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 Beerandraiderfan
3.76/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black pour, tan head. Dense with good lacing. Aroma was gettin' figgy w/ it. Fig, pepper, bitter hopping. Man, they should have called this beer Juxtaposition 2.

Roasted flavor comes out on the first sip, unusual spices, hopping, bitterness, we've got a complex beer here for sure. Pretty thick and chewy, without the usual hallmarks: chocolate, alcohol etc. . . might even see some vanilla creep in there as it warms.

It has a little bit of that weird for weird sakes thing going on, but on the other hand, the beer is pleasureable in small quantities. A little pricey, but worth checking out since its kind of a novelty.

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Photo of armock
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Craft & Commerce in San Diego CA

A - Poured a black color with a tan head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt that gives off sweet chocolate and some dark fruit scents

T - Starts off sweet and chocolaty then the dark fruits come out and finishes with some coffee

M - This beer has a fuller body with medium carbonation to it

O - This is a very good and interesting beer lots of stuff going one to create a good flavor worth finding to try it out

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Photo of mjyoung
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Consumed 4/24/11

A: A dark, opaque pour that quickly gives a murky brown head. Although it pours smooth and dark, it doesn't have that viscous texture I associate with beers this color. The head is thick (2 fingers), and leaves intricate lacing along the sides. Very pretty.

S: Very strong roast herb smell. The bottle says fennel and chia see, but I'm not sure I get that. Dark fruit provides a bit of contrast to the slightly harsh roast.

T: The strongest influence I get is a deep fruity note that initially overpowers everything. Some further sipping allows the roasted undertone to burn through, highlighted by those annoyingly hard to pin down herbs. The whole thing is pretty hot and boozy. It tastes good, but not exactly what I was looking for with dinner.

M: Deceptively medium-bodied, and well carbonated. It has that slightly oily slickness I associate with high abv, and is a bit rough.

O: This beer is pretty solid, but it would probably be a lot better on a cold, rainy day. I approve, but I'd like to try it again when I'm more in the mood.

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Photo of ineva
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a sniffer glass

A:Black. Cappuccino brown 2 finger head that doesn't last long.

S:Black licorice wiff with a brown sugar background, dark chocolate toast.

T:Slight alcoholy milk chocolate roast. Nutty molasses with a sneaky hop presence thats never unwelcome.

M:Surprisingly drinkable, not as heavy as it looks. Not alot of carbonation but leaving a nice chocolate lacing around the tongue.

O:Nicely balanced dark ale. My fourth bottle, would love to enjoy it again soon as well as aged another year.

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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..

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.28/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass. Beer comes out a very dark brown, close to black in color with mahogany edges on the glass. A huge dark tan colored head comes out on the pour, had to fill the glass with about 3-4 separate times. Not really much lacing.

Smell is complex and pretty good, but not very strong. Has a sweetness to it, almost vanilla. Herbal notes, guessing from the tea leaves, and slightly spicy. It's pretty well hopped.

Taste is quite a step up from the smell, in potency anyway. Sweetness detected as well. Some slight coffee and chocolate hints. Earthy pine hops with a slight touch of citrus. Plenty of herbal/spicy notes and a hint of pepper. It is all blended together into a complex and unique flavor that is certainly one of a kind.

The mouthfeel is the best part in my opinion. Certainly full bodied, smooth and silky. It has a strong bitter finish. A perfect carbonation level and no bite from the alcohol despite being at 9.5%. Very drinkable, could drink this all night. I cracked this open knowing I didn't really want to drink that much; now I wish it was a bomber instead.

A truley unique beer, thanks to ZX6Chris for the trade!

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Photo of EkimGram
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured form 12oz bottle into snifter. Pours a very deep brown. Very thick, toffee coloured head that fades very quickly. Nice, visible lacing.

Smell: Very strong, dark roasted malts. Some hidden sweetness of dark fruits - figs? There is also a light spicy note of hops, or perhaps a spice.

Taste: Again, very strong dark roasted malts, a hint of heavy sweetness, and a surprising amount of bitter with a bite. Finishes with a nice sense of burnt coffee.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, perfect amount of carbonation. Finishes with a dry, sticky bite.

Drinkability: A rather intense beer. I wouldn't see myself buying much more of this if I could but it is very good. Alcohol presence is bearable, taste isn't too overpowering. Very glad I had the opportunity to drink this wonderful creation.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle picked up on clearance at my local store for around $2. the first time i tried this it was very fresh and i remember not caring for it. such a crazy list of ingredients. lets hope time was good to this one. drank from my stone IRS snifter.

