Stygian Descent | Stone Brewing

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Stygian DescentStygian Descent

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels

Added by dwagner003 on 01-08-2014

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Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 90
Photo of Tilley4
4.46/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Excellent excellent offering... Love the base beer and the barrel enhances its beauty....

Dark chocolate covered citrus fruit that's been soaked in whiskey... Like a Christmas dessert...

Incredible... Not too boozy but that Templeton shows out...

Pricey but worth it on a splurge...

I'm definitely a fan....

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Gone but not forgotten, the beer that once was Sublimely Self-righteous Ale evades obscuity and reemerges as a deep and dark butterfly. With rye whisky and bourbon barrels as safe haven, the unruly black IPA of Stone Brewing takes on new life. ...even if so temporarily.

Toasty, roasty and boozy to the nose, any citrus perfumes give way to the oaken barrels and all their charred, nutty, boozy nuances. Though dark brown, the beer is just shy of black while its robust scent rests above a dense light brown froth. Burnt sugars, molasses and char frame a malty upstart before the hops and barrel complexities arrive.

And that roasty, toasty taste rolls onto the middle palate while the taste of grapefruit, orange and lemon take on a seared, scorched earth character. Most tropical fruit flavors of the original have died off, but the caramels, vanillans, peppery spice and sweet liquor flavors march onward toward a lightly acrid and spicy closure.

Full, lavish and bittersweet, the black IPA retains is dry and resinous drinkability . But its imperiaization, power and complex taste is a testament to the barrel, the creativity, and the courage to stick with a polarizing that that simply works. Its late bitter finish is of charred pine cone and prairie fire.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a black body with one-finger tan head that left a lace ring down the glass. The aroma hits me with a roasted malt edge and then I get woodiness, vanilla sweetness and even hints of spice and dark fruits. The beer is medium to heavy bodied but retains an easy-going smoothness thanks to the barrel aging. A touch of bourbon/vanilla sweetness is present as is some dark fruit flavors (figs/prunes) and then the hops hit on the end. More malty than hoppy and enjoyable but the hops on the finish, along w/ spice and touch of booze, are kind of a downer.

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Photo of WickedBeer
4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Picked up from Total Wine & More in Woodland Hills, CA. 11.6% ABV, Batch No. 2, bottled October 2016.

Poured into a New Belgium Goblet glass; Pours a beautiful black with a tall head of thick, cream colored foam. Heavy lacing.

Smell: so many good qualities here.. sweet, delightful raisin smell, lingering roasted notes.
Taste: same nice sweetness, a mix of raisins and light notes of burnt oak. Very mild hop quality for the amount used in this beer, but definitely clear hints of one of my all-time favorite Black IPAs.
Feel: Sticky, thick, and wonderful. Carbonation, but not overpowering. A very smooth beer for one so hearty and with an IPA base.

Overall very good; I was excited for this as I loved the original Sublimely Self-Righteous. Dare I say a tad mild taste for a Stone Barrel-Aged beer, but in this case it's not a bad thing. A high price point, but if you like Barrel-Aged beers and/or are hesitant about IPAs, don't be. This is a good beer. Cheers!

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - black with incredible lasting head and sticky lacing
Smell - toasty and sweet scents with almost no hop
Taste - mellower than expected. Sweet toasted caramel followed by bitter coffee
Feel - medium light body and carbonation
Overall - fantastic but not worth the price tag

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Photo of ccg
3.99/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle says it was brewed May 3, 2016 and bottled in October of 2016. This is batch #2, which is aged in both Templeton Rye whiskey barrels and in "Kentucky Bourbon Barrels." The description here on BeerAdvocate is for Batch #1, which was aged only in the rye barrels.
This is an excellent-looking beer. Oily black like a stout, with a creamy layer of foam that sticks to glass.
Smell is also quite nice. It has a bright, citrusy scent from the hops on top of a subtle, spicy sweetness from the barrel aging.
The flavor is similar. It's not a punch-you-in-the-face beer. The hops are well balanced with the whisky. There is sort of a floral lemony bitterness upfront, and then it leaves behind a lingering sweetness with a bit of rye spice.
The feeling is unfortunately a bit thin. That's the only letdown of this beer for me. However, it leaves a bit of a spicy tingle on the tongue, which keeps it interesting.
Overall, I have to say I'm pretty impressed with this beer. I was skeptical at first. Normally, I find that Stone beers are so over-hopped that I can barely drink them. Stygian Descent, however, is a good IPA for somebody like me who is normally a stout drinker. You get the flavor and character of the hops, but the double-whiskey-barrel aging tones down the bitterness and adds a layer of oaky spice and familiar chocolatey sweetness.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 Series Batch No. 2

