Existent | Stillwater Artisanal Ales

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86
very good
176 Reviews
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ExistentExistent
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Maryland, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
176
Ratings:
643
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
11.46%
 
 
Wants:
22
Gots:
70
For Trade:
1
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Reviews: 176 | Ratings: 643
Photo of TheCorkStopsHere
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours almost black, but with just a touch of lighter hue, like a really, really dark brown. Very little foam arises, unless I swirl it heavily. The foam that does appear is a light tan/coffee color, and disappears pretty quickly.

It smells like a soft/curious black ipa. There is definitely some notable hops present, but mild. There is some unique aromas of yeast/funk, cocoa, smoke, and more that I can't quite put my finger on. It really does smell like a black ipa crossed with a stout.

The taste follows through perfecty! It's deep and dark like a stout, nice notes of caramel, chocolate, and smoke, as well as some mild hops. As the beer warms, the stout side of it subsides, and the hops and other flavors come through stronger. There is some subtle hops, mostly floral more than bitter. There is also some evidence of a belgian yeasty/funky/fruitiness to it.

It really does seem like a blend between a stout, black ipa, and a saisson! Matt's description was right on the money! I'm not sure this is a beer I'd have frequently. It's very drinkable, but it's somewhere between huge and awesome (like World Wide Stout) and easy and drinkable (like Weihenstephan).

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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.

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Photo of Bung
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml Dark mohoghanhy pour, large frothy light tan head. Sticks ok.

Aroma, yeasty with some red fruit, light brown sugar and spice, little funk. Fainter roast and cocoa.

Taste, the roast, citrus, yeast and chocolates work really well together. Finishes pretty dry, cocoa but lingers well with a nice herbal hop presence.

Fairly active heavy side of light. Goes down easy, really no alcohol.

Similar to a Saison Darkly and another of these dark farmhouse ales I enjoyed immensely.

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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.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle a dark opaque brown with three fingers of rich tan head.

Aroma of lemon, dark ripe berries, roasted coffee, black pepper, yeast and spicy herbal notes.

The taste matches the aroma with lemon, dark berries, black coffee, yeast and a touch of herbal spiciness.

Medium bodied with a sticky dryness and moderate carbonation.

A very interesting and delicious take on the Saison.

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Photo of stakem
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to wishuwerebeer for the share on this one. 750ml bottle poured into a snifter. The brew appears dark brown with more than a finger of dark tan head. Strings of patchy lace form on the glassware and the cap displays fairly solid retention. Some dark ruby coloration is seen through the body when held up to the light.

The initial aroma smells roasty like coffee and chocolate as expected based on the looks of this brew. It carries with it a very dry and earthy aspect. Through the middle are peppery accents from the yeast along with a lemony citrus aspect that is quite interesting.

This brew has a rustic feel to it. It is quite dry and roasty bringing forth flavors of chocolate grain and coffee. It is quite earthy with a mild pepper inclusion. Towards the back it is lightly fruity with suggestions of lemony tartness ad zest across the back.

This is a medium bodied brew with an active amount of carbonation. The dryness makes it easy drinking and the strange twist of earthy roasted quality mixed with lemony fruit aspects makes for a unique experience that is worth checking out.

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Photo of argock
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750mL brown bottle into a tall, narrow tulip. No freshness date. Served at 55F. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $11.99.

A: Very murky dark brown with astounding 3-4 finger beige foamy head with exceptional retention leaving a constant 1/2-finger cap of head although the lace is spotty at best.

S: The chocolate and roast notes are strongest up front with some minimally sweet dark fruit notes meeting honeysuckle and herbal hops character with a touch of lemon-orange citrus -- definitely a hoppy but dark saison. All of the aromas grow with warming.

T: The flavors and aromas are entwined with raisiny toasted bread and light chocolate working so smoothly together with a light citrus and earthy herbal hoppiness. The flavor is long and fades to mostly chocolatey breadiness with some herbal, lightly funky Belgian yeastiness. A masterful brew -- drinks very complexly but flows lightly over the palate. I will admit it doesn't taste like many other saisons I have tried, but I am going to give far more dark saisons a try. This beer is more what Cascadian Ales are trying to be -- dry, crisp, drinkable, with an essence of roast but plenty of hoppy flavors and malt presence.

M: Crisp yet plenty of body for the style. The carbonation is appropriately very active and scrubbing with dryness, but not severe dryness almost to the point of astringency like several other Stillwater saisons I will leave nameless. I know that's kind of the point, but it's not that pleasant to me. This beer, on the the other hand, is artful in its feel.

O: A huge surprise for me. I wish it fit with saisons a tad more but the flavor is intense, complex yet feels effortless to consume. Great beer.

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Photo of wrycon
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Heavily carbonated. A dark chocolate rye in appearance. Smells strongly of wood, prunes, some slight citrus tang. The taste is exactly what I want. Coy at first, slightly toasted malt and strong carbonation. Swallow and a torrent of turned bread and earthy funk grabs your palate. Some rye, some bitter... Tastes fungal in a pure way. If I were a richer man, I'd drink this every day.

