Existent | Stillwater Artisanal Ales

very good
176 Reviews
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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

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Reviews: 176 | Ratings: 647
Photo of smakawhat
3.94/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Bottled April 4th 2013.

A nice dark walnut brown body, with light mocha pin head bubbles at first coming from the body. Settles with a large styrofoamy head, light tan and foamy retention appearance.

Nice subtle nose here. Light brett and dark sucrose with matching raisin and Belgian classic sweetness. Kind of dry, and a nice light fruit component and subdued quality. Kind of a dry sourdough dark bread going on.

First sip brings some nice dark malt and brown sugar sweetness, then quickly the palate gets incredibly dry with lots of crisp and dry brett action. Good mild hop sting, with a large sour and dry yeasty finish. Real nice balance between sweetness and brett dry qualities. Sweet palate fills with raisin and fig, with the dry qualities coming with dark sourdough brown bread, and a near champagne texture.

Overall a very solid and fun offering from Stillwater.

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Photo of mverity
3.69/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep brown color with a tan head. The color is odd, for a saison. Or maybe that's just my take on things. The smell is mostly earthy and deeply roasted malts. A bit bready too. Taste is interesting. I pick up lots of leather, some damp earth, lots of the malt that was present in the aroma, a touch of toffee/caramel sweetness, and an odd bitterness that is definitely not from hops; almost like burnt coffee. My first Stillwater beer that I don't absolutely love.

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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.

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Photo of zac16125
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a tulip
Bottled on: 4/4/13

A: Pours a very dark cola brown, faint ruby hues when held to light. Just under 2 fingers width of light tan head dissipates down fairly quickly to a thin film. Leaves effectively no lacing.

S: Belgian yeast spicy notes, like clove and banana. Definitely spice predominant, a bit of nutmeg, caramel, and a hint of roasted malt. Some booze. This kind of reminds me of a BSDA, christmas release.

T: Initially it doesn't taste anything like the aroma, as it seems much lighter with citrus and some brett-like funk notes. As it warms the dark flavors come out, with dark fruits and some caramel malts. The funk stays around though. This is very unique, although Im not sure how much I like the conglomeration of flavors.

M/D: Medium body, lighter than it looks. Carbonation on the heavier side. Drinkability is average.

O: Unique, but not really my thing. Not bad, but I wouldn't buy it again.

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Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown color, Existent certainly defies the expectations for a Saison at the start. It's no surprise, though, given Stillwater's exploratory nature and American brewers delving into brewing Saisons with dark malts, smoking them, etc. While brown, Existent does exhibit a reddish hue. It develops a pillowy tan head that rises to nearly two fingers tall and rests there stubbornly. A good amount of thick patching is left behind on the walls of the glass as the beer recedes down it.
This is a toasty one with some muted yeast notes in the aroma and a bit of molasses, not as sweet as one might think, but adding more tot he toast note due to smelling not burnt but close to it. It is spicy, more the kitchen variety and plenty peppery. There is a faint whiff of band-aid, a very slight phenolic note, faint but detectable.
That doesn't translate to the flavor, though. It's very interestingly toasty, herbal, spicy, and lightly smoky with just a little sweetness as some dried dark fruits ride it out. Yeast comes out with the toast into the finish but really rounds it out well.
Carbonation is fairly high without being too filling or spritzy, and this medium-bodied beer holds an even keel between crisp and smooth.

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Photo of Greywulfken
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: nearly black opaque brown in a tulip; slim finger of tan head slipped away quickly and left no trace of lace

S: dark earthy hops, maybe some herbal and woodsy aromas, dark malty undercurrents

T: dark and roasty malts - like a black ale or schwarzbier - with yeasty dough and real deep, dank hops - suggestions of freshly cut damp wood and burnt grain

M: thin-medium body, rather smooth and slightly coating, dark ashy aftertaste

O: I didn't expect this to be so dark, and had to adjust myself to the beer - other than GI's Pepe Nero, I've never had a dark saison, and this one is black - interesting "take" on the style (or at least my expectations of it), and a rather good beer. Very roasty with deep, earthy flavors - might not be what you're looking for in a saison, but a really enjoyable beer.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a Bell's tulip. The pour is very dark - nearly black with mahogany highlights - and sports a nice rocky tan head that dies down a bit quickly. The nose is a little on the faint side, but I do get hints of yeasty fresh bread aromas, wheat, cereal grains, and a faint roastiness.

The beer has a light-medium body. The flavor is well balanced between roastiness and herbal spiciness and has a little sweetness as well. Faint wheat and cereal notes up front joined by a faint roasty coffee-like note at mid-palate. A gentle hop kick dries up the finish and adds just a bit of spice, but the roastiness seems too persistent and drags through the finish. I like herbal spiciness in Saisons and I'm not sure the roastiness allows the spice to come through all that well.

