Stochasticity Project: Master Of Disguise
Stone Brewing

Stochasticity Project:  Master Of DisguiseStochasticity Project:  Master Of Disguise
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Stout - American Imperial
3.81 | pDev: 12.86%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Stochasticity Project:  Master Of DisguiseStochasticity Project:  Master Of Disguise
Notes: First Release: November 2014
Some illusions and misnomers lead to life’s most delightful surprises. Case in point—this beer, the yang to the yin that is the black India pale ale. Once revolutionary for its onyx appearance, it is now an accepted and beloved member of the India pale ale family. Thus we took the spirit of a dark beer—the time-honored stout—and applied a similar science of thought, brewing it to be golden-hued. Cocoa and coffee beans impart roastiness sans darkening to this brew, while flaked oats provide an enveloping mouthfeel. The result is a stout that looks more like a blonde, but is a raven beauty at heart.
Reviews: 196 | Ratings: 938 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.87/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Right out the gate, this is a pretty cool beer with its turning the norm upside down appearance wise.

Instead of pouring black/brown, this imperial stout comes in a golden-amber like color with 1/2" white head. The aroma artfully drops a hefty vanilla and chocolate presence, whereas the coffee is slighter than that.

The taste is sweet, and there is no roasted malt, its a different twist on the pastry stout, with there being little to no roasted malt aspect that gets covered up or counterbalancing effect. The coffee, vanilla and chocolate/cocao notes remain sturdy throughout. Carbonation was fine. The weight effect on the beer was light. All in all its pretty impressive, its unique, it tastes good, it really is the kind of beer with stout like flavor/adjuncts that you could drink in warmer weather without it being too taxing on your body/palate. Has a nice creaminess to it. Would buy again if made in a 4 or 6 pack.

Apr 29, 2020
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jazzyjeff13 from England

3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A 22oz bottle with no visible BB date. Purchased ages ago from the Brewdog webshop and stored in a box. Hopefully still in good condition - let's see what this golden stout is all about....

A: Poured into a Duvel tulip. Possibly bottle conditioned. A deep marmalade-orange hue with light carbonation and flocculent, gelatinous sediment that floats lazily in the glass. Yields a very small head of creamy white foam that settles almost immediately to a patchy surface layer.

S: Aroma of rich roasted coffee with hints of bitter cocoa, caramel malt, mild barley sugar, ale yeast, earthiness and faint leafiness. Stouty without the stout - very nice.

T: Tastes of intense roasted coffee with notes of bitter cocoa, espresso, caramel malt, subtle barley sugar, ale yeast, earthiness, mild floral hints and a vague leafiness. The booze is well hidden. Slightly sweet, followed by a powerful coffee-driven bitterness upon swallowing.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with soft carbonation and superb body. Rich and creamy. Somewhat astringent; dries the palate. Aftertaste of fruity roasted coffee, bitterness, cocoa, mild caramel malt, subtle grain, earthy yeast and faint leafiness.

O: Another stand-out effort from Stone; age leaves this undimmed. Looks great, while the aroma and flavour are a superb blend of coffee, cocoa, caramel malt and ale yeast. Great body. Interesting to note how the coffee makes an excellent substitute for the dark malt in a typical imperial stout. Rich, complex and very tasty - well worth sampling should you be lucky enough to come across a bottle.

Aug 05, 2018
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GarrettB from Colorado

4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

March 6th, 2015 - Before it was the stochasticity project, this was simply Stone's Master of Disguise. Furiously red and almost orange, it looks like an angry beer, and the aroma seems to confirm my suspicions. Spicy and with some chili and vegetal elements, it has enough malt to support the exotic scents. A little marshmallow sweetness binds all the aromas together, letting the paradox of a blonde stout precipitate into reality. The flavor is more emphatically a stout, with a sticky and foamy palate, and abundant malt in the body. A graham cracker sweetness feels very appropriate here too, with a slight hop touch that lasts well into the aftertaste. It's a curious style, and no doubt the product of a drunken dare (or an adventurous conversation at a brew club) but the result speaks for itself: spectacular in its self-contradiction.

