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Existent - Stillwater Artisanal Ales

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

174 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 174
Hads: 628
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.88%
Wants: 20
Gots: 69 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  7.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Thorpe429 on 11-13-2010

Existent represents the philosophy behind Stillwater Artisanal. We strive to define ourselves through our passion and sincerity while accepting that not all aspects of life are readily explainable. To manifest this ideology we present an ale of intrigue. Deep & dark though deceptively dry, braced by a firm yet smooth bitterness and accented with an earthy hop and mild roast aroma. This is an ale for you to define...
’and if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.’ –Nietzsche
View: Beers (32) | Events
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Reviews: 174 | Hads: 628
Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A complex saison that's overtaken by a shwartbier with chocolate and mildly seems like an imperial stout. Lots of roast, good drinking though not exceptionally tasty. Dark bittersweet chocolate milk colour with a bit of white head. Thanks Michael Pollack.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a small cap on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, slight cocoa, dark fruit, and spice aromas. Taste is much the same with a medium amount of spice and roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a nice set of aromas and flavors.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Large off white head on a very deep amber dark body with nice lacing. Darker than any other farmhouse ale I have had.

S: mild fruity aroma with a slight mint and evergreen note.

T: Flavor is not so much like a traditional farmhouse. Up front you get the mild fruity and belgian yeast flavor you would expect with roasted malt, coffee, smokey notes in the finish.

M: full body and moderate carbonation. dry finish.

Overall: Very unique and interesting for the style. I rather have a traditional saison however this one is certainly memorable.

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Photo of metter98
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark brownish red in color (opaque when viewed from afar) and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The first pour resulted in light brown colored head than beer; subsequent pours resulted in increasingly proportions of beer compared to foam, the latter of which consistently left a head covering the surface.
S: Light to moderate aromas of earthy yeast and dark malts are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but also has additional flavors of roasted malts and some hints of dark fruits.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate to high amount of carbonation.
O: I found this beer to be rather interesting for the style but overcarbonated. It almost seems like it should fit into a "Black Saison" category, just like there is one for a Black IPA (American Black Ale).

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

sort of a saison porter/stout hybrid here, big thick dark malt flavors and textures, with that drying and farmy saison yeast we know from other stillwater brews. its big for sure, and the yeast gets lost just a little bit amongst the heavy hitting and full bodied grain in this one. syrupy look, but sill well carbonated. the nose is as much chocolate malt as it is french saison yeast, with some bitter notes in there and even a little oak, although I'm not sure this ever saw a barrel. heavy roasty notes on the front end that hint at burning cigar and bakers chocolate. the yeast isn't quite enough to dry this all the way up in the finish, so its a little more sweet and heavy than it needs to be, but i like the way the yeast mixes with these flavors. a tannic almost wine character resounds through the finish as well. i like this most because its unique, bigger than other dark saisons. some brett might make this next level, i just would like a little more dryness to the overall experience. tough to drink more than one or two of these, but i certainly appreciate this one from stillwater.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've had this twice, the first time I bought a bottle for myself and opened it I found this brew to be quite hoppy. The color was black and just really nice looking overall. The smell was similar to a Belgian IPA with some roasted aromas in there too. The taste had some big citrus notes mixed with the dark malts too. The mouthfeel was light for a darker style brew, overall I enjoyed it both times I've had it. The second time after a few months had gone by I was given some and I noticed that the hoppy flavors and aromas were not nearly as strong. This had turned into a much more earthy brew with the aging it had. Pretty interesting how much a little time made on this one.

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Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A spectacular pour, with a densely packed tan head laying atop the coffee colored liquid; plenty of stickage and lace

Smell: The beer has the black bread aroma of a schwarzbier along with the citrusy hop character of an IPA

Taste: Black bread with an underlying smokey character, up front; joined by the the pithy citrus from the hops by mid-palate; in the back, well after the swallow, there is some yeasty complexity that could be described as adding a sour hint to the mix of flavors

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderately high carbonation

Drinkability: There is a lot going on in this beer, though I would like to see a bit more of a Belgian character in the yeast profile and the mouthfeel; still, this is really worth seeking out

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I generally make distinctions between how Belgian brewers make authentic and high quality tasting ales and how American brewers try to emulate them. Where I usually think American versions fall short, I may have to re-evaluate that reason if beers like Existent becomes the new benchmark.

With a russet and tawny rubyish brown hue, the yeasty haze casts a mystic glow of eerie effect. The nearly opaque beer immediately releases a billowing sand-stained head which retains stubbornly and laces impressivley with random character on the glass.

