Stone Cali-Belgique IPA/ Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Stone; not always known for subtlety. I’ll be honest, Cali-Belgique (6.9% abv) was one of those beers that had been on my list for a while. I don’t normally hanker after ludicrous US IPA’s; but ones with a little twist of something – be it a dash of fruit, perhaps, a different grain, or a sprinkle of Belgian yeast are the ones I’ll generally seek out.

So, what’s it like? Well, it pours a burnished gold, and the nose is – as you’d expect – wonderful. A veritable disco of Pear Drops, tinned pineapple, orange zest and lemon pith. There is a wild, (thyme?) yeasty note in there that brings a smile to your lips, but overall it’s got a fantastic nose. It’s one of those occasions where you get your nose wet, you know what I mean? Anyway, pull yourself away from the aroma and get sipping.

As you’d expect, the body is smooth, sugary and loaded with hard-candy bite. A wave of bitterness; surprisingly restrained for a beer of this kind – crashes in and wraps things up. Overall, I was surprised at how drinkable the whole package was; there’s nothing worse than struggling with a ‘big beer.’

…Which is what can happen with the Escondidian if you’re not careful. Weighing in at a hefty 10.8% abv – and feeling every little bit like it – it’s one for sharing, if you ask me. It did take a while for me to get through; but that’s not the fault of the beer. Brewed for Stone’s 15-year milestone, it’s a jet-black, tan-headed monster (the gargoyle certainly resides within) that has another interesting aroma; Pine, Mint, Coconut…not the citrus overload that I was expecting.

The mouthfeel is thick and tongue-coating, with a red-fruit, robustly woody tone being set. As the flavour dries out – as it does eventually – some cherry-skin, almond and the blackest of black chocolate appear. A zesty, lively Orange-Pith note keeps the requisite bitterness in hand, but it almost arrives too late. The beer is rich, thick and powerful. You’ve been warned.


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 28/08/2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You do know that the Cali-B is exactly the same recipe as their normal IPA, just with Belgian yeast? It’s a fantastic example of the difference a particular yeast strain can make to brew. You should try them side-by-side!

  2. Love Cali, one of Stone’s truimph beers, not tried the IPA nor seen it before tbh

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