A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2) - Stillwater Artisanal Ales
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Ratings: 217 | Reviews: 114 | Display Reviews Only:
4.15/5 rDev +6.4%
So it began. Hobo tasting No. 7 commenced at Ingles on an overcast and slightly damp day. It was an impromptu event that really was not solidified until a couple hours before, but none the less went off without a hitch. As me and Calton chilled for a good hour enjoying some of the finer craft offerings in our multitude of glassware and bottles and growlers, one could only wonder how much better it could have gotten, enjoyed during a hell of a good time on 04/21/2011.
Caltons offering to the table this was one I had chased for a while but had missed on a couple of occasions, and was glad to finally put a notch in the belt for. Poured out a nice dark brown with light ruby highlights that popped up around the outside and edges of the glass when held up. A nice sized tan head pops up on the top of the glass and sits there for a nice bit of time before settling back down and leaving a good amount of lacing around the sides.
Aroma is dominated by raisins and dark fruit early on. A really nice blend of light spices, roasted malts and almost a Smokey note start to permeate the air as it warms up and starts to come around full circle. Light notes of chocolate even find their way into the mix along with earthy malt notes and touches of figs. This carries over very well into the flavor as the first sips just spill dark fruits and spiced run notes all along the palate and a rich roasted malt note really starts to let itself be known. Really nicely done and a great blend of flavors. Especially as it starts to warm and fully opens up. Small hints of dark spices finish off the flavor as it rolls off the tongue and a nice and smooth, clean finish is the result.
Overall really nicely done. Dark, fruity, hints of sweetness sprinkled in, just exactly what I would have wanted and very, very well done.
04-22-2011 22:40:14 | More by mikesgroove
3.38/5 rDev -13.3%
A: Clearly a very dark saison. A dark brown with a tan colored head that is pretty voluminous at room temp. Never seen a saison of this color, so it's hard to review by style.
S: Incredibly still has the main characteristics of a saison, with great citrus and grassy notes. Has an added malty sweetness and a twinge of alcohol aroma.
T: You would think this is a different beer after smelling then tasting. Loses all its saison quality and instead is replaced by a large malt presence with some bready and yeasty flavors. The citrus is almost non-existent and the crispness on the aroma is not translated to the palate. Has more of a Black IPA quality, with minimal hops. Hard to take points away, because this isn't a bad tasting beer at all. It simply doesn't taste like a saison though.
M: It's malty and medium bodied. Quite Belgian in the yeast profile.
D: Very enjoyable beer, way off style. Who couldn't like a Belgian saison though...
04-21-2011 23:19:00 | More by kiddynamite920
4.22/5 rDev +8.2%
Pours dark, chocolate brown with ruby hints around the edges. The head is big fluffy and tan, sticks to the sides stubbornly on the way down.
The aroma actually starts with some roasted chocolate malts and hints of darker fruits like plums. The spices, clove especially, are present but accentuate the dark character more than dominate it.
The taste is excellent and unlike any saison I've ever had. It really is dominated by the dark chocolate malts throughout. There is a bit of brown sugar underneath along with the spicy yeast. Nice dry and surprisingly roasty finish.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied with nice, strong carbonation. Very roasty with lots of chocolate.
This is a great saison and completely original. Love the chocolate backbone and the subtle use of the spices instead of the overpowering nature of the lavender in Of Love and Regret.
04-20-2011 03:31:09 | More by gford217
3.78/5 rDev -3.1%
11.2 oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Best before June 2012 on the bottle.
A: A careful pour still yielded a large, fine, fluffy tan head atop a nearly opaque body, a heavy crimson hue around the edges. Almost stout-like in appearance. Head lingers a good while.
S: A fairly muted nose--some alcohol, mild malt, and rising bread, with some clove notes. A little swirling yielded a distinct burnt sugar nose, quite pleasant, but all too fleeting.
T: Interesting--dominant impression is stout or porter, with rich roasted barley right off the bat and throughout the sip. The saison elements are there, namely a sort of wild/funky yeast presence embodied by some spiciness, but it seems lost in the excellent dark body. However, it's thoughtful and keeping my attention, and I quite like it--a good dark saison, but more on the dark side to me, a successful combination.
