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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,417 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,417
Reviews: 712
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 12.8%
Wants: 58
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,417 | Reviews: 712
Photo of wowbagger
3.23/5  rDev -23.5%
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.

Photo of rarbring
3.23/5  rDev -23.5%
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.

Photo of kmatlack
3.28/5  rDev -22.3%
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.

Photo of PicoPapa
3.3/5  rDev -21.8%
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.

Photo of musicforairports
3.31/5  rDev -21.6%
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.

Photo of ZenAgnostic
3.31/5  rDev -21.6%
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.

Photo of pmlondrigan
3.31/5  rDev -21.6%
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?

Photo of ShanePB
3.33/5  rDev -21.1%
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.

Photo of baconbourbon
3.33/5  rDev -21.1%
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.

Photo of emmasdad
3.33/5  rDev -21.1%
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.

Photo of Stunner97
3.33/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- dark black with small amount of bubbles to be seen streaming the glass, brown foamy heady quickly fades to very thin lacing, appearance looks identical to stout,

Smell- roasted nose, mostly hops and bitterness on the nose, smells of regular ipa

Taste- this beer really kinda falls flat on the up front and the mid palate and then follows through with firm bitter hoppiness, flavor is mostly just hops but overall some what bland, just kinda lacks that wow factor

mouthfeel- surprisingly light and soft,

Drinkability/ overall- to me though this beer wasn't bad i definitely thought it was far from great, about the best part of the beer is that the alcohol is very well hidden for the high gravity, but overall to me though this beer came through as a bland one dimensional over hopped beer that truly was just not that exciting, it manages to be okay but really nothing to me beyond that

Photo of Philousa
3.35/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark black with about 1/4" dark brown head and good lacing. Earthy, citrus hops in the nose, followed by bitter malt, and a hint of caramel. Taste is chocolatey, smokey malt up front, followed by earthy, bitter hops. Bitterness feels more alcoholic with time, in the nose. Mouthfeel is middling, good carbonation for a dark, high ABV beer, but taste is a bit fleeting. Clean, crisp taste up front with lingering bitterness.

Don't know how I feel about this beer. The nose says IPA, but the taste is bitter RIS, which kinda turns me off. If the malt was more sweet, I would be a much bigger fan. I think a little balance is in order here. Then again, this is the same brewery that tries to kill your palate with bitterness, so what else should I expect? Good experiment, not something I'd drink often.

Photo of Retsinis
3.36/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Being Stone's 15th, I had to try this one, even though I don't buy Stone's beers nearly as much as I use to a few years back. There WAS a TON of this at the local Total wines when it was first released, and now this was the only bottle I saw this past weekend, so it must be decent to be going so fast. Anyhow, on to the review.

Review from notes.

A: Poured from the 22oz bomber into a Bruery tulip glass. A solid half inch of medium tan brown colored head rose, and slowly settled, leaving a smooth coating film at first, and then some sticky spotty lace. Settled to just a ring of bubbles, and some film on top of this Black beer, that no light penetrates.

S: Scents of light espresso, light mint hops, light chocolate, medium roasted malt, more bitter hops, with notes of pine, hay, light smoke and that distinct stone yeast strain. A bit muddled actually.

T: Mirrors the nose, intense bitter hops aroma, medium roasted malt, light chocolate, and a touch of coffee. Some rye grain notes in there as well, and the ABV is well hidden. As it warmed, I started to get very subtle taste of burnt cinnamon, mixed with light pepper or even ginger? Might not be describing that just right, but it's there.

M: Medium carbonation, bitter bite.

O: Good, way better than 14. Glad I got to try it, but no plans to revisit. Still pretty intense, even though it was released nearly two months ago.

Black IPA's for me are either closer to porters, or DIPA's with some in between. It's a tricky balance to make a great one from the dozens+ I've tried. This definitely favored the hops, but it's an odd mix. While the hops may be what makes this beer great, some time might improve it even more for me, though not the brewers intention I imagine to age it,.

