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James Black Ale - Hill Farmstead Brewery

James Black Ale
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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

245 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 245
Reviews: 52
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 7.76%


Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  6.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
James was our Uncle (Edward James Hill Jr.). Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his four siblings. In his honor, this Black Ale is dutifully crafted from American and German malted barley, American hops, our ale yeast, and water from James’ well. It is unfiltered, naturally carbonated, and dry hopped. Roasty and smooth, with accents of chocolate and a balanced hoppy finish, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with James.

Pale and Caramel Malt; Roasted Barley; Centennial and Columbus hops; Ale Yeast, and our Well Water.

(Beer added by: SFLpunk on 06-27-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 245 | Reviews: 52 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Stevedore
Stevedore

Wisconsin

4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

James on draft at Blackback Pub in Waterbury, VT. 12oz poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 2/11/2014.

App- dark black body, two finger white head, good retention, solid lacing that looks like specks of sugar.

Smell- juicy citrus, earthiness and a bit of chocolate. Really smells like a hoppy IPA here.

Flavour- more of the roast malts show up here. Some espresso, roast, milk chocolate. Combine this with the juicy citrus hops and it's a fairly good combination.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied, creamy and rich. Good carbonation. Not a particularly bitter aftertaste, fairly sweet and dry on the finish, actually.

Overall- one of the better black IPAs I've had but certainly nowhere in the upper echelon of Shaun Hill brews.

Serving type: on-tap

02-12-2014 04:27:02 | More by Stevedore
Photo of cpetrone84
cpetrone84

Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pour is creamy black with a very tight light caramel head that just doesn't move. Huge roasted malt presence with light notes of citrus behind. Taste has a rich malt balance with strong roasted flavors. Hops aren't a huge centerpiece here at all. Some citrusy hops through the finish. Not acrid or bitter at all, good soft feel, a touch of creaminess to it. Carbonation is fairly strong with a good clean finish.

Serving type: on-tap

02-10-2014 00:31:05 | More by cpetrone84
Photo of Hendry
Hendry

Vermont

4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Opaque motor oil appearance,1 finger of khaki head, good retention.

Aroma is slightly roasty, slightly hoppy and relatively subtle.

Flavors are deep and roasty with a dank hop finish. Improved flavor spectrum as it warms, take your time.

Mouthfeel is medium, glides over the palate delicately, nice body, very round.

Another solid effort from HF, quality black IPA well worth trying.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2014 02:42:46 | More by Hendry
Photo of BoldRulerVermont
BoldRulerVermont

Vermont

4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this on draft at Farmhouse in Burlington.
Poured into a snifter glass.
Oil dark with minimal caramel colored head.
Smell was hoppy, cloves and molasses.
Tasted great! Deep roasted malts with cloves, floral hops, molasses.
Mouthfeel was clean with a much cleaner finish than I was expecting.
A wonderful black IPA.

Serving type: on-tap

12-16-2013 01:40:12 | More by BoldRulerVermont
Photo of cbutova
cbutova

Massachusetts

4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Last growler from my recent visit to HF. Never tried this one at all and always pumped to try new brews from Greensboro. Best by December 14th on the tag.

A- Snifter pour from the 750ml growler with a black body all around. Head forms to a finger high, a nice sight for a growler being in the fridge for seven days, no difference here from the wait. Puffy head recedes to a small, fizzy ring at the edges and small clouds on the top. Lace starts thick with rings at each sip and falls off as the glass gets wide.

S- The first black IPA I can think of having where I might not even know it was black from the aroma. Hops are packed in here in the same manner as many other HF IPAs with fresh citrus and floral notes mostly coming to mind. Slight black roast malts but hops are dominant.

T- Follows the nose with some minor differences in hops and malts opening up just a bit. The malts are still super clean and refined but there is a bit of sweetness, caramel and general roastiness here. Hops are once again bright with fresh notes of grapefruit, orange zest, stone fruits, pine and slight floral hints.

MF- Moderately thick body with a nice creaminess when agitated on the palate. Carbonation somewhere between a medium and high level but super smooth. Ends with a clean low-moderate hop bitterness on the palate.

Good to see that in the fridge the HF 750ml lasts at least a week. I wouldn't push it after their best by date (7 days) but I don't see much changing for even a few days past it. Shaun's system of fresh, hoppy growlers always produces great results. If I was blindfolded I would be thinking great IPA first and then the black malts secondly. Keep up the good work.

