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:
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Reviews: 719 | Ratings: 1,443
Photo of antlerwrestler19
4.66/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Snagged this up while on vacation to San Diego,

It looks as if I poured a chocolaty stout into my pint glass although the head is not as frothy and there is a ton of lacing left behind - Dark as night and looking quite viscous with an excellent looking caramel colored head. Straight off in the aroma I'm getting a massive amount of tropical citrusy hops - pineapple, mango, the whole works but the dark malt pushes through a bit bringing about slight roasty chocolate notes. The flavor hosts an insane amount of complexity - hops and dark malts battle it out in this brew. Citrus, earthy, and slightly piny hops are followed by a massive bitter chocolate and roast backbone to complement the hops perfectly. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, full bodied with a just the right amount of carbonation, the slight booziness is delightful in this beer. Glad I brought one of these home with me, an excellent souvenir among many other west coast goodies. I could actually see this beer lasting awhile in the cellar, at risk of the hops fading obviously, but I wish I had another just to test it.


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

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

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

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

A: Pours used motor oil black with a very dark tan head that actually sticks around for a little while and leaves some impressive lacing for the amount of alcohol.

S: Explosion of west coast hops right as you open the bottle. Big juicy IPA hops all the way. Pine, grapefruit, and very resinous. There is coffee and heavy roast from the heavy malt backbone. The little alcohol that you do get smells spicy and it complements the aroma more than anything. Smells really nice.

T: Wow, that is the first thing that came out of my mouth. The 10.8 is masked extremely well. The flavor is big time resinous hops with tons of pine. The heavily roasted malts carry this beer like a yacht on a sea of hops. Quite bitter. Coffee, chocolate, char. Like the smell, the alcohol that does come through is spicy, like rye bread and pepper. It is quite smooth as well, almost scary smooth.

M: Medium-thick and it sticks around for a while. Sticky. Light carbonation.

I'm sure glad I picked up this bomber, and at 7 bucks, it was a good value as well. Extreme, complex, big, and tasty. This is the epitome of an imperial black IPA.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.63/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a very dark brown, appearing black. One finger fine medium brown head with good retention and excellent lacing. Attractive. Aroma of critrus and aromatic hops. Flavor starts as a stout, dark and roasted malts followed quickly by aromatic hops and roast, burnt coffee. Finishes hoppy and somewhat dry. Taste goes through a rapid and complex series of flavors. Very different and interesting. Surprisingly smooth and mellow while presenting interesting components. The finish skates on the edge of being too dry and burnt, but somehow pulls off the whole thing. I really enjoyed this unusual ale.

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Photo of FickleBeast
4.63/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle poured into a DFH snifter.

Pours thick, viscous, pitch black with a huge billowing head of mocha foam. Aroma is rife with spicy, floral hops.

First sip... huge hop flavor explosion, trailed by a nice roasty/plum flavor. Lingering bitterness is minimal, or at least nicely balanced by the substantial body. This drinks very nice. Alcohol is masterfully disguised.

There is just so much going on here. There is more body than most IIPAs, but less sweetness and lingering bitterness. The roasted malts add a unique and balancing flavor to the sharp, spicy hop kick up front.

Stone has created another masterful hybrid of a beer that is a joy to drink.

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Photo of jsanford
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a Stone IRS tulip.

A - Poured a dark black with a huge mocha-colored head that has great retention. Another beautiful Stone offering!
S - Wonderfully hoppy nose, fresh and pungent, with notes of grapefruit, pine resin and "cat" with a chocolatey malt backbone.
T - Similar to the nose, the hop profile is incredibly pungent. The dark flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee attempt to stand up to the hops, but can't quite make it. Hop-bomb all the way, and I'm loving it!
M - Smooth and creamy with a medium-full body and solid carbonation.
O - Really an amazing beer, just a touch better then Sublimely Self-Righteous. Maybe make THIS the year-round offering?

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Photo of begforme4484
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours dark! I, and my brothers, were taken aback at how black this came out. It's dark, good luck seeing light through it. It poured with a finger and a half of tan caramel head. Nice thorough lacing on the glass.

The smell is DANK. It piney, fruity, weed-ish hops. The hop aroma on this beer is immense, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Taste? Let's talk about SSRA on steroids. Not exactly, but I wanted to say that before I tasted it. It's much more fruity than it's close brethren SSRA. Still nicely bitter and slightly astringent(in a good way.) Nice roasted barley too. Mmmm.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly warm. 10.8% will do that to ya! But they do hide the ABV VERY well.

Overall, I love this beer. I hope they make it full time.

