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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 jm1229
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle opened on 8/24 and poured into a Stone pint glass.

A- Black. Black black. Is this a stout? Looks like one. Total surprise. Thick mocha head leaving tons of lacing. Wow.

S- Immediately pick up the citrus smell. Followed by some malt tones. That's about all I can get.

T- Wow, what a punch. Citrus, chocolate, malt, mocha, and coffee. Great bitter aftertaste. There is almost no evidence of the 10.8%. Amazing.

M- Medium body. Way smoother than you'd ever imagine. The carbonation is perfect for what you'd want from an IPA.

O- This is an amazing beer. Exceptional. I'd love if this beer was made into a year-round release (much like Self-righteous was upgraded from a special to a year-round). I guess I'm going to have to stock up because, damn, this is a great beer. Big fan.

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Photo of azdback
4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Stone Imperial glass. Dark, but not pitch black. Some light passes thru the edges and is dark brown out there. Head is an incredible three fingers and ultra firm. The bubbles are so small that the edge looks like memory foam. The color of the head is a dark mocha and hasn't gone anywhere since I poured it. Fantastic!!

Smell is kind of hard to get to, I guess I'll just have to dive my oversized snout into the unrelenting head. Here goes. The only thing I can get for now is earthy or bread. I continue to smell as I drink and am able to pull some ultra sweet citrus of maybe a pink grapefruit or blood orange, and a bit of spice.

Taste is like roasted coffee. Big roasted flavors, charred wood, chocolate, tobacco, and some bitter hop notes. There is also a considerable alcohol burn and some spice also.

Mouth is rich and full bodied. The tongue is left a little dry from the tartness of the malt body and the bitterness from the hops. Quite nice!

Overall I must say how outstanding I think this beer is. It is like a black IPA on steroids! I have been trading lately to get 10th Anniversary thru 14th so I could do this as a vert, but I couldn't hold back on this one. Once again I blow my load too soon. It's okay I guess, cause there is still more at the local bottle shop. Cheers to Greg and Steve and the rest of the Stone crew and I can't wait to try the 30th.

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Photo of ESPNman
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Black. As in pure, unadulterated motor-oil black. Eerily similar to the Imperial Russian Stout. Refused to let light through, produced a thick two-finger mocha-colored head that faded slowly with good lacing.

S - Vanilla, leather, smoke. Sweeter than most IPAs, slight bit of of floral hops towards the end.

T - Fantastic. Vanilla, smoke, and sweet caramel malts at first. Fades into cocoa and hops. More floral than piney or citrus. Finishes with a bit of stone-style piney resinous hop.

Mouthfeel - Thick, but not as thick as the stout-like appearance would make you anticipate. Good level of carbonation.

Overall - I picked up three bottles, and will probably end up buying more. Fantastic brew. Improved over the SoCal Hop Salute trial run that I had at the brewery. Go for it!

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

Appearance: (4.5)
- Pours a dark stout-like jet brown brew. Can't see through even a centimeter of it. Huge slow forming mocha head that gave my pour about 3 fingers of thick foam. It has settled slowly to an 1/8th inch layer of cream with lacing all about the glass. Looks like this one will stick the whole way down.

Smell: (4.0)
- This thick brew seems to be hiding a lot of its robustness within its liquid confinement. Lots of zesty pine and floral hops hit the nose.. as much as possible. Coffee, chocolate, and bitter dark malts stand out like a fine dessert. There is almost a salty and smokey touch to it as well.. perhaps just the roasted malts.

Taste: (4.0)
- Wonderful huge bitter pine hops, and floral-citrus flavor hops.. big hop punch riding a smooth black roasted malt bed of grain.. big bitter coffee, mocha, and cocoa... hops are big, and is close to being very balanced.. though the hops still remain huge. Alcohol in this 10.8% beast is hardly noticed.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Creamy smooth viscous beverage. Carbonation is well in place, and is perfect for the style. It is quite drying from its bitterness, and leaves a bit of a chalky film in the mouth. Certainly what it should be for the style.

Overall: (4.0)
- Overall this is a super solid imperial CDA. The hops are huge.. both bittering and aroma. I am impressed with it, but then again, it is a bit late in the game. Stone's Sublimely is a huge CDA in the game of CDA's.. and this one kind of sits there right with it.. but doesn't stand above it in overall quality. Certainly worth buying a few, and having on tap if you get the chance.

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

Poured from bottle into pint glass. Thick, rich, chocolate head atop a murky dark black abyss. Nose is real subtle, bit of cocoa, very minute hops, vanilla and smoke. On the tongue it is smokey, burnt chocolate malt, coffee, hops a bit, bitterness comes out from the dark chocolate and hops. Mouthfeel, good and 'hearty'. Matches the heavy and bold flavor, with full carbonation. Overall, good beer. Still a little skeptical on the 'ipa' part, I think it would be great as a big stout.