Dec 06, 2017
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macrosmatic from Florida

3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Brooklyn Brewery tulip glass.

A: A clear burnished gold – just a touch of chill haze – with a two-finger white head and a fairly low amount of visible carbonation.

S: Big coffee, unroasted coffee beans and some green peppers. Hints of cacao and a minimal light malt body.

T: Coffee - again some green coffee but there's some darker roast character here as well, and some bitter baker's chocolate. A light bready malt, and no roasted character to the malt bill. A slight hop bitterness near the end, with the lingering coffee. As the beer warms, it does develop more dark roast flavors to the coffee, as well as some more cacao flavor.

M: A light body for the "style" (but who knows what that’s supposed to be). Low carbonation sensation overall, and the alcohol is noticeable but not overly hot.

O: This was weird, and certainly worth a try. Compared to true Imperial Stout, it falls short especially in mouthfeel and the lack of roast malt character. But it's certainly not a bad beer. It’s very coffee-forward, though does develop some of that green pepper flavor. Then again, some vintages of FBS do so as well. But it’s enjoyable enough.

Sep 04, 2017
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TerribleTaste from California

4.75/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was my first ever craft beer that I had ever tried.... And It spoiled the fuck out of me.....
After a heavy phase of drinking hard liquor through high-school and college I stopped drinking for almost a decade.
Then in 2014 A friend of mine offered me half of his 22oz Master of Disguise bottle and I agreed without much thought, I was never really a beer person but I didn't want to be rude and refuse him.

Those 11 oz beer changed my life.... I had never experienced so many unique flavors in one single mouth full. I was so impressed at how the chocolate, vanilla and coffee swirled around with each other. At the time I was not 100% able to understand just exactly what I was drinking, But I knew that I absolutely loved it simply from the pallet of flavors I was getting!

Since drinking that beer I have gone on quite the rampage looking for a beer to match the complexities of this offering.....Still have yet to have a beer that floored me like this one did.....

If anyone has a bottle of this stored away, I will buy it from you for a decent price....I can't find anyone who has it and I have been asking A LOT.

Jun 19, 2017
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EmperorBevis from England

4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled and a gift from my side of the road, and I will be forced to take a look at the moment, but I am still proud to be a small recipient of such a fine ale

Mar 27, 2017
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stevoj from Idaho

3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Aroma initially is coffee, and body resembles a stout (except for color). Taste brings in some more flavors, overall very complex. ABV is in there, sneaks up on you.

May 18, 2016
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Delmarvabeer from Maryland

1.67/5  rDev -56.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle date: 11/13/2014, bought from a store on 4/14/16

Chilled and poured into a regular pint glass.

L: Nice golden/amber hue almost the color of an iced tea where the ice has melted just slightly.

S: A yeasty almost moldy smell with some earthy scents. Almost smells like freshly dug dirt.

T: Very medicinal, some hints of bourbon but it really reminded me of Listerine. Also a very overpowering liquid smoke type flavor. Making this very unpalatable. I could not finish more than a quarter glass of this.

F: Carbonation is fine, not too fizzy or flat. Slight slickness.

O: I generally don't like to toss beer, but this is probably one of the worst I have drank in a long time and I generally enjoy Stone (love their imperial porter). Maybe this was just a bad batch, got skunky at the store or in transit. Either way this was a Master of Disguise for sure.

Apr 15, 2016
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sprat1960 from Massachusetts

3.02/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look: Amber color with hints of gold; cloudy, opaque. Pours with a less than 1 finger off-white head that dies down leaving a very thin, uneven layer of foam on the surface of the beer. Lots of small bubbles from the carbonation.

Smell: Lots of coffee; chocolate; malt. Slightly boozy and medicinal.

Taste: Coffee; cocoa; whiskey with a medicinal bitter finish.

Feel: Medium body; fizzy sensation from the carbonation; slight pucker at the end.

Overall: Unique but not to my taste. The bitter finish was too much for me and ruined it for me.

