15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA | Stone Brewing

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA
1,446 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,446 |  Reviews: 718
Photo of stephens101
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a deep black with dark brown edges. A near fill to the rim leaves a tan head that only jets after its had a few of it's own. Has a striking earthy, oily hop aroma that is held in place by some sweet malts and sweet dark fruits. Earthy, piny and sweet to the tongue with some plums and raisins also being noticed. Aftertaste has an initial welcomed charred woodiness to it and a lingering tartness. Medium to heavy bodied and a definite sipper.

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Photo of nrbw23
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours black with a nice thick foamy brown head. Head has pretty solid retention and leaves some really nice layered lacing.

S- Picking up quite a bit of piney hops. Getting a touch of citrus, chocolate, light coffee, darker fruits and charcoal.

T- Hops come through in this one pretty strong. A good amount of chocolate here too. Very roasted, with darker fruits and hops.

M- Fuller side of mediun in body and good amount of carbaontion.

O- I really enjoyed this one. Thought it was about right on the money.

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Photo of Ungertaker
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- The darkest black IPA I have ever seen. No light penetration whatsoever. A cappuccino-colored, one-finger head adorns this jet-black brew and leaves a sticky lacing as it fades away to a thin layer.

S- Piney hops, coffee and roasted malts.

T- There is a bitter hop present up front, followed by a medley of chocolate, coffee and tobacco-like flavors.

M- Thicker than most black IPAs, almost like a lighter stout. The light carbonation is present throughout. 

O- This is so close to being a hoppy stout. Honestly, it is one of the better black IPAs I have ever had. The way the flavors follow the aroma so closely then transition throughout each sip is great.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a dark brown-black with a finger of frothy khaki-chocolate colored head. The head fades down fairly slowly leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted chocolate malts with pine and citrus hops, and some coffee, black licorice, and a bit of booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of orange and citrus hops, roasted chocolate malts, some bitterness, and some black licorice. Through the middle, some pine hops and bitterness comes through with some coffee and a touch of dark fruit. The finish is a mix of roasted chocolate, pine and citrus hops, bitterness, coffee, and a bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a dry, bitter, roasty, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice big Black IPA. Lots of hops and enough roastiness for a good balance.

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Photo of akk101
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle
A - Great looking printed bottle. Typical Stone with a very long description on the back. I don't know anyone who has actually read the whole thing. Black color with thick brown frothy head that lasts

S - Picking up some chocolate notes and hops

T - Roasted malt with pronounced hop presence at the end

M - Thick and full body

O - Great beer fromt Stone. Very drinkable; it didn't take me much time to finish it. It's like RIS and IPA collided.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an absolute pitch black color from a 22 oz bomber, bought and opened on 8/17/11. According to a blog on Stone's website, the bottle was released on 8/15/11 (it says on the label that it was bottled in Aug 2011).
Nice one finger dark mocha/tan head that dissipates slowly and leaves behind an constant shape changing film of head. Nice head retention.
Aroma was extremely hoppy, from the moment the bottle was cracked open. As the beer warms up, amidst all the various floral hoppy notes, there are hints of roasted malt that are evident with noticeable cocoa/dark chocolate notes.
Taste-wise this is a very complex ale. The layers of varying bitterness constantly assault the taste buds. Some might say this ale is excessively bitter, but to me it is just the right amount of complex bitterness. At times you feel you are having a super hopped stout, since this is a surprisingly full-bodied and smooth IPA.
The high ABV is masked very well. Even the warmth from the alcohol doesn't make it's presence felt right away.
This is a sipper all the way, and gets better as it slowly warms up. Stone always impresses me with their brews. Definitely worth a try and is highly recommended. Especially to all hop-heads and those who enjoy really dark stouts.
I am very interested to see how it ages and will be getting another bottle tomorrow and store it to age.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into a giant mug

Pours with a frothy brown head, thick and dark like a porter, totally opaque. Small amount of active carbonation visible around the edges. Smells grapefruity, citrus florals. Fair amount of booze.

Taste is overwhelming. Very bitter, chocolatey, black liquorice, lots of that grapefruit rind flavor. Darkly roasted malts. Alcohol. This is strange to me, but strangely appealing. I don't know a lot of "American Black Ales" to compare this against.

