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Existent - Stillwater Artisanal Ales

Not Rated.
ExistentExistent

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

174 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 174
Hads: 618
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 11.14%
Wants: 20
Gots: 64 | 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
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 174 | Hads: 618
Photo of zac16125
3.61/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a tulip
Bottled on: 4/4/13

A: Pours a very dark cola brown, faint ruby hues when held to light. Just under 2 fingers width of light tan head dissipates down fairly quickly to a thin film. Leaves effectively no lacing.

S: Belgian yeast spicy notes, like clove and banana. Definitely spice predominant, a bit of nutmeg, caramel, and a hint of roasted malt. Some booze. This kind of reminds me of a BSDA, christmas release.

T: Initially it doesn't taste anything like the aroma, as it seems much lighter with citrus and some brett-like funk notes. As it warms the dark flavors come out, with dark fruits and some caramel malts. The funk stays around though. This is very unique, although Im not sure how much I like the conglomeration of flavors.

M/D: Medium body, lighter than it looks. Carbonation on the heavier side. Drinkability is average.

O: Unique, but not really my thing. Not bad, but I wouldn't buy it again. (942 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown color, Existent certainly defies the expectations for a Saison at the start. It's no surprise, though, given Stillwater's exploratory nature and American brewers delving into brewing Saisons with dark malts, smoking them, etc. While brown, Existent does exhibit a reddish hue. It develops a pillowy tan head that rises to nearly two fingers tall and rests there stubbornly. A good amount of thick patching is left behind on the walls of the glass as the beer recedes down it.
This is a toasty one with some muted yeast notes in the aroma and a bit of molasses, not as sweet as one might think, but adding more tot he toast note due to smelling not burnt but close to it. It is spicy, more the kitchen variety and plenty peppery. There is a faint whiff of band-aid, a very slight phenolic note, faint but detectable.
That doesn't translate to the flavor, though. It's very interestingly toasty, herbal, spicy, and lightly smoky with just a little sweetness as some dried dark fruits ride it out. Yeast comes out with the toast into the finish but really rounds it out well.
Carbonation is fairly high without being too filling or spritzy, and this medium-bodied beer holds an even keel between crisp and smooth. (1,223 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: nearly black opaque brown in a tulip; slim finger of tan head slipped away quickly and left no trace of lace

S: dark earthy hops, maybe some herbal and woodsy aromas, dark malty undercurrents

T: dark and roasty malts - like a black ale or schwarzbier - with yeasty dough and real deep, dank hops - suggestions of freshly cut damp wood and burnt grain

M: thin-medium body, rather smooth and slightly coating, dark ashy aftertaste

O: I didn't expect this to be so dark, and had to adjust myself to the beer - other than GI's Pepe Nero, I've never had a dark saison, and this one is black - interesting "take" on the style (or at least my expectations of it), and a rather good beer. Very roasty with deep, earthy flavors - might not be what you're looking for in a saison, but a really enjoyable beer. (806 characters)

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a Bell's tulip. The pour is very dark - nearly black with mahogany highlights - and sports a nice rocky tan head that dies down a bit quickly. The nose is a little on the faint side, but I do get hints of yeasty fresh bread aromas, wheat, cereal grains, and a faint roastiness.

The beer has a light-medium body. The flavor is well balanced between roastiness and herbal spiciness and has a little sweetness as well. Faint wheat and cereal notes up front joined by a faint roasty coffee-like note at mid-palate. A gentle hop kick dries up the finish and adds just a bit of spice, but the roastiness seems too persistent and drags through the finish. I like herbal spiciness in Saisons and I'm not sure the roastiness allows the spice to come through all that well.

It's time to recognize a new category - Black Saison. I think there are enough examples of it out there right now. While I enjoyed this one, there's something about the roastiness of it that just didn't do it for me. I haven't had a lot of Black Saisons, but the roastiness seems to benefit from additional spiciness, which this one doesn't have. See Goose Island's ``Pepe Nero'' for more details. (1,189 characters)

Photo of dar482
4.67/5  rDev +21%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The beer pours out in a dark brown/black color with some red coming through in the light. The head is a 1 finger and off white. By the way, props on the beautiful dark label with a negative of Friedrich Nietzsche.

The aroma has quite interesting. It has spicy notes of coriander, and tons of breadiness.

