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:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 719 | Ratings: 1,443
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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Photo of minterro
4.73/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A present to myself from Spartan Spirits

A & S: smell hops: dank piney and citrusy hops. Malts: Sweet and roasty malts. Also a bit of woody tones in this one, even though I don’t think it barrel aged. Smell is very powerful after uncapping but dies at a high rate. Pours about 1 and a half fingers of foamy light brown head. Inky black. Great lacing and the bubbles have an interesting cling to glass as well. Head falls till about a quarter fingernail of a head is left on top this amount is retained.

T & M: Very rich and robust. More smokey in the taste then in the nose. Other major tastes include dark chocolate, piney hops, roasted malts, and citrus. Great after taste: super piney and bitter, semi dry. A bit boozy in the breath out. Full bodied, moderately low carbonation (right were you want the mouthfeel at for the style)

O: this beer was great idk what to say it was perfect for the style. Very powerful beer I would recommend sharing this bottle with a beer friend.

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

pours a very dark viscus. Almost like an imperial stout. Aroma very similar to SSR right out of the bottle. Almost no head to speak of. Rich chocolatey, malted roastey flavor, hops are subdued but present.an amazing beer well worthy of being Stone's 15th anniversary brew.

Overall I'd call this a beer with an identity crisis. It certainly can and probably should be called a black IPA, but it has so many roast, chocolate and coffee notes that it may as well also be a porter.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.96/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Compared to the previous black IPA I reviewed this is twice the beer. Poured a slow to emerge 2" deep mocha colored head with pretty good lasting power. Body is clear but black as coffee. There wasn't as much smell as I expected but it does express hops and malt. The taste is a winner with gobs of coffee, cocoa, malt, and a robust hoppiness fitting of an IPA. Rich body and long finish, and although it's high alcohol it's not boozy.

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Photo of spicelab
3.16/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber thanks to Adam@Platinum Liquor.

Tarry black with a large dense mocha head. Leaves a nicely raised ring but little additional lacing. Reforms to half a finger or so on swirling.

Initial hit of resinous pine, before the hops are swamped by sweet cocoa, booze-soaked raisins, tobacco, liquorice, coffee and barleywine-like treacle notes. Slightly sickly actually - I'd like a lot more hops.

Thankfully less cloying. Burnt coffee, liquorice, molasses and both sweet and bitter dark chocolate, backed by a moderate piney and minty bitterness. Occasionally get bizarre notes of scorched vegemite and ashy soy sauce.

Thick and viscous with a bit much carbonation. Not a big bitter presence and booze is impressively well hidden.

Generally full-frontal onslaught that leaves little to the imagination. Seems a bit gratuitous though - restraint in any number of areas would have made for a better beer. Have doubts that my bottle was in the best condition though - a re-review might be in order.

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Photo of bum732
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

S: Roasty chocolate with a subtle pine hoppiness, some breadiness, resiny.

L: Black, fairly thick, tan creamy head with great lacing and retention.

T: Chocolate sweetness with an undercurrent of pine hoppiness. Medium piney bitterness with loads more chocolate sweetness. Finishes with hop resin and just a touch of roast with additional dark chocolate.

M: Medium carbonation, medium full body, alcohol slightly detected.

A really enjoyable beer, would love to try this side to side with their year round black ipa to see the differences.

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Photo of WMEugene
4.36/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the bottle to a tulip glass

A - Pours an almost "all-but" black (faint hints of brown) with a thick, excellent bubbly dark tan head and thick lacing.

S - Piny hops smells (some citrus as well) and very little malts. What I do smell of the malts is definitely on the sweeter and roasted end of it.

T - Nice hop flavors that balance with hints of pine, citrus, and other fruits. The malt shines through a little with sweet, roasted flavor (of a chocolate nature).

M - Medium bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel. Moderate carbonation. Hops aftertaste that lingers. Alcohol is well hidden.

O - I enjoyed Stone's 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA. It has big hop flavor with a surprising creamyness. It's one of the better Black IPAs I have had and I hope to enjoy it again soon!

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

A: Black .. not even a shade of ruby or brown here. Excellent head retention. Mocha colored foam, lacing.

S: Citrus, mainly grapefruit and misc. tropical fruits. Not much roasted malts here aside from a hint of coffee.

