1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,373 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1373
Reviews: 711
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 12.8%

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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: HopHead84 on 08-16-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 1,373 | Reviews: 711 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of travolta


4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

App: Black, not even another color around the edges when up to the light. Head retention is minimal. Nice lacing. A foamy, espresso colored head.

Nose: Licorice and dark candied fruits, slight alcohol notes, some dark berries, roasted dark coffee.

Taste: Typical Stone....perfect carbonation. Very balanced and subtle at first, which breaks way into multiple licorice, coffee and toffee flavors. Chocolate and toffee maltiness throughout.

Notes: A nice example of a Black IPA. Is it Imperial, or was this just a well balanced version? I'm not sure. Head retention was not typical Stone, everything else was top notch. Always a good quality beer with Stone.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2012 03:55:24 | More by travolta
Photo of Vierenner


3.05/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

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

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

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2012 23:19:38 | More by Vierenner
Photo of TwelveOunces


4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber poured into a tulip.
August 2011, Enjoy fresh.
Four months late on this one but...

A- Pitch black, a quarter finger of a khaki brown head with little retention. Nice lacing.
S- A nice hoppy aroma up front, would have been better if I did have this fresh but still, Im not disappointed. A slight bit of coffee malts, and some burnt caramel. A little alcohol but I wouldnt have guessed it was over 10%. Hops are very piney with some overly ripened citrus.
T- A lot of hop bitterness up front followed by a good heap of coffee and caramel and possibly even chocolate malts. Piney hops and some astringency to it, traces of what this beer once was. But the bitterness is perfectly balanced. I really cant taste the alcohol surprisingly.
M- This beer is way too easy to drink. Leaves behind an appropriate ammount of bitterness and a coating mouth feel. a creamy aftertaste. Awesome stuff.
O- This beer is awesome, I think it is as good as their self richeous ale just a little different (and bigger). I cant help but think that if I had this beer fresh it would have scored a perfect 5 but unless they re-release it I may never know.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2012 10:24:47 | More by TwelveOunces
Photo of Zimbo

United Kingdom (Scotland)

4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep black roasted tar nose which is sharply intense and penetrating. In the glass it is jet black and gives at least a half inch light brown glossy head. Interesting how it pours seeminglessly headless only to form something big and beatifull in just a few seconds.
The taste is tense, intense of dark liquorice, dark 100% cocoa chocolate, some silky earth which is superbly roasty dry and supported by deep pine. A vibrant TCP monster of measured intensity. Some slightly fizzy gas at the end does not distract from this potent glass of superb lethal jet fuel.
Bit of a predator. With large talons.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2012 22:06:46 | More by Zimbo
Photo of hopfacebrew


4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from undated bottle to pint glass. The beer pours a thick black color. Nice 1.5 finger tan head with good retention and lacing. The aroma is mostly roasted barley. I do recall a nice citrus west coast hop aroma of the bottle I cracked the day it hit the shelves many months ago. The hop aroma has certainly faded, as to be expected. Still a nice aroma. The flavor follows suit, the hops again have faded but not so much as to ruin the beer, the roasty malt together with a medium bitterness and mild hop flavor is still nice. The alcohol heat is prevalent and reminds you this beer is over 10%abv. The beer finishes smooth with a lingering chocolate flavor. Full bodied and really coats the palette. Overall, the beer is still good. I obviously preferred the fresh hop character several months back but this is still good, though perhaps more of a hopped up stout, which is fine. Another fine beer from Stone.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2012 14:00:28 | More by hopfacebrew
Photo of Keffa


4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Live Review, bomber poured into my Duvel tulip.

A: Pours black with a massive tan head, settles to a full cap, leaves small but abundant lacing everywhere. The best Black IPA I've seen to date, hands down.

S: Odd, yet good: Grassy, spicy, resinous, pungent hops off the bat, honestly reminds me of the Northern Brewer hops that I used in my first homebrew. Some coffee and roast notes come through as well as some chocolate and citrus notes under that. Nice.

T: Again, odd yet good. Bitter resinous hop up front, followed by the roast and citrus notes, then takes a back seat to the ABV and more bitterness. ABV is noticeable, if not in your face. Long, bitter and dry finish. Nice.

M: Hefty body, nicely carbonated, and oily, coating the palate well. Nice.