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Photo of hiku7
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had no idea what to expect with this beer. I really, really liked it. The nose is all DIPA, but the taste is all RIS, thereby combining two of my favorite styles. A big winner in my book. I will be buying it again before it's gone.

Pours opaque black with a towering mud-color head that dissipated slowly and left good lacing.

Smell is piney, resiny, grassy hops, with some citrus thrown in to boot. Everything there is to love in American west coast hops.

Taste is roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee, plus a grainy earthy hop backbone of moderate bitterness. Taste was surprising based on the DIPA nose.

Mouthfeel was full-bodied, somewhat viscous and grainy, a bit sweet with a sticky-lipped finish.


Disclosure: I drank this bomber from 10am to noon outdoors in sunshine while brewing an oatmeal stout, which no doubt contributed to my overall enjoyment. One of those perfect beer experiences we long for.


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Photo of TheBrewo
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

We pour a brew of the deepest ruby sheen, with highlights of dark browns. It holds a one and a half finger head of medium brown bubbles, and shows great retention. As it departs we are left with sheets of thick lacing. Carbonation is medium with the bubbles rising slowly, and no sediment is noted. The aroma boasts bright hops which are earthy and very organic seeming. We also detect cinnamon, dragon fruit, tart red apples, and strawberry preserves. There is also a light hint of raw ginger root. The malts are toasty and dark. With warmth comes booze and strong bubblegum esters. As we sip, the flavoring begins with robust citric hops. Those tropical fruits come in, riding on some more soapy hops. There is a sweetness of fusel booze, along with crisp and roasty malts. Raw coffee bean adds an additional dryness, and brings us to the middle where the malts are richer, charred, and salty. They battle more hops, which are now earthy, as they were in the nose. The fruit also remains, and helps provide a sweeter base for the esters to play against. We end with sugary sweetness, booze, organic hops and earthiness, and metallic malty roast. The aftertaste is bittered from the coffee and citric hop inclusions, with a heavy fusel booze to bind it all together. The body is medium to full and the carbonation is medium, but soft. There is great froth and slurp and creaminess, but the beer stills feels satisfyingly sticky. There is ultimate cooling and a twang of dryness. The abv is getting up there, but the beer has phenomenal drinkability.

Overall, what we found to be the best aspect of this beer was the crazy aroma and feel. The tropical fruit was totally unexpected, with beautiful hops and malts. The fruit and spice were seemingly unconventional for the style, but made for a unique twist and a really wonderful brew. At times the flavoring approached the upper limits of tolerance for booziness, but this beer is really over the top in almost every single way.

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Photo of johnnysky16
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle.

A - Fantastic looking beer. Could be mistaken for a stout with its thick head and midnight black color.

S - I definitely get a smell of hops. Great smell.

T - For the alcohol content this is a really smooth beer. Easy drinking. Has the hop flavor and malt in the background.

M - Mouthfeel is good as well. Very stout like in feel.

Overall I think this beer is exceptional. Very easy to drink even with the high alcohol. I think many people forget this is an imperial black ipa. As an imperial this is very, very good. Has stout like qualities with ipa qualities. Love this beer.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a complete black hole color w/ a thin one finger chocolate head. Beer is so dark, I can't tell the carbonation, but the lacing is good. Really nice looking black IPA. Smell is amazing! Pineapple, malt, simcoe hops, pineapple. My words can't do the nose on this beer justice, so I'll simply say this is one of the best smelling brews I've ever had. Period. Taste is really excellent, although not quite up to the smell. Roasted malt, hops are evident, as well as a little alcohol, but the fruit only shows up in the aftertaste. Feel is very full bodied, w/ an extremely dry aftertaste. Somewhat smooth and silky too, although the hops bite wins in the end. Overall, this is a great black IPA, and a fantastic beer by the guys at Stone. The best Black IPA I've ever had to this point. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Chaney
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

BA Jayhawk73 just walked up to me and handed me this brew out of the blue. How bout them apples? Thanks Jeff!

A: Abysmally dark, with a small mocha head that became nothing more than a ring around the brew within seconds of the pour.

S: In mid-bottle pop, I started to smell grapefruit and pineapple right away. Uh-oh... Hop bomz R' us! Huge hop profile. Grassy, fruity, and hoppy all at the same time.

T: One would have to have a microscope to detect dark malt on this sucker! Well, after a few sips.... not really. It's there in essence (sort of a porter-like afterthought), but the hops are the star here and I'm guessing this is 100 IBUs at least. Pineapple, grapefruit, peach (ala-Sculpin), and maybe a tinge of bitter cacao on the end.

