15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA | Stone Brewing

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

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by HopHead84 on 08-16-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,446 |  Reviews: 718
Photo of n2185
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with four fingers of dark tan head that recedes into a thin layer with a little lacing.

S: Roasted malts at first with lots of semi-sweet chocolate. Sweet citrusy aromas of grapefruit and oranges follow from the hops with some piny aromas as well.

T: Again, roasted malts up front with some bitter chocolate flavors. The hops kick in then, with a big piny and grapefruit blast. Char and lightly bitter flavors bring up the finish with a slight alcohol burn. The bitterness does linger a bit.

M: Medium body with fairly high carbonation that accentuates the hop flavors and bitterness well.

O: A good beer with lots of roasted malt and hop flavors. The bitterness is a bit on the strong side for me and the hops are a bit dominating on the flavor profile, but not too much so. I think I prefer Sublimely Self-Righteous to this, but not by much.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stone 15th Ann. Black IPA pours deep black into the glass, with a frothy, tan head on top. the foam dissolves slowly to a thick sheet on the surface leaving behind a coating of lace on the glass.

The rich aroma has notes of roasted malt, chocolate, orange citrus and pine. Reminds me of a hoppy stout.

Each sip of this full bodied beer is smooth and velvety with a dry finish. Mild carbonation. The flavor is balanced between pine and orange citrus and roasted malt. A fair amount of chocolate and some dark fruit notes and smoke are also present. It finishes bitter with a lingering flavor of pine, chocolate malt and alcohol.

This beer seems more like a stout than a black IPA. Still, it's very tasty, full bodied and well balanced.

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Photo of Lerxst
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip

A-Pours black. No hints of light peeking through. 1/2" coffee colored head has good retention and leaves ample lace all the way down. Great looking beer.

S-Strong but not overwhelming nose. Very aromatic and pleasing. Pine resin and citrus are the star here with a nice dose of roasty malt, hints of chocolate and booze. Smells great too.

T-This is delicious. I can't quite give it a 5, but its close. A nice bitter hop bite of pine and citrus lead with a very pleasant roasted malt coming in just behind it. Got some booze in the nose, but none here. The alcohol is completely hidden to my palate. Just a hint of chocolate here. All of the flavors mingle together to provide an excellent drinking experience.

M-Medium body with slightly prickly carbonation that suits this beer well.

O-This style is hit or miss with me, but Stone hits this one out of the park. I'm a big fan of the SSR, but this one really takes the cake. I'd love to see this in the regular line up. I loved the entire experience from start to finish. Well done!

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Photo of homebrew311
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into snifter.

A: pitch black, opaque, stout like appearance, cocoa colored head, some lacing around the sides of the glasses

S: deep earthy tones of pine with a significant resinous quality, malty sweetness in the back, some boozieness sneaks through, hints of roasted malt- not sure if this is more my perception seeing as the beer is so dark or if its really there. Hops are very aromatic.

T: big time hop bitterness bombards the palate and hangs out in a prominent way. The aftertaste leaves hints of maltiness and roast. Everything else is pine and hops. Some heat on the finish.

MF: thick body, medium carbonation, somewhat sticky

O: tasty brew, in your face hop character, borders on going overboard with bitterness

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Photo of doughanson78
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled August 2011.

A: Black as night. A slight 3/4 finger mocha colored head with minimal retention. Looks like a good Imperial Stout.

S: A very different aroma. Like chocolate blended with grapefruit and pineapple. A slight roastiness to the aroma. Just a crazy smell. Can't really wrap my "nose" around it. But I really like it.

T: Huge chocolate/caramel sweetness followed by a crazy mix of hop bitterness. Maybe a mixture of pine, floral, citrus, earthy, and what ever other hops are out there. The bitterness fades to a good roastiness and smokiness. A very good Black IPA.

M: Medium bodied. Medium carbonation leaning to the high side. Pretty dry finish. Very refreshing.

O: Easily the best Black IPA I've had. First one where the hoppiness wasn't over powered by the dark malts. Get one and drink it.

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Photo of Sensaray
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark dark brown almost black with 3 finger light brown head.

