15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA | Stone Brewing

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714 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:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 714 | Ratings: 1,427
Photo of nbree00
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nice jet black color with a nice 2 inch chocolate brown head.

S: Nose is pretty epic with notes burnt chocolate, earth, pine and espresso.

T/M: Pretty blown away by the taste to be honest. Completely blows sublimely self righteous out of the water. Flavors of burnt espresso, chalk, pine cones, sauted mushrooms and baking chocolate. Super well balanced mouthfeel with a pleasant chalkiness.

O: Really impressed with this beer overall, very roasty flavors and great body and texture. Highly recommended.

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Photo of sdmvd6
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black with a finger of tan head that leaves little lacing.

S - Big citrus and tropical fruits up front that give way to roasted malt, and coffee. There is a definite alcohol presence that becomes more apparent as the beer warms.

T - Oranges, grapefruit, and mangoes in the beginning with a decent amount of bitterness. Hop juiciness makes way for intense coffee and bitter chocolate. The finish consists of bitterness and coffee. The alcohol is very present in the finish as well.

M - Creamy and full with moderate carbonation. There is a bit more of an alcohol burn in the finish than I would prefer, taking a bit from the drinkability.

O - This is a great beer from Stone. It is basically a hopped imperial stout IMO, and the hop selection complements the roasted malt very well.

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Photo of dmatsui
2.22/5  rDev -46.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pitch black. 2 finger sticky, mud brown head. Lots of lacing.

Muddled blend of bitter hops, burnt cocoa, hazelnut and coffee. Not particularly inviting, an odd, unbalanced aroma that I found to be really off-putting.

Big hit of bittering hops forward, followed by dark roasty stout characteristics.

I really don't have much to say about this one. To me there's way too much going on, the hoppiness does not pair up well with the stout backbone, and it tastes like a mess. Stone always seems to want to take on huge hybrid beers, sometimes very successfully sometimes over-executed. This was honestly one of the worst beers I've had in a while.

Didn't finish the bottle.

I'm still scratching my head about this one; I thought I would've liked it.

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Photo of aknight
4.37/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I believe I'm on record stating that I'm not much of a fan of Black IPAs but this one is different. This isn't anything that is going to convert me to the style but it is easily the best I have ever had.

On first pour there is just massive hop aroma, before even trying to smell the beer, while I was still pouring it into a glass I just got massive hop scent. The beer pours a pretty pitch black. The head is super frothy and has great retention. The beer is awfully sweet, about what you would expect from a 10.8% beer, but the sweetness never over powers the hops. They live in harmony.

I dig this beer. It's no 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout but it is a damn fine beer.

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Photo of MarkVegas
4.72/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours black and opaque. A tan head a little less than a finger appears and dissipates quickly. Lacing clings to the glass as I drink.

S: First impression on the nose: hop bomb! After the hops you definitely some of that roasted malt goodness. Smells great!

T: Tastes awesome, hop bomb up front, roasty in the middle and hop bitter in the back. Well balanced. For a 10%+ abv beer you don't get much alcohol burn at all. So Good!

M: Good body with just the right amount of carbonation. Not too heavy, lively on the tongue but finishes so smooth.

O: Seem like I'm gushing a bit? Yea, I am. This beer is most certainly my favorite for the style. Stone does not disappoint at all with this offering. With Sublimely Self-Righteous as the wingman to this beer its easy to say that Stone has the American Black Ale/Black IPS down to a science. Well played Stone, well played.

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Photo of hopking311
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black, half finger of tan head.. dissapates to thick frothy ring around inside of my tulip glass..

smells of roasted malts.. citrus hops.. seriously smells awesome.. loss for words

heavy rich mouthfeel.. well carbonated

tastes.. roasty, smokey malts.. thick, balanced citrusy hoppy backbone.. Flavorful IBA.. Incredibly balanced and drinkable for the abv.

