W'12 Dark Saison | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

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W'12 Dark SaisonW'12 Dark Saison

Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Availability: Spring (2012)
Bitterness: 25 IBU
Alcohol by Volume: 5.5%

Original Gravity: 11.75 Plato
Malts: 2-Row Pale, White Wheat, Caramel 120L, Vienna, Dark Chocolate
Hops: Alchemy, Saaz

Added by leedorham on 12-31-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 117 | Ratings: 268
Photo of Jimmys
3.05/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

bottled JAN 06 12. 12oz into tulip.

A: dark ruby hued brew. head is bubbly, white with red tint. dies to a rim with minimal lacing.

S: fruity. a touch of pineapple. rich caramel malt. yeasty ester notes as i swirl the glass.

T: very clovey off the bat. hop presence is minimal as the yeast and malt are the primary players here. slightly metallic. chewy cereal grains linger into the finish.

M: average carbonation on a medium body.

D: the flavor reminds me so much more of a dunkel than anything resembling a saison. it would certainly make a solid showing as a dunkel as well, however this brew claims to be a dark saison, which it is not. pass.

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Photo of Blargimus
3.07/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into tulip. Bottled on 12/14/2011.

Pours about how you would expect an amber ale to look, maybe slightly darker. 2 fingers of fluffy white head. Not bad looking.

Smells eerily like a saison. It's the same cognitive dissonance you get when you smell a black IPA. A little yeasty, a little malty, a touch of sourness. Quite pleasant.

Taste is a little disappointing. There's a yeastiness to start off, followed by a bit of roasted flavor near the end, but there's not a lot of depth. The aftertaste, however, is quite bad. Stale, almost. Blech.

Mouthfeel is fairly dry and thin, but it is a saison, after all. No complaints.

Overall, this is something I'd happily drink if given to me, but wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.08/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance: Perfectly clear. A rich copper with dark golden hues. Small off-white head has ok retention. Sticky lacing. Creamy and rich.

Smell: Caramel malt sweetness. Tons of Belgian yeast. Clove, banana, touches of bubblegum even. Big sweetness. So much clove. Candi sugar. Peppercorns. Vaguely breast. Very yeast and spice heavy. A bit of roasted malt adds character.

Taste: Big yeast and sweetness. Clove and ripe banana. So much clove. Sweet caramel malt presence. Cooked and caramelized malts. Bready in small amounts. Underlying earthiness coupled with some floral and citrus notes. Mild hopping. So very Belgian. Almost cola-like sweetness. Caramel and something akin to honey in the back. Vaguely spicy outside of clove.

Mouthfeel: Body runs on the lighter side of medium with a moderate carbonation. Minor dryness on the finish.

Overall: I think I missed the part where they made a saison.

A Belgian dark ale of sorts. Missed a saison in character and practice. Actually decent as a Belgian dark but a mess as a saison.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.08/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with a small ¼” head of tan bubbles after a pretty aggressive pour. The head only stuck around for about 20-30 seconds before it wound up as a small ring where it meets the glass. There are quite a few bubbles quickly racing for the top, but they don’t stick very long once they get there. There is a little bit of lacing left on the glass after drinking.

Aroma: I initially got a pretty healthy done of banana esters like a HefeWeizen along with some sweet caramel esters and some mild toasty notes…so the initial aroma wasn’t bad for a Dunkel Weisse…oh wait, this is a “dark Saison”. As it sits, it gets a little more malty, but the Weisse character is definitely still there.

Taste: The flavor isn’t as much a Weisse beer as I expected from the aroma, but there are still components in there. The beer is mostly malty, with hops being reserved in the flavor, but adding some balance to the finish of the beer. The malt is still in charge of the finish, but there really isn’t that much malt there for the hops to compete with. The body is light with ample carbonation for being the beer that it is, but I would have expected much more mouth presence for it to be anything like a real Saison. As the beer warms up some, it seems like some of the Saison spice is starting to come out, but it really isn’t playing all that well with the rest of the beer.

Opinion: I was pretty disappointed in this one. I know that Dark Saison’s exist. I seem to recall even having one from Phantom brewery (I believe) and I don’t remember anything like this. This is more like a mis-guided attempt at a variation between a Dunkel Weisse and (I guess) a Saison. It has more of the light-body attributes of the Dunkel Weisse as well as the overall balance, but keeps enough yeast complexity that it muddles up how it would fit in that style as well. I will probably drink the rest of this six-pack eventually, but I certainly wouldn’t buy it again.

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Photo of NoLeafClover44
3.11/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass. Bottled on January 19, 2012.

A - Pours mahogany with significant ruby hues when held next to the light. About a finger of almond head that settles at a quarter inch. Spiderweb lacing. Hard to rate the appearance vs. other saisons, but I think it looks pretty good.

