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 Mebuzzard
3.76/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well, yeah...it's black. A very dark pour with rich brown edges, but they are hard to see because the off-brown head collars around. Soft lacing, somewhat splotchy. Looks really nice

Mostly hoppy aroma, but a nice foundation of roasted malt lingers. Pine, some citrus. Overall it's good, but a hint of fingernail polish remover is detected. I think it's from the combination of ingredients rather than a defect.

Tasting it, the polish stuff is just a by-product, but still off-putting a touch. It's not bad, but I keep focusing on it. Still, the hops and roastiness are quite nice. Soft baked caramel and smooth cocoa are topped with pineapple and pine. Lots more pine than pineapple though. Hints of tobacco, leather and almond.

Feels smooth, and that's quite an accomplishment since it does have a hell of bite.

Overall a good beer. A bit much to solo a bomber, but I managed quite well

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.76/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very, very dark brown. Colour is perceptible but it may just be an optical illusion. No illusion about the head which is lovely, dense mocha foam, sunk slowly to a thin film with uneven lace. Looks great.

Smell is hoppy like a mofo, just smells like hop pellets - grass clippings, thyme and taragon on there with lots of citrus and some polished brass. It's all hops, and could use some more dark roasty aroma from the malt. Don't mind it, but it's a bit simplistic.

Taste is better; more of the darker notes. In fact the hops seem almost to be missing here. Nice roasty malt notes, with by-and-by characters of chocolate, star anise, natural licorice and pepper, and then still that big grassy hop note comes through - fresh grass clippings and a touch of pepperberry. Slightly floral but yeah, grass is the big note. It's kind of a sidenote to the majority of the palate though and the flavours don't quite mesh, but it's a bit flavour brew that manages to be enjoyable in spite of its slightly slapdash nature.

A bit sharp and dry on the back, but otherwise smooth and a bit sticky. Not bad.

Seems a little more like a garage home-brewed IBA than something I'd expect from Stone. Seems like the flavour isn't as expertly woven together as previous beers of theirs I've had.

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Photo of rawfish
3.77/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Hamilton's Tavern. Received in a pub chalice, pitch black but likely cola brown, with nearly no head on it. Excellent coating of spotty lacing follows down the glass.

Roasted malt but overall rather bready and has some nutty nuances. Yeast adds some red fruity esters and the hops are vegetative and piney.

Milk chocolate with some coffee grounds and dark fruit like figs and prunes get muddled up in the herbal and piney hops. Notes of licorice and peat. Finish is piney but also very earthy and vegetative. Decent drying with a residue of charred malt.

Smooth carbonation and an easy to down body. Alcohol is well managed and masked by the malt and it presents a good amount of drying with roasted malt lingering.

Reminds me of a hoppy porter as opposed to an IPA, not unlike Stone's Smoked porter with less char. Hops are a touch earthy like tubers with a dose of pine, I would like this one brightened up.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.77/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - pours a deep inky black with a frothy tan head. leaves spotty lacing. stays at about a fingers worth.

S - a vibrant hop aroma dominates the nose. notes of bitter orange peel and pine are the most prominate while the malt hangs back with just a touch of coffee and char.

T - bitter chocolate on the front of the tongue which turns into an onslaught of bitter citrus. notes of pine needles in the center of the tongue which carry over with the citrus flavors for a nearly endless finish.

M - soft creamy texture with a medium body. the bubbly carbonation is light giving the body a bit more weight on the tongue.

O - an interesting beer. I really do like the hop profile. Its bright and flavorful and just the right amount of piney-ness. but the malt profile is a bit lacking and almost nondescript which was a bit of a disappointment.

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Photo of plaid75
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a deep black hue with a two finger foamy tan head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a molasses, dark chocolate and caramel.

The taste consisted of elements of dry dark chocolate, coffee, caramel and a healthy dose of booze.

The mouthfeel was certainly full for the style with a dry finish.

If this isn't an RIS, then I'm the Queen of England.

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Photo of MagicJeff
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into snifter

A: Dark and creamy upon initial pour. less than a finger head dissipates fast into haze. some lace upon conclusion

S: Dark malts come first. some tangerine and citrus. slight toffee and even vanilla. some alcohol.