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Photo of OldIronLungs
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I actually laughed when I read Escondidian. Here's to excessive appellation!

Poured into a Portsmouth tulip a deep slick black with a solid finger of light coffee colored head.

Nice mellow hit of sweet flowery pine, bitter chocolate, and roasted coffee on the nose. Very appealing.

Bitter chocolate and dry espresso up front - really nice pine and citrus bitterness through the finish. Sticky but smooth body manages to beg another sip - solid carbonation and an abv that ever so delicately lingers with the bitter finish.

Great beer, really a defining example of the style in my opinion. Would buy again. Will buy again.

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

22 fl oz brown bottle, served in an oversized wine glass.

Syrupy, deep maple in color beneath a gorgeously creamy, coffee-colored head that fades to an intact sheet after a few moments. Spotted lacing with decent strength.

Bright, tropical fruit aromas whose sweetness is enhanced a bit by a mild, toasted malt and hints of vanilla. Notes of black pepper and clove spice.

The tropical fruit flavors seem to be dipped in simple syrup with notes of vanilla. The toasted malts have a bit of smoked caramel flavor that balances out the hop intensity. The 10%+ ABV is hot and certainly makes its presence known. Filling the aftertaste and accompanied by the bitterness is a clove-filled medicinal quality.

A full, medium in body. The texture is almost velvety it is so smooth despite the hefty ABV and hop presence.

I'm still trying to grasp the style, especially one of this strength. This offering certainly speaks well of the style.

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Photo of jpro
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
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!

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Photo of J0E
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle - 2 pours into a snifter last night

A: Dark black with a nice dark tan head which dissipated but left a nice ring of lace throughout the whole tasting.

S: Strong floral hops. Really smells like an IPA with some roasted malt in the background.

T: Again, very heavily hopped. Nice strong bitterness with some citrusy notes as well. The malt has a solid presence here as well. A roasted/toasted bread flavor with a bit of bitter chocolate. hardly a hint of the 10% abv.

M: Light to medium body with plenty of carbonation.

O: I've tried a handful of Black IPAs and a couple Imperial Black IPAs, and this one is the top (followed closely by Arcardia's B- Craft). Very enjoyable and a decent price tag.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow this beer is black! Pours a dark motor oil opaque black with a small coffee colored head that died down to a thin layer with lacing.

Smells is very unique. Lots of good citrusy/piney hops but also a lot of roasted coffee as well. Very well balanced.

As far as tatse, there's the black again. Good citrus hops notes at the front, but in no time the roasted coffee flavor takes over finishing with a very rich coffee flavor and a little dry.

Mouthfeel is pretty heavy, but not as much as expected for the color. Carbonation level is lower than average.

Don't like it as much as the 14th, but another good annual from Stone. I've got a few of these and I'm looking forward to seeing how it ages.

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Photo of GJ40
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at Tyler's in Apex, NC.

A deep, dark, menacing beer with a nice beige head. It looks every bit like and Imperial Stout. The aroma is floral and citrusy with minimal contributions from the malt. The taste is big on hop flavor with lots of citrus and floral but only a moderate bitterness. The malts join in with a dark chocolate punch. The 10% alcohol is well hidden. The mouth feel brings back that Imperial Stout comparison with a thick and chewy finish.

This is a very interesting, flavorful beer with a lot more body and character than most black IPAs.

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Photo of MarkVegas
4.72/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours black and opaque. A tan head a little less than a finger appears and dissipates quickly. Lacing clings to the glass as I drink.

S: First impression on the nose: hop bomb! After the hops you definitely some of that roasted malt goodness. Smells great!

T: Tastes awesome, hop bomb up front, roasty in the middle and hop bitter in the back. Well balanced. For a 10%+ abv beer you don't get much alcohol burn at all. So Good!

M: Good body with just the right amount of carbonation. Not too heavy, lively on the tongue but finishes so smooth.

O: Seem like I'm gushing a bit? Yea, I am. This beer is most certainly my favorite for the style. Stone does not disappoint at all with this offering. With Sublimely Self-Righteous as the wingman to this beer its easy to say that Stone has the American Black Ale/Black IPS down to a science. Well played Stone, well played.

