Vacuum Readymade
Stillwater Artisanal Ales

Vacuum ReadymadeVacuum Readymade
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American Black Ale
Ranked #210
Ranked #16,450
3.89 | pDev: 9%
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Maryland, United States
Very Good
Vacuum ReadymadeVacuum Readymade
Notes: What is with the paradoxical term 'Black IPA' anyway? Whatever it is, we do love black beers.. also smoked beers, and of course everyone loves hops these daze.. A complex blend various smoked, caramel and subdued roasted malts lay the base for a combination of piney, dank and (dark) fruity hops.. While there is a lot to contemplate with this beast, just be sure to enjoy it without getting too sucked into its enigmatic composition.
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Reviews: 36 | Ratings: 123 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by qchic:
Photo of qchic
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

More User Reviews:
Photo of dorianmarley
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Appearance is dark black with tons of sediment. Nice head that fades.

Nose is musty, with cigar smoke and dark chocolate.

Taste is cigar smoke and plum and red fruit and scone.

Mouthfeel is full. Terrific. Real alcohol bite but never too much.

Overall, flavor is simple, but everything works.

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Photo of BKotch
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of jdhilt
3.26/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a three-finger light tan head fades slowly leaving some lace. Black color, no highlights. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Piney hops nose and flavor is burnt chocolate with hints of caramel. Lingering bitter aftertaste. $4.49 for a 12oz bottle from Julio's Liquors Westborough, MA.

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Photo of oberon
3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep walnut brown with a thinner but well sustained off white head atop.Mainly roast,brown sugar, and char picked up in the nose,more like a porter than ABA.Earthy and resinous hops upfront on the palate,some caramel,lighter than expected smoke, and brown sugar in the finish,again more like a roasted/hoppy porter to me.

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Photo of Suds
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark, almost black beer, with a dense tan head. The aroma is of roasted grain and spicy hops, and there is a constant smokey scent as well. Not quite campfire, but a distant burning. The taste is intense....sweet and full, malty, but with a great hop bitterness. There is an alcohol warmth that kicks in after a few sips. Full in body. This one is quite good.

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Photo of far333
3.43/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Dark chestnut and opaque with a haf inh of frothy oatmeal colored foam. Interesting aroma of citrus and toasted malt, though a slightly metallic note rides along, perhaps from the alcohol.

Flavors of toasty malt and florals and citrus. Well balanced, but could use more hops and a bit less roast for my taste. There's more character to the malt than the hops, with subtle smokey notes, a bit leathery with feint cocoa, root beer, and leather.

Even mouthfeel, good beer overall.

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Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of smcolw
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Impressive head that recedes slowly and in a rocky fashion, leaving chunks of lace on the glass. The color of the liquid is nearly black where no light shines through. Lots of clumps of yeast sediment floating in the glass.

The smell is closer to a deeply toasted aroma than smoke. I can detect the latter because I know it's there, but probably would describe it differently if I hadn't known it.

Interesting flavor of stout, rauchbier, and IPA combined. Here's the breakdown: Black patent malt and (perhaps) chocolate malt create the stout flavors. The smokiness is less subtle in the taste than the smell, but it is more distinguishable to me. The IPA comes through in the hop and alcohol elements. Again, both are notable but very well blended into the overall brew. The body and carbonation are the only things I would describe as average, which is perfectly acceptable, of course.

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Photo of psmith161
3.69/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of biegaman
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Vacuum Readymade sounds like a silly name but it looks to be all business - it's black enough that the only thing left visible are the tiny flecks of sediment that sink to the bottom of the glass. It completely ignores the light, relinquishing no clarity or colour (except the khaki tone of its pudgy head).

This Black IPA has the familiar, expected profile of dank, piny hops and roasty dark malts albeit with unfamiliar, unexpected notes of bacon and sauna. It's hearty and smoky and seemingly designed specifically for cold, dark Scandinavian winters; it smells like singed twigs and burning leaves.

I'm intrigued and the taste does disappoint. It starts off like a bitter herbal tea, flavours of spruce bark and licorice root, with faint peppermint. Then roasted coffee and 90+% dark chocolate notes take over and quickly share the space with a mesquite-like smokiness I'd gladly slather on a rack of ribs.

Anything with this much resinous bitterness and smoky, roasted maltiness won't be for everyone. But those excited by unique and uncommon offerings should go ga-ga over the juxtaposition between forest flavour and campfire component, not to mention the trace of tropical fruitiness.

