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

714 Reviews
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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by HopHead84 on 08-16-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews
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Reviews: 714 | Ratings: 1,422
Photo of shwillivanilli
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a- free poured into snifter. huge head of the pour! jet black with tan head, about2 and fingers. settled down to tan bubbly head about cm thick with lacing.

s- fresh hops, sweet citrus very floral. slight roasted note

t- super hoppy, citrus up front. nice sweet to roasted finish. not as malty as id thought it could be. very tasty

m- not very thick for being a big 10%. good carbonation level. smooth

o- enjoyed much more than the 14th. reminds me of a super sublimely. i like the concept of this beer, id like to see more like it. super hoppy and delicious. i may have it fresh if thats an advantage. easy drink for over 10%. ill be getting another!

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Photo of wifehatesthebike
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Above average thickness with a thick frothy head that continued to rise after first pour. Very dark with a light brown top. Average lacing down the glass.

S: Light chocolate and citrusy hops, does not explode with scent but smells deep and complex.

T: Heavy dark malts followed by citrus hops (oranges and tangerine) and a bitter lingering finish. Alcohol is present but fairly hidden for almost 11%.

M: Above average viscosity here for the style. Very smooth and carbonated perfectly.

O: A very good beer, but to me I may still prefer Stone Sublimely Self Righteous. They are definately different beer with different hop and malt flavors.

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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 thatruth
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

picked up a 22 oz from the Beer Junction in West Seattle the day the cases arrived earlier this month. poured into pint glass.

almonds, pine, nutmeg, roasted oak. cherry and chocolate aroma.

pours a 1/8" mocha head with moderate, frothy lacing. coffee black with a syrupy look. opaque in glass, absolutely no light penetrates this beer.

tastes like you're in hop central and a stout steps in and takes over as sheriff. has the hop fritz and the stout lacquer.

robust and thorough on-bringing comes to a nice solid hold in the finish. lingering forest-y aftertaste. 10.8 alc/vol. hidden mildly well.

if herbal chocolate (mint chocolate? nah.) is your thing, this beer is spot on. Sublimely Self Righteous was a Stone Anniversary beer so popular they made it into its own. this one may likely follow: it's so odd and distinct.

**Label reads: "August 2011 BOTTLE CONDITIONED ENJOY FRESH"

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Photo of rrski198
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Done from brief notes:

A: Nearly all black. Decent head. Fits the style

S: Great combo of chocolate and hops. Slight sweet micha scent in there as well

T: Very nice and complex. Piney hops, burnt sugar, caramel, coffee, dark chocolate.

M: Bitterness all over the place. Awesome mix from the hops and roasted malt. Rich and full.

O: What can I say that I haven't said already. Great brew, great brewery. Thanks Stone!

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4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle into tulip. from notes.

A: Pours a rich and full body, with a deep jet black hue and a vibrant khaki head. The lacing is sticky and good low level of carbonation.

S: The aroma is a very welcoming blend of high hop aroma and underlining bitterness. No real roasted aroma or chocolate malt. Great level of high intensity on the aroma.

T/M: The body is full and viscous, while still packing the fresh punch of West Coast hops. Bitterness levels are high the roast level is very appropriate for style. Linger is long and bitter.

O: Overall this is a extremely great example of a Black IPA. One of the few that is so rich in color, while holding all key aspects of an IIPA and not adding much if any roasted effect.

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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.

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Photo of DTJPPR
4.68/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From tasting notes on 08-28-2011. poured into a Snifter glass.

A - Thick & black like melted chocolate with a deep brown 2.5 finger head. Good retention on the head and nice lacing all the way down.

S - Very hoppy with hints of grapefruit and nectarines.

T - Instant hit of Coffee, Citrus, biscuits and chocolate. Lots of chocolate, especially in the aftertaste, mixed with a bif molasses character that is fan-freaking-tastic. The malts are very very well balanced with the hops, making it malty for an IPA, but a rather perfect blend for this brew. There's a little alcohol heat on the back end but it blends well with the chocolaty flavors in this beer.

M - A bit dry & chalky, but not bad. This beer is pretty thick & viscous for the style. Carbonated as usual from Stone.

