Stillwater Artisanal Ales – Eschatological Ale

Sometime during the summer I realized that my blog was beginning to consume just about every aspect of my life.  I would constantly try to think of blog ideas, and I would take notes on nearly every beer I consumed for the purpose of reviewing.  It left me realizing I needed to take a step back from consistently blogging all the time.  Since then it would seem the tables have turned.  Now life seems to be getting in the way of my blogging.  This past week has been an especially good example of that.  The weekend was exceptionally busy, I worked two jobs Monday and Tuesday, I had a formal observation at school on Tuesday, and we are trying to get the whole house packed up for our big move to our new place at the end of this month.  Meanwhile, my notes on particular beers are beginning to pile up to where I could do a full week of just reviews.  Anyway, I finally found some time to get a new review out to you.  Enjoy!

Stillwater Brewery is probably not called a brewery in their title because they technically have no brewery to speak of.  They are considered a gypsy brewery.  They have no actual home (or brewery); however, they travel around and use other people’s equipment to produce their creations.  You don’t hear about a lot of gypsy breweries, but somehow, they always seem to be really good.  Mikkeller is a great example of that.  Anyway, I’ve had a few different bottles from Stillwater, but I am sadly less than knowledgeable about their different brews.  I know they tend to stick to Belgian beers, and they have crazy awesome artwork on their bottles.

I have a real issue when picking out beers with only grabbing things that seem rare.  Thus, seeing a brewery or bottle at the store all the time seems mundane.  There is bound to be something Stillwater at the store every time I go, and I take it for granted that I can always grab their stuff.  With this bottle, they really did a good job with both artwork and title.  The image immediately jumped out at me and the title had me confused.  An eschatological ale?  Getting the bottle home, I looked up the term to make sure I had an understanding of its meaning.  Eschatology means the branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind; thus, I found out I was holding yet another beer in honor of the end of the world.  I think that makes three this year!

The most obvious aspect of the pour was the huge fluffy white head that developed on top of the beer.  The big sudsy head dominated much of the glass before it finally started to calm down.  The small amount of beer that managed to get in the glass on the first pour was a golden yellow color.  It was certainly hazy with a lot of visible carbonation.  You really had to wait for the bubbles to calm down to get a feel for the lacing; however, in the end, it really didn’t leave all that much lacing.  There was some light sticky residue, but you really didn’t even get much of that.  I certainly realized I was going to have to be a little lighter on the next pour.

The beer has a very Belgian aroma to it.  Like I said, Stillwater definitely likes to make a lot of Belgian beers. The sweet malts are there, but they are mostly dominated by everything else going on in this beer.  There was some light citrus here; however, you get quite a bit of light spice combined with the orangey citrus aroma.  The spice is mainly clove, but you can pull out some pepper as well as an interesting hop addition.  Overall it has a big bread aroma, and yet, I would say it’s quite crisp and clean.

While the sweet malts were somewhat overwhelmed in the smell, they certainly show up on the taste.  This is combined with some citrus, lemon peel, and overall orange flavor.  It helps create a nice sweet, but mellow, backbone for the beer to build upon.  The big Belgian clove flavor comes in with the yeast to really shake things up.  There is quite the large tangy flavor that follows the clove.  I’m not sure what the tang can be attributed to, but it’s quite interesting in the flavor profile.  There is a surprisingly big hit of hops that follows the tang and leaves me almost thinking I’m drinking some kind of Belgian IPA.  However, it takes it back to the Belgian roots with some light raisin and fig flavors.  There is certainly a little booze on the finish as well.

The big sweet malts and citrus had me thinking this beer was a lot thicker than I expected for the mouthfeel of this style.  Despite the head and ample visible carbonation, I found it still had a slightly syrupy quality to it.  The carbonation does a good job fighting back against the syrup, but I think it falls just short.  There are a lot of big bold flavors in here like the clove, tang, and hops.

It may have been the label and name that drew me in, but it will be the flavors of this one that keep me coming back for more.  While it doesn’t follow any real tradition Belgian ale, it was a great take on a Belgian style.  I think I have to stop ignoring Stillwater when I’m at the store and check out a few other beers in their catalog.

Teacher Grade: A-

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4 Comments

  1. I have had the same blog / life balance issues. I keep reminding myself that this is for fun, not for life.

  2. Good luck with your move. I liked this one, too. I like most of his stuff, actually. Good to see your posts.


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