Feb 29, 2016
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TheRougeBastard from North Carolina

4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

How do you enjoy an imperial stout when it looks like an IPA????? You drink that's how! I'll admit, it was odd, I mean aren't stout supposed to be thick and black as night? The stout taste was there, but mouthfeel was more subduded...a little more carbonated than a true stout, but enjoyable nonetheless. As another reviewer noted, "too bad it was only brewed once", as this is something I could get used to!

Jan 24, 2016
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Sabtos from Ohio

4.06/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Wow, I was not expecting this at all, the appearance of a Pale Ale, and the aroma and flavor of a Stout! What a fun novelty. Not sure it will stick around but nice work bending the rulebook.

Dec 17, 2015
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bomberqueen from California

4.7/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle aged for one year.

Pours golden and light, with a tan/white thin head.
Smells of light bodied coffee, hints of cocoa.
The golden color tried to play a trick on my senses, but it was very true to an aged stout.
Sweet almost caramel-like aftertaste.
Creamy, velvet mouthfeel.
VERY drinkable for 9.7% ABV
So unique, left me wanting another! A shame it was only brewed once.

22 oz from Tap and Bottle in Tucson, AZ.
Poured into a Nonic glass.

Oct 26, 2015
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Jadjunk from Georgia

3.59/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Things aren't always what they seem, but not all deception is devious. Some illusions and misnomers lead to life's most delightful surprises. Case in point - this beer, the yang to the yin that is the black India pale ale. Once revolutionart for its onyx appearance, it is now an accepted and beloved spirit of a dark beer - the time-honored stout- and applied a similar science of thought, brewing it to be golden-hued. That is what this experimental series and its latest creation are all about. Cocoa and coffee beans impart roastiness sans darkening to this brew, while flaked oats provide an enveloping mouthfeel. The result is a stout that looks more like a blonde, but is a raven beauty at heart." Brewed in the style of an American Imperial Stout, available as a limited release in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a frothy cream head of a golden-pastel white hue over a medium hazy amber body with light, relaxed carbonation. Abnormally bright hued to be classified as an American Imperial Stout or even a standard American Stout. Retention is very good and lacing is light and patchy. 4

(Smell) Moderate roast, cocoa nibs, raw moderately acidic coffee beans coalesce in an aromatic coffee and chocolate heavy aroma. Smooth with a moderate sweetness, fairly clean and lightly fruity notes. Potency is moderate. 3.75

(Taste) Cacao nibs and roasted coffee bean oils atop a suspiciously light body of pale and biscuit malts, not much body to compliment the adjuncts and an underwhelming sweetness and viscosity. Finishes moderately roasty and clean with a lingering drag of burnt coffee. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, moderately oily, lightly sticky, medium dry. Carbonation is medium, generating a moderate frothiness and a lightly crisp finish. Body is shy of medium for the style and medium/heavy overall. Balance is moderately earthy bitter and roasty over sweet. Alcohol presence is light and there are no off characters. 3.5

(Overall) A novelty idea comes from the idea of maintaining a stout's robustness and flavor while reducing the visual appearance to that of an American IPA, but the results are questionable if not somewhat disappointing. It seems that the inclusion of chocolate and roast coffee bean generates the aromatic illusion of a stout to the nose, but upon tasting, there wasn't an equally complex malt base to match these adjuncts, and the coffee and chocolate sat exposed atop something closer to a cream ale or a lightly hopped amber ale. By reaching the flavor of this beer, I expect just about any blindfolded craft beer enthusiast to deduce something to be amiss. Certainly not bad, but I'd be hard pressed to classify this as an American Stout outside of the name and the brewery's own expectations. Very flavorful and enjoyable aside from the void which may be left desired, seemingly an absence for the ingredients that seem to make a stout a stout. 3.5

Stone Brewing Co.'s
Master of Disguise: Imperial Golden Stout

Oct 17, 2015
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Buschyfor3 from Kentucky

4.24/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bomber, poured into a snifter... this Doesn't look like a stout by any means, but does it taste like one!

A: Tawny, golden hue; cloudy body; little head forms, what is there is off white and quickly recedes to nothing; very little lacing as well; appearance belies its stout character

S: Initial notes of roast coffee beans followed with a nice dose of powdered cocoa; bread crust and hints of yeast through the middle; cocoa aromas become stronger as glass warms; slight boozy twang in there too but not overpowering.

