So they called this a 'wit' at the Taphouse so I reviewed as such.
Pours a champagne colour, clear with just a ring of white foam left around the top. Not head. Not at all. Shakes head. My head.
Smells butterscotchy. Caramel and vanilla with a buttery edge. Touch of mild spice, mostly aniseed and a touch of honey. Meh.
Taste is sweet upfront. Buttery notes with a lot of honey. Weird sweet pie spice mix towards the back - clove and star anise. Tastes OK but not lovely.
Decent body, with slight tingle from carbonation.
Not bad, but as a beer, it's as confused as the internet seems to be trying to determine what this is. It's just a bit of a mess.
39 / 100
A wheat farmhouse ale brewed with white sage. Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst during their 4th of July Spectapular.
Pours a surprisingly clear and deep golden colour, with a minimal head of white that really only stays as a thin ring. Minimal lacing, and almost no carbonation. It looks pretty dead in the glass.
Nose is very disappointing. Slightly syrupy malt sweetness, almost oxidised in character, with a flabby wheat note giving a stinging and overt sugar character to the mass of the aroma. This is only slightly mitigated by a mild peppery herb character—probably the sage. To be honest, I'm not impressed.
Taste is quite similar. Here at least there's a boozy astringency to cut through the sweetness of the malt—but to be honest, it's rare that astringency is a genuinely positive character. Herbal quality is still there around the edges, but it really has to contend with the overt sweetness and the slack, heavy golden malt. I'm unimpressed.
Feel is very thick. It just perpetuates the unpleasant characters of the palate, which doesn't help it at all.
I'm genuinely quite shocked. Stillwater do amazing beers. Is this insanely old? Has it been stored next to a furnace at a abattoir? This is genuinely very unimpressive, and I can only hope this is a result of the journey it's had to have made to Australia—even then I've had much better versions of their beer on our shores.
86 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Great Australasian Beer SpecTapular in Melbourne.
Pours a very pale yellow colour with solid hazing throughout. Body is very light and fluid. Head is a fine, solid crest of purest white that leaves some solid, sheeting lacing. Lots of fine, refined carbonation too. Looks very good.
Nose is great. Funky and organic and raw. Slight peppery characters like crushed leaves and the suggestion of menthol. Underneath this though is a smoothness that manages to tie it all together. Lovely stuff.
Light, pithy entry on the palate that gives up some fragrant Brett characters and the suggestion of cherry. Smooth and clean through the centre, it allows a crispness and orange citric note to finish it off. Afterpalate is smooth and complex. Grassiness, organic but mild acidity and plenty of funk. Lovely stuff.
Feel is incredibly smooth for all of this, and the carbonation is wonderfully restrained.
Overall, this was a cracking beer. It relies on subtlety and complexity rather than out-and-out flavour, but it really did bring the business to the festival. This was my #2 pick of the 100+ beers I tried there.
70 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Uncaps with a fizz and proceeds to froth over the countertop. After a little time, it pours rather sedately, in fact, a clear golden hue with a surprisingly minimal head of white. Stacks of carbonation though feeding it, and it rushes through the rather light body.
Nose is pleasant. Mild, dry white wine acidity, with a touch, perhaps, of the hibiscus lending a little fragrant sweetness. Some earthy tones come through as well, especially as it warms. Pretty nice.
Taste has a slight soda acidity on the front, developing into a rather dry mid-palate laced with a little funk. Musk and earth towards the back, with a chewy finish that's sweeter than I expect. Feel is rather pleasantly subdued. Despite the seemingly robust carbonation, there's a smoothness to the fizz that stops it from getting too aerated.
Overall, yep: this is another solid beer from Stillwater. Clean and bright facade with earth and funk hiding underneath it. The hibiscus is only subtle, but it does add a little twist to add some interest to it. I think it's fair to say though that this is mostly just another solid beer in the same style Stillwater always does.
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.
74 / 100
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.
77 / 100
Pours an orangey colour with fairly heavy cloud and trails of light bead. Head is pretty cracking, a big fluff of mother-of-pearl foam, sinking marshmallow-like but retaining some solidity in the middle. Lace is not great, but it don't matter 'cos there still be head. Very nice.
Smells very funky. Touch of lemon seed and pith with lots of Belgian spice as well - coriander, white pepper and poppy seeds on there. Really quite musty as well, with some dank basement notes and some desert wind. Decent, and interesting.
Taste is also Belgian, and pleasant. Lots of malty notes upfront with toffee and caramel, then gets Belgian with slight apricot, orange and lemon pith above all, with maybe some cherry thrown in. White pepper, coriander seeds and bergamot come through then to join the mix. Quite nectary late-mid before the musty basement takes over, but a nice spice adds piquancy late and the tartness continues as well. Not a bad drop at all, nice complexity but pleasant and drinkable also.
Bit sharp and really bitty. Doesn't feel very fluid, there's so much suspension in the solution that it almost feels like it could clog. That said, it goes OK with the flavours because it's obviously a bit of a funky surprise package.
Nice Belgian imitation. Really has the taste and mystique of an ancient brewing tradition in there, with a real natural, stripped-bare aesthetic to it as well.
59 / 100
Purchased on a trip to the US recently. Opened with @LaitueGonflable in Sydney.
