Critical Thinking | Stillwater Artisanal Ales

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Critical ThinkingCritical Thinking
61 Ratings
Critical ThinkingCritical Thinking

Brewed by:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Maryland, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by superspak on 12-26-2017

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Ratings: 61 |  Reviews: 18
Photo of Tone
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black color. Two inch head of a tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of strong alcohol, roasted malt, strong sweet malt, plum, spicy hops, and a hint of smoke. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is amazingly smooth and clean, with a low carbonation level. Tastes of strong alcohol, roasted malt, strong sweet malt, plum, spicy hops, and a hint of smoke. Overall, good appearance, aroma, feel, body, and blend.

 452 characters

Photo of dbl_delta
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler into pint glass. Pours an inky black with almost no head. Initial impression is creamy smooth dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, and alcohol. Mouthfeel is fairly thick, very smooth, and creamy. If I had to find a flaw, I'd prefer a little more body. Finish morphs from milk chocolate into a slight bitterness. Very good.

 333 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thinking critically about the current course of craft beer has the Stillwater beer makers looking at the past for inspiration. Landing at the classic Brittish styled imperial stout designed for the Russian royal court, albeit a big one. They like to say that the future is now, but this beer says that the past is doing so also.

Jet black and floating a dainty sandy creme of froth, Critical Thinking carries an ominously dark appearance toward the nose. Dark roasted coffee, baker's chocolate, roasted nuttiness and a nuance of grilled fruit roll onto the nose with a gentle drift of campfire under the roast. Hearty sweetness of molasses, browns sugar and burnt cream frames the malty underpinnings that pave the way in taste.

A slow retreat of sweetness has the roasted elements saturating the middle palate with ease. Espresso carries a more soilish Turkish coffee tone along with the earthiness of cocoa and the robust oiliness of black walnut. Burnt toast and brown sugar resonate into a late palate fueled with the broad bitterness of woodsy hops that further reinforce the coffee attributes. Blackcurrant, red grape and black cherry take on a roasted tone also with the tethers of vinous spice looming.

Full, creamy and warming, the beer's body is firm but somber. A long linger of smokey chocolate, smoldering embers, whisky spice and an overall earthen roast waltzes masculinely into the next long and savory sip.

 1,426 characters

Photo of avalon07
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Poured from a tallboy can to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick, opaque consistency. There was a two inch, creamy, tan-colored, long-lasting head. Pretty good, but not great, lacing.

S: A warm and toasty aroma of malt, coffee, chocolate, molasses, and vanilla.

T: Tasted of a decent shot of roasted malt (present throughout), a decent amount of dark chocolate, a hint of vanilla, some molasses, a little bit of marshmallow, and light hops. This wasn't as robust a flavor as I expected, but it's still complex and thick. The coffee almost dominates it, but the other elements come alive after awhile. Tasty.

F: A solid amount of carbonation with a dry, smooth finish. Full-bodied.

O: This beer has some minor flaws, but it's certainly likable. Very much drinkable.

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Photo of Av8r_patty
4.71/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Sludgeman
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of BayAreaJoe
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Gkruszewski
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Brutaltruth
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the tall boy can in a teku snifter. This most excellent RIS
pours a thick oily coal obsidian with a nice head of light brown foam
that subsides to a thick ring, thin wispy pool ,and shows some very nice
sudsy lacing. Nose of dark chocolate syrup, anise, deep roasted earthy malts,
sweet brulee, molasses, and marshmallow. Flavors far exceed the nose
with dark berry notes and sweet roasted anise surrounded in layers of
dark semi sweet chocolate with touches of dark coffee and dark
molasses that have been given light with brulee and marshmallow
notes. Moderately bitter herbal hops show on the rear with a nice
warming booze burn. excellent body; full mouth feel, lightly sticky,
slick, smooth, coating, warming, low carbonation, and a rich
chocolate and herbal hop tinged finish that provides
balance to this fine malt bomb.

Overall, a RIS lovers dream come


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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a borderline pitch-black color. The head is a finger high and khaki in shade. Retention isn't fantastic, but the head is soft and creamy nonetheless. A thin ring of lacing sticks to the glass.

The aroma brings many elements I expect from Scandinavian-style imperial stouts. Not only are the roasted qualities quite intense, but there's also a heavy focus on peat smoke and star anise. Dark chocolate exists subtly in the background, as does a hoppy flourish. To be fair, this is exactly how I want a stout to smell like - still, it strikes a great balance between the bold elements, while still hiding the 11% incredibly well.

Flavor-wise, it doesn't necessarily follow the aroma to a T. For starters, more dark fruit notes are tasted, and they play incredibly well with the licorice and roasted malts. Near the middle, the roast gives way to some chocolate and vanilla. The finish - not inappropriate for a big stout, mind - offers a decent hoppy bite of pine, grass, lemon, and earth. Combined with the roasty profile, it really brings the espresso-like quality in spades. Peat smoke seems to lurk throughout, adding its suggestions to all stages of the flavor profile. In many ways, it's less of an American/Scandinavian-style stout designed to blow the face off with dark chocolate and roasted malts; no, this is closer to an old-school RIS considering its bend toward dark fruity and hoppy flavors. In fact, it unabashedly exposes touches of alcohol - thankfully, the flavor integration and balance is excellent enough where it doesn't really matter.

While it has an incredibly creamy texture, it isn't the biggest or thickest feeling stout I've had (even from this brewery). However, it slides down the palate with ease. I really enjoy the dry, attenuated finish of this in particular.

Stillwater already makes a world-class imperial stout (In Fleek) - this is slightly lighter and hoppier, but there's a definite familial resemblance. FYI: if I'm comparing your imperial stout to world beaters like On Fleek or Even More Jesus, you're doing something right. This one is going on my "seek it out" list in the future.

4.11/5: No need to think about this one - it's just a tasty stout

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Photo of Brennan27
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Solid black in color with a coffee brown colored head. Smell is toasty espresso, licorice, and dark chocolate. Flavor follows similar to the smell, but there is a nice warming feeling from the 11% abv. Very solid stout!

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Photo of tone77
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A thanks to the czar of canned beer, woodychandler, for this beer. Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a black color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of licorice, chocolate. Taste is of roasted malts, licorice, alcohol, a touch of smoke. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is a good quality beer.

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Photo of RobinLee
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of WickedBeer
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of Dougwillhike
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of GregSemenza
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of DenverHopHead
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16oz can with a best by date of 9/27/19; into a snifter.
Appearance- completely black with a thin, yet creamy dark tan head; lacing is decent for an RIS!
Smell- dark chocolate, graham cracker, molasses, toasted marshmallow!
Taste - s’mores, bourbon and molasses, this is marvelous!
Feel- hefty, robust and creamy with a boozy finish.
Overall- this is definitely a sipper in a 4 pack of pint cans; a touch on the boozy side, but that certainly works well with the assortment of flavors here!

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Photo of Stout80mizer
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Not a bad RIS , was hoping for a little more hop profile but overall a good RIS

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Photo of Dark_Scarecrow
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of samEBC
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Scott_McCool
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of BFCarr
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of LJTate
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DIM
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of argock
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Critical Thinking from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 61 ratings