O: Really good. Bottle said bottled in August 2011. I could only imagine this beer fresh, it's good and hoppy now, I'm betting fresh it was a total hop bomb. Good beer, and even if you see it now, it's held up well in my humble opinion. Worth trying for sure.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2012 04:11:45 | More by Keffa
Photo of ThisWangsChung


4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Williamsburg Winery wine glass.

A: Pours an unbelievably black body along with a light tan colored head. This has an insane head for 10.8%, with incredible retention and lacing. Aesthetically, an amazing beer.

S: The best descriptor of the smell is chocolate-glazed grapefruit. Not the smoothest blend of flavors to me, but it does smell nice.

T: Starts with some subtle, roasty chocolate and coffee, while it finishes with a textbook grapefruit hop/slight booze finish. Not much in the way of pine notes, and in terms of booziness, it comes across like it's 9%, rather than almost 11%. I was worried that the roast/chocolate wouldn't mix with the hop character, but my fears were assuaged. Excellent.

M: This doesn't have the sticky, palate killing finish like SOME Stone beers (cough Arrogant Bastard cough), which in this situation, is good. Nicely heavy-bodied, with high carbonation and a warming alcohol finish.

O: It was worth getting too drunk after drinking 2/3rds of this, throwing up half of my dinner an hour later, waking up with a solid hangover at 5:00 AM, and being completely sick of anything alcoholic for a couple days after having this. That is all.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2012 00:59:24 | More by ThisWangsChung
Photo of RustyTide


4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, well, I had this a while back now, but I wanted to give it some props.

A: Pitch black with approx 1 inch dark tan colored head with good retention and nice lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted malts, great bitter hops.

T: Very bitter hops with roasty, dark chocolate and caramel malts.

M: Thick full body, moderate carbonation.

Overall: This was an outstanding beer, one of my favorite Black IPAs so far. I miss it dearly. I had plenty of it while it was around, I hope it comes back. Stone....thank you.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2012 09:35:31 | More by RustyTide
Photo of pjs234


4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into my Stone RIS glass. This beer is almost pitch black and had a solid 3 finger head that faded quickly with very minimal lacing. The head was very pretty, as it was a nice tan color, contrasting well with this thick black beer. The smell is sweet, roasty, hoppy, with a hint of alcohol. I am really digging the smell of this beer. The taste is great and very similar to the smell. It starts off a tad sweet and chocolately, and then the roasty flavors and hops take over resulting in a bitter flavor, with a hint of coffee. There is a touch of detectible alcohol, which is to be expected when the abv is 10%+. The mouth feel is smooth with just about the right amount of carbonations.

Overall, I really like this beer and it is one of my favorite Black IPA's.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2012 03:18:26 | More by pjs234
Photo of nrs207


4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle.

Pours black. No light getting through this one. Creamy tan head. Aggressive pour leads to a 1.5 finger head into a tulip.

The smell is roasty, chocolate. Some muted hops, however I had this on tap in August right after it was brewed and the hops were fantastic and assertive. Obviously after 5 months the hops will settle somewhat.

The taste is chocolate and alcohol. The hops have faded over time unfortunately, but it is still a great flavor. Just turned into more of a hoppy stout than a roasty IPA. I wouldn't call either better, just depends on your taste. I prefer a lot of hops, so back when it was fresh it was more my style. I think with another 6 months on this thing I would be in love with it as a hopped up stout. This is what Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout should be if it had more hops. I get way more chocolate and a much better mouthfeel than BCS.

Very smooth mouthfeel. Really coats the mouth, and definitely a sipper at 10.8%.

Overally, I can't recommend this enough. Unfortunately being a hop forward beer, it was meant to be had fresh (says drink fresh on the bottle). It's the best Black IPA I've had to date, without a doubt.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2012 04:29:21 | More by nrs207
Photo of rdilauro


4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours like a dark rich stout. I have had a number of other Black IPAs and this pours the same way. A little but tan creamy head, that does not last that long
The difference ends here between stouts and black IPAs. Once I put my nose into the glass, all that came out was nice and strong HOPS. Closing my eyes, I am thinking like Stone's Bastard Ales, not as hoppy as Ruination.
I have to admit, my first taste was somewhat disappointing. I think it was perhaps that I was looking for that rich full stout flavor, but instead, it was much thinner, still nice The mouthful didnt last all that long. From the initial sip till the end, was so very quick, I was hoping for a little more flavour.
The finish was very quick. Hoppy to the end, made you make sure this was an IPA and not a stout

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2012 00:33:57 | More by rdilauro
Photo of schlimenhaumer

New York

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2012 01:55:41 | More by schlimenhaumer
Photo of alkemy


4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Out of the bomber…

A- To call it dark brown would be a misnomer. It’s so dark, let’s just call it black. There is some ruby highlighting around the edges of the glass when held to light. More than an inch of smoky taupe head that shrinks to about a quarter inch and then has plenty of staying power.