This is bad ass.. I really love my sublimely self righteous, but this is a beast of its own.. Cant wait to see how this one ages..

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Photo of Godot
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a muddy black with a thick chocolate milk head that slooowly dropped to a solid film leaving a good amount of lacing. Smell is of burnt chocolate, coffee, and a sharp hop twang that is vaguely citrus. Tastes of bitter chocolate malt with the sharp bite of grapefruit rind. The two strangely balance each other but its a mouthful of flavor to say the least. Alcohol accompanies the toasty finish. Drinking a 22oz bomber of this myself is a bit much. Its a very interesting and complex beer that is a bit overpowering. I love an imperial stout (and this beer has some very stout-like characteristics) and I love an IIPA (LOVE Maharaja), but the two together is a bit harsh. I wonder if the harshness would mellow with some age on it. The hop profile would deepen and smooth out a bit which might be good.

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Photo of jsled
3.2/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

P: 4/5. Perfectly opaque black, good tan head, well supported with lacing.

A: 4/5. luxurious hops. some citrus, but a piney, resiny wonderfulness. no real perceived alcohol.

F: 6/10. sweet, roasty, alcohol. roast finishes in an astringent twang. unpleasant balance on the back of the tongue.

M: 2/5. not overly coating, but much residual bitterness, and no residual sweetness to balance.

O: 6/10. Not quite what I'd like in a BIPA.

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Photo of beerfan99
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Summer 2011
22oz bottle consumed on 9/10/2011

A: Pours black and appears to be pretty thick. Carbonation creates a very nice dark brown head that fades slowly. Head slowly turns into beer for a pretty near effect.

S: Typical hop aromas along with roasted malt and coffee. I smell some citrus as well as pine.

T: The roasted malt and coffee flavors seem to dominate the bitterness of the hops, which I found quite confusing. My sight and smell were telling me one thing, but my sense of taste was another story.

M: Thick, rich, and very smooth. Alcohol is masked very well. Quite easy to drink considering the high alcohol levels.

O: I have waiting for 15th Anniversary for a couple months and it still has not arrived in Virginia. This beer came from New York. I fear by the time Stone and our local distributor get it together the hop aspects of this beer will be gone. Anyway, enough venting. This is a really a very good beer and I cannot wait to have it again. The appearance reminds of SIRS, but that's where the similarities end. This one has pleasant citrus and pine hop aromas, bitterness, and is well balanced through the addition of roasted malts to provide the sweetness and higher alcohol levels. Very impressed overall.

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Photo of KSac4115
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark dark brown, practically black with a small dark brown foam head that dissipates quickly. I would compare it to a black coffee color.

Smells hoppy and very piney at first along with mind grapefruit hints. There are also definite hints of coffee and mocha making a very complex smell. Foreboding of the taste. Really smells as if a porter was poured half and half with an IPA.

Taste is very dark, roasty, and malty. However, the bitternew of an IPA definitely shines through in the middle of the taste and definitely in the aftertaste combining fr a unique effect. I taste more of a porter than an IPA while it is obvious that both are prevalent.

Mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth with mild carbonation. Remarkably drinkable for 10.8%. While it tastes like a porter it does not give you the heaving and filling feeling that they tend to do.

Overall a very amazing beer. What I would expect of a Stone anniversary ale. As a hop head, I would have preferred more IPA flavors and hints as opposed porter flavors. Nonetheless, they mix beautifully making a very unique and tasty brew.


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Photo of baconbourbon
3.33/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours black with a slight tan head that doesn't last long enough. There is hardly any lacing. It looks like a very thin bodied stout.

Smell - The aroma is rather burnt and smoky. There is something left to be desired here.

Taste - The burntness is overpowering and it actually tastes a bit chocolatey. If I had known it was going to taste this way, I would've simply opened a stout instead.

Mouthfeel - Does not really feel like much. The body is too thin and therefore lacks that consistency that I'm looking for.

