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A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2) - Stillwater Artisanal Ales

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A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2)A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2)

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BA SCORE
88
very good

305 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 305
Reviews: 128
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 20
Gots: 30 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Brewed at Huisbrouwerij Sint Canarus in Deinze-Gottem, Belgium with Dr. Canarus. This black saison carries qualities similar to a stout with light roast and burnt sugar flavors, spiced with Rose Hips, Hibiscus, & Schisandra berries.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 305 | Reviews: 128
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

very cool beer, i havent had anything new from stillwater in awhile, so this is fun. on tap at world of beer downtown. it has some interesting ingredients, and they are really on display here. the hibiscus and rose hips give a bright floral but not perfumy complexion to a beer that seems to have the grain bill of a stout, or at least a heavy brown. very roasty with coffee notes too, so its uncommon to see such blooming summery things as these in a beer like this. the saison part is lost on me a little though, i am so focused on the interaction of the additives with the dark grains, that all of my attention is zapped, and whatever strain of yeast is in this beer fails to make an impression on me. that doesnt bother me though, i like it as a black ale, or even as a brown ale, its fun, totally different, and in line with the other stillwater beers out there. a belgian kick to the finish, some mild bitterness, and the hibiscus lasting through it all. clever beer to say the least, not perfect, not my favorite from them, but one to certainly admire and take in, as there isnt much else like it happening out there right now.

Photo of BenHesk12
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark coffee black similar to a frothy porter. Smell is malty and yeasty. I think for the style this is an excellent beer. Nothing truly knocks you out flavor-wise but I must say that it's a great mix of a mild saison and a mild porter. Mouth feel may be the best part, extremely soft with a faint but not wimpy carbonation. Overall I'm drinking a well balanced mix of an elegant saison with some roasty porter flavors and dark color, I like it.

Photo of mick303
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle served in a tulip. Poured a thick dark colour with a nice cap of amber tan head, showing excellent retention and lacing, looks very nice.

S - quite floral initially, gooseberry, wildflower honey, rustic malt notes, graham cracker, honey fruits with some pear. Some fruity/floral sweetness with strong berry tones, matched against some earthy grassy hops. Botanical notes come increasingly to the fore.

T - chocolatey malt, very creamy and stout like, then some berry sweet character (blueberry/ gooseberry / i've never heard of schisandra berries?) as well as cherry sweetness. Pear notes again, mixed with some cinnamon and floral rose character, a bit of orange citrus, ending with some warming earthy notes, again orange and some lingering dry floral spice tones. Very nice, though quite off the wall also.

M - Again far more creamy and smooth than I would expect for a saison, it has a creamy mouthfeel and moderate body, with a tight and refreshing carbonation. Well proportioned and easy to drink.

A thought-provoking offering. Seemingly blending a porter and saison. It has a lot of the same earthy malt character with hints of earthy and licorice along with the creamy malty body with a hint of cocoa, and also a robust berry and floral character also showing orange and a nice bouquet of flavour. I quiet enjoyed this and if available would enjoy this on a regular basis, spices really shine and the beer evolves as it warms up, showing more of the saison aspects and dryness, gets a bit more crisp, and the earthy dry floral fruits come out. An evolving and enjoyable offering.

Photo of hail_seitan
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into tulip glass

A - A mahogany body with a very thin chestnut head. Minimal lacing.

S - So complex, it's hard to describe. Light coffee, gin-like botanicals, earthy/woody aromas, and coriander. Just a hint of barnyard funk.

T - Like the nose, very complex. Artisan bread maltiness, dark fruits, and savory botanicals are prevalent. Mild toast-like roastiness and spicy esters. The finish is dry, woody, and with not a hint of booze.

M - Silky despite the dry finish, with light carbonation.

O - An intriguing, beguiling ale that grew on me the more I sipped. The botanical flavor from the rose hips, berry and hibiscus give it a taste somewhat similar to a toned-down Pimms. Certainly worth a try for any Belgian beer fan.

