Contemporary Works - Surround
Stillwater Artisanal Ales

Contemporary Works - SurroundContemporary Works - Surround
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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #1,915
Ranked #7,086
4.02 | pDev: 8.46%
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Maryland, United States
Contemporary Works - SurroundContemporary Works - Surround
Notes: Imperial Oak-Smoked Wheat Stout.

Like a sound system that fills the room with audibles swarming in every direction. This massive stout overtakes your senses with aromas & flavor of dark chocolate, caramel, roast, smoke, earth & wood, It's heavy I know, but you have to drop that bass every once in a while if you really wanna get down.
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Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 240 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of EMV
EMV from Pennsylvania

4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Inky black pour with 2 fingers of fluffy brown head. Great lacing.

S: Strong and roasty... smoke, coffee, and oak.

T/F: Follows the nose. Rich and charred.... French roast coffee, burned sugars, wood, and dark chocolate. Light smoke but not overpowering... works well with the woody flavor. Bitter roast with sweetness coming through mid swig. Medium to full bodied... creamy and smooth. More roast and smoke at the finish.

O: A big rich sipper of a stout. Strong flavor and very tasty.... one to savor as it warms.

Feb 09, 2019
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MaltyPythonsHopCircus from Canada

4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours quite dark with small tight tan head that dissipates quite quickly. Nose is subtle smoke, chocolate and licorice. Those follow onto the palate as the flavour opens up with bakers chocolate, coffee grounds, licorice, tobacco and a hint of wood

Feb 09, 2018
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biboergosum from Canada

3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle - an 'oak smoked imperial wheat stout'. Yeah, about par for the course for this brewing concern.

This beer pours a solid black hole, with not even the barest of basal edges, and two fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and somewhat creamy brown head, which leaves some heady border wall (in theory) lace around the glass as it lazily recedes.

It smells of gritty and grainy caramel malt, bittersweet cocoa powder, dry cafe-au-lait, some plain dark orchard fruitiness, a further hint of toasted wheat cereal, some ethereal wet char, an equally faint generic oaken woodiness, and a sense of alcohol love unrequited. The taste is rather dry chocolate wafers, sort of reduced wheat and pale malts, a still subtle oakiness, some free-range wet ash, muddled dark stone fruit, day-old coffee, very earthy vanilla, and some fairly well-behaved big-boy booziness.

The carbonation is quite active in its perky frothiness, the body a decent medium-heavy weight, and not particularly smooth, as the char, weird graininess, and burgeoning heat all perform a negative number right about here. It finishes trending very dry, the cocoa and java notes carrying us right on out past the velvet ropes.

Overall, this is yet another offering from this outfit (one that seems to be the American version of Mikkeller - yeah, I know, San Diego, and all that - which is not a compliment), that has just too much going on to really be worthy of any sort of perceived balance or basic appreciation. I admit, I was curious upon first sussing this one out, but now, I'm not so sure.

Mar 01, 2017
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Harrison8 from Missouri

3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours black with a finger of dark caramel head. Head foams up fairly quick, with extremely tight foam. Retention is modest, with a little lacing left behind. Smoke, and roasted malts at the front of the aroma immediately give a dark presence. Wheat, and malted barley bring the aroma slightly out of the darkness. Flavor profile is oats, smoke, roasted malts, malted barley, and wheat. Live earthy characteristics mingle with charred and burnt earthy flavors. Finishes a little bitter. Mouth feel is a grainy, almost ash-like suspended in medium-thick liquid. Overall, smoke characteristics are strong enough to be at the forefront, and yet are not totally off-putting. Well created, with a solid, earthy experience.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

Feb 14, 2017
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bushbeer75 from Michigan

3.89/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz brown bottle - bottled on 113:15

Stillwater Contemporary Works - Surround has an almost black body with a slight red cast. An easy pour produced a short [1/2-finger] dark tan head. Light lacing clung to my tulip glass. The nose picked up the pleasant aroma of dark chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit. The taste matches the nose with caramel, and burnt toast also noted. Grapefruit hops showed-up at the finish to provide a light and lingering hop aftertaste. The body is light-heavy for its style. The mouth feel is smooth, and a little chewy. Medium carbonation is noted.

This Imperial Stout is not too filling for the style making for good drinkability.

Feb 02, 2017
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pattysykes from Australia

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle, opaque black with thick red-brown head that didn't last long. Smoke, sweet malts and dark fruits in the aroma. Tastes sweet malt, smoke, raisins and some dark chocolate. Aftertaste mostly smoke and raisins. Full body. Very enjoyable beer.