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

Pours a thick, black liquid with a medium tan/brown head that diminishes slowly. Scent is a lovely aroma of hops, citrus, pine, chocolate, and coffee. It really is amazing how all those distinct aromas can mesh so well. Taste is just as lovely. Initially I get a hint of chocolate, immediately followed by BIG hop flavor and citrus notes. Finishes with a bit of booze and strong espresso flavors. A lot of espresso. Mouthfeel is full bodied and velvety, yet drinks rather smoothly. Drinkability is high for such a big beer. Overall, this is an up and coming style that Stone knocked right on the tip of the nose. Outstanding beer.

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

A: Pours black with noted high viscocity. Brown, sticky head on glass and surface. Looks BIG!

S: Excellent, fresh hops scent. Pine and citrus coming through. Sweet malt notes as well.

T: An interesting combination of hops, grapefruit and roasted malt. The grapefruit is quite prominant, which I like. I think is a bit overly sweet.

M: Like a thick, syrupy stout. Speedway comes to mind. Carbonation is fine and appropriate for this heavy brew.

O: I'm liking it. Certainly no session beer here and quite a bit over the top. A solid ass kicker. I only wish they would tone down the sweetness a notch.

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Photo of Dlish
4.52/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a syrupy blackness out of the bottle. good dark brown head. Looks very much like a Imperial stout.

S- GREAT great Imperial IPA smell... lots of citrus grapefruit, almost a sour grape smell with the sweet malts backing it up. There are some floral smelling hops but I think the malts are making them sweeter.

T- I like the amount of hops, a bitter coco taste at the end. There is a toasted like mashmellow at the end. This taste is what I like a Strong Hop flavor with a Strong malt profile, its like self-righteous but double the ingredients.

M- Thick Malty and Taste

O- Tops off Stone on 15 years of arrogance. This 15 did not disappoint at all, creative, big, bold and robust. To another 15 years and all the creative beer that will follow with it.

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Photo of RandyV
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a beer that seems to me to have an identity crisis. The pour is nice, dark as night color with a two finger head. The smell is classic IPA, predominantly pine, with maybe some molasses in the background.

The identity crisis I referred to is in the taste and mouthfeel. There is hop bitterness up front, but it shares the stage with dark chocolate and espresso. This had a creamy mouthfeel and the alcohol is prevalent but not at all overwhelming. I felt like I was drinking a Russian Imperial Stout with an extra hop kick.

For me, it is simply a competition between two of my favorite styles, and I don't mind being the referee.

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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 KickInTheChalice
3.49/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a snifter at the Stone Tap Takeover at Acre.

Appearance: The appearance of every Stone beer shows their care and devotion to the craft. Black in color with brown edges and a tan cap, this big American Black Ale retains remarkably well for the ABV and leaves some nice lace down the glass.

Smell: The aroma is dark roasted malt, coffee, soy sauce, and some piney hops with a touch of ethyl alcohol.

Taste: Unfortunately, the taste cannot shed the soy sauce aroma that I got in the nose. Roast coffee and malt go well together with some light sweetness, with a mostly pine hop bill at the end. The salty soy sauce flavor just throws this off too much to give it a good score though. The booze is there the whole time, but it manifests itself in its purest form at the end of the sip.

Mouthfeel: Moderately creamy and smooth, with a good amount of carbonation. Fuller than medium bodied, with an ABV that warms the throat and stomach. Not too sticky or resiny, although both sensations are there.

Overall: Not the best I have had. Where that soy sauce flavor came from, I don't know, but it really distracts from what would otherwise be a pretty good beer.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. etched bomber into a tulip glass. Pours jet black even in the light and shows half an inch of mocha foam. Decent retention and light lacing follow.

Nose is rich with muddled earthy hops and a notable though light roast and dark chocolate presence. Cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar add complexity to a heavy bodied nose. Touch of alcohol drifts by here and there.

Taste is smooth and creamy, rich and with dark fruit and chocolate on the palate. Roast notes on the aroma don't reveal themselves here. A bit of dark chocolate bitterness tries to wend its way through the stout like body but just doesn't make it to the finish line, surrendering instead to the sweet malt body of cherried chocolate. Mouthfeel as a result doesn't resemble an IPA too well, Escondidian or otherwise.

In the end you may have your Escondidian IPA, or perhaps a Cascadian IPA or some future 'ian' IPA. But alas it's such a waste of hops, if they're actually there, to bury them behind the heavy handed and manipulative dark malts.

So, what makes an IPA? For I would not call this one, Black, Belgian or otherwise. A yummy brew, best perhaps enjoyed with chocolate cake, but an IPA??

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Photo of felipe2toes
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've not had a black IPA before. With that said...

Poured dark black out of the bottle with sticky brown lace. Great head retention.

Smelled of pine resin and hops, lots of hops. Maybe some sort of chocolate on the nose, as well as coffee and roasted malt.

