El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale
Stone Brewing

El Camino (Un)Real Black AleEl Camino (Un)Real Black Ale
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Strong Ale - American
3.94 | pDev: 12.44%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
El Camino (Un)Real Black AleEl Camino (Un)Real Black Ale
Notes: Collaboration with 21st Amendment Brewery & Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Our collaboration beer project between 21A Brewmaster Shaun O’Sullivan and our friends Mitch Steele of Stone Brewing Company and Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker. This beer takes its name from the historical mission trail El Camino Real (the Royal Trail, now highway 101) that linked the 21 Spanish Missions throughout California and also links the three breweries together. A dark strong ale that floats between a stout and an IPA, it incorporates indigenous ingredients from along the Camino (un)Real. The addition of dried mission figs, pink peppercorns, fennel and chia seeds brings a slight herbal, fruit and spice note built to pair with the malt and hop complexity to this 9.5% ABV beer.
Reviews: 166 | Ratings: 284 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Kelp:
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Kelp from New Hampshire

3.5/5  rDev -11.2%

Apr 27, 2013
More User Reviews:
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jlindros from Massachusetts

3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: A big thick rich dark head keeps rising until it just reaches the top of my oversized snifter glass, then fades slowly, leaving a nice lacing, with a beer that is essentially jet black.

N: A nice malt and hop combination. Some dark malts, dark crystal, black patent, perhaps a little roast, touch of sweetness, and oatmeal even I think. Then a nice spicy earthy hop characteristic that adds a nice floral bitter hop component. It has some creaminess to it too, and slight chocolate. As I get deeper and deeper whiffs, I start to get some spicy booze as well.

T: Starts rich and creamy, thick, but not syrupy. Again malty, with lots of dark malts, caramel, oatmeal, chocolate milk, some sweetness, and a nice luscious taste. Before I can get to the hops the booze is starting to get overpowering, drinking like an 11-12% beer, I can even taste the booze, let alone the warming and tingly feels. THen there are also some hops, a nice bitterness, more from hops than any roasted character, spicy and part grassy hops even, little earthy. Chewy and malty overall.

M: Pretty thick, luscious and smooth, with good carbonation.

F: Pretty bitter on the finish, with a nice hoppy bite to it. The bitterness has quite a bit of that earthy hop characteristic, as well as some fresh musty hop bit to it a little. There is a little lingering sweetness, but mostly dry by now. SOme creamy chocolate milk and oatmeal linger, with touches of dark malts, and even a hint of smoke. The finish is mostly a showing of the hops and bitterness though. I do get a hint of a nuttiness and raisin characteristic though, very late on the finish.

Oh yeah, and I have to give a shoutout to Visionaries for sending me one of these, never hurts to have an extra on hand for aging.

Jul 15, 2010
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Mora2000 from Texas

4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a tan head. The aroma is chocolate, roasted malt and piney hops. The flavor is chocolate, smoke, pine, roasted malt and toasted malt. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice strong ale which hides the alcohol very well. Glad I got to try this one.

Aug 23, 2010
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DoubleJ from Wisconsin

4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've found a trend with the Stone collaborations beers that, sadly, does not suit well for El Camino (Un)Real. C1, dissapointment. C2, yummy. C3, dissapointment. C4, yummy. C5, ???? On to the beer:

Ink black. Mocha tint in the head color. Oh, and the head is thick and rocky. There's little sign of head deflation. It's a looker alright. The aroma is hard to describe overall, but I do like it. Chocolate, rose pedals, some other aromas I can't really describe well. A little metallic. It looks like this trend of C-brews will be broken.

What is this, a spiced porter? Whatver it is, it is appealing to me. A little roasty is the malt, with a whisper of smoke. The assorted spices brewed in this beer are hard to pinpoint individually, but works in the overall picture. The spiciness never overpowers in the beer, which I think helps its cause. Somehow, the 9.5% ABV passes through without much sting on the palate. But...you do feel some warming in my chest and stomach. It's medium-heavy in feel, with a smooth, creamy feel.

Collaboration #5: success. El Camino (Un)Real is certainly unreal. Now all we need is a Pacific Coast Highway themed collaboration between Stone and two other breweries.

Apr 17, 2010
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sbricker from Illinois

4/5  rDev +1.5%

Nov 15, 2011
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Rzzzzz from California

4/5  rDev +1.5%

Aug 07, 2012
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ibbjamin from California

4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $4.50 for a 12oz bottle from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, CA. Poured into a large snifter to review.

Pours pretty thick and very dark in color. Small tan head dissipates quickly leaving only small traces of retention on the edge of the snifter. Some lacing left behind.

