Tag Archive: Stillwater


Stillwater Artisanal: Casita Cerveceria: On Fleek (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick. Small brown head.

Nose: Caramel. Milky chocolate. Cream. Marshmallows. Praline. Nougat. Smooth. Rich milky coffee. Brown sugar.

Body: Thick. Fudge and chocolate fondue. Rich creamy coffee. Very smooth. Toffee liqueur. Nougat. Bitter cocoa. Chalk touch as it warms.

Finish: Toffee liqueur. Chocolate liqueur. Easter egg chocolate. Milky coffee. Cocoa.

Conclusion: This is a very sweet Imperial Stout. Very creamy, using the malt load for a thick character but with the barest hint of its 13% abv. Well, my current pissed squiggly handwriting is probably a dead giveaway, but thankfully by the time these notes are typed up that will be hidden from you.

Whew.

Anyway this is a very well balanced imperial stout – showing a lot of the usual coffee notes, expressed here richly and creamily. It also shows the expected chocolate notes, expressed creamy and and as bitter cocoa dust. It manages big flavours without becoming sickly sweet or harshly bitter.

The sweet high notes come in liqueur like with chocolate and toffee elements, laid over a chewy, thick nougat and creamy mouthfeel and taste. Bitter cocoa and more savoury notes ground it, making for a rewarding imperial stout experience. As it warms a light chalk note adds itself to the grounding – very subtle but underlining the beer along with slightly more bitter, but still milky coffee notes – all making it very robust and keeping the sweeter notes under control.

For the first half this beer is perfectly done, but as you go into the second half you hit the only real flaw – a lack of any real progression in the beer. It is always the same creamy and coffee, bitter and sweet notes. It is still, very good in fact, but there are no surprises as it goes on.

That is a very minor nitpick though – it keeps it from being one of the world’s greatest imperial stouts – but that is just because there are so many great imperial stouts out there. It is still super well crafted and well worth grabbing.

Background: Ok, I only own this beer as my mate hates the idea of it. Long story shot – my mate had to explain to me what “On Fleek” means as he saw this thing’s name and the can design and hated the “Hipster” idea of it. So, anyway that stuck in my mind, so when I saw it on Beer Hawk I had to give it a try. Odd how these things happen. So if I hate it, it is indirectly his fault for hating it for different reasons. Anyway this is an imperial stout made with … dark sugar and molasses if a quick google is to be believed. Which possibly it shouldn’t. Anyway, put on Arch Enemy: Will To Power for this – big metal for big imperial stouts.

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Beavertown: Stillwater Artisanal: Skullwater (England: Belgian Ale: 6.4% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Moderate white loose bubbled head.

Nose: Apricot and grapefruit. Hop bitterness and character. Soft lemon. Wheaty. Vanilla. Apples. Pineapple.

Body: Good bitterness. Custard malt character. Apples. Dried apricot. Nettles. Good hop character. Tart grapes. Lemon juice to lemon sherbet. Peppery.

Finish: Malt chocolate and malt toffee. Solid bitterness. Slight palma violets. Kiwi. Tart grapes. Custard cream biscuits. Wheaty. Vanilla. Apples. Peppery and cheese puffs.

Conclusion: I’m split. Half of me wants to dig into examining the depths of this. Half of me wants to rant about how nearly every unusual beer style seems to be hijacked by high hopped releases that are done in such a way to make them lose their distinct stylistic oddities that make them so interesting in the first place.

Ok, let’s go for the rant first. For the most part this doesn’t feel like a Belgian ale. The huge hopping instead takes front, with just some funky esters and Belgian smooth custard malt notes tipped the hat to the base style. I would like a few more beers that take full advantage of their base style

Rant over. With that done, there is a lot to enjoy in this beer. The closest call stylistic is actually probably a Belgian IPA due to the intense hopping, and boy does it use the hops well. Lots of lemon and apples notes throughout, with tart grapefruit floating over the aroma and dried apricot sweetness seeping into the body. All of that backed by big hop feel and solid hop bitterness makes this an intense flavour experience.

Despite my rant there is some slight Belgian influence and it does enhance the hops – it keeps a peppery grounding that helps give a solid layer that stops it just being a hop fest, and funky fruit esters help the hop fruit flavours to create more complex range. That is why, despite my rant, I still find it a damn good beer.

