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 Pencible
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured an opaque black mahogany with thick tan head.
S: It smelled like fresh citrus and some dried mango and floral hops, with a little roasted barley and dark chocolate.
T: It tasted like bitter citrus zest and copper hops, with roasted barley and black coffee, and a little sweet mango and dry dark chocolate. It had a dry bitter aftertaste that was clean but a bit harsh.
M: It was somewhat thick with moderate carbonation. Decent body.
D: This was a very nice black IPA with good look and scent and taste, but the body was only ok. The alcohol was hidden pretty well, but it had a harsh bitterness and burnt character in the finish, so it wasn't entirely easy to drink. I'd love to try this side-by-side with Sublimely Self-Righteous to see which I prefer, but this was solid on its own.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have had this both on draft and in the bottle and I have finally gotten around to reviewing it. Shared with Alucard4 and some friends at our Christmas party

Look: Black with 1/2 inch tan head and great retention

Smell: Roasted malts mixed in with some floral and bitter hops

Taste: The beer starts off just as the nose leaves you off. Upfront is a massive amount of bitter and floral hops and mixed together with the roasted malt and form a kind of candy sweetness. The beer then finishes with some nice coffee and chocolate notes

Mouthfeel: Medium body and ample carbonation

Overall: A very good Black IPA note as good as they sublimely self righteous but damn close

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a pitch black color with a thick toffee colored creamy head, and gentle carbonation.

S - Crisp roasted chocolate malt with a citrus zing and some floral notes, a little bit grassy.

T - Boozy, and finishes with a citrus roasted mouthfeel. Roasted malt in the middle, slight warming on the way down, and leaves a bitter roasted chocolate and citrus aftertaste. Compared to other Black IPA's, this one is pretty bold for a black IPA.

M - Medium to full body, a little chewy, velvey smooth, and semi-dry.

When it comes to the Black IPA's, I could take 'em or leave 'em because they leave my palette confused and I don't enjoy the clash of the chocolate and IPA nuances. However, this particular beer is worth checking out. I can't see this beer keeping a long time before the hops fade and turn it into a chocolate IPA. (This review is being written from notes that were taken on 9/14/11 when I sampled it on tap.)

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

From notes on 12/02/11:
Bottled: Aug 2011; Poured in a pint glass.

A - Half inch thick creamy tan head; Very close to black - just a hint of dark brown along the edges when held to the light; Some lacing around the glass

S - Grapefruit smelling hops; Sweet chocolate with some roasted coffee beans; Dark fruits as well; Loving the smell of this

T - Some bitterness hits up front with some pine and grapefruit hops; Roasted coffee beans follow accompanied by biscuity and slight chocolate qualities; Some alcohol is present in the beginning; A good dose of bitterness stays throughout the taste

M - Lots of carbonation; Higher side of medium bodied; Pretty smooth feel that leaves a slight citrus oily coat on the tongue; A little warmth from the alcohol is also detected

O - This beer has really broadened my horizons in mixing the stout and IPA styles...and it's awesome. At first, the flavors in this beer didn't mesh like I had hoped. However, after having a chance to warm, it really reached a nice balance of hops and malt flavors. Stone really did a nice job on this beer, and I'm pleased I had the chance to enjoy this. I am excited to see what direction other breweries take with this new and growing style.

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Photo of rarbring
3.23/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer is very dark, black, a good brown head leaving some lacing and having good curtains.

The smell is very intense, dates, grass, herbs, flowers, a perfume character.

Starting with sweet brown bread, dark dried fruits, then loads of fruity and bitter hops. Tropical fruits, grape-fruit peel.

Light carbonation, soft, sticky and oily, a huge body and a very dry finish.

Actually I found the hops a bit too much and clashing with the sweetness.

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Photo of ZenAgnostic
3.31/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 pint 6 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Marked August 2011.

Appearance - Black body. Medium brown head with good retention and good stick.

