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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 714 | Ratings: 1,423
Photo of womencantsail
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer pours almost black in color with two fingers of tan head that has great retention and lacing.

S: Smells like a classic hoppy Stone beer. Tons of grapefruit peel and pine with some intense herbal and woody hop notes. There is a fair amount of roast to it. A hint of fruit on the finish.

T: The roast flavor is a bit more powerful than I expected. There is a touch of chocolate followed by lots of grapefruit and a little bit of pineapple. Herbal and piney hops on the back end with a lot of bitterness.

M: The body is quite full with a medium carbonation with a lingering bitterness.

O: Not as good as Stone 11 or SoCal Hop Salute, but not bad. A bit boozy as it warms in the glass.

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Photo of flannelman808
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours dark brown with a reddish copper hint. Light brown head pours with a generous amount of cake batter head (typical stone protein). If it ever disappears Ill make a note about the lacing... Retention is fantastic.
Eventually this shows good lacing. Head retention is Duvel status
S: Smells interesting... Chocolate and hop pollen jump out first, but there are some underlying notes of orange peel, lime, pepper, and there is a kind of aroma which reminds me of salinity as well.

T: Milk chocolate (think Ovaltine), Black pepper (and lavender?!), Orange pith and rind, Lime pith, molasses, and pine needles finish it up. Sweet start and a bitter finish works for me! Typically I find this style a misnomer usually belonging in the Russian Imperial Stout category. This isn't very far from a RIS but it does separate its self with spicy and fruity notes. Lastly Ill mention that the 10.8% ABV is well incorporated into its flavors, not hidden parse but well received.

M: Very well done in this department. Its got a velvet fizz thing happening.

O: Pretty darn good beer. Not quite up there with the ranks of Uinta Dubhe IBIPA (In my not so humble opinion the very best of style) but its pretty darn good and one of the better more inventive beers I have tried within the style. Also per usual its only $5.95 for a bomber which makes for a retarded like value.

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Photo of snpub540
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This bad boy pours out a opaque black that you cannot see through at all. Serious black hole here. It has a light brown head that leaves some nice lace on the glass.

The smell is a bbq, smokey aroma tempered with great citrus and piney hops. It also smells of brown sugar and caramel with a touch of some tropical fruit notes as well. Very complex, very enticing.

The roasted malt and coffee flagvors hit you upfront with a nice sweet malt flavor in the middle and a super nice resiny hop finish. This has a lot goin on for it and a hint of alcohol warmth at the end let you know its here to pack a punch.

What can I say about this 15th Anniversary offering from Stone. I didn't have one single complaint about it. Creamy body on it, easily quaffable. The best qualities of a stout and the best qualities of an IPA combined to make something great.

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

A: Pours pitch black with a creamy, light brown head. Massive blanket lacing that dissipates very slowly. Looks like a heavy stout.

S: Refried beans with well-cooked barbecue and hickory, with a nice big hop river running through the smell. Really unusual and well put together.

T: Dark beef jerkey and hickory keep a slightly chocolate sweetend mellow tone with hops dancing on top. You get the mega hoppy IPA world but a lot of the flavor is dominated by stout-esque tastes.

M: Heavy bodied with creamy carbonation, but some hop aromatics that spread throughout the mouth. Mostly a stoutish mouthfeel.

O: This is interesting, different, and honestly quite good. I have enjoyed drinking this and would enjoy drinking it again, though I don't know if I'd bother shelling out the money for another bottle (not that it's expensive). Worth a shot if you can get this.

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Photo of bennetj17
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Dark black in color. No light getting through this one. Looks like a stout with nice tan foam atop. The smell strikes a unique balance of twangy citrus hops and chocolatey malts. The high alcohol seems well hidden in the aroma, though smell it long enough and the fumes begin to add up.

The first part of the sip yields a piney, spicy hoppiness that gives way to the semi-sweet chocolate and lighly roasty malts toward the finish. The giant bitterness is slow to creep in after the finish, but then lingers nicely. The alcohol is again well disguised, though I can certainly feel it after finishing a glass. High marks for the mouthfeel on this beer, as it is silky smooth. It's not too heavy, nor syrupy, just perfect with an appropriate amount of carbonation.

