Stillwater Artisanal Ales
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.
The 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.