T: Mild roasted malts, light coffee w/cream, milk chocolate followed by a nice mix of dried pineapple, pine, woodsy hop flavors.

M: Creamy, the roasted malts are more pronounced as the beer warms up, almost overtaking the hops. Both hide the the alcohol well.

O: Top notch Black IPA, probably the best I've had of the style.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 11/15/11 notes. Had on tap at Fireworks in Arlington, VA at their Stone steal the pint night event. Poured in a 10 oz. tulip.

a - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color, with one finger of very dark brown head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of citrus hops, grapefruit, roasted malts, a tiny bit soapy. As expected, lots of hops and roasted notes. Hops are a little more dominant, but it's a nice mix.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, citrus hops, sweet smooth chocolate, pine hops, grapefruit. Again, very hoppy and roasted, but the roasted malts and chocolate come out a lot more here than in the nose. A nice step up from the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Light bitterness from the hops up front, than smooth thanks to the malts. Surprisingly easy to drink considering the high ABV.

o - Overall a very nice Black IPA; one of the better ones I've had. Didn't enjoy it as much as the sublimely self-righteous ale, but still good. Would have it again.

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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 GPHarris
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a - poured a two-fingers thick coffee-colored head into a snifter that left long-lasting sheeting and sticky lace throughout. the body was dark black with some brown hints.
s - big pine aroma with some chocolate sweetness underneath. the chocolate begins to come through more as it warms.
t - burnt chocolate and big piney hops.
m - this is so creamy and smooth, incredible.
o - a winner in my book, this is almost up there with the 10th as my favorite of stone's anniversary beers.

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

A deep, dark brown-black color with a muscular light brown head and gobs of lacing. The aroma is a pleasant chocolate malt with a bit of pissy citrus hop, a tad musty in a nice, herbal way. The flavor brings a hefty coffee-chocolate malt mixed tastefully with pronounced evergreen hops and citrus highlights. This is a medium-full bodied brew with a luscious feel and mid-range carbonation. This stuff is awesome. Thick but drinkable, tasty hop malt bomb. Big hit for me, love it!

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Photo of modernartblues
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from Notes, Poured into a Tulip

A: wife's reaction was "good lord," blacker than black, aggressive pour yield a huge tan head, sheets of lacing

N: coffee and hops, not as vibrant as when I had it tap, but still good

T: loads of coffee and chocolate, which is more prominent than I remember from previous tastings, but as the hops take a back seat clearly the beer changes, still hints of hop bitterness and plenty of roast

M: smooth and medium, good the style

O: excellent representative of the style, Stone nails this one everytime

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Photo of NCSUdo
3.45/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle

A: Dark black body under a good sized brown head. Nice retention and lace.

S: Mix of roasted and chocolate malt with a background of citrus hops. Nice balance in the aroma.

T: Very roasted taste, with some hints of chocolate. Unfortunately, there is a hint of "burnt" there also. Not getting a lot of hop taste, but certainly a big bitterness in the finish. Alcohol apparent in a decent warmth on the way down. Fairly unbalanced.

M/D: Full bodied, carbonation is not too high. Drinkability is fair. A big beer that is a bit out of balanced in the taste depart.

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

Appearance. Pours black with over a finger of nice deep tan head that leaves some great lacing.

Smell. Lots of caramel malts and citrus, some roastyness too. Big grapefruit rinds, some pine and some slightly herby hops.

Taste. Roasty malts, big grapefruity hops, some dark chocolate and caramel and a little mango. Nice roasty citrus rind bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel. Pretty full body with medium-low carbonation.

Overall. Pretty nice black ipa if you're in the mood for something huge. Possibly not the best choice for this lazy sunday morning? Who am I kidding, by the time it's gone I'll be patting myself on the back for such a wise decision!!!

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Photo of thedoubler55
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- A nice looking brew, pitch black with a nice two finger head at the top that was nice and frothy, the stickyness surrounded lacing around the glass.

S- A nice hop scent throughout, with hints of some dark fruits and bits of chocolate, a nice scent to this Stone brew.

T- A nice roasted coffee taste up front with hints of chocolates and hops. The boldness of the beer is nice, perfect balance in flavor throughout.Slight taste of whiskey and oak as well, tastes better as it warms.

M- Nice creamy and thick brew, not to much carbonation on this one.

