Sensory Series V.2 - Small Black - Stillwater Artisanal Ales

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Sensory Series V.2 - Small BlackSensory Series V.2 - Small Black

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BA SCORE
83
good

121 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 121
Reviews: 34
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 10.16%
Wants: 1
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: dbrauneis on 07-23-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 121 | Reviews: 34
Reviews by micropale:
More User Reviews:
Photo of chinchill
3.69/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle, date stamped on neck as bottled in July 2013, served in a Belgian snifter.

This hybrid ale poured wth a minimal tan head over a clear, very dark brown body.

A number of odd hybrid coming out lately, some of which seem questionnable or prove to be less attractive than the conventional components. This "schwarzbier / saison hybrid" sounds like it might fall in this group, but Stillwater succeeds in making a compelling case for this particular innovation. The saison side, being a more powerful variety anyway, does dominate the black beer, but doesn't enitrely mask its sweet dark roasted character. I found the result to be less challenging and easier drinking than an average saison. Certainly more complex and interesting than the average schwarzbier.

Feel: medium+, lively carbonation in a medium body.

Photo of ianjsullivan
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

ST: 12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Black with red tints, root beer foam, spotty lacing.

S: Lemon, orange, stone, funk, maybe a light hint of smoke.

T: Lemon, grapefruit, stone, smoke, burnt, hoppy.

M: Medium, dry, coarse.

O: The aromas of a saison are noticeable as soon as the cap is off the bottle, an interesting counter to the black color of the beer. The pleasure of disjointed sight and smell does carry through to the flavor. Most of the elements of a saison are upfront though muted, citrus, stone funk. The flavor continues to lose some of the zipp of a typical saison as some smoky malt takes over, finishing with a hint of hop.

Photo of CloudStrife
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled on July 1, 2013

A: Pours a clear dark brown appearing almost black in the glass with a slightly tanned head. Head is fairly quick to dissipate. A few spots of lacing on the glass.

S: Mild farmhouse aroma blended with roasted malts. Yeastiness comes through nicely adding some depth. Bit of sweetness and hints of chocolate.

T: Yeast is in the forefront of this beer and carries the flavor. A solid dose of chocolate compliments the roasted malt. Banana flavors a fairly strong.

M: In the middle between feeling watery and having a creaminess from the yeast. Low to moderate carbonation. Finish is a touch sticky.

Overall its a well crafted beer just not what I normally expect from Stillwater. Seems to be a bit lacking in what it could have been.

Photo of alphagnome
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance:
This is the first beer of this style that I have personally had that is pitch black. I get absolutely no light penetration with this one! Crowned with an airy, beige, finger-thick head that settles with time. Light carbonation & minimal lacing - it almost looks like a Pepsi.

Aroma:
The aroma on this one is a thing of beauty - generous roasted malt provide a backbone to pepper, lemon peel, plum, a nice amount of yeast, and earthy spices that I can't quite identity but coriander is definitely in attendance. It's impossible to stop smelling, there is so much here - each time I take it in I pick up something new. I'm in love!

Taste:
Roasted malts, fig, plum make up a very nice, refreshing saison that is haunted by the faint presence of coffee and hints of black Licorice and bitter cocoa. As this one warms, black Licorice becomes more noticeable.

Mouthfeel:
Carbonation hits you quick with this one, it's dancing from the second it hits your lips until you swallow. Body wise, this is pretty light with plenty of bubbly and finishes semi dry.

Overall:
This is an interesting take on the style and I would happily grab this one again, if I were lucky enough to find it!

Photo of socon67
3.71/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Black pour with visible carbonation. Dark cola brown color with a thin foam head.

S - Smells of lemon and berry. Some sour notes in the aroma.

T - Tastes of tart citrus with some bready yeast in the finish. Some dark malt is detected. Many subtle notes to the is beer including some berry flavors as the beer set.

M - Carbonation is a little high for the style. Light bodied beer. Perhaps a tad watery as well. Leaves a pleasant tart bite in the finish.

O - Stillwater is one of the banners of the saison style. Decent beer, but I've had better from them. I've yet to really embrace the dark saisons as compared to their traditional cousin.

