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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 TheManiacalOne
4.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap 10/28/2011 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI, served in a tulip glass.

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

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

T: The taste starts with flavors of dark fruit, citrus, coffee and chocolate. Then a strong floral hops bitterness comes in followed by a hearty roasted malt character creating a very good balance. The after-taste is bitter-sweet and hoppy.

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

D: Very tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, strong kick, excellent representation of style, this is a very nice beer with good complexity making it worth drinking for an entire evening.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I enjoyed this on tap at the Brewhouse Grille Stone/TRÖEGS tap takeover, served chilled in a pint.

A pitch black stout-like look with opaque clarity and medium beige cap w/ fine bead. The lace clings in rings. The smell has a huge hop aroma which is enhanced by simcoe scent which is slightly pine and has a mango tropical note with some mild citrus elements. The nose is mellow with grassy and has mild herbal sweet floral round scents w/ practically no malt aroma w/ just slight sweet element. The feel is incredible with the viscosity giving the impression of light body since it is so dry with a very resinous lush oily hoppy all joy on the palate. The juicy texture with ultra dry malt body w/ no roast the way I like a black IPA with lush green smooth body without any astringency.

The taste of wonderful hop flavors greet the palate w/ juicy and mildly bitter taste which is pineapple/mango w/ a splash of grapefruit . The taste is outstanding since the black malt flavor is absent , maybe a whisper of malt in the overall taste w/ slight toasted tinge and light fruity accent of sweetness to join the mellow pine elements w/ simcoe obviously giving a lush herbal/tropical contribution and the cattiness is mellow w/ slight wild coarse earthy accent that is huge and the taste of full w/ phenomenal taste w/ semidry juicy bitter finish - this is possibly the best of the style that I have had. Overall this was fantastic on tap showing Stone is true to the love of hops and a master of black IPA's they deserve to rename it according to their locale. This nails it or hits it out of the park whatever cliche you choose will fit. I loved it a great example of the Imperial Black ale style

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Photo of Jason
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.63/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at TJ's, Paoli, PA

Poured into a snifter, an oily brownish black with a small cap of tan head that retained decently and left some streaky lacing behind. Big aroma full of pine, with a sweet maltiness just peeking through in the background. A blast of pine and resin on the tongue, on the border of being a palate killer. Notes of coffee bitterness and bottom-of-the-barrel molasses. Heavy, greasy mouthfeel and definitely boozy.

I like Cascadian dark ales, I like Stone's brews a lot, and I know they're all about being extreme. But I think this one was too much even for me. It wasn't bad by any means, just a little over the top and one-sided with the pine taking almost complete dominance. I'd really have to be in the mood to try this one again.

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Photo of russpowell
4.36/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was thrilled to find this "across the border" on Missouri!

Pours black with 2 fingers of mocha colored head. Tons of sticky lacing, great head retention`

S: Intense pineyness, grassy notes, smokey notes once warm

T: Follows the nose, some hints of of carob, dates & grapefruit up front, a touch of wet charred grain as well. Much pineyness, intense grapefruit, sharp herbal bitterness as well with a touch of smokey wet grain, along with , some booze bite & minty hops as well. Finishes with boozey grainyness, much pineyness

MF: Chewy, slick, very warming, a touch too much booze burn & not perfect balance

Much to love here, a real intense Black IPA. Thrilled to see a "new release" from Stone in my backyard. Keep'em coming please!

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

This is a good beer, but doesn't really mesh with the style that well. Seems a bit thick on the character for a black ale; almost porter like. Has some nice hop characeristics, but doesn't really bring all that I would hope it would. Especially for an anniversary ale. Nice beer. An "okay" black ale.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled August 2011. Pours clear dark brown color with 1-2 fingers of a dense tan head with great retention that reduces to a fairly thick lacing cap. Some nice thick lacing clings to the glass as well. Aromas of big grapefruit, pine, orange, caramel, roasted malt, and orange. Very nice and hoppy aromas as I would have expected. Taste of big grapefruit, orange, pine, caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, and some spices. Big amounts of bitterness present on the finish; with lingering notes of orange, pine, spices, roasted malt, and caramel. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is extremely well hidden, with only a slight warming after the finish noticed. Overall this is an excellent Black IPA that is quite smooth and nicely balanced.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black pours like used motor oil, keeps all light from passing through. Head is a nice thicket of moccha tan head. Fine speckled lacing forms as the head dwindles. Aroma has a citrus leaf hop smell along with dark roasted malts mixed with anise black licorice. Flavor has a roasted malt flavor with green citrus hop tones and a bit of pine. Dark roasted malts have some licorice anise like tones about them. Tastes more like a hoppy stout than any type of IPA and I guess I can add an imperial stout at 10.8% abv I bet this is because they fucked up so bad on the Belgo Russian Imperial Stout. A bit of hot booze comes in the back end of each sip making it a slow sipper for myself, the dark roasted malts with bittering hops don't hurt things but it's really not the smoothest beer around either.

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Photo of chinchill
3.76/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black and opaque, even in bright sun light.