Mouthfeel is thick, chalky, heavy, sticky, chewy. It's a mouthful. Overall, this is pretty good. More like a heavily hopped stout than a dark IPA.

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Photo of JohnnyP3
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Who says grapefruit can't grow on oak trees?

Brown bomber with the date of August 2011 and the admonition to enjoy fresh. Take a moment to read the manifesto on the bottle. Quite enjoyable.

Pours a pitch black and a minimal amount of light getting through on the edges. Voluminous, thick, and pillowy khaki head of 3-4 fingers. Massive amounts of lacing.

Smells like an oak wood chest filled with bags of grapefruit. Very intense smell. Hints of tobacco leaves, cedar, earth, and dark and tropical fruit.

Wow. Amazing taste combination. Starts out tasting like a stout almost. Kind of malty, chocolate, and dark fruit. Oak, wood, slight vanilla. And then all of a sudden...you are hit upside the head with a grapefruit by a crazed chimp. Finishes with a puckering, hop-resin-bitterness and some lingering heat from the alcohol. This is one crazy concoction.

Mouthfeel is substantial, oily, smooth, and lively. A party in the mouth.

Overall, hard to put into words. Definitely going to extremes and pushing the envelope here. Great concept for a 15th Anniv. brew from a brewery that likes to shake things up and go outside the box.

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Photo of PhxHorn
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours with a huge head, several inches; caught me by surprise and foamed over. Argh! Smells of citrus and a hint of coffee, but nothing too intense. Tastes pretty much how it smells: the grapefruit of an IPA with a hint of coffee and a tiny trace of chocolate in there, a perfect blend. Creamy smooth on the palate, overall a very very fine concoction from Stone.

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Photo of rudzud
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the Armsby Abbey's Stone Night. Reviewed from notes

A - Poured into a standard pint glass a wonderous midnight black that had a one finger mocha head resulting in massive, massive side lacing. Excepetional.

S - A bit lower here than I'd like. Still nice roasted malts and chocolate with a light hop profile.

T - Wow. Big big big. Great roast malts, chocolate, rich coffee to start. This gives way to a nice piney hop bitterness. Wow, this stuff is delicious.

M - Very smooth and creamy, good carbonation for this style.

O - This is a great imperial black ale. Such great rich chocolate and coffee with a nice balanced hop profile.

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Photo of Rhynes2
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was very excited to get to open this one up tonight. I'm a huge fan of Stone as well as hop centered beers. Pours a pitch black color with a thick dark head. Very creamy and left some great lacing down the sides of the glass. Taste is very hop centered which I love and it balances pretty well with the malt profile of this beer. The malt side of things has a very Guinness taste but with pumped up hops. The 10.8% abv can be a bit overpowering but if thats not your thing... pick a different beer. Overall its great and I'm going to buy more as soon as i sober up a little.

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Photo of AdamToomey
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first adventure into the world of Black IPA's and as this review will show, I was not the least bit disappointed.

A - I poured this beer from the bomber into a snifter. As other reviews noted, the beer is pitch black. If I saw someone drinking this I would immediately think they were sipping on an imperial stout. This dark beauty also has an incredibly thick, creamy coffee head that slooowly dissipates with great lacing. I was sipping on this beer for over an hour and the head was still present. Beautiful beer.

S - The nose of this beer is a hop-punch. Pine, citrus and grass like aromas explode out of the glass with the ever so slightest hint of roasted chocolate malts finishing it off. If you have had the Stone IPA, the hop aromas are very similar with an added roasted hint. Overall, a bit confusing but enticing all the same.

T - Man was this beer unique. At first the hops completely dominate the pallet but in a way that makes sense, not simply an overload of bitterness as in their Ruination. The different hops play off each other to create a nice harmonious beverage. What is most surprising about this beer is the way the dark/roasted malts work with the hop presence. The mild chocolate and coffee flavors that are present accompany the hop profile perfectly to create an astonishingly unique beverage. This is one of those beers which you say "wow" after those first few sips. Wow of course being both a "wow" of confusion and a louder "wow" that this confusion works so well. What does get lost, however, is the alcohol. It is completely hidden. At 10.8 percent, be careful or you will forget that it is even there!