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a half of a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Good, earthy aromas of bready, toasted malt, imparting notes of freshly baked French baguettes, as well as Belgian yeast, candied sugar, licorice, and a touch of dark molasses.

Taste: Delicious! Toasted malt up front, followed by lots of Belgian yeast, candied sugar, some licorice, black pepper, a touch of some dried stone fruits, such as apricots and dates, finished with a touch of piney, hoppy bitterness. An interesting aspect of this beer’s flavor is that it is really short up front, almost non-existent, but really long on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and pretty effervescent as there is quite a bit of carbonation. With an ABV of 8.0%, there is no alcohol on the palate, as it is very well masked.

Overall: This is another damn good beer from Stillwater. Highly recommended.

Photo of wedge
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown with a small, bubbly head that fades to a thin covering. Aroma is airy and floral to start, adding a light caramel and toasty malt note developing into more of a toffee quality after a while. Flowers, berries, nuts, and a gentle fruitiness. Tastes of berries, flowers, and caramel malt along with the expected clove-like Belgian yeast, toast, and slightly tart vinous fruit. Quite dry and crisp in the mouth. These dark Saisons are always iffy for me, sometimes clashing too much between edgy yeast and roasted malt, but this one is very pleasant. Fruity and floral, not too yeasty, the malts stay smooth and sweet, and the alcohol is well-hidden.

Photo of cratez
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Stillwater A Saison Darkly - 8% ABV Imperial Black Saison - Consumed November 26, 2014.

A: Very dark brown, bordering on black, with ruby edges, a thin ring of beige foam, and some strands of lacing on the tulip glass. Head retains for the duration of the beer but lace subsides midway through. Above average appearance.

S: Big spicy yeastiness, black pepper, berry fruit, floral notes (almost perfumey in character), red grape, clove, hint of cherry, grainy malt (rye?), light phenols, and earthy hops. Boldly aromatic and complex nose that hits the style extremely well.

T: Berry fruit, spicy yeast, black pepper, slight roastiness, grapey-plummy notes, burnt sugar sweetness with some alcoholic warmth to end. More dark fruit, yeast, and alcohol esters in the aftertaste. Clean, solid flavours, and exactly what I expect from a black saison.

M: Full side of medium bodied, spicy-peppery carbonation, creamy and somewhat silky middle precedes a long, drying finish with more dark fruit, yeast, and alcohol on the cough (estery).

O: A truly outstanding black saison, and easily one of the best examples that I've tried. Great beer.

Photo of zeledonia
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted 18 October 2014.

Pours a deep rusty brown. Little head, okay lacing. Fine.

Smell is unusual for a stout, though so is the darkness. Smells more like a porter, with woody dark roasted malts. There's a bit of ambiguous saison yeast character behind it.

Taste is much more interesting. The roast blends well with saison spice and some juicy Belgian stuff that's tough for me to describe. Varied and tasty. Yum.

Feel is fine, though nothing special. Medium body, medium-low carbonation. Slow steady fade out.

A tasty, unique saison. Though I don't think I'd have pegged it as one without the label. Complex flavor, with lots of fun stuff going on.

Photo of superspak
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 5/19/2014. Pours fairly pitch black color with a small dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big raisin, plum, fig, berry, licorice, chocolate, cocoa, toast, dark bread, clove, pepper, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness. Fantastic aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, roast/bready malt, and spice notes; with great strength. Taste of raisin, plum, fig, berry, licorice, chocolate, cocoa, toast, dark bread, clove, pepper, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness. Good amount of earthy yeast spice on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, berry, licorice, toast, dark bread, clove, pepper, herbal, floral, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, roast/bready malt, and spice flavors; with a great malt/spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, crisp, and fairly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome dark saison style. All around great complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, roast/bready malt, and spice flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Stillwater A Saison Darkly has a thin, cream-colored head, a dark brown appearance, some bubbles, and pretty much no lacing left behind. The aroma is of a spice basket or potpourri, that one would purchase at a gift store. Taste is of spiced, brown bread, dark (but, not burnt) malt, essentially no bitterness, and zero alcohol detected. Mouthfeel is full, and Stillwater A Saison Darkly finishes semi-dry and not difficult to drink, although it is certainly a sipper, rather than a gulper.