Strong aromatics of toast, starch, burnt embers, and scorched molassas begin to frame the malty matrix. Not to be outdone, a balance of spice ensues- led by the scent of freshly cracked peppercorn, coriander, and grilled fruit, fennel, the beer's aroma is strong but never plays favorites. It has to be said that a light phenolic note of burnt plastic persists far in the background.

Flavors however do not. As the taste of dry heavy toast, cocoa powder, smoky mole, light vegemite , and spent coffee grounds provide a robust and creamy taste that starts early and extends well into the finish. But the middle palate of coriander, fennel, currant, red grapes, and curacao ride just above the starchy taste of spaghetti before landing at the dry threshold of dry toast and peppercorn that return in finish.

Medium-dry in texture, the high effervescence pushes the beer off the mouth and creates a sense of dryness from the very start. But as the carbonation subsides, its the interesting dialogue that continues with creamy maltiness and peppery spice. - all works toward an off-dry finish of acrid toast and dry spice to close the beer with minimal aftertaste.

Immediate comparisons come to mind with Goose Island's Pepe Nero. Existent pushes further into that balance of flavor with greater fruit, spice, and malt complexities while offering similar drinkability. Score one for Stillwater!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask at the Bilbo Baggins event with Brian welcoming Stillwater to Virginia. Brian described this as being inspired by a combination of a schwarzbier, IPA, and farmhouse ale.

Served into a wine glass. Pours nearly black with a one-finger tan head. Large carbonation bubbles with some pretty good lacing. The nose is quite earthy with a bit of light roots. Some slight resin as well. Maybe a bit of birch.

The taste adds in some nice bitterness with earthy and pine hops. Some really nice earthy notes. Slight wood and birch characteristics. The finish reminds me a bit of that of Life & Limb, which I'm thinking is due to birch in that one. Feel is light to medium with a nice, dry finish. This is really intriguing and tasty; looking forward to being able to grab this in bottles fairly often.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep dark color ale with a large light brown foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of roasted malt and fruity ester with light funky notes is pretty unique and very interesting. Taste is also dominated by light roasted malt with some light funky ester and some what of a fruity and dry raisins finish. Body was quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very different and complex – almost like a mix between some element of a foreign stout and a farmhouse ale.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, day 7 of the 2013 Craft Beer Advent Calendar. Once again, nothing about what this beer really is, just a lot of hippie psycho-babble in the marketing description.

This beer pours a clear, dark cola amber hue, with three fingers of aggressively puffy, and fizzily foamy beige head, which leaves some hanging clothesline lace around the glass as it quickly blows off.

It smells of roasted caramel malt, fleshy dark fruit, overripe banana, earthy yeast, a bit of mixed holiday spices, and a soft leafy hoppiness. The taste is more lightly toasted caramel malt, dry toffee, astringent butter, earthy yeast, somewhat sharp black stonefruit, wet crackers, understated savoury spice, and a hint of warming alcohol.

The carbonation is soft, and weakly frothy, the body a sturdy medium weight, a tad clammy, yet mostly smooth, but for a slight metallic swath cutting through, origins hard to discern. It finishes more or less on the sweet side, the caramel, dark fruit, and subsurface booze contending with surprisingly little yeast or hop bitterness.

Kind of like a cross between a plainly malty brown ale, and a softly yeasty and fruity farmhouse ale. Not a marriage that I was dying to see happen, and the results become a lot more skewed towards the former as the glass empties, so I'm left with the feeling of 'what's the point?'

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Photo of zeff80
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown color with a two-finger, light brown head of foam. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of dried dark fruits and candy sugar.

T - It tasted of rich maltiness, chocolate and cherries. A touch of spiciness, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a really tasty saison. Not surprising that Stillwater has done a great job here.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

very hazy, and very cloudy dark color coming forward, much darker then I thought it would be for the style. Nice head, maybe two inches with some really great retention and a wonderful bit of side glass lacing. Lots of carbonation was visible streaking up from the bottom of the glass.

The aroma was a little bit light for me to be honest. Some nice notes of yeast, grain, with lots of breadiness in the middle, not nearly the funky farmhouse ale I was expecting it to be. Lots of light fruit notes with hints of peppery spice dominating on the flavor. Quick hints of pear, peach, maybe some apple, all in that general family

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Photo of oline73
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap in a pint glass at Max's

Appearance - Pours almost black with some light coming through at the edges. Smooth tan one finger head goes away almost immediately, there is some lacing.

Smell - This one is quite roasty with hints of hops and a little bit of spice from the yeast.

Taste - Burnt roast definitely dominates here. There is an herbal hoppy flavor in the background. I don't detect much that would tell me this if a farmhouse.