Pours a hazy golden-amber colour, with an enormous frothy head of off-white, that forms a majestic crest and then subsides as the bubbles supporting it get larger and larger. In truth, the haze must come from the second half of the bottle, because the intial pour was quite clear. Body is extremely light and fluid, which is not surprising for a saison, but is pretty surprising for a 7.5% beer, whatever its disposition. Looks good.
Nose is bright with funk and oak, with a creamy sweetness masking the crisp, green crushed vegetation sharpness of the saison yeast. Some appleskin notes, and a hint of odd bitterness, or the suggestion of bitterness to follow. Interesting.
Taste is peppery and dry, with a husky vegetal character part way through the palate, and a drying finish of green appleskin that lends a touch of tartness. There's a little bit of sharpness mid way that suggests an overuse of hops, and a lack of funk that suggests an under-use of the yeast by-products.
Feel is light and crisp and pleasant.
Overall, it's yet another saison from Stillwater that doesn't really quite reach the heights of the style. It's a little disappointing given that that's their trademark. I'm still waiting for them to whack me over the head with something truly exciting.
Pours a dark, dark brown colour, just murky where the light catches the edges. Head is beige, thinly dispersed with some decent trails of lace. Retaining a thin film. Not bad.
Smells underfermented, really, and not at all what I expected. Acetyldehyde largely, with just a mild undercurrent of roasted malt. But yeah, there's a fault there and it smells neither dark nor spicy enough as a result. A bit off.
Taste is better - certainly more character here. Fairly sweet to start, with a hint of acetyldehyde but then chocolatey and a hint of licorice on the mid. Fruit note on the back is more blackcurrant than anything else, with a touch of rye and some black pepper. Yeah, retains that sweet fruit, floral note over the top and could use more bitterness - either roasty, hoppy or funky in origin - I don't mind.
Decent mouthfeel, but leaves a little filmy and not quite chewy enough. Still feel it's maybe a bit underattenuated.
Some decent character here, but also some fairly serious flaws.
61 / 100
Bottle brought back to Sydney from the US and shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a deep brown colour, with a bubbly and slightly unsubstantial head of pale mocha. Patchy, speckled lace forms as it's swirled, but the body is pretty light, and the head doesn't particularly lend itself to persistence. Not bad, but not all that great.
Nose is... rather thin and a bit lacklustre. Weak, filmy hints of cold coffee sit above a estery tartness, giving green hints of acidic apple. Some brown bread comes through as well. Very little spice, and very little coherence. It feels quite thin, and aimless.
Taste is a little better, but the thin characters of brown bread, mild roast and the subtle acidity are just pressed together a little better hereâthere's not quite the emptiness extant on the nose. The acidity works a little better here, just giving a slight slickness to the flavours on the palate, letting them slip towards the back. Still missing some spice, which would really help it along.
It's interesting enough in its way, but I wanted it to be truly good. I have for some reason hyped up Stillwater in my mind, and to date they are yet to give me an exciting reason for this. Again, it's decent enough, but it's also slightly oddâand slightly odd doesn't cut it: make it either really good, or really odd.
That's how you'll win me over, Stillwater.
74 / 100
Pours a nice orangey colour, mostly opaque with lots of cloud. Off-white head, nice and dense with decent lace. Looks good.
Smells quite Belgian. Sweet but a lot of spice - fairly musty with a hint of funk, cardamom and turmeric as well that gets almost stifling - to an extent. The fruity apricot and peach notes come through underneath. Some mild leathery notes and some pine needle resin as well. Nice, and interesting.
Taste is not quite what I expected. Very nutty actually, with pine nuts and almonds dominating the assault. Plenty of caramel malt with a red toffee character, a hint of honey and a slight whisper of chocolate at the back. Spicy yeast notes take over the finish, with a hint of pepper, fennel and coriander. Yeah, malty and nutty on the front that becomes very dry and spicy on the back. Can't say I'm totally blown away, but it's certainly a very pleasant drop.
Bit sizzly, from carbonation and possibly the yeast as well - maybe a bit hot from booze at back? Body is alright, but not enough to totally cover.
Interesting beer, lots of talking points but also the sweetness lends this a drinkability that the yeast mars at times.
77 / 100
Pours with a foamy, exciting head of froth, and a finely hazed orange body. Lace and head are both fine white, leaving some patchy lace. The body is pleasantly light and fluid, as a good Saison should be. Looks very decent for the style.
Nose is fresh and bright, but based almost entirely on the sharp and slightly funky saison yeast. This is a wonderful thing, giving tones of crushed vegetation, pepper, spice and green hay. It's a particularly "Belgian" saison character, despite the name, and a very good example of the art of the saison from a brewery not in the traditional Saison brewing area.
Taste is also good, although there are some oddities to it here. Bright and crisply light body gives a refreshing twang, but this is followed up by a rather nutty character, giving twinges of almond skin and marzipan. Definitely a touch of bitterness on the back, which is odd, but not unpleasant; it gives a clinging finish to an otherwise light and drinkable brew.
Feel is light enough and fluid enough, but the flavours tend to linger longer than you'd expect for a beer with such a slight body.
A pretty interesting saison from Stillwater, and an interesting introduction to the brewery. It has loads of character, and some interesting twists, but manages to keep it all well within the realms of the saison style. That's a hard ask any time, and to do it with such class is quite a skill.