Citrus hops blended with dark malts and booze.

Huge flavors of dark malts, dark choco and toffee, roasty malts, with a nice bitter that builds til closing. Some citrusy hops shine through the malt and gives this a nice hop presence. Good bittering hops in this.

Smooth mouthfeel, medium bodied, good carbonation.

Overall, good beer, although definitely not unique I'd say.

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Photo of Pahn
4.69/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Free pour yields a two inch fluffy tan head that dissipates steadily leaving a tight lacing ring. Pours jet black and leaves short lasting spots of lacing.

Smell: From the bottle: cutting grapefruit in a greenhouse. In the glass: Potent citrus, pine, and general damp forest freshness. Bit of sweet malt underneath, but not much getting past these huge hops. I didn't know what late boil Citra additions or Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Jade dry hopping would do (never even heard of Pacific Jade), but the answer is apparently: big fucking hop aroma. This thing is more pungent than most top DIPAs, and intoxicating and satisfying enough for the price of admission all on its own.

With time, more cookie and marzipan malt notes come out, and mindbendingly seem to show similarities with the dank pine, citrus, and marijuana hops. Really don't see how a black IPA is supposed to smell better than this one does.

Taste: Beautiful hops, identical to the nose but somehow blending perfectly with the cookies and roasted flavors underneath. Starts with straight, pungent hops, then melds naturally (!?) to cookie dough and roast, finishing pricklingly bitter with a roasted and boozy aftertaste (some bitterness lingers on the tongue as well).

After just the first sip, I'm stunned by how well thought out this beer is. It takes skill and knowledge to deliver hop flavor this good, but to somehow prove that it matches with malt flavors this far on the side of decadent/dessert-- that takes genius.

Further into the glass, the heavy, oily but refreshing and bright hops just refuse to quit. If you've come to this beer for your hop fix, you're going to get it and then some. The malt is quieter than the hops, but it grows in complexity; dark chocolate, coffee, and more cookies come with warmth and time.

I'm only keeping this from a 5 because it's perhaps a bit too bitter (trying to be objective--the heavy bitterness is just right for me, but it's pretty aggressive), and I think the malt could be just a bit more prominent.

Mouthfeel: Light side of full bodied, sufficiently but invisibly (ie perfectly) carbonated. Silky smooth up front, then intensely bitter (mainly hop bitterness), finishing semi-dry, hot, and long. Very good.

Overall: Easy 5.0 from me... not only is this delicious, but it's one of those educational beers (like great food) that expands your conceptions of where certain flavors can go and how well they can work in different contexts. It also has awakened my inner hop head (I usually swing toward malt bombs), reminding me that I can't get enough of any beer that can skillfully turn the hop flavor up to eleven.

I've mentioned in several reviews that I think Stone is the best brewery in the world at taking extremely bold flavors and putting them in balance. This beer continues the trend, and stands as a very fitting 15th anniversary beer. I will be buying and drinking as many bottles of this as I can before this amazing hop flavor fades.

In short, this beer is a homerun.

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

Poured a great black color with a perfect thick tan head. Long lasting with great lacing.

The smell has a nice burnt black malt nose with a big funky piney hops.

The flavor is very chewy, big black and burnt lots of bitter and resiny hops. Very full flavored great deep layers of smoked black malts and citrusy hop flavors.

The mouthfeel is super oily and chewy.

This beer is great, nice black ipa.

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Photo of Wadsey
3.62/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Stone 15th Anniversary 

Served in New Belgium globe glass

A: Pours black with tan, fluffy head that persists for a few moments. Haphazard lacing sticks to glass. No light penetrates the beer, so it is impossible to determine clarity and effervescence. 

S: Citrus hops and chocolate, roasted malts duke it on nose, alternating between contradictory and complimentary. Peat-like smokey character watches from the audience. Alcohol and earth or tobacco leave notes, too. 

T:  Juicy piney hops and sweetness touch palate and are slapped aside by rough toasted malts. Tobacco leaves, chocolate, roast, and earth are accurate descriptors. Solid bitterness that segues into roasty and sticky weed finish. 

M: Medium-heavy body and medium carbonation. Sticky body. 