It's time to recognize a new category - Black Saison. I think there are enough examples of it out there right now. While I enjoyed this one, there's something about the roastiness of it that just didn't do it for me. I haven't had a lot of Black Saisons, but the roastiness seems to benefit from additional spiciness, which this one doesn't have. See Goose Island's ``Pepe Nero'' for more details.

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Photo of dar482
4.67/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The beer pours out in a dark brown/black color with some red coming through in the light. The head is a 1 finger and off white. By the way, props on the beautiful dark label with a negative of Friedrich Nietzsche.

The aroma has quite interesting. It has spicy notes of coriander, and tons of breadiness.

The flavor is lovely. It hits you first with some dark fruit and yeast, again, hints of being a hefeweizen, but also a Belgian dark ale. Then the dark malts take over with some round, but light mouthfeel and roasted malt flavor.

The finish has this spicy rye breadiness and is quite dry and lingering. It’s almost floral in flavor too.

This really is an interesting brew. I had a sip after my friend ordered it and it blew me away. I had to buy a bottle and reviewing it, it still is quite the brew. It’s so different and hard to pin down stylistically.

It has that fruitiness, breadiness, and strong yeast flavor that makes it so Belgian, but then there’s also this refreshing spicy peppery bite. The gentle carbonation keeps this brew uplifting and light as well.

I give this beer tons of credit for being so amazing, but also innovative and different.

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Photo of wedge
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep chestnut brown with a low, creamy head that shrinks to a spotty covering. Smells hoppier than expected...fresh, soapy, earthy, and spicy with some mild roasted malt and wood. The flavor is not super malty, but "darker" tasting than your average farmhouse brew. Spicy fruit esters, floral hops, pine, orange, a touch of chocolate, and dark bread. Fluffy and tingly in the mouth with a long, lingering dryness. A little aggressive overall and personally, I'm generally not a huge fan of roasted malt and Belgian yeast coming together. Pretty good though...

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: A deep, rich dark brown. Dark reds and lighter browns show up when held to direct light. Small tan head drops to an almost non-existent cap with a small loose collar. Moderate carbonation on the pour.

Smell: Loaded with ripe banana. Soft clove spiciness. A bit of roasted malt with some underlying cocoa. A bit floral. Earthy. Powdery yeast. Some hay and grassy elements. Very clean with a soft complexity. Light malt sweetness pushes a good bit of caramel. Even some toffee and licorice in the back.

Taste: A blend of farmhouse funk and Belgian influence. Rich caramelized malts with some backing roasted elements. A touch of cocoa and black licorice. Slight peppery spiciness with some earthy and grassy hops. A bit on the sweet side to start with ripe banana and some bubblegum. Solid yeast presence. Dark fruit, but vague. Very yeasty.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly dry given the sweet malt profile. Crisp with a mediumish body. Medium to high carbonation. Pretty much spot on.

Overall: This beer exists and we are better for it.

A good American saison/farmhouse ale. A solid punch of Belgian influence tempered by the softer funky elements I expect from the American style. A bit sweet overall.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a tan foam head with some splashy lace. Very pretty.

Yeast and spicy grain notes in the nose. A little wood, maybe even a little clove.

Dried out and a bit coarse. The malt has a bitter husk edge to it, that leads to hop bitterness, and a little dried dark maltiness. Unforgiving in the layers of bitter and dry, these flavors push the yeast and funk notes out of the way. Finishes with a little alcohol and bitter grain.

Medium bodied, nice carbonation.

Decent brew, like a black IPA meets farmhouse. A sipper, and something to share if you get a bomber.

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Photo of justintcoons
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

Dark, dark brown with garnet highlights. 1 finger of light tan head with decent retention.

Dark fruits, plum and potpourri.

Overripe plum and fig. Raw grains and hay. Touches of potpourri and chlorine. A tiny hint of chocolate. Finishes with orange zest, rye and coriander. Floral perfumey flavors linger.

Light bodied, crisp, clean and dry.

A crisp and refreshing Black Saison. Spicy, complex and hides the alcohol well.

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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.

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Photo of DenverLogan
4.36/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into medium sized Duvel tulip glass.
Pours a dark brown with large brown head.
Aroma of roasted malts, nuts, lactose, slight sweet malts.
Medium carbonation and significant mouthfeel.
Flavors of dark malts, malt balls, slight chocolate, espresso, caramel, bitter hops, cola, semi-sweet chocolate, persimmon fruit, white grapefruit, brown sugar and raisins. Overall quite complex, certainly not a European style farmhouse! Overall damn tasty and full bodies, challenging yet relatively easy to drink for an American farmhouse/dark saison.