T: this is where I'm conflicted. chocolate and pine. citrus mid-taste. finishes nutty, like pecans almost. After it warmed, the alcohol made itself known. extremely complex

M: Very creamy. Pours heavy, leads to a smooth feel.

Overall: Different than any other Stone brew I've had, and that is not a bad thing. Lacks the citrus taste that I love about Stone. Malts make up for it in every way. The alcohol is present but the beer is still drinkable. The complexity of this beer is astounding--I don't think drinking this one time does it justice for a review. Looking forward to trying it again and seeing what I missed the first time.

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Photo of THSdrummer
3.79/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with two fingers of dark, motor oil head. The head is fizzy and disappears pretty quickly with no lacing left behind. Aroma is dark, with notes of roasted and toasted malts, with pine hops and chocolate. It's almost more of a hoppy stout aroma. Interesting. Flavor profile follows the path lead by the aroma, with roasted and toasted malts and chocolate up front, before breaking away to a bitter, pine hop bite. The long lingering taste leaves very little other than pine hops on the palette. Mouth feel is bold, strong, and filling. It has a thick consistency and texture similar to a quality stout. The thick, viscous feel keeps this beer from being easy to pound, but makes it a pleasure to sip if you love the feel of a stout, but the bite of hops. Overall, it's a great black IPA. While it may be more adequately named as a hoppy stout, it still does the job of presenting hops in an alter-ego type fashion in regards to appearance. Just be careful, as the hops are a bit brutal.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

This bottle is from the 20th Anniversary IPA pack, made in 2016.

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Photo of Thickfreakness
3.79/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours pitch black into my DFH signature glass... thick three finger dark brown head fades away and leaves a nice little bit of lacing... not too sticky.

S- Burnt malts, grapefruit, smoke, licorice and a bit more citrus... lemon/orange/necterine. Not as complex or deep as I was hoping for. Like a porter meets an IPA.

T- Tons of citrus with nice smokey malts underneath. Licorice stix, burnt wood, caramel and pine resin. It reminds me of black barleywine.

M- Your mind tells you two different things... stout and IIPA. Has a bit of a chalky feel from the smoky malts, and a ton of bitter hop bite! Has a nice creamy feel... then the hops just punch you in the face!

O- This style isn't really my bag, but I'm enjoying this one. By far the best Black IPA i've tried. Nice piney hop punch with a creamy smokey malt base... this is pretty cool!

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Photo of HalfFull
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. etched bomber into a tulip glass. Pours jet black even in the light and shows half an inch of mocha foam. Decent retention and light lacing follow.

Nose is rich with muddled earthy hops and a notable though light roast and dark chocolate presence. Cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar add complexity to a heavy bodied nose. Touch of alcohol drifts by here and there.

Taste is smooth and creamy, rich and with dark fruit and chocolate on the palate. Roast notes on the aroma don't reveal themselves here. A bit of dark chocolate bitterness tries to wend its way through the stout like body but just doesn't make it to the finish line, surrendering instead to the sweet malt body of cherried chocolate. Mouthfeel as a result doesn't resemble an IPA too well, Escondidian or otherwise.

In the end you may have your Escondidian IPA, or perhaps a Cascadian IPA or some future 'ian' IPA. But alas it's such a waste of hops, if they're actually there, to bury them behind the heavy handed and manipulative dark malts.

So, what makes an IPA? For I would not call this one, Black, Belgian or otherwise. A yummy brew, best perhaps enjoyed with chocolate cake, but an IPA??

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Tulip/snifter.

A: Black as night with a finger of light khaki head.

S: Strong floral hops, roasted malts, alcohol.

T: Strong citrus and floral hops, chocolate, and espresso roastiness.

M: Average thickness (shocking, given it's strong flavors).

O: This is much more potent than it tastes and feels. Also, it leans more toward DIPA with the roastiness being considerably downplayed.

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Photo of korguy123
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Jet black pour with a three finger tan head that holds on for a while. Lacing is spotty.

S- Subtle roasted coffee and pine bitterness up front. There is a char character that melds with a citrus presence. A slight alcohol presence is noticeable.