Style wise it even feels slightly Belgian wit influenced – between the lemon, the pepper and the akin to wheaty feel it actually seems closer to that than its claimed Belgian pale style. As time goes on though the funkier notes rise, easing some of my prior complaints as distinct cheese puff yeast feel gives real grip and Belgian style to the beer.

So, the beer has gone from making me rant, to impressing me. It is all hops early on, Belgian style late on. Ok, rant aside , this is bloody good.

Background: This is a dry hopped Belgian Pale – so I’m guessing either a pale ale made with Belgian yeast, or a Belgian blond ale. Any which way, the advice on the can is to drink fresh, so I broke it open the day I grabbed it. Think the cans had been available for less than a month, so still fairly darn fresh when I had it. Speaking of the can – as is usual with Beavertown the can design is awesome, and has raised areas giving a cool feel in the hand as well. This was picked up from independent spirit and drunk while listening to Crossfaith- New Age Warriors and Zion. On a right Crossfaith kick at the mo – the whole metal, electronic mash up style is very heavy and fun.

Dugges Stillwater The Tropic Thunder
Dugges: Stillwater: The Tropic Thunder (Sweden: Sour Fruit Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow to lemon juice. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Peach to peach melba. Very fruity.

Body: Lightly tart. Peach. Apples. Slightly chalky. Mango, Gooseberry.

Finish: Apples and peach melba. Drying yet sweet. Mango juice. Gooseberry.

Conclusion: Man, it’s going to be hard to make this anything but a short set of notes. We are in tart alcoholic fruit juice territory again. So, first up – this is very fruity indeed. Predominantly with peach melba flavours, but with tarter apples and gooseberry at the edges, and some influence from the mango showing its head from time to time. While passion fruit is listed as being used in making this I didn’t really taste any present during my time with it.

The base is fairly light on the tartness, definitely there but just a refreshing character rather than anything harsh. Just a kind of mild gooseberry character, and a slight dryness from the acidity. It is also actually slightly chalky as well late on, so it manages to head out still feeling sweet from the fruit, but grounded quite dry in the texture.

So, those are the main elements – not the best sour I have had, and not too complex, but is is definitely the most peach melba styled though. On that I will also say the aroma for that is fantastic – if the entire beer was a big as the aroma, then, simple as it is in range, I would have no hesitation in recommending it. The rest of the beer, well it is solid, nothing too challenging, but it does feel like a drier backed alcohol fruit mix and not much more than that. Not bad in any way, definitely enjoyable with the slightly sharp fruit character – but nothing really stands out apart from the unusual fruit choice.

So, yeah, I made the notes manage to last this long but that is all I have to say. Peach melba fruit sour, slight chalk back. Ok, but not more than that.

Background: Another case where a new brewery to me caught my eye, at a sour beer with unusual fruit, and at sub 5% abv it seemed a interesting and easy one to slip into the tasting note list to have. Grabbed from Independent Spirit as is becoming slightly predictable these days. There is also a similar but lower abv version of this available called Tropic Folk – I was a tad confused – the description and fruit listed were identical, with only the abv changed. Then it was pointed out that in Sweden beers above a certain abv can only be sold in government shops, which despite my recent trip to Sweden I had forgotten. So I am presuming the lower abv one is so it can be sold in grocery stores in Sweden. Drunk while listening to Prodigy: Always outnumbered, Never outgunned. Not their best album, but one I haven’t listened to for a while.

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Dugges: Stillwater: The Tropic Thunder (Sweden: Sour Fruit Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow to lemon juice. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Peach to peach melba. Very fruity.

Body: Lightly tart. Peach. Apples. Slightly chalky. Mango, Gooseberry.

Finish: Apples and peach melba. Drying yet sweet. Mango juice. Gooseberry.

Conclusion: Man, it’s going to be hard to make this anything but a short set of notes. We are in tart alcoholic fruit juice territory again. So, first up – this is very fruity indeed. Predominantly with peach melba flavours, but with tarter apples and gooseberry at the edges, and some influence from the mango showing its head from time to time. While passion fruit is listed as being used in making this I didn’t really taste any present during my time with it.

The base is fairly light on the tartness, definitely there but just a refreshing character rather than anything harsh. Just a kind of mild gooseberry character, and a slight dryness from the acidity. It is also actually slightly chalky as well late on, so it manages to head out still feeling sweet from the fruit, but grounded quite dry in the texture.

