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Existent - Stillwater Artisanal Ales


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

450 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 450
Reviews: 152
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 10.99%

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:
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

(Beer added by: Thorpe429 on 11-13-2010)
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Photo of BEERchitect


4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
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!

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2012 06:26:47 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of AgentMunky


3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a brandy snifter.

A: Two fingers of off-white head. The beer is gorgeously black with ruby glints in direct light. Good lacing.

S: Muted and vague, with some zesty yeast. Spicy, but not that interesting.

T: Roasted Belgian yeast is the first thing that comes to mind. It's bizarre, but very tasty. The endtaste is long, lingering, and almost porterish in its chalky, nutty, clinging bitterness.

M: Generously full-bodied throughout, with a sense of flavour.

O: A nice beer, interesting and recommended. A sort of hybrid saison-porter. It's got the spicy yeast and the roasted malt. Would try again.

Serving type: bottle

09-11-2012 07:07:32 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of DonDirkA


4.48/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nose is cloves, banana, caramel, kind of nutty, cinnamon and a slight hint of coffee. Taste is really similar, almost exactly but the cloves are strong and right up front followed by roasted notes and coffee all rounded out by banana. To me it tasted very Belgian, which isn't what I expected. One other reviewer said that if you blindfolded him and smelled it he'd think it was a stout or porter and I have to agree with that. I'd think a Belgian-style stout. It was nowhere near as heavy as a stout though. It had a very dry finish and was a real nice sipper. This is I think 4 out of 5 awesome beers from Stillwater in my books. Very awesome.

Serving type: bottle

09-10-2012 05:26:48 | More by DonDirkA
Photo of tlazaroff


4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smells fantastic! It doesn't smell like any other Saison that I've had though, if I were in a blind tasting, I would consider this aroma as coming off of a porter or stout. Chocolate is the first thing I get, with pumpernickel black bread and a touch of light funk on the tail end of the aroma.

Very dark brown with ruby highlights where the light strikes. It has a light mocha froth head and lacing comes in the form of nice rings around the glass.

Existent is a beautiful beer! Upfront I get chocolate with a hint of sage. It lasts through the finish but is accompanied by this kind of gritty floral taste in the mid palate to the drying finish. Moderatly high carbonation with a smooth medium body. Tasting this reminded me of why I like Saison so much, and this has a nice twist on the style. I'll be enjoying this one for a while as I take my time with it.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2012 22:45:12 | More by tlazaroff
Photo of vfgccp

New York

3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Towering khaki head with moderately loose bubbles.  Great retention and stellar lace. Deep mahogany body.

S - Dry nose.  Dandelions, mint, hay, roses, and Chardonnay.

T - Lightly toasted malt and caramel latte with great, dry, woody and floral hop notes throughout.

M - Refreshingly light body.  Nice carbonation.

O - Well executed. The delicious roast profile is prominent but well restrained, and manages not to overwhelm the otherwise light and brisk Saison frame that supports it.

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2012 19:23:09 | More by vfgccp
Photo of cpetrone84


3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pour is black with a tan head. The nose is interesting, citrusy with an assertive smoke to it. Light peppery spice that is very faint. The taste is sweeter but not sugary, it has a faint smoke and some tropical fruit notes. Good soft body, gentle carb and dry finish.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2012 13:46:09 | More by cpetrone84
Photo of stephens101


3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed a magnum of this at Lukas Liquors while visitng St. Louis.

Ok. Well what do we have here? Pours an unexpected brown and has a large, static tan head. Smells of yeast, earthy and musty with a bit of taffy and dark fruit toward the back. A second whiff brings forth some hops and molasses. Unique and very promising brew we have presented before us so far. Sour and tangy to the tongue up front, followed by more molasses, diacetyl, prunes and a hint of oak. Dry. Almost crisp. Has a medium body.

This is a different take on one of my new favorite styles. I only wish it was available in these parts because a revisit (or five) is definitely in the plans.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2012 19:35:12 | More by stephens101
Photo of russpowell


3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
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

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2012 03:33:17 | More by russpowell
Photo of WanderingFool


4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Existent pours black into the glass, with a big, frothy light tan head on top. The foam dissolves slowly leaving behind a netted pattern of lace on the glass.

The aroma is sweet and malty with notes of bread, toffee, dark fruit, grapes and a touch of grass.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is slick and soft with mild carbonation. The flavor is mainly malty with some fruity notes. It begins with chocolate and caramel, followed by dark fruit, nuts and a touch of spice. It finishes dry with mild grassy bitterness. Once gone the dark fruit and chocolate linger.