Serving type: growler

12-15-2013 02:04:13 | More by cbutova
Photo of Chico1985
Chico1985

Massachusetts

4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The Hill Farmstead spoilage continues. Currently in the process of taking down a 2-liter with the help of Kevin and Scott...

Drinking it out of a newly acquired Rock Art mason jar. Black beer, beige head. Retains well as a thin cap for most of it leaving some lace.

Pretty much full-on hoppy scent, but good in that sense. Loads of orange, grapefruit, earthy pine resin. Only some toastiness otherwise.

Taste brings on some very light roasted malts, chocolate, and toasted malts, but still very much leaning more towards IPA. Nice citrus fruits, pineapple, tropical fruits for sure, underscored by resiny+earthy hop oils.

Smooth mouthfeel with medium amount of carbonation, hops are quite bitter which hinders the palate, but otherwise quite quaffable. Nothing noticeable for alcohol presence.

Reminds me alot of their other black IPA (Foster), just enough 'blackness' to let you know it's there accompanied by loads of great hops, this one is probably even hoppier. It's good but maybe would've liked to see something different/more balanced with this time around.

Serving type: growler

12-09-2013 02:14:31 | More by Chico1985
Photo of Skrip
Skrip

South Carolina

4.26/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

on tap at Hill Farmstead poured into a HF tasting glass.

A~ as black as could be with a nice fluffy tan head and a good amount of lacing.

S~ tons of dark, roasted malts, a little fresh coffee along with grass and fresh hoppy earth.

T~pretty much follows the nose with a lot more hop presence which brings out some nice citrus aspects. also a little bitter chocolate on the finish which was a nice surprise!

M~ super smooth and refreshing! i could drink this all day!

O~ definitely more of a black IPA than just a black ale but definitely ok by me! if you read my reviews you know thats one of my favorite styles. i'm really glad they brewed this again! now lets hope for another batch of Jimmy!

Serving type: on-tap

12-06-2013 03:00:41 | More by Skrip
Photo of GreesyFizeek
GreesyFizeek

New York

4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Blackback Pub and Flyshop in Waterbury, VT.

Pours a creamy looking dark black into an oversized Hill Farmstead wine glass. One inch tan colored head, with sheets of lacing down the glass.

Smells include dank resinous pine hops, roasted malts, and chocolate.

The hop flavor is a bit more complex in the taste- there's the dank/earthy/leafy/piney hop flavor of the aroma, but also some great citrus grapefruit flavors as well. The roasted malts play out on the back end, creamy and bitter. Nice lingering bitterness.

Medium bodied, dry but creamy mouthfeel, low carbonation.

Glad to catch this on tap at the Blackback as Hill Farmstead had kicked it by the time I went.

Serving type: on-tap

03-29-2013 20:22:15 | More by GreesyFizeek
Photo of oline73
oline73

Maryland

4.24/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a growler into a snifter.

Pours a dark brown color with a layer of off white head. The nose is full of citrus peel hops. There is just a touch of roast. The flavor has a nice balance to it. Just a touch of roast with a nice citrus peel hop note. The finish is bitter but smooth. The finish is quite dry.

Serving type: growler

03-28-2013 01:05:36 | More by oline73
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium

Florida

4.06/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL growler poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Big khaki head. Eternal retention. Great lacing. Very nice looking beer.

Smell - Really citrusy. Some of the roast comes through, but it's mostly citrus hop.

Taste - Bright citrus hop and roasted malt blended with the hops. Grapefruit hops. Roast is very strong, but the hops never let up. Lends a nice complexity. Slight bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Very carbonated.

Overall - Excellent. Love how hoppy it is. Really impressive.

Serving type: growler

03-12-2013 03:32:22 | More by Alieniloquium
Photo of Knapp85
Knapp85

Pennsylvania

4.11/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured out as a rich looking deep brown color what essentially looks black in the glass. There is a very nice creamy tan head on top that leaves a great lacing and a pretty strong retention also. The smell of the beer has a really nice balance of roasted malts and aromatic hops. Very nicely done. The taste of the beer is also quite good, the malts again balance out flawlessly with the hops being used in this one. Chocolate roasted flavors with the subtle bite of pine in the finish. The mouthfeel of the beer is pretty smooth, it's medium bodied with a healthy carbonation. Overall this beer is very good, Can't find much to really complain about here.

