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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 xnicknj
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

on tap at good dog in philly

Pours an opaque black with a slightly tanned head resting on top. Tones of patchy lacing is left on the glass in rings, along with thick, filmy retention.

Pungent hops in the nose with grapefruit and citrus sweetness. Some roasted malt and light nuttiness with a touch of caramel. Very faint hint of boozy warmth.

Bitter and juicy up front with pine hops and sticky resin. Stiff notes of grapefruit tempered by lighter fruit sweetness. Thick roasted, nutty malt backbone, some touches of caramel and bittersweet caramel. Finishes bitter and long with a flash of pine and a soft bite of alcohol.

Medium body, fine carbonation, sticky and a little chewy. One of the best black IPAs I've had, and I'd definitely drink this again. I was also surprised at how well they masked the double-digit ABV.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.46/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a luscious opaque sable that is barely a whisker above black and has a thick, fine-bubbled tan head. Interesting aroma is smoky like a porter or stout yet hoppy like an IPA and has hints of licorice and coffee. Delightful flavor is fairly hoppy and just scarcely bitter, with malty, coffee and chocolate notes and just a hint of licorice. It seems to combine the best of a good stout and a good IPA, and I love both styles of beer! Full-bodied texture has a firm tingle and an occasional needle-like jab as if there are some hot peppers in the mix. Finish is tingly and just slightly sweet.

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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 ArrogantB
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, I always look forward to the Stone anniversary beers. Dark black color, tan head, looks slick and oily. Aroma is pinecones, pine needles, hops, a bit of chocolate. The flavor is very resinous pine, super hoppy and yet unmistakably not an IPA due to a hint of roast and chocolate from the dark malts. This was a beast though, kind of heavy. It almost felt like an amped up 11th anniversary or SSR.

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

A deep, dark brown-black color with a muscular light brown head and gobs of lacing. The aroma is a pleasant chocolate malt with a bit of pissy citrus hop, a tad musty in a nice, herbal way. The flavor brings a hefty coffee-chocolate malt mixed tastefully with pronounced evergreen hops and citrus highlights. This is a medium-full bodied brew with a luscious feel and mid-range carbonation. This stuff is awesome. Thick but drinkable, tasty hop malt bomb. Big hit for me, love it!

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

Appearance. Pours black with over a finger of nice deep tan head that leaves some great lacing.

Smell. Lots of caramel malts and citrus, some roastyness too. Big grapefruit rinds, some pine and some slightly herby hops.

Taste. Roasty malts, big grapefruity hops, some dark chocolate and caramel and a little mango. Nice roasty citrus rind bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel. Pretty full body with medium-low carbonation.

Overall. Pretty nice black ipa if you're in the mood for something huge. Possibly not the best choice for this lazy sunday morning? Who am I kidding, by the time it's gone I'll be patting myself on the back for such a wise decision!!!

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

I expected an aggressive, powerful, expressive beer, and I got one here. Utterly black, with no hint of light penetration. The head is dark tan, with small dense bubbles. The aroma is richly hoppy, with a backdrop of highly roasted grain. Light on the malt scent...the smell is all about hops. The taste is very intense...strong alcohol (which isn't really present in the smell...at least to the same degree), hop bitterness, earthy, herbal, citric, and roasted malt. Mmmmm. Good. The the body is heavy, with a no-nonsense warming that transitions into a lingering bitter finish. Wonderful.

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Photo of Pencible
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured an opaque black mahogany with thick tan head.
S: It smelled like fresh citrus and some dried mango and floral hops, with a little roasted barley and dark chocolate.
T: It tasted like bitter citrus zest and copper hops, with roasted barley and black coffee, and a little sweet mango and dry dark chocolate. It had a dry bitter aftertaste that was clean but a bit harsh.
M: It was somewhat thick with moderate carbonation. Decent body.
D: This was a very nice black IPA with good look and scent and taste, but the body was only ok. The alcohol was hidden pretty well, but it had a harsh bitterness and burnt character in the finish, so it wasn't entirely easy to drink. I'd love to try this side-by-side with Sublimely Self-Righteous to see which I prefer, but this was solid on its own.

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Photo of warnerry
3.61/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pitch black with one and a half fingers of creamy brown head. Head has nice retention and leaves spotty lacing.

S - Lots of chocolate malt and citrus hops, with some floral aromas as well. Definitely some alcohol in the nose. Good, but doesn't really grab me.

