Existent | Stillwater Artisanal Ales

very good
176 Reviews
no score
Send samples

Brewed by:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Maryland, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Existent represents the philosophy behind Stillwater Artisanal. We strive to define ourselves through our passion and sincerity while accepting that not all aspects of life are readily explainable. To manifest this ideology we present an ale of intrigue. Deep & dark though deceptively dry, braced by a firm yet smooth bitterness and accented with an earthy hop and mild roast aroma. This is an ale for you to define...
’and if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.’ –Nietzsche

Added by Thorpe429 on 11-13-2010

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 176 | Ratings: 646
Photo of Stingraystripe
2.27/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Very bready nose and I also smell some dried fruit. Poured with A thick foamy head and quite dark - an opaque chocolate color - unlike any farmhouse ale I've seen. Taste is raisiny and malty. Drinks like a barley wine - to the point I kept checking the label. I don't think this one is true to style at all. There's a slight sour at the end that hints of farmhouse but that's it. Stillwater greatly impressed me with their stateside saison and I assumed this was on par. It's a decent beer, but nothing like a farmhouse in my opinion.

 540 characters

Photo of Lawl3ss
2.3/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Chilled 12 oz bottle into a 33 cl snifter. Bottling date 4.25.13.

Look- Deep brown, quite clear but you can't see through the glass. Pours with two fingers of soapy foam that falls quickly, minimal lacing.

Smell- Mild, toasty aroma. Lightly floral, some wet hay. Swirling brings out stone fruit and something vegetal.

Taste- Nutty, dry, light peppery spice and baker's chocolate. Meaty, buttery flavor in the finish- farmhouse, yeah, but this much DMS and diacetyl makes me think this is just off.

Mouthfeel- Medium-full body, mild prickly carbonation on the sip. Dry-ish finish, but coating, milky feel left afterwards.

Overall- Some farmhouse experiments are worthwhile, but this just seems like a really crappy brown ale. Maybe This is generally a good beer, but the brewers need to keep their culture in check. Didn't finish it.

 837 characters

Photo of silverking
2.51/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A- looks like a stout... Pitch black with cola colored highlights. Creamy khaki head with excellent retention and fantastic lacing. It's just too dark.

S- deep and toasty with some citrus highlights. This is not a farmhouse ale in my opinion. If you blindfolded me and had me smell this one, I'd guess it was a stout or porter.

T- cocoa and coffee. The finish is nutty and earthy.

M- medium bodied with low carbonation.

O- It is NOT a saison. I understand that styles are open to interpretation, but this has gone too far. It is delicious, however, just don't expect a saison when you purchase it.

 615 characters

Photo of jrbuch
2.86/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served in Brewer's Art Goblet.

A: Approx 25 SRM. Extremely dark for the style with almost no head. Surprising for an American Farmhouse Ale.

S: For a AFA, I would have expected a lot more. The smell is faint but sweet, roasty and some pear. A mild hop presence. Minimal esters

T: Roasted and chocolate. Some hop. More like a porter

M: This beer doesn't have enough body or carbonation.

D: Overall a fine beer. Not an American Farmhouse Ale. More esters, less harsh malts but equally dark, stronger carbonation with a heavier mouthfeel could help here.

 557 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
2.87/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

A-Pours an intriguing color. It's dark brown. The body does seem to be mostly clear despite the hue. Almost no head is found in my glass.

S-Aroma reminds me of a Porter with Saison yeast. A bit of roast and cocoa. Some Belgian spice. Also some light, earthy hoppiness.

T-The flavor isn't very good. I don't like this weird, Saison-Porter hybrid. Most of what I found in the aroma was apparent in the flavor. There was also a slight nuttiness in the flavor. The dark flavors don't mesh well with the Saison aspects.

M-Medium bodied. A bit chalky. Bubbly. I powered through it so I could go to my next selection at the bar.

O/D-Was not a big fan of this. I would not drink this again.

