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

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163 Reviews
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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
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States
stonebrewing.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
163
Ratings:
271
Avg:
3.9
pDev:
12.05%
 
 
Wants:
36
Gots:
35
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 163 | Ratings: 271
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 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 PTMcB
3.51/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Dark black with chocolate colored head. The head slowly recedes while leaving a good display with the brown lacing and dark stout.

S - The smell is of sweetened hops. There may be some chocolate, but there is a sweet and spicy smell in there.

T - It's very rich with roasted malt, but nothing like a syrup. Very good hops with the twist of an IPA bitterness. Hint of chocolate and caramel, but some oatmeal as well. A slight spicyness also.

M - Great carbonation, rich and creamy.

T - Much better than I expected! It pours thick, but the drink does not fill you up quickly at all. The sweetness of it is not overwhelming, but I don't think this is something I would have to often. All in all, quite a good beer. At the least a recommended "try."

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty dark black-brown colour, head is ochre, fairly humble with a bit of sinkage, but leaving some pretty spectacular lace behind, pretty sticky and thick. Yeah, looks pretty good.

Smell is fairly strong, but a really nice dark roasty malt all over it. Slightly meaty on there and a slight floral hint to it as well. Yeah, quite dark, with chocolate and mild coffee. Nice, and interesting.

Taste is fairly dark as well with mild espresso notes and a slight meaty flavour. Yeah, nice alcohol warmth as well on the back, but overall it's a nice just slightly toasty flavour, with licorice spice, a hint of pepper and some burnt sugar as well. Yeah, nice sweetness that is still nicely dark overall, with a hint of boozey bite on the back.

A little bit thinner than I would want on the front, but the warmth at the back gives it a kick.

Yeah, a pleasant beer, nicely mellow blend for the most part. A little odd but enjoyable.

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Photo of yemenmocha
3.73/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours nearly opaque black with tan head. Nose is rich with dark roasted coffee. Even more roasty flavors come together with the coffee on the palate, with some toasted grain sweetness as well, and a rich and roasty bitter finish/aftertaste. It's very slow drinking, and some of the bitterness is a bit too far for me.

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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 lacqueredmouse
3.56/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ah, what a nostalgic beer. I remember driving along El Camino Real myself. Unfortunately, I've never made it as far as Stone, but I've still managed to pick up this brew, and drag it back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @ToBeerOrNotToBe.

Very black and very heavy body; opaque, and forming fantastic reverse cascading throughout. Nice foamy head of light chocolate foam that dissipates to a half-centimetre. Minimal lacing. Looks pretty good though.

Slightly sweaty on the nose, with sweet overtones, a little herbal influence and peppery bite. The funky, slightly sweaty character is dominant though. It's odd. I can't say I'm a huge fan.

Taste is quite light, but exceptionally long. Long and languid black malt notes reign, and the pepper hints linger to the very back giving a slight prickling on the finish. Bit of heat to be felt as well. Feel is slick and the languidity and length really aids it (as, probably, does the Thievery Corporation playing in the background). An interesting brew, no doubt.

It's an unusual beer, but the Stone collaborations I've had in the past have been better. This one falls a little short for me -- it doesn't have the dimensionality of the others, although it's still a very interesting and robust brew.

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Photo of BTPete
3.55/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured to tulip.

A: Dark black, small head that dissipated away, reducing to nothing.

S: roasted malt and some coffee. Spice and black licorice.

T: nice smooth roasted malt, bitter coffee notes, spicy and peppery, licorice again in the mouth.

M: medium to full bodied, medium carbonation. smooth on the tongue.

D: Not my favorite collab by stone, still solid. Not a huge black licorice fan and usually ask for fennell to be removed from my food.

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Photo of samie85
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a pretty dark brown almost black color with a dark chestnut colored one finger head.

S-Definitely some oak with a little vanilla, some rich chocolate notes and figs with a hint of fennel on the finish.

T-Chocolate and roasty upfront with hit of spice in the middle (combo of peppercorn and fennel) with somewhat sweet and drying finish with a slight bit if sweet alcohol.

M-Pretty viscous and mouth-coating at frst with medium body and medium carbonation. It finishes dry and with a warming back of the mouth- and throat-feel.

D-Pretty high considering everything got thrown into this one. i really like the chocolate notes and the spice was an interesting counterpoint to that sweetness. The spice also hurt the drinkability a little, but the complexity it creates was one I've never experienced before.

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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.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.81/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz single, shipped by lou91

ale brewed with fennel seed, chia seed, pink pepercorns with mission figs added

appearance: served in my delirium chalice, very dark body, huge creamy brown head with creamy retention. nice

smell: rich roasted malts, cocoa, fig, earthy

taste: very strange beer - roasted malts and cocoa mimic a stout profile, bitter piney hops let you know that Stone is involved, a touch smokey, some spice from the peppercorns but not much flavor. I think the fennel gets a little lost in the shuffle but the figs provide a rich sweet flavor accent.

mouthfeel: medium, creamy with decent carbonation, alcohol and hop bitterness in the finish

drinkability: finish is a little rough, but an interesting beer

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Photo of goatgoat
3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Stone tulip.

