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 AlCzerik
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours Black with a very thick foam.

Smell: More of a citrus smell than I had anticipated.

Taste: As far as IPAs and black IPAs are concerned this is the best tasting one that I have had. It is easy to drink, especially for the ABV.

Overall: It is a great beer, but a little over priced for my liking.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, nearly black-brown with a frothy, pillowy brown head that leaves heavy lacing on the glass. Aroma of hops and roasted malts.

Big, bitter and dominated by roasted flavors, with a big alcoholic finish. Wow. Just a big friggin' punch in the mouth.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to portia99 for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Poured into a DFH glass a very nice black color, nice carbonation, with a one-finger creamy light tan head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is very very nice, hoppy, malty, lots of licorice, plums, raisins, figs, and chocolate. The taste is exceptional also, hoppy, with a nice touch of malts, chocolate, licorice, and some dark fruits. Medium body, kinda chewy, with a slight bitter finish. This is a very nice brew. It's been awhile since I've had a Stone beer, and this one is making me look for some more. Thanks Bill!

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Photo of GoldHorde
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle. Unfamiliar with Stone Brewing offerings, The color density was correct to style - the kind of astronomical dark matter that hides starlight and in which the subsequent exploration of one hopes to discover hidden wonders of the universe...or at least a pleasureable surprise. I was expecting a nominal "black" lagerish lightweight with just enough hop sting to qualify as an IPA. What the Stone Brewers delivered was MUCH MORE pleasureable. As a lover of thick creamy stouts and dark mysterious porters I was shocked to find this could ante itself up into a game of those styles. This is not a beer of accents but of balance. Nicely done! Feast upon this brew and enjoy the very long and very lingering espressoist afterglow.

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Photo of KajII
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

[Best served in a Tulip glass]

The pour was a thick dark black with a large (2-3 finger) medium brown creamy head which had good retention reducing to a thick puddling thus creating some excellent sheets of lacing.

The aroma was of a pine hop, a roasted grain malt and a moldy yeast with notes of coffee, caramel, licorice, chocolate and a decent alcohol tinge.

The taste was a hoppy, malty and a tad sweet with a very mild hint of caramel and chocolate at first then progressed into a bitter, roasty, hoppy flavor with a big coffee note and a mild alcohol presence at the end. The flavor hung on for a good long time proceeding the swallow letting the hoppy roastiness settle in.

Mouthfeel was a bit beyond medium in body with a dry, oily texture and a nice lively carbonation.

Overall an exceptionally well balanced Black IPA with just the right amount of everything working together.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Probably should have drank this when I bought it a few weeks ago. Somehow didn't get around to it until now. Looks like a pretty big beer.
Oh my goodness me is that some nice aroma. Such pleasant and pleasing fruitiness with tropical qualities like mango. Additional complexity with a bit of citrus and brisk shot of the malt, the dark malt to be exact lending a spicy, peppery, cooked malt. This is quite unique and exceptional.
Looks attractive as can be. Big frothy, rocky dark head covering a black, black body.
Wow, that's pretty darn good. Highly complex but with so much more malt character. One pretty big issue for me is the harsh flavor that comes from excessive hops - and this one has it - too bad it's the only flaw, but it's significant. It's not the bitterness, which while there and strong isn't' in excess. Well hidden alcohol considering the high level.
A bit bigger that moderate. Well done creamy feel from size and carbonation. Nice feel.
I don't like the flavor from excessive hop oils. Too bad as so much else was so good.

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Photo of cvm4
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Damn if it doesn't pour black as a stout. Has a nice tan head to it. Great lacing once drunk down.

S - Roasted malts, chocolate and kinda hoppy.

T - The roasted malts and bitter chocolate decided to fight with the hops as a referee.

M - Medium to full with great carbonation.

O - The hops and the roasted malts work wonderfully together. This is a must try!

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Photo of TCHopCraver
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes taken on 11/3/11.

This Black IPA pours very dark brown to black with a light brown, one-finger head into a large snifter. The body is impenetrable by the eye with great, quick-rushing carbonation when agitated. The lacing is exquisite- fine and detailed.