M - The mouthfeel is more on par with IPA's and the dark malts do little to elevate the mouthfeel to a chewier, sweeter thickness. Rather, it maintains its crisp and bitter finish. Kind of disappointed. This was the least unique characteristic of the beer.

O - Overall, this beer was an absolute pleasure to drink. I am definitely going to track down a few more bottles of this before it is all gone. In addition, this brew has definitely turned me on to the world of Black IPA's. This was a refreshingly unique brew. I will say, however, that this style is definitely not for everyone. To enjoy, you definitely have to expand your beer tasting horizons beyond tradition. This beer is not exactly a stout, nor is it exactly an IPA. It's simply a hybrid of the two that works and works exceptionally.

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Photo of prototypic
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone 15th Anniversary Ale pours a very dark chocolate fudge color. It’s onyx and opaque. I’m not seeing any light cut through. It’s topped with a dark, mocha colored head that rises to nearly two fingers in height. It dissipates rather slowly, leaving a very sticky web of lace trailing down the glass. Very impressive.

The nose is quite good. It features a nice mix of roasted and chocolate malts. Bittersweet dark chocolate and cocoa are present. Roasted coffee is also in the mix and works well with the malt base. There are definitely strong hop notes of citrus grapefruit and orange, pine, and grass. It smells a little more balanced than I anticipated. Alcohol is definitely there, but doesn’t come through too strong. 10.8%? Really? Wow.

The flavor is very impressive. It’s even a notch above the nose. It kicks off with a really nice malty mix of bittersweet dark chocolate, cocoa, and roasted malts. It anchors things down really well. Hops follow and add a really nice dimension to the flavor. Citrus grapefruit and orange flavors are most notable. However, there are some strong piney and grassy notes, as well. It’s definitely bitter. More bitter than I anticipated. It definitely seems skewed in the hop direction more than the nose suggests. Alcohol is there, but isn’t warm or hot. I still wouldn’t guess nearly 11% abv. Finishes with a nice mix of chocolate flavor and bitter hops.

The body seems medium, perhaps a tad lighter than that. It feels a bit thin for what it is. Carbonation is relatively light, but it needs more body to smooth it. For big beer though, it goes down pretty easy.

I really like Stone’s 15th Anniversary Ale. It’s loads better than the 14th Anniversary release. If you’re into big, aggressive American Black Ales, this is for you. The only small gripe I have is the body. It seems a bit too thin. Very impressive all-around otherwise. Grab a few while you can!

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Photo of suncrust
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Notes from both draft and 22oz bomber. Poured to a tulip glass on both occassions.

L- Beautiful beer to pour. Vivid thick black color, with great activity as the frothy, dark brown mocha head forms. Head has an intensely creamy texture with a super sticky lace. Color reminds me of a perfectly roasted marshmallow.

A- Sticky, resinous hops smell. I adore the dank hop aroma in this beer. Add in some wood chips, oak, and mild earthy notes with a hint of smokiness. A light touch of dark plum and dark chocolates. Complex and intriguing.

T- Very roasty, burnt/dark roasted coffee and espresso. Lots of whiskey and dark flavors. A bit boozy in the finish, and the warming effect from the alcohol is quickly felt.

Some smokey ash, oak, & light vanilla notes- especially as it warms. Some tobacco in there for good measure.

Dark chocolate kicks in on the aftertaste. Hops add a tingly presence and zest that really adds enjoyability and texture. The hops are bitter, earthy, and create harmony to the bold roasted flavors and heavy, oak aged booze tones.

MF- Slightly soapy, creamy and thick. Easy to drink, despite the high ABV. Has this great lingering roasted hops texture. My tongue almost dries up a bit as the alcohol evaporates off it when I breathe. Similar tongue feeling when drinking coffee. Really reminds me of espresso / coffee in it's texture, while still being rich and creamy in a way that coffee is not.

O- Overall, this is a bold beer, with strong characteristics throughout. Solid choice for a Black IPA. The whiskey, woody characteristics mixed with espresso and dark chocolate notes, topped off with a sticky, resiny hop character, gives this beer an intensity that I thoroughly enjoy.


