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.

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Reviews: 719 | Ratings: 1,443
Photo of rdilauro
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours like a dark rich stout. I have had a number of other Black IPAs and this pours the same way. A little but tan creamy head, that does not last that long
The difference ends here between stouts and black IPAs. Once I put my nose into the glass, all that came out was nice and strong HOPS. Closing my eyes, I am thinking like Stone's Bastard Ales, not as hoppy as Ruination.
I have to admit, my first taste was somewhat disappointing. I think it was perhaps that I was looking for that rich full stout flavor, but instead, it was much thinner, still nice The mouthful didnt last all that long. From the initial sip till the end, was so very quick, I was hoping for a little more flavour.
The finish was very quick. Hoppy to the end, made you make sure this was an IPA and not a stout

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Photo of schlimenhaumer
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the standard pressure cap bottle into a nonic pint glass at low altitude.

A: Pours pitch black with a 1-2 finger mocha colored head of decent retention. Nice lacing here.

S: Dark chocolate, caramel malts, fairly prominent bittering hops. Like a stout, this one definitely smells dark. I feel I may have waited too long to buy this one as the hops smell a bit less prevalent than expected for a black IPA.

T: Dark chocolate and a sweet caramel malt body up front with and bitterness throughout that really takes over on the finish. I'm sure the hop character would have been stronger and more pleasant if I bought this one a bit fresher.

M: Full-bodied and slick with a little bit of carbonation. I feel that this one could have done with some more carbonation.

D: From the taste, I never would have guessed this one is 10.8% ABV -- it conceals the alcohol content very well. The dark chocolate and sweet malt notes were a bit overpowering, but the balance may have been better if I had this fresh. While it was pretty good, I don't think I would buy it again.

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Photo of alkemy
4.55/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Out of the bomber…

A- To call it dark brown would be a misnomer. It’s so dark, let’s just call it black. There is some ruby highlighting around the edges of the glass when held to light. More than an inch of smoky taupe head that shrinks to about a quarter inch and then has plenty of staying power.

S- Very strong pine in the nose. Has a wet, swampy quality to it. There’s also a faint smoky molasses in the background.

T- Taste is complex. A bit like a barleywine right off the bat. Then some dark fruit quickly followed by the strong hop character. Smokiness intermingles, but really lingers in the finish. This sh*t’s good. It’s got a hint of the taste characteristics of a barleywine, with the strong pine goodness and some smokiness.

M- It’s silky smooth, but also has quite a bit of bite from the carbonation…silk at first and pine needles directly thereafter.

D- High. Smoky, pine finish leaves me wanting drink after drink. Alcohol is extremely well hidden.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - pours black. Looks opaque at first but if held right up to a light, it has some deep and intense ruby hues. Two fingers of chocolatey mocha foam with nice stick as it melts down.

Aroma - spicy grapefruit, almost juniper-like. Some char to the roasty grain aroma.

Taste - the sweet malty grain has a roasty element to it, but you better find it and enjoy quickly. The hops hit heavy, hard, and with intent. Wow, a rush of pine and grapefruit rind, a total alpha wash but little if any medicinal factor for a hoppy brew that could easily go there. The swallow brings in some balancing roasty malt and some abv heat. Not much indication that this is double-digit strength. The finish is a palate scraping bitterness, dryness occurring from the hops and the black malts. Lots of lingering flavor here, no need to rush the bottle.

Mouthfeel - my first impression was smooth like a milk stout or RIS but this got modified as I progressed to a lighter but still smooth feel. The carbonation is about as big as it can be and still be complementary.

Drinkability - top notch, a special entry for the style.

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Photo of duckrabbitfan
4.58/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark with appreciable head and nice lacing. This was a beauty to just look at.

Surprised by my first smell. More sweetness to it than I thought.

Incredibly balanced taste. Incredibly delicious. For something so dark and hoppy I was amazed at its personality.

If i could capture the aftertaste I would keep it forever. Made me say outloud to my drinking buddy, "hahahaha,... wow. this. this is good."

Had the pleasure of trying this black IPA a few months ago and I still talk about it with friends. The taste is just wonderful. Would try it again and again, for sure!

