Critical Thinking
Stillwater Artisanal Ales

Critical ThinkingCritical Thinking
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Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #242
ABV:
11%
Score:
91
Ranked #4,786
Avg:
4.14 | pDev: 5.8%
Reviews:
27
Ratings:
85
From:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
 
Maryland, United States
Avail:
Rotating
Wants
  0
Gots
  17
SCORE
91
Outstanding
Critical ThinkingCritical Thinking
Notes:
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Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 85 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of woodychandler
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I got a late start on NBS (Week 774) & I did not finish up my DelMarVa (+ DC) adventure as planned. 8=( Further, I promised that NBS (Week 775) would be dedicated to the wonderful beers sent to me by @jkblr who seems to have a real handle on my drinking habits. CANsparency is key in these things! As a result, I am going to CANcentrate over the next few days on eradicating everything that would have CANbined to form the finale of the DelMarVa (+ DC) adventure. Sit down, strap in & hang on. It's gonna be a wild ride!

From the CAN: "Imperial Stout".

Oh, yeah, play time is OVER! I'm delving into the RISs as this Stillwater odyssey begins to come to an end.

Beginning with the Crack! of the vent, I was anxious to move on. That said, I was not so impatient that I could not CANduct the usual slow, gentle C-Line Glug as always. I was also once more surprised by a brimful craft CAN that gave me a spritz across my fingertips. 8=O I regained my CANposure & CANtinued as though nothing untoward had ocCANurred. My attention was again drawn in, this time by the pseudo-cascade that was taking place in CANjunction with the Glug! I backed off slightly to allow it to do its thing, watching as the head foamed up to form two-plus fingers of dense, foamy, rocky, deep-brown head with excellent retention. Color was solidly Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), allowing ZERO light penetration. 8=O Nose was rich, not even full-on chocolaty, either. It was imbued with a licorice/anise smell that was acCANponied by a light smokiness. Phew! I was anxious to have a taste. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, not quite creamy, but on the approach. I would have liked greater density, especially in the style. The taste was predominantly anise & licorice with intermittent layers of fudge, chocolate, raisins, prunes, the earlier cacao beans, coffee, espresso and light smoke. 8=O I certainly hope that they enCANrage you to take your time with this one. It is not meant to be served at anything much above room temperature & you will be rewarded nicely as a result. It cried out to be CANsumed with a Macanudo Maduro cigar, but my adult-onset asthma precluded such an endeavor. 8=( I pressed on, CANtemplating my upCANming scores & their justification. This was a CANned beer the likes of which I have not CANsidered since Oskar Blues' Ten Fidy first hit the market. I CANnot tell you what possessed me to buy this one since it is not my choice of style, but I am glad that I made the purchase. Finish was dry, probably thanks to the action of the yeast in the face of so much malt. Phew! I CANnot wait to see what the next beer from this brewer brings. YMMV.

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Photo of unlikelyspiderperson
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown with tons of active carbonation and a robust and resilient mocha head, 2 fingers on a 12 oz pour.
Smell is hugely dark dried fruit. Fig and raisin. hints of boozy barrel that are impressive since this doesn't seem to have been barreled. Guess it would be described as a vanilla tinged char. Quite big and nice.
Taste is surprisingly and pleasantly subdued. Leads with the char/roast malt character that always reminds me of coffee and cigar ash. Middle hits with a more plummy take on the dark dried fruit look, a sort of minerally sweetness. The flavor tails off into a sort of vaguely vegetal bitterness and molasses like sweetness. Very enjoyable, especially if you're a little burnt on the flavored and barreled scene.
Mouthfeel is an odd combo of slightly thinner than expected while still being kinda syrupy on the back end. Not bad for the style but, again, sort of imbalanced as far as where the size of the brew rests on the palate. Very syrupy.
Overall this is a nice big stout. It's nothing revelatory in this day and age but it is a pleasant diversion from the most typical path. It is a big stout that leans toward the dark fruit, tobacco, leather of some of the strong ale and quad types in opposition to the chocolate, coffee, and bourbon barrel that dominate. This one definitely has it's place and I think fans of the dark dry fruit character would love this beer.