Lots of dark malt and some hops, but too much alcohol in the nose

Rich flavor featuring dark malt over the hops, despite the IPA designation. Huge malt flavor yet plenty of hops show thru. Extremely long finish and aftertaste.

M: full body; good if rather aggressive carbonation.

O - very bold; a bit challenging and extreme; highly flavored. If you are seeking a rich and flavorful beer with plenty of hops and dark malt, don't miss this offering.

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Photo of smcolw
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep, dark brown liquid where no light shines through. Good beige head that drops very slowly, leaving a blanket of fine lace.

Dark, nearly burnt caramel aroma--semi-sweet. There's a light touch of hop at the end of the smell.

Bitter malt followed by bitter hop, quite different from the smell. There is no sweetness to this beer. In fact, it seems like an over abundance of black patent malt was added to the brew. Think coffee grounds and you'll come close. This beer is more bitter than a stout, even though the hop is largely overwhelmed. The body is decent with a good level of carbonation.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 11/15/11 notes. Had on tap at Fireworks in Arlington, VA at their Stone steal the pint night event. Poured in a 10 oz. tulip.

a - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color, with one finger of very dark brown head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of citrus hops, grapefruit, roasted malts, a tiny bit soapy. As expected, lots of hops and roasted notes. Hops are a little more dominant, but it's a nice mix.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, citrus hops, sweet smooth chocolate, pine hops, grapefruit. Again, very hoppy and roasted, but the roasted malts and chocolate come out a lot more here than in the nose. A nice step up from the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Light bitterness from the hops up front, than smooth thanks to the malts. Surprisingly easy to drink considering the high ABV.

o - Overall a very nice Black IPA; one of the better ones I've had. Didn't enjoy it as much as the sublimely self-righteous ale, but still good. Would have it again.

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Photo of orangesol
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at the Brewhouse Grille during the Troegs / Stone Total Tap Takeover.

A - Pours nearly pitch black with a nice two finger tall tan head leaving small streaks of lace down the entire glass.

S - Smells of rich dark roasted chocolate malt, molasses sweetness, bright citric hops, tropical fruits, and some light pine needles.

T - Starts off with a big dose of dark roasted chocolate malt slowly giving way to a mix of pungent citric hops, light hints of tropical fruits; most notably grapefruit; pine, molasses, and the faintest hint of booze. The finish is a mix of hop bitterness and dark roast, lingering for some time.

M - Medium-Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. The feel has lots of hop bitterness and dark roast, lingering for some time after consumption.

O - Not too bad. The mix of dark roast and hops was fairly well balanced and it tasted pretty good. I have never been the biggest fan of Black IPA's but Stone really knows how to make them the right way.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.45/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Bottle shared by Jason - thanks man! Served in a Hill Farmstead glass.

A - A finger of tan foam settles to a partial cap, leaving behind spotty lace and a thick collar. A dark brown body reveals no transparency.

S - Pine, grapefruit, black malt, dark chocolate, and caramel. The hops give off a little bit of that cheesy stale hop aroma that I get from aged hoppy beers, but this was only bottled in August - weird.

T - Taste is unfortunately much less enjoyable. There's a blend of astringency, chalk, char, black malts, bitter grapefruit rinds, and pine. The bitterness is oppressive and fatiguing, and more sweetness is needed for balance. I'm alright with palate-bruising beers, but there needs to be a reward equal to the punishment, and this isn't the case here.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, extremely dry finish, and tons of resinous hop oils that linger well into the aftertaste. There's some light alcohol warmth, but nothing out-of-place for a 10.8% beer. The feel is by far my favorite element of this brew.

D - I'm starting to really dislike this style, particularly efforts like this one that mix my least favorite elements of IPAs and stouts yielding excessively bitter beers that evoke such delicious flavors as char, aspirin, and unripe grapefruits. While these types of flavors have their place, they just aren't very appealing on their own.

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Photo of jwc215
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet back with a thick, rocky head that stays around quite a bit of time, leaving lacing.

The smell is very robust. Chocolate and coffee backed by aromatic hops. Smells inviting.

The taste is strong delicious. Chocolate and coffee intertwines with plenty of citrusy, resiny hops. Alcohol is certainly noticeable, but adds to the flavor and complexity by giving a palatable spiciness without overwhelming. Too often, this style clashes for me. But, here it works very well. A hoppy, bittersweet, complex, rich brew here!

The feel is silky smooth and full-bodied.

This is a wonderfully hoppy black ale that it very enjoyable! Another winner from Stone! Happy 15th!

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

Served in a snifter, at the time of this review this is the #5 American Black Ale (whatever that means) on the best of beeradvocate.com lists.

Beer is black / dark brown with a thin tan head of small bubbles, some lacing but low retentioin and low carbonation.

Aroma is mildly sweet with a lot of earthy and piny hops.

Beer is medium in body and not roasty at all, blindfolded I would assume I'm drinking an IPA. Very earthy, almost sweet, strong, nice. Tastes pretty good, I'd have it again (I had more out of a bottle later).

