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

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Stone / 21st Amendment / Firestone Walker - El Camino (Un)Real Black AleStone / 21st Amendment / Firestone Walker - El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale
Very Good
284 Ratings
Stone / 21st Amendment / Firestone Walker - El Camino (Un)Real Black AleStone / 21st Amendment / Firestone Walker - 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 284 |  Reviews: 166
Photo of BergBeer
1.18/5  rDev -69.8%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Photo of Etan
2/5  rDev -48.8%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Spiegelau tulip.

A: Pours a straight back with a big tan head. Good retention.

S: Big bretty barnyard. Infection?

T: Funky bacteria with some slight chocolate notes and roasted character underneath.

M: Lively carbonation.

O: Yep, infected. And not in a good way. Into the drain.

 316 characters

Photo of CopperMtnPlowboy
2.31/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

Poured from can into a pint glass. Pours so dark that only a bright light shines through. Dark tan lace that thins out over a few minutes. Has a Bourbon burn with an oaky, burnt vanilla taste. A bit on the watery side with a tingly, slightly peppery burn. Overall OK, but a little to "burnt" tasting for me.

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Photo of thagr81us
2.41/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had at the Stone Tap Takeover in Charlotte. Served from tap into a tumbler. Poured basically black with a minimal tan head. Maintained decent lacing throughout. The aroma was comprised of bready malt, oregano, and pepper. The flavor was of malt, pepper, skunky hops, with a bad bitter oregano aftertaste. It had a light feel on the palate with low carbonation. Overall this brew definitely extended my palate, only not in a good way. I was not really a fan of the brew at all. The aftertaste just killed it for me. Also the aroma and flavor were very strange with the oregano being the overpowering factor in this one.

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Photo of DrMindbender
2.53/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Don't know if I got a bad can, but this beer was extremely awful to me and my wife...ended up being the first drain pour in a really long time.

-Poured thick and almost a little ropey, with little to no head...we only drank 1/4 of the pour, but there was little to no lacing on the glass
-Smelled like prune juice more than figs, a little soy sauce and high fusels/boozey
-Tasted like a burning tire doused in fermented prune juice spirit with a distracting bitterness that only makes it worse
-Way too many IBUs for this beer...obnoxious bitterness follows the burning tire aftertaste and coats the mouth generously so you don't forget your mistake in swallowing this garbage
-Overall, a hot mess of a beer that should be neutered and destroyed so it can't breed and show up again on the store shelves

 804 characters

Photo of Murchmac
2.55/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Big, rich, thick chocolate head, lots of carbonation.

Sweet chocolatey smell, dark fruits (figs)

At first this beer tastes amazing, roasty, then spicy, alternates between sweet and heat.

But then, the peppercorns take over and all it becomes is a beer that tastes like pepper.

Drain pour for me, too bad, minus the peppercorns, this would have been a great beer.

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Photo of salvo
2.62/5  rDev -33%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Appearance is like motor oil: dark, thick, opaque, clings to the glass, with a half inch of brown head. Actally, and I've never sen this before, the head started white and then mixed with brown to make a cappucino-like froth that mixed milky white with coffee brown.

Nose was heavy and complex. Fig and fennel come through as do chocolate, coffee, roasty, smoky, earthy and bready malts. There's certainly some hops here, but the malt and fruit ingredients are so pungent and strong that the hops are challenging to pick out other than to acknowledge that they are there.

Coats the tongue and mouth: thick, sickly sweet; too much in many ways. Coffee and chocolate dominate, with fig, coriander, and fennel just behind. Undrinkable in my estimation, but some extreme seekers will undoubtedly love this. It's too much in ten different ways all blended together to create a very unpleasant and overwhelming mishmash.

Heavy--unpleasantly so. Coats the mouth. Again, not in a good way. If you have any hesitations, pick something else off the shelf. Life's too short.

Not a successful collaboration. What's a camel? A horse designed by committee. This is a camel.

 1,165 characters

Photo of arash1000
2.75/5  rDev -29.7%

Photo of Zbeetleman
2.75/5  rDev -29.7%

Photo of claspada
2.78/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very dark brown color with ruby highlights and a massive tannish head that displays great persistence and leaves some solid lacing.

Aromas begin with piney, resiny hops with emerging licorice bitter dark maltiness. As it warms you get a little dark fruitness and spicy peppercorns.

The tastes begin dark, roasty and rustic, with tangy molasses and figs being joined by the licorice at mid-palate As it warms the piney hops and the peppercorns begin to asste themselves.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; a bit tingly

Overall, when it comes to beers with dark malt bills and citrusy, dank hops; it is just an odd combo that doesn't work for me. While it may work for some the bitter and spiciness is less than drinkable for my palate; the flavors just don't mesh in an approachable manner.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
2.82/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I can taste the figs, but not the peppercorns. Smell is pleasant, but muted. Thin, but thickness would have ruined it. It's nice, not impressive. For 3 bucks a bottle, I can see buying it again on a lark, but for for serious beer drinking, not for dorking out and dissecting for hours on end.

A cute example of too many Chiefs, not enough Indians.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.92/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Chilled bottle into a glass. Purchased for $3 or so at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa.

I waited until the beer was fully consumed (and notes generated) before reading the bottle to see what went into it.

