Stone Escondidian Review

At first I thought there must be a cool story behind the word Escondidian. For example,  it could be the Spanish term for “blood of the aardvark” or something rad like that. But then I remembered it’s the name of a city in California. The city where Stone Brewing Company is based. So they’re probably just using it to describe, you know … themselves.

But the city could use a nickname. Turns out it does mean “hidden” in Spanish, but even so, the city popped right up on my Google home detective kit. Plus they’re slapping the name on beer bottles now. This place could have been a haven for ninjas, but no, they just had to start bragging about how hidden they are.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. Stone’s 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA.

Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Style: Imperial Black IPA
ABV: 10.8%
IBU: 100
Glassware: You’re looking at it.
Serving Temp: 50 degrees
Price Range: About 6 bucks for a bomber.
Food Pairing: I didn’t try anything with it. Probably a rich, chocolaty dessert.


In the store, the bottle catches my eye immediately. Stone’s gargoyle is printed on it, issuing a winged-demon salute with its mug held high. Not sure why that sold me, but it did.

The beer pours like liquid obsidian. Cappuccino-colored bubbles rise up in an effervescent oil fire. As the foam settles, it leaves a sticky honeycomb on the glass. This pint is impressive to look at — but in the same way as pictures of black holes. There’s something potent and dangerous about just the sight of it.

It smells like an IPA crossed with a stout: Piny hop oils are prominent but balanced by sharp licorice and, as the beer warms, coffee. The intense division between the styles is instantly obvious, but even the power of the smell can’t prepare me for the taste.

The stout flavors come through first: dark cherries, licorice, a bit of port wine. Then serious hoppiness creeps in, blending sweet with bitter like a genetic hybrid of grapefruit and pine cone. I can also taste dark chocolate and smoky, roasted malt. The flavors are delicious, and more than enough to mask the high ABV, but as it warms they become so intense it almost gets hard to drink. Almost. I didn’t have trouble finishing or anything.

Escondidian is a fantastic beer, one of the most flavorful I’ve ever drunk; however, it isn’t exactly the most drinkable brew on Earth, so it’s best saved for nights of revelry and celebration. Fortunately, beers of this caliber can be their own reason for celebration.


4 Responses to “Stone Escondidian Review”
  1. Ben says:

    “Google home detective kit.” Classic. How can something be black and pale? Shouldn’t this be an India Gray Ale? Also, how does the brewing process differ from something like a stout?

    • Scott says:

      Yeah, the name is a bit of an oxymoron. Apparently some people have started calling the style IBA, or India Black Ale, which seems slightly more appropriate.

      I haven’t tried brewing one myself, but I’d assume the goal is to make a dark beer without imparting as much of the roasted flavors of a stout or porter, possibly by simply making an IPA throwing in some darker malts. Maybe I’ll do some more research and write a new Beer Basics article.

  2. Ben says:

    yeah, this beer is weird. i went in expecting a typical, though more potent and stone-y, and it’s like nothing you would expect. once you get used to that, it’s so damn good.

Leave A Comment