A- this one pours a black colored body with a pretty large (2 finger) tan colored head. the head takes its time falling and leaves behind small rings of lacing.

S- my first assessment of this one is that it is pretty stout like. lots of dark roasted malts greet my nose. theres also a bunch of dark chocolate in here. i think i can pick up the mission figs the label brags about. there is a surprising amount of hops still hanging around. they smell like grapefruit mostly, with a little bit of pine as well. some muddled spices and earthiness come through at the end.

T- dark roasted malts once again lead the way. then comes the dark chocolate and slight fruits i could smell. once again, the amount of hops still kicking around in this one takes me by surprise. plenty of grapefruit and some earthiness. a little bit of pepper and some spice(s) i cant quite put my finger on at the end.

M- medium bodied, nearly what i would consider full. ever so slight warming form the alcohol. the level of carbonation is just right.

D- this is a beer that has definitely benefited by sitting around in the bottle for a year. it seems much less hot and the odd ingredients seem to mesh better. im not sure that this is one that i would want to drink that often, but if i can pick up another couple i would love to see what additional time will do to them.

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Photo of Eriktheipaman
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow I gave it all 4's with out question.

It pours a black with slight rose around the edge when held to a light.

Tan head that stays somewhat which is suprising for 9.5%.

Smell is of an earthy slightly sour chocolate.

Taste has a suprisingly nice bitterness to it but is quickly followed up by burnt coffee and alcohol. The alcohol adds a nice aspect to this brew and is not over whelming at all.

I dont think Id buy this again (even if I could) but it wasnt bad by any means.

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Photo of billab914
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Allagash glass. It poured black in color with a big, bubbly, frothy, tan colored head to it. The head retreated to the edge of the glass and left some nice lacing as I drank it.

The first thing apparent in the aroma is the citrusy, grapefruit like hoppiness. I get the herbal, very slightly peppery flavors I assume is the added spices. It gives the hoppiness an interesting twist. A moderate malty sweetness is behind it all with just a touch of roastiness. The alcohol is pretty apparent as well.

The taste starts out with some of the herbal flavors along with some of that hoppiness as well. Midway I get more of a dry, roasty flavor coming through. It gets sweeter in the finish with the figs really coming through as well as some of the herbal qualities lingering. Some alcohol shows through as well.

The mouthfeel is on the thicker side with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is decent, it was an interesting beer with some cool flavors. The figs were particularly interesting to me, and the spices weren't bad either. At least the spices were more reserved and didn't dominate the beer. Not a bad beer at all but one that probably falls into the interesting and cool to try once category and not a regular purchase category.

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes to BeerFMAndy for sharing this one. A strong ale from Stone? What are the odds? I didn't know they even made strong ales.

A: Pitch black with a modest finger of beige head. Soapy lace fast fading. No cap.

S: The hops show up first. Coffee and malt stir for some attention. I think I can pick up the pepper and fennel. Although it just smells like spices to me.

T: A robust smoky coffee flavor stands out. A touch of hops as well. Again I believe I taste the pepper and fennel. Yet it just comes off as spicy to me.

M: Medium body. Very mild carbonation.

D: Overall a decent and flavorful beer.

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Photo of Retsinis
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Bruery Tulip Glass.

Pour is black, that light does not really penetrate, though upon closer inspection, there are some dark brown/red edges that are visible though near the top.

Inch of head, deep tan/cappuccino color that fades to just lacing that sticks to the side of the glass.

Aroma is of coffee, chocolate, figs, a little pepper.

Taste is similar to the Aroma, dark malt, a little hops, chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit. A very small amount of pepper, but just a hint. I also pick up some vanilla. The Age is starting to meld the flavors together well, and the 9.5% ABV is well hidden.

Creamy carbonation, medium bodied, very smooth with just a hint of hops that are now blending well with the dark malts. I'm enjoying it, need to pick up more to age longer.

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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!

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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 BeerFMAndy
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle split with tickwolf77 (on our birthday) into a Bruery tulip. 9.5% ABV, Age at cellar temp 55°F or below.

A - Pours black with a good clarity. A dense tan head lingers for a while before becoming a skim of foam with some lace mirroring mountain silhouettes.

S - The spice additions really create an aroma in this beer I've never smelled before. Notes of fig come through with the dark chocolate roasted malts. I don't know what Chia is but I definitely get some of the fennel and peppercorns in this. Herbal and grassy, earthy notes as well. Funky aroma!