S- Very strong pine in the nose. Has a wet, swampy quality to it. There’s also a faint smoky molasses in the background.

T- Taste is complex. A bit like a barleywine right off the bat. Then some dark fruit quickly followed by the strong hop character. Smokiness intermingles, but really lingers in the finish. This sh*t’s good. It’s got a hint of the taste characteristics of a barleywine, with the strong pine goodness and some smokiness.

M- It’s silky smooth, but also has quite a bit of bite from the carbonation…silk at first and pine needles directly thereafter.

D- High. Smoky, pine finish leaves me wanting drink after drink. Alcohol is extremely well hidden.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2012 21:31:36 | More by alkemy
Photo of brewdlyhooked13


5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - pours black. Looks opaque at first but if held right up to a light, it has some deep and intense ruby hues. Two fingers of chocolatey mocha foam with nice stick as it melts down.

Aroma - spicy grapefruit, almost juniper-like. Some char to the roasty grain aroma.

Taste - the sweet malty grain has a roasty element to it, but you better find it and enjoy quickly. The hops hit heavy, hard, and with intent. Wow, a rush of pine and grapefruit rind, a total alpha wash but little if any medicinal factor for a hoppy brew that could easily go there. The swallow brings in some balancing roasty malt and some abv heat. Not much indication that this is double-digit strength. The finish is a palate scraping bitterness, dryness occurring from the hops and the black malts. Lots of lingering flavor here, no need to rush the bottle.

Mouthfeel - my first impression was smooth like a milk stout or RIS but this got modified as I progressed to a lighter but still smooth feel. The carbonation is about as big as it can be and still be complementary.

Drinkability - top notch, a special entry for the style.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2012 03:13:31 | More by brewdlyhooked13
Photo of duckrabbitfan

North Carolina

4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark with appreciable head and nice lacing. This was a beauty to just look at.

Surprised by my first smell. More sweetness to it than I thought.

Incredibly balanced taste. Incredibly delicious. For something so dark and hoppy I was amazed at its personality.

If i could capture the aftertaste I would keep it forever. Made me say outloud to my drinking buddy, "hahahaha,... wow. this. this is good."

Had the pleasure of trying this black IPA a few months ago and I still talk about it with friends. The taste is just wonderful. Would try it again and again, for sure!

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2012 02:41:56 | More by duckrabbitfan
Photo of tlazaroff


4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is what comes to mind when I think of an American Black Ale! The nose has ZERO roast, coffee, or chocolate on it what so ever. Instead, I get a beautiful floral, citrusy, and piney bouquet of hop aroma. It is quite perplexing and wonderful.

Escondidian Imperial Black IPA pours out pitch dark. It's the kind of dark that would make you afraid of the dark. It's topped by a persistent mocha head.

Roast comes though on the flavor in the finish. It lingers as well, quite presently. The hops mimic the aroma and are a punch in the mouth from the first sip, and they hold up to the beer nicely. The malt is really pronounced as well in the aforementioned roast notes, as well as light coffee and chocolate.

Mouthfeel is strange on this one. It's full bodied, but finishes completely dry. It's carbonation is on the moderate side. Again, it's perplexing.

Stone are kings of the American Black Ale, if Sublimely Self Righteous doesn't convince you, this one will.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2012 04:47:57 | More by tlazaroff
Photo of kylehay2004


4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

3 finger dark tan head with lots of lacing and some retention on a jet black body with a subtle hint of light getting through. lots of caramel and roasted malt aroma, fairly sweet with some coffee and hop hints. Flavor is excellent. I was worried from the smell that it would be too sweet but it was perfect. the roasted malt lingers nicely without too bad of an aftertaste. The hop bitterness is very pronunced for a black IPA. Drinkability is borderline but good enough. Moderate carbonation and full bodied. A very balanced roasted and hopped beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2012 23:37:49 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of Georgiabeer


