1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

Not Rated.
A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2)A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2)

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

219 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 219
Reviews: 114
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 19
Gots: 19 | 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:
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.

(Beer added by: Thorpe429 on 11-13-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 219 | Reviews: 114 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of vfgccp

New York

3.28/5  rDev -16.1%

A – Huge, pillowy, pink-khaki head with ok lace. Dark cola body with dark brown highlights.

S – Fresh mint, lemon zest, hand soap, and a touch of caramel.

T – Potpourri up front. Wheaty center with coffee grinds, bitter chocolate covered cranberry, and lavender. Unfortunately the floral notes are bit too much, and they culminate in a floral soap-like finish.

M – Medium/light body. Dry finish. Relatively smooth with a nice carbonation.

O – A nice refreshing body, but the association of the huge floral notes with soap really hurts this brew for me.

09-30-2011 01:01:02 | More by vfgccp
Photo of alpinebryant


3.63/5  rDev -7.2%

A: Pours a massive light cocoa head

S: Aroma of cocoa, roasted malts, roasted caramel, light saison yeast

T: Tons of cocoa up front, a Belgian Strong dark ale nearly completely in taste. I am not entirely sure where this becomes a saison other than the yeast which is normally a bigger factor, but really this is a Belgian Strong Dark ale. It resembles a Russian imperial stout in many ways but has a little lighter body and more of a belgian spiced flavor. Plenty of toffee , caramel, and molasses flavors blend together. I can taste some cinnamon and some other spicing which I cannot entirely grasp but they add a nice touch to the beer. Perhaps some flowery flavors as well.... maybe lavender?

M: Medium to Thick for a Saison / Farmhouse ale.

O: This is pretty good. I wouldn't spend $5 on it again but worth a try.

09-14-2011 23:43:58 | More by alpinebryant
Photo of jminsc76


3.65/5  rDev -6.6%

Into a tulip, initially pours a large, mocha head atop a dark, chocolate brown body. Nice legs as I tilt, but the carbonation does not last long.

Smells of burnt cinnamon and sugar, as well as dates, plums, and...(at this point my notes on the aroma teetered off for some reason). I do remember the bouquet opens up quite well, and it's quite complex.

Flavors of spices, mild chocolate, and farmhouse funk near and at the finish. This starts off really, REALLY sweet, and soon develops into an ultra bitter version of The Bruery's Saison Rue. All sort of craziness going on here.

Mouthfeel is light and thin, slightly dry.

Overall, this is a beast. Plain and simple. While I'm ambiguous on whether I like it or not - and I think it's primarily because the latter half gets really funky and harsh - this is a good Saison to try out.

To summarize: think a Belgian Dubbel meets a Saison with copious amounts of burnt chocolate malts. Definitely original.

09-01-2011 04:22:19 | More by jminsc76
Photo of ngeunit1


4.33/5  rDev +10.7%

A - The beer poured a dark black color with a big frothy covering of chocolate head. The head fades down very slowly leaving behind lots of lace.

S - The aroma is a complex mix of toasted grains, peppery spices, some earthy herbal notes, and a bit of sweet dark fruit.

T - Starts off with a healthy serving of roasted and even borderline burnt grains and malt with a bit of earthy and herbal spices coming in right behind. Through the middle, the sweet dark fruit flavors come through with some yeast and floral characters. The finish is a mix of yeast, roasted malts, and spices that linger nicely.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. The beer feels smooth and quite dry form the roasted flavors and spices.

D - Very drinkable. The roasted flavors are really interesting and work extremely well with the saison base. The spices also balance out the beer really well.

08-30-2011 06:01:48 | More by ngeunit1
Photo of Rhettroactive

District of Columbia

4.08/5  rDev +4.3%

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 8/17/11
*From notes

A: Rustic leathery brown in color. A decent pour yields a 2.5 finger head that fades quickly and leaves behind some merely mediocre lacing.

S: Raisin and ripe plum. Freshly chopped mint and herb box steal the show.

T: Cola, tanned leather and autumn spice. It's fresh and herbal, yet classically Belgian in the yeast profile.

M: Much appreciated - it's got more to it then I'd expected. A good amount of carbonation and the texture is appropriately luxurious.

O: Stillwater's Saison Darkly Vol. 2 is a well done saison. It's well suited to autumn evening around the fireplace. It isn't as wildly crazy as I'd hope for, yet it's another winner from the gypsy brewer out of Baltimore.

08-24-2011 21:36:22 | More by Rhettroactive
Photo of MasterSki

Ontario (Canada)

3.53/5  rDev -9.7%

Batch #2, best before October 2012. Served in a Struise cervoise.

