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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.

713 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 713
Hads: 1,419
Avg: 4.18
pDev: 18.18%
Wants: 60
Gots: 137 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA Alström Bros
Reviews: 713 | Hads: 1,419
Photo of BarryMFBurton
2.87/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I was lucky to find this one…it was dumb of me to pass it up for so long! This will be my first time trying a Black IPA, and I’m glad that it’s Stone. Hit it:

Brewed about three months ago (“August 2011”).

A: Damn, this looks devilish. The body is a thick black, like a stout; what a full color. The head is awesome, a dense, foamy three fingers of excellence. It’s a light tan cream that sticks around for a hell of a long time, with a strong showing of web-like lacing when it finally comes down. It even darkens to an oily dark brown when I swirl the glass. Impressive.

S: Wow, that’s bold; and in a much different way, too. I don’t know how to explain it…it’s like a thick anise cream with coffee and a hint of garlic/onion. It gets worse the more whiffs I take, literally stomach-churning. I didn’t mind their Belgo-Anise IRS, but this is different; it’s a thicker, much more medicinal scent. There’s a little bit of booze, chocolate syrup, and caramel on the end, and only a hint of herbal hops. Weird.

T: Hmmm, that’s a yeastiness that I’ve had before; Great Divide’s Yeti comes to mind. I’m getting a chalky chocolate yeast taste that I really don’t like, which unfortunately lasts the entire palate. That distinct Stone hoppiness comes in piney and herbal, but it’s not enough to distract me. There’s a pepper, licorice, and herbal tea taste as well. The finish is vodka-like alcohol and light roasts. It’s better than the nose, but not by much.

M: The feel is just like the head looked: smoothly foamy. Pretty fiery, too, which is a welcome surprise.

O: There’s so much promise to this beer: the style, the brewery, the promised hoppiness. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out well. Though this beer was my least favorite from this brewery, I’m certainly hoping for another 15 years of Stone beer. Cheers!

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Photo of readbaron
2.92/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served at Acre's stone tap takeover

Pours black with large tan head that laces up nicely and sticks around for a while.

Whew. I'm not sure what happened on the nose - smell is not to my liking. I get soy sauce and fermented broccoli. Blech. As I get used to it I can tell that it's a combination of piney hops mixed with roasty malts. The combo ends up pungent and not so tasty.

Tastes better than it smells. Very hoppy, with lots of roasty malts. Bitter and boozy with some of that unusual soy sauce flavor coming through.

Mouthfeel is quite nice - creamy and smooth. Medium bodied, and a bit sticky.

Overall, the nose just kills this one for me.

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Photo of zoolzoo
3.02/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours near black, complety opaque. Thick and foamy mocha head. Boozy nose, vodka and coffee beans. Hops come through quite well.

Taste reminds me of an over hopped stout. Chocolatey flavors are surprisingly present. Juicy hops just plopped right down, offering some weird contrast. Sort of harsh all around. Fusel alcohol, roast, hoppy finish. Pretty much unpleasant.

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Photo of 7ways
3.03/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours thick and milky and black with a pellicle of a tan head. Lasts a really long time, with great lacing. Looks like Left Hand Milk Stout on nitrogen.

Very conflicting but alluring aroma. Bitter grapefruit and marmalade on a backdrop of cocoa and coffee.

This tastes like an over hopped imperial stout, nothing more. As in, something went wrong. Aggressive, medicinal, bitter. Roast + bitter hops = Meh. A little cloying too, but points for hiding the alcohol well.

Rich, full body; creamy.

Everything about this beer is good except the taste. This doesn't cross a line, push the envelope, break barriers, or redefine anything. It is just an unusual mix of ingredients that does not work very well.

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3.06/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From notes, 08/30/11

Pours jet black with a large, light brown head and moderate retention. Aroma is chocolate, coffee, roasted nuts and earthy hops. Mouthfeel is thick like an imperial stout, not an easy drink. Taste is mostly charred, roasted notes followed by hint of chocolate and coffee. Earthy, resinous hops finish it off. Pretty boozy, and I don't consider myself too sensitive to that kind of quality. I really like Sublimely Self-Righteous but I was not a big fan of this one. I'm admittedly not a big Black IPA drinker but I have had ones that I thought balanced the flavors better (Deschutes' Hop in the Dark in particular). I thought there was too much stout and not enough hop presence. A good beer, but not one I'd be likely to buy again.

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Photo of Vierenner
3.06/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I purchased this beer only because the store limited its sale to one per customer ... I thought that meant it was something special.