The smell is a great blend of hefty chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, biscuit malt, prominent pine, citrus, grass and herbal hop aromas. This is a very deep and complex bouquet. As it warms a bit, the hefty malt profile takes over.

Wow, that is a huge flavor! The first wave is of roasted, chocolate malt, followed by a burst of pine and grapefruit hop profile. At the finish, thick malts and hops merge together to combine into a truly delicious beer. The aftertaste is hop bitterness, a little booze, and a lingering roastiness.

As one might expect from the ingredients, the mouthfeel is a combination of a medium-full coating malt presence and a puckering hop bitterness. The finish carries a bit of a boozy sting, along with a dry pucker from the piney and grapefruity hops.

I really like this beer. It is a big, bad Black IPA that really showcases the strong maltbill and a kickass hop profile. Very roasty, very chocolate-y, but also bitter and hoppy. Lovely.

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Photo of doucmehu
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally posting review from notes taken in early October '11, enjoyed on vacation in Duluth.

A: Very dark mahogany, nearly black with a thin mocha head that runs away quickly. Some moderate lacing

S: Roasted sweet malts, chocolate, dark fruits, with grassy and tropical fruit hops taking a back seat.

T: Big tropical and grapefruit hops up front are met with big, bold malty chocolate, roasted coffee, slight esters, and finish with mild bittering sticky hops.

M: Smooth and full bodied, but the alcohol stands out and detracts a bit. Nice carbonation, and it isn't too sticky or bitter.

O: Almost like a bitter hopped American stout. Alcohol is very present as well, this might actually age ok as it is not so hop forward. Solid big beer, but nothing too outside the box.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review adapted from notes taken 9/18/11

Appearance: Black, black color with a tan head - fades to some slightly-above average lacing

Smell: Utterly ridiculous, like a freshly opened yet charred bag of hop pellets - super burnt and super hoppy - roasty, with a ton of chocolate malts and dry, baker's chocolate

Taste: Epic levels of dry, unsweetened chocolate - very bitter - burnt, roasted, chocolate malts, dark chocolate, dark coffee - tons of hops - citrus, orange peels, orange flesh, grapefruit, pine needles, a touch of tropical - hops and burnt malts are a two-pronged bitterness assault

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, a touch creamy, nicely carbonated, a nice, roasty burnt aftertaste

Overall: Too good for a one-time release

This beer is nothing short of great. Much like Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, I hope this is resurrected in the future. This is a great example of why people that think Stone is overrated should be punched in the face.

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Photo of JohnnyMc
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had 7 bottles fresh and decided to age one! 2011 vintage woo!!

Pours out completely black with 2 fingers of a deep, khaki head.

The aroma has a decent amount of roast, some chocolate, some dark fruit, a little bit of caramel and vanilla and hints of coffee.

The taste is very much an Imperial Stout type of taste at this point. Basically no hops at this point, but there are a lot of roasted notes followed by some bittersweet dark chocolate and a ton of dark fruit; figs, plums and dates along with a hint of vanilla and toffee.

The body is full and mouthfeel is creamy. No alcohol on the aroma or taste or even warming as it goes down.

This has really transformed from the Black IPA/American Black Ale/CDA that it was to a very nice and complex Imperial Stout. The hops are way gone, but that allows for many other elements to come forth! Extremely enjoyable with age and I hope Stone will do this one again!

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had at iTap over the weekend.

Pours a very dark dark black almost crude oil color. There is a nice dark tan head that forms that is about .25 inches tall. The head is nice and sticky and sticks around for a while.

Very piney and hopy. Quite resiny with some nice sticky hop notes. Pure grassy and earthy hop notes. The aroma is very hop forward with some mild chocolate notes and roast on the background kind off teasing and enticing you.

Very good flavor. The hops have faded a bit IMO. Notes of pine and grassy "herbal" earthiness with some slight west coast citrusness in there. The malt notes creep in quick after the hop forward style. Nice roasted burnt malt notes mixed in with some chocolate and slight coffee notes. This is perfectly balanced with the hop notes and brings this beer full circle. The hops are definitely take center stage and are balanced well by the malt notes. Amazing brew.