T - Still a good bitter hop presence after four months. Never had it fresh, so don't know how this compares. Significant chocolate malt and roasted malt presence throughout, a bit ashy. Citrus and grassy hops. Finish is dry and lingering bitterness.

M - Nice, creamy mouthfeel with a very bitter finish.

O - Good black ale, which is a style I have a hard time getting excited about. Nice bitterness, but a little too much ash from the malt component.

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

The appearance of this beer is very nice. It pours as black as I have ever seen a beer before. The head is a nice brown color with a lot of thickness.
The smell is very nice. Has your typical IPA smell, but I am picking up some wood scents along with it.
The taste is not as strong as I thought it would be. Has a good amount of hops and some roastedness. It is nice and tasty, but the taste finishes off fast and a little watery.
The beer is very smooth and makes the beer an all around great beer.
I am glad I found one of these beers, because they are pretty hard to find around where I live. It is one of the best Stone beers by far.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Dark brown, one finger deep brown head.

S-Roasted Malts, hops and some chocolate.

T-Roasted malt, chocolate, licorice, coffee some bitterness.

M-Medium bodied, a little creamy, some carbonation

O-A wonderful Black Ale/what ever you want to call it. Full in flavor glad I tried it, but you'd think Stone would make their Anniversary beers agable.

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

Surprisingly, this is a rather different beer than SSR/11, and even more surprisingly, I prefer this beer. That said, I bet it goes downhill fast, so drink it fresh. Anyway, on to the review...

A: The beer is wall to wall black with a thick and creamy light brown head. Even after ten minutes or so, there's still a mocha foam cover on the black liquid and bubbles cling all over the sides of my glass.

S: I'm getting pineapple, tangerines and grapefruit rind up front. It's more sweetly citric than Stone's normal hop profile probably due to large amounts of Citra. Lurking beneath the hops, there's a foundation of fudge with touches of roast and smoke. On the downside, there's also a little paint thinner and booze at the edges, but it wouldn't be a Stone beer without some rough edges.

T: The taste has a lot of sweetness followed up by a good bitter bite. It starts out with fudgy chocolate cake mixed with pineapple-citric hop oil. Some roast and smoke chimes in, filling out the malt flavor, and it ends with mild smoke and hop bitterness. The bitterness is strong but fairly smooth. However, there's some more booze pushing through, as well. It's an undercooked chocolate rum cake with tangerine pith icing. Very fun to drink.

M: It's creamy and smooth even as it smolders with pleasant bitterness and unpleasant booze. To be fair, it's getting away with some harshness by throwing in a whole bunch of lovely dry-hop delicacy.

O: It's tasty stuff. Of course, I would kill to have this beer as a low hop, English-style stout, but even as a general detractor of Black IPAs, I'm still thoroughly enjoying this beer. I'm beginning to suspect that I'm a sucker for Citra. Whatever the cause of my enjoyment, I'm a fan.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with a light brown head. In the aroma, chocolate roast and a citrus hop. In the taste, a small citrus and a dry coffee and chocolate roast. A small hop and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry chocolate and coffee like aftertaste. More a hoppy porter, nice, but porter like.

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Photo of AgentZero
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Licorice black beer with a fine bubble foam tan head that had great retention. Some nice fine lacing and sheets left on the sides. Not really sure how you could make this beer look better.

S - Nice pine and floral hop notes. Its a very resinous IPA with a little bit of chocolate and crystal malt, but its very hop forward.

T - Taste is initially not as good as the smell. Some big resin and bitter herbal hops. There is a lot of dark and burnt malts in here that leave their own kind of bitterness. Leaves a distinctive cocoa taste on the tongue after swallowing. Actually a little bit of orange that comes through mid-palate. I really started to like this a lot the more I drank it, as some of the more subtle flavors became more noticeable. Little bit of alcohol burn, and very warming on the stomach.

M - Very creamy, soft carbonation, pretty full bodied.

O - Great look and smell, taste grows on you. It's a very filling and big beer, one was plenty, but not hard to get through, although its pretty burnt and bitter.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.51/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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

Dark stout-like pour of dark brown, settling a solid ebon chunk capped with a boldly tanned brown foam that lifts to about two fingers high and keeps its seat for a good length. Some stringy spongey lacing is stuck abput the glass.

Aroma is of a buzzing orangey citrusy hoppyness capped well with a soft milky chocolate bitterness roasted with a bit of char.

