A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2) | Stillwater Artisanal Ales

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A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2)A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2)

Brewed by:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Maryland, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed at Huisbrouwerij Sint Canarus in Deinze-Gottem, Belgium with Dr. Canarus. This black saison carries qualities similar to a stout with light roast and burnt sugar flavors, spiced with Rose Hips, Hibiscus, & Schisandra berries.

Added by Thorpe429 on 11-13-2010

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Reviews: 130 | Ratings: 343
Photo of crusian
1.38/5  rDev -64.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Bottle from Dan at pinnochios, thanks man... or rather... no thanks. :) but seriously, you are awesome, this beer, isn't.

Pours with a head that desperately tries to escape the glass... dark dark saison... looks good.
The nose is a mix of saison and roasted... actually smells like vomit... and to be honest, tastes terrible, like death. if you can imagine what something that died a week ago tastes like... This review just got cut short. Drain pour. I am gagging. I don't taste or smell any off flavors per se, they just don't go well together. Bad.

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Photo of nhindian
2.63/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a Cantillon wine glass.

Batch #2, best before October 2012.

A - Pours a chestnut brown color with some dark hints in the middle of it. A bubbly head quickly rises from the depths, finally culminating in a 2-fingered head with moderate retention. It leaves pretty quick, but a half-finger cap lingers behind. Lacing is pretty low, not leaving foam.

S - The nose is much fainter than I would've expected, and bears almost no similarities to a typical saison. There's some burnt and even roasty notes here, as if it's trying to be like a Black IPA. Outside of that, some yeast and floral notes are buried here, but aren't readily apparent.

T - As in the nose, the taste brings elements of roast and chocolate, which honestly I don't think melds with the saison backbone nicely at all. The spices, hibiscus, and floral qualities also add a third element which doesn't quite fit anywhere as well. Strangely smokey and overly malty. Not a fan.

M - Mouthfeel is relatively light-bodied with high carbonation. A decent feeling beer, and finishes rather dry which is nice as well.

D/O - Drinkability is moderately low. Can't say I'm not disappointed in this one, especially for $5.99 a bottle (although the price doesn't factor in to this particular rating). A nice concept, but I'm not sold on it as you don't get much benefit from either the saison or the malt here without the other interfering. I'm glad I tried it, but won't be seeking it out again.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
2.94/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

forgot who sent this to me but it's been rolling around in the fridge for a while now. Thanks!

Nice brown out of the bottle and a 3-finger oatmeal cookie head that has brown specks in it. Settles out in a few to a 1cm head. Smell is sweet and undefined; some grainy veggies and some dark spices. Taste follows, I get corn husk, black pepper, something sweet like red grapes and red apples. Plum skin, maybe. A mild tartness, and some lingering spices too. Overall, an odd beer- one I'm in no rush to revisit.

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Photo of andrewinski1
3.11/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip. Very dark color bordering on black. There is a giant tan head.

The aroma is dominated with roasted malt that yields mostly bitter char and slight coffee like aroma.

The taste starts out dry with bitter malt flavors. This tastes mostly like a dry stout with a gentle spicy yeast kick.

This is relatively light for a stout but on point for a saison. The carbonation adds a nice crispness.

Overall this is decent, but unremarkable. I don't get these dark saisons; the best parts of saisons are too fragile to hold up against roasted malts.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.15/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle into a wine stem.

Pours a deep, dark amber/brown, with a couple fingers of fizzy mocha head. This peters down pretty quickly, retaining with mostly gentle foamy edging that leaves back a light cascade of spotty lacing. The aroma smells of ripe dark fruit, spice, and then a roastier malt presence across the back. This is mostly dark fruit and spices though.

The taste is similar, with dark malt, darker fruit, and an earthy hop presence. Plenty of spice is present too, which hangs strong in the finish along with a touch of dry bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and while mellow up front, this prickles up with some strength on the tongue. This has a pretty lively feel to it that matches up well with the spice.