Sweet and roasted malts, tobacco, leather, espresso, dark chocolate, molasses and oak. Robust, balanced and complex in the nose.

Taste is even darker roasted malts than I expected. Reminds me of an imperial stout more than anything. Coffee, oak, dark chocolate, tobacco and leather. Quite nice!

Full bodied and rather creamy; almost chewy. Good carbonation levels. Long finish of roasted maltiness. 9.5% ABV very well hidden which makes this very enjoyable and quite drinkable. If I had to guess who was behind this, I would say it is Firestone more than Stone more than 21st Amendment; I am curious how they collaborated on this brew. All in all a success!

Jul 30, 2010
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m1ked from California

4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle at WF Bowery beer room.

A- Poured into a brandy snifter. Totally black liquid with a frothy tenacious cocoa colored head that pops away until a scant smattering of foam, with some moderate lacing on the edges.

S- dark fruits laced with a alcohol edge. Raisins and plummy, with an alcoholic aroma that I can only describe as boozy fruitcake. Light coffee aromeas. A tinge of bittersweet chocolate at the end of a deep whiff. How about a booze soaked fig newton?

T- I get the dark fruits again, but now I definetly get figgy with it, roasty coffee, dark chocolate, mollasses like cookies, earthy, ashy. I get some pepperiness especially when the carbonation is prickly on my tongue. There is some bitterness collage at the end with the coffee, chocolate and some earthy hop bitterness in there too.

M- Has some weight to it, a little chewy but not thick or cloying. Good carbonation that brings out the peppery character.

D- I have to say, when I heard the ingredients I was divided. Part of me was like fuck yeah, I've never had anything like this before. The other part was like- what the fuck? But then I realized that they are all solid breweries pushing the envelope. I am really pleasantly surprised, and as usual....look forward to the next colab.

Jun 12, 2010
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barleywinefiend from Washington

3.3/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a light black color with good carbonation and a brownish head. Nose is spicey, chcolate, roasted. Taste is peppercorns, dark fruits, chocolate, roasted malt. Mouthfeel has thin, booze feel with roasted malt, chocolate and perhaps coffee. Not one I would drink againa d my leat favorite colab yet.

Apr 18, 2010
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Kenai4 from Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +14.2%

Feb 05, 2012
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MASPuros from California

3.5/5  rDev -11.2%

Jan 03, 2012
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nmann08 from Virginia

4/5  rDev +1.5%

Nov 25, 2011
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javincik from North Carolina

3.31/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into my mad elf tulip

A-A deep, nearly opaque black with a frothy 1 inch tan head that hangs around for a while. Foams clings stubbornly to the glass as it recedes. Very impressive.

S-Some chocolate, coffee, and slight roasted aromas. Earthiness from the hops comes thru beneath a layer of pepper and spices. Dark fruit also in the background (figs or dates)?

T-Starts out much like a porter with chocolate and coffee up front. Spices and pepper come thru in the middle along with some citrus hop flavors. Ends with a deep roast flavor balanced equally by hop bitterness and spiciness from the pepper. All in all, an interesting mix of flavors, but not something that seems well integrated.

M-Medium bodied, high carbonation.

D-I would have been fine with about 6 oz. The pepper and spices really started weighing hard on the drink-ability after half the bottle. While I'm glad I tried this, I don't think I will seek it out again. The flavors just don't seem to be integrated well enough. Not sure if any age would help that or not; if the hops die out, the pepper might dominate even more.

Jun 05, 2010
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JAHMUR from Connecticut

4/5  rDev +1.5%

Nov 27, 2011
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photomike from California

4/5  rDev +1.5%

Dec 14, 2011
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Jayli from Massachusetts

4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this one up at Gordon's in waltham 4/7

A: This beer pours a rich, thick, opaque black. Just the slightest hints of ruby hue when held to the light. A one finger of brown sudsy head caps this one and leaves some spotty lacing.

S: Nose is of charred malts, roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and hint of pepper.

T: Taste starts off with dark fruits, raisin and licorice mixed chocolate and a hint of vanilla. Charred malts then come through and really dominate the middle. Finish has a coffee and roastiness with a hint of hop bite.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, creamy body.

D: Goes down easily, somewhat filling, nice kick to this one. This is another enjoyable collaboration brew.

Apr 08, 2010
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PeprSprYoFace from California

4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. The first stone collab beer I actually like. I think I might actually get some to age.

Pours a dark black with a very nice brown head lending good lacing down the glass.

The aroma is pleasent. Very floral. I smell a whole combo of things but I have never experienced these ingrediance before so I don't know which is which. But it smells very nice. Some sort of nutty aroma as well.