T: The bite of roast coffee hits first - a nice medium roast with decent bitterness and acidity; very quickly follows a soothing wave of sweeter powdered cocoa that moderates the initial astringency from the coffee beans; bittersweet chocolate comes forwards as well, lending a nice second dose of bitterness - real nice roast-sweet-bittersweet interplay going on; not cloyingly sweet, but enough to balance the roast qualities from the addition of coffee; mid sip reveals some bread crust and earthy/nutty flavors; finish is a long, powdered cocoa note with a smooth sweetness that outlasts the swallow; finish is long, doesn't dry out quickly; nice coffee and chocolate combination, like a well made mocha latte.

M: Appropriately carbed resulting in a slick, creamy body; weighs nicely on the palate, but not overly thick or chewy.

O: A unique twist on a stout - masterfully disguised until the first sip. What's also masterfully disguised is the alcohol content, as this is easy drinking for an imperial stout. The coffee and chocolate play well off of one another, resulting in another fantastic stout from the brewers at Stone. It seems they've been hitting on all cylinders with their limited release stouts lately. Definitely worth seeking out if you enjoy coffee or chocolate stouts.

Sep 06, 2015
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Mooslerfitness from Ohio

4.47/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle in 11/13/14 Wow looks like a great dipa just like lake Erie monster smells like a imperial stout chocolate coffee taste awesome I like this one as it warms up the smell and taste deepens great job stone keep this one coming for all your stout drinkers I don't care what color it is damn good brew

Aug 23, 2015
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cjohns73 from Delaware

4.27/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber bottled 11/13/14, approximately 9 mos old. Color is deep gold, a bit hazy, with a thin head that billows from the pour. Lacing looks like a snow covered mountain range. Smell is coffee with roasted malt. Taste is coffee, malt, a bit of chocolate, some vanilla. There is kind of a syrupy taste at times that isn't mirrored in the feel that is quite crisp. Finish is dry, bitter hops. Hey, I liked it!

Aug 14, 2015
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pat61 from Minnesota

3.31/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This beer is a cipher to me. I am drinking it 6 weeks after its bottle date and it has been sitting in a cooler. The retailer generally handles beer well and it’s in a brown bottle. There is a big skunky element in both the aroma and the flavor and it is hard to tell if the existing ingredients just do not go together very well or if the beer is light struck. Coffee, cocoa and mint elements appear in conflict. The beer has me wondering if this is some kind of Joaquin Phoenix type joke.

Aug 11, 2015
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justinp444 from Michigan

4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter this is a mostly hazy golden orange with a inch thick solid foamy white head that seems to stay pretty resilient. Smell of chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt with some slight earth-y notes. Taste is roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, caramel, vanilla, little bit of nice warming alcohol, earth-y yet pine-y hops, and dried fruit at the end. It has a moderate to full body with a smooth nicely carbonated moderate mouth feel. A little bit too much coffee in this one, not very well balanced and I'd say overall a little too bitter, but it is still fantastic for a weird take on a stout and I'd buy it again if I wanted a coffee beer as it really isn't that bad taken from that perspective & price point.

Aug 04, 2015
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Slatetank from Pennsylvania

3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I tried this bottle chilled in a stout glass, purchased the bomber at Wegman's.

The color is a golden shade bordering on light amber with semi-hazed clarity and thick off white head with fine bead and thick lace -carbonation is visible. The smell has a strong roast aroma with coffee quality and light dried fruit with mild malt in the nose and subtle alcohol scent. The feel is good with thick body and light roasted texture and oily bean presence with subtle bitterness mid palate and medium high carbonation with light creamy effect with mild alcohol in the mostly dry finish.

The taste has a good amount of coffee up front with light malt and slightly nutty quality and slight fruity but not quite raisin quality with a mild toasted flavor but coffee is the primary flavor with mild yeast and slight hop in the background adding an herbal taste with slight lemony element in the back with subtle alcohol as it warms. This is an odd concept, but it is like a black IPA in reverse. The golden stout but if they call it a coffee pale ale it takes away a little of the mystique...still for all the marketing it is a very good tasting coffee pale, blonde or not

Jul 28, 2015
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Nordbier from Georgia

3.54/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter from a 22oz bomber.