Overall I am pleased with this beer, though it didn't amaze me. It has the right characteristics for an excellent stout, and it's also a real hop monster, but together it didn't add up to the same greatness as the 11th Anniversary beer. Perhaps we now know the limit of how much roasty malt can go into one of these Black IPA's before it's really just a hoppy Imperial Stout. The one thing I am curious about is whether this could age nicely, but I'm leaning toward no. It's already very drinkable considering the the strength, and once the hops fade it will probably start to taste a bit odd. I think I will drink my other bottle soon...

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

Let me open this review by saying, happy birthday Stone! I remember that first Arrogant Bastard punching me in the mouth back in college, and you've been challenging my palate ever since.

Stone 15 comes in a typically badass bottle with a celebratory ripped gargoyle threatening all who think they're worthy of this beer. It pours dark black with a lovely burnt chocolate head. Looks like a stout, but don't be fooled, the Escondidians don't let the drinker off that easy.

The hops tingle the nose from the very first whiff, and that's when you know, you're in for a special night. The aroma blossoms with mild floral alongside creamy malt that had behind the wall of hops. The flavor lays on thick on the palate like a chocolate stout, yet quickly opens up to a vibrant hoppy dream. Creamy chocolate notes are cut in my bitter tangy hop flavor in order to create a truly challenging flavor. The beer has that wonderful chew of a thick stout, yet doesn't rest too heavily.

Thanks again Stone, here's to the next 15 years.

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

Poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Beautiful appearance. Deep espresso colors and a three finger head with great retention.

S - Chocolate, piney, citrus, mocha. Smells fantastic. It's like a bipolar nose on this. You looks at a RIS, and you think chocolate and coffee, but the hops are just a great surprise.

T - Piney and resin straight up and then rich chocolate and coffee notes.

M - medium carbonation, silky, smooth, milky.

O - Great blending of two great styles. I usually think of Black IPAs/Cascadian/blah blah as fairly gimmicky, but I really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of BdubleEdubleRUN
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 poured into Tulip.
Pours a very deep black, much darker then I thought it would be. Light tan 2 finger head that lasts quite awhile. Smell is nothing what I expected from the look, hops hops hops, citrus, pine, burnt roast, coffee. Taste mirrors the smell, lots of layers to this beer. Yep the taste is pretty spot on with the smell grapefruit and other citrus comes forward more on the taste. I can tell the alcohol is defenitly there but its not offensivly high at all, fits perfect. The mouthfeel is thicker then a IIPA but less then an Impy stout. By the looks of it you would expect a chewy beer but the carbonation smooths it out, with a taste and bitterness that lingers long after each sip. Loving this beer, I wouldn't mind if this replaced SSR in their regular rotation and I love that beer. Its SSR on the juice benching 520lbs for reps.

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Photo of Gushue3
4.67/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours very dark black almost cant see through it into my snifter. body is just as black and has a 1 finger light broen head with moderate retention. not too much lacing left on the glass after a swirl.

S- Beautiful citrus hops like grapefruit and orange zest are accompanied by roasty malts. Nice BIG scent comming from this somewhat COLD beer. cant wait to smell it warm....

T- nice citrus upfront that will satisfy any hop head. grapefruit and citrus dominate all around with a nice dark malt roast comming up behind. Like David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, this is the best of both worlds. almost a pineapple hop taste like a galaxy hop. as far as ABA or BIPA's, this is a diverse taste.

M- medium mouthfeel that feels thicker than it seems. nice feel. great amount of carbonation that isnt too descriptive, but it is what is...

O- This is awesome.. Like any hoppy beer, get it while its fesh. Top notch ABA or BIPA whatever the fugg you want to call it.. But it, drink it enjoy it because this is almost flawless.

Thank you Stone.

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Photo of nbree00
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nice jet black color with a nice 2 inch chocolate brown head.

S: Nose is pretty epic with notes burnt chocolate, earth, pine and espresso.

T/M: Pretty blown away by the taste to be honest. Completely blows sublimely self righteous out of the water. Flavors of burnt espresso, chalk, pine cones, sauted mushrooms and baking chocolate. Super well balanced mouthfeel with a pleasant chalkiness.

O: Really impressed with this beer overall, very roasty flavors and great body and texture. Highly recommended.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours shiny coal black with an inch of foamy mocha colored head. The head retention on this beer is crazy. Takes forever to recede, leaving plenty of chunky rings of lacing down the glass.

