Sunday, 4 March 2012
This Escondidian Imperial Black Ale is something which should be respected. With the first hiss of opening this 10.8% juggernaut, a wave of fresh hops wafts across my nose, even at a couple of feet away.
Blacker than black with the most compact brown/dark tan fluffy head. What an aroma! Big on the dark chocolate and also big on the piny resinous hops. Lots of coffee, a little oak, some liqourice, rummy raisins, a hint of apricot and orange and a dab of leather. It kind of smells what I think you might get if you mixed a bit of Ruination and Stone Russian Imperial Stout together.
A very silky, velvet like mouthfeel. The most immediate thing you notice is the bitterness behind this beast. As the beer warms ever so slightly, and your mouth adjusts a little, a lot more qualities and flavour complexities come about. There's a lot of bitter chocolate, which is intensely drying to the mouth and makes you want more before you've even put the glass down. You do get quite a bit of a classic Stone hoppiness to this beer. In fact as I drink I can't but help be reminded of the hoppiness you get in Double Bastard. The alcohol is quite well hidden under rich mocha tones mixed with the chocolate and dried fruits. You can't help feeling there's two sides to the beer though: the darker side, but yet, the lighter side - perfectly balanced too. There's a lot of sticky resinous pine in the bitterness making it known this beer has enough hops to kill a bear. It's the perfect counterbalance to the dark side. Stone's 15th Anniversary BIPA is a great beer, that's putting it mildly.
I've not come across any other brewery in the US that does Black IPAs quite like Stone. When they brought out their Self Righteous, I'm pretty confident in saying that we were all blown away over here in the UK. I'll raise the rest of my glass to Stone Brewery tonight and say a big Cheers! to the last 15 years...
And here's to the next 15!