O - This is a great brew for the 15th Anniv. of Stone. The chocolate overtones really make this beer different from their other offerings, and it is well balanced with the hops. I really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of elgiacomo
4.53/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottled Aug 16, 2011. Served at around 50F.

Pours black with a large thick brown head that leaves a nice pattern of sticky lacing and holds one of the best caps I’ve seen. She sho’ is purty!

Aroma is pine, spruce, grapefruit rind and citrus, dank, along with some of that delicious cat spray, also some coffee, roasted malts and chocolate, but the hops really take center stage in the aroma. Excellent strength.

Flavor is intense to say the least. A ton of pine, juicy citrus and resinous, dank hops up front intertwined with strong chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, anise and molasses as well as a bit of caramel and dark fruits, nice bitterness and some alcohol on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium plus bodied, sticky, good carbonation.

And I thought Sublimely Self Righteous was the most intense Black IPA out there... Not anymore! A new king has been crowned! Holy hell is this some good stuff. Ridiculously hoppy and the great roasted malt component holds its own. Gonna be enjoying this some more for sure while it’s around.

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Photo of BigB415
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours pitch black with a thick brown head. Heavy lacing along the sides of the glass.

S: Strong smell of hops for me and I like it.

T: I get a lot of carbonation. I also get loads of hops like an IPA should get but it doesn't taste like a normal IPA. It has a big beer attribute to it like a stout or a barley wine does. That may sound weird but it's hard to explain.

MF: Bitter from the hops. Nothing else really going on here.

O: I'm really digging it. I was worried I wouldn't like it after I got 2 bottles and read on the bottle that it should be consumed fresh since I originally intended to cellar one but now I'm glad I got 2 bottles so I drink both right away. Maybe one of the reasons I like it so much is from the big beer attribute since I love stouts so much. Nice job Stone!

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

Purchased from Vendome. Into a NB Globe.

A: Inky black, every much the color of the Stone IRS I had last night. Dense, tan head of about 1/2 an inch with gobs and gobs of lacing. The head will not disappear. Completely opaque. Man, this is one good looking beer.

S: Incredibly "herbal". Dank, resinous hops, tons of hops, which I completely expected from Stone. Under that there are some definite caramel and toffee notes, and just a hint of coffee. No booze at all. Doesn't get much better than this.

T: Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Tons of hops, strong resinous hops, citrus and pine with a hearty bitterness that never reaches that annoying soapiness that was in the Stone 13th. Great malt presence here, caramel, and toffee, with a decent amount of roast and coffee in here as well. A faint hint of booze at the end, but it is by no means overpowering. Awesome.

M: Medium mouthfeel, slight bit of warmth, but not what I would expect for a nearly 11% beer. Fairly sticky on the lips, with a medium dry finish.

O: Very enjoyable beer, definitely worthy of the 'A' average on the site after 100+ reviews. I would love to see this worked into the year round or seasonal line up like Sublimely Self Righteous, because this is a beer that if I knew was fresh I would drink quite regularly. Cheers to Stone on 15, keep up the great work!

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Photo of Digimaika2
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Wow. Pours a noticeably rich and thick dark brown (near black) colour with a two-finger mocha coloured creamy head. Good lacing and decent retention.

S: Earthy pine, tart and slightly sour grapefruit, some faint dark chocolate and espresso. Quite a bit of earthy aromas coming through.

T: Bold pine and tart grapefruit (to a lesser extent) taste upfront quickly gives way to a roasted flavour that includes black licorice, molasses, burnt cocoa, and faint espresso. Alcohol well hidden as this doesn't taste like the stated ABV. Quite an earthy taste in this (especially towards the finish) with very nice overall flavours.

M: Good viscosity (not too thick, not too thin) and a healthy and pleasing dose of carbonation.

O: Everything comes together very well in this Black IPA. With the alcohol well hidden, this is surprisingly quite easy-to-drink. One of the best Stone offerings I've had yet.

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

(A) Pours jet black and completely opaque. No light gets through this beer. It's pretty thick, almost stout-like, and even cascades when poured on tap. The head is dark brown with medium and small sized bubbles, and lingers for a long while.

(S) First thing you notice is the hops. They're big on the nose with the simcoe hops giving most of the aroma. They give it a bit of that dank bitter smell. There is a defined malt aroma as well, dark and roasty.