S-Intense simcoe hop aroma. Intensely piny and resinous.

T/M-Roasty with a soft, thick mouthfeel. If you were to pour a glass of Sublimely Self Righteous into a glass of Stone IRS it might be a little like this. The body is more in line with what I'd expect from an imperial stout, but with sticky, piny hops. What I especially appreciate about this is the mouthfeel. Starts out velvety soft and dries out as it approaches the finish. The back end is piny and dry. Moderate carbonation.

O-Stone is on a roll with their Anniversary series. Loved the 14th, and this one is great too. Get this while it's nice and fresh.

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Photo of sdderek
4.85/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle purchased from Best Damn Beer Shop in San Diego.

Two of my favorite styles are Double IPA and Imperial Stout. Stone's newest anniversary beer seems to me to be the perfect blend of these two epic styles.
A - Jet black body with a creamy brownish head. Good head retention for this big of a beer. Looks absolutely stunning and delicious...I can't wait to try this out!
S - Wow. The nose on this is intense! Hop overload in an awesome way. The Citra and Nelson hops really stand out to me with citrus, pine, roasted malts, cocoa. Excellent stuff here.
T - It tastes like your stereotypical massive triple IPA from the west coas with the bitterness of the hops blowing my taste buds out of my mouth...but then there's balance as the chocolate and coffee notes start to shine. Solid, solid work here Stone.
M - Mouthfeel is really creamy with a medium amount of carbonation.
O - In my opinion this is the best tasting Stone anniversary beer I've had. Very good all around beer, plus positive points for blending my favorite two styles together and more positive points for creating a truly unique beer.


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Photo of kzoobrew
3.81/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours an honest, legitimate black. Not common with Black IPAs strangely enough. Huge three plus fingers bubbly khaki head. The retention is pretty impressive, works its way back slowly. A half finger cap remains through the duration. Nice sheet of moth eaten lacing coats the wall of the glass.

The aroma is fairly muted, this is disappointing. Resinous pine and citrus hops are on the forefront. Malt contributions are obvious, nearly boarding on too much for the style. Not huge on the roast but there is a definitely dark chocolate aroma pouring out of the glass. The combination is pleasant I just wish it was more intense.

The flavor is much closer to what I would expect but is not without its faults. Pine and citrus hop flavor barely rolls out of the glass and on to the tongue before the malt comes into play. To Stone's credit, the roast is subdued but there is a huge chocolate flavor coating the tongue. The hops do not have the time to be showcased but the do mesh well with the malt. The bitterness is rather low, I appreciate that in this beer.

Full bodied Imperial Black IPA. Carbonation is moderate and appropriate. The texture is ridiculous for the style, I cannot decide if this is good ridiculous or bad. Creamy and smooth on the tongue, this is not something I am use to with this style. The finish is long, the chocolaty malt lays heavy on the tongue.

The score for this beer will not be indicative of how much I enjoy it. I really like this beer, I am just not certain it is an excellent example of the style. The malt is a bit more assertive than I would like to see. The body is closer to a stout than a Black IPA. With all that said, this beer is damn tasty. I could drink a few of these without a problem.

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Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well for number #3000 I had to go with this,its worthy of such a lofty number.Poured into my Stone imperial nonic a jet black with a blooming mocha colored head that becomes a substantial frothy mass after leaving a few broken globs of lace as it kinda, sorta settled.Big resiny and herbal hops overtop of a dryer bitter chocolate base,a tinge of sweet boozy alcohol comes into play as it warms.Herbal hops really stand out on the palate along with unsweetened chocolate and light roast,there is a "meaty" element to the beer that I cant quite pinpoint.Full and creamy feel it glides down nicely.For my money this is the best Stone Anniversary beer that I have had,its as complex as all get out,hell of a job here.

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Photo of aasher
2.87/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This just arrived in Indiana today. It pours a nice midnight black in color with a one finger poofy beige colored head. It looks great. It smells of sweet and bitter dark roasted malts and caramelized onions. Uh oh, smells like a dark roasted Devil Dancer. I'm not a fan of that onion aroma at all. The taste is sweet, dark, bitter, has a very nice hoppy aspect but again it goes very heavy on the onions. I'm sure some love it, but it isn't for me. It's also very, very boozy. It has the near perfect body for the style and drinks more like a stout or imperial porter. I wanted to love this one, but it just wasn't up my alley.