While good, I can't see what all the fuss is about. Nothing special, really.

I taste coffee, chocolate, and a bitterness which ruins everything for me.

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Photo of cneville
3.08/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured out of a fun bomber.

Into the glass, it looks like oil. Dark, viscous, with a big head that leaves tons of lacing. Smell brings pine hops at first, with an odd finish. Burnt? Earthy? There's a lot going on here, and I'm not sure I love it. Taste is almost like a stout at first, and then you taste the piney hops. Chocolatey, a little smoky, and it's really overwhelming. I can't totally sort it out. The alcohol is definitely present--it's a very warming beer. Carbonation is good.

I liked alright, but it never really came together for me. Maybe I'm not ready for something this complex. I like Yakima Glory a little better.

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Photo of charlzm
3.13/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Consumed at Lucky Baldwin's Trappist Pub and Cafe on Sunday, August 21st, 2011. Beer served in a small stemmed goblet.

Extremely dark brown (might as well just call it black) with a one finger cocoa-colored head composed of EXTREMELY fine and uniform bubbles.

Nose: hoppy as heck. Pine and grapefruit. Pleasing.

Up front, there is a nice malt chocolate flavor which is followed by resiny grapefruit. Not as bitter an affair as the hopping might have led one to believe, but the two flavors do not work well with each other. Noticeable alcohol as both flavor and heat.

Finish is unexpectedly clean; the palate is spared a stripping. Mouthfeel is creamy and a little thick.

This is like a black and tan made with a stout that gets overpowered by a double IPA. It just doesn't work for me. Chalk it up as an interesting failure; chocolate and grapefruit flavors do not complement each other here.

I'm going to age a couple of bottles of this to see what happens.

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Photo of stakem
3.14/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to wishuwerebeer for the share. Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. This brew appears black in color with a rich frothy cap of brown that is 2 fingers strong.  A thick wall of webby lacing completely covers the glassware everywhere it touches.

The smell of this brew initially is fruity with hops, some citrus and a bit of veggie to earthy aspect. A little bit pine included as well as a catty aspect across the back. Roasty grain becomes more bold across the back with a hint of alcohol as the brew warms.

The taste is bold with a roasty bitterness of the grain that immediately gives way to a hoppy bitterness that is oily and includes catty and veggie hop flavoring. Alcohol has a hint of fruit like pear or cantaloupe and a warmth down the back of the throat. The taste of this brew really clashes for me and seems a bit dirty.

This is a medium bodied brew, somewhat smooth in the feel with a creamy texture and modest level of carbonation. It is quite bold and roasty but the flavor and aroma really clashes for me. Pear/cantaloupe meets bitter roasted grain and catty/veggies is just so strange. I wanted to like this brew but had a really hard time finishing my glass. If black ipas are your thing, you might love this but there are better offerings for the style.

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Photo of spicelab
3.16/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber thanks to Adam@Platinum Liquor.

Tarry black with a large dense mocha head. Leaves a nicely raised ring but little additional lacing. Reforms to half a finger or so on swirling.

Initial hit of resinous pine, before the hops are swamped by sweet cocoa, booze-soaked raisins, tobacco, liquorice, coffee and barleywine-like treacle notes. Slightly sickly actually - I'd like a lot more hops.

Thankfully less cloying. Burnt coffee, liquorice, molasses and both sweet and bitter dark chocolate, backed by a moderate piney and minty bitterness. Occasionally get bizarre notes of scorched vegemite and ashy soy sauce.

Thick and viscous with a bit much carbonation. Not a big bitter presence and booze is impressively well hidden.

Generally full-frontal onslaught that leaves little to the imagination. Seems a bit gratuitous though - restraint in any number of areas would have made for a better beer. Have doubts that my bottle was in the best condition though - a re-review might be in order.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.16/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

1 pt 6 fl oz. brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a generic hefeweissbier glass in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live.

A: Pours a three finger head of beautiful tan colour, wonderful cream and thickness, and excellent retention considering the high ABV. Colour is a solid black. Extremely appealing.

Sm: Bittering hops aplenty alongside cream and caramel. Interesting, but nothing special. Aroma is moderate in strength.

T: Some light floral notes and heavy bittering hops slam into dark caramel, light coffee, and cream like oncoming traffic. The balance is rather off, with most of the flavour contained in the latter half. The bitterness is too pronounced, to the point of being unwelcome, and even ruining the finish. Alcohol comes through, and there's a weak sauce chocolate note right on the end. It's complex but imbalanced, and overall is badly built for the style. That said, it does have some nice patches.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but too thick. The cream is lopsided and strange. It's also sharp on the finish. Doesn't suit the flavours of the body at all.

