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:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 719 | Ratings: 1,443
Photo of Gobigvt7
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into stone glassware.

Black coffee black with vigorously thick milk chocolate head. Fluffy and sticky foam, stubborn and steadfast. Caking the sides of the glass from now until I wash it off. Beerstache in full effect.

wet hops, black chocolate, smells bitter and sweet at the same time.

bitterness, sticky hops, black coffee and black chocolate. heat on the finish. I am a black IPA firebreather. Hints of dark fruits hide around the edges, pine, resin, grapefruit, the whole 9 yards and a few extras.

thick and chewy. without all the hop bitterness, I'm sure the sweetness would be cloying. As it is, it just feels big and fat and round. The proportions are all in order, it is just one mother of a black IPA.

This style is not my bread and butter, but I can appreciate mastery when I see it. This beer is in perfect harmony with itself, typical stone bitterness with a chocolatey malt backbone. One. and done.

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

Served from a bottle in a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours an onyx black with a huge caramel colored head. Excellent lacing.

Smell: Smell consists primarily of a piney hop aroma. Subtle hints of chocolate are detectable in the background.

Taste: Chocolate malty sweetness up front with some piney bitter hops in the finish. Very well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thick mouthfeel. Surprisingly full bodied for a beer with IPA in the name.

Overall: I was very pleasantly surprised by this beer, initially expecting just a dark colored IPA with some roasted grain bitterness. However, this beer has a surprising amount of caramel and chocolate malt sweetness - it is like a chocolate IPA. That almost sounds gross, but the chocolately sweetness and the hop bitterness are surprisingly well balanced. The beer is like the love child of Dogfish Head 90 Minute and Bell's Expedition Stout.

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

Date on bottle: Aug. 2011
Drinking Date: October 2011

Glassware: Tulip

Appearance: Black...Looks like pouring motor oil; Large, thick brown foam that retains well. Looks like a stout.

Smell: A hoppy smell...mostly grassy with a little citrusy bitterness; refreshing; If you dig a little bit you can detect some roasted aromas. Smells like a hoppy beer.

Taste: As a rarity, the taste of the beer does not directly resemble its smell! The opening is like a battle between heavy roasted flavors and bitter hops...These flavors even out and continue through the middle of the brew ending with deep cocoa aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. The main characteristic that differentiates this IPA from a stout is its less-than-thick body. Finishes clear with a slight warmth from the alcohol.

Overall: If I closed my eyes I would have called this a stout... Good beer, no complaints, and not what I expected. Only Black IPA I have tasted, so nothing to compare to.

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Photo of shortbus7
4.55/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: This beer is definitely black. Much darker than I anticipated. Looks excellent and has a small head with great lacing.

S: Dark malts, very hoppy, and some bitterness (unsweetened cocoa?)

T: Again, very hoppy with loads of malt, much more than expected, but very welcomed. Some molases and dark chocolate.

M: Excellent. Very creamy and very smooth.

O: I could drink this everyday. One of the best representations of this style that I have had. Not happy that it won't last long.

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Photo of beerfan99
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Summer 2011
22oz bottle consumed on 9/10/2011

A: Pours black and appears to be pretty thick. Carbonation creates a very nice dark brown head that fades slowly. Head slowly turns into beer for a pretty near effect.

S: Typical hop aromas along with roasted malt and coffee. I smell some citrus as well as pine.

T: The roasted malt and coffee flavors seem to dominate the bitterness of the hops, which I found quite confusing. My sight and smell were telling me one thing, but my sense of taste was another story.

M: Thick, rich, and very smooth. Alcohol is masked very well. Quite easy to drink considering the high alcohol levels.

O: I have waiting for 15th Anniversary for a couple months and it still has not arrived in Virginia. This beer came from New York. I fear by the time Stone and our local distributor get it together the hop aspects of this beer will be gone. Anyway, enough venting. This is a really a very good beer and I cannot wait to have it again. The appearance reminds of SIRS, but that's where the similarities end. This one has pleasant citrus and pine hop aromas, bitterness, and is well balanced through the addition of roasted malts to provide the sweetness and higher alcohol levels. Very impressed overall.