I didn’t really get this one. Fruit, dark malts, and spice are what stood out to me the most here but the overall profiles just had a flat feel to them that didn’t get me excited in any way. I do like the label on this though and it’s basically what made me take a chance on it. I guess it did its job.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.26/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip. This one pours a dark cola brown with a light khaki head. Not gonna lie. This looks like a coke.

Yeasty aroma with a little bit of a floral hop aroma. A little bit of spice and some black pepper. Good dark fruit aroma like plumbs or figs. Belgian yeast on the pallet with dark fruits and some floral hops.

The body is medium with good carbonation. Overall this one is drinkable and I'll enjoy it but it doesn't hit the mark for me on the saison front.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.29/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A – Huge, pillowy, pink-khaki head with ok lace. Dark cola body with dark brown highlights.

S – Fresh mint, lemon zest, hand soap, and a touch of caramel.

T – Potpourri up front. Wheaty center with coffee grinds, bitter chocolate covered cranberry, and lavender. Unfortunately the floral notes are bit too much, and they culminate in a floral soap-like finish.

M – Medium/light body. Dry finish. Relatively smooth with a nice carbonation.

O – A nice refreshing body, but the association of the huge floral notes with soap really hurts this brew for me.

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Photo of drpimento
3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured with a large, foamy, tan head and no lace. Color is a cloudy dark brown with some very active bubble trails. Aroma is bananas, yeast, musty, malt, a bit of other fruit and roasty. Flavor is way more sweet than the more traditional saisons and has more fruitiness but does still have as the yeast bitterness. Body is ok and carbonation is good (helps cut the sweetness). Finish is like flavor and the sweetness dominates and is longish. Ok as a dark ale, but not much of a saison.

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Photo of craytonic
3.35/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Very dark pour with an enormous head, no lacing or retention.

Smell: Wet leather, dark fruits, tobacco juice, tea and plum.

Taste: Mirror of the aroma, tobacco juice, bakers chocolate, wet leather, blackberry, black cherry and plum. Very wintery and a bit muddled.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, good carbonation

Drinkability: I wasn't crazy about this one.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.41/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz. bottle -- best before June 2012 -- served into a tulip glass

Pours a deep chestnut brown color. This beer looks nothing like a Saison, and I can't really rate the appearance to style because the nature of this beer's experimentation (i.e. bringing dark malt flavors to the Saison style) necessitates an nontraditional look. This would be a fine looking English Porter: that nutty dark brown body plays off of the two fingers worth of khaki head, creamy on top but composed of medium-sized bubbles. After the head dissipates a bit, I can start to make out some lighter brown shades around the edges of the glass, giving the beer a color close to a glass of cola. It looks good for a beer of this color, so I suppose I will rate the appearance as 'good.'

The aroma, though, is a place where I do feel comfortable rating to style. How well does Stillwater's dark malt experiment work in terms of aroma? Not incredibly well, I don't think. But it is certainly unique and intriguing. The initial smells are all fruit and sugar: sweet stonefruit candies, granulated sugar. Then a slight dusting of cocao powder wafts over before yielding to a massive amount of bread crusts. Like straight-out-of-the-bag, Wonder Bread crusts. I was hoping for more of a Black IPA or India Porter type nose, but this is fairly benign. I desire some roast character. Then again, the thinking could be that roast would take away from the farmhouse ale aspects of this beer. The beer starts off like a too-strong Saison, then gives way to the bread, but then more yeast aromas start muscling their way into the fray. Some dentist's office phenols and musty flower shop scents bring up the back end of the nose. The mustiness really become stronger with warmth, taking those bread crusts and making them into more a graham type scent . I'm kind of digging this nose, but I don't think that it's anything better than average for the style. The darker malts just aren't doing anything positive for the beer, and in fact might be contributing to the odd mustiness and the slightly-off phenols.

