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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: 1,419
Avg: 4.18
pDev: 18.18%
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: 1,419
Photo of yourefragile
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured into a tulip. I don't understand the love for this...

Black with a creamy, khaki head with a long lasting finger thick head and clumpy lacing. Roast chocolate and malt dominate around with mild pine and resin hops. Much more malt forward than expected in the flavor, with roast and chocolate and a bitter finish without a particularly interesting hop flavor. Light pine and grapefruit rind linger. Medium thick body with average carbonation and a persistent bitterness. Not bad, balance is relative for a Stone beer and this ABV, but the malt is the only part that seems imperial here.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stone 15th Anniversary Imperial Black IPA

22oz bomber. Pours a dark, viscious blackish brown. Oily mocha colored head forms and leaves superb lacing on the glass. Aroma is very hoppy upfront and bright, with citrus, floral and pine notes medling well to the lofty alcohol and roasted malt aromas. In the flavor, intensely bitter, big, and a roasted character to round everything out. Pine, hop resin, and grapefruit rind all chime in. Roasted malt is there with notes of bitter espresso. Alcohol remains big but contained well in all the other flavor. Mouthfeel comes off somewhat slick, oily and smooth. Overall, this is a big one, but still enjoyable. I drank the bomber myself, and led to my undoing.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a true pint, and the beer presents with a jet black coloring and a towering, thick, frothy, foamy light chocolate-tan colored head. The beer absolutely clings to every part of the glass it touches. The nose is deep and rich, with a strong showing of wet, fresh hops, both resiny and spicy. Dark roasted coffee and a hint of citrus highlights also in the nose. Flavors are dark roast coffee and dark chocolate bittersweet, and this flavor combination helps to balance the wet, resiny, slick hops flavors that power throughout the entire beer. Very well balanced. Roasted characteristics on the initial palate, as well as the aftertaste, with a hint of the bitter chocolate and the hops presence throughout. The finish is oily and resiny, with a slick finish. Very tasty brew...another masterful concoction from Stone.

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Photo of liamt07
4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Premier Gourmet, 650ml into a tulip. August 2011 vintage. Review #500, woo.

Pours pitch black, with a nice brown head of a couple fingers - lightly 'dirty' in composition. Excellent retention and lace, awesome. Nose has layers, big citrus hop components in traditional Stone fashion, but also reveals degrees of chocolate, caramel, roasty coffee and espresso and some charred notes. Sweeter vanilla and brown sugar notes as well bring depth and a breadth to a wide spectrum of volatiles. Freshness could've helped this out a bit more. No alcohol for a fairly high ABV. Flavour doesn't let up either, a blast of hops and roasty/chocolate/coffee right off the bat, grapefruit, tangerine, oranges and tropical fruits are prominent; some pine too. Loads of resin-y goodness. Moves into a gritter charred bread with some brown sugar and vanilla, with long lingering bitterness - both coffee-like and from the hops. Extensive finish. Full bodied, yet fairly low in carbonation with a hint of alcohol heat in and around the finish. An exceptional black ale, likely the best I've had thusfar.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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

A: poured pretty much a dark as night black in color with a thin brown head and left very little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: you can definitely tell that the hops were there on the first whiff with a good amount of roastiness from the chocolate malts but it did have a little coffee aroma to it as well.

T: black hoppy heaven on the first sip alongside chocolate roasty malt flavor, coffee accents, hints of smoke and a touch of brown sugar and molasses.

M: the brew was medium in body with a low amount of carbonation which had a hoppy, roasty, mild sweet, and slight smokey finish.

D: it was a really good cascadian brew but because of the hop punch it wasn't the easiest to take down but a solid black beer.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Check the Stone tap list on the Stairmaster at the gym. Stone 15th? Don't mind if I do. 8oz draft pour.

A: Black as a moonless, starless Escondidian night. A massive brown head lingers with uncertainty above the liquid. Much lacing is left in the wake of the recession.

A: Aromatic resinous pine and grapefruit waft from the glass with lesser notes orange. Malt imparts notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, and roasted malt. The aroma is pretty great.

T: A prominent roasted malt profile is accompanied by dark chocolate and cocoa. The beer is dry, with anise and a touch of molasses. The malt profile does this beer much credit. Hops are aggressive, imparting an upper moderate to lower high level of smooth bitterness and flavors of pine resin, orange, and grapefruit that mix nicely with the chocolate and roast. Alcohol is really well hidden for how damn high it is. Stone should serve this in pitchers here at the Bistro. It would only be a $32 pitcher. Alas, they do not offer pitchers. I suppose you could bring your own, get 8 glasses of 15th Anniversary, and pour them gently into the pitcher. I'll have to see if they'll allow that. A nice pitcher of Imperial Escondidian Black IPA on a warm Escondido summer day in the Stone gardens, just the job.

