15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA | Stone Brewing

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717 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: 717 | Ratings: 1,434
Photo of TheSixthRing
4.26/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottling date of 08/17/16

Appearance - Pours near black with cola brown edging. Tan, finger width head that displays fair retention before dying down to a thin, broken layer of suds across the top. A few random spots make up the lacing.

Smell - Aroma that hits fairly evenly on notes of citrus, pine, chocolate, coffee and caramel.

Taste - Follows the nose. Hits first with some pine and grapefruit upfront, then caramel and candied citrus follow. Back end touches on some chocolate before coffee roast and citrus rind bitterness finishes it out and rides well into the aftertaste.

Overall - I remember trying this 5 years ago, right before I first started reviewing beers on this site, and thinking I wish I'd started a few months prior so I'd have had a review for this. Glad they brought it back so I could redeem myself. Maybe the first black IPA I'd tried, and still one of the better ones. Hope they keep it around, even if just as an occasional release.

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Photo of jzlyo
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aroma is dark/earthy malts, pine and a hint of tangy. The flavor is dark malts, grapefruit, citrus/fruit and a long and acidic/bitter/slightly earthy finish.

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Photo of zshaft
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

this beer pours awsome black with huge thick head that won't quit. good lacing and legs. nose is pine needles and grapefruit. maybe some anaise? taste is up front bitter pine and some light floral tastes with bitter grapefruit. taste gives way to some dark malt notes and sweetness. maybe chocholate but maybe some licorace in there as well. hmm. end very bitter with dry finish. this
is a very good black ipa. tons of flavor and I get a great blend of dark pine forest with juicy fruits and some lingering licorace going on. one of the best black ipas ive had. highly recommended especially if you like the style.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a substantial black in darkness and viscosity. Beige head 1/2". Hops were definitely used, still imparts citrus despite the dark malt and roasting.

Bitterness dances with roast and hop rind like notes. Mouthfeel was strong suit. Amazingly made the beer easy to drink and not hot, not overly bitter. Really elite black ale 1st tier stuff.

This might be the only or first use of citra (probably) in a black ale I've come across. One of the best Stone anniversary beers ever. So much easier drinking than it looks or reads.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From tasting notes. Enjoyed at Muddy Waters. It is very creamy black and hoppy with a hop and dark roast bitterness on both the nose and the palate with very faint malt sweetness in the background and a bitter chocolate note. Some hop and grain astringency on the finish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Boto
3.91/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Draught @ Headkeeper: This one pours a pretty much opaque dark brown color. There was about a finger of a tan head that lingers and leaves some lacing. The aroma was not quite as strong as i thought it would be. Some pine and earthy hops and chocolate are predominant. The taste is very good. Big malt body. Just a hint of sweetness up front. Not too bitter. Hints of chocolate, pine, nuttiness, perhaps some fruits.

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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 Sumdeus
4.52/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had on tap at Congregation Ale House's Stone week on 3/26/2014. Poured into an 8oz tulip.

A: Black with half a finger of tan head, looks like a stout. Good staying power on the head.

S: the aromas are pretty faint, but I can somewhat pick out some hoppy bitterness.

T: wow, this IPA is how old? It's not super hoppy as expected and I never had the original fresh but it's still super tasty. Taste like bitter chocolate with liquorice. I don't usually like liquorice, but I'm really digging this beer. And by that I mean I love it. Taste is very richand creamy, decently sweet too.

M: This is a stout right? No... Oh, because it feels like motor oil. Has wonderful mouth feel like surprisingly thick and full. From mouth feel alone I would think thisisa stout.

O: I really wish I had the beer fresh to compare it to, but I don't. However, it's still fantastic. It's almost like a stout now, this beer had probably changed allot fromit's days as an IPA but it had become something still fantastic..

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Photo of Smooth-Hoperator
3.96/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I am drinking a bottle that was brewed in August of 2011 on 10/26/2013.

This is not an IPA to me because all of the hop flavor has long since gone. That's ok though, because this has morphed into a quite tasty imperial stout. So, strangely enough, that's how I will review it.

A - opaque dark black.

S - very sweet, with dark fruit, fig and licorice notes. There is a slight hopiness left to it, but it's faint. It smells like a Russian imperial stout.

T - Very deep flavor. I get a taste of milk chocolate right off the bat with a depth of flavor that develops into figs, and then a flavor of very bitter deep roasted coffee that fades quickly. It's smooth but leaves a taste of booze on the tongue. Overall, very smooth.

M - Great. Heavy and chewy. Great for the style.

O - I can't say what the black IPA would be like had I tried this beer within 6 months of the brewing date. BUT, what I will say is that this is a delicious beer and very well crafted.

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Photo of jeff1973
3.94/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Schlafly tulip. Bottled 8/1/11, so more than 2yrs old now. Bought for $5.99 at Total Wine Tustin (great value).

A - Pitch black, nothing even around the edges. Mocha colored head leaves decent lacing.

S - Dark chocolate, has a weird turpentine smell, I expect it is from the aged hops. Not off-putting. Weird, but nice.

T - Dark chocolate upfront, also dark fruits (prunes, raisins, figs). A little sweet on the front end. You get that same flavor (turpentine) and black tea from the aged hops. You can definitely tell this beer was massively hopped.

M - Medium-heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is low side of medium.

O - I think this is definitely past it's age, but still a great drink. The fresh version was even better because of the hop notes. This is still better than the Sublimely Self Righteous (which is also a great beer).

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Photo of bmwats
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 650 ml bottle into a teku.

A: Black. Pours a 1 finger, foamy, brownish head. Settles fairly quickly leaving a smattering of bubbles and a thick ring around the rim. Thick, persistent, beer ring lacing.