Overall - I was not impressed in the slightest. I figured this beer was hyped because it's a special release, and guess what. I was right.

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

Appearance: Black with ample frothy brown head.

Smell: Alcohol, leather, prunes and raisins.

Taste: Chocolatey sweetness, slight alcohol burn with a finish of soy sauce all with a bitter hop sidecar along for the ride.

Mouthfeel: silky smooth mouthfeel with moderate amount of carbonation.

Overall: this is a great beer the combination of roasty, sweet malt, and bitter hops comes together extremely well in this beer.

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

22oz bottle poured into snifter first and later a perfect pint glass. The perfect pint glass was a better serving option.

I’m reviewing this beer on October 4th when it was bottled and released in mid-August. I have a feeling the hop character has changed somewhat. It is suggested that this one be enjoyed fresh.

A: almost jet black. I got 1 inch of creamy, tan head on an average strength pour. It dissipated quite a bit in a minute but left a generous cap that stayed as I drank the beer down. A good amount of lacing was left on the glass.

S: At first smell I got fresh, piney hops. This was followed by a roasted, smoky malt, dark chocolate, and alcohol. The alcohol is very present.

T: I get a lot of roasted malt with very dark, bitter chocolate and strong coffee. A bit of anise as well. The hops are there as well, but I think the roasted malt is currently dominating. Surprisingly, based on the smell, the alcohol fits in quite well. I was afraid it might be overpowering.

M: I find the beer to have a medium mouthfeel. It seems a bit light on the carbonation, but I recall this character in other beers of similar styles.

O: Heavy duty. I wish I could have tried it extremely fresh. It is an interesting brew that reminds me of the year-round Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. I think I prefer the 15th over the aforementioned year-round. The strong alcohol smell while drinking it out of the snifter distracted me a lot. This smell was not nearly as present in the perfect pint glass. I will try it on tap if I get the chance.

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Photo of wedge421
4.82/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Im going to make this real easy. This is the most hop forward and complex beer that Stone has brewed to date. Amazing stuff and highlights Stone being at the top of the West Coast hop bomb game. Yeah great stuff. If you love a solid west coast hop bomb this is the beer for you. This makes Ruination look like a barley wine

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Photo of J0E
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle - 2 pours into a snifter last night

A: Dark black with a nice dark tan head which dissipated but left a nice ring of lace throughout the whole tasting.

S: Strong floral hops. Really smells like an IPA with some roasted malt in the background.

T: Again, very heavily hopped. Nice strong bitterness with some citrusy notes as well. The malt has a solid presence here as well. A roasted/toasted bread flavor with a bit of bitter chocolate. hardly a hint of the 10% abv.

M: Light to medium body with plenty of carbonation.

O: I've tried a handful of Black IPAs and a couple Imperial Black IPAs, and this one is the top (followed closely by Arcardia's B- Craft). Very enjoyable and a decent price tag.

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Photo of wifehatesthebike
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Above average thickness with a thick frothy head that continued to rise after first pour. Very dark with a light brown top. Average lacing down the glass.

S: Light chocolate and citrusy hops, does not explode with scent but smells deep and complex.

T: Heavy dark malts followed by citrus hops (oranges and tangerine) and a bitter lingering finish. Alcohol is present but fairly hidden for almost 11%.

M: Above average viscosity here for the style. Very smooth and carbonated perfectly.

O: A very good beer, but to me I may still prefer Stone Sublimely Self Righteous. They are definately different beer with different hop and malt flavors.

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Photo of MysticRuler
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

All in all...the best Black IPA I've ever tasted...although I'm definitely not a great fan of the style. Still, this one had a depth and complexity that makes it a laudible effort. Deep boozy tobacco note melange with a chocolate espresso hoppy resin. Would I choose this over a Founders Porter?...not a chance. But when matched against other Black IPA's, it more than holds it's own.

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Photo of cneville
3.08/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured out of a fun bomber.