 687 characters

Photo of mothman
2.87/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a massive layer of foamy head. Good retention with little lace left. Color is a deep brown, near black.

Aroma: For how dark this is, it still smells like a saison, just a bit roasty. Barnyard funk, lemon zest, spices, and a dry roast.

Taste: Orange peel and dry roasted malts, yeast, cloves, lemons, chocolate, some spice, and farmhouse notes. Interesting.

Mouthfeel: Roasted, smooth, and fizzy. Medium bodied with a higher amount of carbonation. Ends really dry.

Overall, a really interesting take on a saion. Not a big fan of it as it is too roasted for the style.

 576 characters

Photo of clickpush
2.89/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into pint glass. Flat looking body with large foamy bubbles that reduce to tiny halo. Smell is piny with hints of roasty funk. Very hoppy smell. Taste is similar with lingering viscous, roasty farmhouse. Still hoppy without being bitter. Mouthfeel is flat and lacklustre. Chewy finish.

 292 characters

Photo of heygeebee
2.9/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

From Sydney Wine merchants. Bottled 4/13. Fridged.

A- brown red body, one finger head. Modest sheet lace

S - English malts, toffee, liquorice(!)

T - same as smell, real mis mash and where is the earthy yeast a la Saison. No funk, no barnyard, add toffee , caramel, burnt BBQ, vanilla. And liquorice...

M - moderate carb, medium weight.

O - oh dear, what happened, an English Ale as a saison? And missing the flavour for the ABV. Burnt flavours come thru as it warms.... Pass.

 481 characters

Photo of Docer
2.96/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: (4.0)
- Poured a beautiful dark murky brown with a fizzy, planet-like crater-filled valley of light mocha head. It took a short time for it to settle down to a bubbling dark brew, that seems like it is alive and ready to go.

Smell: (3.0)
- I can't help but notice a slight homebrewy odor of aceto, or green apple-like cider notes.. but it isn't heavy enough to kill the beer. Esters, roasted chocolate, grain, prune, fig, and spice.. slight clove touch. Almost a touch of purple grape juice.

Taste: (3.0)
- Certainly one of a kind. Roasted chocolate.. tart esters, grape, dark tea leaf, fig, tobacco.. smooth dry malt character leaves an earthy flavor. Perhaps a light early grassy hop addition.

Mouth Feel: (3.0)
- Leaves the palate a bit dry, and chalky. Overall a medium bodied beer that is rather well carbonated. Slightly chewy.

Overall: (2.5)
- The beer isn't bad. It certainly didn't hit the spot as I was expecting from the fancy packaging and marketing even all the way over here in the northwest. It's much like a very good homebrew, but a farmhouse ale that falls short compared to the pros. The highlight was certainly the look of the beer.. but the rest fell short. Not worth the money.

 1,219 characters

Photo of mdfb79
2.96/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From 01/14/11 notes. Had on tap at Rattle N Hum in NYC.

a - Pours a black color with one inch of tan head and moderate carbonation..

s - Smells of roasted malts, smokey, floral notes, and

t - Tastes of smokey roasted and toasted malts, light floral notes, and something weird I can't quite place, like burnt caramel or toffee. Not that great.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

d - This was listed as a Black Saison, and I wasn't a big fan of it. The taste just seemed a little off to me and the smell was average. Wouldn't look to have again.

 550 characters

Photo of MaineBrewing
3.05/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A - poured a dark brown almost black with mahogany hue when held to the light. Two finger light tan head that seemed very loose dissipated quickly.

S - nice sweet malt with hints of caramel, peppery spicyness. Slight licorice character.

T - taste is interesting. Brown ale ish in malt character with a bright citrus hop. Very prevalent yeast character throughout, almost an autolyzed flavor. Weird baked cookie notes in the background, if that is such a thing, tastes like it. Finishes really dry. Seems to be missing somethin, there is a pleasant fruityness that just can't find it's way through.