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Photo of Chyren
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a fairly heavy blackness that develops a nice firm and stable head.

S: light smoke, roast, some chocolate and coffee, hops bold and strong, the differing scents intertwine perfectly.

T: the taste comes across like the flavor and shows itself in layers. First one gets the bitters from the dark/roasted malts, that well-known tannic-astringent bitter and it is just right. On the heals of that comes the resinous rounded hop bitters. After that fades, the smoke and roast come in full force and linger on the back of the tongue seemingly accentuated by the alcohol vapors.

M: feel is smooth and warm, satisfying, though I would personally like a little more body to it to go with the high ABV

I didn't think it was possible, but this ale is really giving Emperial IPA a run for it's money. It's so smooth, warming, and the unique bitterness between black malts and hops is easily distinguishable and when they subside the roasted malts develop into a lingering smokiness. A pleasure to drink.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of sdmvd6
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black with a finger of tan head that leaves little lacing.

S - Big citrus and tropical fruits up front that give way to roasted malt, and coffee. There is a definite alcohol presence that becomes more apparent as the beer warms.

T - Oranges, grapefruit, and mangoes in the beginning with a decent amount of bitterness. Hop juiciness makes way for intense coffee and bitter chocolate. The finish consists of bitterness and coffee. The alcohol is very present in the finish as well.

M - Creamy and full with moderate carbonation. There is a bit more of an alcohol burn in the finish than I would prefer, taking a bit from the drinkability.

O - This is a great beer from Stone. It is basically a hopped imperial stout IMO, and the hop selection complements the roasted malt very well.

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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 aknight
4.37/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I believe I'm on record stating that I'm not much of a fan of Black IPAs but this one is different. This isn't anything that is going to convert me to the style but it is easily the best I have ever had.

On first pour there is just massive hop aroma, before even trying to smell the beer, while I was still pouring it into a glass I just got massive hop scent. The beer pours a pretty pitch black. The head is super frothy and has great retention. The beer is awfully sweet, about what you would expect from a 10.8% beer, but the sweetness never over powers the hops. They live in harmony.

I dig this beer. It's no 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout but it is a damn fine beer.

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

A: Pours black and opaque. A tan head a little less than a finger appears and dissipates quickly. Lacing clings to the glass as I drink.

S: First impression on the nose: hop bomb! After the hops you definitely some of that roasted malt goodness. Smells great!

T: Tastes awesome, hop bomb up front, roasty in the middle and hop bitter in the back. Well balanced. For a 10%+ abv beer you don't get much alcohol burn at all. So Good!

M: Good body with just the right amount of carbonation. Not too heavy, lively on the tongue but finishes so smooth.

O: Seem like I'm gushing a bit? Yea, I am. This beer is most certainly my favorite for the style. Stone does not disappoint at all with this offering. With Sublimely Self-Righteous as the wingman to this beer its easy to say that Stone has the American Black Ale/Black IPS down to a science. Well played Stone, well played.

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Photo of hopking311
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black, half finger of tan head.. dissapates to thick frothy ring around inside of my tulip glass..

smells of roasted malts.. citrus hops.. seriously smells awesome.. loss for words

heavy rich mouthfeel.. well carbonated

tastes.. roasty, smokey malts.. thick, balanced citrusy hoppy backbone.. Flavorful IBA.. Incredibly balanced and drinkable for the abv.

This is bad ass.. I really love my sublimely self righteous, but this is a beast of its own.. Cant wait to see how this one ages..

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Photo of Godot
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a muddy black with a thick chocolate milk head that slooowly dropped to a solid film leaving a good amount of lacing. Smell is of burnt chocolate, coffee, and a sharp hop twang that is vaguely citrus. Tastes of bitter chocolate malt with the sharp bite of grapefruit rind. The two strangely balance each other but its a mouthful of flavor to say the least. Alcohol accompanies the toasty finish. Drinking a 22oz bomber of this myself is a bit much. Its a very interesting and complex beer that is a bit overpowering. I love an imperial stout (and this beer has some very stout-like characteristics) and I love an IIPA (LOVE Maharaja), but the two together is a bit harsh. I wonder if the harshness would mellow with some age on it. The hop profile would deepen and smooth out a bit which might be good.