Smell - Tons of wet grassy hop. Olives and soy sauce. Pungent.

Taste - Peppery. Acidic. Tons of hop. Almost fishy. Enormous lime peel bitterness in the body, finish, and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - This facet dominates the profile. Very solvent and acidic. So bitter i can't tell if it's medium bodied, though I suspect it. Head offers some creaminess.

Overall Drinkability - This is one of the most in-your-face beers I've had since Ruination. This beer is no joke.

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Photo of wowbagger
3.23/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was very excited to get my hands on a bottle of this, and very kindly shared it with a few others.

Pours black as sin and has a sweet hoppy smell as expected. Beautiful thick head but it doesn't last long. I'd describe the flavor as unrelenting. Harshly hopped and stays on the palate for quite a while with some coffee hints.

Overall, this and IPA's in general really aren't my style. It's certainly worth a try and drinkable but the third of a bottle I had was enough for me.

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Photo of TheBrewo
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

We pour a brew of the deepest ruby sheen, with highlights of dark browns. It holds a one and a half finger head of medium brown bubbles, and shows great retention. As it departs we are left with sheets of thick lacing. Carbonation is medium with the bubbles rising slowly, and no sediment is noted. The aroma boasts bright hops which are earthy and very organic seeming. We also detect cinnamon, dragon fruit, tart red apples, and strawberry preserves. There is also a light hint of raw ginger root. The malts are toasty and dark. With warmth comes booze and strong bubblegum esters. As we sip, the flavoring begins with robust citric hops. Those tropical fruits come in, riding on some more soapy hops. There is a sweetness of fusel booze, along with crisp and roasty malts. Raw coffee bean adds an additional dryness, and brings us to the middle where the malts are richer, charred, and salty. They battle more hops, which are now earthy, as they were in the nose. The fruit also remains, and helps provide a sweeter base for the esters to play against. We end with sugary sweetness, booze, organic hops and earthiness, and metallic malty roast. The aftertaste is bittered from the coffee and citric hop inclusions, with a heavy fusel booze to bind it all together. The body is medium to full and the carbonation is medium, but soft. There is great froth and slurp and creaminess, but the beer stills feels satisfyingly sticky. There is ultimate cooling and a twang of dryness. The abv is getting up there, but the beer has phenomenal drinkability.

Overall, what we found to be the best aspect of this beer was the crazy aroma and feel. The tropical fruit was totally unexpected, with beautiful hops and malts. The fruit and spice were seemingly unconventional for the style, but made for a unique twist and a really wonderful brew. At times the flavoring approached the upper limits of tolerance for booziness, but this beer is really over the top in almost every single way.

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Photo of iBeer16
4.67/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed in a pint glass.

A: pours extremely dark, can't see through at all. Pours with a 2" dark mocha head. Leaves nice lacing.

S: smell is very intruiging. Very hoppy but also strong sweet malty smell.

T: extmely malty, sweet and toasty malts. In addition as expected fairly hoppy but a great balance between hops and malts!

M: flavor combination of sweet malts and bitter hops make this a great beer to enjoy.

Overall, this beer is incredible. The mix between the bitterness from the hops and the sweetness from the malts makes this a fantastic black ipa. Strongly recommend to anyone looking for a quality black ipa!

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

22 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a deep brown, with a couple fingers of dark mocha head. This retains with a tight finger, leaving back a big frothy cascade of foam that settles down into a sticky latticework of lacing that clings to the sides of the glass. The aroma smells of fresh grapefruit and pine accents, with both definitely having some vibrant power to them. Notes of roast and sweet chocolate come in off the sides, while that big ABV adds a bit of heady warmth to the nose. Those American hops really control this though.