S - Pear, dark fruits, soda bread, molasses. Some Belgian aromas of banana, clove, and nutmeg but no funky Brett character here. I'm getting more Dubbel than Saison.

T - It is very tart, bordering on salty. Lemon, sea water, pear, and some biscuit malt. None of the sweetness from the nose comes through and there is very little flavor overall.

M - Light-medium body with decent carbonation.

O - I was intrigued by the prospect of a "dark IPA" but this was pretty disappointing. Lacked depth of flavor/complexity and quite literally left a bad taste in my mouth. I much prefer Tomfoolery in the dark saison category. I won't be getting this one again.

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Photo of YouSkeete
3.12/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Deep, mildly cloudy browned amber with a short off-white head.Weak retention, with long legs on the glass. Caramel malts, coffee beans and sour fruit on the aroma with sweet, mildly spicy undertones. Big carbonated punch of fermented fruits including oranges, plums, dates with a solid malty backbone. Overall body has lots of darker fruits and molasses-like flavors with a sticky, milky mouthfeel. Chocolate, heavy cream and Finish is on the sweet side, mild hop bitterness. Not what I had anticipated for a saison necessarily, but decent nonetheless.

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Photo of timtwoface
3.12/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I am in no way advocating that this beer is not good; I know plenty that love this type. I'm just not into the really strong, malty, classically Belgian-style beers that are out there, and this definitely fits that mold, in my opinion. If that's your thing, give this seasonal beer a try if you can find it.

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Photo of Bookseeb
3.12/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance has a dark ruby brown color supporting a thin head that dissipates leaving nil head. Smell has a light aroma of fruit with some Belgian style yeast in the background. Taste has a tartness with the fruit and a little spice. Mouthfeel is lighter than medium with good carbonation. It’s got the basics of a saison, but not the complexity.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle

A- Poured into a tulip glass. Pours a dark brown color with an off-white head.

S- The aroma is fruity malt, caramel, bananas, and Belgian yeast.

T- The taste like the aroma has some malt up front along with banana, spices and yeast. 

M- The mouthfeel is light bodied with a high amount of carbonation.

O- Overall, this one fell short for me. I was excited about the concept of the beer but it was just lacking. This beer in not bad by any means, but it is merely on the average side.

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Photo of kscaldef
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours dark amber, with a small uneven head. Not much lacing.

S: mild clove, caramel, a note of some lighter fruit, perhaps strawberry. Also, I'm occasionally getting something of a musty, wet-dog smell.

T: A little sweetness and solid biscuit malts. A mild orange caramel finish. A mild saison / farmhouse earthiness throughout.

M: Medium-light body, very easy drinking. Good carbonation and a pleasant linger.

O: Thoroughly average beer. I don't regret buying a 6-pack of it, but wouldn't necessarily seek it out again. Worth a try, though.

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Photo of purplesugar
3.17/5  rDev -7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wasn't horrible. Shit, I'll take it any day over Bud Light.

Honestly, a pretty decent beer.

I'm not a Saison man, but I can tolerate this beer. Also, I've never visited a site with a minimum character review. I'm struggling to get in that 250.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Looks more or like with a brown ale, with a red-brown color. Head is thin and does not retain well. Some lacing.
S- The aroma is pretty mild but has a light sweetness on the nose. A bit of spicyness. A faint charred aroma. Really having the strain to pick them out.
T- It tastes essentially like an average saison with some spice and light phenolic flavors. There is a bit of char in the finish, with a lightly sweet underpinning.
M- It seemed dry at first but it does linger a bit. Body is a bit light. Fairly crisp carbonation.
O- It's a cool idea, but in the end it just tasted like a weak dunkelweizen.

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Photo of gpogo
3.21/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A- Clear amber body with white head that dissipates to white foam ring.

A- Sweet caramel syrup. Cloves and belgian spice.

T- Light sweet belgian flavor. Light stale caramel malt flavor with a slightly sour finish.

M- Medium light body and moderate carbonation.

D- Meh. Alright, but I was hoping for better.

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Photo of hustlesworth
3.22/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- does not appear to be bottle conditioned. Pours a slightly hazy rosewood brown. Ecru head is airy but with a thin skin on top. Retention isn't too impressive and there's a few swirls of lace holding on.

S- mild notes of yeasty banana and clove with a hint of lemony herbal hops that becomes more pronounced and earthier as it warms. Bubblegum, melon, berry, soil, and pear also play a role. Much like a fruity dunkel weizen.