Photo of Fatehunter
3.23/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a finger of tan head on a black body.
The aroma is milk and roasted malt, but nicer than that sounds.
The taste has a dull bitterness that borders on metallic with a roasty malt profile towards the end.
The texture is crisp with a lot of fizzy carbonation.
It has a good flavor but the carbonation level was too high.

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a very dark mahogany brown with a fine one finger light brown head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of saison yeast, toasted malt, mocha, light citrus. Initial flavor of toasted malt that quickly changes to dry citrusy saison with mild citrus rind, earthy spicing; finishes dry with light spice and hop bitterness. Light bodied with peppery carbonation. The combination of toasted malt and saison yeast is interesting and worked pleasantly, but the flavors were subdued and the finish was a bit stark from the promise of the initial taste. Stillwater doesn't seem to make anything that is not well crafted, but this one was not that exciting.

Photo of minterro
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bought at the Perfect Pour in the Source for about $3. Cool label as always with stillwater. Poured into a pint glass (almost a full pint, bottle was super full), paired with popcorn.

Bottled: 07/01/13

A&S: Fizzy light tan head fades very quickly retaining just specks. Beer is a lighter black and lively, but still opaque. Primary sour complemented by some background mild roast tones.

T&M: Initially not much taste (and overall not very intense), but as it warms roasty qualities come forth. There is a solid peach like fruitiness and pepper spice that comes through in the mid-taste. The finish is ever so slightly dry and slightly smokey. Very drinkable. Body is light and carbonation is medium to high.

Overall: I know it is a black saison so it's going to be different, but to me, it just didn't contain the enough presence of the traditional saisons qualities. Not a bad beer and I'm not upset cause it was worth 3 bucks, but I wouldn't buy it again (not one of my favorites I have tried so far from them).

Photo of jmaharaj
3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Looks nice, black with two finger, dense head, but that disappears quickly. not as rock as I would have expected. Smells pretty good too, some Belgian esters, blend nicely into a restrained roast, there is a tough of spicy hops. strong cardamom. taste is weird, slightly tinny and not very complex. mild debittered roasted malts and that's kind of it. mild sour note on the finish. Unpleasantly thin. Im usually happy with my Stillwater beers, but I don't like this.

Photo of ZoomanCru
2.33/5  rDev -36%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.25

App: Very dark, more in line with a stout. Small amount of reddish hue towards the outside of the glass. Thick head of small bubbles, again more in keeping with a stout, dark head however that fades quickly.
Smell: Dark earthy notes but not without that certain saison sharpness.Not nearly as floral, definitely leaning towards the malt end. Slightly sour aroma with notes of wet wood and figs.
Taste: Dark roasted malts in the beginning, giving way to a crisp but mild saison finish. Lacks the floral wallop of most saisons. Slightly bitter throughout with a mild metallic sharpness that's off-tasting. Repeated sips yield stronger but no more complicated flavors. Saison sourness with almost no sweetness. Smokiness never really harmonizes with yeast flavors.
Mouth: Slightly over carbonated. A bit stinging at first, only serving to mask the initial deep roasted malts. Thin without any mentionable body.

Photo of dbrauneis
3.87/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 07/01/13

A: Pours a very dark cola brown in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation and some faint ruby red highlights. The beer has a half finger tall fizzy light beige head that reduces to a large patch of very thin film and a slightly more than thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark malts with some dark fruits (plum and fig) as well as some hints of spices and an earthy yeast.

T: Upfront there is a light to moderate flavor of dark malts with some notes of dark fruit (plum and fig) and spices - coriander and a touch of orange zest. There is also some earthiness from the yeast. Minimal amounts of bitterness in the finish.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied with slightly heavier than moderate amounts of carbonation. Hints of dryness in the finish.

O: Overall this is a very interesting blend of the saison style with the dark malts. Nice and light on the mouthfeel and easy to drink.

Photo of jlindros
2.75/5  rDev -24.5%

Bottled 7/01/13, more than a year old, not surehow it got so old, between store and my cellar I guess.

