Even though we have had quite warm days very late in the year this year, it seems the heat has finally given up. The chill in the air means nights spent around the fire pit and stouts in my glass. If you are like me, and think a big, heavy, and dark stout is the perfect beer for these nights, then you’ll find Stillwater Artisanal’s On Fleek to be, well, just that.
This ebon liquid’s darkness refuses to let even the brightest lights penetrate it. The pour results in a brown head the color of muddy sand whose thickness and froth slowly recede to a ¼” layer while leaving impressive lacing on the glass. The nose picks up distinct aromas of dark malt, dark chocolate, and dark cherry as well as vanilla and anise.
As with most big stouts, the flavors of this beer evolve as it warms. When cold, many of the beer’s subtleties are masked and the flavors are dominated by the contributions of the heavily kilned malts. A 13% stout is not for chugging, and a little patience and slow sipping as the beer warms will reward you with initial dark fruit flavors of dark cherries, figs, and raisins as well as a bit of milk chocolate sweetness. The sweetness fades to dark chocolate and cacao before the aftertaste which is an explosion of bitter chocolate and burnt malt as well as a discernable alcohol burn and a hop bite. The dark malt combined with this burn give flavors reminiscent of black licorice. This long lingering aftertaste also reveals some residual sweetness and a brief encore of the fruit flavors as it hesitatingly fades.
On Fleek comes in four packs of 12oz cans. Having cans of such a big beer make it a perfect companion when cooler or bag space is at a premium. On Fleek would go well with dark chocolate or even pepper-infused chocolate, but it is best paired with crisp, cool outdoor-air, good friends, and a warm fire.
Outdoor Friendliness (big flavor and high ABV in a small can)…8/10
Aroma (nothing subtle there)…8/10
Flavor (initial subtleties evolve into a cornucopia of flavor as the beer warms)…9/10