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 | website

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.

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Reviews: 714 | Ratings: 1,426
Photo of bashiba
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
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 -13.4%
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%
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 -7.9%
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 -4.3%
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 +4.8%
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 +0.5%
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 -2.6%
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 -0.5%
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 -2.6%
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 -2.4%
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 -2.4%
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 +5.7%
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%
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 +0.2%
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 +18.4%
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 +7.7%
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 +18.4%
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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Photo of avaldivia
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured bomber into a pint glass.

A: Very black. Thick head about an inch thick. Great lacing.

S: Grapefruit and a bit of roasted malts. The hops overpower the roasty scent, but I've come to expect that from his style.

T: Grapefruit deliciousness. The roasted malts are more prominent in the taste than in the scent. It has the prefect balance of hops and roasted malts.

M: Medium to thick bodied. Great carbonation.

O: I love Sublimely Self-Rightous, but this puts it to shame. I will try to pick up at least one more before they are gone.

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Photo of charliedvrs
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black with a finger of dark tan head that leaves a slight bit of lacing down the glass. Those nose is dominated by roasted malts, dark chocolate, and resinous hops. I also get some spice - brown sugar and cinnamon. The taste is similar, roasty and very, very bitter, especially upfront. I'm not picking up much citrus or fruit flavored hops, mostly grassy and resinous. Strong dark chocolate notes reminiscent of a rich chocolate fudge. Picking up on a bit of onion and maybe even a soy sauce type flavor? Alcohol is definitely present, though not overwhelming. Mouthfeel is smooth and creaming, full bodied with a nice lingering bitterness. Really nice beer, only knock is I feel there could have been some more hop flavor, I'm only really getting the resinous bitterness.

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Photo of hopluva1
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a nice 2 finger dark tan head, looks like a stout.
Aroma is all fresh hops, piney, some grapefruit. Smells like a great DIPA.
Taste is right along with aroma with nice hop bitterness mixed with a little coffee bitterness, you get some stout like flavors at the end along with some alcohol.
Overall it drinks mostly like a DIPA right now (fresh). I think that as it ages the hops will fade and it will be a different beer, more stout like.
Even though it may sound like a mish mash kinda beer it is enjoyable. The 10.8% alcohol goes down easy.

Well done Stone!

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Photo of welldigger888
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an opaque black with lovely dense tan head that laces the glass nicely.

West coasty style hop bomb that is roasted and toasted but not to heavy.

Citrusy piney hoppy dank that eases into a fine dark roastiness that never gets to thick, easy drinker.On our hot summer this brew proves to be refreshingly unstout type stout?

Nice and full without being thick and dense, still august here and it drinks damn fine on a balmy thurs evening.

These cats are not afraid to bring it and bring it BIG! Well done highly drinkable hop & ABV bomb.

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

Fresh bottle poured into a Pabst chalice.

A vigorous pour yields a one-finger tan head that settles nicely and all but disappears by the end of the glass.

Putting my nose to the glass I am immediately overwhelmed by the scent of fresh hop and grainy dark malt, with coffee and dark chocolate notes in the finish. If you have ever brewed beer before, you would liken the nose to the scent of the first hop addition during the boil. It's just that fresh. I am honestly more impressed with this smell than I have ever been with a beer.

The taste that follows is absolutely masterful. Tons of fresh hop flavor, roasty dark malt, coffee, chocolate, and exceptionally well-balanced bitterness rounds out the flavor. Offsetting the high IBU count is a delicate sweetness that is a welcome and refreshing resolution to the bold, crisp bitter dark malt and hop flavor. I am often dubious of the black IPA in general, but Stone does it correctly here.

Mouthfeel is medium to heavy, creamy, slick; expected but admittedly a little thick for my tastes. If this were a sweet stout it would be absolutely perfect.

What a triumph this beer is. While I would count myself a casual fan of Stone brews I am often blown away by their seasonals and one-offs, and 15th Anniversary is yet another addition to the line-up. Kudos to Stone for celebrating its 15th year in business with such a tremendous brew.

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

Its like you're drinking an IPA with the characteristics of a stout....unreal, really..

Pitch black, opaque pour with a nutty/mocha looking bubbly head that leaves some formidable lacing down my glass...already about 1/5 of the way done with 1 pint and feeling So Irie....you do the math

Smell is full of malt, pine, citrus, hoppiness....goodness..Taste is much the same, piney/citrus hops, some malt to kick up yer feet to. Diggin it. mouthfeel is like a stout, chocolatey, coffee like, cant even explain...just feels thick and syrupy like your favorite thicker brew..just perplexing this beer is...

Overall, seeing as how I cant finish a review w/o feeling doopy, i dont know how many i could drink and still f(x)...enjoy, friends, truly an obscure and special offering from Stone..

cherish dis..

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Photo of Phelps
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This isn't Stone's first rodeo — the Escondido-based brewery has been making a black IPA called Sublimely Self-Righteous since 2009 (which, interestingly, premiered two years prior as their 11th anniversary ale). Stone 15th, however, is a different beast, packed with more IBUs and an additional two percent of alcohol.

Darker than most stouts, Stone 15th is black as black gets, with a small cap of silky foam the color of cocoa powder. The air above is thick with resinous hops that lend notes of bitter grapefruit peel, pine needles and grass. A placid background of dark chocolate and anise reminds you of the presence of roasted malt.

The oily, lip-smacking flavor is equally hop-riddled, though here you get definite occurrences of tropical pineapple and JuicyFruit along with the grapefruit and grass. The malt does its best to provide a background of burnt toast and cocoa nibs, but it buckles under the weight of the sticky hops. Equally unavoidable is the alcohol content -- while the beer's supple body swoops across the tongue, flammable-feeling fumes fill the nose.

Even after 15 years, Stone continues to put out beers that challenge traditional notions of style. Their take on a black IPA is unique, with the fruity, tropical hops contrasting the black malt in ways not found in other examples. The malt seems to lend more color than flavor, and I could use a bit more roast, but there's no denying Stone makes a damn fine ale. Here's to 15 more.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
4.18 out of 5 based on 1,426 ratings.
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