A Saison darkly fares much better on the palate in terms of acting like a farmhouse ale. That abundant bread character from the nose does not show up at nearly the same strength when drinking the beer. Instead you get a sweet milk chocolate-like base for the yeast to play around on. There's plenty of fruit here, both slightly dark and sightly citirc; the best way I can describe it is that it tastes like a mix of blueberries and sweet ruby red grapefruit. The phenolic structure of this beer, as in the nose, is affected by the darker malts. My mouth tastes like it's been to the dentist's office. The flavor is so reminiscent of the general anesthetic that my dentist uses. Some good black pepper & red flowers cut through the phenols on the finish. I like a lot of this beer's individual components, but I find that it isn't a cohesive beer on the whole. This beer doesn't deftly transition from first sip through the midpalate and onto the finish, it just harshly leaps from startling flavor to startling flavor.

The body is still well within the Saison wheelhouse despite the addition of these darker malts. I do appreciate the carbonation, which is not prickly but still manages to give a fine, gentle scrubbing. The only thing holding this beer's mouthfeel back is that it doesn't finish as dry as a Saison should. A Saison Darkly is just a bit too juicy to warrant high marks for the style. Overall, this is a perplexing, unique take on the style. It doesn't cohere, but that's the price of experimentation. I think this beer is well worth trying, and I do enjoy it more than the score might indicate.

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Photo of kiddynamite920
3.42/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clearly a very dark saison. A dark brown with a tan colored head that is pretty voluminous at room temp. Never seen a saison of this color, so it's hard to review by style.

S: Incredibly still has the main characteristics of a saison, with great citrus and grassy notes. Has an added malty sweetness and a twinge of alcohol aroma.

T: You would think this is a different beer after smelling then tasting. Loses all its saison quality and instead is replaced by a large malt presence with some bready and yeasty flavors. The citrus is almost non-existent and the crispness on the aroma is not translated to the palate. Has more of a Black IPA quality, with minimal hops. Hard to take points away, because this isn't a bad tasting beer at all. It simply doesn't taste like a saison though.

M: It's malty and medium bodied. Quite Belgian in the yeast profile.

D: Very enjoyable beer, way off style. Who couldn't like a Belgian saison though...

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Photo of yourefragile
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a dark charred brown, mild mahogany tones against light with a creamy sand colored head. Long lasting retention and little lacing.

Aroma is creamy, lactic, chocolate malt, floral, yeast and a slight berry presence in the finish. Interesting, but doesn't mesh very well.

Light body with strong, fine carbonation. Finish is thin and has a lactose-like creaminess to it. Flavor is similar to the nose, very interesting, but missing balance and cohesion. The fizzy carbonation makes it difficult to pick out details, but this much maltier and roastier than the nose with very light spice and berry sweetness.

I enjoyed this more than my scores reflect, but I was left with a nagging feeling there was too much going on competing for my attention. The thin body with fizzy carbonation didn't help matters. While Of Love and Regret has benefitted greatly from some age, I don't expect to be able to say the same about this.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's beer garden, Media, PA

Poured a dark chocolate color, not quite opaque, with a nice off-white head. Smell was of mildly semisweet chocolate and roasty malts. Taste was similarly of roasty dark malts, grains, perhaps hazelnut, and light sugar, causing this beer to somewhat resemble a dunkel or light-bodied porter more than a typical saison. Just a mild alcohol sensation came through. Medium bodied, and pretty easily drinkable, especially if you like the dunkel style.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.51/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle at the Bilbo Baggins event welcoming Stillwater to Virginia. Brewed in West Flanders and made with hibiscus, rose hips, and Schisandra chinensis, aka the Chinese five-flavored fruit.

Pours a dark plum color with an off white bordering on tan head and some spotty lacing. Some carbonation rings at the edges of the glass. Nose is light and creamy and has a mild tequila-like booziness. Slight notes of blueberry skin and wood.

The taste is lightly spicy and musty with a moderate berry tartness. Slightly floral and tea-like. Toward the end I get some light floral and plum characteristics. The feel is light with mild carbonation and is slightly bitter. Throughout the glass, I'm still trying to figure out what's going on. This is really quite interesting and definitely worth a try.

