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 Thorpe429
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Rick's in Alexandria. Served in a Stone IRS tulip.

Pours black with a large, creamy tan head that lasts for a long time before falling into a thin cap with excellent lacing.

The nose brings forward plenty of chocolate and roast, backed up with some earthy hops and pine resin. A bit of booze in the nose, which becomes more prevalent in the flavor. Hops are fairly light compared to the malt, though neither is particularly heavy. Moderate-to-strong bitterness with average carbonation. Medium body. Decent enough, but not what I expected given the rave reviews.

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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 rowingbrewer
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours to style it is a black ale. There is also amconsiderable tan head produced while pouring. The smell is roasty hoppy and almost a little sweetness and dark chocolate all in one. The flavor is a little sweet and hoppy at the same time. There is definitiel a lot of roasted character and a little dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is a little thick and I would almOst classify this as an American double stout based on the body abv and appearance. The beer is delicious but I don't think this is a black ale

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Photo of pigc
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours black as night with a two finger head. Lacing clings to sides of glass like a spider.

S - Juicy strong fruity hops. Roaste barley, alcohol.

T - Hits you right away with sweet malt and strong alcohol folloed by a wave of bitter hops. Lots of heat here with the ABV.

M - Heavy and very oily and resinous with bittering hops.

O - This one is a bit hot for my taste. If you're looking for a black IPA that will put a hurtin' on your palate then look no further! Prefer the Sub. Self Righteous over this.

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Photo of hooliganlife
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pour is a thick jet black with light cocoa head with decent retention.

very sweet with lots of dark fruit, sweet citrus, light milk chocolate. bits of black licorice.

very boozy. lots of bittering and citrus hops. very sweet. a bit of roastiness and chocolate. based off the hops, tastes a bit similar to SSR only way more boozy and thick.

nice thick body, very stout like. moderate carbonation. slick and wet feeling.

overall, ill take SSR over this. if the booze was tamed down, this would have been far better. maybe age will do this well? fresh, meh.

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Photo of Smurf2055
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed Dec 2011

Poured from bottle into a pint glass.

Pours like a stout, with a nice tan head about a finger thick. Good lacing.

It’s got some coffee and licorice, but the pine and hops smell as well. Maybe a bit of caramel. An interesting mix.

Taste really confused me. It’s a light body, very smokey, almost ashy. Greets you with light coffee and finishes with a hop kick near the end. I couldn’t tell it was over 10%. Very powerful. Leaves a nice aftertaste.

Overall, it’s a very interesting beer to say the least. Very complex and very bold. Impressive.

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Photo of dbell23
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass. Black with dark brown 1 finger head that leaves some lacing. Appearance is top notch.

Smells boozy, brandied fruit, with a slight hop. Reminds me of the moonshine that sometimes has added fruit like peaches or blackberries that we have here in Tennessee.

Taste is just this side of over the top. Burnt malt, strong coffee, super dark chocolate with dark fruit. You can really taste the alcohol. Almost sensory over load. Bitter sour aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is smooth but the taste overpowers it.

Overall I have to say that it's good but almost too much.

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Photo of smcolw
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep, dark brown liquid where no light shines through. Good beige head that drops very slowly, leaving a blanket of fine lace.

Dark, nearly burnt caramel aroma--semi-sweet. There's a light touch of hop at the end of the smell.

Bitter malt followed by bitter hop, quite different from the smell. There is no sweetness to this beer. In fact, it seems like an over abundance of black patent malt was added to the brew. Think coffee grounds and you'll come close. This beer is more bitter than a stout, even though the hop is largely overwhelmed. The body is decent with a good level of carbonation.

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Photo of nitro0292
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured a pitch black with a large head on a moderate pour. Great retention and fair lacing.

Smell was quite sweet. Smelled like a Russian Imperial Stout with a touch of hops. When I drink an ABA I want coffee, chocolate and hops - kinda like chocolate covered grapefruit. Weird, yes, but that what I want. This was mostly chocolate and roasted bitterness.

taste was more of the same. Lots of bitterness, but from the roasted malts. A bit of hops in the middle followed by a strong finish of sweet malts. To me this is much more like a RIS than an ABA, but as the first "Imperial" ABA it is a good brew.

Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, with low carbonation. Appropriate for alcohol level and flavor.

It was a good Russian Imperial Stout but for the fact that it was a black IPA.

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Photo of togabear
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served into a tulip.

A: Black, thats not a surprise though. Light brown head that sticks around, but its not very voluminous. Lacing down side.

S: Pine is the dominating smell, followed by citrus rind. Hot alcohol sticks out, but blends decently with hops. Dense and sweet malt flavor in background to hop. Malt slightly caramel, raisin, and burnt. Tropical fruit flavors, with slight breadiness. Maybe a little oaky/woody.

T/M. Syrup malt flavor and feel, roasted bitterness, slick resin hop flavor as described above, except more herbal. Hot alcohol. Very bitter, but I like that in a beer like this. Mouth feel is full and sticky syrup, with moderate carbonation. Very slick and resiny.

Overall, this is a decent beer, but I think I like the Sublimely Self-Righteous better. I like the smell and flavor, but I like them individually and they dont mesh well. I wish the flavor took on more of the smell or the other way around. The hot alcohol is so strong, although masked by hops and roast, that it puts me off a little.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled August 2011
A solid pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip produces a four finger thick, dark brown colored head. The head is very dense and leaves lots of thick lacing as it slowly subsides with a very rocky surface with deep crevices in it. The beer is an opaque, dark, black color. The aroma smells of candied citrus fruit and berries that is backed by a rich, roasted, and burntly sweet-rich malt character; this last has notes of dark chocolate and something like coffee syrup (though not nearly so sticky sweet). The roasted character leans more towards huge toasted grain notes, which is good as burnt notes would really clash with the hops. The combination of roast malt and fruity hops combine to contribute a spiciness to the nose that reminds me of a christmass cake flavored with orange zest, cinnamon and allspice.

Sweet dark malt helps support a big candied citrus zest character, roasted lychee and super ripe tangelo zest. This is backed by a huge herbaceous pine character that transforms into a huge, aggressive bitterness that is a combination of hops as well as the burnt / roast malt; the bitterness, really, really lingers on in the palate, when you take another sip the bitterness is there up front only slightly tempered by the rich malt character. This has a fair amount of body to it, though the bitterness in the finish is easily able to clean up the palate from the somewhat viscous, medium’ish body; actually the body of this beer is actually fairly light considering the strength of this beer. The roast character in this beer is actually a lot more aggressive than in a typical Black IPA; it contributes lots of burnt, black malt notes, some burnt grain husk character, a big toasted whole grain character (though this is more significant in the aroma), and a supporting, not really noticeable in and of itself, dark malt sweetness.

I can’t believe I am saying this, but the bitterness is so huge that it is distracting me from the other flavors in this beer; one could look at this as a good thing given that this beer would likely be a clashing, jarring fight between the vibrant American hop character and the burnt / roast malt notes, but really hiding this clash doesn’t make this beer better, especially since these Black IPAs always end up being a clash between these two components to some degree no matter what. If you are in the mood for an aggressive, cacophonous ride of a beer, then this beer certainly fits the bill; I am actually even enjoying it a bit more than I would have guessed in the end, especially given how harsh the flavor is.

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Photo of Scrumtralecent
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A - Pours black with a nice thick mocha colored head.

S - Smells like coffee roasted chocolate, that was my first impression. Some almost berry sweetness showing through. As it warms, some piney hop shows through all the dark aromas. I feel as if I would smell like this if I covered myself in chocolate and molasses and ran through a pine forest.

T - Taste is roasted coconut hop. Dark flavors like chocolate and coffee playing with bitter hop flavors. Very roasted taste all the way through, with the bitter hops not really helping that matter. I can honestly say that while I'm picking out the taste, it's coming from so many different directions. So while complex, the taste also feels a slight disjointed.

M - Quite bitter, there is no real salvation to the palate in terms of sweetness to help alleviate. Good carbonation, but the bitterness makes this quite the sipper.

