Monday, December 12, 2011

15th Anniversary Escondido Imperial Black IPA (Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA)

Bottle Review 
As advertised, this Imperial  Black IPA is jet black and absolutely opaque, even when directly back lit.  Big fluffy brown head that falls slowly and has a heavy lace.  Heavy hop spice in the nose supported by a range of flavors: burnt sugar, heavy roasted malt, black strap molasses, dark fruit--light cherry and heavy fig, grapefruit, and a dense earthiness.  Very excited for the first sip.  Wow.  Give me a second.
Stone 15th Anniversary Imperial Black IPA

Roasted malt and molasses taste is heavy with a burnt note blended with the serious hop bite.  Supported by the wonderful nose, it is an amazingly fun beer to drink.  10.8% alcohol is not apparent in the nose or the taste, but the Imperial part of the title is showing through in every other respect.  Hop lingers on the tongue and rises in the center of the mouth with the roast for a splendid twang.  Dry off the back.  

Warming up. In the meantime, Stone's normal diatribe on the back of the bottle is really a call to arms.  I would recommend reading it on the website instead--I find it hard to read, even with bifocals.  I thought Stone essays to be charming the first time on a bottle of Arrogant Bastard, but now I'm rarely a fan of the languished language on the bottle backs.  I do agree, at least in part, with this essay that there is a danger of pseudo craft and artisan drink and food movements trying to jump on the bandwagon and watering down the progress.  Keeping in mind the Brewers Association's last count of US breweries is at 1,759 with 725 new breweries in planning stages as of last June, the possibility of a beer bust is very real.  Does the beer industry need to pay attention for a potential 1990s style brewery shake out?  Is there a beer bubble that will burst like the craze?  Maybe.  As a consumer, I'm going to enjoy the ride and hope for the best.  Minnesota is most definitely in the middle of the brewery boom--I'm having trouble even keeping track of the forty two breweries now listed on BeerAdvocate for my state.  

As the beer warms, the alcohol becomes apparent in nose and taste, which has little effect except that the hop is more subdued in the nose.  Now the beer exhibits a stronger balance than when cold, so don't be afraid to be busy and drink this one over time.

Souvenirs from first trip to Stone World Bistro
Growler Review
Living in Minnesota, I recently had the rare treat of drinking a bottle of Stone at home and then having it at Stone World Bistro shortly afterwards.  While at Stone, I bought a growler of the Double Dry Hopped 15th Anniversary Ale for the hotel and wasn't disappointed.  I didn't write it down, but a report on BA says it was dry hopped with Motueka and Pacific Gold hops.  In the hotel room, it pours like motor oil--thick, viscous, jet black and then a fluffy brown head piles up.  Massive hop nose--like smelling hop pellets from a freshly opened bag, which rests on top of chocolate, coffee and an acrid, heavy roast.  Roast continues in the taste with an earthy, chewy hop bite and a full mouthfeel.  Very cool beer that I'm glad to have spent some quality time with on my first trip to the Stone World Bistro.

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