The flavor is lovely. It hits you first with some dark fruit and yeast, again, hints of being a hefeweizen, but also a Belgian dark ale. Then the dark malts take over with some round, but light mouthfeel and roasted malt flavor.

The finish has this spicy rye breadiness and is quite dry and lingering. It’s almost floral in flavor too.

This really is an interesting brew. I had a sip after my friend ordered it and it blew me away. I had to buy a bottle and reviewing it, it still is quite the brew. It’s so different and hard to pin down stylistically.

It has that fruitiness, breadiness, and strong yeast flavor that makes it so Belgian, but then there’s also this refreshing spicy peppery bite. The gentle carbonation keeps this brew uplifting and light as well.

I give this beer tons of credit for being so amazing, but also innovative and different. (1,171 characters)

Photo of wedge
3.71/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep chestnut brown with a low, creamy head that shrinks to a spotty covering. Smells hoppier than expected...fresh, soapy, earthy, and spicy with some mild roasted malt and wood. The flavor is not super malty, but "darker" tasting than your average farmhouse brew. Spicy fruit esters, floral hops, pine, orange, a touch of chocolate, and dark bread. Fluffy and tingly in the mouth with a long, lingering dryness. A little aggressive overall and personally, I'm generally not a huge fan of roasted malt and Belgian yeast coming together. Pretty good though... (567 characters)

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: A deep, rich dark brown. Dark reds and lighter browns show up when held to direct light. Small tan head drops to an almost non-existent cap with a small loose collar. Moderate carbonation on the pour.

Smell: Loaded with ripe banana. Soft clove spiciness. A bit of roasted malt with some underlying cocoa. A bit floral. Earthy. Powdery yeast. Some hay and grassy elements. Very clean with a soft complexity. Light malt sweetness pushes a good bit of caramel. Even some toffee and licorice in the back.

Taste: A blend of farmhouse funk and Belgian influence. Rich caramelized malts with some backing roasted elements. A touch of cocoa and black licorice. Slight peppery spiciness with some earthy and grassy hops. A bit on the sweet side to start with ripe banana and some bubblegum. Solid yeast presence. Dark fruit, but vague. Very yeasty.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly dry given the sweet malt profile. Crisp with a mediumish body. Medium to high carbonation. Pretty much spot on.

Overall: This beer exists and we are better for it.

A good American saison/farmhouse ale. A solid punch of Belgian influence tempered by the softer funky elements I expect from the American style. A bit sweet overall. (1,211 characters)

Photo of OtherShoe2
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a tan foam head with some splashy lace. Very pretty.

Yeast and spicy grain notes in the nose. A little wood, maybe even a little clove.

Dried out and a bit coarse. The malt has a bitter husk edge to it, that leads to hop bitterness, and a little dried dark maltiness. Unforgiving in the layers of bitter and dry, these flavors push the yeast and funk notes out of the way. Finishes with a little alcohol and bitter grain.

Medium bodied, nice carbonation.

Decent brew, like a black IPA meets farmhouse. A sipper, and something to share if you get a bomber. (581 characters)

Photo of justintcoons
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

Appearance
Dark, dark brown with garnet highlights. 1 finger of light tan head with decent retention.

Nose
Dark fruits, plum and potpourri.

Taste
Overripe plum and fig. Raw grains and hay. Touches of potpourri and chlorine. A tiny hint of chocolate. Finishes with orange zest, rye and coriander. Floral perfumey flavors linger.

Mouthfeel
Light bodied, crisp, clean and dry.

Overall
A crisp and refreshing Black Saison. Spicy, complex and hides the alcohol well. (499 characters)

Photo of MaineBrewing
3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A - poured a dark brown almost black with mahogany hue when held to the light. Two finger light tan head that seemed very loose dissipated quickly.

S - nice sweet malt with hints of caramel, peppery spicyness. Slight licorice character.

T - taste is interesting. Brown ale ish in malt character with a bright citrus hop. Very prevalent yeast character throughout, almost an autolyzed flavor. Weird baked cookie notes in the background, if that is such a thing, tastes like it. Finishes really dry. Seems to be missing somethin, there is a pleasant fruityness that just can't find it's way through.

M - light body with dry finish, too light for the appearance.