Taste is good. Slightly bitter. A flavor I would like to age out and see how it changes. Tastes like alot of the flavors haven't married together well yet. Bitter dark malts, dark fruit a bit and a little malty sweetness.

Mouthfeel is great.

Overall a tasty beer I'm going to go get a couple more of and age to see how they turn out.

Apr 09, 2010
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bum732 from Lesotho

4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black, red tints, nice light tan creamy head, great lacing. Smells of roasted coffee, anise, spicy pepper, citrus hops, touch of figs. Tastes of roasted coffee malt, dark fruit on the backbone. Citrus bitterness dries the palate slightly leading to big chocolate notes and more roastiness. Some anise with the coffee, touch of alcohol. Nice creamy texture with just the right amount of carbonation to pop.

An interesting beer, almost like a black IPA. The addition of figs, peppercorns, anise were all very subtle, although i would've liked a little more figgy note. All in all, a surprisingly drinkable beer and fairly complex. I really enjoyed this.

Jun 01, 2010
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popery from California

3.56/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good but a bit harsh. This is basically an imperial stout - all of the specialty ingredients really don't provide much flavor. There's some licorice flavor from the anise, but it's relatively mild. The peppercorns are even milder, just a touch of fruity spice. As for the chia seeds and figs, I'll just take their word for it. There are definitely some funny flavors in there, but they're largely masked by lots of roast and alcohol. The main problem with the beer is that the alcohol is somewhat harsher than appropriate, particularly in the finish. Roasted malt is really the main flavor. Some chocolate/coffee. Feel is a bit too thin. Flavor is generally sweet with lots of booze, roast and hop bitterness. Great looking beer - big light brown head atop coffee black liquid. Ok but not worth the price.

May 01, 2010
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HalfFull from California

3.35/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz. bottle. This, the latest in what will indubitably be a continuing cascade of collaboration beers indeed pours its namesake. Namely, black. Hardly a highlight to be found, yet the mocha head runs away rather swiftly, leaving a somewhat glassy surface.

Nose of a hoppy and roasty porter with some light alcohol notes. Some roasted chocolate and carob and a bit of a brown sugar roux that went a bit too long on the flame. Somewhat smokey in nature with air. Smoked Porter on steroids?? Warms to add some black cherry.

Flavor is coarse and rich with a notable chocolate malt finish. Bit of hop and cinnamon spice accompany. Cherry infused chocolate flavors of Sabra liqueur arrive and depart at times on the finish yet don't set up camp due to the malt coarseness. Offers a nice finish but is excessively rich to revisit soon. Perhaps as a shared accompaniment to a decadent dessert would be a good call....

Apr 01, 2010
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sandiego67 from California

4.53/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Very attractive dark black with a huge creamy dark tan head. I didn't get as much lacing as some of the other reviewers.

S- Strong peppercorn with hints of licorice (fennel).

T- Initial taste is boozy but not too warm, dissipates quickly. Big roasted malt, cocoa and coffee notes. Licorice is apparent but not overwhelming.

MF- Low carbonation. Strong, warm aftertaste.

DB- Very drinkable. Should be a hit with the stout fans looking for something different. I suggest that one or more of the 3 collaborators add this to their lineup.

May 13, 2010
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chinchill from South Carolina

3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz can at Soulshine Farm Music Festival.
This strong ale has an exceptionally complex and rich flavor. Not harmonious however, with some sense of clashing flavors. Mild-moderate bitterness. Full body with near medium carbonation.

Aug 11, 2017
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spycow from Illinois

4/5  rDev +1.5%

May 02, 2013
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coldmeat23 from Oklahoma

4.07/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 55 degrees

Super dark brown liquid with dark ruby highlights. A one-finger head of dark brown foam sits on top. It recedes to a thin surface covering film. The lacing is very abundant and nicely sticky.

I am immediately hit by notes of sweet, dark, fruits and earthy spices/herbs. A very good presence of roasted malts. Good hint of white pepper. Mild presence of coffee and some light chocolate traces. Great fig notes. Touches of dates and raisins.

The taste is following the nose, for the most part. The spices/pepper notes are reigned in slightly. They are still there in a good way. The figs are drizzled with light toffee.Coffee and chocolate are farther in the background. Light hint of toast.

On the lighter end of full-bodied. The medium level of carbonation has an odd 'sharpness' to the back end of it, which gives this one a weird finish.

The 9.50%abv is very well hidden, tastewise. There is a slight touch of alcohol warmth. You can feel it rather quickly, though.
Be careful...

May 17, 2010
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oriolesfan4 from Maryland

3.56/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dec 28, 2016
El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 284 ratings