M: Good bubbly twinge that actually hides the booze I got on the nose. Nice, fulsome body makes for a relatively easy quaff at 8 percent ABV.
O: Overall, it's a good effort. As said earlier, it's more dark than saison, but a successful combination, and possibly a good way to get a stout lover into more enterprising yeast profiles. I'd plunk down the 5 or 6 I paid for this again, and start a night off with it.
04-14-2011 03:58:55 | More by wschmit
4/5 rDev +2.6%
11.2 oz. bottle poured into Allagash chalice. My 50th review.
A: Pours a completely opaque near-black with mahogany highlights. 2-finger mocha head with nice retention. Leaves a nice amount of lacing on the glass.
S: Roasted notes right off the bat; caramel, toffee, spice. Belgian yeast on the tail end of the nose. Smells very sweet.
T: Belgian yeast and roasted malts are up front here. Tons of phenols, cocoa and a slight oakiness. Finish is floral (but not nearly as much I had expected) and very faintly sour, with roasted flavors that stick around long after it goes down. 8% ABV is evident.
M: Very well carbonated and slightly chewy. Fits the beer nicely.
O: While a very nicely constructed beer, to call this a Saison - even a "Dark Saison" - is somewhat of a misstep as far as I'm concerned. In fact, I find this to be very reminiscent of Allagash's Black (Belgian-style Stout), although slightly less roasty. I enjoyed it, but at $5.25/bottle, will not seek it out again, and would recommend Stillwater's Import Series #1 to those who had to choose between the two.
A solid effort.
04-14-2011 00:40:24 | More by sk8man121
1.35/5 rDev -65.4%
Bottle from Dan at pinnochios, thanks man... or rather... no thanks. :) but seriously, you are awesome, this beer, isn't.
Pours with a head that desperately tries to escape the glass... dark dark saison... looks good.
The nose is a mix of saison and roasted... actually smells like vomit... and to be honest, tastes terrible, like death. if you can imagine what something that died a week ago tastes like... This review just got cut short. Drain pour. I am gagging. I don't taste or smell any off flavors per se, they just don't go well together. Bad.
03-26-2011 04:30:15 | More by crusian
4.03/5 rDev +3.3%
A- Poured into an oversized snifter... starts with a big light brown head with nice retention and decent lacing. Beer is black in color with very little light coming through
S- Sweet smelling. Malty, maybe some cherry aroma, and oddly enough, hint of smokiness
T- Starts out with some malty sweetness, caramel, and spices, then finishes with some added toastyness
M- Medium body with light carbonation
O- I don't recall what I payed for it, so I can't throw that in the mix, but all in all I'm glad I bought it this once and experienced it
03-19-2011 01:46:11 | More by bbeane
4.38/5 rDev +12.3%
Bottle -> Dogfish Head Chalice. Split with my buddy Greg on brewing/bottling day.
A - Pitch black, off-white head, fine bubbles. Little to no lacing.
S - Spiced dark fruit, roasty, slightly sour
T - It's an odd mix of spiced saison and dark roasted malt flavors. Somehow it works. Very enjoyable.
M - Carb pop adds a nice clean and crisp feel. Feels light to medium bodied.
D - Would get a few of these to keep on hand for when I'm in the mood for something different. Super easy to sip, not a hint of the 8%ABV.
03-12-2011 20:52:17 | More by tbrown4
4.22/5 rDev +8.2%
This one came recommended to me by Joe at Gordon's in Watertown. I have to admit that I am not crazy about all these traditionally lightly colored styles being brewed dark, but oh well. It pours out an extremely dark brown color, a shade or two away from being black. A small ring of lacing rises up, and stays throughout tasting. Pretty complex nose here, with some cola, brown sugar, maple syrup and ripe melon. Fairly spicy flavor, with many of the aforementioned smells showing up in the taste. The yeast and carbonation make this a pretty lively beer, with the body being somewhere in the middle. Alcohol is also well hidden, giving it extra points on drinkability. Any negative comments I made earlier, I take back. This is a damn tasty brew reminiscent of some of the best Belgian Strong Dark Ales out there. I will make it a point to try more stuff from Stillwater.