The taste starts with strong grapefruit bitterness and pine that cut across the tongue, with that initial blast being buffered by a thick mix of chocolate sweetness and a touch of tangier feeling caramel. A wall of burnt roast pulls up the back of this before the hops regains their strength in the finish with bitter fruit, resins, and spicy alcohol sticking to the tongue with a stiff dryness, while even the roast gets in on the act as well with an intense charred feel that leaves an impression. The mouthfeel is full bodied in the mouth and has some sharpness on the tongue that pops those notes of hops and roast. The rest of the feel has more of a smooth creaminess to it that helps fill out the corners of the mouth. That near 11% ABV isn’t ridiculous feeling but like the nose, does give this a certain amount of beefiness and intensifies those already aggressive flavors.

While this certainly had some big ole’ balls on it, it ultimately came as more of a hefty and hoppy American Stout to me, as those roasted malts and chocolate sweetness had about as big of a presence here as the hops did. Even with this not quite being quite up to snuff style-wise for me and much like all of these Stone Anniversary beers, it’s always at least worth trying.

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Photo of syrupjoe
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into pint glass.

Pours a pitch amber color (deep brown/black with slight amber tints around edges) with a one finger sand colored head.

Nose is woody, roasty, and slightly cocoa-y. Hints of smoked meat and vanilla.

Taste is roasty, savory like burnt meat, and has intense hop and cocoa bitterness.

Moderate carbonation with a clean but intensely bitter finish and bitter hop aftertaste.

Overall a good beer. Alcohol is almost completely concealed and hops are nicely balanced with dark roasted malts. Not super easy drinking but I enjoyed it.

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Photo of bszern
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Pours with a 2-3 finger dark tan head. nice lacing. Beer is deep brown, almost black.

Smell is a little boozy, real hoppy, with hints of licorice. I'm not a huge fan of anise, so this part of the beer kind of put me off.

Taste is intense. It is a little woody, and intensely malty. The hops are very obviously there, but the brutal bitterness is hid well by the malt. The large alcohol content is only noticeable on the aftertaste, and is not offensive or overpowering.

Mouthfeel is heavy and a little sticky. Not bad.

Overall, this is a very solid beer. Everything works together very well. I didn't expect anything less from Stone, and hope that this gets re-released.

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Photo of crowsoup
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darkness is not the opposite of light, it's the absence of light. It's night time right now, but I speculate that if one wanted, they could pour this "Black IPA" in a glass, hold it up to the sky, and stare directly at the sun with nary a negative effect on ones vision.

There's a certain maltiness that serves as an upfront mask to the underlying hops here. A complex hit of dark fruit sweetness balanced by bitter, dark chocolate notes to the left and right. The body and flavors mask the alcohol well, but as the beer warms in the glass the booze elbows its way to the nose.

There's a complexity here that I believe might possibly get more and more mysterious as time passes. Sadly I was more thirsty than curious and killed it way too fast. But not fast enough to forget it. Seems to me that I'll be back at the corner store tomorrow picking up another bottle or two to study.

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Photo of ElGordo
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I have to say first off that the nomenclature of this beer is unacceptable. The style is a Cascadian Dark Ale, not a black IPA, but that fight is for another day and for other parties to sort out.

Poured from the 22oz bottle into a snifter. Body is a deep dark brown, nearly black, topped by a finger or two of dark tan head. Aroma of roasted dark malt with some lactic sweetness, along with a good dose of citrusy hops that impart notes of grapefruit and grass.

Palate is big,rich, and a bit sweet for the style. Roasted malt with notes of lactose and cocoa. The hops come through on the swallow, with some grassy notes peeking through the huge malt backbone. Finish is full and sweet, with more lactose lingering alongside the dark roasty quality.

Body is big, full, and creamy, understandably heavy given the strength. The creaminess holds the flavor very well. I think, though, that the huge level of malt in this beer is a bit much for the hops to compete with, which leaves this beer closer to imperial stout territory more than any sort of hoppy style.

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Photo of sevenarts
4.48/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Just a beautiful beer. Really dark, with a nice big cappuccino head that subsides to thick, resilient lacing.

