Launched in 2010 by Brian Strumke, Stillwater Artisanal is considered one of the first “gypsy” brewers. It has no physical location, instead, relying on excess capacity at existing breweries around the world to brew its beers.

Ratebeer.com named it as one of the Best New Breweries in the world in 2011 and have also listed Stillwater as one of The Top 100 Brewers In The World for seven years running. Many of Stillwater’s beers have pushed the limits on both ingredients and can artwork. Some notable oddities include:

  • Selfie Shtick – Chocolate covered strawberry ale
  • The Devil Is People – Sour smoked wheat ale
  • G13 – Wild India Pale ale aged on cedar
  • Even Less Jesus – Stout brewed with burgundy grape juice
  • Syrlight – Swedish sour ale with lingonberries and rhubarb

Today’s review reminds me that it has been quite a while since I have visited my favorite Chinese buffet. This beer is called Kung Pao, an imperial stout brewed with chili powder, ginger powder, Sichuan pepper, sea salt and peanut extract.

Poured from a 16-ounce can with a “best before” date of 02 July, 2021, the color is a very deep brown, almost black with a very thin khaki head that quickly disappears into a thin ring around the outside of the glass. The first aroma that hits the nose is soy sauce which comes with a light burning of the nostrils from what I would assume is a combination of the 11 percent ABV and Sichuan peppers. In the background is a good amount of sweet malts, ginger and roasted peanuts, the last two of which have a very light presence.

The taste is quite bold and the first thing that coats the palate is the alcohol and a sweet roasty essence. The addition of the peppers seems to be adequate as the burn is extra light and does not overpower although it gets a touch stronger as the beer warms. Peanuts come through in the balance but I do not notice much of the ginger and none of the sea salt. As the beer warms a little more, the balance starts to flutter a little as the peppers and alcohol become a little more pronounced and most everything else is lost except a little roasted peanuts. Mouth feel, although very bold, does not have a lasting effect and finishes quite nice with a medium sweetness.

Editor’s Note: Multiple emails sent to Stillwater asking for information on what brewery this beer was brewed at were not returned.

Stillwater Kung Pao
BREWERY: Stillwater Artisanal
LOCATION: Stratford, Connecticut
STYLE: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11 percent
IBU: nn/a
PRICE: $5.49
RELEASE DATE: 2019
AVAILABLE IN: 16-ounce cans
BEERS POURED: One
A little over the top with the alcohol burn and strong soy and malt presence, but if I were going to drink a beer named after a Chinese chicken dish, this is what I would expect. Balance maintains okay but falls apart a tad during the warming process. I would have liked more sea salt and ginger but overall, a good beer that I am sure was hard to brew to make it tastes Chinese.
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