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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA | Stone Brewing

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717 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: 717 | Ratings: 1,435
Photo of devinoconnor
3.72/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours coffee black (without the cream!) with a heaping of frothy brownish foam head. Smell is intense, as is everything with this imperial IPA.

Loads of roasted malts take to your nose, somewhat overpowering. Chocolate comes through, as does the high ABV alcohol.

While I enjoy a beer with character, I think the alcohol overpowers the taste here. Almost like liquor was just thrown in. Notes of oatmeal come through, as does dark chocolate and some citrus from the hops.

Beer grew on my as I drank my 8oz, but overall thought it was just a little too strong. Unnecessarily.

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

A - Great looking beer with a solid three plus figners of dense head that leaves lots and lots of lacing. Dark looking beer with brown head.

S - Lots of roasted malts but not too overpowering, some nice sweet grapefruit scents with nice piney hops.

T - The hops hit up fron and are piney with a little bit of citrus, not the burnt taste to may be expecting but some nice subtle chocolate sweet notes. Nice and sweet not to heavy

M - Medium to full bodied as it was a little surupy. Was really smoth and clean though, doesn't feel heavy

O - Really a great beer, Stone has some great beers so if you have not had any... GET THEM!!!

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Photo of pburland23
3.41/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured from a 22 ounce bombed into my Great Divide tulip.

Pours a stout-like opaque dark black with two and half towering fingers of mocha colored head. Moderate head retention and a ridiculous draping of thick, clingy lacing.

Smell is underwhelming. I was expecting a real, quintessential Stone hop bomb. But, the preeminent aroma was more dark candied sugar and sweet malt. At the tale end of the nose, there's a whiff of dank, earthy hops. Wish there had been more.

Taste start off overly sweet and malty. Then, there's a huge wallop of biting hops bitterness in the middle of the sip which slips away to a slight touch of roastiness. The happiness mellowed as the beer warmed, but this one tasted more black ale and less IPA throughout.

Mouthfeel is mildly thick with a healthy dose of carbonation. High ABV but the booze is hidden quite well.

Overall, I'm not impressed. Stone is using spot on but this one misses the mark. The flavored are muddled and the beer suffers from an identity crisis.

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

Having a Stone Imperial Black IPA...WOW!!! The beer pours a black/opaque with finger thick tan head that is lacing like a...The smell includes citrus and malty tones. The taste is amazing...and a sipping beer. There is a fresh hop bitter grapefruit zing that is mixed with caramel roast malt. The mouthfeel is a full body with good carbonation. Overall it is a great beer for sipping....sessioning this one would lead to big problems.

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Photo of jeffjeff1
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My wife picked this up for me last week.

Appearance- black color, thin tan head

Smell- roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, raisins

Taste- chocolate, coffee

Mouthfeel-- full bodied

Drinkability- very good, It's very much like a stout and very enjoyable.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 22oz bomber pored into my Stone Imperial Pint Glass

A - Jet black, Stout like. 2 fingers of tan head and sticky lace that clings to the glass all the way down

S - Looks like a stout, smells like an IPA. Chocolatey malts and citrusy hops. Very nice

T - Wow, starts out like a strong stout, then it turns into an IPA, but finishes with roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate notes combined with piny hops

M - Thick and full mouthfeel. Goes down like a stout

O - An excellent brew, with the best of a stout and an IPA. The alcohol is hidden in the taste for the most part, but I can feel the high abv kicking in seriously after a few minutes.

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

A - Beautiful motor oil black with a chocolaty two-finger head that dissipates quickly, but leaves abundant lacing.

S - yeasty, chocolatey, with a bit of raisin or prune. Tons of roasted malt and coffee.

T - This is a wonderful black IPA. Delicious, full-bodied, distinctive chocolate and coffee notes with a hoppy bitterness like chicory. Sweet malt and hoppy bitterness vie for prominence

M - Medium bodied, light effervescence, pleasant bitter taste that stays on the tongue. Very creamy and smooth.

O - Like just every Stone brew, I really like this black IPA. Heavier and more flavorful than others black IPA's I have tried by a long measure. The 10.8% ABV isn't oppressive. Overall a great drink.

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Photo of jbphoto88
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber bottle comes the 15th anniversary ale dark like fresh tilled farm soil. It's an earthy black that has some mahogany edges and a coffee ice cream colored head. The foam could be a little more promenint for my taste but it's hard to expect a lot from a 10% + brew. This one already looks like a winner to me.