Jan 29, 2017
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AccipiterofBeer from New York

4.19/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

L: fiver. Wow. Such a tantalizing pour. Large, nutty brown head over a deep black body.
S: 4. Roasted malts, chocolate. A bit of a nutty quality. Hops.
T 4.25 Dry. There is a wheaty presence. Bitter coffee. Plenty of hops. This is a bitter brew.
F: 3.75 Overwhelms the palette. slight alcohol burn. A slow drinker.
O 4.25 what a find. I would it another give it a go if I ever come across it again.

Dec 26, 2016
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hoptheology from South Dakota

3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Just...damn. Love this pour. Motor oil obsidian black with an angry reddish brown head of 2 fingers. Sticks around awhile, too.

Not much on the nose except for dark wheat. Lactose. Maybe a little roasted barley, a little penny. Clay.

More bitter, roasty, and smokey than anything. Absolutely zero sweetness. A crisp herbal bitterness mixes with a dark wheat malt, a hint of liquid smoke, penny, ash, bbq pit smoke. As it warms it grows more bitter and metallic.

A palate punisher. Real thick and viscous, with an ashy dry roastiness.

Overall, the zero sweetness in this stout is getting to me. Still, the roastiness is impressive and I'd recommend it for others who don't like much sweetness in their stouts.

Nov 15, 2016
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oberon from North Carolina

3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours jet black into a goblet with a creamy billowing mocha colored head atop.Sweet alcohol dipped dark fruit in the nose with some mild toasted oak underneath,quite sweet.Sweet raisin/prune notes upfront on the palate with slight bitter chocolate and coffee roast underneath,the dark fruits and alcohol play a really big role.Not bad but the dark fruit and intense alcohol sweetness is just really in charge here with the smoke/oak taking a my opinion.

Aug 05, 2016
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threeviews from Florida

4.77/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle (Julian BOD: 315:15 = 11 November 2015) into a 16oz Belgian ballon/snifter glass

A - Like an imperial stout should, Surround pours a viscous, pitch black with a coffee colored head reaching about 1/2 a finger before quickly disappearing. (5.0)

S - If you said this was aged on wood, I would believe you. It is a beautiful trifecta of savory smoke, oak, burnt coffee, chocolate and vanilla. (4.75)

T - The Oak-smoked malt, overly roasted coffee, bakers chocolate and some sweet vanilla dominate the flavor profile. It finishes dry and for 10% ABV, the drinkability is so high that it is absolutely dangerous. (4.75)

M - Here is where the contribution from the wheat takes effect...full bodied and luscious which coats the palate. The texture is velvety, like a liquid version of a fudge cake drizzled with a vanilla cream icing. (4.75)

O - Surround absolutely ranks not only as my favorite beer from Stillwater, but one of my all-time favorite imperial stouts, rivaling another favorite and truly wood aged beer: Palo Santo Marron. The 10% ABV is completely hidden, the flavor profile and mouthfeel are gorgeous and a 4-Pack is reasonably priced. Although a year-round offering, I just wish it was more readily available in the markets that receive Stillwater's brands. (4.75)

Jul 30, 2016
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Slatetank from Pennsylvania

4.29/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I tried this from the bottle chilled in a snifter and allowed to gradually increase in temperature to breathe.

The color is black, opaque with thick medium brown head with fine bead and spots of lace that stick with very good retention, there is a cascade of gradual brown to black as the beer is swirled. The smell is great - it is definitely a smoked beer as evident in the aroma with a nice dark cocoa complimentary aroma from malt and subtle woody/alcohol spiced accent. The feel is excellent very nice balance of malt with some smoke in the feel adding a dryness which is great to prevent from becoming cloying. The carbonation level is just right with a subtle bitterness in the middle and some warming alcohol in the finish.

This is a seriously tasty smoked stout - the base of roast and chocolate in the malt provides a great foundation for a smoked character that is not overwhelming but adds a woodiness with the hop flavor to compliment the slight toffee-like flavor with a gentle pine-like taste as it finishes with an almost peppery alcohol yet the smoke lingers on in a pleasant way with dark toasted grain flavor. This is a high quality 10% smoked stout - one of the best with the flavors described I have had the pleasure to experience lately. The way it is so drinkable for being such a big beer is great I could easily have consumed 2 or 3, but am glad I took time and savored this bottle.

Jun 22, 2016
Photo of Roguer
Roguer from Georgia

4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beautiful dark brew, with an ebony body and topped with a strong mocha head. Good retention.