Vacuum Readymade combines one of my favourite styles (Black IPA) with one of my favourite flavours (smoke). American craft beer is about innovation, character, and aggressiveness and no beer integrates the message better than this one. Stillwater aught to be proud... and make it year-round!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick but spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains coffee, roasted malts, chocolate, and some hops.

T: The taste starts out bready with a hearty roasted malt character up front. Then some mildly sweet flavors of coffee, chocolate and a bit of citrus come in. The hops presence seems on the weak side for the style at first but it strengthens as you continue to drink the beer and provides a very good balance. The after-taste is slightly sticky.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, there are certainly several other beers in the style that I would choose before this one.

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Photo of Hellpop65
3.35/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Tone
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/4 inch head of an off-tan color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of strong sweet malt, alcohol, hops, slight wood, smoke, hint of pine, and yeast. Fits the style of an American Black Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of slight roasted malt, slight wood, smoke, strong sweet malt, hops, alcohol, and slight yeast. Overall, good aroma, body, and blend.

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Photo of dar482
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The beer hits of some earthy notes up front, almost like brown bag/cardboard, from a combination of the roasted and smoked malt. Then onto some earthy hops, a touch of citrus and dark brown sugar bready malt.

The hop profile is slightly disappointing and lacks a pop of hoppiness.

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Photo of tykechandler
3.5/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of tikk
3.86/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of biboergosum
3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle - what does the 'Readymade' part of the name here mean?

This beer pours a clear, very dark brown colour, with a near-teeming tower of puffy, rocky, and somewhat bubbly tan head, which leaves some splendid layered cirrus cloud pattern lace around the glass as it very slowly melts away.

It smells of roasted caramel malt, cafe-au-lait, some indistinct stone and berry fruitiness, bittersweet cocoa powder, and more leafy, piney, and estery floral green hops. The taste is bready and doughy caramel malt, a touch of free-range ashiness, ethereal day-old coffee grounds, muddled black orchard fruity notes, minorly phenolic yeast, and more leafy, piney, and gently perfumed floral verdant hoppiness.

The carbonation is quite light on its mainly frothy feet, the body a so-so medium weight, and sort of smooth, as the roasted characters seems to know when to lay off the gas in this respect. It finishes off-dry, the malt and generic fruitiness keeping tabs on the lingering char and hop acridity.

Overall, this is one of the better versions of this style that I've come across of late - the roast seems to be applied with a deft touch, and the hops are not obliterated in the process. The 16-proof alcohol component is also well integrated, making this one a somewhat enjoyable to drink offering.

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Photo of jera1350
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of avalon07
3.81/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a thick texture. There was a two inch, tan-colored, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A pretty good aroma of hops, roasted malt, and a bit of coffee. Sharper and lighter than I expected.

T: Tasted of an average amount of hops, some coffee, a tinge of smokiness, pine, roasted malt, a hint of chocolate, and caramel. The flavor here isn't as robust as other ABAs, but does have its charms. Subtle and interesting.

F: An average amount of carbonation with a somewhat thin finish. Medium-bodied.

O: In general, this is a worthwhile attempt at an ABA. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of nmann08
3.4/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Smakawhat
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Spiegelau IPA glass. Black and smoked? Hmm.. So we go with that!

Thick rich and four finger tall, deep tan and big head on creation but with control. Some small bubbles for the most part, and a creamy top. Will not budge, like a classic big IPA. Body color is real interesting dark mahogany and a big red ruby glow on the edges. Through the light some carbonation can also be seen as dark as it is. Very impressive.

Interesting nose. Light smoked malt aroma, and an odd sensing hop quality. Sort of a bit of a contrast, not a total clash, but not the biggest compliment either. Some nice tobacco notes, woody character, and leafy sweetness as well. Interesting to see how this turns out. After some time there is a slight hint of citrus tropics on the nose.

Well it is as described on the palate. Big leafy and controlled smoke notes with some big herbality it seems in the mid palate. Large charring and smokey finish, but with a good lingering hop bitterness. Charring gets and grows nicely, but also stays in control and keep the phenolic action way down. Excellent controlled smoke, bringing out the wood and earth real nicely. With some time the palate even manages some juiced hop qualities without clashing to bad.

A real different angle on a smoked beer, that came out pretty good.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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

Photo of liquorpig
3.77/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Vacuum Readymade from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 123 ratings