This brew is sooo delicious. Very well done by Stone. They nailed this style. Intense hop notes and resinous pine with some nice roasted notes that work so well with the hops.

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Photo of zac16125
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter
Dated Aug 2011-I'm a little late on this but saw there were only 2 bottles left at the beer store, and since I am a huge fan of the sublimely self righteous I figure I needed to try this one

A: pours a dark dark brown, almost but not quite black, with just over 1 fingers width of pretty dense light mocha colored head.  decent retention but dissipates down to leave a thin outer ring, and leaves only mild spotty lacing.  

S: the hops are noted first, then the sweet malts, however, the malts are more prominent.  Caramel, sweet dark fruits, very mild roasted characters, and a touch of bakers chocolate.  Dark fruits and sugary malt sweetness certainly  predominant though and i would agree with others in that the aroma is reminiscent of a barley wine .

T: Roasty, dark chocolate, coffee, and hop bitterness.  Very complex, and this is all in the first sip!  Some dark fruits as well, although not nearly as much as the nose implies. Boozy and with some piney hop bitterness.  The alcohol presence is legit, with a bigger impact than I would have liked and at times get distracting.   As it warms the hop bitterness becomes more prominent as do the dark choloclate flavors.  What you end up with is complexity in each sip....malt sweetness upfront, followed by chocolate and roasted characters, and finishing with a hop bitterness. Just so good when the alcohol is under check.  I never really got much citrus character from the hops, a touch of grapefruit and maybe some lemon zest was all, but thats likely because of the age of the brew.  I would loved to have tried this one fresh.  Overall, I really dig the flavor profile, I think it's very complex and delicious, I just wish the alcohol presence was a little more subdued.

M/D: surprisingly smooth, coats the palate nicely, full bodied, appropriate carbonation, the ABV makes it a little harsh at times, but it's so smooth so the drink ability remains relatively high, and I love the mouthfeel .  

O: Overall, definitely a brew that I really enjoyed.  It's hard to judge this beer based on the style, because I swear every Black IPA I taste is completely different.  Nevertheless though, this is a damn fine beer.  Stone never disappoints.  I hope they continue this one and move it past the anniversary ale status so I can try it fresh the next time around.  I will say that I think their regular version of the Black IPA, Sublimely Self Righteous, is better.  but then again that one is probably in my top 10 favorite beers of all time so it's obviously hard to top.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Tulip/snifter.

A: Black as night with a finger of light khaki head.

S: Strong floral hops, roasted malts, alcohol.

T: Strong citrus and floral hops, chocolate, and espresso roastiness.

M: Average thickness (shocking, given it's strong flavors).

O: This is much more potent than it tastes and feels. Also, it leans more toward DIPA with the roastiness being considerably downplayed.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled August 2011
A solid pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip produces a four finger thick, dark brown colored head. The head is very dense and leaves lots of thick lacing as it slowly subsides with a very rocky surface with deep crevices in it. The beer is an opaque, dark, black color. The aroma smells of candied citrus fruit and berries that is backed by a rich, roasted, and burntly sweet-rich malt character; this last has notes of dark chocolate and something like coffee syrup (though not nearly so sticky sweet). The roasted character leans more towards huge toasted grain notes, which is good as burnt notes would really clash with the hops. The combination of roast malt and fruity hops combine to contribute a spiciness to the nose that reminds me of a christmass cake flavored with orange zest, cinnamon and allspice.

Sweet dark malt helps support a big candied citrus zest character, roasted lychee and super ripe tangelo zest. This is backed by a huge herbaceous pine character that transforms into a huge, aggressive bitterness that is a combination of hops as well as the burnt / roast malt; the bitterness, really, really lingers on in the palate, when you take another sip the bitterness is there up front only slightly tempered by the rich malt character. This has a fair amount of body to it, though the bitterness in the finish is easily able to clean up the palate from the somewhat viscous, medium’ish body; actually the body of this beer is actually fairly light considering the strength of this beer. The roast character in this beer is actually a lot more aggressive than in a typical Black IPA; it contributes lots of burnt, black malt notes, some burnt grain husk character, a big toasted whole grain character (though this is more significant in the aroma), and a supporting, not really noticeable in and of itself, dark malt sweetness.

