Wednesday, August 24

Beer Review: Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA


This release was very highly anticipated by me, and many others. This new emerging style has really hit the spot with me, and I find that I buy almost as many Black IPA's as I do regular IPA's. I grabbed this 22oz. bomber at By The Bottle for about $8.

Sure, Stone adds a little fun calling it a black IPA because of the whole ubber Cascadian Dark Ale branding argument. I think the CDA is a great style, but I also don't have much of a problem calling it a black IPA. Would the CDA bandwagon prefer it be called a 'blackened' IPA? I mean really.. that would fix the whole oxymoron grammar destructive titling. Most CDA's are hardly 'Cascadian' anyway. All I know, is that I like the style, and will spend more of my time and attention drinking them, and enjoying them. I think that is kind of Stone's point.

Appearance: (4.5)
- Pours a dark stout-like jet brown brew. Can't see through even a centimeter of it. Huge slow forming mocha head that gave my pour about 3 fingers of thick foam. It has settled slowly to an 1/8th inch layer of cream with lacing all about the glass. Looks like this one will stick the whole way down.

Smell: (4.0)
- This thick brew seems to be hiding a lot of its robustness within its liquid confinement. Lots of zesty pine and floral hops hit the nose.. as much as possible. Coffee, chocolate, and bitter dark malts stand out like a fine dessert. There is almost a salty and smokey touch to it as well.. perhaps just the roasted malts.

Taste: (4.0)
- Wonderful huge bitter pine hops, and floral-citrus flavor hops.. big hop punch riding a smooth black roasted malt bed of grain.. big bitter coffee, mocha, and cocoa... hops are big, and is close to being very balanced.. though the hops still remain huge. Alcohol in this 10.8% beast is hardly noticed.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Creamy smooth viscous beverage. Carbonation is well in place, and is perfect for the style. It is quite drying from its bitterness, and leaves a bit of a chalky film in the mouth. Certainly what it should be for the style.

Overall: (4.0)
- Overall this is a super solid imperial CDA. The hops are huge.. both bittering and aroma. I am impressed with it, but then again, it is a bit late in the game. Stone's Sublimely is a huge CDA in the game of CDA's.. and this one kind of sits there right with it.. but doesn't stand above it in overall quality. Certainly worth buying a few, and having on tap if you get the chance.

I don't think I would really age this beer, though I bet it would still be fantastic out of a cold fridge many months after the purchase. It would be interesting to see what would happen to it with age, but I am guessing that the massive hop additions would get a tad funky over a lot of time with warmer cellaring temps.

A- / 4.03

(BeerAdvocate.com Rating Scale)


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