A - A few fingers of tan foam settle to a thick cap, leaving a few spots of lace. Opaque dark brown body with reddish highlights.

S - Lots of spice, smoke, and peppery yeast. There's some chocolate, cherries, and stones fruits in the periphery, but this is dominated by the yeast character. For more flavor depth, let this one warm up a bit. Maybe some alcohol too.

T - Taste is more chocolate-heavy. Farmhouse yeast, peaches, and thankfully less pepper and spice. There's some unpleasant herbal flavor in the finish. I liked the taste better until I got to the finish and aftertaste.

M - Lower carbonation, chewy medium-full body, some mild alcohol warmth, sticky finish. Could use a bit more spritz

D - Not a big fan of this one. It's not a bad beer by any stretch, and it delivers exactly what it promises - just not anything I was interested in trying in the first place.

08-24-2011 00:03:12 | More by MasterSki
Photo of popery


3.58/5  rDev -8.4%

Notes 8/12/11. Bottle. Surprisingly good. I’m always a bit suspicious of dark saisons, particularly ones with some oddball ingredients, but this one works. There are notes of various fruits, flowers, citrus, chocolate, spice, earth and caramel. And it all meshes together. The rose hips and hibiscus provide a pleasant tartness and somewhat tannic feel. Fruitiness is plums, peaches and raisins. Taste is a bit sweet with caramel malt sweetness. Pours a deep, dark brown with a big fizzy head that dissipates to a thin line of bubbles. Good beer.

08-15-2011 22:50:16 | More by popery
Photo of clayrock81


3.68/5  rDev -5.9%

Pours a very dark brown with loads of carbonation that gave off a large head that dies quick and leaves lace rings. Fruity esters and a floral citric hoppy bitterness make up most of the aroma and there are also some bready, dry malts as well as tart fruit and some funk. Has a good bitter, fruit flavor as I pick up citric, tart and touch of dark fruits as well as a nice dry malt sensation. Also some standard sugary, yeasty and orangeish/citric twang I expect in a Belgian. It goes down nice and easy w/ a medium body thickness yet a lighter smoothness and I like the taste profiles I'm picking up, but for some reason stuff like funk, black cherries and roasted malts don't completely mesh in my opinion. Interesting to say the least and the alcohol gives a nice pop at the end but overall this is a really good beer, just not great.

08-05-2011 19:46:31 | More by clayrock81
Photo of TonyReaves


3.88/5  rDev -0.8%

I love Stillwater's different takes on saisons. It's more interesting than all the IPA variations we're getting lately.

Poured into a tulip from the dollar store.

The aroma is spicy and chocolaty at once. A woody smell. Pours brown to black. Had a fizzy head that subsided pretty quickly.

Flavor is a bit sweet with burnt notes. Medium-to-light bodied, this beer is dryer than you'd expect from the color, but faithful to the style. Carbonation is lively, even if the head disappeared quickly.

Personally, I enjoyed this a lot. It reminded me of the dry, spicy ales a lot of brewpubs serve in Montreal. The high carbonation makes a slow sipper for me, which is a nice change of pace this summer.

08-03-2011 01:59:35 | More by TonyReaves
Photo of Reaper16


3.43/5  rDev -12.3%

11.2oz. bottle -- best before June 2012 -- served into a tulip glass

Pours a deep chestnut brown color. This beer looks nothing like a Saison, and I can't really rate the appearance to style because the nature of this beer's experimentation (i.e. bringing dark malt flavors to the Saison style) necessitates an nontraditional look. This would be a fine looking English Porter: that nutty dark brown body plays off of the two fingers worth of khaki head, creamy on top but composed of medium-sized bubbles. After the head dissipates a bit, I can start to make out some lighter brown shades around the edges of the glass, giving the beer a color close to a glass of cola. It looks good for a beer of this color, so I suppose I will rate the appearance as 'good.'

The aroma, though, is a place where I do feel comfortable rating to style. How well does Stillwater's dark malt experiment work in terms of aroma? Not incredibly well, I don't think. But it is certainly unique and intriguing. The initial smells are all fruit and sugar: sweet stonefruit candies, granulated sugar. Then a slight dusting of cocao powder wafts over before yielding to a massive amount of bread crusts. Like straight-out-of-the-bag, Wonder Bread crusts. I was hoping for more of a Black IPA or India Porter type nose, but this is fairly benign. I desire some roast character. Then again, the thinking could be that roast would take away from the farmhouse ale aspects of this beer. The beer starts off like a too-strong Saison, then gives way to the bread, but then more yeast aromas start muscling their way into the fray. Some dentist's office phenols and musty flower shop scents bring up the back end of the nose. The mustiness really become stronger with warmth, taking those bread crusts and making them into more a graham type scent . I'm kind of digging this nose, but I don't think that it's anything better than average for the style. The darker malts just aren't doing anything positive for the beer, and in fact might be contributing to the odd mustiness and the slightly-off phenols.