Dr: This is a strangely built beer for the style that isn't successful at meshing dark notes with an overload of IPA inspired bittering hops. The price is high, even in California. The ABV is pronounced. It's only worth trying for huge fans of Stone and/or the style.

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Photo of beertunes
3.16/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in tulip glass. Poured a solid black, no translucence at all, with an inch of strong black head that excellent retention and lacing.

The aroma was all nice hops, mostly floral, with a just barely noticeable malt profile. The flavors were unique, to say the least. There was a noticeable chocolate presence, and the hops did not combine well with the chocolate, with plenty of tangy hops. The beer had a weird metallic finish.

The body was medium and averagely decent. Drinkability suffered from the weird combination of flavors. Overall, a decent, but very odd, beer. As a note, with the last 1/4 of the glass, I had the bartender add a few drops of Creme de Menthe to the beer. This helped the beer a lot, really helped tie the flavors together.

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Photo of jsled
3.2/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

P: 4/5. Perfectly opaque black, good tan head, well supported with lacing.

A: 4/5. luxurious hops. some citrus, but a piney, resiny wonderfulness. no real perceived alcohol.

F: 6/10. sweet, roasty, alcohol. roast finishes in an astringent twang. unpleasant balance on the back of the tongue.

M: 2/5. not overly coating, but much residual bitterness, and no residual sweetness to balance.

O: 6/10. Not quite what I'd like in a BIPA.

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Photo of hwwty4
3.2/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured a double deuce into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours a oily black with a massive 4 inch head that never really dies down. Tons of lacing covers the inside of the glass. The aroma really is of a super piney DIPA. Just a bit of grapefruit pith mixed with a hint of roasty coffee and bitter chocolate. the flavor is much the same. Tones of piney hops. Followed up with more piney hops and a bit of lemon and grapefruit pith. Just a bit of medicinal bitterness at the tail of the flavor profile. The mouthfeel is dry with just a oilyness that adds a strange component to the mouthfeel. Almost like a bit of butter is coating your mouth. Interesting but not necessarily in a good way. Overall, I think the jury is still out. There are some thongs that I like about it but some things I really don't.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.21/5  rDev -23.2%
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.

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Photo of wowbagger
3.23/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was very excited to get my hands on a bottle of this, and very kindly shared it with a few others.

Pours black as sin and has a sweet hoppy smell as expected. Beautiful thick head but it doesn't last long. I'd describe the flavor as unrelenting. Harshly hopped and stays on the palate for quite a while with some coffee hints.

Overall, this and IPA's in general really aren't my style. It's certainly worth a try and drinkable but the third of a bottle I had was enough for me.

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Photo of rarbring
3.23/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer is very dark, black, a good brown head leaving some lacing and having good curtains.

The smell is very intense, dates, grass, herbs, flowers, a perfume character.

Starting with sweet brown bread, dark dried fruits, then loads of fruity and bitter hops. Tropical fruits, grape-fruit peel.

Light carbonation, soft, sticky and oily, a huge body and a very dry finish.

Actually I found the hops a bit too much and clashing with the sweetness.

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Photo of kmatlack
3.28/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a growler into a small 6oz stone tasting glass.

A- Pours a dark black with a quarter inch mocha head. Looks to be a little on the thick side. Head disappears into small spots of bubbles on the surface. Attractive.

S- Smells hoppy, roasty, almost like licorice. A little boozy but smells very fresh.

T- Taste is sweet on the tongue, but properly balanced with the hop bitterness. Its fresh, roasty, boozy, bitter, citrusy, a little more black licorice, more booze.

M- A little thick for my liking, maybe that is in part to the abundance of non fermentable specialty grains in the beer. Gets thinner as the beer warms, i like it better warmer...

O- A good beer, I dont know if i would seek this out again though. Im a huge Stone fan but i really think Deschutes did it better with Hop in the Dark. There doesnt need to be this much alcohol in the beer, though im interested in trying this beer in a year. If its anything like the 14th Anniv. it should be a completely different beer, but still good.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.3/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle. Pours a dark black, viscous color with a 1/2 inch of light brown head. Some lacing. Big whiff of hops. Some chocolate, earthiness, and maybe a bit of smoke and even meat. Taste has more of that meaty taste with piney hop flavor. Onions too. Hints of chocolate. Some smoke flavor. Bitter near the end with a chocolate aftertaste. Pretty thick beer. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. It definitely has a good amount of hop flavor to it but the meat and onions taste paired with some chocolate is odd. Overall, its decent but this one time may be enough for me.