Very tasty beer with great creamy mouth feel. Not really what I was expecting for a farmhouse ale.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2012 23:16:43 | More by WanderingFool
Photo of twiggamortis420


3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle courtesy of lackenhauser pours a surprisingly dark brown color with a big, fluffy tan head. Nice retention, moderate lacing.

Nose is honeyed brett with a little bit of cocoa powder and carob. Sour fruits and SweeTarts. Very complex.

Taste throws out some wicked funk...lots of wood, some brett and a bit of tartness. A really well executed beer, has a little bit of everything. I’ve never been a big fan of black saisons, but this is the best one I’ve had in this pseudo-substyle. The roast and the tart combination is still a little odd, but they don’t seem to contrast as much here. I’ve had a few Stillwater beers now, and I’ve been pretty impressed with all of them.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2012 23:48:33 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of jrenihan

Ontario (Canada)

3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown, almost black. Big, frothy tan head. Good retention. Decent lacing.

Nose is filled with red grape, other dark fruit, coffee, roasted malt, a bit of yeast.

Taste contains a good dose of roasted malt, restrained dark fruit, a bit of funk. Finishes dry, a little bitter.

Medium bodied, low carbonation, a bit heavy.

Overall, decent. I find that the roasted element overpowers the saison element too much.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2012 19:00:31 | More by jrenihan
Photo of EgadBananas


4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a dark brown color, with a tan head of 2 fingers. Slight lace.

The aroma is a bit nutty, with some chocolate, dry, yeasty bread and earthy spices.

The taste was a hair rich, with a nutty malt base, coffee, earth and spices and some yeast and bread.

Crisp, light feel with a slightly slickness.

Interesting take on a Saison and the best dark Saison I've had to date.

Serving type: bottle

07-21-2012 03:20:14 | More by EgadBananas
Photo of 57md


4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is brown with a ruby hue. There is a finger of head that dissipates quickly but leaves some lacing. The nose is sherry-like. There is an enjoyable touch of cocoa upfront in the flavor profile. There is also decent hop bitterness combined with a touch of sourness on the finish. I am not a big saison fan, but I actually liked this one a great deal.

Serving type: on-tap

07-12-2012 04:59:36 | More by 57md
Photo of WYVYRN527


4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 750 ml. bottle.

A: Pours a deep brown, almost black with about three fingers of eggshell-colored head that does not want to go away. Excellent lacing and vigorous carbonation.

S: Some roasty notes up front, with farmhouse funk and grassy, floral hop notes.

T: Malty at first, with some caramel, toast, and roasted grains, followed by some fruity esters and a nice funk. Grassy, drying hop finish.

Notes: This beer has decent body, a slick mouthfeel, and a very clean finish. Alcohol is well-hidden, making it very easy to drink. Dark and robust, yet quite refreshing on a warm day. I'm impressed, and look forward to trying other offerings from this brewery.

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2012 01:53:11 | More by WYVYRN527
Photo of UCLABrewN84


4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

07-07-2012 02:03:12 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of FreshHawk


3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark cola color with a good sized, creamy, smooth, frothy, tan colored head. Decent retention with some sticky lacing left over.

S - Definitely earthy. Some herbal/floral aroma along with a slight cocoa/nuttiness that mixes with the earthiness. A touch of yeasty aroma but it's quite subdue.

T - Earthiness dominates which blends with a cocoa, nuttiness and a schwarzbier type of chocolate/roasted maltiness. A bit of herbal, floral, and possibly piney hop flavors mix in and out. Hints of yeast pop in and out, but nothing compared to many other saisons.

M - Medium body with lower than average carbonation. Fairly dry. More creamy/smooth that spritzy making it closer to a schwarzbier, porter, etc. than a typical saison.

D - So-so on how drinkable this is. It didn't necessarily inspire me to drink more, but it wasn't hard to put down.

Notes: Full disclosure, I've never really gotten into dark saisons. I don't dislike them, but I just don't really get the appeal. Definitely an earthy beer that is reminiscent of a schwarzbier with some saison aspects. Well done and well made although it leans more toward the dark than the typical saison flavors. If you like that give it a try. I liked it, but it isn't necessarily my thing.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2012 16:21:05 | More by FreshHawk
Photo of Gosox8787

New Hampshire

4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: A chilled 750 mL bottle I picked up the other day. Poured into my Kate the Great tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a really nice two to three finger creamy beige head. Really nice retention too. Dark brown in color with some amber highlights.

Aroma: Bright green apple and nice Belgian yeast tones really stand out upfront. The color of the beer is definitely deceptive as this really gives off the saison vibe from the aroma. Definitely some coffee and caramel notes in the background too.