M: Full in body with upper moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is sticky and chewy. Alcohol provides warming in the finish.

Overall: This is quite good. I really enjoyed my glass. It blurs the line between Imperial Escondidian Black IPA and Imperial Stout.

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

Poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Poured jet black, completely opaque, with two fingers of thick, foamy espresso coloured head.

S - Citrus and pine come through initially from the hops with some sweet chocolate and roasted malt notes present as well.

T - Bitterness up front with some pine and muted citrus notes. The roasted malts are a nice compliment, providing chocolate, a hint of coffee and some nutty flavours to balance out the bitter hops. The overall balance is very good. The finish is somewhat dry and bitter.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation.

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

Thanks goes out to portia99 for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Poured into a DFH glass a very nice black color, nice carbonation, with a one-finger creamy light tan head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is very very nice, hoppy, malty, lots of licorice, plums, raisins, figs, and chocolate. The taste is exceptional also, hoppy, with a nice touch of malts, chocolate, licorice, and some dark fruits. Medium body, kinda chewy, with a slight bitter finish. This is a very nice brew. It's been awhile since I've had a Stone beer, and this one is making me look for some more. Thanks Bill!

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber purchased in California, brought back to Sydney, Australia and opened with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a heavily dark black-brown, with an exceptional head of crackling yellow brown coffee crema. Lacing is intricate, solid, honeycombed. Really solid legs to it, too, staying sticky on the edge of the glass when tilted. Body is surprisingly light, but extremely suitable for the style. Very fine carbonation. Looks genuinely exceptional.

Nose is heavily hoppy, with earthy, rusty hops giving the main event. There's no bright, citric fruitiness here—more of a tea tannin, earth, bracken character. It melds very pleasantly with the dark notes from the malt, in a way that makes some sense in a weird style; instead of the bright, citric, whimsical hoppiness creating an amusing contrast to the darkness, this blends together into some odd symbiosis.

Taste is smooth and clean and bright. The roast gives a nice basis, more of a dark biscuity sweetness, but the hops really lift the palate, and here they do have a touch of the crisp, bright citric quality to them, more than the tannic earthiness suggested on the nose. Finish has lingering bitterness, partially due to the hops, partially due to the roast. It's a nice finish, and sums up what the beer is about.

Really nice beer. It's a very odd thing that Stone have seemed to make sense of this style in a way that's quite orthogonal to the regular interpretation. The darker, more earthy hops match it really nicely with the roast malt, giving a beer that is different, but in all the right ways.

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Photo of John_M
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is intense and nearly over the top, with black cherry, espresso, vanilla and light chocolate. The flavor profile is more of the same, and I'm not sure why Stone just didn't call this a hoppy RIS. The beer is fairly sweet, and although there's considerable hoppy bitterness in the finish, I felt as if the beer was ultimately dominated by the sweetness and the black cherry. Mouthfeel is fairly full, with a long, sweet, black cheery and bitter finish. The sweetness is a bit of a problem from a drinkability standpoint, as it makes the already noticeable alcohol all the more prominent.

This is a good beer, no doubt, but it's hard to imagine ever drinking more than one very small glass of this stuff.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Having a Stone Imperial Black IPA...WOW!!! The beer pours a black/opaque with finger thick tan head that is lacing like a...The smell includes citrus and malty tones. The taste is amazing...and a sipping beer. There is a fresh hop bitter grapefruit zing that is mixed with caramel roast malt. The mouthfeel is a full body with good carbonation. Overall it is a great beer for sipping....sessioning this one would lead to big problems.

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Photo of plaid75
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a deep black hue with a two finger foamy tan head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a molasses, dark chocolate and caramel.

The taste consisted of elements of dry dark chocolate, coffee, caramel and a healthy dose of booze.

The mouthfeel was certainly full for the style with a dry finish.

If this isn't an RIS, then I'm the Queen of England.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up today at the COOP .... poured into my trusty HotD goblet.... nice looking 1" brown head... nice lacing and retention. The brew is not quite black, but close.... pretty highlites appear when held to a nearby light. Swirling stains the glass brown.

Nose is bright pine and pithy grapefruit zest.... slight roastiness reminds us of the dark malt... a bit of EtOH in the aroma.