03-07-2011 23:54:17 | More by jamie2dope
4.33/5 rDev +11%
Poured from a 330 mL bottle into a globe glass.
A: Pours a pitch black with a one finger tan head that sticks around for a bit.
S: Floral, spicy, and hoppy, but no detection of roasted malts.
T: The money maker. Dark fruits, chocolate, and spices blended together perfectly, bitter roasted finish.
M: Smooth as can be, great carbonation, and medium bodied.
D: This goes down well, probably too well now that I noticed the ABV on it.
This tastes exactly how a Black Saison should taste in theory, and hopefully more brewers brew beers like this one, so this can eventually be recognized as its own style. It certainly tastes nothing like a traditional saison since it is much smoother rather than spritzy and crisp, and it has a great touch of roasted malt brewed in.
03-03-2011 04:44:30 | More by stimulus
District of Columbia
3.48/5 rDev -10.8%
11.2 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
Pours a dark charred brown, mild mahogany tones against light with a creamy sand colored head. Long lasting retention and little lacing.
Aroma is creamy, lactic, chocolate malt, floral, yeast and a slight berry presence in the finish. Interesting, but doesn't mesh very well.
Light body with strong, fine carbonation. Finish is thin and has a lactose-like creaminess to it. Flavor is similar to the nose, very interesting, but missing balance and cohesion. The fizzy carbonation makes it difficult to pick out details, but this much maltier and roastier than the nose with very light spice and berry sweetness.
I enjoyed this more than my scores reflect, but I was left with a nagging feeling there was too much going on competing for my attention. The thin body with fizzy carbonation didn't help matters. While Of Love and Regret has benefitted greatly from some age, I don't expect to be able to say the same about this.
03-03-2011 01:52:21 | More by yourefragile
4.4/5 rDev +12.8%
Poured from a bottle into a goblet.
Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with a little bit of light coming through at the edges. Initially, there are three fingers of tan head. The head dissipates, but a solid layer remains throughout.
Smell: This one smells quite good. Initially I pick up some sweet roasty cocoa. There is also a bit of Belgian spice. I also pick up a dry aroma that resembles oak.
Taste: Like the smell, initially I'm picking up a roasty, chocolate sweetness. There area also some hints of dark fruit and brown sugar. In the background there are some spice/herbal hints, and a bit of alcohol. The sweet roast remans throughout, but doesn't mute the other flavors.
Mouthfeel: Medium body and a bit slick on the tongue. The carbonation is on the high side. My only complaint is that I would like this to be a bit more on the dry side.
Drinkability: This is a very interesting good beer. I told my wife that I think we should try to pick up a few more bottles to see how this one does with more age. I think the flavors are very well balanced.
03-01-2011 02:19:30 | More by oline73
District of Columbia
4/5 rDev +2.6%
Nice dark saison, a bit monochord but pleasing.
Presentation: 33 cl brown capped bottle. Label with an intriguing illustration of a see through body upside down, like a classic anatomy illustration, surrounded by a dark background of berries and blue flowers. One liner noting that it is a dark ale brewed with spices, next to a side liner highlighting the import details. Notes best before 2012, and 8% Alc. by Vol. Served in a tulip glass.
A - Near black pour with dark brown edges, generous foamy head, good retention, and minimal lacing.
S - Roasted malt with a nice fruity sense, light floral touch over the yeasty sense.
T - Roasted range with the same light fruity and floral flow, light tartness, soft plum and yeast, It feels pretty compact and-or I´m unable to extract many nuances. Even as such it is well rounded including spicy and earthy touches as well as a dash of boozy caramel and chocolate in the late finish.
M - Medium-light body with medium carbonation, fairly smooth feel.
D - Pleasing flow without the dash to take it to a memorable level.