Nice roasty aroma: dark fruit, fruit bread, roasted barley, and a touch of yeasty esters coming through. Just a touch of smoky char.

Aroma translates well to the palate: it's a chocolatey, roasty, banana-and-coffee-tinged smoothie. A touch boozy, it's an assertive big beer.

Nice bitterness from the roast. Nothing super special, but damn good all around.

Mar 19, 2016
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SportsandJorts from Virginia

4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a pitch black color. very slight mahogany along the smallest edges. a centimeter of a dark brown head with good retention and leaving behind a good lacing. viscous and leaves behind a brown film as it swirls. completely dark and opaque.

Smell: strong dark malt qualities, roast, char, dark fruits, burnt qualities. sweet malts mostly in caramels and chocolate. some smokiness but mostly blends in with the burnt malts.

Taste: opens with some roasted malts, opens up a bit with some syrupy sweetness ranging from maple syrup to a little bit of molasses. burnt, charred and smokey qualities come in strongly. more sweet malts give notes of caramel and lighter notes of dark fruits. end has a little bit of earthy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: not quite chewy but certainly full. bitterness lingers, coming mostly from the burnt malts and smoke.

Overall: a nicely done dark and smokey brew. nice balance on all the flavors with nothing stealing the show. stillwater shows they can cover the spectrum of styles the more you try.

Feb 09, 2016
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chinchill from South Carolina

3.64/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle served in a goblet.

A: Dark brown body is viscose and opaque. It's topped with a mocha colored head that has decent retention and leaves ample lacing.

Aroma: dark roasted grains with hints of charred hardwood, toffee and black licorice.

Flavor: strong dark roasted grains with some coffee, dark chocolate and charred wood.

Mouthfeel: Thick, very full body; medium carbonation.

Overall: exceptionally strong flavors of very dark roasted grains with some charred wood notes.

Jan 19, 2016
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GreatStoutman from Texas

4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottles 05/15.

Pours like motor oil and looks creamy. Black body under dark tan head, which backs down quickly , leaving a thin chocolate ring.

Smells awesome. Fresh out of the fridge I was picking up what I think was the wheat components, but now that I've given it some time I get all kinds of chocolate and malts. Maybe vanilla or fruits... very rich.

Comes in thick and chewy, not much carbonation to be had. Some of the alcohol pops up but is pushed back by the bitterness of the hops... this breaks up the sweetness right before a touch of smoke.

Overall, I don't have the best pallet and a lot of the time I'm guessing, but these flavors are so rich that you would have to try not to taste them. This is an outstanding beer, and I'll definitely be stocking up.

Jan 16, 2016
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infinitebruner from Arkansas

4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

January 3, 2016

12 oz. bottle, snifter

A – Deep black, opaque, and thick though it appears to have decent clarity. A quarter-inch of milk chocolate tan-brown head, with low retention.

S – Vanilla and low wood smoke, very similar to what you’d find in a traditional rauchbier. Milk chocolate forms the backbone. Some fruitiness that’s hard to peg, like a mild cherry impression. Very complex.

T – Wow, definitely a smoked-malt beer. Very traditional, much like the beechwood-smoked malt found in rauchbier, though I know it’s actually not from the description. Some mildly acrid but not unpleasant bitterness from the smoked malt leads the way. Some vanilla and chocolate, and light coffee, follow along with stone fruit, cherry pits. Moderate bitterness comes in and increases on the finish.

M – Fairly thick, full-bodied, with moderate-low to moderate sudsy carbonation. Bitterness from both the smoked malt and hops is high. Sweetness is only up front, disappears around the middle.

O – Very complex, a great, balanced use of the smoked malt where that’s not even the most prominent feature. Excellent.

Jan 15, 2016
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buschbeer from Ohio

3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12 fl oz bottle
Served in a snifter

This beer pours black with an inch of dark mocha head that leaves some lacing as it recedes.

There is plenty of smoke. I also pick up on a little dark chocolate.

The taste is plenty smoky as well. I get some acrid smoke and some bitterness. I taste some roasted malt and burnt toast, too.

Full mouthfeel with low carbonation

I was thinking my palate may be off today due to coming off a congested nose, but it tastes just like it smells. I was hoping for more balance between the smoke and traditional imperial stout flavors.

Jan 07, 2016
Photo of Tone
Tone from Missouri

4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a black color. One inch head of a tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of smoke, sweet malt, slight wheat, hint of pale malt, slight wood, alcohol, hint of roasted malt, and a hint of hops. Fits the style of an American Double / Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of smoke, slight wheat, roasted malt, slight sweet malt, hint of hops, alcohol, and a hint of yeast. Overall, complex in body and aroma, great appearance and blend.