Big and bitter up front.... the hops come out swinging almost immediately... grapefruit and pine needles.. a minor blast of roasty malt .. even hints of bittersweet chocolate come out with a little warmth... a bit boozy, but I'm not really complaining.

Seems thicker than I was expecting, but smooth with a good small bubble carbonation.

Inflatablechair and I shared last night, the 15th, SSR, Uinta Dubhe, and the Deschutes Hop in the Dark.... this was the clear winner, with the Uinta coming in a close second.


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Photo of vfgccp
4.11/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A – Toasted head has great retention and lace. Solid black body has almost no highlights.

S – Pine and green leaves. Caramel latte.

T – Round malt into a quick ramp-up of bitter roast alpha oil. Sharply acidic, black roast center with a raisiny sweetness. Lingering pine bitterness and cocoa on the backend.

M –Medium body. Low carbonation. Sweet finish.

O – A solid, complex BIPA

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Holy mother of ...Poured a deep black color, like I changed my wifes motor oil after 10k miles or something. Big beautiful brown cap, loads of bubbles.

S: Huge and impressive. Sordove started off with a big grainy nose tht I tend to get from a lot of Stone and CDA's in general. Yes, I still call it a CDA. Citrus notes, big huge espresso, smoke and roasted notes. Booze lightl;y stings the nostrils.

T: Taste is about as Imperial as this style can get. Huge espresso, roasted malt, black malt lending overdone bitterness and that certain burnt bite. I got some cocoa, citrus, bittering hops on end and as the beer warmed it became almost a hint at a smoked beer, lending notes of meat, perhaps a liquid smoke note and that booze is constant.

M: Wow, big, bold and in your face, much more so that draft. Reminded to a double of Sublimely at first but then it just AWOL on that and kept it real. Deviated between creamy and dry depending upon the temp and how long it rolled on the palate

O: Super impressive and one hearty as beer but halfway through this on later Summer day I was ready to run for a good ol Pils. I may hold a few of these back for some Winter sipping and aging.

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

(Served in a tulip glass) A- A jet black body supports a thick sticky cocoa-tan head that holds on the glass with each sip. There are some microbubbles that show up just at the base of the head. S- The green earthy pine hops are full with some nice pine resin character coming through as the beer opens. There is a hint of sweet black roasted malt in the background. T- The green herbal hops have a woody quality to them with a pungent pine bitterness and masks a roasted malt flavor a bit. The bitter hops linger nicely after each sip. M- The medium-full mouthfeel has a creamy texture with just a touch of alcohol warmth. O- The nice full hops are what you expect but there just isn't much depth to them nor is there any juicy bright character to the hops. Just a good solid earthy dark hops that compliment the trompe l'oeil body.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.63/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a very dark brown, appearing black. One finger fine medium brown head with good retention and excellent lacing. Attractive. Aroma of critrus and aromatic hops. Flavor starts as a stout, dark and roasted malts followed quickly by aromatic hops and roast, burnt coffee. Finishes hoppy and somewhat dry. Taste goes through a rapid and complex series of flavors. Very different and interesting. Surprisingly smooth and mellow while presenting interesting components. The finish skates on the edge of being too dry and burnt, but somehow pulls off the whole thing. I really enjoyed this unusual ale.

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

A bomber from Al's.

A: Pours like a stout, thick and viscous like oily. Pitch black, the ale sports a thick tan colored head that further cements the stout assessment. Moderate lacing.

S: Ample graham and nuts, the stout side of this ale seems to be quite big. The hops, citrusy, are slow to get through the stout base. What does come through isn't that overpowering, just a resiny hop presence. Even at room temperature, the hoppiness struggles to get past the stout-like aromas.

T: There the hops are! Coming out with a vengeance, the hops even momentarily crowd out the darker malts. Oranges and grapefruit cut through in particular. As the stout re-asserts itself, chocolate, nuts, and vanilla quickly pick up strength. Save for a bit of heat after the initial wave of stout flavors, the ale is very drinkable and could pass for a top notch RIS on its own. The finish brings the hops, resiny and oily with plenty of citrus, and the malts, dark and forboding with a chocolate nuttiness, together for a big bang. Stone nailed it, again.

M: One of the easiest drinking 11% stouts out there. The hops aren't as strong as I'd like but that's a minor criticism. I may need to find another bottle before it disappears.