RJT

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

Malty dark dried fruit – fig to date – dominate the nose. the beer ours brilliant deep chestnut with a 1” off-white foam cap.
The palate is big and fruity with dark dried fruits predominating over background grain flavors.
The beer is very creamy with a medium full body and medium high carbonation.

Photo of Mikus
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a pitch black color into my snifter, with a halo of scarlet around the edges in the light. About 1mm of rose-tinted head that hung around. Funky and floral aromas, bright and fresh nose but a bit muddled with everything going on. Super balanced and complex flavors, hint of alcohol on the back end. Great hints of cocoa and spices in and out. Super velvety and nice mouthfeel. Loved it. The wife kept trying to take it away from me...

Photo of Kgoldsbe
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

Rose Hips, Hibiscus, Scisandra berries Amazingly spiced! Hibiscus adds refreshing mountain forest type of quality.

Photo of WreckedPalate
4/5  rDev +2.3%

This was a shock to me, I hate Saisons normally. This one stands out, i get the berry in it and an obvious but not over done floral character to it that adds a unique but once again subtle aroma, obviously from the rose hips and hibiscus. The flavors, I get a dark or maybe burnt sugar and caramel note, Berry presence, I taste the rose hips, has a couple stout like attributes in the body of it and the flavors. Damn, is it smooth too, dangerously easy to drink, light but present carbonation.
Overall, not normally my thing, but I really enjoyed this. I will go get some for myself now!

Photo of MattyG85
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. Bottled on 05/19/14.

Appearance: Pours a dark blackish brown with a lot of bubbles. About two fingers of tan head that quickly fade into a thin patchy layer. Leaves some decent lacing.

Smell: A yeasty, spicy, and roasty dark Belgian style aroma with hints of chocolate and funk. Belgian yeast with some hints of clove, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and funk. Also some hints of the rose hips and berry. Dark roasted malt with hints of chocolate, dough, biscuit, caramel, toffee, grains, and straw. Dark fruit hints of cherry, grapes, raisin, and plum. Sweet hints of brown sugar. Also some subtle earthy and floral hops. A pretty solid and interesting aroma.

Taste: Like the smell, a spicy, yeasty, and roasty Belgian style taste with good notes of sweet chocolate and funk. Belgian yeast with some upfront notes of clove, black pepper, funk, cinnamon, and ginger giving a winter like spice taste. Subtle floral and fruity notes come through from the added berries and rose hips. Sweet dark roasted malt with notes of chocolate, cocoa, biscuit, dough, caramel, toffee, straw, and grains. Dark fruit notes of raisin, plum, grapes, and cherry. Background notes of earthy hops. A pretty good taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with a fairly high level of carbonation. Spicy and somewhat prickly with a drying finish. Alcohol heat is minimal.

Overall: A pretty solid twist on a Belgian style Saison. Good mix of Belgian and winter like spices with some dark malt.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Resisting what the contemporary style makers try to prescribe about "farmhouse ale," Baltimore's Stillwater saison makers are tempting those modern notions with rustic, artistic and rudimentary tastes that show that these ales are so much more than a style- they are a culture.

A Saison Darkly pours with a dark rust color, equipped with a hazy amber to suggest depth and darkness. Yet not brown or black, its color even challenges what saison should be. And all that manifests in a toasty, peppery and dry grain aroma which is further backed by the dark fruit and hard candy sweetness that follow.

Flowing over the middle, its expressive carbonation bounces off the tongue carrying with it the taste of kettle-caramelized toffee and maple. With its bready wheat and malt underpinnings, a notion of french-toast with pepper and light char are easily understood. Heading toward finish, a tinge of grilled blackberry, red grape and black cherry suggest a winy tone.