The nose is sweet and fragrant of toasted malts that lean towards a dried stone fruit scent. A hop pungency takes over and eclipses the fruit smell with a bit of citrus. All in all this is a malt dominated fragrance and everything else is subdued by comparison.

The taste is also malt dominated with a sweet toast flavor. The roasted malts combined with the hops give a nice acidic pop to things but finishes strong with a subtle chocolate warmth and hints of those stone fruits. Mild and tasty with no hint of that 10%

I myself love a bitter beer and the 15th delivers in both the flavor and mouthfeel. Those hops finally shine above the malts here with a nice pinch of the cheek and an etching of the teeth. This is a great sipping beer and it gets better as it warms. A great beer on a chilled afternoon and very reasonably priced. Well done Stone.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lovely dark tan to brown colored head of two fingers width that leaves a CONSTANT film of foam so thick and luscious, it makes me think of espresso foam. The color is that of a proper RIS, jet black.

Heavily toasted, blood orange peel hop aroma mixes well with a mix of almost burnt and perfectly toasted biscuits.

Velvety palate from start to finish is ohh sooo nice. The palate enhances the interplay of bitter citrus with roasted, almost blackened mixed with perfectly roasted malts. Bitter, yet somewhat pumpernikel bread sweet. The heat of this abv. % heat of this beer only adds depth and complexity to this beer. This beer is almost perfect in taste, except I don't think the malt gets enough attention.

This beer is great and I will recommend this beer specifically along with other Stone beers to others with much piquant exclamamation

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

Enjoyed on tap at the wonderful Seven Saints in downtown Champaign, IL.

Two durable fingers of slightly tan foam top an impenetrably black body; excellent head duration and loads of lacing on the tulip impress me thoroughly. Good aromas, filled with hops as is Stone's wont, with healthy whiffs of chocolate, some roasted coffee, and biscuit malts. Well balanced nose.

Stone achieves a remarkable balance with 15th between the dense malt and the loads of hops. The first half or so is malt driven, to me, very smooth and filled with chocolate and toasted biscuit malt. Only later do the hops become so prominent, and when they do, it is somewhat surprising that they coexist so well with the malt. Often, the hops shine through at first, with the malt in tow in such blends. Here, and perhaps all the more impressively, it is the other way around. Initially the thought is that the malt tamped down on the hops, but not so. The second half of 15th is stridently an IPA in taste and texture, citrusy in taste (orange and grapefruit) while jet black in color. Shards of hop grit meld with a largely smooth, malty texture for an oh-so-pleasant mouthfeel experience.

Stone delivers a genuine gem with Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, a complex treat that merges styles masterfully. Recommended with pleasure and gusto.

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Photo of ales4baldo
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation- Nice dark bottle. Like the gargoyle on the label holding up a stien glass. Good info and story on the back.

Appearence-Boy is this really a "black" IPA. Pours thick with a nice solid finger and a half of head that retains semi well and has a mocha look. Beer looks like a stout but smells like an IPA, pretty cool.

Smell-Im getting the usual smell of hops in this one but also chocalate notes as well. Blends into together quite nicely. Small amounts of oak and mocha in there as well. Little bit of coffee beans and toast in the mix also. Really nice smell. Black raisan, some plum. Crazy.

Taste-Oh wow! This really is like drinking a stout and an IPA side by side. Get a lot of malts when i drink this. Hops seems to subdue a little bit as the strong heavy chocalate and toaste flavors smoothen out across my mouth. Some smoked flavors in there also.

Mouthfeel-Feels like a Stout! Does not drink like an IPA at all but sure does taste like one to some degree. Definitely a mouthful which is nice. A heavier beer with full body and a dry finish.

Overall-A really nice beer man. I must say. If you want to enjoy a stout and an IPA at the same time this is definitely a beer to drink. Glad i let it sit in the celler for a month or two. Seems to have done it some well. Very tasty. Nice balance. Smooth and thick at the same time. Nice.

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

Poured from the bottle into a pilsner glass.

A= Deep black color with a nice head

S= Nice roasted aroma with chocolate notes, piney hoppy smell came through the chocolate.

T= The chocolate notes come through here then at the nose.

O= My 1st Black IPA. Not a huge fan of the style but this brew makes me want to explore in it more.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into tulip.

Appearance: Pours an opaque black with a 1/2" dark tan head.

Smell: I would say floral, cocoa. I honestly can't get enough og the aroma this beer gives. It's not the type your going to smell from five feet from the glass but just smelling it is a tease of what greatness is to come.

Taste: Yes it's bitter but yes it's f'n great. Any IPA fan will appreciate with they are indulging in. Slight pine, you can taste the feel of floral slight bitter dark chocolate feel.

