21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale | Stone Brewing

very good
163 Reviews
no score
Send samples
21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by womencantsail on 03-27-2010

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 163 | Ratings: 273
Photo of ZX6Chris
5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Allagash tulip glass.

A=great carbonation, with a tan head, pitch black, poured a little hard and the head settled to 1/2 a finger leaving lacing all around the glass. Looks beautiful and can't wait to take my first drink.

S=a little hoppy upfront, a swirl of the glass releases alcohol, chocolate, roastiness, spices and dark fruits.

T=Yum! Dark fruit up front, spices, sweet but not too sweet, chocolate malts in the middle, hoppy/roasty/alcohol on the finish.

M=Exceptional. Perfectly carbonated, medium to heavy body.

D=this is so complex. So many different flavors and they are all balanced so well. I couldn't wait to drink more. This is gonna be amazing when the alcohol settles out, I'm cellaring a few of these.

 739 characters

Photo of Beerenauslese
4.8/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours jet black with a tan head that dissipates to a fine layer of foam, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Aromas of roasted malt, bread, chocolate, coffee, raisins, pepper.

All of these aromas come through in the taste, which is dominated nicely by the roasted malts yielding flavors of dark chocolate and roasted coffee, raisins, juniper berries and a peppery, pleasant hop bitterness in the finish.

Light body and moderate carbonation gives this a creamy mouthfeel.

This is a great version of a dark ale. It is light in body and dry, yet packed with flavor, and nicely hopped. The alcohol level is high but the tastes balance it well. This is excellent as a final brew to an evening.

 694 characters

Photo of jvillefan
4.67/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got a 12 oz bottle from Toronado in San Diego.

A: Jet black with a thin lace mocca brown head.

S: Peppercorn, Belgian yeast, and Licorice aroma in the beginning. Roasty and chocolatly malts bring up the rear.

T: Heavy with chocolate, toffee, spices (specifically Thyme-like, peppercorn, and a little chai). There is a slight Belgian character in there as well.

M: Perfect, it is heavy and viscous with subtle but perfect amount of carbonation.

O: Well done Stone, Firestone Walker, and 21st Ammendment. I am sad it took me so long to try them gem of a beer. Get if you can find it because the beer is very good.

 616 characters

Photo of dfillius
4.53/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Thanks to ksullnh for the bottle!
A: Aggressive pour yields 3/4 finger tight brown head with stellar retention. Opaque nearly black liquid. Amazing looking.

S: Bright citrus hops, tropical fruit, coconut, coffee, chocolate, slight boozy character that grows as it warms is only negative.

T: Nutty, milk chocolate, roasted beets, slight smarties candy flavor (from fennel seed?). Great malt sweetness with slight estery alcohol. Tastes great with Kettle BBQ chips.

M: Smooth and creamy (lactose?). Moderate and pleasant bitterness. Could be really boozy but stays creamy and mellow.

D: I like it a lot and would order another. I would maybe buy six, but it's definitely not a session beer

 717 characters

Photo of sandiego67
4.53/5  rDev +16.2%
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.

 542 characters

Photo of drpimento
4.52/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

mmm Yummm. Got a small to medium sized thick creamy foamy brown tan head with lots of lace. Color is opaque brown black. Aroma is roast malt black pepper dark ripe fruit and spices. Flavor is like aroma with well balance bittersweetness and maybe a little bit of cocoa. Don't pick up the figs and don't know what Chia smells like. Body is rich creamy soft and divine with great carbonation. Finish is like flavor and has a lengthy finish with warming of both alcohol and black pepper. Session for sipping. Excellent beer.

 521 characters

Photo of ibbjamin
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
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!

 941 characters

Photo of PhiloPsych
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Color very dark brown as it pours from the bottle and near true black in the glass, with brown highlights showing only if held in front of the sun. Smell is roasty/smokey, slightly herbal, and very slightly spicey, with a caramel sweetness alongside (maybe just a slight metallic note, too). Moutfeel is soft and stoutish. Taste goes outside stout parameters, though. The figs show through despite the robust roast/smoke. The peppercorns show up without disturbing anything. Fun flavors that must come from the seeds. This is a very nice, very fun, interesting beer. Craft, craft, craft--three times craft. Well crafted, well done, well done. Vive collaboration!