M - light body with dry finish, too light for the appearance.

O - this is weird, not in a good way. The flavors from malt and hops are subtle behind a massive yeast character. Not the best experience, probably wouldnt seek out another. Not a drain pour by any means, just not that good.

 892 characters

Photo of kbutler1
3.1/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle. Poured into a tall TH glass a dark, cola like brown black color with a HUGE 5 finger head, carbonation much?! Much darker than I thought it would be. Nice lace left after the 5 minute waiting period as the head settles. Roasty, coffee, and some chocolate in the nose. Light/medium mouthfeel Sweet, green apple, roast, and dark chocolate in the flavor. Not bad but might be a little young.

 396 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

25oz bottle into a pint glass and some..

Existent is black from a far but deep burnt brown up front with some red peeking through with some light. A hard pour produced zilch. There was also no hiss when the cap was popped.

Smell is a hoppy brown beer, I would not really classify this as a saison as roasted malts and some tootsie rolls come out. A fair amount of earthy pungent hops ans some chocolate//cocco. Can't really pick up any yeast.

Can't really pick up where this beer is going, many directions, Im leaning towards hoppy brown with a Belgian kick. Some nutty characteristics of a dubbel, bready belgian yeast influence, chocolate and roast from the malts. Dark fruits are tame and give off some berry flavor.

Feel is tame, not spritzy enough, this kinda comes off flat. Body is medium and carb is almost non existent, yep I went there. The liquid semi coats the tounge with malt galore and some berry.

After about seven ounces or so, this wore on me and I still had 18 ounces to go. This was a chore and I drank it all cause I paid for it. A 12oz bottle would of been fine.

This is something strange and different. I don't know if I like it or not. Points for creativity though. It's just that I don't know what this beer is trying to be.

 1,256 characters

Photo of farrago
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours maybe half a finger of the loosest foam you could imagine, the bubbles are large and impossibly thin, wispy lacing, if truly any. Very dark brown to black colored liquid, doesn't seem to possess any cloudiness, hint of orange or yellow around the rims and glass bottom. The nose has a grassy to herbaceous core but really is driven by cocoa powder, malt, powdered dark chocolate, all dry and dusty, slowly blends in orange peels, licorice and scone, maybe a brush of raw nuts, any fruit indistinct, same for florality. Medium-bodied, the weak carbonation makes it feel more stern and unyielding, pours itself into the mouth sort of like wet concrete. Very dry with the same bittersweet dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee bean fueled attack, about the only thing "wet" might be the grapefruit to orange citrus, even as sour as it is. Earthy enough with peat moss, lichen, fallen forest floor matter component, yet this too can't avoid the dryness of the high grade roast and toast. Minimal bread or yeast accents. Perhaps a slight uptick in fruit, this cherry, apricot, red grape in nature. It's as if it does not lack length per se, more so it just stops. Leaves you with this nagging feeling like you are missing its intended message.

 1,236 characters

Photo of HalfFull
3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ml bottle poured into a large wine glass. The pour is a bit too effervescent as the cap of foam quickly rises above and engulfs the glass. Nice retention and lace but really? This is a bit much.

Aroma of chocolate and a touch of Belgian yeast.

Taste is coarse grain, bit of chocolate. Not sure where this is going but it's surely not a Farmhouse Ale. Bit chalky/chocolate on the finish.

Feel is wierd but who am I to say. Overall there is nothing Saison about this, and there is nothing Farmhouse about it either. A decent brew. But, I mean, seriously. A decent Belgian Dark Ale but not even a hint of love in the Saison department...

 642 characters

Photo of laituegonflable
3.17/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, dark brown colour, just murky where the light catches the edges. Head is beige, thinly dispersed with some decent trails of lace. Retaining a thin film. Not bad.

Smells underfermented, really, and not at all what I expected. Acetyldehyde largely, with just a mild undercurrent of roasted malt. But yeah, there's a fault there and it smells neither dark nor spicy enough as a result. A bit off.