Like it? Immensely

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

An interesting Saison with very savory characteristics, almost briny at times. Pours a somewhat muddy brown with a moderate head that fades to a thin cap. Aromas are fruity to begin with, with notes of apple and pear, then turns somewhat meaty with an almost gentian bitterness at the end. Quite herbal overall in the nose. The taste somewhat mirrors the aromas, with a light fruitiness to start, and then develops savory, meaty flavors with a touch of brine and quite an herbal or even bitter note. I'd say it almost closes up at the finish and becomes almost too dry and herbal. I think many dark saisons have too much roastiness to balance against the other flavors, in this case that is certainly not a problem, but I'd still like to see a bit more snappiness. Still, an interesting and pleasant beer.

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Photo of rapidsequence
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle. Bought from Bottle Revolution. I think it was 12 or 14 bucks.

Appearance: Pours very dark-- black. Lots of reddish highlights even in not-very-bright light. Light tan colored head. Falls in sheets, but only some spots of lacing. I guess this is what a black saison looks like. Their packaging continues to impress.

Smell: Mildly roasty with a hint of cocoa. Some earth and grass. Sort of subdued, but not bad.

Taste: Very interesting integration of earthy, ourdoorsy, saison flavors and the well measured roasty notes. Its got a significant contribution of flavor and bittering hops which tend toward spicy and citrus. Its like an earthy, hoppy, dry porter with the yeasty goodness of a saison.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated, but soft and very smooth feeling. Dries out nicely on the finish.

Overall: So, not much in the nose, as I think some of the more subtle notes are washed out by roast. The flavor however is pretty great. Very interesting flavor combinations. It feels like a dream. I hate to give such a high rating to these more gimmicky beers, but this one is a winner.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In a pint glass the beer was a dark brown color with a thick tan head.

Mostly cocoa aroma. Some spice and a whiff of hazelnut.

The taste was similar to the aroma. Cocoa, nutmeg, and hazelnut. A little bit of coffee also.

This beer was on the dry side, and a little on the sharp side.

Overall a decent beer.

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Photo of FeDUBBELFIST
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.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Should a beer inspire such philosophical musings? This one can and does.

Pours into a New Belgium snifter. Dark black with a few good inches of “fluffy” foam. I poured slowly and topped it off as the bubbles died down, then repeated two more times until I had a tight, compacted, thick head on this. Just wonderful. Heady, roasty aromas, lots of chocolate and leather, and a memory of autumn leaves from a childhood in Michigan. I get a lot of sharp roasted cacoa nibs dominating the taste, and a dry, bracing finish. Mild body, wonderfully carbonated (I believe it’s bottle-fermented, and if not then it should be) to the point of achieving a near-lightness that works in counter-point to its bold roast flavors. This beer hits like a roasty stout but has a light saison finish, surprising and complex. On the finish I identify some saison funk, for lack of a better descriptor, especially as it warms. Roasty, funky, effervescent. An incredible brew that I enjoy tremendously. Perfect for good conversation and whimsical pondering. Definitely lives up to its name.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle.

A: incredibly deep, dark copper color - near opaque - clear, ruddy head
S: strong nose with CO2 and farmhouse estery/yeasty qualities
T: deep roasted malt with good fruity qualities and yeasty finish, mellow and balanced
M: creamy, malty up front with pronounced bitter finish that was more than most farmhouse style ales

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Photo of Knapp85
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've had this twice, the first time I bought a bottle for myself and opened it I found this brew to be quite hoppy. The color was black and just really nice looking overall. The smell was similar to a Belgian IPA with some roasted aromas in there too. The taste had some big citrus notes mixed with the dark malts too. The mouthfeel was light for a darker style brew, overall I enjoyed it both times I've had it. The second time after a few months had gone by I was given some and I noticed that the hoppy flavors and aromas were not nearly as strong. This had turned into a much more earthy brew with the aging it had. Pretty interesting how much a little time made on this one.

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Photo of bonkers
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured from a bomber into a snifter. The pour is dark, with a big white head, no lacing. The aroma is light, citrusy. The flavor has a hint of alcohol, bready, fruity, light funk. The body is light, effervescent. I was expecting more, a decent saison, not great.

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Photo of GDBEERMAN
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml shared into tulip: from notes.
A: very well done on the appearance, a jet black body, with a light and retreating head of light khaki. Carbonation is a bit low for style, and lacing is right on.

S: The aroma is a lighter spice and fruity esters. The slight roasted and toffee comes through.

T/M: The character is light and refreshing, while being bold and assertive. Very much like the light character in the American Black IPA, ahem, American Black Ale, wink (Cascadian Dark).
With profiles of earthy spice and lingering hop and floral character, this makes a true beew to be defined.

O: Overall great take on a new style, but a bit thin on the finish and would have like to have had a bigger yeast character. But wow now the ideas for homebrew are sparking.

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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.

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Photo of drpimento
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dang, this is one of the beers that are great but don't fit the mold/tradition. Poured with a large, foamy, frothy, tan head that soon settled and a little lace. Color is a clear, very dark garnet. Aroma is spicy, yeast, malt, a little hop. Flavor has similar characteristics plus roast and some bittersweet fruit. Body is good and carbonation is very good. Finish is like flavor and of medium length. Very good beer, but not much like a farmhouse ale of the label.