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Photo of tlazaroff
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is what comes to mind when I think of an American Black Ale! The nose has ZERO roast, coffee, or chocolate on it what so ever. Instead, I get a beautiful floral, citrusy, and piney bouquet of hop aroma. It is quite perplexing and wonderful.

Escondidian Imperial Black IPA pours out pitch dark. It's the kind of dark that would make you afraid of the dark. It's topped by a persistent mocha head.

Roast comes though on the flavor in the finish. It lingers as well, quite presently. The hops mimic the aroma and are a punch in the mouth from the first sip, and they hold up to the beer nicely. The malt is really pronounced as well in the aforementioned roast notes, as well as light coffee and chocolate.

Mouthfeel is strange on this one. It's full bodied, but finishes completely dry. It's carbonation is on the moderate side. Again, it's perplexing.

Stone are kings of the American Black Ale, if Sublimely Self Righteous doesn't convince you, this one will.

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4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter. Sampled 9/22/11.

A: Arrives with a fingers worth of thick, foamy, fluffy greyish brown colored head. Incredible retention. The body is dark brown - if not black. Lacing lays down with excellent coverage in barely interrupted sheets.

S: Nose is straight pine and very dank. Lightly grassy with some orangey-citrus pulling through. Earthy and lightly musty. Bitterness is evident even on the nose. The dark roasted grains pile on and compliment the bitter foundation that the hops provide.

T: Dark malts. Little-to-no coffee or chocolate flavor is, in my mind at least, a favorable quality in a Black IPA (or whatever we're calling it here). As it warms, baking chocolate makes an appearance. Acridness is definitely present.

M: Smooth and gritty at the same time - if that's even possible. Fine bubbles and a tingling carbonation gets the tongue ready for the next sip. And the dryness practically begs for it. Finishes well with long-lingering flavor.

O: Drinks like a West Coast-style Foreign Export Stout. The hop bill is wonderfully flavorful and the mouthfeel is so good that it enhances the flavor even more.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

3 finger dark tan head with lots of lacing and some retention on a jet black body with a subtle hint of light getting through. lots of caramel and roasted malt aroma, fairly sweet with some coffee and hop hints. Flavor is excellent. I was worried from the smell that it would be too sweet but it was perfect. the roasted malt lingers nicely without too bad of an aftertaste. The hop bitterness is very pronunced for a black IPA. Drinkability is borderline but good enough. Moderate carbonation and full bodied. A very balanced roasted and hopped beer.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice beer, heavier on the hops than the roast. Pours jet black, with a very nice caramel covered head, 2 fingers probably. Even after sipping on this for awhile, the head is still there. Smells roastier than it tastes, but the hops still dominate. The taste particularly tastes strongly of herbal hops, with dill and citrus notes. Without looking at the color you wouldn't really even know this is a Black Ale. The aroma has a bit of chocolate and roasted grain along with those same citrusy and herbal hops. A little on the thick side, with real body, and with a nice lingering bitterness. Quite a nice package- the hops are the star here.

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Photo of DCon
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 1 Pt. 6 Fl. Oz. bottle of this from Randall's Wine and Spirits in St. Louis, MO for $5.99. Poured from the Blue Iris/Black labeled bottle w/ Mr. Stone throwing up a cheers into a 16oz Tulip Glass. Does not have a freshness date on the bottle.

Aroma- Has a huge roasty start on the nose and then has an American hop flavor that pushes through. Great combo of aromas going on here, both black ale and imperial ipa like.

Appearance- Pours a 2 finger head that is dark brown and lasts for good time. Has a deepest brown colored body. Leaves good, dark lacing behind.

Flavor- Once again, dark and roasty comes out in the flavor and then has a awesome hop flavor. Light-Medium bitterness and finishes with a stout mix with roast. Very Clean.

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Medium Carbonation, Smooth, Roasty, and then perfect (american, strong) hops are left on the palate.

Overall Impression- While TRYING to give this Black-IPA style a chance, this is the one you need to go to! Awesome strength and just enough hop to push past the stout like attributes most Black-IPA's give you. Enjoyed GREATLY and keep your eyes out for this next year. Good one Stone!

