Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

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

Not Rated.
Sensory Series V.2 - Small BlackSensory Series V.2 - Small Black

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

34 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 34
Hads: 123
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 12.01%
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.
View: Beers (32) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 34 | Hads: 123
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.4/5  rDev -5%
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. (605 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
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! (936 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
4.11/5  rDev +14.8%
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. (686 characters)

Photo of jlindros
2.75/5  rDev -23.2%

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 (1,310 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
3.86/5  rDev +7.8%
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. (1,274 characters)

Photo of chinchill
3.69/5  rDev +3.1%
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. (827 characters)

Photo of dbrauneis
3.87/5  rDev +8.1%
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. (1,003 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
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. (693 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
3.81/5  rDev +6.4%
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 (1,136 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
3.76/5  rDev +5%
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. (462 characters)

Photo of dar482
3.92/5  rDev +9.5%
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. (682 characters)

Photo of Fatehunter
3.23/5  rDev -9.8%
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. (323 characters)

Photo of MacQ32
3.69/5  rDev +3.1%
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 (379 characters)

Photo of socon67
3.71/5  rDev +3.6%
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. (650 characters)

Photo of garuda
3.4/5  rDev -5%
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. (638 characters)

Photo of SLeffler27
3.56/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours very dark walnut (SRM 25) with ruby highlights. A frothy chestnut head reaches three fingers, lingers, and then drops to a quarter of an inch sustained. Patchy lace coats the Cisco Fisheye pint glass.

The aroma contains burnt sugar and soap with a hint of chocolate.

The flavor is sweet and modestly spicy with toffee and bread dough in a short, mild finish.

A light-to-medium body accentuates a soft texture without any alcohol present. Carbonation is light.’\

This is an easy-drinking, but uninteresting saison. It is refreshing at the end of a cool, sunny summer day. (582 characters)

Photo of larryi86
4.1/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- Black with a two finger light tan head.

S- Roasted malts, a little bit of chocolate, some fruits, pepper, earth yeast.

T- Really nice, chocolate, roasted malts, light fruits, orange zest, peppers, earthy spices, very enjoyable.

M- Smooth, nice carbonation, light to medium body.

O- A nice unique black Saison. Worth trying, definitely since it is falling on the cheaper end for a beer from Stillwater. (442 characters)

Photo of Jadjunk
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

No label information. Small Black is brewed in the style of a black saison. Available in 12 oz. bottles.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a tulip glass. Served above 53º Fahrenheit.

Small Black pours a frothy fizzed milk chocolate head over a deep dark brown body with slight crimson highlights. Retention is good, lacing is moderate and stringy. The aroma is similar to a standard Saison, with a pale malt and caramel body, hints of banana and clove amongst a spicy, effervescent yeast nose. Expect a hint of chocolate and some faint roast to mark this different from standard Saisons. The flavors of this beer are quite different, with a significant funky sourness joined by the fruitiness and spice of the yeast profile cruising over an unsweetened cocoa powder and soft cold roast body for a very unique blending of flavors that merge surprisingly well. Texture is silky, slick and moderately acidic with a soft carbonation for a delicate, mildly crisp mouthfeel. Body is medium for the style, medium overall. The balance is slightly acidic and tart over sweet. Alcohol presence is low. I'm not certain if the high acidity and funk in the flavor is intended or not, as earlier reviews do not seem to call to this, it is possible that some batch infection has set in with a few select bottles, mine included. Overall, this was a very interesting and enjoyable beer to try. I recommend it to anybody with a deep appreciation for the Saison style looking to expand into hybrid styles. Small Black should not disappoint.

Stillwater Artisanal Ales'
Sensory Series V.2 - Small Black
3.75/5.00 (1,593 characters)

Photo of BeerWithMike
2.69/5  rDev -24.9%
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. (725 characters)

Photo of GRPunk
3.67/5  rDev +2.5%
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. (822 characters)

Photo of CloudStrife
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
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. (800 characters)

Photo of kemoarps
3.6/5  rDev +0.6%
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 (787 characters)

Photo of Mojo
3.74/5  rDev +4.5%
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. (320 characters)

Photo of minterro
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
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). (1,018 characters)

Photo of jwhancher
2.69/5  rDev -24.9%
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. (625 characters)

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Sensory Series V.2 - Small Black from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
82 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.