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

very good
130 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 130 | Ratings: 343
Photo of biboergosum
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

375ml bottle. Spiced with rose hips, hibiscus, and Schisandra berries. More weird Asian fruit ingredients - cool.

This beer pours a hazy, very dark reddish brown colour, with two fingers of thinly foamy, fizzy pale beige head, which leaves a few upward strands of sea plume lace around the glass as things drop away.

It smells of grainy, somewhat roasted biscuity malt, medicinal dark fruits - cherry and prune - a spicy rye sweetness, mild barnyard funk, paint thinner, spent yeast, overripe apples, mildly herbal cloves, and a bit of crumbling forest-floor woodiness. The taste is lightly toasted bready, grainy malt, brown sugar, edgy yeast, softly sour red berries, a hint of stale black coffee, earthy anise, faint musty funk, a fading medicinal fruitiness, a tame floral, ethereally perfumed alcohol warming.

The bubbles are decently supportive, and a tad spritzy, the body an adequate medium weight, with a rising metallic edge that more or less precludes smoothness. It finishes off-dry, the sweetness fairly tempered by yeast, spice, and roast.

A pleasant enough experiment, the base saison pretty overwhelmed by the roasted character, as well as the fruit and floral notes. It all comes together for the most part, another step on the road to new style attainment, which seems to be a specialty of this particular gypsy brewer.

 1,341 characters

Photo of Slatetank
3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at John J Jeffries served chilled in a taster.

The color is dark brown with medium brown at the base with thin light beige head and tight bead. The smell is very nice mix of cocoa, raisin and slight nutty malt esters with some spice from the yeast. The feel is moderately creamy with spice in the back and mild toasted grain texture with a low sweetness level and mild alcohol.

The flavor follows the nose - nice blend of saison yeastiness and dark toasted grain with some raisin elements and light cocoa with mild nutty flavors and the yeast adds a mild pepper quality which adds to the complexity with mostly dry flavor as it finishes. Overall I like this a lot a very fresh tasting and complex take on the dark saison style with plenty of saison character yet the drinkability of dark belgian ale mixed in .

 834 characters

Photo of Tone
4.06/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, dark brown. 1/4 inch head of a tan color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight alcohol, hint of roasted malt, hint of yeast, dark citrus, and hint of dry hops. Fits the style of a Saison / Farmhouse Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of hint of roasted malt, sweet malt, slight hop, slight dark citrus, and slight yeast. Overall, good appearance, aroma, body, and blend. This is a solid Saison with interesting notes of roasted malt.

 517 characters

Photo of Hopswagger
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

P: Vivacious dirty dark brown cola appearance with a ridiculously massive crown of rocky foam about 4 fingers high. The head was so large it took about 5 minutes to finish the pour. Retention is great but minimal lacing.

S: Rotten wood, dried grain, barley, rye, basement funk, saltine crackers, blueberries, cherries, apples, allspice, clove, herb/medicinal aroma and Belgian yeast. A subtle undertone of fresh ground coffee beans, cracked pepper, and bubble gum. Aroma is similar to an Oud Bruin.

T/M: Coffee and a strong fruity medicinal flavor engulfs the palate. Dark fruits, musty funk, vanilla, oak, bitter fun dip powder and b-vitamins. Molasses and brown sugar sweetness combine with the smoldered grains. Zesty carbonation exploding across the tongue in a sloshy medium body. Super dry powdery finish that lingers ground up nuts.

O: Not sure about this one. This is a beer that must be enjoyed warm. I was shocked at how much changed once it warmed. When it was cold it was just a mess. I'm still on the fence with this one. Not one that I would seek out.

 1,071 characters

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.

 982 characters

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.

 582 characters

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.

 713 characters

Photo of nickfl
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with two fingers of off white foam on top of a nearly opaque, black body. The head settles slowly and leave nice lacing on the glass.

S - Vanilla, pepper, mango, clove, and a touch of chocolate.

T - Dark sugar up front with notes of toffee and light molasses. Spicy notes of clove and black pepper I'm the middle with a finish of clove, mango, dark bread and a lingering mocha note.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - Nicely done, the roasted malt is just light enough to work with the strong yeast character. Lots of spice and fruit without becoming cloying or harsh.

 615 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: two finger head with excellent retention on a very deep brown amber body.

S: very nice full nose with belgian yeast, corriander, herbal hops, and peppercorn.

T: raisin, chocolate, belgian yeast, herbal hops, peppercorn, spices, and roasted malts

M: medium body and fairly high carbonation. semi dry, a little over carbonated even for the style

Overall: this is a very good dark saison. balances the saison belgian character with roasted/chocolate malt notes.

 465 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a pretty chunky brown colour, with plenty of yeast floaties. Head is frothy enough, and forms a bubbly mess of beige. Body is pretty light and fluid, but holds erratic fine carbonation. Not much in the way of lacing. It's solid enough, but I can't say it's enticing me with looks alone.

Nose is biting, herbal, slightly astringent and almost with a hint of smoke. Slightly minerally, almost chlorine character comes through, along with some hints of roast, and the antiseptic aroma of a hospital. This is so weird.