Notes: A nice offer from Stillwater, not a fav from their production so far but well worth the try.
02-22-2011 01:29:40 | More by Daniellobo
3.68/5 rDev -5.6%
On tap at Max's. A dark saison.
A: The ale is a caramel brown, dark with a mild radiance. A thin white head came along for a brief ride.
S: Dark malts, caramel and rye, drive the nose. The ale is very spicy, floral with a Belgian mustiness. A peppery sage aroma runs underneath the surface.
T: Herbal and fruity, this saison is unusual. The flowers were a little much at first, overpowering alongside the darker malts. As the ale sat, the sweetness emerged. Flowers and herbs are still the driving force, sickly sweet with plenty of sweet yeast by-products.
M: The darker flavors need some time to warm up, slow to emerge. When they do, the ale gets much more complex.
D: I'm on the fence. Complex? Yes but it takes a little long to get going. The Wine Source was all out of bottles, so I'm on the prowl for one to try from the comfort of my couch.
02-20-2011 21:02:53 | More by akorsak
4.5/5 rDev +15.4%
Deep, deep brown color with an enormous cocoa head on top that lasts quite a while. Moderate amount of roasted aroma. Mildly fruity with a deep, somewhat earthy spiciness. Great flavor-pleasant blend of moderate roasted grains, chocolate, a whisper of smoke and a certain spiciness. Nice lingering bitterness in the finish. Very smooth, almost sily mouthfeel against the bite on the back of the tongue. A great beer for sure-probably the best I have had from Stillwater.
02-19-2011 01:20:08 | More by lackenhauser
3.98/5 rDev +2.1%
"Happiness, he thought, is knowing you got some beer." - pkd
12oz bottle purchased at the stalwart Brawley's Beverage in Charlotte. "Best before June 2012" on the bottle. Absolutely stunning (and clever) label art. It seems my favorite sci-fi author is getting some street cred at last, inspiring beer labels and whatnot. I would buy a poster / tacker of this, it's that nice. A+ for presentation, Stillwater!
Into my tulip it goes!
A. Massive 4 finger tall light mocha head, creamy, rocky, pitted, foamy . Thick brown-muddy beer with flashes of red clay when held to the light. Head falls to 1 finger of dense tight even capp that lasts forever. No lace.
S. Big phenolic nose, lots of unripe apple, some candy sugar, roasty-char and a little soap. Pepper, some weird herbal notes. (I see later it is hibiscus and rose hips - no wonder I couldn't place it.) Very interesting and has some real "Belgian" yeast character that I associate largley with St. Bernardus. Quite interesting and unique, though a bit too floral for my tastes - the roast is a bit lost.
T. Still big phenol notes; this is not a sweet beer. Upfront: semi-tart, weird herbal (not hops), and I suppose if you try you can pick out the rose hips. Mid layer: pleasing roasted grain, full and expansive on the palate, going all the way down to the odd, warming, roasty-ester finish. Some crabapple and cranberry notes. Pepper, earth. Cola. Yeast too, even though I left the last half-inch in the bottle. Semi-dry, the light mouthfeel makes sure the flavor pops and grows on your palate. Highly unusual - reminds me of Unibroue and, dare I say, Jolly Pumpkin's offerings (sans funk of course). Almost a wisp of smoke if you exhale. I could ponder this for a while, but alas, I'm running late for a homebrew meeting as it is. Extra .5 for audacity and twitchiness.
M / D. Full carbonation, quite Belgian-bottle conditioned-esque. Warming in the throat, finish is attenuated malt, a bit of anise, roast grain, black bread, and that bizarre rose hips and hibiscus again. Rather pleasant if you weren't expecting anything remotely sweet.
I know it's a "Saison", but frankly, this defies style so much that I would go for broke and tweak it more. Dial down the (admittedly forward) flowers and up the candy sugar for more mouthfeel / sweetness and this could be even better, in my mind. That said, "A Saison Darkly" is a VERY fun beer, rather advanced, and quite enjoyable. Did I mention the bottle art was fantastic?
