15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA | Stone Brewing

719 Reviews
15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by HopHead84 on 08-16-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 719 | Ratings: 1,443
Photo of BrewtifulMind
3.65/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the Bottle Room, Whittier, CA

This brew pours a pitch black color, looks exactly like spent motor oil. Has an inch of brown head, good retention, and decent lacing. It has more of a hoppy scent to it than i had expected, also smells of roasted coffee beans, and heavy on the malts. This one tasted pretty chocolaty and coffee-like, not very much hops in the flavor, although it smelled of them. Pretty thick mouthfeel, just like i would expect motor oil to feel. Overall, this was a decent brew, but not one I would go out of my way to get again.

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Photo of dedrinker
3.65/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black with a tan head - all pumped out in my glass, foamed up and puffy.

Aromas of dark chocolate, bourbon/licorice combo that is faint edge on the dark choco roasted malts or something.

Bitter chocolate all the way through with alcohol notes and hop bitterness.

This is more like a hoppy RIS rather than an Imperial Black IPA - the hop profile is all bittering hops and no hop flavor or aroma.

Bitter chocolate and hop finish. This beer is good but I was disappointed in not finding this as the imperial version of their sublimely self righteous ale, which hey man, I'll just go buy that instead and stop hating.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.63/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at TJ's, Paoli, PA

Poured into a snifter, an oily brownish black with a small cap of tan head that retained decently and left some streaky lacing behind. Big aroma full of pine, with a sweet maltiness just peeking through in the background. A blast of pine and resin on the tongue, on the border of being a palate killer. Notes of coffee bitterness and bottom-of-the-barrel molasses. Heavy, greasy mouthfeel and definitely boozy.

I like Cascadian dark ales, I like Stone's brews a lot, and I know they're all about being extreme. But I think this one was too much even for me. It wasn't bad by any means, just a little over the top and one-sided with the pine taking almost complete dominance. I'd really have to be in the mood to try this one again.

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Photo of gdrydenc
3.62/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep black with a substantial amount of thick, tight head that you could cut with a knife. The head lasts around for a long time and almost feels like the head on a nitro'd stout.

S - Dark roasted coffee, hints of fruitiness from the hops, but it's overwhelmed by the roasted malts. I don't like that about this beer, frankly. I like my Black IPAs to have a good match of hops and malts, this isn't a great representation of the style, in my opinion.

T - Taste is very similar. As a beer, this is great. As a Black IPA, I don't like this beer. It's too much black and not nearly enough IPA. The hops are present, just not well matched with the malts.

M - This feels a bit like, as I mentioned before, a stout on nitro. It's fairly creamy, which I would expect out of a beer with this alcohol content. Good mouthfeel.

Overall, this is a great beer. However, it isn't a great Black IPA. I'd drink it again and recommend it to a friend, but it's not going to get a great review because it's not a good fit for the style.

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Photo of Wadsey
3.62/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Stone 15th Anniversary 

Served in New Belgium globe glass

A: Pours black with tan, fluffy head that persists for a few moments. Haphazard lacing sticks to glass. No light penetrates the beer, so it is impossible to determine clarity and effervescence. 

S: Citrus hops and chocolate, roasted malts duke it on nose, alternating between contradictory and complimentary. Peat-like smokey character watches from the audience. Alcohol and earth or tobacco leave notes, too. 

T:  Juicy piney hops and sweetness touch palate and are slapped aside by rough toasted malts. Tobacco leaves, chocolate, roast, and earth are accurate descriptors. Solid bitterness that segues into roasty and sticky weed finish. 

M: Medium-heavy body and medium carbonation. Sticky body. 

O: I'm not sure why Stone decided to release another American Dark Ale (my term), when it already has Sublimely Self Righteous. Perhaps the answer lies in the overly wordy label. I will never know. 

There is an interesting tension in 15th Anniversary, but the roasted malts definitely win out. A little unbalanced. Still, it's a fun beer. 

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Photo of phichifiji00
3.62/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Black, pours two fingers of thick, creamy, tan head. Minimal lacing.

