Stygian Descent | Stone Brewing

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Stygian DescentStygian Descent
134 Ratings
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 StoutSnob40 on 01-08-2014

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 134 |  Reviews: 37
Photo of monkist
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This was from the 2016 Series, Batch 2. A very intense and remarkably flavored beer. It boasts to be a "sublimely self-righteous black IPA" and yes, at times it does taste quite IPA-like. Otherwise it feels almost like an Arrogant Bastard on turbo with awesome dry hopping that you can't escape from in the aroma. Sweet but balanced, just to the extent that it's still drinkable and not overwhelming. Boozy but in an unnoticeable way. And last but not least, has a very complex mixture of unique hop & malt balance with a remarkable taste.
I enjoyed this beer, greatly because of its smell but it went very well with the taste and the body too. A truly unique experience, loved it!

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Photo of jgunther71
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of krome
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of weareallfalafel
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of jakecattleco
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from 2016 Series Batch No. 2 into a snifter.

L: Pours jet black with nearly 2 fingers of variable density tan head with good retention and left mixed lacing.

S: I get more barrel than the base beer on the nose. Lots of oak, char, vanilla, and whiskey, and then surprisingly subtle stone fruit. Very little hops or roasted malt on the nose, became more noticeable once the beer warmed (but this seems to run counterintuitive to my normal experience).

T: Brings much better balance of the base beer and the barrel. Definitely reminds me why this was one of my favorite Cascadian Dark Ales. Resiny/piney hops play well with the roasted malt, the barrel aging adds nice dimension and complexity, definitely some spiciness from the rye once it warms up. Finishes with moderate bitterness (less than I remember from the base beer), clears palate fairly quickly.

F: Low-medium bodied, medium carbonation, feels a bit thin on the tongue with a slick finish. Definitely thinner bodied than I remember from the base beer.

O: It's a nice BA offering of one of my favorite Cascadian Dark Ales. Was it worth the coin, perhaps to try. But I wouldn't buy again. I'd much rather spend that money on a 6er of the base beer (if Stone every brings it back into rotation).

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Photo of SHODriver
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2016

A: Poured into an oversized wine glass to a black beer topped by a dense three finger light tan head which has excellent retention and leaves great lacing
S: Smells of stone fruits and tropical fruits with some black malt bitterness along with some oak, vanilla, caramel, and some spice
T: Taste is stone fruits and tropical fruits followed by some nice roasty notes. Good bits of spice, oak, caramel, and vanilla as well. Surprisingly well hopped still with a lot of nice rye barrel character. Swallow is more oak, stone fruits, vanilla, and lingering roasted malts.
M: This beer is on the medium side of things when it comes to the body. Carbonation is effervescent but not prickly from the bottle conditioning while the beer has a drying finish.
O: Overall this one is really interesting. It has some slight dark beer flavors but it also still has a lot of really great flavor from the barrels and the hop selections. I'm a little sad that the base beer was discontinued as this is one that I would like to revisit from time to time.

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Photo of RBuckley73
4.22/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of B_B
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JuiceMan818
4.14/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Ryan4120
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch #2 - year 2016:
L - Near pitch black with very dark notes of mahogany highlighting the edges with a medium thick tan head that sticks around and leaves behind some sticky lacing.
S - Smells of bitter chocolate and hops along with notes of oak, roasted malts, and slight notes of bourbon. No hints of alcohol on the nose at all.
T - Up front are notes of bitter chocolate, roasted malts, and oak followed by notes of sweet bourbon/whiskey. Some notes of vanilla as well. The hop presence smells much stronger than it actually tastes - the hops are there, intermixed, but are not the typical kick in the teeth you've likely come to expect from Stone - but that could be because this has been aged for about 2 years. That said, this black IPA really melds into stout territory with the overall flavor profile and complexity - which is definitely not a bad thing. No presence of alcohol - not even the warming alcohol you might expect from a bourbon barrel aged ale.
F - Full boded with a light amount of smooth carbonation. Thick and velvety and soft.
O - A really nice and incredibly complex black IPA, but I have to admit I was really expecting a larger hop presence so I'm somewhat left down. Regardless, it was well worth the wait and experience.

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Photo of EMV
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a cork'n'cage bomber into a Dogfish Head tulip. Batch #2 (2016 edition)

L: Inky black pour with mild mahogany around the edges... 2 fingers of foamy brownish head. Great lacing. Looks like a stout.

S: Sweet and boozy.. bourbon and dark fruit... roasted grains... piney hops in the background.

T/F: Super complex. Roasted grains... sweet booze, vanilla, oak, and dark fruitiness. Bourbon and whiskey both apparent and play nicely together. Bitter roast mingles with the hops... but not as bitter as expected. Loads of barrel character. Balanced... delicious. Medium to heavy bodied. Well carbonated. Warming... hides the ABV dangerously well. Even better as it comes up to room temp.