Pours a smaller fizzy darker head that disappears pretty quickly, mild lacing, dark pretty much pitch black beer. 3.75

Nose some dark malts, a little cocoa and roast like but not much, black malt like, into saison with some grainy wheat and toasty malts, even a touch of pilsner like, with nice saison yeast, peppery phenols and touches of chemical phenols, spices and herbs, esters, faint herbal earthy hops. 3.5

Taste brings more phenols, all over phenols, chemical almost paint thinner like phenols but not quite that chemically, hot tingly acidic phenols, and peppery spices with the phenols. Mild saison yeast herbal notes and spices, into herbal spicy hops as well, little vegetal and oily feel too, almost rancid oil. Flashes of darker malts that sour a bit. Finish is spicy hop note, herbal vegetal like, more chemical phenols lingering too. Probably should have been enjoyed a year ago. I'll have to try it again I think. 2.5

Mouth is a bit chemical burny, sticky almost slimy, over carbonated as well, and touch oily like. 3

Overall either not very good beer, or way too old, probably both though seeing the fairly high rdev and lower ravg. So need to try again if I can, but not very good. 3

Photo of PPOmaha
3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aroma: Roast with just a bit of sourness. Red wine grapes and stone fruits. No diacetyl, No DMS.

Appearance: Dark brown with mahogany highlights. Slightly off white head that falls quickly.

Taste: In line with the aroma, very slightly tart roast malt. Finish is like unripe stone fruit, tiny bit of tannic quality.

Mouthfeel. Medium body with medium carbonation. The finish is slightly drying.

Overall: OK beer has the classic dry and tart saison yeast finish but not much stands out here. Maybe the roast malt drowns out some of the subtlety of the style.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.11/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter at Firkin.

More dark saisons need to find their ways to taps 'round here. Just sayin'. This one pours a dark ruby-highlighted black-brown topped by a finger of khaki foam. The nose comprises cocoa powder, toasted wheat, a pinch of clove, and a bit of candied orange peel in the distance. The taste brings in more of the same, the focus being on cocoa-laden wheat, but some Belgian-style yeast, some clove, some black pepper, and some banana peel making some major waves in the glass's industry. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a dry finish. Overall, one of the better dark saisons I've had in a while. True story. Get some.

Photo of Mojo
3.74/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle -> snifter

A - opaque black with foamy two finger head, great retention, and minimal lacing.

S - oranges, lemons, grasses

T - very strong lemon taste with a crabapple tartness, bitter but dry finish

M - thick body with a very slight aftertaste

O - easy to drink, not something I would seek again.

Photo of dar482
3.92/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a black color with a slight bit of ruby coming through in the light. It has a tan head. Looks similar to a porter/stout.

The aroma has a hint of tartness, plum peel, saison character of lots of breadiness. Roasted malt. A good amount of phenolic note from the yeast. Some spices, licorice.

The flavor has a stout character with roasted malt and chocolate, it moves onto this complex gentle tartness of plum peel. There's a breadiness and continues with a phenolic saison flavor. The finish is slightly dry with roastiness and licorice.

Lots of carbonation on this one.

Tons of flavor for a 5% ABV beer and does the Belgian stout/black saison style really well.

Photo of GRPunk
3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle (dated 07/01/13) poured into a Duvel tulip.

A- 2-finger, brown head. Near black body. Head drops to a foamy lace. Consistent bubbling in the middle apparent only at the surface due to dark body. Little left on the glass.

S- A little powdered chocolate at first. Some berry-like sweet and tart characteristics. Hints of raisin? Licorice? Some black pepper.

T- Raisin and licorice are in there. Some chocolate, maybe even coffee-like. A little sweet and tart cherry/raspberry.

M- medium body. Slightly chalky. Moderate-light carbonation.

O- These crossover beers are hit or miss for me. As a fan of traditional saisons, this beer veers a bit too much for my tastes and becomes too stout-like. Taking expectations out of the equation, it's very drinkable. Maybe I'm not going to buy it again, but glad I tried it.

Photo of DefenCorps
3.81/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle from the Belmont Station. It's been a while since I've had a Brian Stillwater beer. Bottled 1st July 2013.