T- Sweet and fruity with mild hoppy bitterness. Rubbery band aid yeast flavor is on the low end, probably thanks to the darker malts. Bubblegum, banana, pear, cooling cucumber, red apple, and sweet orange make up the fruity side however the malt is thin and lacking. Low alcohol is appreciated, but doesn't help the flavor at all. Hops lend an earthy leafiness but make way for the yeast. Vienna malts are apparant but not so much for the wheat and chocolate. Fruity and spice flavors linger, but without malty substance. More grain would make this one a winner for me.

MF- thin and unsatisfying. Lack of malt is hurting the body as well as the flavor. Zippy carbonation mimics bottle conditioning but doesn't hit the spot. Relatively clean on the palate with mild powdery feel.

D- this is honestly a low abv easy drinkin thirst quenching saison that I actually could turn to after a grueling 4 hours of yard work. As for a belgianesque treat, it doesn't work so well, though it's a good example to familiarize an initiate to an Americanized version of the style.

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Photo of KajII
3.24/5  rDev -5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

[Best served in a Tulip glass]

The pour was a mahogany brown with a small (less than 1 finger) white fizzy head that dissipated in a matter of seconds, down to almost non-existent collar with poor lacing.

Aroma had a mild funkiness to it with a mild straw malt, a barnyard scented yeast and notes of a mild dark chocolate, some very ripe fruit (plums, dates and pears) and a mild peppery spice.

The taste was very lightly sweet with a nice malty feel and a hint of fruit from the beginning with the finish having a strong funky yeast taste and a mild peppery ending. The flavor lasted only a short time proceeding the swallow being mostly of a funky spicy yeast flavor that disappeared very quickly.

Mouthfeel was a shade or two above light in body and watery, yet creamy in texture with an almost flat carbonation.

Overall a very unique tasting Farmhouse Ale, but good none the less...

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark saisons are the evil cousin to the standard farmhouse style. Where the elegant dry fruit and earthy spice of the original takes a dark and somewhat deviant turn to charred fruits and black peppercorn, the whole world of saisons turn on its axis.

Pouring a deep and dark bronze color, the nearly bark-brown beer shows allows for garnet highlights to show. Creamy carbonation releases a thick and somewhat liquefied head of ivory-white foam that retains and laces nicely throughout the duration of the session. It seems that I wanted a more bubbly appearance and head character that was more airy, rocky, and sticky.

Aromas of toast rise to the nose immediately and do so with a spicy jab of freshly cracked black peppercorns. Background notes of thin caramel, baked breads/bread crust, and barley malt complement the toasty scent and balance the fruity notes of charred plumbs, grapes, and currants.

Flavors follow, but do so with an introduction of light caramel malt, nutty, toasty, and fruity sweetness. Spicy notes seem of pepper, earthy rye, and zesty hops and seemingly do so with spice additions instead of unique yeast character. Fruitiness of apples, plumbs, and dates- all of the toasted varieties, begin to seem more of an English-like ale rather than Belgian fruity/spicy interplay.

Creamy sweetness coats the mouth in full fashion. Where the effervescence should wash away the malt sweetness and usher in the fruity, spicy dryness- here, the malt sweetness and body lingers long past mid palate and only lightens as the warm alcohols and hop dryness assists in finish.

Saisons are one of my favorite styles, and I enjoy all the variations that the style takes. Even traditional ones are known to be darker and toastier. Although this is a pleasant enough beer, it misses the bone dry fruit and sharp earthy spice that make Saisons so unique. I feel that a few 'conveniences' were taken that hinder the beer and doesn't allow it to compete favorably with classic Belgian varieties or even Goose Island's Pepe Nero.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.27/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Sampled on tap @ 1702, Tucson; February 2012
A dark Saison for sure, but only a dark, concentrated amber color that shows a brilliantly clear, full amber hue with gold highlights to it. The head is a nice, tan color and starts out about one-finger thick and it leaves some nice layered lacing on the sides of my glass. The aroma is quite subtle after having the our-side, but is softly musty, with a touch of phenolics, some cracker like grain character and there is a fruitiness that gets more noticeable with time. The fruit character provides hints of pear, a touch of apple, and even a touch of floral / tart melon character.

The beer has a sweetness that is accentuated by the fruit character; it is actually fairly light bodied though does have a touch of viscous character to it (especially considering the lower alcohol). The fruit notes have lots of floral apple character, a touch of red plum and perhaps some pear notes to it. There is a touch of spiciness to this brew that has some light peppery character (brought out by the soft carbonation), some subtle though lingering clove, and perhaps even a touch of ginger. The spiciness has a muted mustiness to it that affects the malt character quite a bit; the grain character comes through a touch muddied, but with flavors of slightly stale crackers and whole grain character as well as a touch of caramelized, brown bread like malt character.