A - Attractive, deep golden hue. Very little head. Decent amount of sediment in the bottle's final half.

S - Hard to relate my experience with this beer's aroma. Initially mistook what eventually unfolded into roasted coffee and hints of malt for a standard, grassy golden smell. Chalk this up to the disparity between the beer's appearance and its style. Profoundly strange.

T - Cold coffee dominates, with notes of chocolate, pale malt, and a muddled hop profile.

M - Mild to medium carbonation, substantial body, and a pleasant, dry finish.

O - As many other reviewers have noted, it's really not fair to evaluate this beer as an imperial stout. My overriding impression is that the strange, hard to describe quality this beer has is the result of a concession made for the sake of a gimmick. That said, I'm glad I tried this beer. It's precisely the sort of off-the-wall product I'd hoped to see from the Stochasticity Project.

Jul 28, 2015
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

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

On tap.

A - Pours a semi - hazy dark gold color with a thin layer of creamy foam on top, carbonation is mild to none.

S - Coffee and cocoa roast, no more, no less.

T - Light roasted coffee along with dark roasted cocoa from start to finish and a lingering coffee roast and pine bitterness.

M - Heavy medium body, gentle carbonated texture, dry finish.

O - This messes with your mind, dark golden color with the aroma and flavor of a stout. (!!!!)

Jul 28, 2015
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RickS95 from Indiana

3.31/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is probably a beer that will need its own category because you can't look at a peach colored beer and give it a high score as an imperial stout. That said, I gave this a two. There's little golden about it. It's a peach-colored IPA-looking beer. There is no head to speak of, just a few random bubbles here and there. Not sure what to make of the look.

The smell is that of a stout. They've got the roasty chocolatey part down pat. It's just a little on the limp side for an imperial. Things should be larger than life, not just average.

It's mostly got the taste of a stout. Little bits of chocolate and a roasted malt note dominate, but there is something else in there. It's not the coffee, instead I think I'm picking up the high alcohol. It's fairly well hidden if I have to search that much for it.

A pleasant enough beer. Despite the completely contradictory look, it's smooth up front, at least until the heat from the alcohol kicks in. After that, it's just warm and grainy. Hard to believe there are flakes of oatmeal in this. Regardless, it's full bodied and mostly enjoyable on the palate.

Like black IPAs, this will take some getting used to. It's not a bad tasting beer, just something weird and unexpected...and confusing.

Jun 18, 2015
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uvachief from Virginia

3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a chilled 22oz bomber. Several months old. Pours a beautiful golden orange yellow. Finger of fluffy off white head. Dissipated after a minutes or two. Smells like pure coffee grounds. Little hops. Tastes like a golden ale mixed with coffee grounds. The coffee flavor is overpowering for what be a tasty ale. Not bitter. Just slight sweet ale mixed with coffee grounds. Not espresso. Tasty but not great. Worth trying.

Jun 09, 2015
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Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

3.74/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a clear bright yellow color ale with a nice foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma of dry coffee notes with some cacao notes is a bit surprising given the color of the beer. Taste is also dominated by what appears to be roasted malt notes with dry bitter coffee with light cacao notes also perceptible. Body is light with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Interesting experience but not sure I would feel the need to try this again.

Jun 04, 2015
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RyanK252 from California

4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a New Belgium globe

A: Pours slightly hazy golden amber with a frothy off white head that settles and leaves scattered thin lacing.

S: Coffee, chocolate, earthy notes, spicy, a bit herbal, and a hint of alcohol.

T: Milk chocolate, coffee, peppery spice, hints of vanilla, licorice, and mint.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, hides its abv well.

O: My bottle had a little age on it. I gotta say, I'm impressed. The flavors blended quite well, totally pulled off what it aimed for.

May 16, 2015
Stochasticity Project: Master Of Disguise from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 938 ratings