Pouring a very dark brown (black, essentially) with a dense, brown head with good retention and a little lacing, this is a nice looking saison. The nose is solid, with a moderate roasted malt character, a mild smoke note, a very nice (continental) floral hop character with mint and grass. Yeast isn't super expressive here, I gather this is supposed to be a saison/schwarzbier hybrid, and based on this sample, the schwarz is winning. A rather clean yeast character is present with minimal phenols. Very nice

The palate opens moderately roasty with a little bit of smoke and a very nice bittersweetness. This really does taste more like a schwarz than a saison, especially since the yeast is very clean and the blend of minty and mildly lemony hops with the malts bring exactly that style to mind. Grainy bitterness/acidity is minimal, and there's a very enjoyable grainy fullness to the palate. Medium-light in body with a roasty, chocolatey finish, this beer has a high levelof creamy carbonation. Very enjoyable

Photo of carlos_fleico
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%

355ml bottle poured into a wide-mouth snifter.

A: Pours a black, dark color, similar to a porter, but thinner, not nearly as viscous. About three fingers of an off-white head with low retention - dissipates quickly, leaving some lacing behind. Just by looking at it you can tell it isn't a stout or porter, because of the firmness of its head. (3.75)

S: Smell is very pleasant. Some roasted malts (less than you would expect for a beer this color), wheat cereal grains, a very refreshing and delicate tart citrus-like aroma, hints of cocoa. Hints of earthy hops, herbal and yeasty. (4.75)

T: Follows the nose on many aspects. Roasted malts right upfront, but not nearly as aggressive as it is in stouts or porters. The saison funkiness (a little stronger than usual) kicks in right after, with a spicy, peppery touch. The hints of cocoa are definitely noticeable in the taste as well. (3.75)

M: Light-bodied, high carbonation, dark sweet bread aftertaste. Very crisp and fizzy. (4)

O: Very interesting beer. Its "saisoness" comes pretty much all from its tartness, because the citrusy hints are very subtle, pretty much limited to the aroma paired with some tartness. I'm glad I tried this brew. (3.75)

Photo of kemoarps
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Just what it says on the tin (or bottle as the case may be...): it pours a cola black. Nice little tan head that dissipates fairly quickly leaving me with less lace than a pair of granny panties. dah well.

Smell is grainy, with a burnt character to it. Like if part of a granary burnt down. There's a crisp almost-sweet note underneath but this gives way to the earthy graininess and a touch of kitchen spice.

Taste follows suit. All malts, all the time. Grains with more-burnt-than-roasty edges. There's a little touch of those kitchen-cabinet spices in there too, though I can't quite put my finger on which ones it brings out.

Very drinkable, it quenches the thirst, just doesn't really stand out to me. Wouldn't go out of my way for one, but I'd drink it if someone gave it to me

Photo of Norvelljeff
3.84/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Look is dark black with a red hues and a full white/tan head.
Smell is kind of hoppy? Defiantly some earthiness in there.
Taste is light and very earthy with noticeable hops. Nothing outstanding here.
Feel is a little slippery.
Overall it taste very good but I don't think i would pick it up again if I had the chance.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.4/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Bottled 7/1/13.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt, grain, earth, spice, and yeast aromas. Taste is much the same with slightly sour roasted malt and fruit flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an above average beer with an interesting sourness in the taste that clashes somewhat with the roast aspects in my opinion.

Photo of jwhancher
2.69/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Picked up a bottle at Pinnoccio's in Media on Thanksgiving day. Bottled on date reads 7/1/13. Poured into snifter for review. Appears black with large tan head. Smell is really dormant. Some earthy tones but overall nothing that really pops. Maybe some really subtle phenols but pretty BLAH for any saison standards. Tastes like a stout that was fermented at higher than normal temps. Mouthfeel is about medium. More on the bitter side as dryness along with the dark malts completely mask any residual sugars.

Overall, this one is a dud for me. My first Stillwater brew for me. I hope their lineup is much better than this.

Photo of AgentMunky
3.76/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a brandy snifter. Listened to with the appropriate music.

A: Dark black; opaque. Nice white head.

S: Smells like a saison, with a light roastedness and tinge of soap. Belgian yeast.

T: Very light-bodied, almost lagerish. Roast is very light, and Belgian yeast is appreciated and noticeable. Interesting and nice.

M: Lightly carbonated and appreciated. Well-bodied.

O: It's okay, but not incredible. I wouldn't buy another.

Photo of akademiklee
2.86/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not my flavor pallet but I'm new to the saison world and never had a black.

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Sensory Series V.2 - Small Black from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
83 out of 100 based on 121 ratings.