Into the glass, it looks like oil. Dark, viscous, with a big head that leaves tons of lacing. Smell brings pine hops at first, with an odd finish. Burnt? Earthy? There's a lot going on here, and I'm not sure I love it. Taste is almost like a stout at first, and then you taste the piney hops. Chocolatey, a little smoky, and it's really overwhelming. I can't totally sort it out. The alcohol is definitely present--it's a very warming beer. Carbonation is good.

I liked alright, but it never really came together for me. Maybe I'm not ready for something this complex. I like Yakima Glory a little better.

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Photo of paulromeroii
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stopped by last weekend at Killarney's in Riverside Ca for some lunch. I started out the afternoon with a Racer 5 but had my meal with the Stone 15th Anniversary Ale and I must say, this is one of the most exciting beers I've had so far this year.

It was served in a New Belgium Globe Glass which I was kinda upset about but it got the job done.

Poured very dark like motor oil with a dark brown head.

Smelled of Pine, coffee, and chocolate.

Taste was amazing! Hoppy up front, but finishes like a Stout. At 10.80% ABV its very drinkable.

It went very well with the Adult Grilled Cheese and the side of Curry Fries I had. I would love to see this on nitro.

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

appearance: dark black with mocha colored head. great lacing.

smell: nothing too crazy; strong hop scent with malt notes

taste: excellent representation of a black IPA. overall, this tastes like an IPA that has some hidden stout characteristics that are accentuated as the beer warms up.

mouthfeel: black IPAs are new to me, so the mixture of a standard IPA flavor with malty notes was a little unsettling, but as I drank the beer further, it became obvious that this combination is worth seeking out.

overall: Stone can be inconsistent when it comes to cheaper beers, but as the price increases the quality increases. Definitely one of Stone's finest achievements I've had.

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Photo of Fulkrum78
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours black as night with a light brown head that fades to lacing along the glass pretty quick. Aroma is malty and rich. Taste is rich and malty. Hops and malt nicely blend with the alcohol content. Great beer. I'm gonna have to snag two or three of these to stick in the beer cooler to hold on to for later.

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Photo of bravejoejoe
4.65/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz Bomber bottle.
A - Poured a pitch black beer with a thick creamy head.
S - I smell citrus hops with a burt/ roasted malts.
T - This is a punch in the mouth. There is an explosion of citrus hops, huge malt profile, and is still sweet. the after taste is bitter with roasty-ness.
M - This is very heavy in the mouth, very viscous. To me it seems light on the carbonation.

I would drink this again, but definitely not more then one in a setting. This is a good beer to drink for several hours or with a couple friends.

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

Bomber poured into a imperial pint glass.

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

S - Lots of in-your-face hoppiness dominate.

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. 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 from Stone. I had bigger expectations on this one. I am a huge Stone fan... always have some on hand... I dig BIPA's...but I I didn't fall in love with this anniversary version as much as I have in the past.

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

22oz. Bomber poured into my Pike Brewery Snifter

A - Black or damn near, tan head dissipates to a thin line.

S - Burnt Chocolate, grass; hops, alcohol.

T - Chocolate, alcohol, some dark fruity-ness, hops. A lot going on here. Bitter aftertaste

M - Silky coats the mouth nicely

O - Very good beer, sort of a sipper but sort of not. I had the whole 22 myself, but may try and share the next one, 10.8 hits you good.

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Photo of amidabha
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a vigorous pour into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass produced a deep coffee one inch tan head with abundant lacing. the hops aroma is great which confuses me by the appearance.

i've only had a few black ipa's before but i find this one tasty. starts off sweet and creamy like a stout with an ipa bite which gives me the best of both since it helps hide the high abv.

a great mix that changes as it warms complimenting both styles equally well. the hoppiness encourages me to drink this faster than normal. this sucker has such a great kick i wish i had bought two.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
4.18 out of 5 based on 1,427 ratings.
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