O - this is weird, not in a good way. The flavors from malt and hops are subtle behind a massive yeast character. Not the best experience, probably wouldnt seek out another. Not a drain pour by any means, just not that good. (892 characters)

Photo of DenverLogan
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into medium sized Duvel tulip glass.
Pours a dark brown with large brown head.
Aroma of roasted malts, nuts, lactose, slight sweet malts.
Medium carbonation and significant mouthfeel.
Flavors of dark malts, malt balls, slight chocolate, espresso, caramel, bitter hops, cola, semi-sweet chocolate, persimmon fruit, white grapefruit, brown sugar and raisins. Overall quite complex, certainly not a European style farmhouse! Overall damn tasty and full bodies, challenging yet relatively easy to drink for an American farmhouse/dark saison. (563 characters)

Photo of metter98
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
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). (846 characters)

Photo of korguy123
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle into tulip.

Dark, opaque black/brown pour. Booming three plus finger light tan head. Lacing is large bubbled gobs around glass.

Dark stone fruits, grapes, apple skins, candied sugar, spicy yeast with some light roasted coffee. It's truly up and down between dark and sweet and light and spicy. There is a cherry syrup in there somewhere like maraschino syrup; slightly tart with a sweetness.

Chocolate covered cherries, candied sugar, spicy yeast, plums and figs, some caramel and burnt toast. This is truly different. It's almost a soured/spiced Belgian Dubbel. It's very original and very good.

Light to medium body, high carbonation. (647 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
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. (417 characters)

Photo of scruffwhor
4.01/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Muddy molasses color with garnet highlights. Pretty sturdy tan head of about two fingers after a restrainted pour. The tan foam sticks around for almost the whole 750ml bottles worth. The bubbling is hard to see, but you can find it eminating like a good saison should. One of the darkest saisons I've ever had.

Done dry hay and wheat field. Dry, pumpernickel bread crust. Soft, yet dark herbal aromas. Smells like a pretty good, dark saison.

Dry, chalky, earthy bitterness, yet cottony. Dark malts and hinting herbals all combine quiet well. Add to that a dry, yet well carbonated, bubbly palate and you have a fun sipping beer to share with friends. Or in my case, slowly enjoy over the coarse of an hour ;). (714 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown, not opaque, fleeting light chocolate head.

Subtle aroma, roast malt, chocolate, slight vinous character.

Chocolate, slightly sweet roast malt and an underpinning of funk and sourness in the flavor. A tad acrid.

A little too much roast flavor for my liking. Not enough funk to overcome the malt. (309 characters)

Photo of MrCee
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So darkly brown it is almost black. It delivers a nice frothy head. Boldly carbonated in a way that makes it sit comfortably on the tongue for nice savor. Great malty flavor that does not overpower and yet is not to wan. Other beers match this type but not the near perfection that this one achieves. (300 characters)

Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark black with a touch of brown with a finger of frothy khaki head. Fades slow.

S - Dark caramel malts, dark fruit, a bit of chocolate, Belgian yeast, clove, pepper, a bit of grains.

T - Dark caramel malts, dark fruits, chocolate, clove and other spices. Belgian yeast, pepper, some grains, hint of caramelized sugars. Dark malts, Belgian yeast, spices, chocolate.

M - Medium bodied moderate carbonation. Smooth with a dry, sweet, spicy finish.

D - Nice darker saison. Good balance of malt and yeast character. (527 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
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. (516 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a light brown head. In the aroma, a lighter roast and notes of horse blanket. In the taste, dry to earthy small tartness and a caramel like roast. A small hop like bite and a lighter bodied mouthfeel, with a dry yeast and note of caramel like roast in the aftertaste. Nice mix of caramel and earth, quite pleasant. (356 characters)

Photo of larryi86
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter

A- Dark brown with a four finger light tan head.

S- Fruity farmhouse yeast, some chocolate, roasted malts, earthy hops, nice spices.

T- Again fruity yeast, roasted malts, chocolate, touch of smoke, earthy hops, some spices.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- Another tasty beer from Stillwater, pretty unique. Worth the price, will pick this up again. (384 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle to tulip.

A - Very dark brown. Lots of head on the pour that slowly receded to a thin layer.

S - Bready malts. A touch of chocolate. Lighter Belgian yeast and spice notes are present but they aren't dominant like in many saisons.

T - Belgian yeast a touch of chocolate, raisin, dark fruit and spice. All the flavours are well integrated with nothing dominating, including the yeast characteristics.

M - Medium body. Creamy. Moderate carbonation. (459 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
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! (1,938 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
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. (636 characters)

Photo of DonDirkA
4.48/5  rDev +16.1%
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. (645 characters)

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