O - I could see this as a polarizing beer for some, but overall, I enjoyed it. A challenging beer in both taste and mouthfeel, it kept me interested and kept me searching for new flavors. The biggest detractor for me what just how bitter this beer ends up being. Perhaps a touch more of citrus somehow would have cut the bitterness a little and made it more a bit more drinkable.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I can't remember for sure where I picked this one up at, but I am pretty sure that it was the Woodlands Spec's. Let's see what we have going on here:

Appearance: Pours a very dark black color with a thick creamy 1/4" of tan bubbles on top. The head faded slowly, but no telling how many bubbles are maintaining it. There is a little bit of tan lacing left on the glass after drinking the beer. The head was a small ring around the glass after about a minute.

Aroma: The aroma was led by hops, but they are very different than your typical Stone offering in that there are grassy and some earthy notes being the primary attributes with any citrus being reserved. The alcohol is already coming out in the cold beer and is giving the beer a slightly "turpentine-like" impression. The aroma gets a good bit more toasty as it warms, but doesn't change that much more otherwise.

Taste: The flavor is pretty acidic from the roast malts, hops, etc. Overall the alcohol is very noticeable in the flavor as well, and is contributing to the overall dryness that the beer immediately puts on the back of the throat. The third or fourth sip starts to come to terms with the finish, but this may just be the strong alcohol already numbing my senses. The beer gets much more pleasant after you have drank 6oz or so. The beer is medium to full bodied with ample carbonation.

Opinion: This is a pretty good beer. I am not sure what about it didn't quite "do it for me", but I think that it was the overall acidity from the dark malts. It is almost like they used too clean of water for the amount of acidity that they had and they should have used a bit more bicarbonate. I am not sure why their RIS doesn't have the same problem unless they create a different water profile for it or some such. Either way, this is a good beer, and I happen to like the Black IPA style and think that this is a pretty good example of a relatively new style. I'd give this one a shot regardless as I am splitting hairs. It is a pretty good beer.

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Photo of devinoconnor
3.72/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours coffee black (without the cream!) with a heaping of frothy brownish foam head. Smell is intense, as is everything with this imperial IPA.

Loads of roasted malts take to your nose, somewhat overpowering. Chocolate comes through, as does the high ABV alcohol.

While I enjoy a beer with character, I think the alcohol overpowers the taste here. Almost like liquor was just thrown in. Notes of oatmeal come through, as does dark chocolate and some citrus from the hops.

Beer grew on my as I drank my 8oz, but overall thought it was just a little too strong. Unnecessarily.

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Photo of PSUDREW
3.72/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

a: darker then ink, truely a wonderful pitch black. wonderful tan head
s: nice grassy smell. fresh cut even
t: wonderful a grass malt combo. honestly a wonderful mix. the hops stand out, but there is that solid malt feel
m" overall, a medium
O: pretty referesishing..I dig this

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Photo of uustal
3.72/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a liquid tar with a two finger coffee brown head. Nice lacing and retention throughout. Didn't get the aroma at all. Aggressive alcohol, grapefruit, hints of roasted malt. A bit pungent and sour smelling, but the taste was not affected. Surprisingly big grapefruit and tropical fruit notes to start. Mango mostly. Small hints of black malt follows. Roasted notes, but play 2nd fiddle to the hops. Pine resin bitterness and booze as it warms finishes this one out. Very interesting brew. A hop bomb for sure, but the malts add some mid-palate sweetness. Can taste that this is a stone brew.

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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 bruachan
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

if there was any doubt an imperial black ale would be black...this one's black. looks like an RIS in my estimation. tight froth (attractive)

there's little chance of confusing this for an IPA or stout or IIPA or whatever. this is an imperial black ipa, son. hop forward, roasty charred chocolate less forward. wayyy bitter--from all angles, you realize--and it assaults your taste capabilities. not your mom's sippin IPA

not quaffable. 1 made me drunk on top of other drinks. 2 would do me in on their own

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Photo of SamN
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

For my 300th review, I chose something special; Stone's 15th Anniversary beer. From a bomber into a Samuel Smith nonic pint.

