Tag Archives: Belgium

Stillwater A Saison Darkling

Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Baltimore, MD
A Saison Darkly

I don’t know that I’ve had a beer before technically classified as a “dark saison”, but Stillwater gets good reviews wherever it goes, and I’ll admit I love whatever this fad of adding roasted grains to beers is. The Cascadian dark (or BPAs or whatever you want to call it) is awesome, so I’m willing to give this a go, particularly as it’s supposedly actually brewed in Belgium. They make pretty good beer in Belgium, in case you hadn’t heard. Also, a new tag: Saison!

As expected, the head inflates in a hurry, climbing to an inch of smoky brown froth. The effervescence is steady, with the big globules pushing their way to the surface, keeping the head sturdy. The beer is virtually opaque, with only the bubbles on the interior surface of the glass making their presence known.

A Saison darklyThe color is black, save for a slightly cola-brown tinge around the edges. The general aroma is surprisingly light, lacking an overwhelmingly sweet or densely roasted smell that one might expect. Malt is the first thing to appear. It rises as warm bread crust, exposing baked apple, and a touch of butterscotch.

The mouthfeel is busting-at-the-seams full. The carbonation dances across the tongue, carrying with it that roastiness. It emits a smokiness that props up the rest of the flavors. Warm alcohol notes spread in the form of ripe stone fruits across the palate. Dark chocolate, cherry, and dried apricot emerge along with a barely perceptible crackle of yeast and hops, like damp wood burning.

A heap of sediment is still sitting on the bottom of the empty glass. This bottle could sit for a year or more and would probably turn out to be a pretty nice mix of smooth and sweet, but as it is, it’s a really lovely amalgamation of two a porter and a saison.


Avery Collaboration Not Litigation

Avery Brewing Co.
Boulder, CO
Collaboration, Not Litigation

This is a special kind of beer. Brewed by Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River alongside Adam Avery of Avery, at the Avery Brewery, it is essentially a combo of each brewer’s Salvation, Belgian-style ales. Rather than fighting it out over who got rights to the name Salvation, they just teamed up and created this, hence the name. This is Batch #3, bottled February of 2009.

The pour is less lively than I thought, and the head retention is low, but the color is wonderful. A rich mahogany comes through with great clarity, and there are very deep amber tones when held to the light.

The nose is sweet and prune-like, with hints of apricot, cinnamon, and maybe a touch of gingerbread.

The mouthfeel is excellent, filling all corners of the palate. The alcohol strength (8.97%) is not as aggressive as the stone fruits on the nose might lead you to believe. The initial sip gives you a surprisingly creamy feel. This soon opens up to a crisp breadiness, and then a nice mix of mildly tart pear and chewy caramel.

The malt in this beer is lovely, and the first calm sips are almost like an English Pale. What amazes me about this beer is how mellow and soft it is, despite being a shade under 9%. Having a year in-bottle probably helped cool it down, and also allowed it to plumb more complex depths than you might initially pick up on. Each sip yields something slightly different: cocoa, vanillin, fruits, and even pepper.

This is a bottle to find and store away for a bit and then to enjoy with friends. It would pair very well with lamb, or chocolate. Probably not both together.

Since I missed it in the original photo, here’s a gratuitous cap shot.