I should make a habit of ramming out a first thought. Not saying I should make it a meaningful habit, just a habit. See, as there is an arc in the flavour changes to a beer over time as it ages,, beers open up as they warm from the consultant approved "ideal" temperature to the one you have to deal with about, you know, 15 seconds later. So, like price, first impression is the sort of information that one really ought to note knowing something else may well be there soon.
Also noteworthy is the statement on the label "bottled by Dog Brewing... exclusively for Twelve Percent LLC." I have no idea what that means. I understand that is a contract brew but if that is the case isn't the exclusivity understood? Dog Brewing has been around since 2005 according to their listing at the Maryland Brewer's Association. Twelve Percent LLC seems to be a New York State importer. The Stillwater web presence appears to be this blog. My point here is not to get into the whole "contract v. gypsy" thing but I would think that if you are going to use words like "farmhouse" and "artisinal" on your beer label it might be helpful to make it at a house on a farm and employ artisans to make it. And if you are a corporate desk jockey with an inspiration to hire a good brewer to play out a dream, I have absolutely no issue with that. But why not call it desk jockey ale? Dreamweaver even... ok, that's taken but you get my point.
Anyway, what about the beer? Lovely aromas of white pepper and light bright acidity on the nose... if your nose is within a foot or so, that is. And maybe hay bale. Damp funky bale of hay. It pours gold under fine white sheeting frothy foam. In the mouth... bitter. I would say too bitter for the style but that would make me a jackass. The bitterness is weedy. Not a lot of earthy here. More like stinging nettle and burdock. Fairly dry though at the first flush in the mouth, a bit of cream. The fruitiness of the initial scent doesn't really carry over to the taste, more like a pear than Riesling but this point. But it's like one small pear that has been bullied by all the larger older slightly acrid stinging nettles and burdocks on the playground. Sweetwater this ain't. Celery salt in the drying finish?
Which reminds me. One of the thing I have noticed some newer keener brewers are using these days is odd levels of dry seedy bitternesses. Who knows? Maybe it goes with hipsters in beards, ditto depression era headgear and banjos. Quebec brewers seem to integrate the opportunity well. On the other hand, I had a beer the other day that was so unbalanced with cardamom that it left me with the impression that the beer was raw. As in not fully made. Like licking the spice rack. Comprendez? This beer, on the other hand, is neither here nor there. And as it opens there is more cream of wheat in the malt with the bitterness taking more of it's place even if not too far to the front of the class where the nice kids sit. Its sharpness might go well with old cheddar. Or fatty lamb shoulder chops done over wood coals and left to smoke a bit. I like.
A high level of respect but less than love from the BAers.