Stateside Saison - Stillwater Artisanal, Baltimore
Stillwater Artisanal, like Mikkeller, is a brewer without a brewery... a gypsy brewer. The idea is that Stillwater and Mikkeller rent time on another brewery's system when that production brewery has capacity. Stillwater seems to brew most of their beers at Dog Brewing in Westminster, MD. The brews that come from Dog Brewing are Stillwater's year-round beers like this bottle of Stateside Saison. Stillwater may have several other bottles on the shelf, but if you look closely you'll see a number of them are collaborations, brewed somewhere other than Dog Brewing. It's an interesting business model to say the least.
Stateside Saison is an "American Farmhouse Ale" according to the label. After seeing, smelling and tasting this beer, I'd just call it a Saison. Actually, I'd call it a really good Saison. There isn't anything incredibly American about it, but I won't fault the guy for adding a little flair to the label. This beer pours a warm straw color, mostly orange but with a touch of lighter golden yellow. The head is medium in a size and bright white in color. The smell of this beer is almost like a deconstructed Saison... what I mean by that is it has all the elements of a good Saison, but each one is more easily identifiable. There's musty orange, dry French yeast and a pale grain aroma. It smells familiar, but better than most Saisons that come to mind.
This beer isn't unique in any way really... The Stateside Saison smells like a Saison in the same way that it tastes like a Saison. Again, it's done very well, it just isn't revolutionary. If you're looking for a solid, traditional Saison, this beer will make you very happy. I was hoping for something a bit different but I wasn't disappointed at all. The citrus, light amount of yeast and dry finish really hit the spot. My mind wasn't blown, but I feel like I was left with a new appreciation for the classic Saison style.