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Photo of MarkBlackout
4.68/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Excited to run across this tonight at Stoney's Liquors on 10th Street and Emerson Ave. Indianapolis.

I've been wanting to try a black IPA -- I had my doubts whether the style would make any sense to me. That said, the closest thing I could imagine that I remember having was FFF Alpha Klaus, a super hoppy porter -- a past favorite.

Pours dark, inky. 3 inch head on a vigorous pour. Later on, plenty of stratified lacing. Pretty things make me thirsty(?).

Smell is not huge, but interesting: medicinal, cocoa, cinnamon. Slight alcohol vapor that goes well with the pleasant health-tonic nature of the thing.

Massive herbal onslaught enlivens the body, stimulates the senses, detoxifies the liver, cures depression! Burnt malts stay very dry indeed.. nothing here in the way of the swampy and slightly citric hops. It may not be perfectly balanced, at least at this fresh stage, but that distracts not from this beer. Totally unique. Alpha Klaus was not nearly as strange or intense as this beast, or as LOUD!

When cooler this beer's attack on the palate is somewhat diminished and delayed -- I enjoyed it at the full range of temperature from cold to almost room temp. Mouthfeel is oily, creamy, slightly astringent but not boozy.

I have not been this impressed with a beer for years. I feel lucky to get to try it right off the truck. I plan to buy many more while I can, maybe even attempt to age one. NOT to be missed.

It also intoxicates.

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Photo of grittybrews
4.44/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured jet black into a tulip with ruby-tinged edges and a finger of creamy dark khaki head. Very pretty. Relatively mild aroma of roasty coffee, pine, and a hint of grapefruit.

Moderate carbonation and a full, creamy, slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Pine, lemon, and grapefruit up front followed by roasty coffee and hints of cocoa on the finish. Not very sweet, but a little caramel eventually emerges somewhere on the tail end.

Very interesting brew; rather than sweet malt to balance the hoppy bitterness, there's just more coffee/cocoa bitterness. Somehow it works and I definitely kept coming back for more, which was dangerous given the almost completely concealed ABV. This one drank MUCH easier than expected. (I split the bomber over two days and actually enjoyed it even more the second day...it was a little less carbonated but the flavors really emerged nicely.)

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Photo of WestValleyIPA
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Stone IRS tulip aggressively. 4 fingers of very fluffy, stiff tan head. Takes almost 5 minutes for it to mostly die. Lots of sticky lacing. Black. Citrus on first whiff (lemon). Lots of sweetness and anise on a second smell, followed by roastiness and floral hops. Loving the nose. Some chocolate and anise up front on the palate, citrusy sweetness, a roasty dry finish. Chocolate. Bitter chocolate. Extremely bitter finish. More dryness and hops. Very very creamy and smooth going down. Ridiculously easy to drink for almost 11%. Fantastic. There's a reason I always buy Stone beers the first day I can get them.

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.53/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sexy black body with dark tan head. Nose has plenty of fresh pine, dark bitter chocolate, and a hint of candied fruit. Palate offers a delicious balance of rich chocolate/espresso, and ample piney hops. Creamy body, silky, sexy, smooth.. makes me want to consider other uses for the beer. Surprisingly easy drinking, considering how rich this is.

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Photo of Canvas08
3.76/5  rDev -10%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

My first review. Poured from a Bomber into a wine glass.

A: Deep Black with slight Reddish Brown tinge. Caramel colored long lasting head. A ton of lacing

S: Very sweet smelling. Piney Hops. Chocolate. Some orange.

T: At first tasted like a blend of Stone IPA and Imperial Russian Stout to me. Initial taste is definitely more IPA, transitioning in to the coffee/chocolate flavor of the malts. VERY PINEY. Bitter hops, bitter chocolate not much sweetness. Some Alcohol burn. Finish is great. Tastes more like a Stout-y IPA than a IPA-like Stout.

M: Very silky and smooth. Carbonation almost unnoticeable.

O: Looks pretty. Smells Nice. Great texture. Unfortunately tastes weird to me. Not bad, but weird. More like a fusion of two different styles than celebrating often overlooked Black Ale. Sublimely Self-Righteous does a much better job. I enjoyed this beer but won't be buying it again.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours an opaque black with large tan head, good retention and thick lace.

