Friday, August 19, 2011

Stone Brewing Company - Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

I'll admit it, it's been a while since I had a beer from Stone that really impressed me. Stone has lost my favor for a few reasons.

1: Their year round line up isn't anything I would order on tap unless the other choices consisted of Coors Light and Bud 55.

2: Their recent collaborations had intriguing ideas, but didn't really come through for me. And finally...

3. Their whole "You're a sissy if you can't handle our beer and we didn't want your business anyways" approach feels like it's been going on for a few years too long.

That said, Stone's 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA is one of the best beers I've had all year. I didn't expect this beer to suck (it's rare that a beer from Stone is truly terrible, with the exception of their Belgo Anise Russian Imperial Stout), but I didn't see a beer from Stone ever blowing my mind like this one did.

Stone's 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA pours a jet black color with the consistency of motor oil. I've had a few black IPAs in the past and almost all of them were way too thin. I could tell this one wouldn't have that problem the second the beer left the bottle.

At first, this beer smells like an IPA, with some lush aromas of citrus hops and some pine in the background. But as you spend a little more time with the beer, hints of earth, roasted malt and leather creep in. I'm not ashamed to admit that I probably spent more time smelling this beer than I did drinking it (and I didn't drink it quickly).

The taste starts with some dark roasted malt flavors, then moves into more familiar IPA territory with some fresh pine hops. The finish brings in some dark roasted coffee and a bit of tobacco. To me, this may have been a bit more like a very hoppy stout than a black IPA, but that worked for me because I love stouts. The mouthfeel was rich and velvety with just the right amount of carbonation to keep the beer from being too syrupy. At nearly 11% ABV, this beer is one you should spend a little time finishing. So sip it, enjoy the intricate blend of styles, and get some more before it's gone.

Final Grade: A+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 26

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