Critical Thinking
Stillwater Artisanal Ales

Critical ThinkingCritical Thinking
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Style:
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #260
ABV:
11%
Score:
91
Ranked #4,972
Avg:
4.14 | pDev: 5.8%
Reviews:
28
Ratings:
87
From:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
 
Maryland, United States
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  0
Gots
  17
SCORE
91
Outstanding
Critical ThinkingCritical Thinking
Notes:
View: Beers
Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 87 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by DenverHopHead:
Photo of DenverHopHead
DenverHopHead from Colorado

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!

Aug 22, 2018
More User Reviews:
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

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.

May 24, 2018
Photo of PicoPapa
PicoPapa from Connecticut

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.

May 28, 2018
Photo of Keithkam
Keithkam from Pennsylvania

4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a great RIS this is. It really hits all the notes perfectly. I wouldn't say it's my favorite, but would definitely drink this again and again and again. Look: like being out in the country in the middle of nowhere during the witching hour....as dark as can be with no light penetrating whatsoever. Smells of all good things you would expect in a heavy duty stout- dark cocoa, burn malts, vanilla, toasted bread, sticky toffee and the smell entices you to drink it; so why waste too much time sniffing it? Taste: more of the same from the smell. This stout has a little more of the tobacco like flavor than some of my other favorites, but I don't see that as a bad thing. Feel: nice and chewy. Perfect for a full bodied, full flavored, high ABV 'Murican imperial stout (I get it. The R in RIS is not to be spoken out loud these days, but, but at least it's technically an old style English beer right?). Overall...what more can I say? Top billing and deservedly so. I'm a fan at first taste and will keep my eyes peeled for it going forward.

May 23, 2018
Photo of Noelito76
Noelito76 from New York

3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

May 04, 2020
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travolta from California

3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Sep 20, 2019
Photo of stephenlee
stephenlee from England

4.39/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

May 01, 2019
Photo of Latarnik
Latarnik from New Jersey

3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Oct 31, 2019
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SFNC from North Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

May 18, 2019
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler from Pennsylvania

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.

Dec 31, 2019
Photo of jjboesen
jjboesen from Maryland

3.87/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Dec 16, 2018
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect from Kentucky

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.

Oct 26, 2018
Photo of DIM
DIM from Pennsylvania

4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Jul 25, 2018
Photo of Tone
Tone from Missouri

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.

Nov 18, 2018
Photo of DamienArk
DamienArk from Iowa

4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mar 26, 2019
Photo of argock
argock from Virginia

3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jul 20, 2018
Photo of pkalix
pkalix from California

4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

smells like bubble gum!

May 27, 2018
Photo of clayrock81
clayrock81 from Florida

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.

Jun 11, 2018
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dbrauneis from North Carolina

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.

Jun 20, 2018
Photo of avalon07
avalon07 from South Carolina

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.

Oct 04, 2018
Photo of mattmarka1
mattmarka1 from Minnesota

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

May 01, 2018
Photo of jmdrpi
jmdrpi from Pennsylvania

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.

Jun 09, 2018
Photo of bobv
bobv from Vermont

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!

Jan 07, 2019
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kybeerdrinker from Kentucky

4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Mar 10, 2019
Photo of DrDemento456
DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

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!

May 25, 2018
Critical Thinking from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 87 ratings