A Saison darkly fares much better on the palate in terms of acting like a farmhouse ale. That abundant bread character from the nose does not show up at nearly the same strength when drinking the beer. Instead you get a sweet milk chocolate-like base for the yeast to play around on. There's plenty of fruit here, both slightly dark and sightly citirc; the best way I can describe it is that it tastes like a mix of blueberries and sweet ruby red grapefruit. The phenolic structure of this beer, as in the nose, is affected by the darker malts. My mouth tastes like it's been to the dentist's office. The flavor is so reminiscent of the general anesthetic that my dentist uses. Some good black pepper & red flowers cut through the phenols on the finish. I like a lot of this beer's individual components, but I find that it isn't a cohesive beer on the whole. This beer doesn't deftly transition from first sip through the midpalate and onto the finish, it just harshly leaps from startling flavor to startling flavor.

The body is still well within the Saison wheelhouse despite the addition of these darker malts. I do appreciate the carbonation, which is not prickly but still manages to give a fine, gentle scrubbing. The only thing holding this beer's mouthfeel back is that it doesn't finish as dry as a Saison should. A Saison Darkly is just a bit too juicy to warrant high marks for the style. Overall, this is a perplexing, unique take on the style. It doesn't cohere, but that's the price of experimentation. I think this beer is well worth trying, and I do enjoy it more than the score might indicate.

07-28-2011 03:35:06 | More by Reaper16
Photo of nhindian


2.58/5  rDev -34%

11.2oz bottle poured into a Cantillon wine glass.

Batch #2, best before October 2012.

A - Pours a chestnut brown color with some dark hints in the middle of it. A bubbly head quickly rises from the depths, finally culminating in a 2-fingered head with moderate retention. It leaves pretty quick, but a half-finger cap lingers behind. Lacing is pretty low, not leaving foam.

S - The nose is much fainter than I would've expected, and bears almost no similarities to a typical saison. There's some burnt and even roasty notes here, as if it's trying to be like a Black IPA. Outside of that, some yeast and floral notes are buried here, but aren't readily apparent.

T - As in the nose, the taste brings elements of roast and chocolate, which honestly I don't think melds with the saison backbone nicely at all. The spices, hibiscus, and floral qualities also add a third element which doesn't quite fit anywhere as well. Strangely smokey and overly malty. Not a fan.

M - Mouthfeel is relatively light-bodied with high carbonation. A decent feeling beer, and finishes rather dry which is nice as well.

D/O - Drinkability is moderately low. Can't say I'm not disappointed in this one, especially for $5.99 a bottle (although the price doesn't factor in to this particular rating). A nice concept, but I'm not sold on it as you don't get much benefit from either the saison or the malt here without the other interfering. I'm glad I tried it, but won't be seeking it out again.

07-26-2011 06:06:11 | More by nhindian
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +2.3%

A Saison Darkly has a label that looks like the cover of a Tool album and a body that looks like something extracted from grounded coffee beans. As its name suggests, this is much darker than a typical saison, an opaque brown with a prune-like gloss, but it still sports the style's foamy, creamy capping (though it too is brown instead of white).

The beer may have been brewed with hibiscus and rose hips but it smells more like it's been mixed with mesquite - it has a sweet, nutty note and plenty of hickory-like smoke. I'd love to marinate a big slab of pork in this. As for drinking it, yea, I'd like to do that too, although more for curiosity sake than enthusiasm. The yeast overpowers all other elements.

This flavour of bruised dark fruits and nutty-sweet malts is more like what I'm accustomed to tasting in Belgian dark ales, but I swear to still be tasting a little bit of Texas barbecue. The smokiness becomes more roasty in the aftertaste, leaving a note of coffee in the finish. Yeasty spices redolent of black peppercorn and nutmeg show up on the palate too. I've never had Schisandra berries but I definitely started tasting something berry-y since I knew to look for it.

The brewer may have taken inspiration from farmhouse ales, but this far more resembles the dubbels and dark ales of Trappist monasteries (and it has English pub-like elements too). It has a delectable candi/brown sugar sweetness with lots of fruity esters, very mellow carbonation and a lot of lingering, herbal savoriness. A dry, woody, chicory-root note takes hold on the finish, mixed again with the dried berry taste.