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Photo of mactrail
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, rich, and strange. I'm trying to fit this into my mental catalog of Saisons, but it appears to be a unique one. Rather tart, with a long nose of cranberries and mushrooms. Notable for its depth of funky, dirty, sourish flavors. Mineral taste. A dose of dark malt apparently from the nearly black Porter color. It takes a while for the roasted flavor to emerge. Rather coarse carbonation, though some lacing lasts after the foam up.

I suppose served in an earthenware mug at an actual farmhouse would enhance the flavor. But this does seem to be an authentic-tasting beer from another world.

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Photo of andrewinski1
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a goblet. The color is very dark brown. The head is two to three inches and leaves behind some nice sticky lacing.

The aroma has typical saison fruitiness with a gentle touch of ash.

The taste is mildly sweet with a subtle cocoa finish. The fruitiness from the aroma is also delivered in the taste. Nothing here is too strong or overpowering.

This is light and drinkable. The carbonation is smooth.

This is pretty good for a dark saison.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip. This one pours dark brow with a big rocky biege head that settles to a thin layer of foam with some sticky lace.

A little bit of pepper in the aroma with some a little bit of a grape skin aroma to it. A little bit of char here too. Has a bit of a grainy flavor to it. A little bit of peppery yeast and some char round out the flavor.

The body is deceptively light and the carboantion is a little softer than I would have immagined. Overall nothing bad here. I may be a little bias here because I would generally take your standard saison over this one all the time. This one is still well made

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

very hazy, and very cloudy dark color coming forward, much darker then I thought it would be for the style. Nice head, maybe two inches with some really great retention and a wonderful bit of side glass lacing. Lots of carbonation was visible streaking up from the bottom of the glass.

The aroma was a little bit light for me to be honest. Some nice notes of yeast, grain, with lots of breadiness in the middle, not nearly the funky farmhouse ale I was expecting it to be. Lots of light fruit notes with hints of peppery spice dominating on the flavor. Quick hints of pear, peach, maybe some apple, all in that general family

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Photo of impending
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml into a tulip. Pours a deep opaque mahogany, towering dense tan head subsides slowly, excellent lacing.

Wonderful aroma. Roasted ginger and clove, who knew! grape bubblegum, intriguing

Peculiar diversity of flavors, complexity has depth. A meld of a strong dark & a saison. The initial flavor is all roasty strong dark then a dryness kicks in the saison. The nice funk note is more imitated than real. A mild but well defined hop profile rides the long lasting pleasant aftertaste. Thin prickly mouthfeel. Warms well.

a unique saison
cheers
jd

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Photo of Reaper16
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle served into a tulip glass

Pours a dark, roasted chestnut brown. Sit this down in front of me without telling me what it was and I'd think it was a porter. 3/4 of a finger's worth of sand colored head; creamy looking, but not very dense. Huge swaths of lacing all around the glass. Obviously, this isn't exactly a textbook appearance for the Saison style. But its one good looking dark ale.

Ah, but the nose immediately reveals that this isn't a malt-forward ale. This beer is primarily yeast driven. I don't want to discount the roasted malt character here. The abundant roasted coffee is the single strongest component of the aroma. But there's a lot of other, yeast driven, components here. A medley of soft spices, some dry appleskin, and plenty of flower petals. There's an earthy hop presence backing things up as well. Existant isn't as phenolic as most Saisons are, nor as fruity. While I like how this beer smells, it smells like a porter that's been brewed with a Saison yeast strain, rather than a Saison that has some roast character. That balance should be the other way around.

The balance between farmhouse ale and roasty dark ale is better achieved on the palate. The Saison elements come first: clovey spice, a dash of red fruits, a touch of phenols on the finish. The roast character is really interesting here. I always appreciate roast, especially when it offers a contrasting bitterness to any hop bitterness that may be in a beer. Existant's roasty bitterness is no exception; it plays off of the earthy European hops very well. I'm such a sucker for roast + hop. But this roast character doesn't really play well with the Saison flavors. It doesn't amplify or accentuate the Saison flavors, and frankly the roast contrasts in a negative way with the phenols a little bit. Still, this is a Saison that taskes risks and reaches for something unique. Just because it didn't work out perfectly doesn't mean that it doesn't work to some degree. I'd say this is a solid Saison, and unique one.

The body size is on the fuller side of medium-bodied, but considering the dark malts in this beer it makes some sense to have a thicker-than-normal body. At any rate, it is offset somewhat by the active carbonation. What takes this mouthfeel over the top and into 4.5 territory for me is how dry it is. Saisons should be dry, there shouldn't be much residual sugar at all, there should be a high level of attenuation. Existant has that requisite dryness, even with all of the dark, roasted malts packed into this beer. That's impressive to me. Overall, this is a solid, solid Saison. It's a grand experiment, and I enjoy the results even if they didn't produce a great beer. Pick this up if you're at all curious about how roast can work in a Saison, or if you like the idea of a Belgian-yeast porter.

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Existent from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
86 out of 100 based on 176 ratings.
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