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
283 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: 283 |  Reviews: 166
Photo of ArrogantB
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle $4. I find myself never buying regular Stone offerings and ALWAYS buying these collaborations. This was dark black and smelled and tasted odd. Its not a stout, its not Belgian style, what is it? I can;t identify fennel or pink peppercorns but this was not half bad whatever it was.

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Photo of nkersten
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pours dark dark brown with a 1 finger tan head that sticks around until the end. No lacing. Smell is entirely alcohol. Maybe some dark malt buried in the back, but considering all the ingredients listed on the bottle (chai, peppercorns, fig, etc) I would expect something more. Taste however is much different. No alcohol presence, minimal malt sweetness but still has a nice dark fruit flavor from the fig and a decent hop bitterness to back up the sweetness. Black peppercorns are non-existent, which isn't a bad thing. Mouthfeel is somewhat thin but works well for a strong/black ale. No boozy burn. This beer is quite drinkable... I barely had any left to reference for this review! A good collaboration, try this one out if you get a chance.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, dark opaque black color, with half a finger of ecru head on top. Aromas of floral hops, figs and maybe some chocolate. Flavors of chocolate, edible flowers, raisins and earthy hops. I really don't get any of the peppercorns, which would have added a nice spicy kick. All in all, a very good beer. Glad I have another to look forward to.

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
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...

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Photo of drpimento
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
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.

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Photo of riored4v
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 5/6/10

Poured into a tulip. Pitch black, tan head that poured about 1/2 finger and faded quickly.

Smell was roasty, fruity and some spiceness. Hints of licorice. Good chocolate and hints of fig.

Taste had a nice roasted flavor wih a good nutty, chocolate flavor as well. Hints of spiceness and earthiness. Fennel seems to be most present spice. Mild burnt bitterness in finish accompanied by fig.

Mouthfeel was medium body with medium/high carbonation. Good, well balanced finish.

Drinkability was very good despite the ABV, which there were no signs of.

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Photo of chicano4craft
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark as night with a huge, thick tan head. The head stays around for awhile. Great looking beer.

The nose is sweet roast with a little bitter coffee and hop smell. I was expecting more based on the ingredients. My allergies are acting up a bit so that's not helping!

Taste is a strong, roasted and smokey malt up front. I get a slight sweetness from the fig trying to be noticed. The pepper is stronger in the finsh as the beer warms.

Doesn't have great drinkability or mouthfeel, but it is complex as a sipper. The alcohol isn't overpowering or hot.

Overall I enjoyed this beer. A very interesting ale.

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Photo of BDJake
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- black as night, with tan head that sticks around for quite awhile

S- roasted malts, black pepper, figs, raisins, etc.- definitely different but not bad at all

T- with the dark malt bill, peppercorn, dark fruits providing some tartness, and seeds added, it's a bit of a kaleidoscopic "garden beer"

M- chewy, boozy, with plenty of peppery aftertaste

D- decent, but somewhat hampered by the peppery and seedy spice throughout each drink

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Photo of mithrascruor
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

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Photo of sidetracked
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a substantial medium brown head. Lots of lacing.

Smell is dark roasted malts, bitter coffee, and dark fruit that adds a slight sweetness.

Taste is heavy on roasted malts providing a bitter coffee flavor. Some molasses and dark fruit come through at the finish.

Medium to full bodied with a slight syrupyness and low carbonation. Semi-dry finish.

Drinks much like an imperial stout. I couldn't detect any of the fennel seed or peppercorns, but the beer has a very enjoyable flavor.


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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
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.

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Photo of sandiego67
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
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.

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Photo of pastradul
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass.

Pours a vry dark brown with a nice creamy dense head on it. Dissipates pretty fast leaving not much lacing.

The smell is dark frut, malt and a little bit of booze.

The taste is dense. I feel like someone bottled up a forrest and gave it to me. So many different earthy flavors happening. Lots of malt, figs a little bit of bitter finish from either the hops or the different seeds they used in this brew.

A very delicious brew indeed!

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
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!

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Photo of cbutova
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- A great looking beer, good way to start. Pitch black with a huge creamy dark tan head. Very thick lace coats the entire glass from a head that has amazing retention. Such a good looking beer with an almost whipped cream coating atop it.

S- Mostly dark roast stout elements with malt and roasty notes present. The peppercorn aroma is hugely apparent but does not sting. The other additions give a grassy, earthy, almost green aspect. The fennel lends a licorice-like aroma. Cool blend but the strength dies down a bit.

T- A very nicely done experiment. Up front with roasty malt, cocoa and coffee notes. The peppercorn taste is great and somehow does not lend a spicy hot feeling to the beer, very cool. Licorice-like notes come in from the fennel. The grassy, earthy taste is there as well probably from hops and the other spice additions. I like the blend of the fennel/pepper/stout a lot.

MF- Thick oily body with a fair amount of creaminess to it. The carbonation is low and would normally suit a stout, but the spicy flavors call for a bit more. The body is also a bit warm.

DB- After the disappointing porter, I wasn't sure what to expect. The 1/2 price of this one and breweries involved sucked me back into the collaborations. I like the idea with the spices used and how they play into the flavor. Probably the best Stone Collaboration yet. Also a surprise that it is 9.50%, hidden very well.

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Photo of spoons
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle to a tulip.

This brew is blacker than black in color. Has a one finger coffee foam that sits very shaving cream like on top.