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Photo of HorseheadsHophead
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black in color with a creamy brown head. Great retention and lots of lacing.
Smells like soy sauce, gingerbread, molasses, cinnamon, chocolate cake, fudge, espresso.
Tastes like chocolate syrup, fudge, soy sauce, molasses, caramel, gingerbread, burnt raisin, prune, and vanilla. Largely sweet with a touch of bitter, and insane umami/soy sauce.
Thick and creamy mouthfeel, moderately carbonated, not quite chewy, but definitely thick and oily.
A damn impressive imperial stout! On par with Even More Jesus. I think I still slightly prefer On Fleek over this, but this is still excellent.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.84/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a snifter, the appearance was a fairly thick dark brown close to black color capped by a small quickly dissipating off white to eggshell white foamy head. Just some messy lace, sly and roaming around the glass.
The aroma had a ton of roasty coffee beans, roasty dark chocolate, dark fruits and some dry dark toast.
The flavor was moderately roasty with some bittersweet dark chocolate to dark fruity notes rolling into a roasty dry dark toasty aftertaste.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a fair sipping quality about it. Due to the dryness, I would say that was what caused me to sip this. Decent carbonation but some stickiness. ABV felt on par. Nice finish of dark fruits, milk chocolate and some dryness.
Overall, pretty nice roasty dry imperial stout, I could come back to this.

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Photo of keithmurray
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - dark mahogany body with mocha head

Smell - roasted malts, dark chocolate, brownies, ash/smoke

Taste - roasted malts, dark chocolate, brownies, ash/smoke/hint of tobacco

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, medium carbonation, dark chocolate upfront, ash/smoke on the back end

Overall - This one sits at the middle of the road for the style, lacks depth of flavor of some of its contemporaries. The ashy/smoky finish is a bit of a turn off and that is reflected in the score. Tickers give it a try

Price Point - $3.49/16 oz Can

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Photo of hophugger
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark, basically black color with a minimal fizzy tan head. Aroma is heavy with malts and raisins. Taste is full of sweet malts with a whiskey feel and dark fruits like raisins and possibly some deep dark overripe cherries. MF is good for the style and finish is both sweet, malty and with a light bitterness like bitter chocolate. Nice stout

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Photo of bobv
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16 oz can.
Canned 07AUG18.
Moderate pour yields a one inch tan head over a black body with some sticky lacing. Dissipates down to a ring in more than a few minutes. Nose of roasted malt, chocolate, and black cherry. Taste mirrors nose nicely (black cherry!) and as it warms a bit some slight smokiness comes forward. Very nice feel and overall, a beer I will definitely have again. Cheers!

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Photo of Korbynlehr
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stout=black, check. Nose is atypical of most stouts. Not much regular aromas. Taste is also atypical of mostatouts. This one has way more charr than any other I’ve tried. Almost too much charr.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served in a red wine glass from the can.

Appearance: Thick brown tinted black motor oil color with medium bubbles and a dark tan head rising at a perfect finger's length off the body, little to no stick lacing on the glass with few suds after one sip.

Smell: Coffee bean with a touch of brown sugar. Strong but leaves you very quickly.

Taste: Really nice smooth light chocolate and bitter coffee offset with a touch of warm brown sugar. It does feel a touch malty but I am not complaining. A touch sweet and a quite hit of bitterness it is very hard to keep the glass down.

Mouth: Very sticky beer with medium bubbles and semi-sweet finish.

Overall: Very good beer, next time I see it I think I will be forced to buy it just because it is very hard to leave on the shelf. Quality beer which can keep up with the big boys. Salud!

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Photo of Tone
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

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Photo of dbl_delta
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of avalon07
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
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 Brutaltruth
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
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
true.