Taste is better - certainly more character here. Fairly sweet to start, with a hint of acetyldehyde but then chocolatey and a hint of licorice on the mid. Fruit note on the back is more blackcurrant than anything else, with a touch of rye and some black pepper. Yeah, retains that sweet fruit, floral note over the top and could use more bitterness - either roasty, hoppy or funky in origin - I don't mind.

Decent mouthfeel, but leaves a little filmy and not quite chewy enough. Still feel it's maybe a bit underattenuated.

Some decent character here, but also some fairly serious flaws.

 999 characters

Photo of zeledonia
3.19/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled 21 January 2014. Tasted 2 June 2014.

Pours a deep soft brown, clear but dark. Little head, which actually grows after the pour thanks to the abundant bubbles (which formed a cool clover shape on the surface). Decent lacing.

Smell is funny. Definitely more like a BSDA than a saison, with sugar and dark fruits. As a Belgian dark, I like it. As a saison, it's weird - nothing about it says saison to me.

Taste is similar. It's got some candy sugar flavor, some of that slightly astringent quality I associate with tripels. I'm wondering if there was a mix-up in the bottling; is it always like this? Once again, I get nothing from it that says saison, though it's decent as-is. A little flat, kinda empty on the back end.

Feel is okay. Medium body, carbonation on the light side. Kinda settles, bringing a sinking heaviness that needs more carbonation to counter it.

All I can say is, what's up with this beer? I love saisons, and in no way do I think this is a saison. Unless they did some weird stuff and threw a saison yeast into it. It's basically a mid-level BSDA.

 1,081 characters

Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured into a tulip, essentially black with a tan head. very nice lacing.

nose is dark fruit, slight leather, tobacco. pretty good.

roasted malt flavor upfront, fades into some slight dark cherry flavor, coffee, really dry. slight metallic finish, can't really put my finger on it exactly but this doesn't sit well with me. this doesn't do that much for me. really dry and nothing to balance out the roasted malt flavor.

effervescent mouthfeel, but i don't think it really complements the "darker" flavors of this beer.

this realy should be listed under the belgian strong dark category. i'm kind tired of every niche belgian style beer being listed under the saison category.

 682 characters

Photo of Sanford
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Fun confusing beer. Gentle pour produced great frothy soapy head. Dark brown body and tan foam. The head took a frustrating amount of time to recede...I wanted a drink! I have been sipping over an hour and each pour has brought big foam, but not much lacing has stuck. Interestingly fruity, though a bit reticent nose. taste...some farmhouse funk, more with warming; some fruitiness: fruity tart, fruity sweet...when colder I thought I could perceive some malty sweet qualities, yet finishing dry, and now an hour later I can't...find any malty flavors, which I think is appropriate. As the beer has warmed I am experiencing a medicinal kind of astringent finish...hops, bitterness and not flavor, which again, I think is probably more correct than not. Correct or not, it's no doing it for me.

Honestly, I think I liked "Existent" more right out of the fridge. A great 750 to share, but 2/3 of the way through, I'm loosing interest...don't get me wrong I am going to enjoy finishing it, as it is late enough that I am not going to open anything else.

 1,052 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.39/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown color where light comes through only on the edges. Modest head but the fine rim bubbles stay throughout the tasting. Leaves some streaky lace.

Dark chocolate and earthy to the nose. A bit of chalky, cracked malted milk ball aroma as well. A touch of alcohol warmth.

Neutral strart for such a dark beer. This would best be described as an American Porter. The swallow is where the flavor pops out--chocolate milk, dark cherries and cream. The body is thin and the carbonation high. I detect no Saison elements.

 524 characters

Photo of lewzer99
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: It pours a coffee brown, with a thin off white head.
S: I get some chocolate, pitted fruits, and booze.
T: First there's chocolately roasted malts, a mild sweetness, yeast, and an earthy hop bitterness on the back end.
M: Medium bodied but good carbonation
O: It's pretty good, but a little disappointing.

