The brewer's new release is a mouthful in more than one way: The beer is called Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA. And it is a study in contradiction. It looks like a Russian imperial stout but smells and tastes more like a double IPA.
The beer is pitch black with a two-finger coffee head that gradually subsides. The aroma is a hop bomb and a half, more or less like that of Stone Ruination. With the first sip, bitter hops -- all citrus and flowery -- attack the palate. But underneath is a subtle hint of roasted coffee beans, a hallmark of the hefty malt. That character quickly fades, though, and the hops take over again on the finish.
Close your eyes and you'd swear this was a double IPA. I'll set aside the qualms over the designation "black IPA" (how can an India pale ale be black?) and go out on a limb by saying this: Not only is this the best black IPA I've yet had, but it's one of the best beers Stone has produced.
About 99 Bottles