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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 bigbubba
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

If I hadn't poured it myself I would swear I was being served a baltic porter. It is black and the head is a drak tan. There is not much head. The aroma is very nice. Chocolate, toffee, caramel, but not real hoppy. The flavor is great and the mouthfeel is awesome. There are hops, but not so much that it overwhelms the delicious flavors from the dark malts. There is a bit of bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is silky smooth.

I need to get out to the store and see if any of these are still available.

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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 akk101
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle
A - Great looking printed bottle. Typical Stone with a very long description on the back. I don't know anyone who has actually read the whole thing. Black color with thick brown frothy head that lasts

S - Picking up some chocolate notes and hops

T - Roasted malt with pronounced hop presence at the end

M - Thick and full body

O - Great beer fromt Stone. Very drinkable; it didn't take me much time to finish it. It's like RIS and IPA collided.

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Photo of alec7717
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark black and brown with a light white foamy head

S: Heavy hops and pine gives the beer good appeal before the first taste.

T: After a couple gulps you can taste the hoppy IPA as expected however it is smoother than the heavier IPA beer taste that is typically expected. Theres a hint of chocolate as your drinking.

M: It doesnt give the mouth a longlasting tingle that some IPA's give but gives a tasty coat on your mouth that lasts and gives the chocolate taste as well.
O: Delicious beer that I would definitely have again because of the smooth chocolate taste you get after the hoppy taste goes away but if your going for a more intense hop filled IPA go with something different

Serving type: On tap

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Photo of Mahlik
3.46/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into a shaker pint glass. Reviewed from notes (9/15/11).

A - Poured a pitch black with a tan creamy head. Decent lacing.

S - Lots of in-your-face hoppiness dominate. Pine, resin and citrus are all present in the aroma. An underlying fruitiness.

T - Taste doesn’t stray too far from the aroma. I get a lot of piney hops up front with some chocolatey malts on the backside. A touch of citrus. The bitterness grabs a hold of your palate and doesn't let go. A rather large amount of alcohol creeps up.

M - Medium-thick bodied with moderate carbonation. Thicker and creamier than expected. The bitterness is a little harsh. I can definitely feel the alcohol’s presence in this beer.

O - Not one of my favorites. I'm usually torn on black IPAs. I probably won't seek this one out again. I like the hop profile but this beer borders on being too harsh. It's a little too unbalanced for my liking.

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

A: Dark, dark brown with a slight red tint and no head; decent lacing

S: Tons of pine, citrus, and floral hops with some boozy undertones; this smells incredibly hoppy and those hops seem to take the show over any malt undertones lurking beneath

T: Citrus and pine hop bitterness up front--and lots of it--a slight roasty grainy quality underneath; really, really hoppy and bitter--something a bit musty and strange in the finish--though I kind of like it; also some lingering chocolate and coffee poking through all those damn hops

F: Medium to think body; sticky and oily--just the way I like it

O: One of the hoppiest, stickiest beers that I have ever had; good stuff

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

Beer pours black with a massive pillowy brown head that lingers nicely decorating the glass as I drink.

The nose is primarily hops with a nice roasty backdrop

There are waves of hot chocolate, and spiced coffee topped off , with a hop bitterness, finally tempered on the back end by warm caramel notes.

This is an amazingly smoothe and creamy beer. Definitely taste the alcohol, but it goes down like butter. Good carbonation and easily drikable.

I wasn't sure what to expect coming into this, but really enjoyed it. Grab some if you can.

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Photo of jkanavel
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Jet black with a pillowy, poofy, chocolate milk head. Very sticky rings lace the glass.

S: Charged with hops. Piny resinous pacific northwest style hop profile. Undertones of toasted pecans, and strong coffee.

T: Big hop explosion, very aromatic with solid bitterness. Next is a sweet but very earthy maltiness. Mild roasted notes. Not as assertive as a stout, and not as sweet or chocolaty as a porter. Very balanced.

M: Rich and creamy. Decent sparkle of carbonation.

O: This style of beer could easily be enjoyed as a pint, but I assume for cost reasons its served in a snifter, at least where I order it. I like to imagine that one day, some guy at the brewery was drinking a super hoppy IPA and decided he wanted some backbone to match the hop punch. Its not an imperial stout, its not really an IPA because its black. I dunno what it is. Its good stuff though.