Mouthfeel - Medium body with a delicate smooth carbonation.

Drinkability - This one tastes like a hoppy stout to me. That being said I liked it, but I don't think I'll be looking for any more.

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Photo of nickfl
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - A gentle pour down the side of the glass produces a huge, four finger head of light brown foam on top of a dark brown body with just a touch of light showing through. The head settles slowly and leaves good lace behind on the glass.

S - A musty aroma of brown sugar, caramel, and some funky dark fruit notes.

T - Thick, dark caramel up front with some notes of chocolate and molasses that come out in the middle. The beer finishes with black cherry, burnt caramel, and some licorice.

M - Medium-thick body, high carbonation, and a fairly dry finish.

D - A very different take on the world of saisons. The combination of dark malt and lightly fruity yeast works quite well and the light funky character really makes everything pop. Very nice, this brewery is really starting to remind me of other idiosyncratic saison brewers like Fantome and St. Somewhere.

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Photo of jlindros
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Interesting looking style of Farmhouse, with hop season upon us, and saison season just around the corner, figured I'd crack this. Picked up a few weeks ago but the bottling date says 4/04/13, so a lot older than I expected.

Pours a darker colored fizzy fluffy 3 finger head that just rises over the top of the sides of the glass as it fades back at a fair rate, lots of messy spotty lacing too, super dark molasses brown color.

Nose is interesting, a blend of some creamy dark malts with mild farmhouse aromas, a little creamy roast and coffee notes, hint of cocoa, and some nutty caramel, into a mild grainy toasty malt with farmhouse spices, hint lemon rind as well, bit grassy and herbal, a bit of a yeasty aroma, and some saison like funk, into a mild phenolic note and hint of booze.

Taste brings more funk, farmhouse saison funk, chewy and a bit yeasty, with big phenolic note, little estery as well, with mild saison spices, grassy herbal little spicy chewy hop note, with more grassy herbal notes from the saison as well, little lemon rind and lemongrass. A mild dark malt note, much less than I thought, faint hint of roast and coffee, a bit of burnt toffee, with just a touch of caramel, touch of crackers, bit of an over fermented carbonation thing too. Finish is sticky and a bit sweet, more herbal spicy hops, and herbal farmhouse saison funk, little yeast, bit of a creamy dark malt too.

Mouth is med bod with tons and tons of effervescent carb, too much so that it's very distracting.

Overall not bad, an interesting blend of dark malts and saison farmhouse flavors, they didn't step on each others feet too much as the malts seemed ot still take a back seat to the farmhouse. Enjoyable for a pretty big beer, although the hops eventually do get a little nagging.

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Photo of mactrail
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, rich, and strange. I'm trying to fit this into my mental catalog of Saisons, but it appears to be a unique one. Rather tart, with a long nose of cranberries and mushrooms. Notable for its depth of funky, dirty, sourish flavors. Mineral taste. A dose of dark malt apparently from the nearly black Porter color. It takes a while for the roasted flavor to emerge. Rather coarse carbonation, though some lacing lasts after the foam up.

I suppose served in an earthenware mug at an actual farmhouse would enhance the flavor. But this does seem to be an authentic-tasting beer from another world.

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Photo of russpowell
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours super-effervescent mahogany with 2+ fingers of tan head. Great head retention, good lacing

S: Vinegar, figs, woodyness

T: Brown bread, tart cherry, a bit of figs up front, some woody hops as well. A little bit of dark fruit & oakyness as this warms, some tartness too, just a touch of citric hop attack. Finishes dry, a touch tart, with lemons & grapefruit, slight woodyness, slight caramel sweetness

MF: Light bodied, lively carbonation, dry, balances nicely

Not a fave from Stillwater, but pretty good, pretty drinkable

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 11/5/2013. Pours lightly cloudy nearly opaque dark brown color with a 3 finger dense and rocky khaki head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Dense foamy lacing clings on the glass, with a large amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, caramel, roasted malt, pear, apple, toast, peppercorn, clove, herbal, floral, grass, dark bread, light funk, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, caramel, toast, pear, apple, peppercorn, clove, herbal, floral, grass, dark bread, light funk, and yeast earthiness. Good amount of earthy yeast spice on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, roast, caramel, toast, pear, apple, peppercorn, clove, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/roasted malt flavors; with a nice crisp malt/yeast flavor balance with zero cloying after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, crisp, moderately prickly, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent dark saison. All around great complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/roasted malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of mdfb79
2.96/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From 01/14/11 notes. Had on tap at Rattle N Hum in NYC.

a - Pours a black color with one inch of tan head and moderate carbonation..

s - Smells of roasted malts, smokey, floral notes, and

t - Tastes of smokey roasted and toasted malts, light floral notes, and something weird I can't quite place, like burnt caramel or toffee. Not that great.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

d - This was listed as a Black Saison, and I wasn't a big fan of it. The taste just seemed a little off to me and the smell was average. Wouldn't look to have again.

