Drake (7123) - 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 (1874) - 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 (5603) - 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 íA Saison Darklyí: 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 itís still there along with slight Belgian yeast flavors. Not my cup of brew.
superspak (1906) - 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.
r464 (1655) - Earth, Pennsylvania, USA - JUL 22, 2012
3.1 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 11/20
Dark as a porter with a tannish head. Malty, a bit dark and roasty. This is a "saison"? Not a good reflection of the style, but not bad overall.
Nuffield (3541) - Roseville, Minnesota, USA - JUL 20, 2012
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Iím not exactly sure what this style is...black saison doesnít make sense, because the malts so overwhelm the essential qualities of a saison. However, Iím going to go a very different direction from the norm and say that I really liked this. The nose is strongly medicinal/liquorice, but it has a richness and a spice that go really well together.There are some light fruit notes, like orange marmelade. Moderately oily. Big liquorice and leather. Quite intriguing and delicious. Bottle.
zizzybalubba (1254) - Elizabeth City, North Carolina, USA - JUL 17, 2012
0.9 AROMA 2/10 APPEARANCE 1/5 TASTE 2/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 2/20
12 oz. bottle from SoHo Organic Market in Elizabeth City, NC. Pour is black with a quickly fading khaki head. The aroma is of licorice candy and mint, which is odd even for this beer. The flavor is of smoky malts, licorice, and light chocolate. This does not even come close to resembling a saison in appearance, aroma, taste, etc. Setting all of that aside it really is just not a good beer and should not have made it past test batches. Pointless.
gearbike (512) - West Bloomfield, Michigan, USA - JUL 14, 2012
2.9 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 12/20
Very similar in all aspects from both tap and bottle. Pours a deep dark chocolate color. Expected some funky flavor given the saison category and the color made me expect a chocolate taste. But you donít get either. All you get is a black licorice taste. Canít help but think of some roasted Good and Plentyís. Medium body with a tight crisp carbonation.
Lowe1983 (1304) - Dayton, Ohio, USA - JUL 13, 2012
3.5 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
Pours a dark brown color with a light tan head. Aroma is of banana, roasted malts, slight rye, and some wheat. Flavor is strong of the rye and banana with roasted malts and wheat. Very intriguing beer for a saison.