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the Pickled Pig Pub

A: Served in a goblet, the beer was dark in color, pretty much black, with a very nice tan head on top. The head was very tight foam, great retention, with sparse lacing left behind.

S: Wow, amazingly hoppy on the aroma. If I was given this beer blind (and didn't see its color), I certainly would have guessed it either a strong IPA or a DIPA. Lots of grapefruit, pine, and pine resin. Very faint amount of roast going on, the hops dominate the aroma.

T: Roastier than the aroma led on, but still very hoppy. Lots of pine and resin, and to a much lesser extent citrus. This is mixed with some milk chocolate.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation, but it is rather creamy for style. Finishes bitter.

O: Pretty good for style, one of the better ones I have had. The mouthfeel on this one makes it better compared to most, which usually seem a bit thin. Fantastic aroma as well.

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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 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 tdm168
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, rich black with a cappuccino head that hangs around. Smells of roasted, chocolate malts with earthy, piny, citrusy hops. Taste is deep, rich, roasted malts with spicy, piny, earthy hops. Nice hop bitterness that lingers. Medium to full bodied, rich, and unbelievably drinkable for the hop character and ABV.

This beer is really solid. The hop character isn't my favorite, but its not bad either.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike.

The beer is dark brown with a beige cap that measures about a half inch, leaving some decent lacing on the glass. The aroma is toasty, with some nice hop scents. The flavor blends the two, with a healthy bitterness. Also present is a nutty, burnt toffee character. The feel is medium bodied, with a lingering hop bitterness in the aftertaste. Overall, a tasty beer, and a good example of the style.

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Photo of billab914
3.89/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Stone IRS glass. Black in color with a thin, dark tan head to it. The head retreated to the edges of the glass rather quickly and left just a bit of lacing as I drank it.

The aroma mixes a juicy, tropical fruit like hoppiness with a little bit of a roasted, chocolaty character. Some very nice grapefruit and mango notes come out in the hops. The roasted malts are noticeable but not overdone, which I like.

The taste shows some of that juicy, fruity hoppiness to it up front. Midway I start to get more of a dry, bitterness that lasts into the finish. The grapefruit and roasty flavors combine for some big bitter flavors in the finish, that seemed a little harsh at times. It was pretty good but I would have liked to see a little more of the brighter, juicy hoppiness that the aroma had cut through the roasty flavors a little more.

The mouthfeel is a little on the heavy side with carbonation being moderate. Overall it was a pretty good beer for the style. I liked the way juicy, hoppiness mixed with some chocolaty flavors in the aroma. The roasty, bitter, burnt flavors overshadowed the hops a little for me in the taste though. It was a pretty good beer overall though.

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Photo of WesWes
4.37/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a pitch black color with a thick frothy tan/brown head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a killer hop nose, citrusy and bitter, as well as a earthy black malt aroma. The hops dominate, but there is balance. The alcohol warmth peeks out a bit, yet it's not overly aggressive. The taste is great as well. It's incredibly smooth. The malt bill is incredibly complex; roasted and earthy with loads of mouthfeel. The hops are bold and bitter as well as incredibly flavorful. It goes down thick and slow with adequate warmth in the finish. The mouthfeel is tremendous. It's a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a killer beer. It's load and proud on all fronts; a damn fine beer worthy of a celebration.

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Photo of Billolick
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
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...

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Photo of Gavage
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: black in color with a huge tan colored head that lasts a long time. Thick lace shows up on the glass during the session.

Smell: nice pine, grapefruit, and earthy hop tones are nice with the roasted malt aromas.

Taste: follows the nose as a great roasted malt flavor is nicely balanced by some strong citrus and pine hop flavors. Some molasses and some soft earthy tones rounds this out. Alcohol is mildly detectable here.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth and dry at the finish. Long aftertaste here as the flavors last on the tongue.

Overall: this was a very enjoyable beer on tap as it was very fresh and full of nice flavors. This is an enjoyable black ale that hits the spot when you want the style.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber split with oglmcdgl, poured into some glaases.

A- 15th was split between black liquid and a frothy tan foam, each taking up about half of the glass. It took over five minutes for the head to die down before becoming a nice sturdy cap. The liquid is black except with light some brownish red spots pop up, good lacing.

S- Very hoppy, almost reminded me of a Storm King nose when cold. Big pine and citrus. Maltier as it warms with roasted malt and some minimal coffee. Some dark fruit appeal as it warms even more. This has the nose of a black IPA.

T- And as expected the hops come forth strong and piney. Getting some citrus grapefruit as well. A bit too hoppy so with some time I let the malts come up more which made for a better balance. The malts give off some fruit such as plum with some roast and sweet candy on the low side. The coffee i was getting actually is more of a burnt roast. This is a strong ale though with hops ruling.

M- Bitter, bordering on being bitter but this strong is built with a nice malt base. This provides for an easier and smoother drink when it warms. This is not a hot beer but it is a strong beer with legs. A medium body with perfect carbonation.

D- A bit off putting at first and then I remind myself im drinking a fresh west coast strong so the hops dont bother me as much now. I could not finish a bomber now but back when I was a youngbuck, hell ya.

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