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Photo of smcolw
3.39/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown color where light comes through only on the edges. Modest head but the fine rim bubbles stay throughout the tasting. Leaves some streaky lace.

Dark chocolate and earthy to the nose. A bit of chalky, cracked malted milk ball aroma as well. A touch of alcohol warmth.

Neutral strart for such a dark beer. This would best be described as an American Porter. The swallow is where the flavor pops out--chocolate milk, dark cherries and cream. The body is thin and the carbonation high. I detect no Saison elements.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

.existent. Stillwater Artisanal (yes, I was fooled into thinking this was some under-the-radar, Stillwater, MN brewery) American Farmhouse Ale, 1 Pt 9.4 fl. oz. (750 ml)
Alc. 7.4 % by Vol.
"Existent represents the philosophy behind Stillwater Artisanal. We strive to define ourselves through our passion and sincerity while accepting that not all aspects of life are readily explainable. To manifest this ideology we present an ale of intrigue. Deep & dark though deceptively dry, braced by a firm yet smooth bitterness and accented with an earthy hop and mild roast aroma. This is an ale for you to define…"and if you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."---Nietzsche.

And look, there's Freddy right there on the label. Never thought I'd see the day, Nietzsche on a beer label. Let's open it up and drink it down.

Dark brown, lush, creamy tan head, pock-marked and rocky. A sight to see.

Aroma, soft and spicy, yeasty and lovely. Cocoa and cream, mmm, mmm, mmm.

Taste: chocolate malt, and mild fruit control the flavor. Never sweet, though, a round and dry ale. A beautiful flavor emerges on the palate, delights the senses, and lingers a bit. Even-handed, sufficiently dry, with further flavors lurking below the original blast, slowly emerging. Some dark fruit crawls up, raisin and plum. Despite it, dry and spicy. Dark caramel malt, chocolate malt, fruity esters…drinkable and dry.

The dark saison is a new category. I may have only had one other commercially produced version (see De Ranke Noir de Dottingies), and had never fathomed the style until I tried a friend's homebrew version. I like it. So fascinatingly flavored. So complex and delicious.

Bottle's end: still scrumptious. Mmm, these guys are good.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beer is pretty dark, served in Stillwater Artisanal Ales wine glass (because I can), it's nearly black / dark brown with a thick head of tan bubbles, small with great retentions, slightly over carbonated but it leaves lacing on the glass, overall looks good.

Aroma is surprisingly lacking of any roastiness, mostly a spice or a yeastiness, estery.

Beer is thin in body and a little sweet / alcoholy on the get go. The following is an interesting spiciness that I can't quite put my finger on. The beer is nicely carbonated on the palate, the finish is mildly bitter, no aftertaste, overall it's a nice beer, just not my favorite from them so far.

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Photo of mothman
2.87/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a massive layer of foamy head. Good retention with little lace left. Color is a deep brown, near black.

Aroma: For how dark this is, it still smells like a saison, just a bit roasty. Barnyard funk, lemon zest, spices, and a dry roast.

Taste: Orange peel and dry roasted malts, yeast, cloves, lemons, chocolate, some spice, and farmhouse notes. Interesting.

Mouthfeel: Roasted, smooth, and fizzy. Medium bodied with a higher amount of carbonation. Ends really dry.

Overall, a really interesting take on a saion. Not a big fan of it as it is too roasted for the style.

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Photo of stakem
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to wishuwerebeer for the share on this one. 750ml bottle poured into a snifter. The brew appears dark brown with more than a finger of dark tan head. Strings of patchy lace form on the glassware and the cap displays fairly solid retention. Some dark ruby coloration is seen through the body when held up to the light.

The initial aroma smells roasty like coffee and chocolate as expected based on the looks of this brew. It carries with it a very dry and earthy aspect. Through the middle are peppery accents from the yeast along with a lemony citrus aspect that is quite interesting.

This brew has a rustic feel to it. It is quite dry and roasty bringing forth flavors of chocolate grain and coffee. It is quite earthy with a mild pepper inclusion. Towards the back it is lightly fruity with suggestions of lemony tartness ad zest across the back.

This is a medium bodied brew with an active amount of carbonation. The dryness makes it easy drinking and the strange twist of earthy roasted quality mixed with lemony fruit aspects makes for a unique experience that is worth checking out.

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Existent from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
86 out of 100 based on 174 ratings.