Saturday, September 12, 2015

Stillwater Artisanal Surround Review

Name: Stillwater Artisanal Surround
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10%

Time to revisit one of the most.....peculiar breweries that I've come across in recent memory, and that brewery is, of course, Stillwater Artisanal. Today I've got their Surround, which is part of their contemporary series. It's described by the brewery as an Imperial Oak-Smoked Wheat Stout, but everyone else classifies this as an Imperial Stout.

You're probably looking at the label and saying to yourself "Gee willikers, that's got to be the strangest thing I've ever seen!" Well there's a reason why it looks like that, which I pulled from the brewery's website:

Label Design Notes: Surround's geometric pattern is based on a piece of tape used by an early analog computer that may have been used in multi-track music production during the 1960s. The type is set in Helvetica Neue LT Std so that we can maximize the area used for the pattern on the label without compromising legibility of the mandatory text.

Ooooh I get it...Surround, music, tape. Clever.....

Appearance - Pitch black with no visible carbonation. The head takes on a very dark brown color and is quite foamy in it's appearance. Lacing-wise, it tetters between sparse and moderate.

Aroma - Very strong smokey and chocolate malt notes. I'm getting some bitter citra hoppiness that comes off as almost cherry-like. I am also getting a bit of malted wheat in here but it is minor compared to the rest of the aroma.

Taste - Much like the nose, the smokey and chocolate malt flavors are very strong upon the first sip, followed immediately by some strong bitter hoppiness that does have a bit of a cherry tartness to it. Again, I am getting some malted wheat in here, but it's small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. The aftertaste is mainly roasted barley with some mild smokiness. It's worth mentioning that this does come off as slightly boozy but it doesn't hinder the drinking experience.

This is a pretty good Imperial Stout. The smokey aspect is quite nice and most of the other flavor characteristics are robust in their own way. My only complaint is that the wheat portion of the flavor felt underwhelming in a sense. That's still nowhere near enough of a reason for you to overlook this beer. If you see it, then you should check it out.

Stillwater Artisanal Surround - 8.5/10

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