Taste blends that antiseptic bite with a really confusingly smooth and rich chocolate malt character, which gives a toasty depth to the palate. Astringency on the end tries to dry things out and create a bit of a pucker, but oddly the malt wins out, leaving a smooth and long finish of roast and toast. There's perhaps a slight boozy/peppery/antiseptic character at the very end, but it's disconnected somehow from the rest of the beer. Weird, weird stuff.

OK, I really like it, probably because it's so weird and so disconnected from the regular standard beers that you can find anywhere you go. But that doesn't mean I'm not confused and aggravated by it. Keep it up.

 1,300 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Gehrig13 for this long time want.

Pours very dark, sort of a dark, dark brown, almost black. A dark tan head adorns, dissipating to a slight foamy ring. Definitely the most roasty dakr saison I've had. Slightly burnt, with noticeable spice notes, yeasty esters. The taste has some sweetness up front, a hint of fruitiness, roasted malts with some sweet toast, spices and yeast esters. The carbonation is a bit nippy. Light to medium body.

Overall, it's quite enjoyable. Dark saisons are a unique thing and no two are alike, but this is a nice and more roasty iteration.

 587 characters

Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.76/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours black with 3 inches of an overflowing, fluffy, tan head. There is a bit of fine sediment that sits suspended in the beer's dark, malty matrix. Very little lacing that sticks, but a constant blanketing remains throughout drinking. The nose is relatively dull with a bitter roastiness and a touch of fruitiness. Nothing about this beer screams saison, instead I'm reminded of a porter or belgian strong ale. The taste is a bold blend of roasty malt and fruit (nothing specific comes to mind). The light-medium body and roasty aftertaste make this drink much more like a stout than a saison. I think the taste is quite unique, but I would never call this a 'saison." I was expecting a beer similar to existent, but this is a completely different beast.

 764 characters

Photo of VncentLIFE
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour is pitch black. thick white head of large bubbles. I poured a bit too aggressively, as I got some huge floaties.

The smell is balanced and light, as a good Saison should be, except the addition of a touch of thick roasted/smoked malt come in. Different take on a saison for sure, but it still works.

The taste is just loaded with smoke, almost overwhelming but just enough. Alot of the smoke, but I still get a small hint of the yeast. Kind of a neutral-er yeast. Hm a smoked saison, interesting.

 503 characters

Photo of GregSVT
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip

A: Pours a dark brown with a creamy light brown head that fades to a ring leaving some lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is intriguing on this one. Starts with the belgian yeast aromas of apples, pears, and a touch of banana but there is a chocolately malt aroma in there as well.

T: The taste is also interesting. It tastes like a porter mixed with a saison. Lots of good chocolate and cocoa flavors mix with belgian yeast esters and fruity flavors. There are some dark fruits in there as well.

M: The feel is nice and creamy with a medium body.

O: While this isn't my favorite beer it's definitely something I am glad I got to try. It's right between a porter and a saison. I would probably drink it again...especially around the fall months when I'm looking for something dark but still a bit light.

 831 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a vigorous khaki head and the beer itself is a darkish brown black. Lots of lacing.

The chocolate and the yeast smell very nice with what seems to be a hint of vanilla.

The chocolate is omnipresent but does not dominate the taste. I also get hints of orange and yeast, which seem to dominate the taste.


A good beer but I'm not too crazy about the style. It reminds of orange flavored chocolate.

 458 characters

Photo of mlazzaro
4.58/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into Pretty Things wine glass

Huge pillowy khaki colored head. Head hold fairly well. Basically the body of a stout. Black and opaque up to the light. Decent carbonation.

Smells of chocolate, oak/vanilla, and clean fermented spicey yeast. Smells good. The aromatics in general are very reserved/subtle.

Flavors of pine and resin, toast, molasses, black licorice and wood. Slightly sweet aftertaste. Caramelized sugar, like a thick stout aftertaste. Still quite refreshing. Yeast lends a spicier kick. Alcohol is well hidden. Very unique.

I'm really impressed with this beer. Superb example of a dark farmhouse. Acidic (not tart), with a soft finish. Clean, crisp, well carbonated. And most importantly delicious.

 739 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.72/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

330 mL bottle poured into an RR -tion glass. Batch #2, best by October 2012.

Appearance - Pours a murky dark brown with a bit of a head that's gone in a flash. Looks a little lifeless after a few minutes.

Smell - Chocolate malts on showcase, but all sorts of strange aromas in the background. They struggle to come through, though. Brighter fruits, but I couldn't specify. Maybe a touch of banana.

Taste - Less dominated by the chocolate malt, but it's still quite present. More yeasty than the aroma. Woody in flavor. Again, it's all very difficult to pin down. Brief fruit flavors that yield to bananas again.

Mouthfeel - Creamy, but light and easy to drink. Not a lot of carbonation, but enough.

Overall - I don't think I love it, but it's pretty good. Interesting more than it is good. More defined flavors would help a lot.