Smell: Hoppy, piney, citrus.

Taste: predominately hoppy, lots of pine, citrus, malty, subtle smoky/roasted malt taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium - Full bodied, good carbonation.

Overall; A good black IPA, very hoppy. I'd expect nothing less from Stone.

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Photo of warnerry
3.61/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pitch black with one and a half fingers of creamy brown head. Head has nice retention and leaves spotty lacing.

S - Lots of chocolate malt and citrus hops, with some floral aromas as well. Definitely some alcohol in the nose. Good, but doesn't really grab me.

T - Still a good bitter hop presence after four months. Never had it fresh, so don't know how this compares. Significant chocolate malt and roasted malt presence throughout, a bit ashy. Citrus and grassy hops. Finish is dry and lingering bitterness.

M - Nice, creamy mouthfeel with a very bitter finish.

O - Good black ale, which is a style I have a hard time getting excited about. Nice bitterness, but a little too much ash from the malt component.

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.61/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bomber of this new Stone brew from Perry's in Livermore, CA. I pour into a large snifter to review. Black IPA over 10% with an A rating on here? Sounds interesting.

Pours thick like a stout with an inch of dark colored stout-esque head. Black in color. A thin layer of retention and great lacing.

Quite hoppy nose, but still on the balanced side with a healthy dose of lightly roasted malt. Hints of chocolate, cream and vanilla but the resinous hops continue to push through. I cannot detect the high ABV.

Taste is much more stout than IPA for me. Much roastier than I anticipated with the chocolate and molasses pushing the hops aside. That ABV is being more detectable, but still well contained.

Full body, thick and somewhat creamy. Good levels of carbonation make this one very drinkable for its size. Long finish of roasted malt. The bitterness I detected in the nose is seemingly non existent now.

A good beer I suppose, but I was hoping for more hops on this one and ended up being let down a little. For what it is, a hoppy stout, in my opinion, it is a good beer.

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Photo of projectflam86
3.61/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber.

A- Pours a deep brown/black color with a thick coffee colored head that leaves nice lacing.

S- Spicy pine hop aroma with a touch of smoke. Earth and malt but a bit muted overall.

T- This drinks like one hell of a hoppy stout. Huge hop bitterness and flavor initially with pine and hop resin. Smoked malt and charred flavor in the finish with a wallop of alcohol. Dank and smoky at the same time. It feels like more of a competition between hops and sweet malt then a melding together of flavors.

M- Full bodied with good carbonation.

O- Overall a very interesting brew. I think I prefer SSR over this one, but a few years in the cellar and the hops should fade to leave a pretty nice stout behind.

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Photo of nhindian
3.6/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a Stone Imperial Russian Stout tulip.

A - Pours a midnight black with a bit of dark chocolate brown creeping in around the edges. Completely opaque with no hint of any activity within the glass. A huge, 3-finger head begins forming slowly at first, but then quickly gains steam before finally ending in a mushroom-shaped cloud, with a multitude of small bubbles giving it some additional creaminess. Some pretty nice retention and when it's gone, it leaves a little circular cap of foam in the middle of the glass. Great lacing as well, draping the sides with thick slabs of foam.

S - My first smell is full of hops and almost only hops. It is much more bright and vibrant than I was expecting given the style and color, but it is also quite refreshing. A decent amount of citrus, but for the most part the hops are mainly giving off wet, sticky pine resin. I don't think I've ever had a Black IPA that was as fresh as this and imparts so much hop presence. In fact, I'm getting very little malt in the form of roast, and just a touch of chocolate that belays the hops. Is that brown sugar as well?

T - After the impressive nose, I have myself pumped for the taste. I'm going to say right away that it is definitely a few notches lower than the aroma. In fact, at first, I wasn't a fan at all. It was too muddled, too frantic and didn't have any personality to it. It jumped from malt to hop and back again constantly and didn't allow the palate to get a firm grip on it. It does, however, settle down a bit as it rests. When it's a bit colder, the malts steal the show, bringing bold roast, rich cocoa, and again, I'm getting that sweet brown sugar characteristic from the nose. The hops start coming through in the mid-palate, here in the form of more earthy, spicy hops rather than the pine sap in the aroma. It's kind of a two-headed monster in that regard; I would've loved for the pine to continue in the taste, but I feel that these more gritty, earthy hops complement the malts and roast. The grapefruit and pine do resurge late, but even when it warms, it still doesn't seem to be entirely cohesive, unfortunately.

M - Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with high carbonation. The finish is doubly bitter, both because of the roast and the hops, and it's a bit on the drier side. The head lends it some creaminess.

D/O - Drinkability is moderate. I can't say I wasn't expecting a bit more from this, especially after the amazing appearance and nose. But it definitely does have a unique flavor that is worth experiencing. Thankfully as it warms it does come together more succinctly, so if you have this, plan on drinking it over an extended session.

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Photo of BeerNutz324
3.59/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into an oversized wine glass, split with the wifey.

Ap- Dark, Dark brown, pretty much black. Small tan head that vanished pretty quick.

Ar- roasted, burnt malts with a some piney hops, oh and alcohol.

T- coffee, roasted, burnt malts. piney hops come through at the end. After holding this beer in my mouth for a while I can finally feel the oily hops.

M- medium body, decent carbo for this style.

O- not as good as I was hoping, but it was still a good beer. I honestly don't know if I would buy it again.

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Photo of BeardedRiker
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Let me say first off that I was very much anticipating this beer after I first heard about it. When I tried Stone's Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale it blew my mind. I loved it. Then when I heard of another Black IPA by Stone it got me very excited.

The Escondidian is a good-looking brew. It's black as midnight. You can't see through it at all although I will say if you hold the bottle up the right way to a light source you can see sediment swirling around in it. The head doesn't get too big and it takes a little while to form into its lovely tan and creamy self. It has good retention and a bit of the head remains on top throughout drinking.

The smell is dominated by hops and booze. Tropical fruits and roastiness lay underneath. I couldn't get much more than that.

The taste is very much like the smell. Hops hit you really hard immediately with bitterness. Mango tropical fruit sweetness adds more complexity but it's quickly dominated by alcohol burn. I could get a bit of roasted malt (cocoa and coffee) in there but the hops and alcohol were too strong. Some molasses sweetness in there too like an RIS.

Mouthfeel is very syrupy throughout after a hoppy dry beginning. Medium carbonation and a medium-full body.

I'll be honest. I was disappointed in the Escondidian. I had high hopes for it, and why not? Stone routinely makes excellent beers and I love their SSR. All signs pointed to an awesome beer, however, the hops and alcohol in this are simply too strong and aren't balanced with the rest. I love hoppy beers and I tend to like high ABV beers too but in this case it's all too dominating. It's hard to taste awesome stout-like flavors when my taste buds are first bombarded by hops and then numbed by alcohol. I thought it might have just been my opinion but my brother who was drinking his own bottle with me agreed with everything I said. This isn't a bad beer. It tastes fine but it's not balanced. I'd choose the SSR over this any day.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into Gulden Draak tulip.

A: Pours a very very dark brown with a huge mocha colored dense head that took forever and a day to slowly fade into fuzzy film that left thick streaks of lacing down the glass.
S: In typical Stone fashion I get a huge blast of pine and grapefruit citrus hops, but this ipa is ‘black’ because I get equally as strong notes of roasted malt, coffee and dark chocolate. There is also a bit of volatile alcohol.
T: Follows the nose with a great balance between fresh pine resin and grapefruit hops and rich dark chocolate, roasted malt and acidic coffee. The finish is bitter and a fairly acidic, and the aftertaste is a bit rough and boozy. Flavors are rich and powerful overall.
M: Thick body, greasy slick mouthfeel that’s actually a bit rough. The carbonation is fine, but there is a bit too much solventy alcohol and acid for me to really want to finish the bottle.
O: Good, maybe a bit rough around the edges, but definitely not as good as Sublimely Self-Righteous. I wish it was just a bit smoother.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured into a tulip. I don't understand the love for this...

