RABinVA (1000) - Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA - AUG 11, 2012
2.7 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 10/20
Pours a dark black, think stout. Slight tan head that is persistent. Big fruity, licorice aromas. Problem is, I;m not a licorice fan. It is a pretty good juxtaposition of styles. Smoky yet crisp and tart. I can’t really get away from the licorice though. Can’t drink more than one in a sitting.
wxman (1322) - O’Fallon, Illinois, USA - AUG 10, 2012
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Pours an opaque dark cola brown with a substantial light tan head. Aroma is burnt malt and anice. Taste is dark roasted malt, licorice, mollasses and a little citrus. Not really a saison, more like a a licoricey, spicy porter. Oh, and it’s a rip off at $13.99 a four-pack. I can get 12% ABV for less.
queenholly (2560) - South Whitley, Indiana, USA - AUG 7, 2012
2.2 AROMA 4/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 3/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 8/20
Bottle. Black brown with a thin tan head. Anise/licorice, banana, roasty malt aroma. Big licorice flavor, which quickly overwhelmed what little bit of roasted malt and molasses flavor I could detect. Light body, lively carbonation. Disappointing beer. I was hoping for some Belgian yeast character, but the licorice just gobsmacked and overwhelmed everything. Did I mention I hate licorice?
RmmHronek (170) - Greensboro, North Carolina, USA - AUG 4, 2012
2.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 2/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 8/20
This beer just doesn’t really fly. It has a sort of licorice or root beer thing going on, mixed with some molasses. Little to no hop aroma and doesn’t really come through as Belgian at all. It has some toffee or caramel notes as well. But it’s too sweet and just doesn’t come through as balanced. I don’t like it.
Silphium (3156) - East Lansing, Michigan, USA - AUG 2, 2012
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
Draft at Crunchy’s, East Lansing. Deep opaque orange-red-brown body, thin to medium tight beige head. Lots of licorice in the nose, sweet and spicy. Complex body with licorice and cola elements, toasty with brown sugar and coffee. Bubblegum and grape notes develop with warmth. Vinous and dense but the flavor profile cleans up nicely with spice and smoke, and the body is not syrupy or cloying. A wacky beer that would likely rate a tad higher but for its unfortunate "Saison" label.
Drake (7828) - Free Union, Virginia, USA - JUL 31, 2012
3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Served on draft at Beer Run. Pours a clear dark reddish brown, near black. Thin head, decent head retention. Aroma of
anise, banana, spice and chocolate. The taste is spice, herbal notes, anise, earth and banana. Medium bodied. Licorice
portableparty (1908) - Blaine, Minnesota, USA - JUL 31, 2012
3.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
12 oz. bottle to snifter. Pours deep dark brown/black with a quick khaki head that dissipates to a thin collar. Aroma has big anise and rye with roasted malt and slight muted undertones of farmhouse. Taste is more strong anise and rye bread and roasty malt and again the undertones of yeast and fruit are slightly noticeable. Palate is medium and a bit chewy with a gentle faint carbonation and chalky dry finish. This is tasty in my opinion, but the traditional saison characteristics are very faint and hard to define.
BBB63 (5693) - La Porte, Indiana, USA - JUL 28, 2012
2.1 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 3/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 5/20
Bottle, served in a Ommegang Tulip and tasted side by side with Stillwater ’A Saison Darkly’: Dark brown with some ruby highlights (slightly darker than the Stillwater) with a fading frothy head and left spotty lacework upon the glassware. The NH looked slightly better and had better head retention.
The aroma has notes of heavy star anise and charred malt, some caramel and dark rye with a slight hint of spearmint and Turkish Pipe Tobacco. I much prefer the nose of the SW as the massive liquorice tone of the NH makes it hard to define other aromas.
The taste: The anise is foremost the unique character of this brew and I am not much a fan of black liquorice when it is the primary flavor. Some pumpernickel bread, charred peaty malt, and a dash of juniper berry. This is borderline undrinkable for me, others may like this more. While the flavor profile of the SW is hardly earth shaking or that interesting, it is far more drinkable than the anise driven NH.
Mouth feel: The 4 Witches is smooth, sticky, oily and lush with just enough booze to keep it from becoming to much. Perhaps this is where the wheat went to hide from the spices.
Final verdict: Too spiced and ruins any chance you have to discover any dark Saison characteristics. Drain poured second half of bottle, could not stand it anymore. A beer that looks nice but is for a very minimal crowd.
The aftermath: Mixed some 4 Witches into the Saison Darkly... even with a rough 60/40 mix that anise overtone is already dominating the slightly subdued character of the Saison Darkly. That did not turn out as I hoped.
GandGKevin (912) - Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA - JUL 26, 2012
1.8 AROMA 2/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 5/20
All black licorice on the nose. Licorice is not that bad on the palate but it’s still there along with slight Belgian yeast flavors. Not my cup of brew.
superspak (2108) - Michigan, USA - JUL 22, 2012
3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, 2012 vintage. Pours fairly pitch black color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense khaki tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Some decent spotty lacing clings to the glass. Aromas of roasted malt, licorice, raisin, chocolate, caramel, molasses, cola, pepper, clove, herbal, earth, and yeast spices. Pretty nice and very unique aromas with good balance and complexity. Taste of chocolate, licorice, roasted malt, raisin, prune, caramel, molasses, herbal, clove, earth, biscuit, rye, nuttiness, toast, and yeast spices. Light roast and fruity tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt, biscuit, toast, clove, earth, rye, and yeast spices on the finish for a good bit. Nice flavor complexity and balance; with no cloying flavor notes at all, very well blended. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very good black saison. This was certainly an interesting and unique experience as I expected. It turned out to be nicely complex and balanced; and quite enjoyable stuff.