S: Char roasted malt, hops, and black licorice. A little peat, and dark unsweetened chocolate. Maybe a little molasses.

T: Roasted malt and hops. Well balanced.

M: Roasty and hoppy in the front. Licorice in the back. Dry, hoppy finish lingers on the palate.

D: Sip and savor.

Atmosphere is great. Thick, tight head, with lots of sticky, persistent lacing. Nose is a full combination of roasted grains, hops, bitter licorice, sweet chocolate and molasses. Very roasty and very hoppy. Overall, this is a great quaff.

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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 beertardis
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

found a bottle at a local fish market that also sells beer and wine . been conditioning on the shelf for two years just my luck. smells of toffee , coffee, chocolate , and a hint of annise. the mouth feel was smooth and silky, almost tasted more like a russian imperial stout that a imperial black ipa .

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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 TBoneJones
3.41/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours like a black beauty. Thick deep black, great two finger-width off -white/ light caramel-colored head.
Smells like a liquory funky type of beverage, with some light mocha notes, and with some hop aroma as well. Interesting but not powerful.
This is an interesting take, I normally wouldn't go for a black IPA and don't recall ever having done so. But i feel Stone balanced this brew quite well. It's like a DIPA and an RIS seamlessly combined. It works somehow. It has burnt lingering bitterness with a smooth, thick creamy mouthfeel. Still not a favorite style of mine, but this one is a good sipper. But then this just feels very dry at the finish.
Overall I thought this was easy to drink for such a big beer, but the abrupt drying finish held this back for me. A good combo of big ipa and darkness, but the impression left is strong, and then a chalky, metallic taste. Looks much better than everything else about it. Worth a try nonetheless.

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Photo of bjohn84
4.72/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber that I accidentally forgot about in the back of the fridge

A - Black coffee with a thin layer of toffee brown head

S - Roasted notes with some small citrus

T - Numbing alcohol up front, but taste of it is well hidden. intense bitter chocolate and roasted coffee. Also a bittering hop comes through on the back end

M - Intense and def a full bodied sipper. Leaves a nice coating in the mouth

O - Intense to say the least. Because of the age on this one it comes across as much more of a RIS than IPA, but the bitterness is still there and it is still great stuff. Sad I can't try it fresh again to do a side to side with age

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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 dmatsui
2.22/5  rDev -46.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pitch black. 2 finger sticky, mud brown head. Lots of lacing.

Muddled blend of bitter hops, burnt cocoa, hazelnut and coffee. Not particularly inviting, an odd, unbalanced aroma that I found to be really off-putting.

Big hit of bittering hops forward, followed by dark roasty stout characteristics.

I really don't have much to say about this one. To me there's way too much going on, the hoppiness does not pair up well with the stout backbone, and it tastes like a mess. Stone always seems to want to take on huge hybrid beers, sometimes very successfully sometimes over-executed. This was honestly one of the worst beers I've had in a while.

Didn't finish the bottle.

I'm still scratching my head about this one; I thought I would've liked it.

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Photo of abrand
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

23 ounce bottled August 2011 poured into pint glass

This pours a deep brown to almost black color with a tan 1 finger head that quickly fades. Smell is fairly sweet with chocolate with a nice malt backbone. Plenty of espresso and raisins on the nose as well. Taste is still pretty hot for being bottled for 1 year. Some caramel and sweet fruits with a very bitter roasted malt backbone. Hoppy finish. Quite complex. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied. Overall this is amazing. Full of complexity and still holding well after a year.

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

Opaque black body with a rich, creamy tan head. Smell includes licorice, molasses, caramel, cocoa with a nice floral hop scent peaking through. Taste is toasty with a buttery feel. Bitter chocolate and slightly charred bread. A stiff bitterness pops up midway through the tasting and lingers through the finish. Alcohol warmth hits you along with the bitterness. Medium-heavy body, smooth and dextrous.

Rich, malty, and unforgettable. A must for heavy-hitting dark beer lovers.

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Photo of Trueant1
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is not exactly true to style it seems. However, it is an excellent brew!

Pours like a stout. Black with a dark tan head. Thick lacing.

Cat urine like smells (many dipas have this), spice, alcohol and cat litter smells in the background.

Taste is heaven to me. Bitter/oily hops up front. Chocolate porters tastes abound. Alcohol booziness, oil, and extremely sweet malts come through as well. A nice "fresh hop" aftertaste surprise is what sets this brew apart. Wonderfully layered tastes!
Mouth-feel consists of fine carbonation, oil like slickness, and bitter aftertaste.

Great brew!

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Photo of beer2day
4.36/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Has the look of a classic dark stout. Opaque black pour with two fingers of very dark mocha head. Excellent head retention and lace. One of the best glasses of beer I've seen.

Nose is strong with roast malt and citrus hops. Very strong, if possible even too strong. Notes of chocolate under the roast and citrus, but you really have to hunt for it.

Chocolate, coffee, roast malt, dry hops all come in up front followed by a strong coffee, bitter chocolate, dry citric finish. Alcohol hides well, but you can feel the burn. Lots of complex flavors, but they seem to lack enough coherency to make this great. Pretty darn good, though.

Feel is a bout right. The hops give it a bit of a slippery, oily feel.

Overall, a very nice sipper.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a good beer, but doesn't really mesh with the style that well. Seems a bit thick on the character for a black ale; almost porter like. Has some nice hop characeristics, but doesn't really bring all that I would hope it would. Especially for an anniversary ale. Nice beer. An "okay" black ale.

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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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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
4.18 out of 5 based on 1,434 ratings.
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