Mouth: Medium carbonation doesn't go down easy for everyone maybe not even the most "advanced" beer drinker. I say this because most black IPA's I have had haven't stepped up the way Stone has done.

Overall: Tell you this NOT my first black IPA but definitely the best one I have had. It meets the demand of what IPA stands for, true hops with the perfect mixture of bitter dark chocolate. Cheers to all and enjoy!

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

(Served in a tulip glass) A- A jet black body supports a thick sticky cocoa-tan head that holds on the glass with each sip. There are some microbubbles that show up just at the base of the head. S- The green earthy pine hops are full with some nice pine resin character coming through as the beer opens. There is a hint of sweet black roasted malt in the background. T- The green herbal hops have a woody quality to them with a pungent pine bitterness and masks a roasted malt flavor a bit. The bitter hops linger nicely after each sip. M- The medium-full mouthfeel has a creamy texture with just a touch of alcohol warmth. O- The nice full hops are what you expect but there just isn't much depth to them nor is there any juicy bright character to the hops. Just a good solid earthy dark hops that compliment the trompe l'oeil body.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Of all the self described black IPAs I have ever had, this had to be the darkest. The pour was pitch black an opaque, and the head atop was two finger thick, and khaki in color. The aroma on the other hand was lot closer to a typical IPA, with citric hops. There was a hint of the roasted malts if I inhaled deeply. The taste was very unique, as the bitterness of the hops and coffee flavor of the malts were both immediately and distinctly detectable. There was some molasses flavor in the finish as well. The body was creamy and on the thicker side of medium. The overall impression this beer left me was that of a dark coffee with crea.

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

22 oz bottle, purchased 9/2011

Poured into a British Imp Nonic.
This glass did not “work” and I switched to a Dogfish Head Signature Snifter, the right choice I believe.

Pours a beautiful two finger head, thick looking, which rather rapidly reduces to an 1/8” cap, which is “sticky” if not lacey.
Very deep, black/brown color, you cannot see thru it. Tan colored head.

Surprisingly yeasty aroma when first poured (this fades with time), black malt, vanilla, and some hops trying to surpass the powerful smell of roasted malt and yeast.
After the ale warms, the hops, surprisingly become much more pronounced and you can detect distinct pine cone. Very, very good.

Exceptionally rich entry on the palate of black malt, yeast, and a very nice hop bite. Delicious!
Good crisp acidity, full mouth feel, and perfect carbonation lend balance to this ale. After a few sips you notice the complex flavors hidden by the initial blast of rich malt/yeast/hops, such as hints of vanilla, dark unsweetened chocolate, roasted malt (slightly sweetened), and even more piney hops. Wow!

Long lingering finish of black malt and bitter hops (here they really come forward).

This is an ale of almost unbelievable richness, rivaling the best Russian Imp Stouts I have had. Add to that a nice distinct bite of bitter hops and that leaves you with an exceptionally delicious ale.

This ale impressed me with its complexity, lots of flavors and aromas coming at you from all directions. As a long time wine drinker, I look and smell any libation with great scrutiny, and let me say IMO this ale has what it takes. Seems at its best around 55 degrees.
One of the best I have tried. Very Highly Recommended!!

FYI I really recommend a different glass than listed here on BA. This ale has more in common with a RIS or American Strong Ale than an Imperial IPA. IMO a Snifter or Tulip would be a wiser choice.

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

Thanks stone for another great beer!

A: Beer poured black as night allowing no light to penetrate. It was beautifully topped by a 2 fingered, frothy cocoa colored head with great retention and loads of lacing.

S: Dark semi-sweet chocolate malts accompanied with a solid hop profile. Molasses is also detectable, hides the ABV well.

T: Malts and hops work well with one another, but as the tasting goes on the hops do flaunt their bitterness a bit too much.

M: Medium bodied, smooth and creamy.

O: Not a replacement for the SSR, but is a very good addition to one of my favorite styles.

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

pours pitch black. good sized dark tan head, great retention leaving lacing all around the glass.

has a nice aroma to it. oats chocolate, nutty.

taste great dark chocolate, oats, nutty, some coffee. seems like a black IPA at first then finishes like a stout.

mud-full bodied. medium carbonation, creamy but not as smooth as expected

overall nice beer, the more i drank to more i enjoyed and appreciated this beer.

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Photo of plaid75
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a deep black hue with a two finger foamy tan head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a molasses, dark chocolate and caramel.

The taste consisted of elements of dry dark chocolate, coffee, caramel and a healthy dose of booze.