02-15-2011 00:00:22 | More by kkipple
4.15/5 rDev +6.4%
Poured into a tulip.
A - Pours a rich mahogany with some nice dark leather brown hints. There is a large 2 inch head that forms with some nice densely packed bubbles and a nice light cream color.
S - Slight dark fruit hints and some nice spice permeate the nose. Slight clove and vanilla and some nice slight caramel and brown sugar hints mixed in as well. There is also some slight funk on the nose.
T & M - Taste starts off with some bready grain notes. Some nice chalky yeast notes as well. The bread notes are intense and meld well with some slight caramel sweetness. This malty aspect of the beer is then cut and balanced well by some nice crisp and clean spice notes. Some slight vanilla an woody hints and some slight pepper notes are present. There is also some slight roasted malt notesThe mouthfeel is light and fluffy with some nice clean flavors and carbonation.
D - Quite surprised by this offering. Very nice mix or balance between an Belgian Dark Ale and a Saision.
02-10-2011 02:55:36 | More by JoEBoBpr
4.33/5 rDev +11%
A moderately aggressive pour fills half the glass with extremely delicate tan brown microfoam, so gossamer it's hard to say it has a steady dissolve. a little more lacing than you'd think given the character of the head. Dark brown colored liquid with a fair degree of murkiness to it, yellow aura, given its darkness the bubbles must be brawny and active because they are clearly visible. The nose displays a thickly constructed cocoa toast, very chocolaty, blending in orange peel, ginger spice, creamed coffee and lighter mintiness, the black cherry, blackberry, apricot fruit scents are nothing spectacular, however, there most of the time. Medium-bodied, the carbonation is tight and active from the first sip, brings a lot of energy to the show. Brings on all that cocoa, mocha, chocolate, more toast than roast so less coffee. Has a more sour side here, tart grasses as well as more biting orange, lemon citrus. Less baking spices, here more stuff like sage, basil or thyme, almost oily. Its dryness helps separate and highlight the various components. Parts fit together well, understated complexity. Just pour it way before you want to drink it.
02-10-2011 02:55:21 | More by farrago
3.73/5 rDev -4.4%
Pours a very dark brown color with a quickly rising semi-dark tan head. Head is on the fizzy side and settles rather quickly. Doesn't leave anything on the sides, but does keep a pretty full, thin lace.
Smells of dark malts, roasted and some dark chocolate in particular, with some earthy spice as well. As it opens up there is a bit of must and more spice, although I'm hard pressed to say what the spices are. There is a hint of tartness and some dark fruit on occasion as well.
Taste is even more roasty than the nose, with the dark chocolate there as well. The nose was heavy on the malt and the taste is more so. Very stout like. There is a subtle fruity flavor, an even more subtle mustiness, and then some black pepper and other indistinguishable spice in the finish. Pepper starts to build on the palate. As it warms an anise flavor becomes more apparent, as well. I am searching, in vain unfortunately, for more yeast character here.
Mouthfeel is a well carbonated medium body. It's pretty clean and finishes on the dry side.
This is the best of the 3 Stillwater beers I've had so far, but it's still not a great one. The Stateside Saison I found to be pretty bland, and the Existent was overly roasty. This has more character than the Existent, but still I have a hard time calling this a saison. I know that's a loose style designation, but I don't find any of the Stillwater beers to have much yeast character at all. I think the yeast strain is so important in a saison that to not even be able to find it is disappointing. This is more like a Belgian stout or something like that in my opinion. A pretty good beer from a brewery that, so far, produces only mediocre and pretty good beers.
02-02-2011 01:31:49 | More by number1bum
4/5 rDev +2.6%
A: The beer is very dark brown (near black) in color and poured with a finger high off white head that quickly faded away and left a ringer of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of dark fruits and spices in the nose.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and also has some flavors of chocolate malts.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a moderate to high amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is relatively easy to drink considering its strength because the alcohol is well masked from the taste.
02-01-2011 03:16:43 | More by metter98
3.85/5 rDev -1.3%
11.2oz bottle into a tulip glass.