M: Okay, the bitterness is there, and I credit the dark malt with doing the most damage to my palate on the back end. Masochistic for sure, as well as clinging on the lacing (and palate) side of the house.

O: The best thing Stone has ever produced, hands down! I liken drinking this brew to being gang raped, but I really dug it!

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

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

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Photo of mfunk9786
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow! I didn't expect this to be as good as it is. I think I'm as burnt out as everyone else on the Black IPA style and it was going to take a really impressive beer to shake me out of my blahs. This is that beer. It pours like an imperial stout, all thick, black, and with a coffee-colored head. The only way I can describe the smell is to compare it to cannabis. I mean, the marijuana smell is strong. Really strong. Definitely a simcoe hop explosion, along with some dark chocolate. Stone is so smart - in the taste, the simcoe hops along with some less citrusy and more dank, marijuana-y hops provide bitterness without off-putting brightness in this dark beer. It really tastes like chocolate-coated marijuana. I realize this reads like a stoner's review, but I have to put it out there that this might be the ultimate pot-smoker's beer. The only ill word I'd speak of the beer is that it's a bit hot from alcohol at this point, but I'm not so sure it's a good idea to age this one, so you've got to take the alcohol in stride. Great beer - bravo to Stone, who have been taking some heat for their special releases lately. This one is a gem.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased at The Old Toad in Rochester, NY. Bottled in '11, so this guy is 3 years old. How does a 3 year old Imperial Black IPA hold up? Really well, apparently.

Pours a very dark black, looks thick and oily, with a thick, foamy off-white head, and a lot of lacing.

Dude, smells awesome. A bit smokey and ashy, with some powdery chocolate, a little bit of pine, and rich milk chocolate.

This has aged amazingly, honestly. The chocolate flavor is really overwhelmingly dominant, it's got a powdery rich flavor that's like a cross between Nesquik and Belgian chocolate, if that makes sense. It's rich, powdery and chalky, with some smokey flavors behind it, with the smallest vestiges of hop flavor left, some pine, a tiny bit of juicy sweet citrus. There's also vanilla and espresso beans at various points too.

This is really thick. I gave some to the bartender who had it fresh. He said it's thickened with age. It's got a really creamy, but slightly dry mouthfeel, with a lower level of carbonation.

This was really good, honestly mind-blowing at this age.

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Photo of collinmeyer
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One of the best beers I've ever had. I was browsing my local liquor store and snagged the last bottle they had since I hadn't heard of it. To my dismay after tasting it and researching, I realized that the chance of my having it again was very slim.

This beer combines the best of an IRS, a double IPA and a stout. It is perfectly balanced and has just enough boozeyness for my taste. Coffee, chocolate, pine, west coast hops... Great beer. GO, STONE!

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Photo of megahurts4
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Stone Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Appearance: dark dark brown, medium-large head, and some good lacing.

Smell: roasted malts, hops, and molasses.

Taste: roasted malts, hops, brown sugar, and molasses.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy.

This is a great brew. It is very smooth and well crafted, not to mention well balanced. Hops are prevalent like all Stone brews, but less intense than most.

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

August 2011

Was looking for something to tear me up this morning to expedite nocturne.

A: Heavy pour produces two fingers of dark mocha head atop a black ale. The head falls rather slowly to a firm quilt of the same. Sheet lacing. Damn good looking beer.

S: Pine cones, grapefruit, cinnamon, coffee grounds, marzipan (?), hints of smoked oak. Really thoughtful as a ABA (much less Impy). When I smell this, I keep expected some molasses to come through, but much to my satisfaction, it does not - it would have tipped the scale too much one way. Right now, this beer is exceptionally balanced in my olfactory.

T: Sharp, dull, sweet and bitter all at once. Very complex flavor here. Coffee grounds, bitter cocoa, roasted almonds, hints of licorice, resin and piny hops, grapefruit rinds. Really nice battle for attention going on over the palate.

M: Creamy and heavy with velveteen carbonation. Finish is long and viscous. Really pleasant.

O: Greg and the boys are firing on all cylinders with this one. Damn fine beer which pushes the limits of a still young genre. They have had one of the longest running in the style, it's not surprising that they would spearhead the movement to imperialize on a national scale. Good shit. Seek out.

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

I enjoyed this on tap at the Brewhouse Grille Stone/TRÖEGS tap takeover, served chilled in a pint.

A pitch black stout-like look with opaque clarity and medium beige cap w/ fine bead. The lace clings in rings. The smell has a huge hop aroma which is enhanced by simcoe scent which is slightly pine and has a mango tropical note with some mild citrus elements. The nose is mellow with grassy and has mild herbal sweet floral round scents w/ practically no malt aroma w/ just slight sweet element. The feel is incredible with the viscosity giving the impression of light body since it is so dry with a very resinous lush oily hoppy all joy on the palate. The juicy texture with ultra dry malt body w/ no roast the way I like a black IPA with lush green smooth body without any astringency.