O- This beer is perfect for the winter months, had this one by the fire at night. Great balance on this beer

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Photo of TheAlamoWrocker
4.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 1 pt 6 oz bottle into a JFF is my BFF novelty pint glass.

A: Poured a one fingered tan head. The body appears black as a stout. Most of the time when I see colors like this I expect flavor, hopefully Stone will not disappoint.
This head does stay thinly while lacing amazingly all over and throughout the glass.

S: This definitely smells sweet. Hops are in this head dominantly, but the chocolate definitely makes its home in this brew. This smell brings some of my most favorite smell in a brew. This reminds me of a Stout and a IPA all at once.

T: Pine hit my mouth, but then it was followed by chocolate. I felt like I was in bliss at that moment. Pine is so delicious here. Somehow in-between the pine and chocolate a bitter hop appearance even comes. I want to just cry because of this beauty. After a slight warming up the alcohol does make it's presence.

M: The creaminess of the lasting head definitely makes its presence known. The body is everything that I wanted it to be. The body is thick and the carbonation is moderate and since the head stays that is all I truly desired out of it.

O: For a beer that I heard very mixed things about from decent to good I felt like I was lied to. This is everything I could want in a beer. Every sip I take of this is just as strong as the last and it never feels old. I only wish I picked a better occasion for this. Right before the alcohol made it's presence I started to feel this beer and wow did I feel it. As this warms up it becomes a Pine bomb and I love Pine and at the moment I am living in the Piney Woods of Texas. This is the best beer to symbolize where I currently live. Feels adventurous at first, but then it settles to something that you learn to love.

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Photo of byrdman16
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Not a beer for the timid! Oh man I like this one. Big piney hops smack you in the face upon opening...this is a good thing in my opinion...pours BLACK as stone. This is the beer that I give my friends that think that they are living on the edge by drinking blue moon. Complete domination! Smells of BIG piney hops with bitterness to back it up. It taste like a Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale on steroids. Give it a shot if you cross paths.

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Photo of prototypic
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone 15th Anniversary Ale pours a very dark chocolate fudge color. It’s onyx and opaque. I’m not seeing any light cut through. It’s topped with a dark, mocha colored head that rises to nearly two fingers in height. It dissipates rather slowly, leaving a very sticky web of lace trailing down the glass. Very impressive.

The nose is quite good. It features a nice mix of roasted and chocolate malts. Bittersweet dark chocolate and cocoa are present. Roasted coffee is also in the mix and works well with the malt base. There are definitely strong hop notes of citrus grapefruit and orange, pine, and grass. It smells a little more balanced than I anticipated. Alcohol is definitely there, but doesn’t come through too strong. 10.8%? Really? Wow.

The flavor is very impressive. It’s even a notch above the nose. It kicks off with a really nice malty mix of bittersweet dark chocolate, cocoa, and roasted malts. It anchors things down really well. Hops follow and add a really nice dimension to the flavor. Citrus grapefruit and orange flavors are most notable. However, there are some strong piney and grassy notes, as well. It’s definitely bitter. More bitter than I anticipated. It definitely seems skewed in the hop direction more than the nose suggests. Alcohol is there, but isn’t warm or hot. I still wouldn’t guess nearly 11% abv. Finishes with a nice mix of chocolate flavor and bitter hops.

The body seems medium, perhaps a tad lighter than that. It feels a bit thin for what it is. Carbonation is relatively light, but it needs more body to smooth it. For big beer though, it goes down pretty easy.

I really like Stone’s 15th Anniversary Ale. It’s loads better than the 14th Anniversary release. If you’re into big, aggressive American Black Ales, this is for you. The only small gripe I have is the body. It seems a bit too thin. Very impressive all-around otherwise. Grab a few while you can!

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Photo of sneakybird
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a thin finger of dense brown foam. Not even a hint of highlighting, no light is penetrating this. Good lacing. Northwestern hops are very evident in a piney, resinous, even spruce tree aroma. Strong, even before the beer has really warmed to a proper drinking temperature, but not at all overpowering. And then, I get just a slight hint of medicinality at the tail end.

The flavor... I don't know; can something be intense and subtle at the same time? I feel like that's the best way to describe this hoppiness. It's very present, right up front and every bit as pine tree as on the nose... but doesn't linger, and gives way to a slight roasted malt background. And there is a hint of alcohol warmth, felt more in the gut than the mouth or throat. Very smooth and medium bodied, on the light side in carbonation.