Not sure if it's the in house yeast strain, or the choice of hops, both, or something I can't put my finger on, but this beer is a bit TOO bitter for me, and not in a good way, and I love DIPA's, IIPA, IPA's etc, so I'm left that it may just not be a choice of hops that agrees with me.

Nevertheless, Congrats Stone on 15 years, Cheers!

Photo of slentz
3.36/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle to Deschutes tulip at about 50 degrees.

A: Moderate pour leads to about 1.5 finger of creamy pillowy head that recedes to a nice ring that stays forever. Nice lacing and legs...very black 4.0

S: A little bit of smoke and oniony hops, dark chocolate malts, but overall smell is very muted on this one. 3.0

T: Smoky, spicy beef jerky like almost. Again the onions come out from the hops. Completely different than anything I have ever tasted. 3.5

M: Good carbonation, nice and viscous, definitely leaving an oily residue on the teeth and gums. 4.0

O: Overall this beer is not that great. Pretty disappointing and tough to get through 3.0

Photo of jethrodium
3.38/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

650 ml bottle. Pours a dark brownish black with a one finger tan chocolate head that sticks around for a while and leaves a small amount of lacing on the glass in a bunch of small spots. The aroma is roasted coffee, some tobacco, mango, oranges, and peaches. There is definitely some citra hops in there. The initial taste is a strong roastiness that goes into tobacco, coffee, and hints of orange peel. The fruit in not nearly as prominent in the taste as it was in the nose. Bitter coffee on the finish. Medium carbonation. Full bodied. This beer was much closer to a heavily hopped imperial stout than an IPA with a bit of roastiness, which is how I usually like my black IPAs. While it certainly was not a bad beer, I felt some of the flavors didn't work together all that well.

Photo of TBoneJones
3.41/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours like a black beauty. Thick deep black, great two finger-width off -white/ light caramel-colored head.
Smells like a liquory funky type of beverage, with some light mocha notes, and with some hop aroma as well. Interesting but not powerful.
This is an interesting take, I normally wouldn't go for a black IPA and don't recall ever having done so. But i feel Stone balanced this brew quite well. It's like a DIPA and an RIS seamlessly combined. It works somehow. It has burnt lingering bitterness with a smooth, thick creamy mouthfeel. Still not a favorite style of mine, but this one is a good sipper. But then this just feels very dry at the finish.
Overall I thought this was easy to drink for such a big beer, but the abrupt drying finish held this back for me. A good combo of big ipa and darkness, but the impression left is strong, and then a chalky, metallic taste. Looks much better than everything else about it. Worth a try nonetheless.

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.41/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Stone Escondidian, bomber into tall cocktail glass.

Appearance: Classic Black IPA, super dark and thick, with a very solid cafe-con-leche head that lasts and lasts. Beautiful lacing, retention. Good carbonation.

Smell: Not too enticing here. Dry roastiness, some coffee, a tad of toasted hops. Bitter, acrid. Unexpected citrus, boiling orange juice. Weird!

Taste: Coffee, some chocolate powder. Bitter hops. Dry hay, barnyard and roughness. At the end, it is like getting hit by pine needles on the throat. Sublimely Redux, minus the passion and the balance.

Mouthfeel: Creamy enough, full body and flavor, good carbonation. Very, very dry finish. Boozy ma non troppo. Not too pleasant around the mouth.

Overall: I don't dig this. It is like an unimproved version of Sublimely. Why? Sure, it is better than any other Anniversary I have tried, but still... no need for this. I'll go for Sublimely. It eventually became a chore to drink, even though it is not terribly alcoholic.

EDIT: Much better on tap.

Photo of pburland23
3.41/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured from a 22 ounce bombed into my Great Divide tulip.

Pours a stout-like opaque dark black with two and half towering fingers of mocha colored head. Moderate head retention and a ridiculous draping of thick, clingy lacing.

Smell is underwhelming. I was expecting a real, quintessential Stone hop bomb. But, the preeminent aroma was more dark candied sugar and sweet malt. At the tale end of the nose, there's a whiff of dank, earthy hops. Wish there had been more.

Taste start off overly sweet and malty. Then, there's a huge wallop of biting hops bitterness in the middle of the sip which slips away to a slight touch of roastiness. The happiness mellowed as the beer warmed, but this one tasted more black ale and less IPA throughout.

