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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

90 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 90
Reviews: 26
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 10.71%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: dbrauneis on 07-23-2013)
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Ratings: 90 | Reviews: 26 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ZoomanCru
ZoomanCru

Colorado

2.28/5  rDev -37.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2013 06:45:04 | More by ZoomanCru
Photo of BeerWithMike
BeerWithMike

Nebraska

2.65/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Sampling right now on 4/11/14. Bought this single 12 ounce bottle for $3.29 last night. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees in my beer cooler and poured in to a handled glass stein.

Pours a pitch black in color with a almost 2-finger head that settles down after a while to around 3mm that covered the top. Spotty lacing is seen that clings to the glass. The aroma is of dark roasted malts with a spice, maybe coriander (?) The taste is bitter right up front from a sour roasted malt. At first I thought I had a bad brew but couldn't read the date that looked like 'Dec.--, 13'. I checked some reviews on this one and others wrote that this is sour. Very close to dumping it out but seen to just get a tad better BUT not much.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2014 02:52:53 | More by BeerWithMike
Photo of jwhancher
jwhancher

Pennsylvania

2.68/5  rDev -26.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2013 23:18:45 | More by jwhancher
Photo of QuentinCall
QuentinCall

Georgia

3.09/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Initially ineffectual Coca-Cola collaboration.
That with exposure, moments of hands,
Warmth, an incalculable number of minutes
(for further perception's sake),
Became basically pleasant.
Though, unwarranted or impenetrable in a way
That is merely black so as to be black,
And not in the charge of nuanced virtue or spirit.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2013 20:25:29 | More by QuentinCall
Photo of jmaharaj
jmaharaj

Maryland

3.14/5  rDev -13.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2013 06:00:54 | More by jmaharaj
Photo of garuda
garuda

Pennsylvania

3.39/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

Super deep ruby, nearly black. Thick, fluffy off-white head retains and laces well.

I'm getting a yeast funk typical of saisons up front, then it gets a little spicy with a dark fruitiness in the smell.

Yeast, lemon flavors first, rounded out by a vague, dark fruit sweetness with a touch of chocolate. Earthy pine hops in the finish, but only a slight bitterness is detected. There's some depth of flavor, but it doesn't seem to meld very well for me. Not really digging the dark fruit flavors after getting that saison funk. Mostly sweet and dry with a very light body and delicately high carbonation. Stays smooth across the palate.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2013 23:04:17 | More by garuda
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84

California

3.39/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2014 02:27:02 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin

Colorado

3.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

definitely not the best from Stillwater here, a paper thin acidic black saison that never really picks up. thought it would be good for Halloween, but its to small, more than the name implies. its watery dark brown in color with a pretty solid off white head that fades out after just a few minutes. nose of light chocolate malt and roasted barley, whiffs of saison yeast, but in the background. very acidic feel and finish, overcoming the roast character and amounting to very little as far as aftertaste and takeaway. cola style carbonation makes the whole thing move too fast, and with the odd mix of flavors and textures, this one misses for me. its short of being a sour, but is almost trying to be. its all or nothing, not on the fence, and this one just doesn't commit. I wont hold it against Stillwater though, who has done nothing but impress me heretofore. ive got the cellar door in the fridge, so second chance is immediate!

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2013 00:33:30 | More by StonedTrippin
Photo of kemoarps
kemoarps

Missouri

3.59/5  rDev -1.4%
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

Serving type: bottle

08-18-2013 22:01:09 | More by kemoarps
Photo of GRPunk
GRPunk

Michigan

3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2014 00:57:17 | More by GRPunk
Photo of PPOmaha
PPOmaha

Nebraska

3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2014 00:44:26 | More by PPOmaha
Photo of MacQ32
MacQ32

South Carolina

3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a deep mudied brown/damn near black with a nice finger of light mocha colored head, decent retention, strong lacing.

S - Some sweet but mostly roasty/slightly smokey malts, lots of sweet caramel, minimal cloveyness.

T - Decent roasty with hints of sweet malts, caramel, light dark fruit, yeastyness

M - Light bodied, relatively thin, good carbonation, very drinkable

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2013 04:08:53 | More by MacQ32
Photo of chinchill
chinchill

South Carolina

3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2014 00:05:08 | More by chinchill
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber

Washington

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.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2013 03:08:21 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of CloudStrife
CloudStrife

New York

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.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2013 03:15:26 | More by CloudStrife
Photo of AgentMunky
AgentMunky

California

3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2013 04:47:45 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of minterro
minterro

Colorado

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).

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2014 04:26:54 | More by minterro
Photo of DefenCorps
DefenCorps

Oregon

3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
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

Serving type: bottle

08-26-2013 06:23:02 | More by DefenCorps
Photo of MasterSki
MasterSki

Illinois

3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Extra from SourAddict. Thanks! Served in a DryHop taster pint.

A - Generous tan foam settles to a thick, creamy cap, leaving behind stray splotches of lace. Body is very dark brown, verging on black, with some dark ruby transparency when held to the light.

S - Roasted malts, with hints of dark chocolate and caramel. Phenolic and peppery yeast presence is there; but I would probably guess Belgian Stout if asked to label this. There's perhaps a hint of stone fruit in the, and perhaps some floral hopping lingering after nearly four months in the bottle.

T - The taste is significantly more Saison-esque; there's more doughy and yeasty farmhouse flavors. Some under-ripe peach and apricot. Roast and dark chocolate show up later, imparting a mild bitterness. Flavor combination is surprisingly successful.

M - Grainy medium body, with active carbonation that manages to avoid being harsh. Clean finish that is more evocative of a Schwarzbier than a Saison. No alcohol, not that I expected any.

D - A really easy to drink beer that I enjoyed on the whole. There's an odd disconnect between the aroma and the taste, but not in an unpleasant way. Drinks more like a farmhouse schwarzbier than a black Saison. Liked this more than the similar 8% offering from Stillwater.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2013 01:26:07 | More by MasterSki
Photo of ianjsullivan
ianjsullivan

Maryland

3.86/5  rDev +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.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2013 19:43:38 | More by ianjsullivan
Photo of dbrauneis
dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-23-2013 01:07:26 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of dar482
dar482

New York

3.9/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2013 04:21:34 | More by dar482
Photo of alphagnome
alphagnome

Iowa

3.93/5  rDev +8%
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!

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2013 03:04:46 | More by alphagnome
Photo of BierJager89
BierJager89

California

4.08/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with a mocha head.

S: Peach, orange, a touch of roasted malt and fruity Belgian yeast esters in the nose.

T: Peach, malt, a touch of roasted malt, pine, lemon and citrus peel.

M: Medium bodied and smooth.

O: This is a good dark saison, but it doesn't quite blend the dark, roasty flavors with the light fruity flavors as some others do. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2014 00:31:18 | More by BierJager89
Photo of TMoney2591
TMoney2591

Illinois

4.1/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

08-15-2013 20:48:13 | More by TMoney2591
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Sensory Series V.2 - Small Black from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
82 out of 100 based on 90 ratings.