Its dry and toasty finish does inherit a thin candied sweetness to balance its vinously tart alcohol tone. While pepper and char dance about its periphery, even they aid in the beer's overall drainable dryness. A quick finish that's indicative of wine trials with grilled plum and berry with recurring flare.

Photo of barczar
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear deep brown with garnet highlights and a frothy khaki head that dissipates to nothing.

Initial aroma is bubblegum, chocolate, and flowers. I get the rose hips, but hibiscus is a stretch. There's a bit of funk.

One of the drier saisons I can recall, likely accentuated by dark malt. More bubblegum, a little funk, floral notes, and a light tartness. Mint emerges late.

Body is moderate, with moderate carbonation and noted alcohol warmth.

I like the sour notes and funk, but that dark malt doesn't jive well for me as it warms. One of few beers I'd advise drinking on the cold side. Very intriguing.

Photo of woemad
3.74/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12.7oz/375mL bottle purchased at the Total Wine on the northside of Spokane. I forget what I paid for it. Unlike the example pictured on Beer Advocate, this bottle's label does not feature a batch number or any boilerplate about it being part of an "Import Series," but does state that this was “brewed & bottled by Twelve Percent, Westminster, MD.”

Poured a dark brown color that looked black once it was settled in a St. Bernardus glass. Big, creamy light tan head that stuck around for a while. A goodly amount of sticky lace was left on the sides of the glass.

Aroma was of raisin-like dark fruits, initially. As it warmed, some fruity esters and a muted spiciness reminiscent of a Belgian yeast made their presence known, but it seemed a bit low key.

The taste starts out with some dark fruit flavors, but are quickly mated to a modest, dry grassiness and some low intensity cocoa notes that increase in the fadeout. There’s also some fruity flavors floating about in the background that remind me of pears and Granny Smith apples.

Good carbonation, but a little too full-bodied for the style, in my humble opinion – but not to a crippling degree. Mouthfeel is where so many ersatz Belgians come up short, and this is no exception.

This is an interesting “dark” saison – my second of this unofficial style (the other being Selkirk Abby’s St. Thomas), and it’s more fruity and full bodied, but I think it loses a little in drinkability. I can’t see myself having more than one, though at 8% abv, that’s probably a good thing. At the right price I would drink this again.

Photo of WhiskeyMax
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Very Dark, I could barely see light through it. 1 finger of head lasted for 45 minutes

Smell: Dried fruits maybe a little musty wood

Taste: Nice dark ale flavor not too sour on the palate, but still noticeable.

Mouthfeel: smooth, and very easy to drink

Overall: A very good Saison that I hope my store has more of. I will definitely pick up a couple more.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.69/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

375ml bottle at fridge temp poured into a tulip. Not freshness info.

Pours out almost black, actually a dark ruby red in the light. Small layer of light tan colored head with some average retention. No real lacing. A decent amount of streaming carbonation bubbles.

Aroma is a bit lackluster. Lots of fruity and yeasty esters, some plum/ sugar plum, the slightest hint of alcohol. As it's warmed up you get a slight hint of a creaminess typically associated with the French saison strain of yeast.

Kind of comes together a bit more in the taste. Lots of sugar plum. Fruity yeast esters, a bit phenolic, a bit of a brown sugar sweetness, the tiniest hints of spice on the back of the palate. Finishes clean.

Has a nice effervescence and a strong carbonation, a touch of a sweet sticky feel that let's you know this is a dark saison. Feels like you would expect a Belgian dark ale to feel.

A pretty good beer, not really sure if I would buy this again, mostly due to the price tag, but it's worth one try. This could easily pass for a Belgian dark ale.

Photo of Rutager
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Alpineclimber for this and many other great beers.

Appearance. Pours a deep brown with a massive frothy, khaki head.

Smell. Funky and spicy saison yeast, chocolate and a bit of dark berries.