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Photo of metter98
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark brownish red in color (opaque when viewed from afar) and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The first pour resulted in light brown colored head than beer; subsequent pours resulted in increasingly proportions of beer compared to foam, the latter of which consistently left a head covering the surface.
S: Light to moderate aromas of earthy yeast and dark malts are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but also has additional flavors of roasted malts and some hints of dark fruits.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate to high amount of carbonation.
O: I found this beer to be rather interesting for the style but overcarbonated. It almost seems like it should fit into a "Black Saison" category, just like there is one for a Black IPA (American Black Ale).

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Photo of korguy123
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle into tulip.

Dark, opaque black/brown pour. Booming three plus finger light tan head. Lacing is large bubbled gobs around glass.

Dark stone fruits, grapes, apple skins, candied sugar, spicy yeast with some light roasted coffee. It's truly up and down between dark and sweet and light and spicy. There is a cherry syrup in there somewhere like maraschino syrup; slightly tart with a sweetness.

Chocolate covered cherries, candied sugar, spicy yeast, plums and figs, some caramel and burnt toast. This is truly different. It's almost a soured/spiced Belgian Dubbel. It's very original and very good.

Light to medium body, high carbonation.

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Photo of zeff80
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown color with a two-finger, light brown head of foam. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of dried dark fruits and candy sugar.

T - It tasted of rich maltiness, chocolate and cherries. A touch of spiciness, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a really tasty saison. Not surprising that Stillwater has done a great job here.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Muddy molasses color with garnet highlights. Pretty sturdy tan head of about two fingers after a restrainted pour. The tan foam sticks around for almost the whole 750ml bottles worth. The bubbling is hard to see, but you can find it eminating like a good saison should. One of the darkest saisons I've ever had.

Done dry hay and wheat field. Dry, pumpernickel bread crust. Soft, yet dark herbal aromas. Smells like a pretty good, dark saison.

Dry, chalky, earthy bitterness, yet cottony. Dark malts and hinting herbals all combine quiet well. Add to that a dry, yet well carbonated, bubbly palate and you have a fun sipping beer to share with friends. Or in my case, slowly enjoy over the coarse of an hour ;).

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Photo of barczar
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown, not opaque, fleeting light chocolate head.

Subtle aroma, roast malt, chocolate, slight vinous character.

Chocolate, slightly sweet roast malt and an underpinning of funk and sourness in the flavor. A tad acrid.

A little too much roast flavor for my liking. Not enough funk to overcome the malt.

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

So darkly brown it is almost black. It delivers a nice frothy head. Boldly carbonated in a way that makes it sit comfortably on the tongue for nice savor. Great malty flavor that does not overpower and yet is not to wan. Other beers match this type but not the near perfection that this one achieves.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark black with a touch of brown with a finger of frothy khaki head. Fades slow.

S - Dark caramel malts, dark fruit, a bit of chocolate, Belgian yeast, clove, pepper, a bit of grains.

T - Dark caramel malts, dark fruits, chocolate, clove and other spices. Belgian yeast, pepper, some grains, hint of caramelized sugars. Dark malts, Belgian yeast, spices, chocolate.

M - Medium bodied moderate carbonation. Smooth with a dry, sweet, spicy finish.

D - Nice darker saison. Good balance of malt and yeast character.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep dark color ale with a large light brown foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of roasted malt and fruity ester with light funky notes is pretty unique and very interesting. Taste is also dominated by light roasted malt with some light funky ester and some what of a fruity and dry raisins finish. Body was quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very different and complex – almost like a mix between some element of a foreign stout and a farmhouse ale.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a light brown head. In the aroma, a lighter roast and notes of horse blanket. In the taste, dry to earthy small tartness and a caramel like roast. A small hop like bite and a lighter bodied mouthfeel, with a dry yeast and note of caramel like roast in the aftertaste. Nice mix of caramel and earth, quite pleasant.

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Photo of larryi86
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter

A- Dark brown with a four finger light tan head.

S- Fruity farmhouse yeast, some chocolate, roasted malts, earthy hops, nice spices.

T- Again fruity yeast, roasted malts, chocolate, touch of smoke, earthy hops, some spices.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- Another tasty beer from Stillwater, pretty unique. Worth the price, will pick this up again.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle to tulip.

A - Very dark brown. Lots of head on the pour that slowly receded to a thin layer.

S - Bready malts. A touch of chocolate. Lighter Belgian yeast and spice notes are present but they aren't dominant like in many saisons.

T - Belgian yeast a touch of chocolate, raisin, dark fruit and spice. All the flavours are well integrated with nothing dominating, including the yeast characteristics.

M - Medium body. Creamy. Moderate carbonation.

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Existent from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
3.84 out of 5 based on 647 ratings.
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