A: Pours a nearly pitch black color with 2 fingers of head that slowly fades down to a nice cap that leaves some good lacing

S: Moderate roastiness, bourbon and rye whiskey, very light oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, and a good bit of piney hops

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with the roasted maltiness, piney hops, moderate bitterness, and some dark chocolate and slowly goes towards the barrels. Bourbon and rye, vanilla, and light oak all come through nicely. Not much alcohol heat for 11.6%. Finishes with lingering bitterness and oak

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

O: A very nice and mellowed version of SSR with the nice addition of bourbon and rye whiskey barrels. Makes for a great sipper, as more and more nuances from both the base and the barrel come out as it warms. Definitely worth looking into

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Photo of Alieniloquium
2.54/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

500 mL bottle. Black body. Ample khaki head. Smells intensely oaky. Funky oak aroma. A little citrusy. Chocolate malts. Tastes of whiskey and sharp oak. Citrus. Aggressively bitter. Sharp bitter oaky finish. Heavy with a lingering chocolate sweetness in the back end. Not sure I really like this.

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Photo of Lucnifter
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Strange combination of characteristics. Part imperial stout, part black "IPA."
Subtle barrel character.
More hops on the nose and in the flavor than barrel character.

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

Corked and caged bottle from Bert's
Broke the cork trying to wrangle it out of the bottle. Had to pull it out with a corkscrew.
Pours a fairly opaque dark brown bordering on black with a decent sized tan head that shows great retention and much sticky lace. Earthy resinous hop nose with bits of light roast and chocolate. Solid hit of vanilla
and light spice bourbon with a touch of oak. Pretty tasty beer.

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Photo of MJSFS
4.52/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a DFH signature glass. Pours jet black with three fingers of bone colored creamy head that slowly recedes to a thin foamy cap on top of the beer leaving no lacing but producing heavy alcohol legs when swirled. The aroma is whiskey, oak, citrus liqueur. Taste is sweet and citrusy on the front of the tongue, moving into charred barrel, and finishing with dark chocolate and orange zest. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Overall a wonderfully complex beer. A little pricey but like all of the Stone small batch corked and caged beers I've tried it's a delightful experience.

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Photo of THSdrummer
4.54/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Pours black with two and a half fingers of caramel-khaki head. Head formation is tight and foamy with wonderful retention. Lacing dots the entire glass after each sip. Every bit of a wonderful black IPA look, which is even more phenomenal considering this is barrel aged. Aroma is dark, biting, and inviting. Notes of rye whiskey, and the barrel show up simultaneously alongside toasted malts, and perfumey, spicy hops. Wonderful complexity and balance. Flavor profile is smooth, with a dry finish. Rye whiskey and the barrel open up the flavor profile. Toasted and rolled malts come in next, with some biting pine, and perfume hop notes showing up last. As the flavor profile develops, it's slashed by the dry finish of the rye keeping any bitter hop notes from sticking to the tongue for too long. Mouth feel is smooth, without much to consider. It's thick enough to deliver the oomph of the flavor profile without distracting from the complexity. Overall, a sublime black IPA. The barrel aging has done this beer wonders. Use of rye over other whiskeys provides this beer a dry, cutting flavor profile that plays extremely well into this variety of beer. Wicked good.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Agree with the difficulty opening. A cork should be able to be freed with your hand. This took teeth and an old handtowel for extra grip. Cork itself was dry.