A deep black with russett highlights. Mounding head of hot coco froth. No lace. Aroma is roasted, chocolate and cocoa. Nice smooth and full feel. Nice flavor with a delicious long bitter finish like baker's chocolate.

I didn't get the spice hit everyone else is raving on.

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Photo of CHickman
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours as black as coal in color with a massive creamy/foamy 2 finger tan head that lasted a while and goes down slowly, leaving a creamy residue on top; good foamy lacing that clings to the glass and slides down slowly. This beer has all the makings of a slow sipper as it has the speed of a turtle in all its actions.

Starts off with a really bizarre aroma of floral hops, pepper and fennel; smells of floral hops, pepper, licorice, fennel, coffee beans, cocoa, vanilla, light sweet malt, syrup, dark fruits like dates or raisin (says figs on the bottle but I can't sense them), and maybe even hints of chocolate and sweet booze like a rum or liquor. This is a very complicated and unique nose that is not what I expected, but very, very enjoyable.

Tastes of sweet malt, floral hops, caramel, biscuit or grainy bread, yeast, pepper, licorice, coffee, cocoa, vanilla, syrup or molasses, rum, raisins or other dark fruits, and smoked peat or light burnt wood. I can't say it's a balanced flavor as there is so much going on that my taste buds can't sort out the flavor assault. This reminds me of a barleywine, except that the 9.5% ABV is pretty well hidden and only comes through with hints of the alcohol.

Mouthfeel is creamy and light with an almost oily feel on the tongue, with very light carbonation and a body on the heavy side with a chewy feel that leaves off with a slightly dry coffee or cocoa finish.

Good drinkability, it went down easy for such a strong beer. This is definitely a slow sipper because there are almost too many flavors for the brain to register and sort out, so it's worth enjoying at the turtle's pace associated with the head. I recommend try this beer as it is a great collaboration.

Note: It lists China Seeds as an ingredient on the bottle, but since I have no idea what a China Seed tastes or smells like I can't comment on it's participation in this beer.

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Photo of kwjd
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with a finger of tanhead. Some lacing and good head retention. I am probably crazy, but I swear I was smelling oranges. No one else seems to think so, but it did smell like oranges to me. I don't mean this in a bad way, it was nice. Had some roasted malt and hop bitterenss as well. This was almost like a Black IPA, but not quite hoppy enough to be one.

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Photo of Khazadum
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Man, the beers available at Gentile's Wine Shop are pretty sweet. One time I got some Gumball Head... next time Black Chocolate Stout... this time El Camino! I've been hankering to try this one for a few weeks now, and it seems like a great idea now. Here goes some fun pouring it into my twelve ounce snifter.

Appearance
Fantastic two fingers of burnt sugar head develops quite easily. It falls down to a respectable one finger after its sixty seconds of fame. The strong collar of frothy goodness brings me joy as I gaze deeply. It has a moderate amount of lacing, nothing like a heavy stout, but interesting.

The liquid itself is definitely black. I didn't expect anything different, but it should be noted, I suppose. No outer edge hues, just pitch darkness.

Bouquet
Its like a kitchen experiment gone right. At first I smell the peppercorns with great clarity. Behind that, there is a favorable malt profile. Its not caramel, its not bread, but it smells in between those two. The fennel is not present as far as I could noticed, but there was a faint breeze of something on the way out. I'm not exactly sure if its figs, but its fruity nature could be it.

Flavor Profile
Overwhelmingly peppery on the open is instantly distracting and unique. Its outrageously spicy because of this molecule alone.

Following this up are also the faint tingles of raisins. This itself is blurred by the alcohol that perks up halfway through each sip, but quickly dissipates allowing me to move through the final verse.

Fantastic finish! Oh, goodness. I never would have imagined chocolate malts to have been as pronounced as this bad boy. It starts at the tip of the tongue and spreads fully in a pattern reminiscent of melting dark chocolate on my tongue.

Oral Sensations
An undoubtedly full bodied beer here. This bad boy leaves little clues behind on my lips and gums that I pick up on while typing up this review. Its not sticky like syrup, but it mimics the feeling that only humid days can copy. There is a significant lack of creamy or smoothness that would pick this up to a great beer.

Conclusions
This beer is not one to have again, unfortunately. It was fun to try, but its hard to truly enjoy. If too much of the liquid is taken in during a sip, it instantly becomes unpalatable. The alcohol becomes the dominant focus and the pepper is its little crony, nothing else. Its almost like work to drink it at certain moments. However, with the proper methods it is something to try for everyone.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a tan head. The aroma is chocolate, roasted malt and piney hops. The flavor is chocolate, smoke, pine, roasted malt and toasted malt. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice strong ale which hides the alcohol very well. Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into snifter. Putting Grandaddy's El Caminos in the West on repeat for this beer (seriously, you can't expect me to listen to all of Sumday. That album...not so good).