T- Huge stout tastes (coffee, chocolate, vanilla and molasses) with a somewhat muted pine and floral bitterness. This is almost a overhopped stout than anything.

M- Medium to full bodied, lingering bitter aftertaste and sticky on the lips.

O- Excellent interpretation of style. Most complex aba I've ever come across. I just wished it was more hop than roast.

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Photo of OutFox
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on 9/20/11 out of a 22oz bottle.

A - Poured into a imperial size pint glass. Yea its straight up black. Light barely penetrates the edges turning a couple millimeters brown. Tan head. Good lacing, decent retention

S - Smells of bitter chocolate at first. Hops predominate. Not a normal IPA smell but then again it isnt a normal IPA.

T - Bitter chocolate again. All I can think of. Tastes like a weird IPA. Good though. Definate bitter after taste. Hints of coffee and bitter chocolate with a good hop character. Ive had black IPAs before but this is the most bitter. Good experience.

M - Heavy looking but its acutally quite medium bodied. Enjoyable mouthfeel. I enjoy the bitter chocolate after taste.

O - Good. Its good. Not the best Stone Ive ever had, but I like the style. Its a progressive sort of beer which is normal from Stone and sort of lacking in the American craft movement. Mixing of styles needs to happen more often. Its good, the only thing I had a problem with was the weird bittersweet chocolate but it gets better with more drinking.

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Photo of danieelol
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Adam @ Platinum

Pour is midnight black with nice tanned head, rather imperial stouty in appearance all round.

Citric (orange) hops on a big barleywine-esque malt base, lots of licorice, soot. Some vegetal and alcohol (Cointreau) notes.

Taste is perhaps closest to a barleywine but with a fair bit of roast and roast bitterness in conjunction with hop bitterness and loads of hop resins and flavour. Malty, syrup, hoppy; sweet but bitter.

Mouthfeel is somewhat creamy, somewhat thin, somewhat carbonated, somewhat sweet, quite bitter; especially as it goes down.

Decadent beer. Bomber may be slightly cloying, but in a good way. I do think it succeeds more because they go all out on the ingredients than because it is particularly well designed though.

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Photo of Omnium
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bomber > PInt Glass

A - Poured a nice rich black, two finger brown head, lots of lacing.
S - Chocolate, roasted malt, and a lot of weird hop oil/resin smell.
T - Really thick and sweet toffee kinda malt, and too much of that oily hop flavor.
M - Too thick and overbearing.
O - Not enough qualities that could redeem this for me from disliking it, hate the oily hop flavors.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.81/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque black with a 1 inch bubbly dark khaki head that settles to a thin cap. A nice latticework of lace forms all around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, charred meat, and some herbal and pine hops. The charred smell is a bit off-putting actually. Taste is of dark roasted malt, smoked/charred meat, coffee grounds, and quite a subdued herbal hop finish. A roasty bitterness sticks to the palate after every sip. Mouthfeel is pretty smooth with a medium body. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the charred smell takes away from everything.

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

22oz bomber that has been in the cellar for about 6 months.

A: Jet black in color with about two inches of dark brown head from an aggressive pour that dissipates slowly and leaves noticeable layers of lacing throughout the glass.

S: First thing i smell is an older hop smell, followed by sweet sugars, some roasty malts, and coffee.

T: It's like a beautifully balanced mix of a stout and an imperial IPA without the massive hop bomb bitterness. This brew also doesn't have any hint of alcohol heat.

M: The mouthfeel reminds me of a stout, full of sweetness, and smooth. Fair amount of carbonation, perfect for the style. Overall, very thick but expected of the style.

O: I love this brew. Overall, it's one of the best black IPA's i've ever had and it's an imperial none-the-less. One of the most solid brews from Stone i've had in a while. Hats off to Stone on this one!

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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 samie85
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours an oil slick black with two and a half fingers of glistening, medium brown head.

S-Loads of grapefruit, pineapple, and orange notes with some chocolate and slight roasted notes with some booze on the finish.

T-Bitter grapefruit and chocolate notes upfront with some orange and roasted notes on the finish.