O: I'm not sure why Stone decided to release another American Dark Ale (my term), when it already has Sublimely Self Righteous. Perhaps the answer lies in the overly wordy label. I will never know. 

There is an interesting tension in 15th Anniversary, but the roasted malts definitely win out. A little unbalanced. Still, it's a fun beer. 

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Photo of PDXHops
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm always up for trying a new CascAmerEscoBlackPA. Poured this imperial version into an oversized snifter, an appropriate vessel for enjoying the thick, long lasting tan head and plentiful lacing. Near black body.

Tropical fruit and pine hop aromas claw thru substantial roast and brownie batter. A touch of yeastiness. No sign of the booze in the nose, but as the beer warms, the alcohol becomes progressively stronger. Thanks in no small part to the tongue-thrashing bitterness, it never overwhelms, but distracts at times. The tropical hop and pine flavors can't gain as firm a foothold as the bitterness, taking a backseat to sharp burnt and tangy chocolate malts. Finish is dryish/roasty, yet boozy at the same time.

Overall impression: Good stuff, but much like a regular DIPA, it seems like there's a certain ABV point beyond which it's hard to have the hops be the unquestioned feature ingredient. May or may not revisit this. I'd love to see it dialed down to 7-8%, losing some malt along the way.

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Photo of flexabull
3.85/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep flat black color with a very nice off white head.

Aromas are resiny, grassy, floral, pine like, with some hard candies and light chocolate. Smells nice.

Taste is bone dry up front, quite bitter, with strong pine, tart citrus, and undertones of heavily roasted chocolate malts. Finish is boozy, warm, and with hints of resiny hops.

Mouthfeel is good, its full, with lots of body, but it's slightly harsh.

Overall, this is interesting, tasty, and complex. But unfortunately, it's comes off as unbalanced and a bit harsh. The bitterness dominates, and barely lets the malt flavor show up. This one of the few hoppy beers that I think would improve with some age to take the rough edge off. This is certainly a good beer, but it is a bit flawed.

Congrats on 15 years of brewing excellence Stone!

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

The first Stone anniversary beer in a while I've enjoyed.

Pours a rich brownish/blackish hue with a big frothing of light foam head.

Smells like grapefruit husk with a shocking amount of roast. And the quintessential mark of Stone IPAs, bitter pine needles.

Tastes like roasted bitterness of pine .. the grapefruit and citrus notes just about vanish, and that roasty maltiness. Unusual. I expected this to just double up on the Sublimely self-righteous, but it seems like a different beast.

Good. Nicely carbonated.

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black with a big frothy mocha head that leaves a nice sheet of lacing.

Smells of piny hop notes with a big roasted malt character and some bits of alcohol.

Tastes of big roasted notes with hop notes cutting through. Notes of dark chocolate and coffee lead off lending its way to some brown sugar. A bit of a bitter burnt flavor comes through as well, but leads to the hops. Hops end with notes of citrus, pine, and some herbal notes. Alcohol is noticeable and gives some warming.

Mouthfeel is full with a creamy amount of carbonation.

Overall, I find this to be a great take on the style that falls more into the malty realm of the style.

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Photo of Chyren
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a fairly heavy blackness that develops a nice firm and stable head.

S: light smoke, roast, some chocolate and coffee, hops bold and strong, the differing scents intertwine perfectly.

T: the taste comes across like the flavor and shows itself in layers. First one gets the bitters from the dark/roasted malts, that well-known tannic-astringent bitter and it is just right. On the heals of that comes the resinous rounded hop bitters. After that fades, the smoke and roast come in full force and linger on the back of the tongue seemingly accentuated by the alcohol vapors.

M: feel is smooth and warm, satisfying, though I would personally like a little more body to it to go with the high ABV

I didn't think it was possible, but this ale is really giving Emperial IPA a run for it's money. It's so smooth, warming, and the unique bitterness between black malts and hops is easily distinguishable and when they subside the roasted malts develop into a lingering smokiness. A pleasure to drink.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.07/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a 16 oz. snifter.

A- Black with dark tan 2 finger head. Decent lacing that resides after a minute or so.