S: Very strong aromas of floral hops, alcohol, and malty chocolate/coffee, all mingling together.

T/M: The hops hit up front and are quickly joined by slightly burnt, toasted malt flavors, some mild fruitiness, and hints of warming alcohol in the aftertaste. Thick, creamy mouthfeel.

O: A strong, tasty, intense black IPA that hits hard but doesn't sacrifice complexity.

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

A: pours black with dark brown caramelly colors around the edges, mocha colored head

S: Chocolate, dark roasted malt, distinct hop aroma and an earthiness

T: Strong dark roasted malt, quite sweet and bitter at the same time, dark fruit

M: dry yet smooth, very think and sticky, medium bodied

O: very complicated beer, lots of flavors and the alcohol is masked well. I like this beer, its a great special occasion beer but I would not drink this regularly.

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

Pours a coal black ale with a nice foamy light brown head. Cool looking. The aroma has baking chocolate, coffee, slight soy, raisins, roasted malts, oak and some smoke. Getting some whiffs of Chinese food too. A lot going on here. The taste is very hoppy. More dark chocolate and coffee beans in the flavor. Big and malty. There is also a some citrus peeking through in the background and more noticeably on the swallow and aftertaste. Getting grapefruit and orange peel. Slight burn in the throat on the swallow. Overall I really enjoyed this brew. A nice sipper that catches up with the drinker very quickly....though at 10.8% it can be consumed by one very easily. Good stuff.

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Photo of 2378GCGTG
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into a stemless red wine glass at 46 degrees

Appearance: 0.5 inch tan/mocha head, nice and bubbly, great lacing and good retention. It's black, but light still gets through, good example of a black IPA

Smell: Piney and citrusey, with hints of vanilla, prunes and other dark fruits followed by the cascade hops. The smell is very reminiscent of an American barley wine.

Taste: a hint of dark chocolate, with black and roasted malt, the prunes come through a bit followed by a well balanced hop finish, thats complex and very present.

Mouthfeel: Light, silky/velvety. It dances across the palate, certainly not a session beer, but light enough to have a few glasses.

Overall: This is a well done offering from stone. Sometimes I think their beers scream at my taste buds, like their beers don't have any subtle flavors, this beer is the second beer by stone (first is double bastard 2010) that I really truly liked I will definitely have this again, and in fact I want to age one and see how it changes.

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Photo of Heavenisbeer
4.11/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Into a pint glass.

A: Straight up darkness. Beautiful. Gorgeous cappuccino head with wonderful lacing. This is the first 5 I’ve given for appearance.

S: Mocha chocolate anise. Floral hops. Full bodied. Alcohol is evident. Dark fruits, prunes mainly.

T: Milk chocolate, with some underlying dark fruits (again, prunes). Roasted, toasty, bready malts. Darn good.

M: Close to perfection. The 10.8 abv, although punctuated, blends well with the carbonation and the viscosity.

Wowzers. Excellent BIG brew.

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

A- Black. Dark brown sticky head that dissipated to a foam top and left a sparse sticky lacing. Looked rather thick as it poured.

A- Herbal hops instantly hit you. As the beer warmed I noticed more malty influences, some chocolate and caramel. Slight fruitiness as well.

T- Initially a herbal bitterness, but then slightly sweet malt flavor opens up. It is then followed by alcohol and finishes with a slightly bitter roasty chocolate flavor.

M- Full body with low carbonation. Very smooth, almost considered having a cookie with this beer, but the bitterness probably wouldn't go so well with the sweets.

D- Very enjoyable. Drank a bottle slowly over the course of the evening. A very tasty beverage, I may have to purchase another.

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Photo of emcohen
4.53/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep brown, almost black with a dark tan, thick head. The head was about two fingers and held up well.

A: Overwhelmingly fresh herbal hop aroma.

T: Roasted nuts and chocolate up front, citrus hops take over as it transitions to a more traditional IPA taste.