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Photo of musicforairports
3.31/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber into a snifter.

Beer is black, with a chocolate-colored head that leaves some lacing. Looks awfully serious.

Smells like alcohol and roasted malts, in that order. Don't really get much hops in the aroma.

Taste is molasses and chocolate and other roasted malt, with a resiny citrus hop character in the background. Strong alcohol flavor in the finish, but smooth until then. The rich malts dominate, and this is definitely more of a hoppy imperial stout than a "black IPA" to my tastes.

Medium-heavy stout-like mouthfeel. Not a lot of carbonation, but enough.

This struck me as a sweet, hoppy, boozy imperial stout. It's been a long time since I had Sublimely Self-Righteous, but I recall liking that one much more.

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Photo of ZenAgnostic
3.31/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 pint 6 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Marked August 2011.

Appearance - Black body. Medium brown head with good retention and good stick.

Smell - Tons of wet grassy hop. Olives and soy sauce. Pungent.

Taste - Peppery. Acidic. Tons of hop. Almost fishy. Enormous lime peel bitterness in the body, finish, and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - This facet dominates the profile. Very solvent and acidic. So bitter i can't tell if it's medium bodied, though I suspect it. Head offers some creaminess.

Overall Drinkability - This is one of the most in-your-face beers I've had since Ruination. This beer is no joke.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
3.31/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ok, I don't usually like this style but I'm gonna try. Basically the appearance of this beer is it's best part. Black, two finger mocha head, nice looking. It smells like someone accidentally dumped way to many hops into a porter. Piney, pithy and roasty a combo I don't think works well. Not to mention it just isn't a complex aroma. The taste is similar, roasty, nutty, piney and dark. Again I keep trying to see how these are suppose to go together, but they just don't. Its thick like a porter, is it supposed to be? I can't even begin to detect the alcohol, is that good, probably given it's strength? I'm confused, and tired of beers that are a bunch of different things they shouldn't be. Usually I'm cool with experimenting but I think this beer was the straw that broke the camel's back. Black IPA, Black Saison, what is next Black Black Ale?

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Photo of ShanePB
3.33/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

22 ounce bottle shared with a friend, poured into two tulip glasses.

A: Deep dark brown body, almost black if it weren't for the obvious brown hues along the top edge but close enough. A light mocha colored head with lots of big bubbles sits atop. Nice retention cap as it never fully dissipates with minor lace.

S: Big hop resin, pine and sap on the forefront. Roasted malts, chocolate, toffee and an earthy tone to it. It seems to have a some bitter coffee bean notes on the back end. What I would expect for the style, sort of intriguing but this dark hoppy profile seems to struggle.

T: A blast of bitter hops with again more of a pine and sap nature wrestle your palate. Caramel and chocolate malts come in mid palate to help take the edge and provide a strange dark profile. It finishes with huge floral, sticky hop resin notes again and even into the linger.

M: Hearty, medium-bodied, and slightly bubbly but not overdone. Actually this is really nice and gives this beer a nice boost overall for being really creamy.

Let's be honest, every time I have a Black IPA I feel the beer has an identity crisis. The bitter earthy hop notes just don't match up well to a dark roasted profile. I can't help but think there was a reason this wasn't done a lot before. At any rate, this might be the first attempt at the style that I didn't completely hate; however, after about 8-10 oz of this I was finished. It burned me out, became very confusing and just turned me off in the end.

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Photo of baconbourbon
3.33/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours black with a slight tan head that doesn't last long enough. There is hardly any lacing. It looks like a very thin bodied stout.

Smell - The aroma is rather burnt and smoky. There is something left to be desired here.

Taste - The burntness is overpowering and it actually tastes a bit chocolatey. If I had known it was going to taste this way, I would've simply opened a stout instead.

Mouthfeel - Does not really feel like much. The body is too thin and therefore lacks that consistency that I'm looking for.

Overall - I was not impressed in the slightest. I figured this beer was hyped because it's a special release, and guess what. I was right.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.33/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had a glass of this one on tap yesterday afternoon at Hops & Pie (what a great place, but I digress). Having lived for a few years in less than beautiful Downtown Escondido, CA, the name of this one failed to get me too excited. Poured a dark brown/black color with a little-ish brown head. Aromas of anise, pine and black malt. On the palate, this one was full bodied, and bitter, with anise, pine and roasted malt.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 713 ratings.