I can’t believe I am saying this, but the bitterness is so huge that it is distracting me from the other flavors in this beer; one could look at this as a good thing given that this beer would likely be a clashing, jarring fight between the vibrant American hop character and the burnt / roast malt notes, but really hiding this clash doesn’t make this beer better, especially since these Black IPAs always end up being a clash between these two components to some degree no matter what. If you are in the mood for an aggressive, cacophonous ride of a beer, then this beer certainly fits the bill; I am actually even enjoying it a bit more than I would have guessed in the end, especially given how harsh the flavor is.

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Photo of travolta
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

App: Black, not even another color around the edges when up to the light. Head retention is minimal. Nice lacing. A foamy, espresso colored head.

Nose: Licorice and dark candied fruits, slight alcohol notes, some dark berries, roasted dark coffee.

Taste: Typical Stone....perfect carbonation. Very balanced and subtle at first, which breaks way into multiple licorice, coffee and toffee flavors. Chocolate and toffee maltiness throughout.

Notes: A nice example of a Black IPA. Is it Imperial, or was this just a well balanced version? I'm not sure. Head retention was not typical Stone, everything else was top notch. Always a good quality beer with Stone.

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Photo of Vierenner
3.06/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I purchased this beer only because the store limited its sale to one per customer ... I thought that meant it was something special.

While good, I can't see what all the fuss is about. Nothing special, really.

I taste coffee, chocolate, and a bitterness which ruins everything for me.

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Photo of TwelveOunces
4.51/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber poured into a tulip.
August 2011, Enjoy fresh.
Four months late on this one but...

A- Pitch black, a quarter finger of a khaki brown head with little retention. Nice lacing.
S- A nice hoppy aroma up front, would have been better if I did have this fresh but still, Im not disappointed. A slight bit of coffee malts, and some burnt caramel. A little alcohol but I wouldnt have guessed it was over 10%. Hops are very piney with some overly ripened citrus.
T- A lot of hop bitterness up front followed by a good heap of coffee and caramel and possibly even chocolate malts. Piney hops and some astringency to it, traces of what this beer once was. But the bitterness is perfectly balanced. I really cant taste the alcohol surprisingly.
M- This beer is way too easy to drink. Leaves behind an appropriate ammount of bitterness and a coating mouth feel. a creamy aftertaste. Awesome stuff.
O- This beer is awesome, I think it is as good as their self richeous ale just a little different (and bigger). I cant help but think that if I had this beer fresh it would have scored a perfect 5 but unless they re-release it I may never know.

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Photo of Zimbo
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep black roasted tar nose which is sharply intense and penetrating. In the glass it is jet black and gives at least a half inch light brown glossy head. Interesting how it pours seeminglessly headless only to form something big and beatifull in just a few seconds.
The taste is tense, intense of dark liquorice, dark 100% cocoa chocolate, some silky earth which is superbly roasty dry and supported by deep pine. A vibrant TCP monster of measured intensity. Some slightly fizzy gas at the end does not distract from this potent glass of superb lethal jet fuel.
Bit of a predator. With large talons.

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Photo of hopfacebrew
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from undated bottle to pint glass. The beer pours a thick black color. Nice 1.5 finger tan head with good retention and lacing. The aroma is mostly roasted barley. I do recall a nice citrus west coast hop aroma of the bottle I cracked the day it hit the shelves many months ago. The hop aroma has certainly faded, as to be expected. Still a nice aroma. The flavor follows suit, the hops again have faded but not so much as to ruin the beer, the roasty malt together with a medium bitterness and mild hop flavor is still nice. The alcohol heat is prevalent and reminds you this beer is over 10%abv. The beer finishes smooth with a lingering chocolate flavor. Full bodied and really coats the palette. Overall, the beer is still good. I obviously preferred the fresh hop character several months back but this is still good, though perhaps more of a hopped up stout, which is fine. Another fine beer from Stone.

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Photo of Keffa
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Live Review, bomber poured into my Duvel tulip.

A: Pours black with a massive tan head, settles to a full cap, leaves small but abundant lacing everywhere. The best Black IPA I've seen to date, hands down.

