Stone – 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

So I picked this one up on the first day of release, at my favorite secret spot on August 15th, but kept it in the fridge until tonight. I wanted to take my time with this one, as I knew it was going to need special attention. I’m glad I did, because this beer definitely deserves it. Now, this is the very first black IPA I’ve ever tried, so my review is totally off the cuff and like all my reviews should be taken for face value.

The Beer

[beer id=8604]

On The Bottle

In the 15 years since we entered the craft brewing world, change has come not in a straight line, but as an exponential curve. The craft brewing movement has long been called a “revolution.” But today the air is so thick with revolution, it’s palpable. No longer is it only an awareness among the faithful; the unconverted are beginning to feel it as well. Denial and ignorance are disappearing in favor of opened eyes, curiosity and the sense that there’s something larger out there. For far too long we have been lied to. For far too long we have been oppressed by the notion that dumbed-down-lowest-common-denominator-mediocrity was all that we could, and should, expect. You might think we’re talking only about the world of brewing, but we’re not. There is a myriad of products out there masquerading as cheeses, coffee, chocolates, breads…hell, there is stuff pretending to be ‘food’ that our great grandmothers would not recognize as such. Yet the craft brewing movement, together with the artisanal food movement, is making much progress. Where the industrial companies can’t dismiss or bury us, they are attempting to copy us with cheap facsimiles. Yes, chances are if you are holding this bottle, you understand these things to be true about the world of brewing. You also likely understand the importance of our fight at Stone against accepted ‘norms’ over the last 15 years. We believed that America was ready to embrace things made with artistry and passion. You have spoken. Your response has been clear. We are not merely consumers to be spoon-fed whatever commodities need to be unloaded for a profit. We have only just begun to move the needle of this revolution, & mediocrity still reigns. Consider that when you reject dumbed down, industrialized food and drink, you also support craft brewing. The line is nearly seamless; we are fighting the same battle. We will not win in our lifetime, as the powers are too entrenched, and the masses too… fooled. And shackled. However, this is a revolution of ideas and of taste, and we will win. How do you want to be viewed by your children, and your children’s children? As a hero, or as the oppressed? (Those that don’t think they have been oppressed are already lost.) Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide. We hope you’ll stand with us. Strong and unyielding. You are needed. This bottle and its glorious contents are a celebration of you, brothers and sisters, and your importance in this fight. Cheers to all we’ve accomplished together in the past fifteen years, and cheers to the adventure ahead!

The Venue

At home on the couch. This seems to be the best place for me to review beers. I like socializing at the pub as much as the next guy, but when it comes time to sit and really taste a beer, I’d rather be at home.

The Review

As you can see from the photo above it pours a rich dark color, reminiscent of dark porter or stout. And as seen here, even the head has a nice rich color to it. So, yeah, even before you get a nose of this beer it’s impressive.

It’s a big beer at 10.8 ABV, so be prepared for that. The nose has a malty sweetness to it that you’d expect from a porter, but it also has a piney hoppiness that you typically get in an IPA.

The first taste for me was mostly bitter chocolate. Probably because I served it too cold, straight from the fridge. But I took my time with it and let it warm up to reveal all the other flavors. Overall I took almost an hour to drink the 22 ounce bottle. After the first few minutes the hop flavors came through on the back-end of each sip.  Nice sharp pine flavors began to emerge as the temperature increased. The initial malty front end began to give way to the hops and with each successive sip the beer changed.

I really enjoyed this beer, and I recommend it if you’re looking for an experience. If you’re looking for an easy drinking IPA, this isn’t it. This is a thinking man’s IPA. If I drank this in a room full of folks who were drinking various beers, I may not be as impressed. But left to my own, I really enjoyed it. This is a 4 cap beer in my book.


Cheers, Erik


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