 662 characters

Photo of neenerzig
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Six years ago in late October of 2010, one of my favorite local beer bars was lucky enough to get a keg of this for Cleveland Beer Week. I kept going back to that bar a lot for about a 2 week period to keep drinking this beer until that keg finally kicked. I never knew this beer was bottled/canned and had any sort of wide distribution until recently, perhaps this is a recent phenomenon. I am wondering if this is something Stone brought back as part of their 20th anniversary celebration this year or what, but I sure am glad they did. Poured into one of my snifter glasses out of a 12 oz can, this beer is a very dark brown, almost black color with a nice tan head that's about an inch thick when first poured that eventually settles to a fairly thick ring lining the inside of the glass along with some nice big cluster swirls film layers of foam on the beer's surface and pretty good lacing. Aromas of roasted caramel malt sweetness along with some nice dark fruity esters, brown sugar, and peppercorn. The taste is pretty much the same, with roasted caramel malt sweetness, some fig and dark cherry sweetness, hints of brown sugar, and certainly some spice from the peppercorn and chai that provide a nice hint of a bite. Not really any discernible hop presence at all. Has a somewhat crisp, slightly prickly, also smooth and frothy, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Has a clean, and dry aftertaste. The flavors really like to linger on the palate after each sip. I'm really glad that Stone and friends brought this one back from land of obscurity and made it readily available to the larger craft beer community. Get this if can.


 1,681 characters

Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a dark brown-black with a finger of frothy chocolate colored head. The head fades down fairly slowly leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet caramel and lightly caramelized malts with some brown sugar, dark fruits, black licorice, grapefruit and pine hops, and a bit of coffee and booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of caramel malts and caramelized sugars with some brown sugar and black licorice, with a touch of grapefruit and tropical hops. Through the middle, some pine hop flavor with some bitterness comes through with some pepper, nutty, cocoa, and coffee flavors. The finish is a mix of dark fruit sweetness with some brown sugar, caramelized malts, cocoa, and a bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth and slightly thick with a warming and sweet finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice big but balanced dark ale with some interesting spices and other ingredients that add some nice complexity.

 966 characters

Photo of dwilson01
4.4/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into an indian wells brew co pint glass. About as perfect as a pour can get, go all the beer out, an the head was peaking over the rim a bit but still held itself intact. I figured that they wouldnt be, and they definitely weren't lying when they classified it a Black Ale because this mofo is black and dark as a stout. Looks thick on the pout, and the head is a nice tan cream which laces well and recedes consisitently and slowly.

Smells of spices and some pine resin, it's intriguing as hell to me. I get a definite sweet note from it like a stout, malted barley contributing to this part, but also something sweet coming from somewhere else but I am not sure yet as to what exactly it is. The spices contrasted with the sweetness make for a great scent, I like it a lot, makes me want to indulge.

Crazy flavor! Honestly something this dank and complex deserves recognition. The initial taste I get is pine resin, not intense or anything like some ipa's get, but a more subtle verson of the anchor 2009 christmas ale that takes a bit more sour of a turn. I next got a malty sweet flavor but not via chocolate, after reading the bottle it must be from the figs although I don't get fig distinctly on its own. The aftertaste compliments both of the flavors I got in beign smooth and sweet as well as giving a bit of spicy bite to the finish.

This beer is smooth as hell, not as much as a good stout, but also no alcohol bite in the mouth during the swallow.

Delicious brew, but depending on how you use the drinkability catagory this could mean different things. In my opinion this is definitly ont a brew to be drank quickly, it's means to be savored in small batches. I mainly think that just because of how complex tasting it is.

Overall, great beer, definitely recommend it if you can get your hands on this bad boy. I only got one but I'm thinkin I need another to age for a year or so, it's over 9% and dark as night so it will do well in a cellar.

 1,983 characters

Photo of DovaliHops
4.4/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours like a stout with it's dark color and tan, creamy head. The smell of the peppercorn is there right when you pore it into a glass, but it tends to fade away as it's exposed to the air. Hints of dark fruits in the nose and very sweet scent. VERY roast-like taste with first initial sip and then fades to smokey bitterness with delicious malts as well. This beer could pass for an imperial stout, but I think the brewers were trying to go for their own thing here. This beer is VERY tasty, and at $2.99 per 12oz bottle, I could never pass this up. Good job on a great collaboration ale!

 599 characters

Photo of AleWynch
4.37/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Stout in color...murky dark, nice 1 finger, mocha head, decent lace.

S: Very pleasant clear hop aroma. Earthy, a little piney... All green and fresh hop on the nose. Really, really nice hop aroma here.

T: Initial fennel/mint right up front (nice), followed by a solid malt backbone - but not portery or stout-like to me, but more ala the malt backbone of 90min IPA...Nice malt complexity with figs and spice (smoky peppercorn)...Nice long finish. I think you have to set aside its color so as not to start classifying it as a porter/stout style. With eyes closed, it's a DIPA with extra interest...