(T) The simcoe and amarillo hops are bold in the front of the taste. There is a big roasted character that ushers in a big malty foundation to this beer. The malts help to give it good grounds for the massive attack of the hops. The black malt is quite evident with some chocolate malts creeping in there as well. There's a slight hint of coffee, burnt grains, and some earthiness. Some of the sweeter notes come through as it opens up and warms.

(M) Thick and full body but surprisingly well balanced with how much went into this beer.

(O) Big and bold. It really is Sublimely x2. This almost can take a step away from Sublimely because of the better malt core that seems to round out the beer. It is crazy hoppy though, and doesn't drink like a 10.8% beer. It's not boozy at all. You only start to get hints of it when it gets closer to room temp, but that is to be expected.

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Photo of avalon07
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick, opaque texture. There was a half inch of creamy, tan-colored, fairly long-lasting head. Very good lacing.

S: Not as robust an aroma as would have thought, but you still get a big bouquet of hops, coffee, chocolate, and pine.

T: Tasted of very sharp hops up front, with hints of coffee, chocolate, pine, and a little malt in the finish. This is a big, bold, and complex flavor.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a lively, crisp finish. Medium-bodied.

O: An extremely focused and well made beer.

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Photo of Dope
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Almost completely black pour with a huge chocolate brown head. Tons of lacing and great retention.

S: Citrus and pine hops. Brown sugar, maybe a little molasses? Strong roasted malt with maybe a little bit of chocolate in there.

T: Hoppy up front with the citrus but then the roasted malt takes over quickly with just a touch of chocolate perhaps. Finishes strong with some bitter pine. Tastes like a hoppy porter, not unlike Pretty Things EIP. Every once in a while I think I get a hint of raisin but it might be in my head. Perhaps it is the brown sugar that I smelled that is tricking me.

M: Quite thick. Mid-range carbonation. Almost chewy.

O: Great beer. Some people talk about it like it's mostly a double IPA. In my opinion the roasted malt is very strong and subdues the hops a ton, making this a well balanced and strong beer.

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Photo of Trilogy31
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark chocolate black witha creamy two fingers of head. The beer is amazing especially for some that doesnt normally enjoy what is basically a dipa. The nose is bright orange citrus along with tropical fruits and a touch of pine and lightly roasted malts (the nose oddly reminds me of Nelson in a good way). The taste is straight away fragrant citrusy hops, mango and papaya along with light piney hopping. Finishes with a pleasant bitterness and the malt notes really come across more of a true dipa than anything dark and roasted, i wouldnt guess that the beer was black if i had not seen it. Really an impressive beer.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a shaker pint glass.

Grabbed a bottle of his favorite style to share with a friend a few nights before his bachelor party. The festivities beginning real early, son. It pours a dark, ruby-tinted black-brown topped by a healthy bit of dirty tan foam. The nose comprises grapefruit zest, roasted malts, molasses, brown sugar, orange peel, pine sap, and sharp mint. The taste doesn't really deviate too far from this plan of action, though the hops are definitely the dominant force here, with the roastier aspects forced behind them. The body is a sleek medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta dry finish. Overall, a more-than-solid black ale, though the spicily citrus hops don't completely meld with the darker aspects, rather the two camps constantly duke it out. This struggle doesn't torpedo things, though, a testament to the beer's strength.

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Photo of CASK1
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured to a shaker pint. Black, with a deep tan head that persists as a thin layer to the bottom of the glass. Aroma is dominated by piney, citrusy American hops. Low roasted malt aroma, very much in the background. Low fruitiness -hops are dominant in all respects. Flavor is complex. Hop bitterness and flavor dominate. Some roast malt support, but malt resides in the background. High hop bitterness, and complex piney hop flavor. Clean, dry mouthfeel, with long, dry, bitter, hop finish. Medium high carbonation results in a dry finish. Alcohol is hidden well in this one. Would like to drink more, but could be trouble!

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Photo of n2185
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with four fingers of dark tan head that recedes into a thin layer with a little lacing.

S: Roasted malts at first with lots of semi-sweet chocolate. Sweet citrusy aromas of grapefruit and oranges follow from the hops with some piny aromas as well.