A - 5 - really dark brown-black beer with ruby tranlucency on the edges. Smooth tan head sticks for days and leaves nice lacing. Bottle itself is the typical badass Stone Small Batch 500ml bottle.
S - 4 - big rye whiskey, dark roasty malts, oak, pine and grapefruit from the hops, overall a spicy, hoppy, whiskey-y strong dark beer
T - 4.5 - big rye whiskey, spicy notes, dark roasty malts, burnt marshmallow, pine and grapefruit from the hops. Everything a black ipa should be
M - 4.5 - medium to heavy beer, alc covered at 11.6% abv, aftertaste is more spicy rye whiskey, hops
O - 4.5 - i love sublimely self righteous. I love rye whiskey (and bourbon) aged beers. This is a great beer brewed by a great company. Will continue to drink Stone as long as I drink beer.

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Photo of russpowell
4.79/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Opens DIFFICULTLY!!! Cork seems like it may be susceptible to dry rot, like others they have releseased lately... grrr No signs of carbonation , pours mahogany with much ( 3 fingers plus ) of mocha colored head. Epic lacing. viscious, nice head retention

S: Bourbon, vanilla, rye & cakeyness

T: Follows the nose, a little pine & pumpernickel up front. Rye spiceyness & dryness start to dominate as this warms, the bourbon is strong here too. Finsihes boozey, piney, rich, dry with a nice rye spiceyness

MF: Chewy, slight carbonation, warming

Drinks real easy despite the abv & complexity. A Black IPA for the non-Black IPA fan, bloody good! I am thinking my beer of 2016...

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle with a bottled on date of October, 2016

L - Pitch black, with 1 finger of head and lots of lacing let on top of the brew

S - Citrus hops, dry hopping, oak, rye whiskey. Smells a lot like Sublimely self Righteous, but with oak and whiskey on top

T - Like the smell, a very oaky, spicy, rye whiskey version of the Self-Righteous. Surprised how well the hops held up in a barrel for 5 months. Very tasty, and very well hidden ABV. Slower sipper than Self-Righteous however

F - medium body and still well carbonated (despite being in a barrel). Sizzles a bit. Very nice

O - Another well done barrel aged small batch from Stone. Digging everything they are putting out this year. Killing it on the barrel aged series

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.01/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at AJ's Beer Warehouse in Henrietta, NY.

This one pours a dark brown, nearly black, with a nice white head, and a good amount of lacing.

Smells like resinous hops, pine, a little bit of orange citrus, lots of oak, vanilla, and rye whiskey.

This is aged in both rye whiskey and bourbon barrels, but I really only get the rye here, as there's a nice spiciness to it. The barrel character is pretty subtle, though, only 5 months in the barrels was not really enough. There's more oak than actual spirit character, with some mild barrel derived vanilla. There's some smoke and earthy bitter hops. The hop assault that is the base beer is still present and accounted for, it doesn't seem significantly decreased by the barrel aging.

This is pretty creamy, with a good level of carbonation for the style.

I'm not really sure this is better than the base beer, but it's still interesting to drink. I'd like to see it in barrels longer to transform even further.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.02/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Stone gargoyle pint. Pours pitch black, opaque in the glass, with a half finger light brown head with great retention and lacing. Aroma somewhat mild, dominated by light whiskey with hints of dark malt, dark fruit and chocolate. Flavor is mild dark toasted malt, whiskey, oak, hints of chocolate and stone fruit. Finishes with bourbon and lightly citrus hops. Medium bodied with light creaminess. I am divided on this one. It is quite pleasant, but the base beer is one of my favorite all times dark ales and it is way dominated in this by the whiskey barrel flavor. Sublimely is a robust ale and it's a little surprising to find it a supportive, but subtle flavor contributor for this ale. So I miss the Sublimely, but this is quite tasty. The whiskey and oak flavors are up front and are carried well by the now more subtle dark malts. ABV is amazingly well covered. Not that complex, but recommended for fans of dark malt and whiskey barreling. Enjoyable.

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Photo of KVNBGRY
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

My first ever of this particular style... It was really tasty. It was, however, an aged IPA... I don't honk I could give out a higher score for this style..

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Hops and Pie, nice to get to try one of these quigente millilitre specialties, apparently this was aged in Breckenridge whiskey barrels. Dark black, decent head. Aroma was extremely floral, much more so than sublimely self-righteous. Flavor was hoppy, bits of chocolate, not too much whiskey. Well done and very different from the regular version.

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Stygian Descent from Stone Brewing
4.18 out of 5 based on 90 ratings.
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