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Photo of jsled
3.2/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

P: 4/5. Perfectly opaque black, good tan head, well supported with lacing.

A: 4/5. luxurious hops. some citrus, but a piney, resiny wonderfulness. no real perceived alcohol.

F: 6/10. sweet, roasty, alcohol. roast finishes in an astringent twang. unpleasant balance on the back of the tongue.

M: 2/5. not overly coating, but much residual bitterness, and no residual sweetness to balance.

O: 6/10. Not quite what I'd like in a BIPA.

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Photo of KSac4115
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark dark brown, practically black with a small dark brown foam head that dissipates quickly. I would compare it to a black coffee color.

Smells hoppy and very piney at first along with mind grapefruit hints. There are also definite hints of coffee and mocha making a very complex smell. Foreboding of the taste. Really smells as if a porter was poured half and half with an IPA.

Taste is very dark, roasty, and malty. However, the bitternew of an IPA definitely shines through in the middle of the taste and definitely in the aftertaste combining fr a unique effect. I taste more of a porter than an IPA while it is obvious that both are prevalent.

Mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth with mild carbonation. Remarkably drinkable for 10.8%. While it tastes like a porter it does not give you the heaving and filling feeling that they tend to do.

Overall a very amazing beer. What I would expect of a Stone anniversary ale. As a hop head, I would have preferred more IPA flavors and hints as opposed porter flavors. Nonetheless, they mix beautifully making a very unique and tasty brew.


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Photo of baconbourbon
3.33/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours black with a slight tan head that doesn't last long enough. There is hardly any lacing. It looks like a very thin bodied stout.

Smell - The aroma is rather burnt and smoky. There is something left to be desired here.

Taste - The burntness is overpowering and it actually tastes a bit chocolatey. If I had known it was going to taste this way, I would've simply opened a stout instead.

Mouthfeel - Does not really feel like much. The body is too thin and therefore lacks that consistency that I'm looking for.

Overall - I was not impressed in the slightest. I figured this beer was hyped because it's a special release, and guess what. I was right.

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

Appearance: Black with ample frothy brown head.

Smell: Alcohol, leather, prunes and raisins.

Taste: Chocolatey sweetness, slight alcohol burn with a finish of soy sauce all with a bitter hop sidecar along for the ride.

Mouthfeel: silky smooth mouthfeel with moderate amount of carbonation.

Overall: this is a great beer the combination of roasty, sweet malt, and bitter hops comes together extremely well in this beer.

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

22oz bottle poured into snifter first and later a perfect pint glass. The perfect pint glass was a better serving option.

I’m reviewing this beer on October 4th when it was bottled and released in mid-August. I have a feeling the hop character has changed somewhat. It is suggested that this one be enjoyed fresh.

A: almost jet black. I got 1 inch of creamy, tan head on an average strength pour. It dissipated quite a bit in a minute but left a generous cap that stayed as I drank the beer down. A good amount of lacing was left on the glass.

S: At first smell I got fresh, piney hops. This was followed by a roasted, smoky malt, dark chocolate, and alcohol. The alcohol is very present.

T: I get a lot of roasted malt with very dark, bitter chocolate and strong coffee. A bit of anise as well. The hops are there as well, but I think the roasted malt is currently dominating. Surprisingly, based on the smell, the alcohol fits in quite well. I was afraid it might be overpowering.

M: I find the beer to have a medium mouthfeel. It seems a bit light on the carbonation, but I recall this character in other beers of similar styles.

