass.

Very impressive look to this one - couldn't be any darker, a solid jet black. Doesn't taste like an IPA to me - tastes very similar to Dogfish Head's Palo Santa Marron, which I find interesting considering they're supposed to be 2 different styles. Extremely boozy (which I kinda like) with complex flavors - chocolate and pine stick out the most.

Considering it's high ABV, I may not get the chance to try this again. I do hope Stone makes it a regular release though. Totally worth it.

Photo of akk101
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle
A - Great looking printed bottle. Typical Stone with a very long description on the back. I don't know anyone who has actually read the whole thing. Black color with thick brown frothy head that lasts

S - Picking up some chocolate notes and hops

T - Roasted malt with pronounced hop presence at the end

M - Thick and full body

O - Great beer fromt Stone. Very drinkable; it didn't take me much time to finish it. It's like RIS and IPA collided.

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

Poured an absolute pitch black color from a 22 oz bomber, bought and opened on 8/17/11. According to a blog on Stone's website, the bottle was released on 8/15/11 (it says on the label that it was bottled in Aug 2011).
Nice one finger dark mocha/tan head that dissipates slowly and leaves behind an constant shape changing film of head. Nice head retention.
Aroma was extremely hoppy, from the moment the bottle was cracked open. As the beer warms up, amidst all the various floral hoppy notes, there are hints of roasted malt that are evident with noticeable cocoa/dark chocolate notes.
Taste-wise this is a very complex ale. The layers of varying bitterness constantly assault the taste buds. Some might say this ale is excessively bitter, but to me it is just the right amount of complex bitterness. At times you feel you are having a super hopped stout, since this is a surprisingly full-bodied and smooth IPA.
The high ABV is masked very well. Even the warmth from the alcohol doesn't make it's presence felt right away.
This is a sipper all the way, and gets better as it slowly warms up. Stone always impresses me with their brews. Definitely worth a try and is highly recommended. Especially to all hop-heads and those who enjoy really dark stouts.
I am very interested to see how it ages and will be getting another bottle tomorrow and store it to age.

Photo of dbmernin83
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours very black with a khaki head. Lacing that any boutique lingerie store would be proud of.
Smells like a hoppy imperial stout. Big hops and big roasted coffee.
Wow. This beer Mike Tyson's your tastebuds with huge hops and huge coffee flavors. Pairing this with food would be tough, because tasting anything in general after this beer would be impossible.
Good carbonation and full in the mouth.
A gigantic beer. A delicious sipper.

Photo of zander4dawin
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

All I can say is wow, I hope this beer comes back around. This was my first beer in the imperial black Indian pale ale style and if others are made to this quality it surely won't be my last. The first thing I noticed when I poured the beer was its exceptional appearance. The beer comes out of the bottle dark as night and the beautiful head rains top down in the glass. Truly looks remarkable. This is definitely an aggressive beer with some boosyness. But still a great balanced is meant in its assertiveness. The roasted malts start the beer off followed by the bite of hops, alcohol, and a sharp snappy mouthfeel.

Photo of jjanega08
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

August 2011 is on the bottle and it says consume fresh...

A= Pours a deep black color with a nice big ol two finger head on it that is super thick and holds nice retention and lacing on the side of the glass. Looks pretty ideal actually. The head is a nice dark color sort of a mocha.

S= Still smells like fresh fruity hops! I guess two months isn't too long to age it! Nice roast in the background and a solid hop nose. The nose is really about ideal on it.

T= The taste is just like the nose. Excellent. Smooth roasty malt and a ton of great fruity piney hops. Really a smooth combination. This is one of the most well molded Black IPA's I've had. Takes good aspects from each and blends them. Nice bitterness coming from both ends.

M= Finishes dry like an IPA and has a smooth lasting flavor.

O= I've read nothing but bad things about this beer but see only good reviews. I think this is one of those beers some love and others hate right out of the gate. A good blend of two extreme styles I think and worth checking out. I'm really happy Stone now distributes to MN and I'm even more happy we are getting beers like this.

Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this big guy on tap at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown last night before an amazing Kenny Garrett concert, as I knew that the beer at Blues Alley would not cut it.

Pours black with a great tan head with lots of thick body to it. Outstanding lacing leaving webs on all parts of the glass the brew touches. The smell has a ton of resin and also a heavy dose of citrus and pine. Some toasty bakery bread notes with even a hint of smoke come through in the aroma as well. Has some spices and herbs that are hard to place and also a dose of cocoa bean.

The taste reflects those things in the smell to a point, but mostly this is a huge hop bomb with aggressive citrus and pine with raw hop resin that hopheads would appreciate clearly taking center stage in the flavor dept. A note of barley with a tiny bit of roast in the finish but again mostly all I get are hops as the main characters here and it tastes great. The feel is good and slick over the palate without much of a bitter or roasty aftertaste that was slightly disappointing.

Enjoyable overall, and I'd like to get a bottle. The beer is hard to get through even a 12oz pour of though in one sitting as it's not really the most balanced of beers, just mostly a hop explosion with a bit of roast thats almost not even there. I'm giving it a 4 overall because it tastes great, but drinkability turned out to be average at best.

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

22 oz bottle into DFH snifter

A - Black in color with a finger of lovely brown head. No lacing, and retention is pretty ok for such a high ABV. The black color is brilliantly deep, though.

S - Chocolate, roasted malts, and bitter grassy hops. Some dark fruit sweetness that I wasn't expecting. More stout than IPA.

T - Wow. Chocolate in droves, with a sweetness that is balanced by hop bitterness. I liken it to a chocolate stout blended with an especially bitter Double IPA, like Ruination.

M - Full bodied and a bit sticky initially but ends up drying in the finish. In every way this has the body of an Imperial stout, but with the dry finish of many IPAs.

O - Overall this is a phenomenal beer, truly. A strong Imperial Stout-y flavor that then leads into the bitter hoppiness of an IPA, but without a sharp divided between the two. The flavor and body flow from one stage to the next and blend in the interim in a way that perfectly compliments the many aspects of this beers flavor.

Photo of tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of kevwcamp
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of cisteve
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

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