Taste. Lots of creamy milk chocolate with that funky saison yeast, a little bit of dark berries and fruit in there and a very subtle floral quality.

Mouthfeel. Medium plus body, low amount of soft carbonation.

Overall. Interesting stuff for sure, haven't tasted a beer quite like it. Good flavours and a cool twist on the saison. Thanks again Alpineclimber!

Photo of BeerImmediately
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch #3, best before Oct 2013.

Pours with a booming, vicious but pretty dark-tan head comprised of the tiniest of bubbles. Body is an opaque, dark chocolate color. Very sticky lacing.

Aromas are full of tangy berries, with a backdrop of molasses and brown sugar. Yeast is strong.

Flavor is pretty wild. Raisins, bitter berries, rich dark chocolate (chocolate mousse pie), and some black licorice as it warms. Initial mouthfeel is crisp and effervescent, with the finish coming thru fairly sticky for a Saison. Very rich and filling.

Very much a dessert Saison, if there ever was one.

Photo of DaveBlack
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A: Very dark, murky brown beer. 2 1/2 finger tan, foamy head with seemingly infinite retention.

S: Sweet, dark roasted malts, toffee. A earthy, yeasty aroma, and a whiff of alcohol. Smells more like a tripel than it does a saison, due to the heavy sweetness on the front end of the nose.

T: Taste is not what the aroma led me to expect. It is not nearly as sweet as I expected. The primary taste is that of burnt sugar, mixed with yeast and alcoholic esters. The finish is incredibly dry, with more biscuity yeast.

M: Heavy, chewy body. I have a feeling that this beer could substitute for a meal. There is a ton of carbonation, in the form of tiny bubbles that come off as a bit too much.

O: I am impressed with this beer. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it straddles the line between traditional Belgian dubbels and tripels and the average saison. I wish the carbonation was toned back a little, but that's the only thing that drags this beer down for me. Really a great brew and worth a look.

Photo of biboergosum
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

375ml bottle. Spiced with rose hips, hibiscus, and Schisandra berries. More weird Asian fruit ingredients - cool.

This beer pours a hazy, very dark reddish brown colour, with two fingers of thinly foamy, fizzy pale beige head, which leaves a few upward strands of sea plume lace around the glass as things drop away.

It smells of grainy, somewhat roasted biscuity malt, medicinal dark fruits - cherry and prune - a spicy rye sweetness, mild barnyard funk, paint thinner, spent yeast, overripe apples, mildly herbal cloves, and a bit of crumbling forest-floor woodiness. The taste is lightly toasted bready, grainy malt, brown sugar, edgy yeast, softly sour red berries, a hint of stale black coffee, earthy anise, faint musty funk, a fading medicinal fruitiness, a tame floral, ethereally perfumed alcohol warming.

The bubbles are decently supportive, and a tad spritzy, the body an adequate medium weight, with a rising metallic edge that more or less precludes smoothness. It finishes off-dry, the sweetness fairly tempered by yeast, spice, and roast.

A pleasant enough experiment, the base saison pretty overwhelmed by the roasted character, as well as the fruit and floral notes. It all comes together for the most part, another step on the road to new style attainment, which seems to be a specialty of this particular gypsy brewer.

Photo of Slatetank
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at John J Jeffries served chilled in a taster.

The color is dark brown with medium brown at the base with thin light beige head and tight bead. The smell is very nice mix of cocoa, raisin and slight nutty malt esters with some spice from the yeast. The feel is moderately creamy with spice in the back and mild toasted grain texture with a low sweetness level and mild alcohol.

The flavor follows the nose - nice blend of saison yeastiness and dark toasted grain with some raisin elements and light cocoa with mild nutty flavors and the yeast adds a mild pepper quality which adds to the complexity with mostly dry flavor as it finishes. Overall I like this a lot a very fresh tasting and complex take on the dark saison style with plenty of saison character yet the drinkability of dark belgian ale mixed in .

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A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2) from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
88 out of 100 based on 305 ratings.