O: Just an outstanding barrel-aged black IPA... and has a lot of stout character. Not a ton of IPA hoppiness... but enough to round out the brew. Super beer.

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Photo of Gemini6
3.69/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of beergorrilla
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Zaphog
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Patches826
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of beergoot
3.74/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Revisited the following morning: (original ratings: 4.5 3.25 3.25 3.75 3.25)

My perceived phenols came across more like a sharp rye whiskey and the taste and mouthfeel richer and fuller. Perhaps my original sample was still a tad to cold to allow the beer to fully present itself. In any case, a fine improvement over my first impressions.
Darkest, nearly black, brown body; dense, sticky, bone-colored head. An interesting phenolic character to the aroma; leather. The taste mirrors a lot of the aroma with the addition of a milky, bitter chocolate quality; band-aid phenols. Medium-heavy mouthfeel; hot and boozy.

I rather disappointing experience. The beer comes across hot and peppery (not in a good way), and lacks depth balance. Interesting yet disjointed.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 500ml into a Speiglau BA glass.

The beer is pitch black with a thin light tan head.

Aroma is a cheesy vanilla bourbon with not much hops.

Taste is more of that intense vanilla bourbon. Absolutely delicious.

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Photo of Gkruszewski
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Pencible
3.55/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured an opaque cola with thick light tan head.
S: It smelled like spicy rye bread, with some heavy cream and biscuit and toasted coconut and French vanilla and light roast coffee.
T: It tasted like sour bourbon oak and spicy rye, with some bitter coffee and citrus zest and a little vanilla and burnt coconut. It had a messy aftertaste with alcohol warming.
M: It was really thick with moderate carbonation. Huge chewy body.
D: This was an interesting brew with complex scent and taste but not very well integrated. The body was great, but the finish was hot so it must be sipped. Age would really help. Fresh had too many different things going on that weren't yet in harmony.

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Photo of Everydayoff
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle poured into a snifter. 2016 series, batch#02, bottled Oct 2016 and consumed Dec 2017.

Dark opaque black in color with no light shall be able to pass, the pour forms up massive fluffy khaki head that well retains itself with great retention. It just slowly dissipates to an everlasting foamy layer on the surface and leaving plenty of sticky lacing here and there.

In a nose, dark bread, dark chocolate, some roasted, caramel, vanilla, citrus, dried fruit, pine, bourbon whiskey, spicy rye, booze, oak, and tobacco. Oh mine, lots of thing going on here.

Barrel-aged notes dominate through the taste buds with the flavors of sweet bourbon, vanilla, rye spiciness, and warming alcohol. Roasted dark malt is a foundation of the flavor structure together with dark bread, and caramel while hop comes into play with its citrus, dried fruit, and pine. Of course, the big bitterness is there from both hop and roasted malt but mostly from hop I thought. The end and aftertaste is lasting with pungent and heat from alcohol and whiskey especially when it is warm.

The body is not heavy as expected but still bold, however, it is not sticky or cloying. The mouthfeel is so smooth with mild carbonation but it is enough to carry and wrap all the things well. Finish is very dry with all those sweet and spicy whiskey barrels.

This is quite complex. You get dark chocolate, roasted, and caramel from dark malt. You get vanilla and sweet from bourbon. You get spiciness from rye. You get citrus and pine from hop. You get oak, whiskey, and booze from the time in those barrels. Delicious but not for the faint-hearted, a great sipper beer.

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Photo of Hyptochrons
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2016 bottle, beautiful pour. this is really tasty ... when its cold there is some subtle barrel character, oak, and this earthy bitterness on the finish along with a hint of whisky. as it warms the caramel and vanilla notes from the barrel come out much more, roasty almost burnt malts coming through strong, and the bitterness on the finish almost disappears. bit of booze comes out on the finish. never had a brew quite like this before, great stuff!

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Photo of Prager62
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A cellared 500ml bottle from the 2016 Series Batch 2 poured in a Stone snifter.

Look- Pours a slightly murky medium brown generating a quarter inch of creamy light tan foam. It settles to a thin layer leaving behind some light lacing.

Smell- Bourbon, vanilla, oak, pine, dark roast and char.

Taste- Pine, bourbon, vanilla, mild floral, char and heavy oak in the finish.

Feel- Creamy smooth up front yielding to considerable alcohol heat and a dry finish.

Overall- I'm not a big fan of the black IPA style and barrel aging IPA's can be treacherous at times. Both my fears were put to rest after drinking this flavorful beast. This is a solid barrel aged beer from Stone and something I'd love to drink again.

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Photo of DavidR_9
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10/16 consumed 10/17.
Seriously delicious rye and bourbon barrel aged black ipa. Lots of chocolately and roasty notes along with woody oakey goodness and hint of spice, finished off with a bright zesty and citrusy/stone fruity hop character that is somehow completely welcome - finds its way into the territory of chocolately and malty barrel aged stout and reminds you that some boundaries and rules are meant to be broken.

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Stygian Descent from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.21 out of 5 with 134 ratings