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

A: Pour is motor-oil-black with a massive brown compact and creamy head. Dissipation is meidum-slow and leaves nice lacings.

S: The smell is awsome; lots of American floral and bitter hops; grapefruit and pine, together with moderatly roasted malts, some chocolate- some caramell- makes this very well balanced. The high ABV is not noticable - this smell is near perfection!

T: Bitter hops up front followed by roasted malts, chocolate with notes of coffee-beans - dry. Syrupy sweetness. Some burnt notes. And in the back; dark dried fruits. The alcohol is more present in taste compared to smell.

M: Short aftertaste, bitter and burned. Body is full while carbonation weak. Smooth but high ABV-presance.

O: A very complex and nice ABA. I hate myself for not buying a whole case...

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Photo of warnerry
3.61/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pitch black with one and a half fingers of creamy brown head. Head has nice retention and leaves spotty lacing.

S - Lots of chocolate malt and citrus hops, with some floral aromas as well. Definitely some alcohol in the nose. Good, but doesn't really grab me.

T - Still a good bitter hop presence after four months. Never had it fresh, so don't know how this compares. Significant chocolate malt and roasted malt presence throughout, a bit ashy. Citrus and grassy hops. Finish is dry and lingering bitterness.

M - Nice, creamy mouthfeel with a very bitter finish.

O - Good black ale, which is a style I have a hard time getting excited about. Nice bitterness, but a little too much ash from the malt component.

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Photo of imasloth
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought bottle back in September and had it tucked in back of fridge until now (Bottle says to enjoy fresh so this may be an issue).

A- Poured into goblet the beer is midnight black, with a beautifully cafe-coloured head that is about an inch thick. the head dissipates slowly leaving a thin covering over the liquid. Spotty lacing.

S- When pouring the beer I was hit with the smell of bitter hops. From the glass they seem more citrsuy and floral and less overpowering. A bit sweet-smelling.

T- Surprisingly complex given the aroma profile. Hits first sweet and malty then followed by alcohol and bitterness. Some bitter chocolate flavor and the flowery hops in the aftertaste.

M- Smooth, full-bodied mouthfeel. Some bitter feeling while drinking that remains and maybe intensifies after swallowing.

O- Delicious and I recommend it if you happen upon it. I had one of these in September but hardly remember it amongst all of the alcohol and flavors of the evening. This is the first beer of the night and it's great, freshness be damned.

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Photo of jwc215
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet back with a thick, rocky head that stays around quite a bit of time, leaving lacing.

The smell is very robust. Chocolate and coffee backed by aromatic hops. Smells inviting.

The taste is strong delicious. Chocolate and coffee intertwines with plenty of citrusy, resiny hops. Alcohol is certainly noticeable, but adds to the flavor and complexity by giving a palatable spiciness without overwhelming. Too often, this style clashes for me. But, here it works very well. A hoppy, bittersweet, complex, rich brew here!

The feel is silky smooth and full-bodied.

This is a wonderfully hoppy black ale that it very enjoyable! Another winner from Stone! Happy 15th!

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

Another Stone anniversary beer. This one a black IPA, decanted into my SA glasses.

The pour produces a jet black beer, with an taupe head, that is beautifully rocky and substantial. It sticks around for a while, and lots of lacing is left behind. Very nice look.

The nose is lighter than I expected, but very balanced between a heavy dose of caramel malt, and citrusy hops. Perhaps if I let it warm up, the nose would be bigger, but its very balanced, which is what I've come to expect from Stone.

The taste is extremely well balanced. Caramel malts with notes of chocolate and roasted coffee come out, but are subdued by citrus and pine hops, probably magnum for bittering and amarillo or simcoe for flavor and aroma. So wonderful, it almost got the highest score, but I reserve that for perfection, which is rarely found.

Mouthfeel is huge .... almost chewy. This is a big, bold beer, with, which stands up to any food you could throw at it, including the hottest, spiciest wings you can find.

Overall, this is another brilliant beer from Stone. The balance is near perfection, and the mouthfeel is perfect for the style. Hard to find fault anywhere with this brew. Definitely one to search out. I paid $7.99 for a bomber .. well worth the price.

Na Zdravje!

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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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