O: Heavy duty. I wish I could have tried it extremely fresh. It is an interesting brew that reminds me of the year-round Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. I think I prefer the 15th over the aforementioned year-round. The strong alcohol smell while drinking it out of the snifter distracted me a lot. This smell was not nearly as present in the perfect pint glass. I will try it on tap if I get the chance.

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Photo of wedge421
4.82/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Im going to make this real easy. This is the most hop forward and complex beer that Stone has brewed to date. Amazing stuff and highlights Stone being at the top of the West Coast hop bomb game. Yeah great stuff. If you love a solid west coast hop bomb this is the beer for you. This makes Ruination look like a barley wine

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Photo of J0E
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle - 2 pours into a snifter last night

A: Dark black with a nice dark tan head which dissipated but left a nice ring of lace throughout the whole tasting.

S: Strong floral hops. Really smells like an IPA with some roasted malt in the background.

T: Again, very heavily hopped. Nice strong bitterness with some citrusy notes as well. The malt has a solid presence here as well. A roasted/toasted bread flavor with a bit of bitter chocolate. hardly a hint of the 10% abv.

M: Light to medium body with plenty of carbonation.

O: I've tried a handful of Black IPAs and a couple Imperial Black IPAs, and this one is the top (followed closely by Arcardia's B- Craft). Very enjoyable and a decent price tag.

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Photo of wifehatesthebike
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Above average thickness with a thick frothy head that continued to rise after first pour. Very dark with a light brown top. Average lacing down the glass.

S: Light chocolate and citrusy hops, does not explode with scent but smells deep and complex.

T: Heavy dark malts followed by citrus hops (oranges and tangerine) and a bitter lingering finish. Alcohol is present but fairly hidden for almost 11%.

M: Above average viscosity here for the style. Very smooth and carbonated perfectly.

O: A very good beer, but to me I may still prefer Stone Sublimely Self Righteous. They are definately different beer with different hop and malt flavors.

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Photo of MysticRuler
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

All in all...the best Black IPA I've ever tasted...although I'm definitely not a great fan of the style. Still, this one had a depth and complexity that makes it a laudible effort. Deep boozy tobacco note melange with a chocolate espresso hoppy resin. Would I choose this over a Founders Porter?...not a chance. But when matched against other Black IPA's, it more than holds it's own.

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Photo of cneville
3.08/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured out of a fun bomber.

Into the glass, it looks like oil. Dark, viscous, with a big head that leaves tons of lacing. Smell brings pine hops at first, with an odd finish. Burnt? Earthy? There's a lot going on here, and I'm not sure I love it. Taste is almost like a stout at first, and then you taste the piney hops. Chocolatey, a little smoky, and it's really overwhelming. I can't totally sort it out. The alcohol is definitely present--it's a very warming beer. Carbonation is good.

I liked alright, but it never really came together for me. Maybe I'm not ready for something this complex. I like Yakima Glory a little better.

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Photo of paulromeroii
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stopped by last weekend at Killarney's in Riverside Ca for some lunch. I started out the afternoon with a Racer 5 but had my meal with the Stone 15th Anniversary Ale and I must say, this is one of the most exciting beers I've had so far this year.

It was served in a New Belgium Globe Glass which I was kinda upset about but it got the job done.

Poured very dark like motor oil with a dark brown head.

Smelled of Pine, coffee, and chocolate.

Taste was amazing! Hoppy up front, but finishes like a Stout. At 10.80% ABV its very drinkable.

It went very well with the Adult Grilled Cheese and the side of Curry Fries I had. I would love to see this on nitro.

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

appearance: dark black with mocha colored head. great lacing.

smell: nothing too crazy; strong hop scent with malt notes

taste: excellent representation of a black IPA. overall, this tastes like an IPA that has some hidden stout characteristics that are accentuated as the beer warms up.

mouthfeel: black IPAs are new to me, so the mixture of a standard IPA flavor with malty notes was a little unsettling, but as I drank the beer further, it became obvious that this combination is worth seeking out.

overall: Stone can be inconsistent when it comes to cheaper beers, but as the price increases the quality increases. Definitely one of Stone's finest achievements I've had.

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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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