Taste is totally Stone; something I've come to enjoy about their brews...balance. And this has plenty of it. Nothing overwhelming as usaul with most of their stuff; taken in first is a slender tang of dark orange marmalade and dark sappy pine, quickly forwardring itself is a moderate chocolate waft of sweet smooth chocolate that underlays the hops dancing upfront with a very solid balance. A bit more pine and smoothly softened roast build across the palate just after the midway point. Where it levels off with an ease of bitter orange and chocolate mixing.
If you've ever had a dark chocolate truffle with an orange creme center, this is a very close represtation of that taste. Nummy!

Slimming yet bold medium body with a smoooth tender tone and even smoother carbonation that allows for a nice sessionable ale. It does seem to build a girthyness as it closes into the finish where the roasty twang and chocolate sweetness stick on the palate with a bit of the orangey hoppyness popping about.

Happy 15th Stone! Thanks for the yummyness over the years and keep em coming! This stuff is yummytrific!

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Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black with a fair head of creamy tan foam. Decent lacing.

A very nice citrus hop scent with a lighter roasted malt character and sweetness.

This is one of the better beers in the style that I have had. A beautiful marriage of citrus and pine from the hops to go along with the roasty malts that also add notes of coffee and chocolate. Alcohol is non-existent. I had no clue this was over 10% alcohol. A very tasty beer that is spot on for the style.

Medium full bodied with very soft and smooth carbonation.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. Great representation of the style. Again, does not drink anything like a ten percent beer. I would have this bad boy again. Under $7, not too bad a price for a such a big beer.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into Gulden Draak tulip.

A: Pours a very very dark brown with a huge mocha colored dense head that took forever and a day to slowly fade into fuzzy film that left thick streaks of lacing down the glass.
S: In typical Stone fashion I get a huge blast of pine and grapefruit citrus hops, but this ipa is ‘black’ because I get equally as strong notes of roasted malt, coffee and dark chocolate. There is also a bit of volatile alcohol.
T: Follows the nose with a great balance between fresh pine resin and grapefruit hops and rich dark chocolate, roasted malt and acidic coffee. The finish is bitter and a fairly acidic, and the aftertaste is a bit rough and boozy. Flavors are rich and powerful overall.
M: Thick body, greasy slick mouthfeel that’s actually a bit rough. The carbonation is fine, but there is a bit too much solventy alcohol and acid for me to really want to finish the bottle.
O: Good, maybe a bit rough around the edges, but definitely not as good as Sublimely Self-Righteous. I wish it was just a bit smoother.

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Photo of gford217
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle.

Pours deep, deep brown, maybe not quite black with a small creamy tan head that recedes to a thin cap with some bubbles feeding it from underneath.

Aroma is excellent and headlined by a big citrus presence including grapefruit rinds and oranges. But there is also a hefty chocolate malt presence as well. There is also a little herbal note in the nose.

The taste starts with the citrus, grapefruit and pineapple, but has a huge chocolate malt backbone that underpins everything else. The finish is bitter and roasty, with more pine resin than I got in the nose.

The mouthfeel is fantastic, full bodied and creamy but with a nice hoppy bitterness.

I'm a huge fan of this beer which is a great combination of hops and dark roasted malts with a thick, almost chewy mouthfeel. Substantial and super tasty.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.76/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very, very dark brown. Colour is perceptible but it may just be an optical illusion. No illusion about the head which is lovely, dense mocha foam, sunk slowly to a thin film with uneven lace. Looks great.

Smell is hoppy like a mofo, just smells like hop pellets - grass clippings, thyme and taragon on there with lots of citrus and some polished brass. It's all hops, and could use some more dark roasty aroma from the malt. Don't mind it, but it's a bit simplistic.

Taste is better; more of the darker notes. In fact the hops seem almost to be missing here. Nice roasty malt notes, with by-and-by characters of chocolate, star anise, natural licorice and pepper, and then still that big grassy hop note comes through - fresh grass clippings and a touch of pepperberry. Slightly floral but yeah, grass is the big note. It's kind of a sidenote to the majority of the palate though and the flavours don't quite mesh, but it's a bit flavour brew that manages to be enjoyable in spite of its slightly slapdash nature.

A bit sharp and dry on the back, but otherwise smooth and a bit sticky. Not bad.

Seems a little more like a garage home-brewed IBA than something I'd expect from Stone. Seems like the flavour isn't as expertly woven together as previous beers of theirs I've had.