S: Green almost peppery (jalapeno) hops with pine and a lot of dark chocolate.

T: Dark chocolate is heavy and is the dominating flavour with a hint of roast. Hops are prominent making the beer quite bitter at times. Very direct flavours, not exactly delicious, but powerful.

M: Full-bodied, creamy, soft carbonation, medium long aftertaste.

O: To me really like a hoppy Imperial Stout showing the overlap in styles. I enjoyed it, but I'm not going crazy.

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Photo of finagler
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Creamy head that shifts on top like a foamy wave coming in Louisiana after the BP Oil spill. Held up to the sun I couldn't see through it at all, it's black y'all! Vanilla, some dark fruits, stone IPA on the nose and taste. Lacing reminiscent of dried pumpkin guts. If this beer were an animal it would be a California Black Bear after itching its back on a pine tree.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an absolute pitch black color from a 22 oz bomber, bought and opened on 8/17/11. According to a blog on Stone's website, the bottle was released on 8/15/11 (it says on the label that it was bottled in Aug 2011).
Nice one finger dark mocha/tan head that dissipates slowly and leaves behind an constant shape changing film of head. Nice head retention.
Aroma was extremely hoppy, from the moment the bottle was cracked open. As the beer warms up, amidst all the various floral hoppy notes, there are hints of roasted malt that are evident with noticeable cocoa/dark chocolate notes.
Taste-wise this is a very complex ale. The layers of varying bitterness constantly assault the taste buds. Some might say this ale is excessively bitter, but to me it is just the right amount of complex bitterness. At times you feel you are having a super hopped stout, since this is a surprisingly full-bodied and smooth IPA.
The high ABV is masked very well. Even the warmth from the alcohol doesn't make it's presence felt right away.
This is a sipper all the way, and gets better as it slowly warms up. Stone always impresses me with their brews. Definitely worth a try and is highly recommended. Especially to all hop-heads and those who enjoy really dark stouts.
I am very interested to see how it ages and will be getting another bottle tomorrow and store it to age.

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Photo of rand
4.72/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From bomber to pint glass

A: Pours jet black and forms a super frothy 2-inch head, which very slowly recedes and leaves lacing everywhere.

N: Smells like a Stone IPA with strong notes of diacetyl and booze. Stone IPA's have a trademark pine scent, which is all over the place.

T: This was completely unexpected. The citrusy, piny, hop notes are there, but buttery, boozy flavors really dominate the palate. The diacetyls are really strong, but they're almost neutralized by the alcohol. It's almost 'truffle-y'. Lemony citrus and sharp pine poke through mid-sip, along with some bready tones reminding of squaw. Finishes bitter and boozy.

M: Oily as hell. The diacetyl is no joke. I'm going out for a pint of this tomorrow, will have to verify that this was normal.

And I assume so because this is completely delicious, I've just never tasted anything like it. Stone IPA was my gateway drug to craft beer, but recently they've put more energy into expansion and distribution rather than out-of-the-box brewing. I've been waiting, hoping, for them to come up with something amazing like this. You can taste a little Runination and Arrogant Bastard, but this is a brew all to itself.

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

721st Review on BA
Bottle to Piraat Tulip
22 oz bottle

App- A new point in the black IPA zone has been reached. To me they really dressed up a RIS with a bigger head and scaled back the lacing. Black squid ink liquid and a giant three finger head. Khaki in color and very very slow to recede.

Smell- A very nice blend of a lot of things. I get damp citrus with some orange and some tropical. At the same time its a bit malty with a creamy note. No trace of the ABV or bitterness.

Taste- This is very different from other black IPAs I have had including the 11th anny or SSR. This one is more malt driven with a balanced malt/citrus combo. Its unique in flavors with it being so split down the middle and very balanced. Black IPAs arent my favorite but 11th and 15th take the cake.

Mouth- A very well done medium bodied beer with a paired and equally balanced medium carbonation. A bunch of bubbles and a lot of malt with a touch of citrus and coffee. Maybe just maybe a little coffee on the finish.

Drink- Well I hope after all these years Stone will always push boundries and continue to push boundries. A newer style but very balanced, tasty and unique. I probably wont age one as it states but I saw the 3L and said mmm...

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
93 out of 100 based on 714 ratings.
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