 833 characters

Photo of DIM
3.73/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: This was a deep, dark chestnut brown. It poured with a large, stubbornly long lasting thick head.

s: Hints of fruit (berries and plums), tea-like minerals, faint sugar, coriander, and musty hops.

t: Dry overall with some lightly trat fruit up front. Some tea-like spice and mineral flavors come next. The finish is strong spice with some fairly strong bitterness.

m: Spritzy carbonation.

o: Enjoyable, but the finish seemed a bit off to me.

 447 characters

Photo of ksimons
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-dark chestnut brown with visible sediment seen. Head is about three fingers worth of a very nice creamy looking tan

S-a nice lightly roasted malt backbone with light chocolate and spices

T-taste is a nice roasted malt, roasted coffee, chocolate, a spicy chipotle like flavor, and Belgian spices. Very interesting tasting.

M-very nice mouthfeel, medium body, excellent amount of carbonation, leaves a nice roasted feeling in the mouth

Overall I am very impressed by this beer. Very balanced and easy to drink.

 514 characters

Photo of busternuggz
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2 oz bottle into a bordeaux glass. "Best before" date of Oct 2013.

Pours a nearly opaque dark brown with a ridiculous 3" puffy, solid, coffee colored head. A little dark sediment. Head recedes to a creamy 1/2" and holds shape well, leaves thick lacing.

The smell comes on first with herbal and floral qualities, then light burnt sugar, roasted malt, raisins, and some cocoa. There's some subtle earthy/soily funk in there too. Different notes but they come together fairly well.

The taste starts with bitter roasted malt and baking chocolate, a little coffee bean, and ends somehat astringent with saison funk, medicinal herbs, and grassiness. There's a touch of some slightly sweet fruit in the middle, can't put my finger on it; burnt dates and dried cherries? Long, bitter finish.

Very light bodied and highly carbonated, a bit too much maybe. Smooths out a little as it warms. Ends dry and a little slick.

Not my favorite effort from Stillwater but interesting and complex, and manages to bring together the disparate stout and saison qualities pretty well. The astringency can be a bit much and it's kind of weird, but well made.

 1,156 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours very dark, opaque brown with a massive light tan head, allowing only half a bottle pour. Good retention and lacing. Interesting aroma of toasted malt, Belgian yeast and spicing, a bit of mineral funk. Interesting flavor of dark malt, faint chocolate with a distinct saison light fruit, mild funk and a peppery finish. The floral elements are not noticable. An unusual combination of porter and saison elements that I thought worked quite nicely. Light to medium bodied. I enjoyed this ale. Sint Canarus is a brewery for which I already had quite a bit of fondness and this collaboration turned out well.

 643 characters

Photo of natemort13
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a deep deep opaque brown with a wicked amount of tan fluffy head.

The aroma is phenolic with some floral spice characteristics. Smooth cardamom and some light brown sugar. After warming and a swirl I get some sweet light grassy notes.

Taste starts with the spices prominent overlaying a roasted malt presence. Slight hint of cherry. Finishes with some effeverescent cinnamon, bunch of toffee.

Mouthfeel is effervescent with a medium light body.

Decent saison, makes me think of a spiced quad. Not bad, but wouldnt pay the 5 bucks for a bottle again.

 566 characters

Photo of Rickythejeweler
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Typical annoying 4 finger off white head atop a dark brown-black liquid with yeast floating around. Little lacing.

S - Floral hops and spices, yeast, light roast.

T - Starts with dark candi sugar, roasted malts; middle is belgian yeast, spices, grass; finishes with light mixed berries and char.

M - High carbonation, medium-full body.

O - If this beer was brewed without the hyperactive yeast it would be so much better.

Batch #3, bb Oct. 2013

 453 characters

Photo of flagmantho
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 330mL bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: nearly impenetrable dark-brown hue with three fingers of creamy tan foam atop. Not bad at all.

Smell: aroma has a light saison-ey funk along with some roasted malt. The roastiness is almost over-done, though, with a hint of bitter burnt aroma. Still, it's interesting.

Taste: big flavor is surprising after the mild aroma -- a light but nice funk, a nice sourness and a nice alcoholic fruitiness. Chocolate malt adds a hint of dessert flavor which works well. I like it.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a great big carbonation and mouth-filling creaminess. I like it.

Overall: quite a nice dark saison. Perhaps a bit pricey for what you get, but I still like it.

 720 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. Batch #3 best before October 2013. This is one of the neatest labels I've ever seen.

A real light cocoa tan head very foamy and soapy quite large off the pour but settles nicely. Body color is truly darkly, very dark walnut, the few places the body gets thin it actually looks purple edged. This is neat looking. Later examining the bottom of the bottle has a huge chunk in it.

Bouquet is a real nice sense of purple grape without a big sweetness at first. THat sensation though doesn't return. Some small sugars, faint wild yeast maybe? and milk chocolate powder. Sort of reminding me of a porter saison mix.

Extremely classic crisp saison palate. Nice hot yeast feeling, and the senses on the nose come just as expected. Rolling milk chocolate with a high to medium carbonated feel that gives off a nice powdered cocoa sensation. Crisp maltyness gives a nice char, mixing in with bitter dark chocolate.

Overall, real interesting beer here, I am digging this, love this bitter dark chocolate angle hitting with saison crispness and bitterness. Real nice.

 1,102 characters

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