Whether you call it an American Black Ale, a Cascadian Dark Ale, or in this case, an Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, the only thing that matters is that this style is incredible and I can’t get enough. So much so, that I purchased a couple of extra bottles intending to open one after 3 months and the other after 6, as recommended by Stone. Needless to say, they were long gone before the end of the first month. Here’s my review of a very fresh and very delicious bottle of Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Black IPA.
Look: Jet black with espresso colored head. Not the greatest pour, as you can see, but the head stuck around for a while. After a quick wiff of the hops, it’s no surprise why this beer has some really solid head retention.
Smell: The nose can best be described as… hops and more hops with a touch of even more hops. There’s a hint of roastiness but that’s quickly covered up by the heavy aroma of Columbus, Citra, Nelson Sauvin, and Pacific Jade hops. Behind all of that bitterness sits the faint smell of a delicate malt backbone giving off flavors of coffee and cocoa.
Taste: It’s probably pretty obvious by now that this beer is hoppy but there’s a lot more to it than just that. The thick dark body really allows the coffee and roasted flavors to break through the thick wall of alpha acids. There’s a nice earthiness and balance that’s struck between the Columbus bittering hops and the late addition of Citra. The natural bitterness of the dark malt also balances out the fruitiness of New Zealands Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Jade hops used for dry hopping. The resulting beer is still very hop forward but the complexity of the malt and the variety of hops used really makes for a balanced and drinkable 10.8% ABV beer.
Feel: The beer has a medium to heavy body and thoroughly coats the mouth with flavor. The high carbonation helps keep it from feeling thick but the richness allows everything to really develop on the palate. There’s one predominant theme throughout as it starts bitter from the hops and than fades to the bitterness of the malt. A perfect change of pace for any hop head.
Overall, Stone Brewing’s 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA is an excellent beer. If you haven’t tried it yet, it should still be on the shelves and at $5.99 a bomber, it’s a no brainer.
Cheers and enjoy craft beer!
Philippe Gagnon is the founder and writer for Craft Beer Culture. Currently residing in Orange County, California, you can find him at the local brewery drinking craft beer or online through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
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