M: Soft, rich, but again like a malty DIPA, not so much a porter or stout...Seems on target.

D: ABV is well hidden. Will be interesting to see how it cellars. Not sure I'd want to drink them all night, but can't find anything to detract from drinkability.

 861 characters

Photo of sweemzander
4.37/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. No bottled date.

(A)- Pours a thick pitch black color that produced a good tan fluffy head with some good retention behind it.

(S)- A good rich malted roasted background. Bits of peppery fig with raisin, molasses, and brown sugar.

(T)- Pretty much just like the smell. A great roasted malt background with a raisin/fig/molasses with a brown sugar/peppery finish.

(M)- A great carbonation level and balance. A great malt profile and flavor. Smooth even with a 9.5%ABV. Sweet, but in its right place. Bitter, but is counterbalanced by the sweetness.

(D)- A good example of a relatively 'open' style. Its almost like a stout, yet an aged barleywine at the same time. However old this might be, it has aged well and has more time ahead of it. I enjoyed this one.

 803 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)
A- This beer pours a jet black body with a dense chocolate tan head that is creamy and thick. There are strands of tiny bubbles trailing up the sides of the glass.
S- This beer has a full nose of northwest green earthy hops and a chocolate rich milk sugar aroma in the finish.
T- The dark chocolate malt flavor has a black malt bitterness that is mellow with some nice black roasted flavor blending in with green herbal hops and both flavors lingering together after each sip.
M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a creamy texture and a well hidden alcohol heat.
D- This beer has the creamy rich flavor of a milk stout but it has big flavors of roasted bitterness and full green hops that all blend together with a rich chocolate flavor. Although this beer is big in flavor and complexity it is very drinkable and mysterious enough to beg you to take another sip after sip.

 909 characters

Photo of crusian
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

bottle from awesome girlfriend.. again.
pours VERY dark for the style, I like it. Almost no head, whatsoever. Quick swirl fixes that right up, actually more tha I thought it would.

nose has chocolate, and some woody and nutty in it. Very unique. actually has a bit of the palo santo smell in it.

taste, the only thing I can say at start was odd... it furled my brow. this beer has many phases. on the front there is nuttiness and a lot of anise... no other beer has touched the tip of my tongue like this has. it morphs through fig on the flat with a mild pepper flavor, and ends very dry with another flavor I can not quite put my finger on...

can not even fathom that this is 9.5% I can taste it nowhere.
This is a very unique beer, find it, get it. totally worth the under $3 price tag. Wish I had more.

 810 characters

Photo of Yagman3000
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appears basically black with maybe the lightest touch of dark brown. A thin film of head rests on top with small bubbles.

Smells a bit boozy with a hint of chocolate, coffee, and maybe a tint bit of anise.

Tastes chocolatey and of roasted grained (but not burnt). Black coffee and a touch of the licorice cones through.

Mouthfeel is excellent. Thick and creamy while maintaining it's dark integrity.

Overall a very nice collaboration between a few of my favorite breweries. Great depth of flavor without too much heaviness or bloat.

 578 characters

Photo of mithrascruor
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a solid black color with a rich, dense, creamy dark tan head. Very good head retention with light lacing.

Smell: Great dense roasted malt aroma with raspberries, currants, chocolate, raisins, figs, creamed coffee, and hints of fennel. A rich, but not excessive, smell.

Taste: Has a strong roasted malt flavor, slightly on the bitter side, with a bit of coffee, cream, and dark chocolate in there too. The fennel starts to come out a bit at the finish, and the raisins show up for a brief moment in the aftertaste before some alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with some light tingly carbonation. Smooth, but with a llight alcohol sensation at the finish.

Drinkability: A bit strong on the alcohol flavor, but it isn't excessive.

Quite a nice strong black ale with a bit of a twist (due to the addition of the fennel, figs, etc.). While I might get another bottle of this, it still has a bit of a novelty feel to it. Nevertheless, a tasty and memorable ale.

 1,020 characters

Photo of Boto
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle: This one pours a dark, inky brown color. There was about an inch of a light brown head on it that subsided fairly quickly. This has a nice nose. I get some faint chocolate and roasty notes, as well as a hint of alcohol. I also get some dark fruits, possibly figs, and some spices. The spiciness is a bit unusual. That must be the fennel. Very nice taste. Chocolate and roasted malts on top, with some of the figs and spices. No sweetness at all, with a bit of bitterness to it. Very nice!

 502 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Polished mahogany liquid in the lower half of the snifter and dark brown sugar mousse in the upper half. The head shrinks slowly, develops a little rockiness as it does so, and is leaving small scraps of melty suds on the sides of the glass.