S- Huge amount of citrus and pine hops smack you in the face right away. Pick up a hint of the roasted malts but not much.

T- Pine hop bitterness and roasted malts. Citrus comes through in the middle with more hop bitterness at the finish.

M- Medium bodied. Good carbonation and finishes a bit dry from all of the hop bitterness.

O- Another solid beer by Stone. Love the aroma of this beer. Only complaint is that the malts do not have a lot of complexity in the taste. Will buy many more bottles of this beer before it's gone.

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Photo of mattboyer182
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - pitch black in color with a thick dark brown head.

S - smells of piney hops. And then a little more hops.

T - taste is hoppy up front with a subtley sweet after taste. It doesn't linger long.

M - mouth feel is thin and carbonated.

O - good beer but sublimely self righteous is much better

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Photo of TommyW
4.07/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Very stout-like appearance. Black body with a tan head that starting at about 2 fingers and faded to a thin layer.

S- Smell was very full of fruity hops with a notes of burnt/toasted malts towards the finish.

T- Followed the nose very well. Big IPA-like hop presence up-front (very fruity hop profile). Slight notes of toasted and burnt malts make a quick appearance toward the finish.

M - Medium carb. smooth feel.

D- The first few sips of this beer were awesome, but it became a little much on the palate towards the end of the bottle. A solid beer though, that i'm becoming a bigger fan of.

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Photo of Kromes
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a fluted glass. Pitch black color with a huge brown colored head and good lacing down the glass.

S: A very strong pine hop aroma with a slight roasted malt aroma way in the back.

T: The pine hop is very strong up front, but it backs off a little to reveal a roasted malt flavor and bitterness. This is probably the most hop assertive beer I've had. Over the top hoppy, yet somehow it retains a good flavor.

M: Very smooth and medium bodied. Good feel to it. I've never had an IPA so strong it actually started numbing my whole mouth...wow.

O: I like big beers, but for me this is almost too over the top. The hop aroma burns your nose when going in for a sip. Is that good or bad???Having said that though, it is a rather unique beer and a must have for all the hop heads out there.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up several bombers at BevMo after enjoying this brew at Stone Anniv. Fest in a couple diff presentations.

Notes from 08/23/11
Bomber to my Ruination Tulip

A: The 15th pours an almost jet black hue but upon closer inspection definitely has some dark ruddy brown hints to it. Real lively 2 or 3 finger head that is a dark mocha color with forever retention that laces down the glass.

S: Big citrus floral nose up front. Tangerine rinds. Grass and pine. Light roast nuttiness as it settles. Chocolatey. Some alcohol. Just clean fresh ingredients. Citrus is abundent.

T: Great citrus and pine zing. Intense citrus oils and nice bitterness all throughout the drink. Big bold roasty earthiness to it - almost like oak. Finishes more chocolate. Some coffee and dark fruits. Real citrus and choclate combo going on. ABV's are def there and comes of a lil sweeter resembling a bit of a chocolate liqueur. Rather warm on exhalation but balanced. Definitely maltier and more chew on it than the SSR.

M: Heavier in body with a nice sleek velvety texture and dry warming finish.

D: More of a sipping IPA with the rich bold flavors present but still balanced enough with a drier creamy finish.

Everything I would expect from a Stone Anniversary brew. ROBUST. They arlready make pretty much the best Black IPA out there with SSR and now they try to top it. Their Arrogance should be commended. Big bold flavors here that do match well in balance. Personally I prefer the 11th Anniv - SSR to this Imperial but a very solid brew no doubt.

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Photo of litheum94
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

August 2011 stamped on the bottle. "Enjoy Fresh." OK!

P: Deep, black body, possibly a very dark brown, but who can tell? Frothing, thick, sienna colored head. And it plans on sticking around for a long time. Great lacing.

A: Wonderful hop aromas of citrus, pineapple and mint. Plums and roasted malt. Fresh brewed coffee. Sweet as well; reminds me of a mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwich.

T: Chocolate and oranges, like that candy orange you slam against the table. Minty fresh, mid-palate. Black coffee bitterness leads into bright, citric hops with biting pine bitterness. A creamy, oatmeal quality begins to develop as the session goes on. Alcohol is well hidden, until before you know it, it's kicking you in the head.