The mouthfeel was certainly full for the style with a dry finish.

If this isn't an RIS, then I'm the Queen of England.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
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 GarthDanielson
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a true pint, and the beer presents with a jet black coloring and a towering, thick, frothy, foamy light chocolate-tan colored head. The beer absolutely clings to every part of the glass it touches. The nose is deep and rich, with a strong showing of wet, fresh hops, both resiny and spicy. Dark roasted coffee and a hint of citrus highlights also in the nose. Flavors are dark roast coffee and dark chocolate bittersweet, and this flavor combination helps to balance the wet, resiny, slick hops flavors that power throughout the entire beer. Very well balanced. Roasted characteristics on the initial palate, as well as the aftertaste, with a hint of the bitter chocolate and the hops presence throughout. The finish is oily and resiny, with a slick finish. Very tasty brew...another masterful concoction from Stone.

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Photo of whatthehull
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted aug 18th 2011 (from notes)


A - deep dark gluggy black/brown, half finger dark tan head and nice lacing

S - grapefruit, sweet malts, nice yeast, pine, alcohol, citrus, tons of hops, sugar, wood, earth and island fruits

T - hops, resin, tons of toasted malt, sweet oak, sweet hickory molasses, flowers, pine, alcohol, grapefruit, more hops and some slight island fruit

M - full bodied, nice complexity, medium minus acidity, well balanced and long finish

D - for the style and genre, this is easy to drink. Outside of that, it's huge. Tons of hops, toastiness, alcohol and awesomeness

Final thought - if you have had knuckle sandwich from bootleggers, you cant tell me this doesn't taste like an overly malted and toasted version of that

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Photo of thecheapies
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stone 15th in the bomber; this is my second time around on this one. One clean snifter; clean and ready to receive this beer. I think I got this one up above 40 degrees Fahrenheit already.

This brew looks slick on the pour. Very glossy warm shade of almost black; two-fingered beige head that is still almost a centimeter high after two minutes of settling. Almost soapy looking lacing around the glass--speckled where big bubbles have popped.

The aromas are incredible. Tangy piney hops, anise, sweet bread, rye, coriander, solvent (almost like floor cleaner), and huge evidence of booze.

Getting ready for my first sip here. First time around, I treated this beer like the Imperial Black IPA that the label suggests; BA calls it an American Black Ale first and foremost. Here goes:

Sprucey hops, slightly muddled. Decent malt presence here. Tons of spiciness from the hops and roasted flavors from the malt. The alcohol is the elephant in the room. Burnt sugar up front; alcohol and bitterness in the finish. Back of the tongue is working overtime. Picking up nuances of wet cloth, grapefruit, espresso, and maybe a little dried fig.

Mild carbonation; mellow mouthfeel is smooth and a little sticky. Very expansive in the mouth.

Great character. First "Imperial Black IPA" I've ever had.

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Photo of philbe311
4.61/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A beautiful cascading pour that yeilds three plus fingers worth of densly packed medium brown colored froth with lots of big chunky bubbles mixed within... Excellent retention... Gobs of lacing clings to the glass...

S - A slightly muted but rather diverse hop profile... Mostly piney... A touch of grapefruit... Lots of roasted malts mixed in... Delicate, but rather complex...

T - Absolutely exquisite... The hops are at the forefront and are quite complex... Againt, mostly piney with some light citrus notes mixed in... Some chocolate notes... Cocoa... Roasted malts... A touch of licorice... An excellent brew that I didn't hesitate to give a "5" in the flavor category to (something that I rarely do)...

M - Medium to full bodied... Slightly syrupy... Dense... Sticky... Stick remarkably clean... A bit sludgy...

D - Having had many Stone offerings, this one stands at the forefront as the best Stone brew that I have ever had... Excels in every facet... I'll be making a trip tomorrow to see if I can get a couple more bottles or even a case... This is a must try for all self respecting BAs...

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Photo of Gavage
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: black in color with a huge tan colored head that lasts a long time. Thick lace shows up on the glass during the session.

Smell: nice pine, grapefruit, and earthy hop tones are nice with the roasted malt aromas.

Taste: follows the nose as a great roasted malt flavor is nicely balanced by some strong citrus and pine hop flavors. Some molasses and some soft earthy tones rounds this out. Alcohol is mildly detectable here.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth and dry at the finish. Long aftertaste here as the flavors last on the tongue.

Overall: this was a very enjoyable beer on tap as it was very fresh and full of nice flavors. This is an enjoyable black ale that hits the spot when you want the style.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
4.18 out of 5 based on 1,435 ratings.
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