Black with a creamy, khaki head with a long lasting finger thick head and clumpy lacing. Roast chocolate and malt dominate around with mild pine and resin hops. Much more malt forward than expected in the flavor, with roast and chocolate and a bitter finish without a particularly interesting hop flavor. Light pine and grapefruit rind linger. Medium thick body with average carbonation and a persistent bitterness. Not bad, balance is relative for a Stone beer and this ABV, but the malt is the only part that seems imperial here.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.56/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a dark brown/black color with a mocha-colored foam. It smells exactly as you'd expect, citrusy hops + roasted malts and a hit of ethanol. Some cocoa too (which wasn't expected).

Way too much roasty flavor for me to like this, big malt bill filled with heavily roasted grains. Chocolaty and toasty, with the hops giving more counterpoint than counterbalance. Basically this is a hoppy stout.

A little bit of burn at the end of each sip, strong stuff. Just not my style I guess.

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Photo of katan
3.56/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz into a pint

A - Pours deep, dark, thick black color. Very viscous. Head formation is mocha colored, well retained at a thick film. Incredible lacing.

S - Starts off lightly sweet, some dark chocolate malts. Getting a little more hopping character in the mid-stream. Lots of bittersweet chocolate, a little bit of roast. Certainly on the sweeter side. Hopping is fairly well restrained, doesn't show itself to carry much IPA character.

T - Finishes with the most roast, the most bitterness, almost coming off burnt.

M - Thick and full bodied, tongue grabbing bitterness at times. A little bit of alcohol warmth, but certainly below what you would think for this style.

O/D - A little bit hard to drink, a really over the top attack of harsher malts. Hopping isn't really the most defining attribute. The ABV on this beer puts it above a more sessionable winter beer. I'd like to go compare it to the RIS just to see how they tried to vary up the ingredients.

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Photo of gregb13
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours almost black with a fluffy, mocha-tinted head of varying bubble structure. Sort of like a thick root beer float. Moderate alcohol legs.

Nose is dominated by bitter hop and citrus fruit, and some sharp citrus rind. Not much else present.

Taste follows the nose. Very bitter up front, in the middle and on the back of the palate. Hops and bitter citrus galore. There is a mild alcohol warming sensation in the finish, and possibly some espresso notes throughout. Some dark roasted character as well.

Mouthfeel is medium, very effervescent. Moderate carbonation, bitter aftertaste.

Overall a solid brew. A little bitter for my palate, but if you are a fan of huge west coast IPAs you would probably enjoy this.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with a light brown head. In the aroma, chocolate roast and a citrus hop. In the taste, a small citrus and a dry coffee and chocolate roast. A small hop and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry chocolate and coffee like aftertaste. More a hoppy porter, nice, but porter like.

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Photo of olimpia84
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap served on a Pint glass.

A: black body with a two finger tanned head, wall light brown lacing present.

S: strong oak wood smell with hoppy herbal tones. Presents the beer fairly well.

T: strong earthy tones, strong hop flavor, very herbal and passion fruit/orange feel. There is a big bitter kick in the palate at the end. A bit too strong for my liking.

M: medium to full body with low to medium carbonation. Best enjoyed slowly.

O: I found this beer to be a bit too strong and aggressive for my taste. The bitterness at the end gets in the way of fully enjoying this beer in my opinion. Hops fans should be pleased though.

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Photo of Briken
3.49/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown and good brown head with poor retention. More of a roasted malt aroma with a touch of pine. The roasted malts are more pronounced with good balance in sweetness and good pine and chocolate notes. Fairly thin feel.

Oddly it was not as enjoyable as it was out of the bottle which I felt was true of it on tap as well. It seemed thin and almost unfinished. It didn’t have the strong pine hop content of the bottle. A good beer, but I’d rather buy another bottle.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.49/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a snifter at the Stone Tap Takeover at Acre.

Appearance: The appearance of every Stone beer shows their care and devotion to the craft. Black in color with brown edges and a tan cap, this big American Black Ale retains remarkably well for the ABV and leaves some nice lace down the glass.