I've only had a few of Baltimore’s Brian “Stillwater” Strumke's offerings but he seems to me like someone who might hold the secrets to the pyramids - all his ales appear cryptic, are mysteriously crafted, built to last and seem to harness almost metaphysical properties. This one is no less interesting or engaging and, like the others, is one I'd gladly buy again.

07-25-2011 02:28:44 | More by biegaman
Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne


3.78/5  rDev -3.3%

Bottle label reads, "Batch #2 best before October 2012.". Pours a deep coffee brown with a minimal tan head, zero lace.

I smell banana bread to start and a bit of plum. Not much happening, but still appealing.

The taste ups the experience a bit. Dark, fruity malts start the taste, a burst of carbonation reveals a touch of banana and earthy hops. The finish has a bit of booze and spices. Not much carbonation after the fizz burst but decent going down.

I'm always jazzed to try something from Stillwater, I love their creativity. Though not every brew blows me away, they're all fun. This one follows suit. Good, but not great. Definitely makes me interested in trying Vol. 1 and 3 though.

07-23-2011 00:07:20 | More by OBeerMeGreatOne
Photo of glid02


4/5  rDev +2.3%

On-tap at the Brick Store.

Pours a slightly hazy chestnut brown color with a cream-colored head that leaves decent lacing.

Smells of dark malts with hints of roastiness. Also present are moderate amounts of spices – allspice and cardamom – and slight dark chocolate aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Slightly dry dark malts up front are joined quickly by slight amounts of medium fruits and spices. Midway through the flavor profile dries out further after roasted malts come into play, carrying through to a mildly bitter ending. Mouthfeel is good, with smooth carbonation.

Overall this is another solid saison from Stillwater, but I’ve yet to have a dark saison that I really enjoyed. This one was one of the better that I’ve had though, and is worth a shot.

07-22-2011 15:55:56 | More by glid02
Photo of benclimbs


3.93/5  rDev +0.5%

Pours black with a tiny bit of head and no lacing

Nose is good but pretty simple a mix of toasty malts and Belgian double character mixed with a hint of spice

Taste is very nice a great stout/porter bitter malt kick added with a spicy farmhouse style ale base with Belgian yeast coming through

Overall an interesting and easy drinking beer - interesting twist on a classic as well

07-10-2011 00:45:30 | More by benclimbs
Photo of Knapp85


4.22/5  rDev +7.9%

This beer poured out as a nice deep brown color. Plenty of head on this brew. It's creamy looking and tan in color. The lacing I found to be pretty attractive. The smell of the beer had elements of a normal Saison as long with some dark wheat beer elements too. Some aromas of clove, grains and soft fruits. The taste of this beer was pretty good, lots of earthy flavors and spice throughout the beer. The mouthfeel was very smooth and had a decent thickness to it. Overall I enjoyed this a lot, I found this dark Saison to be much better than the Tom Foolery from Terrapin.

07-07-2011 17:05:05 | More by Knapp85
Photo of drpimento


3.28/5  rDev -16.1%

Poured with a large, foamy, tan head and no lace. Color is a cloudy dark brown with some very active bubble trails. Aroma is bananas, yeast, musty, malt, a bit of other fruit and roasty. Flavor is way more sweet than the more traditional saisons and has more fruitiness but does still have as the yeast bitterness. Body is ok and carbonation is good (helps cut the sweetness). Finish is like flavor and the sweetness dominates and is longish. Ok as a dark ale, but not much of a saison.

07-06-2011 04:12:20 | More by drpimento
Photo of Viciousknishs


3.7/5  rDev -5.4%

A- pours a dark almost black mahogany. A finger of dark tan head rests upon this sultry looking brew. Recedes into a thin ring of bubbles. Decent looking brew.

S- starts of with a simple toasty character with a dark chocolate note. The middle is all floral aromas with a predominate rose character with a hint of herbal berry. Finishs with a spicy saison ester with a cake malt personality.

T- this beer reminds me of a swartzbier. Slight toasty chocolate flavors with a bready malt. Spicy saison esters mix in with a floral rose hip and hibiscus burst. A herbal berry like note dances in and out the palate. Finishs dry and fruity.

MF- effervescent slick mouthfeel with a frenetic carbonation and playfull lighter medium body.

D- ok drinkability. Overall this is a good beer with some interesting characteristics however it just lacks something to push it over the edge. Worth having and I'd have it again if offered to me.