Big, bold and assertive. What a surprise huh? I'm getting more of this before it's gone forever.

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Photo of AgentZero
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Licorice black beer with a fine bubble foam tan head that had great retention. Some nice fine lacing and sheets left on the sides. Not really sure how you could make this beer look better.

S - Nice pine and floral hop notes. Its a very resinous IPA with a little bit of chocolate and crystal malt, but its very hop forward.

T - Taste is initially not as good as the smell. Some big resin and bitter herbal hops. There is a lot of dark and burnt malts in here that leave their own kind of bitterness. Leaves a distinctive cocoa taste on the tongue after swallowing. Actually a little bit of orange that comes through mid-palate. I really started to like this a lot the more I drank it, as some of the more subtle flavors became more noticeable. Little bit of alcohol burn, and very warming on the stomach.

M - Very creamy, soft carbonation, pretty full bodied.

O - Great look and smell, taste grows on you. It's a very filling and big beer, one was plenty, but not hard to get through, although its pretty burnt and bitter.

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Photo of DrinkThemAll
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 bomber into a pint glass

A-Pours an opaque black, with a beautiful 2 finger frothy caramel head, that dissipates to minimal head with nice lacing.

S-Monster grape fruit and floral notes, very sweet malts, and molasses maybe. brown sugar.

T-holy toledo lol mad hops right away, with grapefruit and lemon, very malty with a nice sugar and molasses bitter finish.

M-Medium body with floral hops galore. nice bitter smooth finish that lingers

O-very nice brew here, smells and looks great.

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Photo of sklinger990
4.95/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a tulip glass.

A- Almost completely opaque, black. Creamy-coffee colored head. Quite beautiful, in a dark, you-don't-know-me type of way.

S- Bright hoppy and roasty dark at the same time. This typically is nonsensical, but it is a wonderful balance of both.

T- Oh, oh my. Before I get into the flavors, just know to taste this beer, you need like two minutes per sip. It's like every beer I've had in one. Hoppy, piny, citrus up front, slowly sliding into a spicy malty, breadyness, flowing even more slowly into a coffee, roasted grain, mocha finish that is both rich yet dry. World class, no doubt.

Overall- I've loved Stone for quite some time, but this beer strikes deep into my beer soaked soul. Liquid excellence.

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

After enjoying a Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale last night, I wanted to see how Stone took this style to the next level.

22oz bottled (August 2011) poured into a tulip. Color is rich oily black with a thick mocha head that sits there forever, leaves nice sticky lacing on the glass.

Aroma is grapefruit and pine with some dark roasty malt in the background. Smells a lot like a standard IPA. A good swirl brings up some rich cocoa and bitter chocolate aroma, along with more delightful hops.

Taste is really complex: rich dark malts and chocolate contrasting with the bright citrus hops. Super smooth, decadent mouthfeel. There's two kinds of bitterness going on here: one from the dark roasted malts and another from the hops.

Basically this is an amped-up version of Sublimely Self-Righteous. Really great brew. A cross between an American Imperial IPA and an American Imperial Stout. Until your 16th anniversary, Stone!

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Photo of Genotype
4.95/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Selma's Tap Room in Rancho Santa Margarita CA.

Served in a tulip glass.

Dark, dark color. Nice. It's labeled an Imperial Black IPA, and black it is. This is my first beer review, and I'm not much for the specifics, but I just had to speak out.

Love it. Aroma is wonderful. Hop, Hop, Hop, Hop Hop. Booze is present (how can it not be w/ 10.8%) but not overpowering. My god. I could easily drink a few of these without noticing the cab that just pulled up to make sure I got home ok. I will be making a few calls and some special trips just to find these at a store. Mmmm...I may just have to get a bus pass to get another glass.

Definitely fits the IPA category. Almost fits a porter category. Not so thick I would label it a stout. Try it. If you are a hop head you'll want more. If you likes dark beers, you'll want more. I want more. I don't know... maybe it's the 10.8% talking...but I want more.

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