So, those are the main elements – not the best sour I have had, and not too complex, but is is definitely the most peach melba styled though. On that I will also say the aroma for that is fantastic – if the entire beer was a big as the aroma, then, simple as it is in range, I would have no hesitation in recommending it. The rest of the beer, well it is solid, nothing too challenging, but it does feel like a drier backed alcohol fruit mix and not much more than that. Not bad in any way, definitely enjoyable with the slightly sharp fruit character – but nothing really stands out apart from the unusual fruit choice.

So, yeah, I made the notes manage to last this long but that is all I have to say. Peach melba fruit sour, slight chalk back. Ok, but not more than that.

Background: Another case where a new brewery to me caught my eye, at a sour beer with unusual fruit, and at sub 5% abv it seemed a interesting and easy one to slip into the tasting note list to have. Grabbed from Independent Spirit as is becoming slightly predictable these days. There is also a similar but lower abv version of this available called Tropic Folk – I was a tad confused – the description and fruit listed were identical, with only the abv changed. Then it was pointed out that in Sweden beers above a certain abv can only be sold in government shops, which despite my recent trip to Sweden I had forgotten. So I am presuming the lower abv one is so it can be sold in grocery stores in Sweden. Drunk while listening to Prodigy: Always outnumbered, Never outgunned. Not their best album, but one I haven’t listened to for a while.

Siren Stillwater When The Light Gose Out

Siren: Stillwater: When The Light Gose Out (England: Traditional – Gose: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Fizzes to a dark head which vanishes quickly. Evident spitting carbonation. When looked at when it settles it looks slightly like coke.

Nose: Hibiscus. Chinese stir fry. Light wood. Brown bread. Nutmeg. Lightly acidic.

Body: Tart. Light apple. Salt touch. A thin treacle element. Sour black cherry touch. Light lime. Roots. Slight charring. Dill pickle and gherkin. Light unsweetened cola bottles.

Finish: Fresh. Thin treacle. Salt. Light vanilla toffee. Light liquorice. Lime. Gherkin. Light lactose and nutmeg.

Conclusion: Ok. Apparently (see background) authentic style gose time, and a dark gose at that. That is a new one on me. Ok, this is going to be odd – I have had a bare handful of gose before, and considering one was bourbon aged I’m guessing they weren’t too traditional. Who knows, maybe time travelling bourbon barrels were used a lot in the old days. I’ve heard stranger things*

So, how do I try to work out how this goes? Step by step I guess.

The beer isn’t half as acidic as I expected – it is fresh, but not really acidic. Also while there is a salt touch, and it does seem to introduce a thirst, it isn’t too heavy on that element either. So a lot of my expectations coming in are already undercut. I am pretty much looking at an outside context problem here.

Not too much is given away up front in the aroma, sight roots, slight stir fry veg, slight nutmeg. All slight, very quiet and subdued. So I am had to dive in to start working it out.

The first sip is fuller, but even more confusing. Light apple tartness, and a thin treacle, or almost cola bottle element, with small saltiness. It is a beer that almost feels absent in texture as it fills the mouth – you get it more early on, but the more you get the flavour, the less you feel the beer, resulting in odd dark flavours seeming to float almost separate from the beer itself. Just hovering with a slightly charred darkness.

It is somewhat earthy as it builds, with roots and nutmeg, stir fry and salty gherkin – it doesn’t get heavy, but gives the main backing to the beer. I really don’t know what to make of it – this streaked sweet notes through a thirst inducing grounded yet mildly tart beer.

It is surprisingly soft to drink, yet full of odd elements – not harsh in the elements, but so full of unexpected elements that I expect a lot of people may not find it to their tastes, even though no one individual element is that challenging.

As it warms the cola backing rises, and the texture thickens, giving context for the other elements. Overall it is one of those beers that while I can describe it, I don’t quite feel competent to critique. I need more reference points. As is, it is a beer that reminds me of what a wide range you can get in the world, and I am intrigued and absorbed by it, I can even say I enjoyed it.

Such a mix of elements, an almost vegetable root beer. Absolutely fascinating.

Background: Gose! That once nigh dead style, that seems to be getting a resurgence. There is a lot of talk about an “authentic” gose. I am not really able to comment on that, I’ve only had a few. I will be hitting Goslar in the future, so will try some gose at the home of gose. Then again a lot of people say that their gose are not traditional, and the most authentic style is at Leipzig. Beats me. Anyway, in preparation I am grabbed a couple of gose beers from Independent Spirit. I have been told this is the more traditional of the two, a black gose made with volcanic black salt and hibiscus.

*admittedly none that turned out to be true, but still, I heard them.

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