Taste: The coffee really comes through a lot stronger than in the aroma. The green apple and bright yeast comes through very well though. There is a nice funk note in here as well. Some very slight hop character, but it is definitely not distracting at all. Really unique and nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel: This drinks really light and refreshing, but there definitely is some body and creaminess throughout. The carbonation does a great job of lightening this and making it drink like a traditional saison.

Overall, a really nice, surprising saison. I found it very refreshing and flavorful. The coffee notes are nice and didn't overpower the base style at all. Definitely something I would have again. Balanced and complex, while still being unique.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2012 01:15:59 | More by Gosox8787
Photo of Beerenauslese


4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Body is very dark brown. Poured into a Lost Abbey chalice, has a good 3/4 inch head that dissipates to a ring. Small amount of motile lacing.

Smells richly of dark fruit, especially fresh apples and cherries, roast coffee, dark malt.

Tastes of charred malt and roast coffee, with a high acidity, tart dark fruit, baked green apples and cherries. This is held inbalance by the malt sugar, but it is not sweet, sort of like straight black coffee. I guess there is some Belgian yeast in this, but it is hard to pick out with the roast malt dominance. There is a little dry hoppiness in the finish.

Body is medium and carbonation is fizzy, giving this a slightly creamy mouthfeel, sort of as a saison should be. But the carbonation level is the only thing about this beer that resembles a saison.

This is a very nice tasting dark beer. It has a refreshing level of acidity, good solid roast malt flavor. A good choice among the expanding group of black lagers and ales.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2012 03:59:45 | More by Beerenauslese
Photo of Stinkypuss


3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Stillwater : Existent

LOOK: A dark brown, almost black liquid. Off white head, and a fine display of lacing as well.

SMELL: Roasted malts, saison funk, citrus hops, fresh grass. Dark fruit.

TASTE: Unique flavor profile. Roasted malt, lightly tart from the yeast, white pepper, citrus, and a restrained bitterness. Little to no alcohol flavor, just saison funk, roasted malt and hops.

FEEL: Medium bodied, well carbonated, slightly dry.

OVERALL: A nice twist on the American Black Ale or the Belgian Saison for that matter. I'd like to age this.

Serving type: on-tap

04-22-2012 22:03:17 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of nickfl


4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2012 01:27:17 | More by nickfl
Photo of kylehay2004


4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2012 01:26:19 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of LiquidAmber


3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a murky red brown with a thick, persistent light tan head leaving massive lacing. Aroma of yeast, light malt, some roasted malt and a hint of root beer element. Taste starts with a subtle mix of dark malt and dark fruit with some roasted elements. Finishes fairly dry with a somewhat astringent hoppiness. I liked the underlying flavor, but the finish was a bit too dry for me. Very glad I tried this, but I like other Stillwater saisons better.

Serving type: bottle

03-09-2012 03:29:25 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of DrewShal9


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to larryi86 for this one!

A: dark brownish black with a huge white head
S: grapes and oranges? Some spices, chocolate, and a hint of alcohol at the end.
T: intense chocolate and fruits. Mainly grape.
M: chalky and bubbly. Really weird bubbles too.
O: I can't figure out what makes this beer so drinkable but I like it. Definitely a unique brew. Has me more interested in dark saisons.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2012 03:53:45 | More by DrewShal9
Photo of flannelman808


4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark brown with a very pale tan head. Thin alon the rim it settles and leaves behind nice lacing.

S: Milk chocolate covered grape flavored gummy. It reminds me of grape big league chew.

T: near tart white grape merging into chocolate malty flavors which are broken up quickly with carbonation. This is an odd bird and it finishes with a destinctly ESB sort of nature. The memory of chocolate and toffee on the tongue, having never experienced them in the first place. Altogether this one is a sensory experiance and finishes on the bitter side of things.

M: focused carbonation and a roasty malt driven bitterness (think pumpernickel bagel) + a touch of chalk.

O: pretty damn unique stuff and I'm putting it out there right now this is full of rye in the mash. Grape and subtle fruit flavors melding into typical malt driven expressions. All together this one is a ya but confused but nonetheless is a great departure from the norm.

Serving type: on-tap

02-08-2012 22:07:13 | More by flannelman808
Photo of crossovert


3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml plastic topped capped brown bottle.

It pours a dark, dark color. It is pretty much black with a creamy but foamy tan head that leaves a lot of nice lacing.

The smell is interesting. It has a lot of chocolate brownie and raw barley. There is an overlying of almost tropical fruitiness. Along with that is some flowery spice. It smells really good.

The flavor is a mix of interesting yeas tnotes, a bit of cocoa, fruits, and earthy spiciness.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2012 23:27:24 | More by crossovert
Existent from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
86 out of 100 based on 450 ratings.