Mouthfeel is mildly thick with a healthy dose of carbonation. High ABV but the booze is hidden quite well.

Overall, I'm not impressed. Stone is using spot on but this one misses the mark. The flavored are muddled and the beer suffers from an identity crisis.

Photo of NCSUdo
3.45/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle

A: Dark black body under a good sized brown head. Nice retention and lace.

S: Mix of roasted and chocolate malt with a background of citrus hops. Nice balance in the aroma.

T: Very roasted taste, with some hints of chocolate. Unfortunately, there is a hint of "burnt" there also. Not getting a lot of hop taste, but certainly a big bitterness in the finish. Alcohol apparent in a decent warmth on the way down. Fairly unbalanced.

M/D: Full bodied, carbonation is not too high. Drinkability is fair. A big beer that is a bit out of balanced in the taste depart.

Photo of MasterSki
3.45/5  rDev -18.2%
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.

Photo of Mahlik
3.46/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into a shaker pint glass. Reviewed from notes (9/15/11).

A - Poured a pitch black with a tan creamy head. Decent lacing.

S - Lots of in-your-face hoppiness dominate. Pine, resin and citrus are all present in the aroma. An underlying fruitiness.

T - Taste doesn’t stray too far from the aroma. I get a lot of piney hops up front with some chocolatey malts on the backside. A touch of citrus. The bitterness grabs a hold of your palate and doesn't let go. A rather large amount of alcohol creeps up.

M - Medium-thick bodied with moderate carbonation. Thicker and creamier than expected. The bitterness is a little harsh. I can definitely feel the alcohol’s presence in this beer.

O - Not one of my favorites. I'm usually torn on black IPAs. I probably won't seek this one out again. I like the hop profile but this beer borders on being too harsh. It's a little too unbalanced for my liking.

Photo of schlimenhaumer
3.48/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the standard pressure cap bottle into a nonic pint glass at low altitude.

A: Pours pitch black with a 1-2 finger mocha colored head of decent retention. Nice lacing here.

S: Dark chocolate, caramel malts, fairly prominent bittering hops. Like a stout, this one definitely smells dark. I feel I may have waited too long to buy this one as the hops smell a bit less prevalent than expected for a black IPA.

T: Dark chocolate and a sweet caramel malt body up front with and bitterness throughout that really takes over on the finish. I'm sure the hop character would have been stronger and more pleasant if I bought this one a bit fresher.

M: Full-bodied and slick with a little bit of carbonation. I feel that this one could have done with some more carbonation.

D: From the taste, I never would have guessed this one is 10.8% ABV -- it conceals the alcohol content very well. The dark chocolate and sweet malt notes were a bit overpowering, but the balance may have been better if I had this fresh. While it was pretty good, I don't think I would buy it again.

Photo of Tilley4
3.48/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm usually wacky about these anniversary brews from Stone but this one was a little bit of a downer for me... The beer looked great in the glass... It smelled big and mean and loaded with piney hops and dark chocolate malts...and then came the booze... Lots of it...

I know it was almost 11% but it tasted more like 17-18% to me... This thing was hot and boozy and drowned out what the beer was trying to be...the hops were juicy and delicious for sure and the big malt bill brought the bitter chocolate aspects to the beer but both got slammed by a strong fusel flavor that sort of turned me off to it...

I had trouble finishing this... I will probably pick a bottle up to age for a while and revisit this in 6 months or so but as for now, this wasn't my thing... Not horrible, but the ABV was very prevalent here...

Photo of Bfarr
3.49/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown and good brown head with poor retention. More of a roasted malt aroma with a touch of pine. The roasted malts are more pronounced with good balance in sweetness and good pine and chocolate notes. Fairly thin feel.

Oddly it was not as enjoyable as it was out of the bottle which I felt was true of it on tap as well. It seemed thin and almost unfinished. It didn’t have the strong pine hop content of the bottle. A good beer, but I’d rather buy another bottle.

Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.49/5  rDev -17.3%
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.

15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 1,417 ratings.