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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber purchased in California, brought back to Sydney, Australia and opened with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a heavily dark black-brown, with an exceptional head of crackling yellow brown coffee crema. Lacing is intricate, solid, honeycombed. Really solid legs to it, too, staying sticky on the edge of the glass when tilted. Body is surprisingly light, but extremely suitable for the style. Very fine carbonation. Looks genuinely exceptional.

Nose is heavily hoppy, with earthy, rusty hops giving the main event. There's no bright, citric fruitiness here—more of a tea tannin, earth, bracken character. It melds very pleasantly with the dark notes from the malt, in a way that makes some sense in a weird style; instead of the bright, citric, whimsical hoppiness creating an amusing contrast to the darkness, this blends together into some odd symbiosis.

Taste is smooth and clean and bright. The roast gives a nice basis, more of a dark biscuity sweetness, but the hops really lift the palate, and here they do have a touch of the crisp, bright citric quality to them, more than the tannic earthiness suggested on the nose. Finish has lingering bitterness, partially due to the hops, partially due to the roast. It's a nice finish, and sums up what the beer is about.

Really nice beer. It's a very odd thing that Stone have seemed to make sense of this style in a way that's quite orthogonal to the regular interpretation. The darker, more earthy hops match it really nicely with the roast malt, giving a beer that is different, but in all the right ways.

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Photo of jpro
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber from CBX...

A: Pours an abysmal black, with no light penetrating through; a nice inch of foamy, mocha head caps the darkness, manages some superb retention and leaves quite a bit of spotty / strandy lace; looks heavy!

S: Super heavy grapefruit rind; some other citrus notes and minty hops; pine sap and raw wood.

T: The slightest bit of roast malt and some chocolate, quickly followed by an intense hop party... grapefruit and some sweeter hops - then comes the big time herbal / resiny pine kicker. Wow! Gets a little boozier with some warmth.

M: Full-bodied; low-medium carbonation; this brew has a nice, luscious mouthfeel - almost velvety; although the hops are pretty big, there is a certain degree of smoothness to this beer (considering the large abv).

O: A pretty drinkable BIG brew; a nice adventure into one of Stone’s ultra-hoppy forays - and super fresh, at that; nice story on the bottle as well. Good job, Stone!

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Photo of Tucquan
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on 2011-09-24 in Lynchburg, VA

A - Opaque dark brown with a 2.5 finger light brown head that drops to 1-finger in a minute. Moderate lacing.

S - A nice but not overpowering smell with sweet roasted grain, melon, milk chocolate, hint of anise and some sweet hop floral.

T - Hop forward, dark roasted chocolate, light touch of coffee, grapefruit zest, anise, dried fig, pine, white grapefruit juice, mild spice. Alcohol is present. Not overly sweet. Lingering astringent aftertaste of roasted chocolate, pine and grapefruit zest. Dries nicely.

M - Medium body and light-medium carbonation. On the creamy side with some effervescence.

O - One of the better Black DIPAs I've had. I'll often pass on this style of beer but this is a good one. About as good as my previous favorite in this style, which is Founders' El Diablo del Noche.

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Photo of hosehead83
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz. bomber bottle into my Arrogant Bastard pint glass.
Deep, dark oily blackness with a big two-inch head of thick tan foam.
Aroma-Dark chocolate, coffee, earthy hops
Taste-Tangy, dank, earthy hops, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, pine resin, and tobacco all forced into a small room at gunpoint and forced to play nice and get along. Big bold flavors come creeping out of the darkness and are held, just barely, in a compromising balance. Not a "beginner" brew by any means, and be warned as the 10.8ABV will blackjack you in the bushes if you try and have your way quickly with this one.
So sip slowly and enjoy the fantastic flavors of this brew. Maybe with a char-grilled steak or a big burger with the works. Highly recommended.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night with a brown lasting head and good lacing.

Piney hops is evident as soon as you open the bottle, even before the pour. Dark roasty malts come next, with an earthy woody aroma following, kind of like being in a Colorado pine forest almost. Pungent as hell and very inviting.

Strong tasting stuff, lots of great IPA qualities are balanced with smoky and roasted malt flavors, very complex and delicious.

Feel is so thick, full bodied and almost chewy, alcohol is evidenced by the warming but almost completely covered up.