06-29-2011 03:36:55 | More by Viciousknishs
Photo of Rifugium


3.5/5  rDev -10.5%

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's beer garden, Media, PA

Poured a dark chocolate color, not quite opaque, with a nice off-white head. Smell was of mildly semisweet chocolate and roasty malts. Taste was similarly of roasty dark malts, grains, perhaps hazelnut, and light sugar, causing this beer to somewhat resemble a dunkel or light-bodied porter more than a typical saison. Just a mild alcohol sensation came through. Medium bodied, and pretty easily drinkable, especially if you like the dunkel style.

06-28-2011 12:53:03 | More by Rifugium
Photo of hannydawg


3.65/5  rDev -6.6%

Poured form a bottle into a Duvel tulip

A- Dark brown with a one finger tan head that quickly dissipates with minimal lacing.

S- Roast malts dominate, with hints of coffee, cocoa powder, and dark fruits. Bready yeast smell is also present.

T- Pretty much follows the nose with the roasted malts dominating, but coffee and chocolate following as well. a bit of spice and that yeast as well.

M- Just about right body for a saison, but could have been a bit drier.

O- Decent beer, but I certainly would not search for this beer again. Lacks the essence of a typical saison, and blurs the line between styles a bit too much for me.

06-23-2011 05:37:47 | More by hannydawg
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +2.3%

Appearance: Looks like a Belgian stout, what with an opaque chocolate color and a tightly bubbled foamy head; outlines the glass with a streak of lace

Smell: Roasted grain, filberts and unsweetened baker's chocolate

Taste: Opens with the roasted grain flavors and moves in a toffee and filbert direction by mid-palate; after the swallow, the unsweetened chocolate adds depth but the finish was very dry

Mouthfeel: Medium body with gently, but frothy, carbonation

Overall: While I liked the beer I cannot help but think that something was missing, and that something was the interesting yeast character that I look for in a great saison

06-16-2011 01:04:22 | More by brentk56
Photo of andrewinski1

New Hampshire

3.1/5  rDev -20.7%

Poured into a tulip. Very dark color bordering on black. There is a giant tan head.

The aroma is dominated with roasted malt that yields mostly bitter char and slight coffee like aroma.

The taste starts out dry with bitter malt flavors. This tastes mostly like a dry stout with a gentle spicy yeast kick.

This is relatively light for a stout but on point for a saison. The carbonation adds a nice crispness.

Overall this is decent, but unremarkable. I don't get these dark saisons; the best parts of saisons are too fragile to hold up against roasted malts.

06-10-2011 04:32:32 | More by andrewinski1
Photo of ChimRichels


4.08/5  rDev +4.3%

12 oz. bottle

A - Cloudy brown, very much opaque. Thick, dense head resides slowly and leaves plenty of lacing.

S - Belgian yeast and the aromas that go with it (clove/spice). Hop presence is muted by the assertive spicyness.

T- Oddly enough, I got a strong taste of bacon. There is a bit of a smokyness and savory taste. Not as spicy as the smell led me to believe. Malts are prominent and give a very rich chocolatey and toasty flavor.

M - Full bodied, rich, and smooth. Very good.

O - I would definitely drink this again if it weren't so expensive in my area.

05-12-2011 03:21:01 | More by ChimRichels
Photo of ThoreauLikeAGirl


3.98/5  rDev +1.8%

poured from bottle into a tulip glass.

Poured deep dark brown in color. no light coming through. lots of carbonation. 3 finger off-white head. receded slowly. lots of lacing.
Nose: spice (clove?), roast malt.
Taste: spicy and roasty chocolate right away. bready malts. very non-traditional saison. not like a typical 'crisp' saison - only slight presence of earthy hay flavor normally present.
some bitter smokey flavors coming through.

enjoyed this beer. mainly because of its departure from being a typical saison. it's one of stillwater's better beers. nothing overpowering like some of the other stillwater brews that were trying to be different.

05-11-2011 01:37:22 | More by ThoreauLikeAGirl
Photo of avalon07

South Carolina

3.68/5  rDev -5.9%

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a thick, cloudy texture. There was an inch of creamy, fairly long-lasting head. Average lacing.

S: A different smell than I expected: Very malty, with a bit of the saison funk in it.

T: Tasted strongly of malt (strange for this style), a bready quality, that funk. Slightly grainy as well. Didn't have has much of a fruity tinge to it as some saisons. Not quite as dynamic as others.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Not a bad beer, but not as compelling as I would have liked.

05-11-2011 00:06:58 | More by avalon07
A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2) from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
88 out of 100 based on 219 ratings.