4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice beer, heavier on the hops than the roast. Pours jet black, with a very nice caramel covered head, 2 fingers probably. Even after sipping on this for awhile, the head is still there. Smells roastier than it tastes, but the hops still dominate. The taste particularly tastes strongly of herbal hops, with dill and citrus notes. Without looking at the color you wouldn't really even know this is a Black Ale. The aroma has a bit of chocolate and roasted grain along with those same citrusy and herbal hops. A little on the thick side, with real body, and with a nice lingering bitterness. Quite a nice package- the hops are the star here.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2012 02:12:08 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of DCon


4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 1 Pt. 6 Fl. Oz. bottle of this from Randall's Wine and Spirits in St. Louis, MO for $5.99. Poured from the Blue Iris/Black labeled bottle w/ Mr. Stone throwing up a cheers into a 16oz Tulip Glass. Does not have a freshness date on the bottle.

Aroma- Has a huge roasty start on the nose and then has an American hop flavor that pushes through. Great combo of aromas going on here, both black ale and imperial ipa like.

Appearance- Pours a 2 finger head that is dark brown and lasts for good time. Has a deepest brown colored body. Leaves good, dark lacing behind.

Flavor- Once again, dark and roasty comes out in the flavor and then has a awesome hop flavor. Light-Medium bitterness and finishes with a stout mix with roast. Very Clean.

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Medium Carbonation, Smooth, Roasty, and then perfect (american, strong) hops are left on the palate.

Overall Impression- While TRYING to give this Black-IPA style a chance, this is the one you need to go to! Awesome strength and just enough hop to push past the stout like attributes most Black-IPA's give you. Enjoyed GREATLY and keep your eyes out for this next year. Good one Stone!

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2012 14:59:42 | More by DCon
Photo of collinmeyer


4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One of the best beers I've ever had. I was browsing my local liquor store and snagged the last bottle they had since I hadn't heard of it. To my dismay after tasting it and researching, I realized that the chance of my having it again was very slim.

This beer combines the best of an IRS, a double IPA and a stout. It is perfectly balanced and has just enough boozeyness for my taste. Coffee, chocolate, pine, west coast hops... Great beer. GO, STONE!

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2012 05:58:49 | More by collinmeyer
Photo of bigbubba


4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

If I hadn't poured it myself I would swear I was being served a baltic porter. It is black and the head is a drak tan. There is not much head. The aroma is very nice. Chocolate, toffee, caramel, but not real hoppy. The flavor is great and the mouthfeel is awesome. There are hops, but not so much that it overwhelms the delicious flavors from the dark malts. There is a bit of bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is silky smooth.

I need to get out to the store and see if any of these are still available.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2012 22:14:52 | More by bigbubba
Photo of megahurts4


4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Stone Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Appearance: dark dark brown, medium-large head, and some good lacing.

Smell: roasted malts, hops, and molasses.

Taste: roasted malts, hops, brown sugar, and molasses.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy.

This is a great brew. It is very smooth and well crafted, not to mention well balanced. Hops are prevalent like all Stone brews, but less intense than most.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2012 03:21:14 | More by megahurts4
Photo of akk101


4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle
A - Great looking printed bottle. Typical Stone with a very long description on the back. I don't know anyone who has actually read the whole thing. Black color with thick brown frothy head that lasts

S - Picking up some chocolate notes and hops

T - Roasted malt with pronounced hop presence at the end

M - Thick and full body

O - Great beer fromt Stone. Very drinkable; it didn't take me much time to finish it. It's like RIS and IPA collided.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2012 18:36:51 | More by akk101
Photo of Mahlik


3.48/5  rDev -17.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2012 04:02:16 | More by Mahlik
Photo of dbossman


4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark, dark brown with a slight red tint and no head; decent lacing

S: Tons of pine, citrus, and floral hops with some boozy undertones; this smells incredibly hoppy and those hops seem to take the show over any malt undertones lurking beneath

T: Citrus and pine hop bitterness up front--and lots of it--a slight roasty grainy quality underneath; really, really hoppy and bitter--something a bit musty and strange in the finish--though I kind of like it; also some lingering chocolate and coffee poking through all those damn hops

F: Medium to think body; sticky and oily--just the way I like it

O: One of the hoppiest, stickiest beers that I have ever had; good stuff

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2012 05:40:42 | More by dbossman
15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 1,373 ratings.