M-Rich and full-bodied at firs which gives way to a bitter, dryness and warmth in the mouth and throat on the finish.

D-It's a an almost 11% beer, but it's decidedly balanced between the hops and malt; it is quite boozy though. It's been awhile since I've had a beer this strong in such a quantity.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a pitch black color with a thick toffee colored creamy head, and gentle carbonation.

S - Crisp roasted chocolate malt with a citrus zing and some floral notes, a little bit grassy.

T - Boozy, and finishes with a citrus roasted mouthfeel. Roasted malt in the middle, slight warming on the way down, and leaves a bitter roasted chocolate and citrus aftertaste. Compared to other Black IPA's, this one is pretty bold for a black IPA.

M - Medium to full body, a little chewy, velvey smooth, and semi-dry.

When it comes to the Black IPA's, I could take 'em or leave 'em because they leave my palette confused and I don't enjoy the clash of the chocolate and IPA nuances. However, this particular beer is worth checking out. I can't see this beer keeping a long time before the hops fade and turn it into a chocolate IPA. (This review is being written from notes that were taken on 9/14/11 when I sampled it on tap.)

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Photo of mattkoon
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I wish under the "appearance" tab I could select scary. This beer is black as pitch with a tall black head. Seeing the dark color and knowing this was an ipa had me a little shy. There is mega-hops in the odor. The taste is a really nice balance between black thick beer and mild ipa. The 2 tastes seem to exsist at the same time but not take away from each other. This is the only black ipa I have ever had- it came in a tall 1pint 6oz bottle. I shared it with my wife. It would be a good beer to have on a colder day.... But over all this is a unique and different beer.

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Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours very dark and settles black, looks much thicker than a traditional IPA and has a merangue head that coats the glass beautifully, very reminiscent of a stout.

S: Smells hoppy with an element of bright, solid fruit, watermelon or canteloupe maybe. There is some soft maltiness in the background, but very subtly.

T/M: Flavor is bitter up front with pine hoppiness followed closely by roasted malt, a slight alcohol burn, and more earthy hops in the finish. It's thicker than other paler ales but not as thick as stouter beers. A medium amount of carbonation creates a balanced mouthfeel along with the consistency.

This is one of the better black IPA's but it's still an abnormal marriage of ingredients that may be an acquired taste. Definitely a great beer for sipping.


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Photo of DoctorDog
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 1pint 6 oz bottle into a snifter.

A- Wow. Pours black and opaque. Pours with ~1 1/2 fingers of dense brown head, which fades very slowly to an incomplete cap.

S- Piny hops come first, followed by roasty malts and dark fruit sweet notes.

T- An immediate clash of pine infused bitterness and roasted/burnt notes assaults and coats the tongue. Smoky/sweet molasses and charred caramel notes, and a swirl of other flavors too difficult for me to discern independently after the initial tongue-clubbing....with a touch of booziness on top...

M- Moderate carbonation with a fairly full feel.

O- Good. Not a true standout for me, but in spite of the confusion, I am enjoying this beer, and finding it surprisingly easy to drink.

Future outlook: An unusual one-off concoction that I was happy to try. Not a HR, but a creative double.

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Photo of hdelavega
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle to a pint glass.
Pours dark and thick, strait up black with two fingers of light mocha head that hangs around for about 3 minutes and leaves great lacing.
Nose hits me with fruit, pineapple, chocolate, and a little coffee.
First sip I am hit by alcohol, I get some dark fruit, lots of coffee, chocolate, and a slightly hoppy finish.
Mouthfeel is really smooth, a little more alcohol presents than id expect from a 10.8% ABV brew, medium carbonation, it has a pretty big body, the head was super frothy and one of my favorite parts of the brew, it reminded me of something served on nitro-tap.
Overall not to shabby, I will get this one again when Florida winter arrives.

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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 WeedKing4
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark black with caramal like foam. Smells like a citrus/fruity ipa, but the taste does not follow suit. Tastes quite rosty and full. Very stout like. This would not nornally be a probably, but the beer itself says its an IPA. Other then the smell, i'm picking up nothing that resembles an ipa. Its not a bad beer, just wrongfully named.

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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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