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Photo of aasher
2.87/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This just arrived in Indiana today. It pours a nice midnight black in color with a one finger poofy beige colored head. It looks great. It smells of sweet and bitter dark roasted malts and caramelized onions. Uh oh, smells like a dark roasted Devil Dancer. I'm not a fan of that onion aroma at all. The taste is sweet, dark, bitter, has a very nice hoppy aspect but again it goes very heavy on the onions. I'm sure some love it, but it isn't for me. It's also very, very boozy. It has the near perfect body for the style and drinks more like a stout or imperial porter. I wanted to love this one, but it just wasn't up my alley.

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Photo of corby112
3.87/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark brown that appears pitch black and completely opaque in the glass.  Two finger frothy beige head with great retention only slowly fading into a lasting cap/ring that leaves streaks and spots of lace behind.

Roasted malt aroma that's countered by some piny, oily hop notes.  Hints of chocolate, coffee and toast balanced by notes of pine, resinous oils and citrus fruit.

Fuller bodied than expected with a chewy mouthfeel and a blast of dry bitter hops up front that linger over the roasted malt backbone into a sweet yet dry finish.  Earthy with lots of piny resinous oily hops along with some subtle citrus.  This is countered by the roasted malt backbone that has hints of toast, chocolate, toffee, coffee.  Well balanced and easy to drink with a decently basked ABV.  Only subtle heat in the finish.  

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

A: Pour is motor-oil-black with a massive brown compact and creamy head. Dissipation is meidum-slow and leaves nice lacings.

S: The smell is awsome; lots of American floral and bitter hops; grapefruit and pine, together with moderatly roasted malts, some chocolate- some caramell- makes this very well balanced. The high ABV is not noticable - this smell is near perfection!

T: Bitter hops up front followed by roasted malts, chocolate with notes of coffee-beans - dry. Syrupy sweetness. Some burnt notes. And in the back; dark dried fruits. The alcohol is more present in taste compared to smell.

M: Short aftertaste, bitter and burned. Body is full while carbonation weak. Smooth but high ABV-presance.

O: A very complex and nice ABA. I hate myself for not buying a whole case...

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

Bottle cond. Aug. 11. Consumed Oct. 11.

A: Pitch black with a 2 finger, frothy mocha colored head that sits steadily atop. Lengthy retention on the head's part leaves a modest half glass coating for lace, patchy and splotchy.

S: Fresh wet pine, dry celery, and a herbaceous scent of fresh parsley is about. The hops are strong at first wind, but quiet there after, not sure if it’s the nature of the beast, or the 2 month shelf sitting.

T: Deep roasted malt flavor, dry parching citrus, with a strong level of hop presence. Dry pine, bittering grapefruit mingles with a dart roasted barley base with a burnt bitterness. A herbal hint of parsley and spicy zing of citrus is found in the middle. On the close is a lingering black licorice spicines as well a sharp wet citrus zing leaving a scorched fade of burnt grains behind.

M: fizzy at first, frothy, with a thick resistance from the heavy handed malt base. Bittering and dry hops with a licorice and citrus bite coming on the swallow.

O: Overall the hops are big and bitter on this one, as well the malting is equally big and roasted leaving a healthy dose of scorchness in its path. Worhty of an anniversary labeling. A bomber seems like a good level of drinkability, even before I noticed its 10.1% abv which kinda surprised me. Some alcohol warmth, but would of never guessed on this level. Gets progressively smoother and easier on the down once your tongue goes numb from the bitter roasted goodness found within. Very good in humble opinion.

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

22oz bottle purchased as a single at Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" dark brown head over the opaque dark brown/black brew. Thick head holds on strong, with leggy lace that also hangs around. Aroma is dark grain and green hops.

Taste starts with burnt malt sweetness, which blossoms into acrid bitterness in the middle, added onto by fresh piney hops toward the end. Flavors all seem to linger long after the swallow, along with some alcohol numbing. The hop burps could strip paint. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, and drinkability is very nice. Maybe a bit over the top, but all in all, a brew that is worth the time and effort.

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Photo of beertunes
3.16/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in tulip glass. Poured a solid black, no translucence at all, with an inch of strong black head that excellent retention and lacing.

The aroma was all nice hops, mostly floral, with a just barely noticeable malt profile. The flavors were unique, to say the least. There was a noticeable chocolate presence, and the hops did not combine well with the chocolate, with plenty of tangy hops. The beer had a weird metallic finish.

The body was medium and averagely decent. Drinkability suffered from the weird combination of flavors. Overall, a decent, but very odd, beer. As a note, with the last 1/4 of the glass, I had the bartender add a few drops of Creme de Menthe to the beer. This helped the beer a lot, really helped tie the flavors together.

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