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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.

713 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 713
Hads: 1,420
Avg: 4.18
pDev: 12.92%
Wants: 60
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA Alström Bros
Reviews: 713 | Hads: 1,420
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 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 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 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 cbutova
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Second time around.

A- Black beer into Ayinger glass, HUGE head with infinite retention, probably 4 fingers on average. Nice light mocha color and a ton of lace everywhere.

S- Chocolate and hops, nice strong aroma. Hops mix with cocoa for a dessert like aroma. Nice pine, citrus zest notes work well with dark roast flavors.

T- Again, an impressive dark cocoa profile, rich and flavorful. Great roast malt, coffee and toasted nuts. Hops are big but balanced with the rich dark flavors. Again great pine, lemon zest, orange, floral and herbal.

MF- Lower end carbonation is a slight flaw but the body has a moderate thickness and a nice substance. Finish has a good level of bitterness to round out the flavors.

Best Stone special release in a long time, hopefully the rest will follow with quality like this. Gotta try this one while fresh.

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

22 oz bottle, dated August 2011

opaque black in color, with big khaki colored head. good head retention, a bit of lacing. aroma is a pleasant mix of slightly roasted malt and earthy & floral hops.

taste is similar. nice balanced flavors. a bit of an alcohol burn in the aftertaste. mouthfeel is great, creamy and smooth. lower carbonation.

overall, another great beer from Stone. from what I can remember, not too much different from the Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. maybe a little bolder.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 FosterJM
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

721st Review on BA
Bottle to Piraat Tulip
22 oz bottle

App- A new point in the black IPA zone has been reached. To me they really dressed up a RIS with a bigger head and scaled back the lacing. Black squid ink liquid and a giant three finger head. Khaki in color and very very slow to recede.

Smell- A very nice blend of a lot of things. I get damp citrus with some orange and some tropical. At the same time its a bit malty with a creamy note. No trace of the ABV or bitterness.

Taste- This is very different from other black IPAs I have had including the 11th anny or SSR. This one is more malt driven with a balanced malt/citrus combo. Its unique in flavors with it being so split down the middle and very balanced. Black IPAs arent my favorite but 11th and 15th take the cake.

Mouth- A very well done medium bodied beer with a paired and equally balanced medium carbonation. A bunch of bubbles and a lot of malt with a touch of citrus and coffee. Maybe just maybe a little coffee on the finish.

Drink- Well I hope after all these years Stone will always push boundries and continue to push boundries. A newer style but very balanced, tasty and unique. I probably wont age one as it states but I saw the 3L and said mmm...

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Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours very dark and settles black, looks much thicker than a traditional IPA and has a merangue head that coats the glass beautifully, very reminiscent of a stout.

S: Smells hoppy with an element of bright, solid fruit, watermelon or canteloupe maybe. There is some soft maltiness in the background, but very subtly.

T/M: Flavor is bitter up front with pine hoppiness followed closely by roasted malt, a slight alcohol burn, and more earthy hops in the finish. It's thicker than other paler ales but not as thick as stouter beers. A medium amount of carbonation creates a balanced mouthfeel along with the consistency.

This is one of the better black IPA's but it's still an abnormal marriage of ingredients that may be an acquired taste. Definitely a great beer for sipping.


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Photo of Reagan1984
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What is this delightful treat? Pours like an Imperial Stout.. Dark bubble rise from within to form a light brown creamy head with insane retention. OK, I don’t see any light getting through this dark, dark brown colored beer. As the head settles, it begins to look like a chocolate milk shake from above. The lace begins to cling immediately.

Cocoa, green cut grass, pine and black licorice in the aroma.

There was a moment or two that this reminded me of Darkness or Smuttynose Imperial Stout. Insanely Hoppy Stout qualities. Cocoa and black licorice up front. A moment of ash, but not with the gritty end as this melds into some cocoa flavors. Pine and black licorice take center stage again. Pine cocoa in the finish. I like the finish a lot. There is a hint of the ABV here but it’s not hot.

Mouth feel is quite luxurious and velvety. The thickest beer with the letters IPA on the label I’ve ever seen. Again I reference the line between Black IPA and Hoppy Stout. Not as thick as the Imp Stouts I reference above, but it’s not that far off.

I am enjoying playing in this beer. Well done..

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

Pours a pitch-black body, with a dark tan colored head. Tons of spongy lace left behind, dissipating to a creamy pool atop the murky liquid. The aroma is a full-on assault of fresh pine and flowery hops, with a nice deep roasted note in the back and a subtle chocolate sweetness. Upon sipping, your hit with a very intense bitterness, lot's of piney hops and a nice backing chocolate and burnt roast quality that cut the bitterness nicely. Not surprising, the feel is thick and full bodied. Nice linger on the tongue.

The day before I picked this up, I attempted to make an extreme BIPA with 11' IRS and Stone IPA...didn't work out as planned. Then I try this, and this is nearly exactly what I wanted to accomplish. It's a beautiful thing.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a pitch black color with a thick toffee colored creamy head, and gentle carbonation.

S - Crisp roasted chocolate malt with a citrus zing and some floral notes, a little bit grassy.

T - Boozy, and finishes with a citrus roasted mouthfeel. Roasted malt in the middle, slight warming on the way down, and leaves a bitter roasted chocolate and citrus aftertaste. Compared to other Black IPA's, this one is pretty bold for a black IPA.

M - Medium to full body, a little chewy, velvey smooth, and semi-dry.

When it comes to the Black IPA's, I could take 'em or leave 'em because they leave my palette confused and I don't enjoy the clash of the chocolate and IPA nuances. However, this particular beer is worth checking out. I can't see this beer keeping a long time before the hops fade and turn it into a chocolate IPA. (This review is being written from notes that were taken on 9/14/11 when I sampled it on tap.)

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Photo of alexgash
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle.

Very dark oily brown-black body. Viscous pour. A good inch of creamy, satiny, dirty khaki head. Very good lacing up the sides of the tulip. Lots of hoppy goodness on the nose. Piny, herbal, minty, and resinous. Boozy dark chocolate and roasted coffee mix with caramel sweetness to represent the malt side of the aroma.

Bitter roasted coffee flavors up front and stay throughout. Dark fruits and singed caramel build, with the building sweetness tempered by herbal, piny hop bitterness. Dark chocolate and some peaty flavors chime in before a big rush of tannic, herbal bitterness in the finish. Almost dries out this big boy, but there is some roasted sweet malt lingering in the end. Oh, and there is a bit or warmth generated from the alcohol. Full-bodied, with a smooth, almost creamy feel. A little more RIStouty than I was expecting, but still a very good beer. Happy 15th!

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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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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 713 ratings.