S: Odd, yet good: Grassy, spicy, resinous, pungent hops off the bat, honestly reminds me of the Northern Brewer hops that I used in my first homebrew. Some coffee and roast notes come through as well as some chocolate and citrus notes under that. Nice.

T: Again, odd yet good. Bitter resinous hop up front, followed by the roast and citrus notes, then takes a back seat to the ABV and more bitterness. ABV is noticeable, if not in your face. Long, bitter and dry finish. Nice.

M: Hefty body, nicely carbonated, and oily, coating the palate well. Nice.

O: Really good. Bottle said bottled in August 2011. I could only imagine this beer fresh, it's good and hoppy now, I'm betting fresh it was a total hop bomb. Good beer, and even if you see it now, it's held up well in my humble opinion. Worth trying for sure.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.51/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Williamsburg Winery wine glass.

A: Pours an unbelievably black body along with a light tan colored head. This has an insane head for 10.8%, with incredible retention and lacing. Aesthetically, an amazing beer.

S: The best descriptor of the smell is chocolate-glazed grapefruit. Not the smoothest blend of flavors to me, but it does smell nice.

T: Starts with some subtle, roasty chocolate and coffee, while it finishes with a textbook grapefruit hop/slight booze finish. Not much in the way of pine notes, and in terms of booziness, it comes across like it's 9%, rather than almost 11%. I was worried that the roast/chocolate wouldn't mix with the hop character, but my fears were assuaged. Excellent.

M: This doesn't have the sticky, palate killing finish like SOME Stone beers (cough Arrogant Bastard cough), which in this situation, is good. Nicely heavy-bodied, with high carbonation and a warming alcohol finish.

O: It was worth getting too drunk after drinking 2/3rds of this, throwing up half of my dinner an hour later, waking up with a solid hangover at 5:00 AM, and being completely sick of anything alcoholic for a couple days after having this. That is all.

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Photo of RustyTide
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, well, I had this a while back now, but I wanted to give it some props.

A: Pitch black with approx 1 inch dark tan colored head with good retention and nice lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted malts, great bitter hops.

T: Very bitter hops with roasty, dark chocolate and caramel malts.

M: Thick full body, moderate carbonation.

Overall: This was an outstanding beer, one of my favorite Black IPAs so far. I miss it dearly. I had plenty of it while it was around, I hope it comes back. Stone....thank you.

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Photo of pjs234
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into my Stone RIS glass. This beer is almost pitch black and had a solid 3 finger head that faded quickly with very minimal lacing. The head was very pretty, as it was a nice tan color, contrasting well with this thick black beer. The smell is sweet, roasty, hoppy, with a hint of alcohol. I am really digging the smell of this beer. The taste is great and very similar to the smell. It starts off a tad sweet and chocolately, and then the roasty flavors and hops take over resulting in a bitter flavor, with a hint of coffee. There is a touch of detectible alcohol, which is to be expected when the abv is 10%+. The mouth feel is smooth with just about the right amount of carbonations.

Overall, I really like this beer and it is one of my favorite Black IPA's.

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Photo of nrs207
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle.

Pours black. No light getting through this one. Creamy tan head. Aggressive pour leads to a 1.5 finger head into a tulip.

The smell is roasty, chocolate. Some muted hops, however I had this on tap in August right after it was brewed and the hops were fantastic and assertive. Obviously after 5 months the hops will settle somewhat.

The taste is chocolate and alcohol. The hops have faded over time unfortunately, but it is still a great flavor. Just turned into more of a hoppy stout than a roasty IPA. I wouldn't call either better, just depends on your taste. I prefer a lot of hops, so back when it was fresh it was more my style. I think with another 6 months on this thing I would be in love with it as a hopped up stout. This is what Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout should be if it had more hops. I get way more chocolate and a much better mouthfeel than BCS.

Very smooth mouthfeel. Really coats the mouth, and definitely a sipper at 10.8%.

Overally, I can't recommend this enough. Unfortunately being a hop forward beer, it was meant to be had fresh (says drink fresh on the bottle). It's the best Black IPA I've had to date, without a doubt.

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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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