A- Pours black with no light coming through with a huge khaki head that's loaded with carbonation. No lacing
S- Really strong fruity Belgian yeasts that gives off a nice banana and bready aroma with loads of spice up front. Slight coffee and roasted notes in there for sure but are very subtle. A good amount of citrus fruits in there as well, don't want to say lemon but maybe some orange peel, pepper, and some floral hops.
T- Woooah, crazy combination of strong roasted coffee and sweet Belgian yeast up front that is followed by a nice spice profile and sweet chocolate. alcohol is non excistant for %8
M- Medium to lighter body with moderate carbonation and a nice wet crisp finish.
01-26-2011 23:15:43 | More by Arenbeer
4.08/5 rDev +4.6%
Pours a very dark brown body, almost resembling root beer with a foamy tan head that is very quick to dissipate and leaves no lacing behind.
Traditional saison aromatics are present which after the pour I was skeptical about. Yeast, pepper, citrus and other spices dance from the glass. There is also something floral to this beer and if it's possible, I think you can even smell the carbonation, or at least it lights up your nose.
The flavor features generous citrus and pepper-like spice as well as yeast and even a tough to identify sweetness that is slightly boozy and may even be vinous, likely a result of the berries. As it warms, some of the roasted aspects you would expect visually seem to appear. This beer really changes from start to finish and is quite unique.
Generous carbonation and a light, and almost tart body that is a touch drying at the finish.
Clearly not your typical saison, I think this is a quality beer where the consumer can appreciate what the brewer was going for. I really enjoyed this and will be looking for it again.
01-24-2011 01:31:55 | More by CHADMC3
4.47/5 rDev +14.6%
A: Pours nearly black with a light brown head. Foam is soft and retentive.
S: Smells of dark malt and spice up front with a floral, almost wine-like finish, very inviting.
T: Begins with sharp roasted notes leading into a coffee and chocolate midpoint, and ends with a dry and crisp finish.
M: Much different than what I'm used to in a dark ale, very clean and with sharp carbonation. Loved it.
D: Definitely best aspect of this ale is its supreme drink-ability, almost all of the alcohol is hidden and the stronger notes don't accumulate on the palette. The crisp, dry finish is outstanding.
01-22-2011 06:53:03 | More by djt06001
4.1/5 rDev +5.1%
A: Pours a dark brown color hinting at black with a tan head. Brimming foam with excellent pillow-like retention.
S: It smells very herbal and floral. There a notes of chocolate and bread along with some notable fruitiness. A bit of funkiness lingers at the end of the whiff, very interesting.
T: The roasted flavor is much more pronounced than the smell. Chocolate and caramel are present with a hint of berries. The herbal/floral character surfaces in the middle and it finishes dry and slightly funky.
M: Light and bubbly, it expands magnificently.
D: This is a really interesting brew from Stillwater that I would not hesitate to pick up again. It is a bit of a style bender for sure!
01-21-2011 03:45:28 | More by Neffbeer
4.3/5 rDev +10.3%
333ml bottle into The Bruery tulip.
Pours deepest brown, bordering on black, with a towering, 4-finger rocky light tan head. Very nice retention as the head takes a long, long time to settle into a creamy cap, and excellent lacing as it does.
Nose is quite interesting; the lightest edge of roastiness, dry, sits on top of a nice mix of musty red fruit and a bit of a floral quality as well lending a bit of a light tartness, almost savory. There's a light sourdough yeast note as well.
Taste is really beautifully put together. Notes of light chocolate and a light, almost mead-like sweetness mix it up with a melding of spicy alcohol, floral, and tart notes. Very little in the way of bitterness. Wow, what an interesting beer - the floral qualities tend to leap out at you and dominate the finish, with the mild tartness that they bring along as well, though notes of cocoa sit underneath the entire time.
Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and mild, with excellent drinkability - alcohol is almost entirely hidden except for just enough spiciness to add some complexity. Floral notes may be a bit overdone, but still, beautifully done.
01-20-2011 20:06:32 | More by JohnQVegas
A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2) from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
87 out of 100 based on 217 ratings.