Quite similar to sublimely self-righteous, but a bit thicker and heavier.

How could Stone ever make something that I wouldn't like? I don't know if that's possible. Certainly an A quality beer and once again highly recommended by me.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks like Stone is going back to the well of its 11th Anniversary Ale and has formulated a stronger version with Citra hops. Excitement is in the air once again. On to the beer:

It's as rich black as an imperial stout. The head on top is a mix of bubbly suds and milky lace, whipping up strings to the glasss. That's the Stone I know about...the aroma is filled with Citra hops. It's very juicy and filled with passionfruit. Metallic at times, but in a good way. There's that underlying note of roasted malt I was hoping to find.

Normally with a color so black, your brain tells you to wait for an espersso assult. In this case, it's a tropical fruit assult. Rest assured, it is tasty. Passionfruit and tangerine galore with a little layer of roast. I do like this, though a little more with the malt bill wouldn't hurt. The 10.8% ABV listed seems like a misprint, because the alcohol is disguised extremely well, it feels lighter than anticipated (closer to medium-heavy than heavy), and its drinkability is very high for its size.

Much more delightful than I was expecting. It's approachable and not over the top. Behold the power of the Citra hop, and Stone's ability to hop beers.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tulip glass.

Pours a slick black with a finger and a half of densely packed, dark khaki head, really nice stuff. Excellent retention and decent lacing. Smell is a beautifully blended hoppyness and roasted coffee, some chocolate and earthy tones. Wow, usually I don't go much for black IPAs, but this is really nice. Taste is a bit of a let down, heavy on the dark chocolate/cocoa, slightly burnt/smokey, pretty heavy on the astringent/bitter without much of the delicious hoppiness. Long finish. Good, but takes more like a hoppy stout. Medium body and carbonation. Overall, very solid black IPA, bordering on a hoppy stout if anything. The high level of hoppyness limits the drinkability somewhat.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottling date of 08/17/16

Appearance - Pours near black with cola brown edging. Tan, finger width head that displays fair retention before dying down to a thin, broken layer of suds across the top. A few random spots make up the lacing.

Smell - Aroma that hits fairly evenly on notes of citrus, pine, chocolate, coffee and caramel.

Taste - Follows the nose. Hits first with some pine and grapefruit upfront, then caramel and candied citrus follow. Back end touches on some chocolate before coffee roast and citrus rind bitterness finishes it out and rides well into the aftertaste.

Overall - I remember trying this 5 years ago, right before I first started reviewing beers on this site, and thinking I wish I'd started a few months prior so I'd have had a review for this. Glad they brought it back so I could redeem myself. Maybe the first black IPA I'd tried, and still one of the better ones. Hope they keep it around, even if just as an occasional release.

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Photo of dertyd
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of gopens44
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - About as good as it gets. Ginormous thick tan head with tremendous lacing on top pitch black liquid that gently suspends a quaint amount of sediment.

S - Incredibly fresh hop presence overwhelms anything else that may have tried to climb out. But there is a certain quality that suggests an effort to showcase a roasted malt presence.

T - Bold espresso taste battles with a fantastic hop forward tongue bite. Finish leaves a burnt dark chocolate coffee memory for a while.

M - Speaking of aftertaste, that's where this starts. The magnificent burnt chocolate coffee aftertaste that settles in after a well carbonated, dry and full bodies quaf (I may or may not have used that word right...)

O - It has attitude, character and arrogance. I love this bastard.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured inky black, absorbing all light but for a faint glimmer of translucent dark brown around the edges of the glass. Tan head, very persistent with copious lace. So much lace in fact that it totally obscures the glass. Easily a 5/5. Smell is grapefruit, raisins, dark chocolate, nice. Taste is the same dark chocolate and raisins, adding some almost lactic sweetness, but all awash in grapefruit and citric hop. Effect is sweet bitter smooth and refreshing. Very nice transition from appearance to smell to taste. Mouthfeel is medium, creamy, smooth with a very nice level of carbonation to tickle the tongue. Delicious. Finish is moderately bitter. Overall, this is an excellent black IPA, almost more of a hoppy stout. Something. No problem by me.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.21 out of 5 with 1,446 ratings