Dec 19, 2015
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orangebison from New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Jet black pour, with the thinnest of deep tan films. Espresso, dark chocolate and lots of warm, toasty character in the aroma. More sweetness in the aroma as it warms. Intense roasted flavor, earthy and toasty, slight vanilla. Not so much smoky as savory, with a bitterness reminiscent of fresh coffee grounds. Lots of sticky legs down the glass, and dark berry flavors come out as it warms. Long, espresso-like finish. Astonishingly smooth for 10 percent. Compares very nicely to one of my all-time faves, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, but there's some palate fatigue from the very intense roasted flavors before polishing it off the second 6 ounces.

Dec 18, 2015
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barnzy78 from Illinois

4.49/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, Julian dated 113:15
A - thick jet black pour with a darker brown head that hangs around for a good while
S - smoked malt, dark chocolate, woodsy, coffee
T - big and roasty with smoke, dark baker's chocolate, coffee, roasted barley, ashy black malt, earthy hops, faint oak
M - full body, modest carbonation, alcohol is well concealed, balanced finish with roast and smoke lingering
O - great utilization of the ingredients (namely the smoke and wheat - although I would never notice there was wheat in it) creating a unique imperial stout. I really dig this one.

Oct 26, 2015
Photo of cbutova
cbutova from Massachusetts

4.14/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- Bottle to tulip pour with a motor-oil-black body and a very dark mocha brown head. The crown peaks at just about a finger with a thick and very creamy texture; great retention. Once the cap falls it is a massive pillow and thick ring depositing sheets of lacing.

S- Very high aromatic strength, I can smell the glass from three feet away! Chocolate, deeply roasted grains and a touch of dark fruits are the three things I get right off the bat. Further sniffing reveals heavily roasted coffee, smoky malts and bitter cocoa.

T- As the nose and appearance suggested this brew is massively roasty, bitterly burnt and all things blackened. Heavy bitter unsweetened chocolate, borderline-burnt toasted nuts, slightly sweet dark Crystal malts, raisin/plum dark fruits, woody smoke and deep Espresso coffee beans.

MF- Just about as thick as it gets with a texture that is intensely chewy and silky smooth. Puffy with a medium-high carbonation and ends with a lingering roasty, burnt bitters.

Drop that bass indeed. This beer is a beast with layers of flavor complexity which is impressive considering how roasty and burnt it is. Intense but anyone who likes roast and smoke will surely enjoy this one.

Oct 24, 2015
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Ri0 from Wisconsin

3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark obsidian with a thin dark brown head, very thick. Small spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of charred wood, smoke, burnt coffee...get the picture? Does not have any sweetness in the aroma. Flavor is a dark bitter stout with oak, char, hints of smoke. There is some very bitter chocolate even hints of dark fruit. Reminds me of an RIS. The feel is very thick and heavy with light carbonation. This one is a sipper that intensifies in flavor as it warms. Rather complex.

Oct 12, 2015
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aquazr1 from California

3.87/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Smokey goodness. This beer pours dark black with a tan head. You definitely pick up the oak. That is followed by the roasted malts and some hop bitterness.

Oct 09, 2015
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Pencible from Virginia

3.07/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.5

A: This poured a totally opaque black with thick dark tan head.
S: It smelled like earthy mocha and pumpernickel bread, with a little molasses and oak.
T: It tasted like bitter dark chocolate and unsweetened coffee, with metallic and waxy hops and a little molasses and oak. It had a dirty bitter aftertaste.
M: It was thick and chewy with moderate carbonation. Great big body.
D: This was an odd brew that didn't look like I expected, and didn't smell like it looked, and didn't taste like it smelled. And almost no smoke character anywhere. The result is that it looked amazing, smelled ok, and didn't taste that great. The body was awesome, but the finish was a little rough, so it wasn't very easy to drink. Age may help this disappointed brew gel. Fresh is not very pleasant.

Oct 06, 2015
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Ciocanelu from Romania

4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black color with dark brown head. Aroma has sweet dark malts, some coffee and a hint of dark fruits. Taste starts also a bit sweet and fruity but gets smoky, roasty and bitter to the finish. Aftertaste has roastiness, coffee notes and also a slight grassy hoppiness. Body is heavy and smooth with just the right amount of carbonation. Very complex and enjoyable imperial stout.

Oct 05, 2015
Contemporary Works - Surround from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 240 ratings