T: Again, roasted malts up front with some bitter chocolate flavors. The hops kick in then, with a big piny and grapefruit blast. Char and lightly bitter flavors bring up the finish with a slight alcohol burn. The bitterness does linger a bit.

M: Medium body with fairly high carbonation that accentuates the hop flavors and bitterness well.

O: A good beer with lots of roasted malt and hop flavors. The bitterness is a bit on the strong side for me and the hops are a bit dominating on the flavor profile, but not too much so. I think I prefer Sublimely Self-Righteous to this, but not by much.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stone 15th Ann. Black IPA pours deep black into the glass, with a frothy, tan head on top. the foam dissolves slowly to a thick sheet on the surface leaving behind a coating of lace on the glass.

The rich aroma has notes of roasted malt, chocolate, orange citrus and pine. Reminds me of a hoppy stout.

Each sip of this full bodied beer is smooth and velvety with a dry finish. Mild carbonation. The flavor is balanced between pine and orange citrus and roasted malt. A fair amount of chocolate and some dark fruit notes and smoke are also present. It finishes bitter with a lingering flavor of pine, chocolate malt and alcohol.

This beer seems more like a stout than a black IPA. Still, it's very tasty, full bodied and well balanced.

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Photo of Lerxst
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip

A-Pours black. No hints of light peeking through. 1/2" coffee colored head has good retention and leaves ample lace all the way down. Great looking beer.

S-Strong but not overwhelming nose. Very aromatic and pleasing. Pine resin and citrus are the star here with a nice dose of roasty malt, hints of chocolate and booze. Smells great too.

T-This is delicious. I can't quite give it a 5, but its close. A nice bitter hop bite of pine and citrus lead with a very pleasant roasted malt coming in just behind it. Got some booze in the nose, but none here. The alcohol is completely hidden to my palate. Just a hint of chocolate here. All of the flavors mingle together to provide an excellent drinking experience.

M-Medium body with slightly prickly carbonation that suits this beer well.

O-This style is hit or miss with me, but Stone hits this one out of the park. I'm a big fan of the SSR, but this one really takes the cake. I'd love to see this in the regular line up. I loved the entire experience from start to finish. Well done!

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Photo of homebrew311
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into snifter.

A: pitch black, opaque, stout like appearance, cocoa colored head, some lacing around the sides of the glasses

S: deep earthy tones of pine with a significant resinous quality, malty sweetness in the back, some boozieness sneaks through, hints of roasted malt- not sure if this is more my perception seeing as the beer is so dark or if its really there. Hops are very aromatic.

T: big time hop bitterness bombards the palate and hangs out in a prominent way. The aftertaste leaves hints of maltiness and roast. Everything else is pine and hops. Some heat on the finish.

MF: thick body, medium carbonation, somewhat sticky

O: tasty brew, in your face hop character, borders on going overboard with bitterness

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Photo of doughanson78
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled August 2011.

A: Black as night. A slight 3/4 finger mocha colored head with minimal retention. Looks like a good Imperial Stout.

S: A very different aroma. Like chocolate blended with grapefruit and pineapple. A slight roastiness to the aroma. Just a crazy smell. Can't really wrap my "nose" around it. But I really like it.

T: Huge chocolate/caramel sweetness followed by a crazy mix of hop bitterness. Maybe a mixture of pine, floral, citrus, earthy, and what ever other hops are out there. The bitterness fades to a good roastiness and smokiness. A very good Black IPA.

M: Medium bodied. Medium carbonation leaning to the high side. Pretty dry finish. Very refreshing.

O: Easily the best Black IPA I've had. First one where the hoppiness wasn't over powered by the dark malts. Get one and drink it.

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Photo of Sensaray
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark dark brown almost black with 3 finger light brown head.

Citrus hops blended with dark malts and booze.

Huge flavors of dark malts, dark choco and toffee, roasty malts, with a nice bitter that builds til closing. Some citrusy hops shine through the malt and gives this a nice hop presence. Good bittering hops in this.

Smooth mouthfeel, medium bodied, good carbonation.

Overall, good beer, although definitely not unique I'd say.

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Photo of Pahn
4.69/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 714 ratings.