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Photo of MostlyNorwegian
3.52/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Massive head that would not quit on this bottle snapped up from West Lakeview. First pour was all foam. Not personally a big fan of massive carbonation levels, and not sure how all that actions works with this ones very dark complexion. Instantly though, I got a hankering for some charcuterie, gherkins and spicy mustard. Definitely something to leave out and let warm up and absolutely a beer that begs to be paired with food, the kind of which I didn't have. Not terribly spicy in the peppery way. It's more a tartness from the berries and hibiscus peaking through which would probably only become more pronounced served closer to room temp and have more to say without the carbonation levels piercing the profile so much. Perhaps I missed the point as I didn't have anything to pair it with and didn't ignore it long enough for all of the components to really get their dance on. Would seek out another (if possible) for a more relaxed leisurely stroll to the end of the bottle.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch #2, best before October 2012. Served in a Struise cervoise.

A - A few fingers of tan foam settle to a thick cap, leaving a few spots of lace. Opaque dark brown body with reddish highlights.

S - Lots of spice, smoke, and peppery yeast. There's some chocolate, cherries, and stones fruits in the periphery, but this is dominated by the yeast character. For more flavor depth, let this one warm up a bit. Maybe some alcohol too.

T - Taste is more chocolate-heavy. Farmhouse yeast, peaches, and thankfully less pepper and spice. There's some unpleasant herbal flavor in the finish. I liked the taste better until I got to the finish and aftertaste.

M - Lower carbonation, chewy medium-full body, some mild alcohol warmth, sticky finish. Could use a bit more spritz

D - Not a big fan of this one. It's not a bad beer by any stretch, and it delivers exactly what it promises - just not anything I was interested in trying in the first place.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a healthy umber colour, with some unfortunate chunks of unavoidable yeast. Beige head, nice and fluffy. Lace is pretty decent. Looks good.

Sour smell; pretty pungent. Bit of solventy goodness with licorice, unfermented cacao and a Chinese medicine shop as well. Oddly sweet, too, a funky mix.

Taste is really smoky upfront; about the only possible beer character I'm yet to get on this beer. Suffocated wood smoke, black pepper and juniper, with a touch of balsamic and fig on the back. Decidedly odd, not really accessible in some ways.

Pretty decent texture. Full, bitty, almost gritty, and somewhat dry on the back. Good.

Really extreme beer when it comes down to it. Funky, pungent, spicy and weird.

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Photo of popery
3.59/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes 8/12/11. Bottle. Surprisingly good. I’m always a bit suspicious of dark saisons, particularly ones with some oddball ingredients, but this one works. There are notes of various fruits, flowers, citrus, chocolate, spice, earth and caramel. And it all meshes together. The rose hips and hibiscus provide a pleasant tartness and somewhat tannic feel. Fruitiness is plums, peaches and raisins. Taste is a bit sweet with caramel malt sweetness. Pours a deep, dark brown with a big fizzy head that dissipates to a thin line of bubbles. Good beer.

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Photo of dgfair
3.6/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle in Westmalle goblet

Pours a thin dark black with a light bubbly tan head. The head stays in about a 2mm layer for the duration of the drink, but leaves no lacing on the glass. The smell is sweet raw dough, followed by some fruitiness and smoke. I get strawberry and blackberry along with a smoky wood in the background. Taste is smoky, grassy, and balanced out with dark ripe fruit. Alcohol taste is a little more than I would like in this style. Mouthfeel is big and bubbly...not bad, but foams a little too much in the mouth. Drinkability is decent, but not as good as a lot of other saisons. Obviously this is difficult to compare to others of the style since it is very different. I would consider this more of a Belgian strong dark ale than a saison. Nice brew, but probably won't be going back for more at $6 per.