I was just talking to a bartender at the Brickskeller about this beer a few days ago and that's what motivated me to finally open this. I realize this bottle is a little old now, but I have no idea why she thought this was the best example of a Black IPA/Cascadian whatever the eff Dark Ale.

Color is an extremely dark, opaque brown, near black with a large frothy and bubbly tan head that never fades away and leaves thick streaks of lacing. The aroma is...interesting and doesn't really fit any neat stylistic description. Initially it reminds me of a bowl of potpourri; pulling out some random notes I get: piney hops, licorice, figs, spearmint, anise and a few other notes I can't quite place. It sounds like a mess, but is oddly pleasant and smooth.

Flavor starts by resembling a roasty malty stout before the menagerie of flavors from the nose fight for attention with a dry, light hoppy and peppery spicy finish. Body is medium thick and lightly carbonation fading to a soft smooth aftertaste. There is remarkably little alcohol present, or typically abrasive Stone style hops. Maybe I'm crazy, or it's the age on this, but I'm really enjoying this beer. I need to find a few more of these, which is more than I can say for most of the other Stone collabs.

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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!

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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 Sammy
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Roast and rosmary in the aroma. Black with some off-brown head, and lacey. Above-average mouthfeel. Some spice and pepper,a little vanilla, but mainly Coffee taste. Not getting so much of the uniqueness. Decent carbonation. So-so beer, a little disapointing.

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Photo of Patrick999
4.06/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Honestly, I bought this beer a little blindly - I'd not looked at any reviews or anything. Hell, I didn't even notice it was a black ale. I looked at the ingredient list and assumed it was a saison. Imagine my surprise when I see this ultra-dark liquid pouring into my tulip. Geez. Creamy stout-like head with lots of excellent retention. Clearly, I'm in for more than I bargained for. Oh well. It's open now and I am certainly not going to let it go to waste.

Hmmm, in the aroma I think I do get the fig. Chocolate too...like a chocolate-covered fig if there was such a thing. A little maple. Aroma not that strong at all right out of the fridge, but opens up considerably with a little warming.

For such an odd ingredient list, the taste is not too out of the ordinary. To me, it tastes like a very good, well-made double stout, one without high levels of hop bitterness. Stone without hopping the $hit out of it? Who knew? Carob, chocolate, coffee. A little spiciness that I wouldn't automatically identify with peppercorn, chia seeds or fennel. Honestly, about the most out-of-the-ordinary aspect about this beer I get is a hint of smokiness. It might sound like I'm disparaging the beer, but I'm not - it's very enjoyable and well-made. I'm just not getting a whole lot of unique flavor constituents. I think the fennel and peppercorn come out near the very back-end, if anything.

Feel-wise, I think it makes sense to think of this as a stout. It is rather creamy, smooth and pleasant.

All in all, even though I thought I was getting a saison, this was hardly a chore to drink. I'm almost done with the glass in the time it took me to write this review. The 9%+ ABV isn't that apparent, it's smooth, and it isn't even all that warming. In fact, if I had another bottle, I could easily see myself having another. That by definition is a high drinkability score, isn't it?

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Photo of bassmantin
4.01/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is my second of the Stone collaboration brews.

Pours very dark with a fine thick head. I love black beers. This one reminds of the Brooklyn Black. The smeel is fairly sweet, almost too sweet, but the sweetest is not nearly as strong in the taste. Although the malt presence is definitely there, it is balanced by a strong hop finish that leaves the mouth filled with coffe and roasted malt flavors.

The malts are pretty comples. It's hard for me to pick out exactly what's in there, but it is interesting.

Highly recommended.

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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.

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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!

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Photo of charlzm
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed 07/23/2010 in a Samuel Adams Boston Lager "special" glass.

Beer pours a deep mahogany, borderline ebony. A fairly creamy three finger tan head springs to life on the initial pour and dissolves fairly quickly to a half finger, leaving all kinds of foam stuck n the sides of the glass. Plentiful carbonation throughout consumption.

Aromas - roasted malt in the stout/porter realm. Slight metallic edge. Hint of fennel.

Flavor is a semi-sweet chocolate malt base. Notes of peppery spiciness that really come to life in the stomach. I had to strain to pick out the fig note that, according to the list of ingredients, was there. Low bitterness. Alcohol not notable as a flavor component.

The beer is just this side of velvety smooth. The aforementioned pepper burn is very mild but present on the tongue. Moderate dryness.

A bit odd for a regular drinker, this beer is nonetheless an interesting experiment. Maybe a little more fig and a little less pepper would have satisfied my palate more.

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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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