This is a really fine beer, yet conflicting for me. I tell myself that I have no great love for hops, but I keep subjecting myself to beers like this anyway. This could be the best hoppy beer on the planet, and I'll like it just fine, but still prefer a good bourbon barrel stout or Belgian quad. Maybe that's just a failing scoring beers in general. The beer may be flawless, but I feel weird scoring it five out of five when there are so many others, whole styles, that I would prefer to drink. Is that an argument for or against rating to style?

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

Been sitting on this one for a little while, excited to finally try it. My favorite beer of this style, whatever you want to call it, is Sublimely Self-Righteous. So curious what Stone can do when they turn up the volume to 11 (in honor of Nigel Tufnel Day).

Pours very dark, essentially black, with no light coming through, even at the edges. Massive mocha-colored head, long retention and great lacing. This looks like an amazing stout, and if I were just looking at it, that's what I'd think it was.

Smell is a super-smooth blend of dark roasted malts and resiny, citrusy hops. The malts bring dark roasted coffee. The hops bring a hint of pine and a touch of grapefruit. Fantastic.

Taste is dark, rich, with a bit of char and a bit of hop bite. A nice combination, though not as smooth as the smell. Coffee comes through. Finishes bitter, slightly sharp.

Mouthfeel is thick and heavy, but smooth and silky on the tongue. Fades out right when I want it to, with only a bit of lingering bitterness. Carbonation is on the low end, but surges late, mixing the flavors up right when I want it to. Alcohol comes through late, but barely. I can hardly believe this is nearly 11% ABV.

A fantastic black ale. Heavier on the malts than many examples, and with a thick mouthfeel more typical of a stout. This beer really blurs the boundaries, even moreso than this style typically does. Drinks more like a hopped-up stout to me, but has those nice aromatic hops to brighten things up. Wonderful beer.

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Photo of CyclingLush666
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The appearance on this beer is what I thought was most impressive. Even though this is a great beer across the board, I thought how it looked right after I poured it is what made me really like it. The head on the beer was about 3 fingers thick and a very tan color. The beer looks like it could be a stout, but does not taste like one.

The smell is very nice, with a hoppy smell and a hint of chocolate. It smells like a stone, but that has much more too it then just barley and hops.

The taste is more complex than most stone's, that it has a flavor other than hops and barley. It looks like a stout tastes like an IPA but not bitter at all. It has that sweet chocolate taste that makes it very nice.

The mouthfeel has a medium body. Nothing that heavy but its also pretty dark so don't expect to just put it down.

I would try this beer, at around 8 bucks with over 10% its worth trying for sure. It has a nice rich taste, and is a lot different than most of the stone's.

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Photo of JustinAniello
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black with a three finger cream-colored head. Dissipates to a nice lacing that sticks to the sides and a substantial cap.

S - Piney hops is the majority of the aroma with a light chocolate and maltiness in the background.

T - Chocolate with a mild hops that intensifies as you swallow. Bitterness lingers for a while afterwards.

M - Medium body and carbonation. Perfect for the flavors.

O - Great way to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Stone. Nice flavor while still giving a good IPA bite. Slightly stronger flavor to push through the hops would improve it. Still a great beer I would recommend trying while you still can.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.66/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Wait, this is not a stout? I can't agree with that by looking at it. Black pour, thick light brown head with amazing retention and a ton of lacing down the side of the glass. An intimidating cap rests atop the beer after a good while.

S: Wait, now my mind is really blown. This smells like an IPA. Big hit of hops, but with a lot of chocolate and roastiness underneath. As I continue to smell, my brain connects this strange aroma to plastic. Which I found to be strange. Booze is noted as well.

T: The taste is a bit better than the smell, but not all the great. Pretty much like the smell, the hops start it off dry, citrusy and a bit grassy, but they are taken over by chocolate and malts. A dry hoppy taste resides on the backend, providing a bit of refreshment from the unexpected taste for your palate.

MF: Heavy and carbonated well, this one is not to be messed with. Again, the 10% ABV is not entirely hidden.

O: I thought this might improve as it warmed, but it didn't really. It was only ok. Full of strange tastes and smells. Interesting attempt though!

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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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