T - Good spice balance in the flavor thankfully. The nose is good but I was unsure of how it would translate. Fennel and peppercorn works well with the roasted malts and figs.

M - I like the medium body and slightly dry texture to the roasted bitter and spicy finish. Smooth with a good medium carbonation level.

D - No alcohol presence. Good drinkability even though it was split. The $6.99 price for a 12 oz bottle is a little steep though.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stone El Camino on tap at mighty Max's on B'more, MD, served in a standard pint.

Appearance: Very dark deep ebony, almost black. Little head. No lacing.

Smell: Very opaque, not much comes through. Distant spices, a throat-scratching end. Some booze. Billed as an "American Strong Ale" here on BA but really a Black IPA.

Taste: Roasty toasty bitter! Bitterness upfront, hops. Some coffee and bitter chocolate. A lip-smacking, tongue-tickling finish.

Mouthfeel: Heavy carbonation and bitterness, medium body, full flavor. Boozier as it mellows. Slightly oily.

Drinkability: Pretty high. More difficult as it warms up and becomes a sipper, but good anyway.

This is a very solid and enjoyable beer. Nothing groundbreaking or huge-hard-on-worthy here, but a nice drinkable brew. Cheers!

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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.

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Photo of John_M
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours a darkish brown with good head retention and lacing. As with the bottle, the nose is impressive, though the perfumy hoppiness isn't quite as intense. Still, this beer shows some nice coffee, chocolate and underlying hoppy bitterness. Flavors replicate the nose, with some noticeable bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fairly long, fairly bitter finish. Drinkability is pretty good, with the 9.5% pretty well disguised. I can tell the alcohol is up there, but it's not over the top or too intense.

Still a very fine beer, but I thought this beer considerably better out of the bottle.

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Photo of david18
3.72/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had a draft of this at Rattle and Hum in Manhattan's mid town. It was among the many beers I hadn't tried. Another good beers and a highlight of the weekend. Very dark with a great hop aroma. The alcohol was hidden pretty well among the other flavors and this is a very balance beer overall especially for something of this strength.

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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.

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Photo of zeff80
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a small, tan head of foam. Okay head retention and some lacing

S - It smelled of boozy alcohol and sweet caramel malt. Some floral hop presence.

T - More of a roasted malt flavor you'd expect in a stout. It had some sharp citrusy hop bitterness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

D - This is another good collaboration brew that Stone has done. It almost seems like it could fit the new Black IPA category.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.23/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a short beige head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, chocolate, some dark fruit and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste likewise starts out with a hearty roasted malt character. Then some mildly sweet flavors of dark fruit, chocolate and some coffee come in followed by a strong but not over-powering hops bitterness. There's a little bit of creaminess to it and a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this is a very good strong dark beer worth drinking for a long time.

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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

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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 Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled August 2010
A vigorous pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a four-finger thick, richly browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is quite dark in color, near black but with some dark chocolate notes to it. The beer shows quite opaque when held up to the light, but does show a touch of a concentrated amber hue around the edges. The aroma smells quite interesting; fruity, a sort of anise like character, a bit of herbal notes, some definite prune, green peppercorn and something a bit like herbal coriander. A touch of dark malt adds a hint of roast towards the end; it gets wrapped up in the fruit character and comes off as burnt prune and perhaps burnt caramel more than anything. Other dark malt notes that are more sweet make the entirety that is this beers aroma remind me of a rich, black, dense, very sweet, spice cake / bread.

Smooth tasting, creamy and viscous up front, the beer finishes with some roast grain bitterness, some spicy notes and a lingering, almost chalk-like, cocoa and toasted malt character. This is fairly sweet (though it finishes dry because of the previously mentioned character), which accentuates notes of prunes and dried figs. A soft, but firm bitterness helps the spices in the finish balance out the up front sweetness and fruit character, though the latter is definitely the dominant note in this beer. This is most definitely a sipping beer, what with the sweetness, the spices and the medium body; it is not overly heavy for its strength though.

Wow, I am quite a bit more impressed with this beer than I was expecting. To be honest, when I purchased this beer I figured it would be another hoppy, dark beer. I really like the interplay of spices and dark malt character here; this ended up pretty darn tasty and the whole thing really reminds me of a rich, black, dense, very sweet, spice cake / bread. The spices can be a little strong here (though so can the rest of the beer) and I am glad that I am splitting this bottle of beer (the alcohol contributes to this as well). And the smaller portions make this a great dessert beer (I bet you it would be quite tasty as a vanilla ice cream beer float).

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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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