M: Light carbonation keeps tingling in the finish. Hop bitterness prevails throughout.

O: I'm usually not a fan of IPAs but I've been coming around on the black IPA style. This is definitely the best one I've had so far.

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Photo of eat
4.77/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter after warming a while on the counter. Viscous black body topped with a light cover of beige-coloured head. Some lacing.

This was bottled about four months ago so I was expecting a possibly muted hop aroma; Stone must have hopped this to hell because the nose is still exploding with hops. Huge tropical notes with lots of lychee and guava, big caramel underneath with light chocolate and roast. This smells fantastic.

In my experience with Stone balance is not something I'm anticipating but this beer is just about perfectly balanced (I hope it wouldn't offend them for me to say that!). Insane smoothness for the ABV, probably the smoothest alcohol presence I've ever experienced at this percentage (I'd believe this was 6.5%). Lots of grapefruit but not overly bitter like I've found in most other beers from this brewery. Light chocolate, moderate roast and a good level of caramel sweetness to balance it out. I wouldn't really want to change a thing flavour-wise.

The feel is pretty much right on; not too thick or too thin. Right in the middle with medium-light carbonation.

I have to say that this beer is seriously underrated here on BA. As an imperial black IPA this is more or less perfect. I could drink this every day. This is definitely an appropriate beer to offer as an anniversary edition and the first by Stone to leave me totally impressed.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.83/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Funny enough, this Imperial Black IPA is jet black and absolutely opaque, even when directly back lit. Big fluffy brown head that falls slowly and has a heavy lace. Heavy hop spice in the nose supported by a range of flavors: burnt sugar, heavy roasted malt, black strap molasses, dark fruit--light cherry and heavy fig, grapefruit, and a dense earthiness. Very excited for the first sip. Wow. Give me a second.

Roasted malt and molasses taste is heavy with burnt note blended with the serious hop bite. Supported by the wonderful nose, it is an amazingly fun beer to drink. 10.8% alcohol is not apparent in the nose or the taste, but the Imperial part of the title is showing through in every other respect. Hop lingers on the tongue and rises in the center of the mouth with the roast for a splendid twang. Dry off the back.

As the beer warms, the alcohol becomes apparent in nose and taste, which has little effect except maybe the hop is more subdued in the nose. Warmed up, the beer exhibits a stronger balance than when cold, so don't be afraid to be busy and drink this one over time.

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Photo of rowingbrewer
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours to style it is a black ale. There is also amconsiderable tan head produced while pouring. The smell is roasty hoppy and almost a little sweetness and dark chocolate all in one. The flavor is a little sweet and hoppy at the same time. There is definitiel a lot of roasted character and a little dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is a little thick and I would almOst classify this as an American double stout based on the body abv and appearance. The beer is delicious but I don't think this is a black ale

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.76/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very, very dark brown. Colour is perceptible but it may just be an optical illusion. No illusion about the head which is lovely, dense mocha foam, sunk slowly to a thin film with uneven lace. Looks great.

Smell is hoppy like a mofo, just smells like hop pellets - grass clippings, thyme and taragon on there with lots of citrus and some polished brass. It's all hops, and could use some more dark roasty aroma from the malt. Don't mind it, but it's a bit simplistic.

Taste is better; more of the darker notes. In fact the hops seem almost to be missing here. Nice roasty malt notes, with by-and-by characters of chocolate, star anise, natural licorice and pepper, and then still that big grassy hop note comes through - fresh grass clippings and a touch of pepperberry. Slightly floral but yeah, grass is the big note. It's kind of a sidenote to the majority of the palate though and the flavours don't quite mesh, but it's a bit flavour brew that manages to be enjoyable in spite of its slightly slapdash nature.

A bit sharp and dry on the back, but otherwise smooth and a bit sticky. Not bad.

Seems a little more like a garage home-brewed IBA than something I'd expect from Stone. Seems like the flavour isn't as expertly woven together as previous beers of theirs I've had.

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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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