The taste of wonderful hop flavors greet the palate w/ juicy and mildly bitter taste which is pineapple/mango w/ a splash of grapefruit . The taste is outstanding since the black malt flavor is absent , maybe a whisper of malt in the overall taste w/ slight toasted tinge and light fruity accent of sweetness to join the mellow pine elements w/ simcoe obviously giving a lush herbal/tropical contribution and the cattiness is mellow w/ slight wild coarse earthy accent that is huge and the taste of full w/ phenomenal taste w/ semidry juicy bitter finish - this is possibly the best of the style that I have had. Overall this was fantastic on tap showing Stone is true to the love of hops and a master of black IPA's they deserve to rename it according to their locale. This nails it or hits it out of the park whatever cliche you choose will fit. I loved it a great example of the Imperial Black ale style

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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 lonestar4lunch
4.59/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I smell it already... nice. It pours the expected black with the dark, tan head. The aroma is pure hops and so good. Yup, pretty much all hops. Oh damn, this taste outstanding. I was expecting there to be a bit more toasted malts but the hops are running the show from the beginning to the end. I need to look up what hops are in this gem but to me it seems like Citra hops are the big winners here. I get just a bit of the toasted malt and maybe, maybe some dark chocolate at the end. This isn't heavy and is beyond drinkable. I can't get over how fresh and delicious this is. Way better than 14. Great job.

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Photo of bsp77
4.58/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Pitch black with thick, foamy, root beer float head that leaves intricate lacing webs.

Smell: Citrus, pine, roses, chocolate and charbroiled meat.

Taste: Perfect integration of chocolatey roasted malts and citrusy hops. Elements of char, coffee and pine enhance the experience. Finish is bitter and spicy, with both a hop bite and a roasted malt bite. Becomes somewhat fruity as it warms.

Feel: Exceedingly smooth and creamy with a massive warming sensation. Moderately low carbonation, fairly dry finish.

Overall: Besides for the warming sensation, I can't tell that this is anywhere near 11% abv. Unbelievably smooth and tasty; the best American Black Ale / Black IPA / yada-yada I have had. Of course, one could argue that this is really a hoppy, citrusy Imperial Stout.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.58/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My third try of this bad boy, and each time it has delivered the goods.

It starts off really strong right outta the gate: ultra-creamy head has a surface the looks like puffed rice and is a fawn shade of brown. The color of the liquid makes sure this label does not lie: it is black, black and more black. Imperially Black. Okay, they nailed that part.

Big bold hops are ultra-breezy and mega-bright, yet the big burly dark malt is able to push in and give a roasty but far from burnt edge (and that "burnt" thing is what puts a lot of people off to this style. None of that here). There's chocolate embedded deep in the malt side of the aroma, with a prominent but not overbearing alcohol element coming through. Everything co-mingles pleasingly, in a way that I haven't smelled in any other Black IPA.

Oh wow, more chocolate on the tongue, which, again, is much more desirable than burnt popcorn. You definitely get a deeply roasty flavor, but that bittersweet baking chocolate essence is more prominent on the malt side of the equation. Something acidic wants to come through, but the sweeter malt/chocolate elements win out over it. Bright, super-citrusy hops play along nicely, both malt and hop being pretty huge, and the alcohol is detected, but yet again, it all works. Very juicy dark fruit emerges (especially black cherry), despite a fairly dry finish, and my oh my, this feels INCREDIBLE. The caress on the tongue is velvety soft and smooth as glass, very slick, yet with ample carbonation to bring it all alive.

Emerging as a pretty contentious new beer style, or maybe just a simple "love it or hate it" sort of thing, this Black IPA is up there with Southern Tier's Iniquity, BrewDog/Stone collaboration Bashah, and Stone's own Sublimely Self-Righteous when it comes to the truly great ones. Geez, am I surprised this is yet another above-average beer from Stone? Not really.

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Photo of sureshot08
4.58/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with a tan 2 finger head with excellent retention and lacing.

Smell: Roasted malts and floral notes.

Taste: Has hop bitterness and citrus, but also has a malty presence. The alcohol is pretty well hidden given the 10.8% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Very rich and creamy, excellent.

Overall: This is an outstanding beer. I think this is the first time I've had this style, but I really likely the interplay between the hoppy IPA features and the dark maltiness. Will have to try the Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale next.

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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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