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

Richly hopped and malty brew with a long lingering range. Aroma seems to shine better bottled than on tap but solid all around in any case.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle. Screen printed label with the gargoyle raising the jar to the anniversary over the number. Back offers a mini article signed by the heads of Stone about the anniversary, the life over these years of the craft industry in the US, how it permeates a philosophy and life, and a toast to the aficionados holding the bottle. Shows 10.8% Alc. by Vol. Served in a snifter.

A - Black pour with a rich brown creamy head, fair retention, nice surface memory and lacing.

S - Rich nose with a long roasted profile with a nice resinous hoppy sense through it.

T - Flavor takes the brew to another level with rich roasted flavors, with touches of chocolate and coffee, heavily coated with resin and a pine hoppiness. Herbal with a slight meaty touch as it finishes...

M - Full body, although not so heavy on the bottle compared to the memory of the draft with moderate carbonation, very creamy and smooth.

O - Nice long sipper with a complex and provocative range.

Notes: Again can´t help to think of Night Stalker while having this one from the bottle. The body has a softer density than Night Stalker and the resinous edge while long maybe is not as hefty, but it is a close memory. Here the aroma, matter of temperature probably, feels richer than on tap. While it recommends to enjoy it fresh on the bottle this might be an intriguing candidate to age. And the price-quality ratio of this bottle is pretty spectacular. I think I may grab a couple more this week.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a substantial black in darkness and viscosity. Beige head 1/2". Hops were definitely used, still imparts citrus despite the dark malt and roasting.

Bitterness dances with roast and hop rind like notes. Mouthfeel was strong suit. Amazingly made the beer easy to drink and not hot, not overly bitter. Really elite black ale 1st tier stuff.

This might be the only or first use of citra (probably) in a black ale I've come across. One of the best Stone anniversary beers ever. So much easier drinking than it looks or reads.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.57/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a Duvel tulip. I bought this one unrefrigerated, threw it in my freezer to chill, and then forgot about it for a day. Now that it's thawed, I find that it's too delicious not to review. Hops are stored frozen anyway, right?

A: A fairly rough pour yields a solid two fingers of dense light-brown foam atop a body as dark as the blackest stout. No highlights, no glints, no light penetration at all. My only complaint is that, while the head demonstrates impeccable retention, it only leaves moderate lace; I was expecting some serious stickiness out of such a hoppy beer. Still, it's intimidating and inviting simultaneously. Excellent.

S: Wow. It smells like someone packed a pound of dank piney/sprucy hops into a French press loaded with fresh espresso. Bitter coffee and even more bitter hops are the only aromas, and they're both amazingly fresh, clean, sharp, and scintillating. I really can't imagine a more successful smell for the style.

T: Follows the nose at first, but as it warms a bit more sweetness creeps in ahead of the supremely bitter, spicy finish. It's delicious through and through, but the sheer size of the beer makes it a bit heavy and overbearing (there's definitely some booze on the aftertaste, but it's pretty well outweighed by the palate-destroying bitterness). Minor quibbles, though, since as it tastes less perfect for its style it arguable tastes more like a great RIS, a style I like even more.

M: Even with a fairly harsh pour it's got a solid dose of carbonation to add some life to the full, somewhat sticky body. It feels more like a stout than a black IPA, which is fine with me. Not the beer's strongest suit, though.

O: I'll definitely be buying another bottle so I can see if it's any different without having been frozen and thawed. I really can't imagine it being much better, as the hops are absolutely amazingly vibrant - more so than I've encountered in any other beer of this style. This may well be the most brash, arrogant beer Stone has ever put out, and while I'm not the biggest fan of their marketing/image, I can't help but love this brew.


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

Served on-tap in a 10oz clear glass snifter at Beer Run (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Black with light brown cap of had with a few bits of lacing down the glass.

S: Roasted and hoppy aromas are both pretty light and a dense maltiness dominates.

T: This is a black IPA that manages to showcase both the orange, fruity citrus hoppiness and the coffee and chocolate roasted notes and making them work together rather than having both of them stick out like two sore thumbs. The hoppiness is restrained along with a very significant dark malt breadiness that fades to some roast, chocolate, coffee, and lighter licorice notes. A very well-crafted beer that I wish had a little more character.

M: The thick maltiness leaves a full-bodied feel with no acrid character but a wonderful smoothness with very little blatant alcohol.

O: I really liked this beer a lot more than I though I would, mainly because I have not had very good luck with black IPAs generally. This one doesn't really fit that category too well, but it doesn't fit any category very well all-around. Instead, this beer balances the roast and citrus hops notes very artfully rather than hitting you over the head with them both.

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