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Photo of alpinebryant
3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a massive light cocoa head

S: Aroma of cocoa, roasted malts, roasted caramel, light saison yeast

T: Tons of cocoa up front, a Belgian Strong dark ale nearly completely in taste. I am not entirely sure where this becomes a saison other than the yeast which is normally a bigger factor, but really this is a Belgian Strong Dark ale. It resembles a Russian imperial stout in many ways but has a little lighter body and more of a belgian spiced flavor. Plenty of toffee , caramel, and molasses flavors blend together. I can taste some cinnamon and some other spicing which I cannot entirely grasp but they add a nice touch to the beer. Perhaps some flowery flavors as well.... maybe lavender?

M: Medium to Thick for a Saison / Farmhouse ale.

O: This is pretty good. I wouldn't spend $5 on it again but worth a try.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a dark black color ale with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of solid rustic malt with light funky ester with some light spices notes also easily identifiable. Taste is a somewhat unique mix between some roasted malt with dry notes with light funky yeast ester and some spices also discernable. The hibiscus and berries were quite hard to distinguish. Body is quiet full with great carbonation. Interesting experiment with good balance between different ingredient but not something I would necessarily seek on a regular basis.

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Photo of hannydawg
3.67/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured form a bottle into a Duvel tulip

A- Dark brown with a one finger tan head that quickly dissipates with minimal lacing.

S- Roast malts dominate, with hints of coffee, cocoa powder, and dark fruits. Bready yeast smell is also present.

T- Pretty much follows the nose with the roasted malts dominating, but coffee and chocolate following as well. a bit of spice and that yeast as well.

M- Just about right body for a saison, but could have been a bit drier.

O- Decent beer, but I certainly would not search for this beer again. Lacks the essence of a typical saison, and blurs the line between styles a bit too much for me.

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Photo of ByronDBeer
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Black but a little transparency
S: Yeast, hefeweizen
T: Coffee, a bit cola
F: Very crisp due to carbonation, light feel, almost like a lager. Not too much carbonation.

Quite weird, like watery coffee and cola.

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Photo of dogfishandi
3.69/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

375ml bottle at fridge temp poured into a tulip. Not freshness info.

Pours out almost black, actually a dark ruby red in the light. Small layer of light tan colored head with some average retention. No real lacing. A decent amount of streaming carbonation bubbles.

Aroma is a bit lackluster. Lots of fruity and yeasty esters, some plum/ sugar plum, the slightest hint of alcohol. As it's warmed up you get a slight hint of a creaminess typically associated with the French saison strain of yeast.

Kind of comes together a bit more in the taste. Lots of sugar plum. Fruity yeast esters, a bit phenolic, a bit of a brown sugar sweetness, the tiniest hints of spice on the back of the palate. Finishes clean.

Has a nice effervescence and a strong carbonation, a touch of a sweet sticky feel that let's you know this is a dark saison. Feels like you would expect a Belgian dark ale to feel.

A pretty good beer, not really sure if I would buy this again, mostly due to the price tag, but it's worth one try. This could easily pass for a Belgian dark ale.

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Photo of jminsc76
3.69/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Into a tulip, initially pours a large, mocha head atop a dark, chocolate brown body. Nice legs as I tilt, but the carbonation does not last long.

Smells of burnt cinnamon and sugar, as well as dates, plums, and...(at this point my notes on the aroma teetered off for some reason). I do remember the bouquet opens up quite well, and it's quite complex.

Flavors of spices, mild chocolate, and farmhouse funk near and at the finish. This starts off really, REALLY sweet, and soon develops into an ultra bitter version of The Bruery's Saison Rue. All sort of craziness going on here.

Mouthfeel is light and thin, slightly dry.

Overall, this is a beast. Plain and simple. While I'm ambiguous on whether I like it or not - and I think it's primarily because the latter half gets really funky and harsh - this is a good Saison to try out.

To summarize: think a Belgian Dubbel meets a Saison with copious amounts of burnt chocolate malts. Definitely original.

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A Saison Darkly (Import Series Vol. 2) from Stillwater Artisanal Ales
3.9 out of 5 based on 343 ratings.
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