Cheers

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
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 +3.6%
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 -8.5%
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 DenverHopHead
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
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 dbrauneis
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours an opaque thick viscous jet black in color with light to moderate amounts of fine active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and faint dark cola brown colored highlights. The beer has a three finger tall dense foamy dark mocha head that slowly reduces to a large patch of slightly mottled thin film covering the entire surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark roasted malts, slightly charred malts, and lightly smoked malts with light amounts of caramel sweetness. Moderate aromas of cocoa + dark chocolate as well as slightly stronger than moderate aromas of freshly ground espresso.

T: Upfront there are slightly lighter than strong flavors of dark roasted malts, moderate to strong flavors of slightly charred malts, and light flavors of lightly smoked malts with light to moderate amounts of caramel + molasses sweetness. That is followed by moderate flavors of dark chocolate, cocoa, and freshly brewed espresso as well as light flavors of licorice/anise. Light flavors of earthy hops. Moderate to strong amounts of lingering roasty bitterness.

M: Full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Thick and almost syrupy.

O: Very enjoyable with big bold roasty flavors and not too much sweetness. Drinks pretty easily considering the strength - alcohol is well hidden but the thicker mouthfeel and bold flavors make this one more of a slow sipper for me.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a black body with two-finger khaki head and the aroma is slight roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. Sweet, fuller bodied, with bready feel, bits of roasted malts, chocolate sweetness, touch of boozy heat on the finish. Even keeled and enjoyable with hidden ABV so easy to drink.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.59/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can, dated 28Mar18, Best by 27Sept19

Pours jet black, with thick dark tan head, good head retention. Strong aroma of bitter cocoa and slightly smokey espresso. Similar flavor, pretty roasty. Thick, full bodied, and smooth.

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Photo of TijuanaTovar
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Sub par. Sits below ten fiddy. Smell is sweet roast and char. Taste follows with roasted flavors throughout. Def not a dessert stout. This holds well with a very well hidden abv. Feel isn’t that thick, it’s medium. Has a distinct roasted flavor reminiscent of tobacco/leather/dark roast coffee.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz can. Pours a viscous black with 2 inches of frothy dark brown head. Tons of lacing. The aroma is rich and earthy. Molasses, vanilla, bitter dark chocolate, earth, licorice, leather, roasted malts and tobacco. The taste is dark chocolate and vanilla followed up with more of the earthy flavors. Roasted malts, tobacco, leather and dark chocolate at the finish with a bit of yeast funk. Slightly less alcohol than expected but there is a fair amount of heat. Syrupy, heavy mouthfeel with a good deal of carbonation.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Snagged a can for about 5 bucks into a pint glass
A - So far so good deep dark thick blackness of awesomeness in my glass with a 1/4 inch of bubbly tan head atop.
S - The darkest of roasted malt, coffee, touch of toasted bread and a some licorice to boot. Not smelling too bitter or boozy.
T - Ow yes very smooth chocolate malts leading to slightly smokey coffee twang and finishes with a touch of licorice and black strap molasses. Char and smoke have very slight tobacco notes as well.
M - Very smooth but shows the ABV a bit. Still very slick and creamy.

Overall a very tasty high gravity take on the traditional RIS. Worth the price!

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours pitch black, opaque black in the glass with a two finger light brown head that dissipates slowly to a thick cap with good lacing. Looks great. Aroma of dark toasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee and a little vanilla. Flavor is dark toasted malt with dark char, coffee beans, dark chocolate, walnuts a little licorice and vanilla and a flavor I haven't noted in a stout before: tobacco. Finishes with dark malt and chocolate with an interesting bitterness that is an amalgam of tobacco, hops and char. Medium bodied with moderate creaminess and nice mouthfeel. A rich, full bodied stout that fulfills my hopes for the Russian imperial style. The bittering flavors combining with the char are quite nice. Good chocolate and coffee notes too. This one looks dark and enticing, smells and tastes great. Well done. I don't think of Stillwater for stouts, but that has now changed.

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Critical Thinking from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 85 ratings