The nose is a pleasant combination of roasted malt, hops and assorted spices. None of the unique ingredients (all from California) are appreciated per se. The brewers added chia seeds (which create Chia Pets when they sprout on pottery), pink peppercorns, fennel seeds and Mission figs. Second solid score in a row.

The following combination gets me every time: talented brewers, quality ingredients, abundant ingredients, interesting ingredients, hugely flavorful beer, huge hops. This offering is the bee's knees for those of you who feel the same. It's probably a positive that none of the ingredients really steal the show.

A massive amount of massively roasted malt might have something to do with the leveling effect on the flavor profile. Dark chocolate and charred coffee beans tend to gloss over nuance. Sweet and bitter are locked in a titanic duel, while fruity and spicy-herbal happily trail along in their wake. There may be a hint of warmth from the peppercorns and a little earthiness from the various seeds. Damn good beer!

The mouthfeel isn't sappy and sticky, which is to its credit. It's still at least medium-full for the ABV and is carbonated to perfection. There are no rough edges in sight and there's plenty of creamilicious hang-on.

El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale is yet another outstanding Stone Collaboration, this time California-only. There are too many of these to brew them all on a regular or seasonal basis, but this beautiful beast should get some serious consideration if the brewery can squeeze it into their already tight schedule.

 1,813 characters

Photo of mikedashg
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served at 55º

A - Pours a rich thick black with a large dense bubbly tan head. Very stout like appearance.

S - Wow. definitely something different going on here. Sweet fig, herbal, roasted coffee and chocolate.

T - Again, really different then the norm here. It's very stout like with it's dark chocolate malt and coffee tastes, but also sweetness, and rich tobacco leather oak as well like a whiskey almost.

M - Moderate carbonation, chocolate finish. Makes you want to go back for more.

D - Very easy drinker for me, and also super complex. It's like a strong ale had copulation with a stout and had a leathery tobacco oak herbal baby. Way to go!

 654 characters

Photo of robbyc1
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A strong ale or not, this looks like a porter or stout, deep impenetrable black, fluffy brown head. On par for a strong beer with figs added.

Really like the dark malt nose with wifs of the abv, plus the figs. The malt is unlike any porter or stout, not as rich which I like, more subdued.

The flavor is even richer, with the figs more defined, and a nice hop finish so there is no sweetness here, just a fine balanced finish.

Good heavyish mouthfeel, the drinkability is great for this strong a beer, a bomber would go down fine. Well done guys, keep up the colaberation, esp these without the regular Stone hops.

 617 characters

Photo of delahani
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Dogfish Pint Glass

Appearance: Pours a thick, brownish foamy head that sticks around for a while before gradually subsiding. Leaves some very nice lacing on its way down. The beer itself is, true to its word, (un)really black.
Aroma: The hops really stand out here--a nice resin, piney whaft comes through, too.
Taste: First thing I noticed is the maltiness that I missed in the smell. After a second and third sip, the hops are more prominent, as are citrusy notes, and there's a really nice chocolatey aftertaste. After a while, the chocolate blends in with the alcohol for a fantastic taste that lingers. It's easy to see why this ale has a 9.5%.
Mouthfeel: THICK. Sometimes it's hard to remember this isn't a stout. The chocolate/alcohol combo in the aftertaste almost feels like a residue on the tongue.
Overall: Very enjoyable, but I'm glad I only have a 12 oz. bottle to get through. The aftertaste was one of the best parts of this beer, which I think is a good sign of its quality.

 1,020 characters

Photo of vande
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Black as a moonless night. Not a drop of light shines through.

S: Rich, robust, malty... little vanilla maybe? Dark & Roasty.

T: Little sweetness there. Lots of roasted malts blended with hints of coffee, vanilla and cocoa... as it warms, it opens up.

M: Coats the mouth throughout. A creamy medium bodied beer that makes the mouth happy.

O: Great beer. A great collaboration. I believe this is my second bottle of this, but first review. Very worthwhile drink, one I'd pick up again..

 492 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours nearly black with a good tan head. The nose is really nice and brings forward some citrus and tropical hops as well as a bit of pine. Roasted malt with a bit of chocolate in there, and faint hints of pepper. I was really skeptical of this after not enjoying most of the other collaborations; however, this really worked out and the pepper didn't really go too far. Nice mouthfeel with a bit of spice. Nice roast and bitter characteristics playing off one another. Quite drinkable; a very nice collaboration that wasn't taken too far in any one direction.

 582 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale from Stone Brewing
3.9 out of 5 based on 273 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.