Friday, September 23, 2011

Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

I'm not usually a fan of black IPAs, and to date I've only had one that really impressed me. I actually wasn't going to review this beer because every BeerTuber and their brother has reviewed this one in the last two weeks. But Ryan aka used this as his request for "All Viewer Request Month" so I had to honor it.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (643) - Albany, USA - SEP 23, 2011
I’ve never been a fan of Black IPAs, not that I hate them - just that I don’t love them as much as it seems I should. Then a friend told me I absolutely must try Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Black IPA because it would change my mind. It did.

I poured a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Completely opaque black body. Forms a large, creamy, dark brown head which retains and laces extremely well.

Smell: Since this is a Stone beer it’s no surprise it smells like a San Diego imperial IPA: tons of light, bright flowers and citrus - plus some tropical fruit juice nectar. There’s a hint of alcohol in the nose, too - like a clean rum, although there is no real stout-like aromas which is odd considering the appearance.

Taste: One of the reasons I’ve never been a big fan of black IPAs is because they literally mess with your head: your eyes see stout, but you tongue tastes imperial IPA and the brain often ends up confused. With Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Black IPA this is indeed the case, but it’s the only instance I can recall where such confusion was so lovely.

Up front the beer begins with intense bitterness, it follows with a juicy, sweet, almost refreshing taste of citrus acidity and juiciness. It finishes with a dry sensation and taste of lightly roasted malts and leaves a lingering aftertaste of coffee and dark chocolate. It wouldn’t seem that these flavor components would go so well together - citrus and chocolate? But they do. The IPA component is very West Coast style with an orange juice-like taste, but the stout component is soft, smooth, and slightly sweet. It’s the bitterness and accompanying dryness that accounts for the perfect transition and blend of the flavors. Maybe it’s a little drier than I’d prefer, but the great taste of the palate more than makes up for it.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light, and only medium-bodied with a silky smooth texture and no carbonation. The hops linger on the tongue, but are highly tolerable.

Drinkability: Weighing in at 10.8% ABV, Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Black IPA would seem to be a beast of a beer, but it’s amazing at just how drinkable it is. While there is minor alcohol presence in the nose and a slight warmth in the throat, the genuine flavors of the palate are so flavorful and the mouthfeel so smooth it’s difficult to NOT suck this down as quickly as possible. This beer would work very well as either a dessert or with dinner itself because its complex palate makes it so versatile.

Overall, Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Black IPA is definitely the best black IPA I’ve ever had. I wish Stone would make this a regular offering.

Grade: 10/10

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