 308 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle brought back to Sydney from the US and shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.

Pours a deep brown colour, with a bubbly and slightly unsubstantial head of pale mocha. Patchy, speckled lace forms as it's swirled, but the body is pretty light, and the head doesn't particularly lend itself to persistence. Not bad, but not all that great.

Nose is... rather thin and a bit lacklustre. Weak, filmy hints of cold coffee sit above a estery tartness, giving green hints of acidic apple. Some brown bread comes through as well. Very little spice, and very little coherence. It feels quite thin, and aimless.

Taste is a little better, but the thin characters of brown bread, mild roast and the subtle acidity are just pressed together a little better here—there's not quite the emptiness extant on the nose. The acidity works a little better here, just giving a slight slickness to the flavours on the palate, letting them slip towards the back. Still missing some spice, which would really help it along.

It's interesting enough in its way, but I wanted it to be truly good. I have for some reason hyped up Stillwater in my mind, and to date they are yet to give me an exciting reason for this. Again, it's decent enough, but it's also slightly odd—and slightly odd doesn't cut it: make it either really good, or really odd.

That's how you'll win me over, Stillwater.

 1,386 characters

3.44/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

750mL to tulip. Sampled in March 2011. $8.50 for the bottle.

A: Large three finger foamy head, medium dark brown in color and long lasting. The color of the body is black with amber brown hints along the edges when backlit. Otherwise completely opaque. Fair lacing. Besides the black color, this beer looks pretty good.

S: Roasted (if not lightly burnt) grain, cocoa powder and a nuttiness reminiscent of walnut oil. Grassy hop aroma.

T: The aromas listed above make their way to the palate, as well as a pleasant fruit character and a dry, almost tannic woodiness (although I've never heard anyone say there is wood treatment involved).

M: Medium to light body with below average carbonation. An improved mouthfeel would help elevate the flavors.

D: Among the better Stillwater offerings I've had to date but have yet to be blown away. I'm just not digging the novelty of the black saison. The color of a beer alone doesn't make it taste outstanding.

 957 characters

Photo of GregBarleycorn13
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Good head retention. Darker than I expected from a saison. A little spicy aroma. Taste was somewhat spicy and a bit fruity. Good mouthfeel. It stayed on the tongue a long time so you savor the taste.

 199 characters

Photo of cbutova
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The third of the Stillwater 4-packs, how will this stand up to the others...

A- Poured from a 12oz bottle into an over-sized tulip glass. The body is pretty much black but some dark brown can be seen as light shows through around the edges. A nice light brown head forms with a frothy, creamy texture and about one finger high. Retention is good and lacing is super spotty.

S- Strong Saison yeast up front with the dark malts in the background. Yeast notes of fruit, apple, banana, and some spice like clove and nutmeg. Nutty, brown sugar and slight roast malt hints behind that. Warmth helps to open the roastiness and some rich depth.

T- Things re-arrange here but the same basic spicy dark Belgian ale feeling stays put. The fruits feel darker here, maybe combined with roast bitterness and I get a strong spiced raisin and cherry feeling. Nutmeg, banana, roast grains, pepper and plum all come to mind. Definitely comes close to hitting that medicinal feel.

MF- Very foamy and somewhat creamy overall feel to a moderate-light body. Carbonation is high, hence the foaminess, and there is a pretty strong spicy bitterness in the finish. Slight alcohol heat. Just a bit abrasive.

I would be very interested to learn the true differences in recipe between this and something like Cellar Door. The fruits all feel like raisin and cherry and overall it is super spicy like a Dark Belgian Christmas brew. Good and complex but is somewhat harsh with the spicy bitterness and slight alcohol heat.

 1,496 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Existent from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
3.84 out of 5 based on 646 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.