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

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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

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Reviews: 163 | Ratings: 271
Photo of Etan
2/5  rDev -48.7%
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.

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Photo of CopperMtnPlowboy
2.31/5  rDev -40.8%
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 -38.2%
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 Murchmac
2.55/5  rDev -34.6%
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 -32.8%
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.

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Photo of claspada
2.78/5  rDev -28.7%
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 -27.7%
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 -25.1%
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.

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Photo of Karibourgeois
3.03/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Black pour with a light-brown one-finger head. Aroma of roasted malt and fennel. Fennel and chia seeds flavors come though upfront back by a strong and bitter roasted flavor. Light to medium body that finishes with a lingering roasted bitterness.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.13/5  rDev -19.7%
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 -19.5%
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 -17.4%
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 -17.2%
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 this...it 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 this...an interesting experiment that didn't really hit home for me, but was still well brewed.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
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 jrallen34
3.27/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a Bells Tulip. Thanks to Alex for this one. Stone, please stop the collaborations, am I the only one that has not been impressed with one of these yet? Anyway a light black and watery pour, not much carbonation...The taste and aroma are the same, tons of figs, brown sugar, and its way too boozy, alcohol seeps through. The finish is a huge alcohol burn not at all appitizing...Tough to drink.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

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Photo of javincik
3.31/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
3.33/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

It poured pitch black with a nice, large tan head. Though the head receded quickly, it left some real nice lacing. This is a strong smelling beer, very sweet with the figs and peppercorn following roasted malts. It tastes like a spiced stout. I taste a little smoke in the background, maybe that's the seeds and peppercorn, not really sure but it is interesting. The feel is very alcoholic with moderate carbonation. Not too thick and sticky. Overall, I might grab a few to cellar for a bit and try later but not at the top of my favorite beer list. Could be interesting with age.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.35/5  rDev -14.1%
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....

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.36/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served from a growler purchased at Charleston Beer Exchange on 8/31/10. Pours into a snifter a nearly opaque black with black cherry colored highlights along the bottom of the glass. A huge, tan/mocha colored head forms on top and is quite dense and rocky.

Aroma is sweet and alcoholic and roasty, loads of piney hops, with not much else going on. Hints of dark fruits.

Flavor is sweet up front with a big alcoholic kick and warmth. Bitter hops and oily, piney residue. The roast components are hidden or muddled because of the large pine hop presence. Quite fruity as well in the beginning, and then all fades to piney bitterness.

Perhaps too bitter and way too piney. The hops are the star here and basically cover up everything else except the alcohol. Minimal coffee and roasted flavors, but mostly, this is a hop bomb. As much as I love hops and bitterness, this one is way too oily for my tastes. Doubtful I will ever try this again.

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Photo of rmcnealy
3.38/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured chilled into a standard pint glass.

This collaboration ale poured black with a large, inconsistent, dark beige head. The aroma had a slight tinge of age so I imagine some care was put into it. The roasted caramel scent is reminiscent of deep brown ales. There is a strong maltiness that completes the taste and leaves a great mouthfeel. At 9% abv, it didn't taste too boozy. A solid beer. It wasn't exceptional, but another cool collaboration. Enjoy!

Found at Cardinal Liqs, Niles IL

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.41/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Big thanks to GoGriz for this bottle!

Another directive from VDubb. Word, son. It pours a stark onyx topped by a half-finger of rather quickly-dissipating ecru foam. The nose comprises dark wheat, Coca-Cola, light roasted malts, maple syrup, and some form of unidentified booziness. I gotta say, this isn't starting out too well. The taste has all of the aforementioned elements, though the booze is decidedly down a few notches, and some chocolate, molasses, fig, and Dr. Pepper (AKA plum, I'm told) notes join in on the fun. It's better, but something's still not entirely copacetic here. The body is a solid medium, with a moderate carbonation and a somewhat chalky finish. Overall, a decent collaboration, but I don't think things came together as intended. Still, definitely worth a try if possible.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.41/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Stone shaker pint, because I wanted to. I am also really confused by this beer and don't know what to think of it. It was overcarbonated, and I thought it could be infected due to some medicinal aromas and mild flavors but then I thought maybe it was the peppercorns I was smelling or the figs. Overall, it wasn't a winner in my book but it wasn't bad either. They really went out there on this recipe and I couldn't follow them this time.

Beer is black, dark, huge dark brown head of large bubbles, low retention, low lacing, high carbonation that settles down quickly.

Aroma is spicy, complex, mildly medicinal, almost smells like Brett c, but not quite.

Beer is light in body, perhaps approaching medium in body, not bitter at all and I was expecting it, very spicy but not in an annoying way, there is a forward medicinal quality and a dry finish, very dry. Overall kind of a confusing beer to me, I don't think I'd have it again but I'd think about it.

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Photo of philosobeer
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A very very ambitious ale and I'm gonna come right out and say overly ambitious. I like that they explored, I even kinda like where it took them, but then it went a little far, I think. Three brewers walk into this brewing playground, who can blame them for getting a little excited, goin' a little nuts?

A: I don't know what to say other than headless and black, but it has its appeal. I gave it a three-point-five. I would say it deserves that.

S: Figs, some soy, some black malt. It's not got plenty of smell, what it has will do.

T: Sweet fig, and some soy, but that brings in the peppercorn. It remains spicy and herbal till the end. A little bit of the alcohol comes afterward, and I have the feeling there are special ingredients I don't know about. There's a nice finishing bitterness.

M: It's heavy, it's effervescence lightens that up a little.

D: Ok, so drinkable for part of a bottle. I shared my bottle, and I would suggest the same.

I like it, but I liked it least out of myself and two friends. Glad I had it, not sure if I'll have it again (particularly since I doubt it will be around for long.)

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Photo of SShelly
3.49/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a light poof of head, no retention.

Aroma is spice and alcohol, maybe a little dark fruit mixed in.

Flavor is heavy and bitter, overwhelmed by the pepper...this is a bit of a mess..lots of alcohol. Some dark fruit floating behind the spice mess...maybe a year of age will let the flavor blend in this...

Have one bottle of this in the cellar that I will now forget about for a year.

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21st Amendment / Firestone Walker / Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale from Stone Brewing
3.9 out of 5 based on 271 ratings.
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