This beer pours black as an RIS, with a thick, soapy dark tan head of billowy, creamy foam. Moderate lacing is left behind, great head for a 10.8% ale. Smell is powerfully hoppy, massive grapefruit rind aromas, tangerines, peaches. Very mild black roasted malt in the background, nose dominated by citrusy hops. Taste is an initial flash of hop-fruitiness, then melds into a more balanced taste incorporating some coffee and roasted grain notes. Finish is moderately bitter.

A pretty decent beer. Hoppier than I expected, but I suppose they did warn me with "Imperial" on the label. Well-hopped but not aggressive, the 'black" part is subdued; I would've liked to see that end brought up a bit more.

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Photo of bishopdc0
3.74/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared a bomber with my wife. Pours a black color with a decent head that dissipates.
The nose is sweet smooth and mostly RIS. A slight vanilla aroma mellow with a generous amount of crystal malts. The hops make an appearance but fade...the aroma is quite nice...not what I expected from stone.

The taste is a mix of their RIS and their Subllimly but perhaps not as good as either. Smooth choc and mix of a slight fruity fig flavor which slowly turns to a hop bitterness. The bitterness melds with the roasted finish and leaves a dry mouth. There is no hint of alcohol in this beer.

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Photo of Jason
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bomber, vintage date on bottle.

LOOK: Black as can be, thick brown head.

SMELL: Booze, dark chocolate, dank hop resin, dark fruit, burnt bread, orange zest.

TASTE: Roasty, dry toasted bread, hop bitterness, tobacco, earthy, smoky ash, brown bread, booze.

A solid brew, hits all the right buttons for what it is supposed to be. A bit too much alcohol and the hops seem to cloud ... Meaning the flavors don't mesh as well as I thought the would have.

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Photo of syrupjoe
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into pint glass.

Pours a pitch amber color (deep brown/black with slight amber tints around edges) with a one finger sand colored head.

Nose is woody, roasty, and slightly cocoa-y. Hints of smoked meat and vanilla.

Taste is roasty, savory like burnt meat, and has intense hop and cocoa bitterness.

Moderate carbonation with a clean but intensely bitter finish and bitter hop aftertaste.

Overall a good beer. Alcohol is almost completely concealed and hops are nicely balanced with dark roasted malts. Not super easy drinking but I enjoyed it.

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Photo of paytonpowell
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Intensely black with an inch and a half of a frothy mocha head from an aggressive pour that does not slowly diminish but rather hangs about like a root beer float. I noticed an apparent viscosity during the pour of this thick black libation.

S: A thorough blast of aged hops that mellows into a cappuccino like aroma with serious notes of strong black coffee and a mild hinting layer of dark chocolate. There is hardly a trace of alcohol in the nose or urgent pungency of fresh hops.

T: My initial impression was rather torn, as it splits the difference between an Imperial IPA and an Imperial Stout. The first sip brings the tongue the heavy caramelized malts of an Imperial IPA, tiny amounts of hop bitterness alert ones sense of taste of something that never truly arrives: a full Imperial IPA. Instead this initial confusion eases into thick dark chocolate malt and mild coffee like bitterness of a proper stout. This warm rich taste lingers enduringly with pleasant stale citrus like hoppy taste much to my delight. Reminiscent of orange chocolate.

M: Thick!!! Just a slight presence of effervescence remains and the really truly brings this beer into the stout real with a full-bodied heavy mouthfeel thick, sticky and rich.

O: This brew has most effectively descended into the realm of the stouts after a solid year of aging. Almost all hop presence has faded into the background minus a surprisingly stale aged hop aroma. I never thought aging such creation would lead to such a pleasantly drinkable behemoth but it definitely has me intrigued as to what aging similar brews will lead to. Definitely a success in experimentation!

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

Black and opaque, even in bright sun light.

Lots of dark malt and some hops, but too much alcohol in the nose

Rich flavor featuring dark malt over the hops, despite the IPA designation. Huge malt flavor yet plenty of hops show thru. Extremely long finish and aftertaste.

M: full body; good if rather aggressive carbonation.

O - very bold; a bit challenging and extreme; highly flavored. If you are seeking a rich and flavorful beer with plenty of hops and dark malt, don't miss this offering.

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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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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
4.18 out of 5 based on 1,443 ratings.
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