Tastes sweet and hoppy at once, but fairly well-balance. Also some roasted malt and coffee flavors, with lots of hop bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel wasn't what I expected, thick and viscous. But as I said, I've never had an black IPA before. Maybe this is something I should get used to.

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

A: Poured a rich, deep, opaque black in color with a half inch of thick, creamy tan head. Tons of lacing as you drink. On the pour, carbonation levels seem good, if a bit on the low side. If anything, that will help drinkability.

S: Tons of hops on the nose; lots of pine and maybe a hint of citrus. The backbone of this one is clearly the burnt, roasted malt character which brings notes of molasses, coffee and maybe some dark fruit.

T: Taste follows the nose pretty well. Hop-dominant on the front end with the roasted notes peaking through towards the middle and quickly subsiding back into a dry, bitter hop finish. There are notes of dark chocolate and a bit of coffee hiding in the roast. As with all Stone brews, the pine hops really burst out on the tongue, almost overwhelmingly. Unlike a traditional IPA, this one packs a lot of roast, much like a porter. Perhaps a bit simplistic in the flavor department, what is there is solid. The alcohol is masked quite nicely.

M: Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation, this one turns to cream as it hits the tongue and goes down smooth and easy. Really enjoyed the feeling of this one on the tongue as it packs a good amount of substance without becoming heavy.

O: Stone never disappoints, and this one is no exception. However, I found this to be a bit on the acidic side and I've never been a huge fan of the pine-hop variety. Drinkability here is obviously not high, but I can't see why anyone would want to drink more than one of these. Definitely worth a try, and it's sure to please the Stone-faithful, but I would probably wouldn't seek this one out again.

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

22oz bottle served in a snifter.
bottled august 2011.

pours a dark cola brown, sits an opaque black; yields a 1" frothy tan head that demonstrates great retention and leaves respectable lacing.

nose offers some citric hoppiness - a touch of pine - with subtle roasty notes... maybe a hint of chocolate.

taste follows and exceeds the nose. flavorful and tasty with citrus (notably grapefruit), pine, roasted malts, and secondary notes of chocolate and even a hint of smoke. alcohol presence noted but not overpowering considering the north of 10% ABV... medium bodied in the mouth with average carbonation.

overall a damn impressive beer. thoroughly enjoying this one.

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Photo of DrJay
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black as night, though there may have been an smidgeon of a dark brown edge when held up to the light. Thick mocha cap of fine bubbles, clumpy sheets of lacing. I expected the aroma to be citrusy, and I wasn't disappointed - grapefruit pith was dominent at first, but gave way to some malty chocolate character as it warmed. Notes of cocoa and pine resin, alcohol and herbal hops, plus roasted malts, all floated in and out of focus. Big bittersweet chocolate flavour, more citrusy grapefruit and tangerine, peppery alcohol, bready and roasted malts. Full bodied with a silky texture, carbonation was a bit creamy. Mild warmth and astringency. Overall, quite enjoyable. It's a big beer packing a lot of flavour and I thought the brewers at Stone did a good job getting everything to work together.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into a giant mug

Pours with a frothy brown head, thick and dark like a porter, totally opaque. Small amount of active carbonation visible around the edges. Smells grapefruity, citrus florals. Fair amount of booze.

Taste is overwhelming. Very bitter, chocolatey, black liquorice, lots of that grapefruit rind flavor. Darkly roasted malts. Alcohol. This is strange to me, but strangely appealing. I don't know a lot of "American Black Ales" to compare this against.

Mouthfeel is thick, chalky, heavy, sticky, chewy. It's a mouthful. Overall, this is pretty good. More like a heavily hopped stout than a dark IPA.

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Photo of aval89
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: poured into Stone IRS glass. big 3 finger head. tan colored.. body is black.. couldnt get any light coming through.. wow, this looks like stone irs but the smell is so off..

s: ripe pink grapefruit with sugar coating.. citrus peels, minty pine needles.. small booziness.. couldnt detect any malts..

t: upfront is roasty, chocolatey malts.. along with some heat from the alcohol.. as it goes back you get the bitterness! aggressive citrus peel bitterness along with sticky pine.. almost like biting on a lemon peel. very resiny, like taking the last hit of weed.. you know, the ones where it shits on you (with ash).. finish is a combo of burnt malts, coffee like bitterness, teamed up with very bitter citrus rinds.. booze lingers..

mf: thick mouthfeel.. does have that chewy element.. right amount of carbonation.. any less or more & it would ruin it for me.. lots of warmth from the alcohol..

o: wow, this is a big beer! and it lets you know.. another great job by Stone!

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