Smell is complex. Some dark/black malt. Followed by sweet potpourri. Almost artificial sweetness, like a soap or a shampoo smells. A little coca cola smell as well. Maybe some coffee too.

The taste is strange at first. A weird malt flavor with a roasty finish.
I like it better as it warms a little but still leaves a lingering weirdness on the palate.

I'd try this again just to see if I feel any different. Maybe after sitting around for a while the flavors might smooth out.

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Photo of sitarist
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep dark root-beer color. There is about a finger of foamy tan head that falls to a nice top with a couple thin rings of lacing.

Smells like Pumpernickel and dark fruit preserves, with hints of sassafras, licorice, and spice. The aroma is big and effervescent.

Root-beer and licorice hit my mouth first followed by a nice peppery bite that fades to a dark fruit/plums peppery finish.

The mouthfeel is sticky and warm, medium body, with a bit too much fizz.

This is a great beer and its drink-ability will only improve with time.

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Photo of gford217
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Taylor for this bottle.

Pours completely black in the glass with a big fluffy beige head that recedes fairly quickly leaving some impressive lacing.

The aroma is roasted black malts with some sweet citrus hops and a mixture of spices that I probably wouldn't be able to identify if the bottle didn't tell me it was fennel and peppercorn.

The taste has an herbal hop bitterness up front before the heavily roasted black malts of the backbone take over. The figs are present as well though they get swept away by the spices in the finish. Dry with a bit of alcohol burn going down.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation and an interesting overall spiciness that lingers through the finish.

Another interesting black collaboration from Stone who has put out some interesting things in the series over the past year or more. Not my favorite of the collaborations, but still tasty.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a n opaque black with dark brown head, appearance is very similar to a stout, 3 finger head on pour, good retention with lots of lacing.

S: I pick up figs and licorice on the front along with some floral notes and spicy hops, also some roasted malts in there as well. The aroma seems a little bit muted but as it warms, it gets spicier.

T: the front starts with sweet malts, notes of figs, this quickly turns into molasses, licorice, some notes of coffee and chocolate, and again some spiciness on the finish. The finish is a tad sweet with a little bit of alcohol sneaking through. This beer is incredibly complex and features many different flavors.

MF: thick body, medium carbonation, smooth texture

D: this is a bit on the sweet side to be considered highly drinkable, the flavors are nice interesting and over all it is a great brew!

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Photo of fastsrt
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle in snifter

A: black with a nice tan head

S: licorice, malt, spice.

T: Licorice, alcohol, nice spicy back flavors this beer is wonderfully balanced.

M: Low carbonation, not much sweetness finishes dry, and the fennel sicks around on the pallet for quite some time.

D: highly drinkable but this one is a treat and would not drink more than one.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Loterbol tulip. Thanks to StevePens for the hook-up!

A: Pours a dark, dark, RIS-styled black with 1 1/2 fingers of dark khaki colored head that retains for a good while, fed by some pretty active carbonation. Webs and sheets of sticky tan lace were left behind.

S: Picking up aromas of licorice, dark fruit, cocoa, and a dab of dark rum.

T: Pretty much just as above with a creeping hint of white (pink) pepper. Some rich dark chocolate and molassas, as well.

M: On the fuller side of medium bodied. Earthy licorice/dark chocolate combo is aided and abbetted by the prickly spice of the pepper (and alcohol, no doubt).

D: I was quite impressed by this. Rich, sweet, earthy, and dry. Thanks Steve!

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Photo of scottfrie
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a thick pitch black with a very thin coffee colored head that faded into a thin film.
S: Light roasted coffee, dark malts, toasted oats, dark chocolate and sweet dark fruits including the figs the beer is brewed with, raisins, and red grapes. Notes of faint hops, honey, and alcohol as well.
T: Not as roasted as the nose suggests, not as much coffee either. The sweet fruits really dominate along with the roasted malt and a little bit of chocolate. Hops provide some bitterness in the finish along with a decent touch of alcohol warmth. There are some other vague spices, but I can't pick out the pepper corn, fennel or chia. The roasted sweet flavor really dominates anything else.
M: Medium-thick body with soft, tingly carbonation, and some warmth in your throat at the finish.
D: Tastes a lot like an imperial stout or a RIS but weaker. Not a horrible beer, and I'm glad I tried it, but I don't think I'll be buying this again.

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Photo of brownbeer
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark and opaque with a thin, dark, light brown head.

One of the most unique and interesting noses I've encoutered in a beer. If and foremost, it reminds me of an organic food store; seedy and herbal. Black licorice, bitter orange, and chocolate are in there as well.

As far as the taste, it's a little beyond my palate, as I'm not familiar with some of the ingredients used here. In the end, it turned out very well and is a great conversation beer. Props for originality.

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Photo of tpd975
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice dark flat black with a nice tall tan colored head. Excellent retention with huge sheet of lace.

S: Bold aromas. Lots of roast, with notes of dark dark espresso, chocolate, and grassy hops.

T: Roasty for sure. Lots of coffee, a bit astringent to be honest. Hints of chocolate and mild dark fruit. The hops are there, green and bitter. Hints of anise, and a big dose of booze.

M: Medium in body, smooth, a bit too much booze, with a boozy bitter finish.

D: Not the most drinkable but I like it. No bones about it, no matter what they call it...this is a fairly bitter Imperial Stout

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
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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Stone / 21st Amendment / Firestone Walker El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.91 out of 5 with 283 ratings