This is a decent Saison, but it certainly pales in comparison to the Stillwater Our Side that I just had. The yeast character isn’t quite defining enough and somehow it seems to muddle the malt character here. The fruitiness is the defining part of the flavor here, and it doesn’t quite do it for me as it sort of reminds me of oxidized cider.

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Photo of Billolick
3.28/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

32 ounce growler filled at Green Growler Grocery in Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Pours medium chocolate amber, under a loose light tan head that does stay around for a while, slight film, slim collar and minor but fine lace.

Yeasty, with fruits (bananas mostly) and mild pepper on the nose.

On the light/near watery side mouthfeel wise.

Notes of light chocolate, more fruity yeast, with ripe bananas, again some pepper adds to the mix. A slight mettalic/plastic not also is noted, not too pleasant.

Far from a fine saison, this one seems a bit off to me....try at your own risk, or go for one other hundreds of better saisons out there..

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Photo of leedorham
3.28/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at a local grocery. Pretty good deal for a sixer. Like 8 clams I think.

Pours a deep brownish red with a thick white head. Pretty clear beer. Good lacing and head retention.

Smell is a bit acidic with some sour cherry. Not too powerful.

Taste is of tart fruit. A bit candy like but not overly so. A bit of sweetness to combat the tartness. Not much depth.

Overall this is as good as I would have hoped at the price point. Widmer is stepping up their game lately methinks.

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Photo of Psilo707
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: A beautiful mahogany colored liquid pours into a nice, new Fat Tire stein and leaves very thin head right away wiith some erratic lacing. Not too prominent at all which is strange since some other reviews said it was thick and lacy. Either way, looks decent!

S: Musky, dark scent coming off the top. Smells a bit like cotton candy apples and molasses, but the scent isn't too strong.

T: Tastes pretty decent. A bit coppery at first but fades into some nice tasting brew pretty quickly. Has an acorn, walnut, dark sugary appeal while still keeping the spicy nature of saison brews complete and in-tact. Pretty good overall and doubtful to give any of your friends or family beer drinkers a sour face.

M: Somewhat thin. Wish this were more creamy so it could expound the flavor into your mouth in a more full-bodied way. Not too bad though - just mediocre.

Overall: Decent release from Widmer but not quite up to par with most of their family line of brews. I'm glad this will stick in the Brewmaster pack and probably won't make it to the full bottled production version. Decent, but skippable!

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Photo of socon67
3.32/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Dark copper pour, some lacing, and good foam retantion.

S - Smell of belgian yeast, earthy spices, and fresh grains.

T - Only okay. The balance seemed a bit out of whack. Didn't have that crisp flavor typical of a good saison.

M - Decent drinking beer, but after a while the flavor seemed bland.

O - Wouldn't try it again. Was curious about a dark saison, but this almost seemed like it really wasn't to the style.

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
3.32/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12ounce bottles poured into a 22 ounce glass.
2012 bottling date
A - coppery caramel with a thin little head and a small bit of lacing. Does not look very bubbly.
S - faint lemon grass aroma mixed with a sweet caramel malt.
T - again the light lemon grass comes through but is drowned by the caramel malt. A little touch of sour but not really an earthy tang like a saison should have.
M - somewhat sweet and sticky despite being relatively thin bodied and a bit undercarbonated.
D - not an easy drinker for a Saison and not worth the effort to find again.
It just doesn't have the Saison qualities that I like. Reminds me of sour brown ale without the heaviness.

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Photo of grittybrews
3.32/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was expecting black, but this poured a clear brownish-orange with a trace of off-white head. Malty aroma of caramel, vanilla, and a touch of lemon.

Moderate carbonation and a smooth, light mouthfeel. Wheat and toffee up front followed by light lemon, grass, and a fairly dry finish with hints of pepper.

A little thin and overly sweet/malty, but not unpleasant.

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Photo of ChopperSmith
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Clear deep brown with a reddish tint, a one finger tan foam head that faded quick and left light lacing.

Smell: Slight sweet malt and yeast fruit aromas. Very subtle.

Taste: Like it smells, sweet malts with a yeast profile that offers dark fruits like plums and raisins. Also a little hops to balance. None of the flavors seem prominent enough and are all a little watered down.

Mouth feel: Light to medium body with average carbonation.

Overall: If they bumped up the alcohol and yeasts, this would be similar to a decent Belgian Dark Ale...as it is, it comes across as a light version of that. Not bad, just a little lacking and too light on everything for my tastes.

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Photo of tronester
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear reddish brown, with a thin tan head. Smells of soured malt. Taste starts with a quite tart, sour flavor, that then transistions to a bit of biscuit. After that is a bit of earthy spicy hops. Mouthfeel is pretty good. Overall a decent beer, though the tart, slightly sour taste isnt especially to my liking.

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W'12 Dark Saison from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
3.41 out of 5 based on 268 ratings.
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