Smell: The aroma is dark roasted malt, coffee, soy sauce, and some piney hops with a touch of ethyl alcohol.

Taste: Unfortunately, the taste cannot shed the soy sauce aroma that I got in the nose. Roast coffee and malt go well together with some light sweetness, with a mostly pine hop bill at the end. The salty soy sauce flavor just throws this off too much to give it a good score though. The booze is there the whole time, but it manifests itself in its purest form at the end of the sip.

Mouthfeel: Moderately creamy and smooth, with a good amount of carbonation. Fuller than medium bodied, with an ABV that warms the throat and stomach. Not too sticky or resiny, although both sensations are there.

Overall: Not the best I have had. Where that soy sauce flavor came from, I don't know, but it really distracts from what would otherwise be a pretty good beer.

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Photo of schlimenhaumer
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the standard pressure cap bottle into a nonic pint glass at low altitude.

A: Pours pitch black with a 1-2 finger mocha colored head of decent retention. Nice lacing here.

S: Dark chocolate, caramel malts, fairly prominent bittering hops. Like a stout, this one definitely smells dark. I feel I may have waited too long to buy this one as the hops smell a bit less prevalent than expected for a black IPA.

T: Dark chocolate and a sweet caramel malt body up front with and bitterness throughout that really takes over on the finish. I'm sure the hop character would have been stronger and more pleasant if I bought this one a bit fresher.

M: Full-bodied and slick with a little bit of carbonation. I feel that this one could have done with some more carbonation.

D: From the taste, I never would have guessed this one is 10.8% ABV -- it conceals the alcohol content very well. The dark chocolate and sweet malt notes were a bit overpowering, but the balance may have been better if I had this fresh. While it was pretty good, I don't think I would buy it again.

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Photo of Tilley4
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm usually wacky about these anniversary brews from Stone but this one was a little bit of a downer for me... The beer looked great in the glass... It smelled big and mean and loaded with piney hops and dark chocolate malts...and then came the booze... Lots of it...

I know it was almost 11% but it tasted more like 17-18% to me... This thing was hot and boozy and drowned out what the beer was trying to be...the hops were juicy and delicious for sure and the big malt bill brought the bitter chocolate aspects to the beer but both got slammed by a strong fusel flavor that sort of turned me off to it...

I had trouble finishing this... I will probably pick a bottle up to age for a while and revisit this in 6 months or so but as for now, this wasn't my thing... Not horrible, but the ABV was very prevalent here...

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Photo of Mahlik
3.46/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into a shaker pint glass. Reviewed from notes (9/15/11).

A - Poured a pitch black with a tan creamy head. Decent lacing.

S - Lots of in-your-face hoppiness dominate. Pine, resin and citrus are all present in the aroma. An underlying fruitiness.

T - Taste doesn’t stray too far from the aroma. I get a lot of piney hops up front with some chocolatey malts on the backside. A touch of citrus. The bitterness grabs a hold of your palate and doesn't let go. A rather large amount of alcohol creeps up.

M - Medium-thick bodied with moderate carbonation. Thicker and creamier than expected. The bitterness is a little harsh. I can definitely feel the alcohol’s presence in this beer.

O - Not one of my favorites. I'm usually torn on black IPAs. I probably won't seek this one out again. I like the hop profile but this beer borders on being too harsh. It's a little too unbalanced for my liking.

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Photo of NCSUdo
3.45/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle

A: Dark black body under a good sized brown head. Nice retention and lace.

S: Mix of roasted and chocolate malt with a background of citrus hops. Nice balance in the aroma.

T: Very roasted taste, with some hints of chocolate. Unfortunately, there is a hint of "burnt" there also. Not getting a lot of hop taste, but certainly a big bitterness in the finish. Alcohol apparent in a decent warmth on the way down. Fairly unbalanced.

M/D: Full bodied, carbonation is not too high. Drinkability is fair. A big beer that is a bit out of balanced in the taste depart.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
4.18 out of 5 based on 1,443 ratings.
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