A: Pours a nearly pitch black body in the glass, but it reveals brown and some rubyesque translucence at the edges when I hold it up against the light. A light tan head with good retention adorns the brew. Some lace.

S: Roasty malt, with mild coffee. A dark fruit character like dates. It's spicy / peppery. Not the most revealing nose.

T: At least it's pretty flavorful, if kind of muddled. I pick up a fair amount of roast, which dominates the dark fruit character that I picked up in the nose. It's just not that strong. There's an herbal, floral taste to this that I can't pin down. A peppery finish: that was pretty easy to nail. In fact, as it warms up, it's impossible to miss how peppery this beer is.

M: Pretty flavorful, but it doesn't have the thick presence I'd expect from a nearly 10% stout. That's actually pretty impressive; its relative dryness is an asset, in my eyes. Not too sweet. Not hot, either.

D: I thought it was a pretty decent beer, but the adjuncts didn't come through as clearly or as impressively as I wanted. Glad I tried it, but I won't buy a second.

 1,294 characters

Photo of RichBeer
3/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of Kiniey01
3/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of jerz
3/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of iparaez
3/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of craftaholic
3.13/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Has a spicy tinge to it but honestly it's quite forgettable with not much happening compared to what they set out to achieve

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Photo of HopHead84
3.13/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5


On tap at Stone. Appears black (aptly named), one finger creamy light brown head, decent retention.

The nose has some coffee, with peppercorns contributing a subtle spiciness. Figs are noticeable when the beer warmed, providing some sweetness. A little brown sugar is evident along with roasted malt, chocolate, and molasses. A strange mishmash of aromas, but pretty nice.

The flavor exhibits an upper moderate bitterness with lightly spicy peppercorns, figs, prunes, and roasted malt. There's a touch of coffee and a faint nutty quality. The spicy pepper fig finish is moderately bitter with some astringency.

An interesting beer, but not one I'd care to drink again.

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Photo of rye726
3.14/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown, quite dark indeed. Silky tan head. Nose has sweet malts, spices, hops, caramel, toffee and a harsh alcohol aroma. Taste has roasty malts, grassy hops, spices and again a sharp booze flavor. Medium to full body would have a nice feel if this weren't so hot. Not the best attempt from any of these breweries.

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Photo of socon67
3.22/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - Dark brown pour. Cola color foam rises hig and settles quickly. Moderate lacing.

S - Smells of raisins, molasses, and peppery spice. There is some residual hoppy smell but it is fleeting.

T - Tastes like a hodge-podge of flavors. Some sweetness of dried fruit that has some bready notes; like a fig newton. Has some spicy notes of freshly ground pepper. Finish is mildly bitter. But it really comes off very odd.

M - I don't think the balance on this is right, or at least I didn't like it. Had a slight aftertaste.

O - Was disappointed in this as I like all 3 of the breweries involved. Well, it isn't the first collaboration to miss the mark.

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Photo of portia99
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

A - Pours a deep dark brown color that is bordering on black. A thin cap of brown foam briefly pauses on top of the beer and falls to a loose collar and spotty lacing on the glass.

S - Hmm, this is definitely a case of me not reading the bottle well before opening. Not at all what I was expecting from a black ale. There is a huge waft of aroma that comes up from the glass even from a foot or two away...huge molasses and figs, practically like opening a pack of Fig Newtons. I can barely find any fennel, I do get some of the peppercorns and I honestly don't know what chia seed smells like to know if any is in there. The figs dominate giving a dark fruity aroma overall. Not getting any hops either in here. Not sure what I think of is a bit weird for me, but not entirely unpleasant either.

T - Closer to what I expected...bit roasted malt flavor with coffee-like bitterness/roastiness at teh forefront. The figs surround this flavor and as the coffee fades away the figs pick up strength and create an interesting transition of flavors. Somewhat alcoholic tasting, a bit boozy. Not exactly blowing me away...

M - Medium bodied. Carbonation is ample. Roasty and tons of dark fruity figs that overpower by a quite a bit for me. Fizzy and a bit slick on the tongue with an herbal (fennel, I'm guessing) quality in the finish.

D - I'm good with the one 12oz bottle. Glad I had an opportunity to try interesting experiment that didn't really hit home for me, but was still well brewed.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Inflatablechair brought this to a recent tasting.... thanks Sammy!!

Pours with a short lasting dark tan head... the brew is the expected black but clear with deep ruby highlites.. okay lace and retention.

Nose is interesting and has some of the advertised ingredients... more roasty than anything else with a signature Stone hoppiness... subtle licorice.

More licorice on the palate with dark roast and some dark fruity essence.. hints of raisins or (I guess) figs.. ehhh.. cardamom and emerging pepper spice/heat with warmth .. seems a mess to me... finishes sorta dry and leaving the peppercorns, roasty malts, and spices just to fight each other..

Body and carbonation are fine given the big ABV.. EtOH was rather well hidden..

Doesn't really mesh... I appreciate it .. but not something I will search out.

Thanks Sam... Glad I got to try this while it was still pretty fresh.


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Photo of atrocity
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Nichols33
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

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Stone / 21st Amendment / Firestone Walker - El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.91 out of 5 with 284 ratings