Serving type: growler

03-07-2013 15:36:16 | More by Knapp85
Photo of Jwale73
Jwale73

Rhode Island

3.99/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served in a Hill Farmstead tulip at the Blackback. Pours an inky black with a half-inch light tan froth embedded with tiny ringlets. Delicate spots and sheets of lacing are revealed during the tasting. Nose is reminiscent of french roast coffee with some earthy bitterness also present in the mix. Taste follows nose; however, the flavor profile comes off a bit thin and watery. Mouthfeel is light-medium with an even carbonation, but it comes off a little on the thin side. Overall, a solid example of the style, but not as robust as it could be in my opinion.

Serving type: on-tap

03-05-2013 00:52:20 | More by Jwale73
Photo of Willytee3
Willytee3

New York

4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Blackback in Waterbury, VT, poured into Hill Farmstead stemware.

Pours a dark chocolate black with rich cappuccino color head. Incredible lacing clings up and down the side of the glass for the entire drink!

Smells of apple pie and light spice, the strange richness of kiwi fruit comes to mind. A nice variety of lightly roasted malts complements well the hop esters.

Tastes of mild bittersweet chocolate, light and complex roasty malts with a pine hop character. I would say the middle is made up of a kind of tropical fruit but on the darker side, the hops and malts blend well in a complementary way. The pine hops contribute to an overall bitterness throughout the drink and brighten a bit on the finish.

Feel is medium body, on the lighter side and ultimately quafable, this one goes down easy.

I was pleasantly surprised, this is truly an IPA character with a mellowing light black maltiness.

Hope this one makes sense cause it was a pleasant surprise to drink an delicious IPA without all that hop bitterness. And I do appreciate the hop side of an IPA.

Incredibly well balanced and very drinkable, I would definitely recommend trying this one.

Serving type: on-tap

02-26-2013 05:13:22 | More by Willytee3
Photo of stephenjmoore
stephenjmoore

Maryland

4.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark brown body with a bubbly tan head. Tons of lacing, head stays around and leaves some bubbles after a while.

S- Huge herbal hop aroma along with somewhat of of a floral hop aroma. Hops come through in a big way with a smooth, roasty malt aroma in the back.

T- Lots of herbal hops balanced out by roasted malts. Some piney, earthy hops come through towards the end. Very interesting hop variety that changes the notes that come through.

M- Medium bodied, medium carbonation, smooth and drinkable with a big hops that wear out the palate.

O- Great beer. The mix of hops is unique and the smooth roasted malt makes for a great balance.

Serving type: growler

02-16-2013 22:28:56 | More by stephenjmoore
Photo of Pinknuggets
Pinknuggets

Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 to HFS sniffer

A: Very dark but more brown then black and mostly opaque if the head was not light and fluffy tan colors then this thing could pass for a stout to the untrained eye but it does retain some IPA characters.

S:Dark malt smells mix with distinctively pine/resin line hop smells I am always thrown off by black ipas but this seems to have a nice balance though neither is too powerful of a smell and there is also a hint of alcohol.

T: A lot of fresh hops upfront similar to other HFS ipas and pretty powerful for a black ipa as they are resinous. though that said there is a presence of malt sweetness and a bit of smoked flavor in the aftertaste so there is some balance with the darkness but not perfect.

M: There is a oily resinous feel that clearly comes from the hops it is sticky but not overwhelming. There is a thick heavy body but it is very drinkable and the alcohol is completely hidden

O: I like this beer but it doesn't live up to most of the other hill farmstead beers as I feel like its too hoppy for a black ipa but maybe thats my taste. Its worth a try but would not be a go to for me as someone who gets to try a lot of HFS.

Serving type: growler

10-17-2012 04:02:56 | More by Pinknuggets
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Hill Farmstead

Dark brown-black pour, looked to lack most haze, but was still nearly opaque; a small beige head sank to a small ringlet leaving streaks of lacing on the glass. Piney hops dominant in the nose, mixed with some chocolaty malts, touches of citrus zest. Pretty typical of the style. Similar taste, plenty of hops, mostly pine, some citrus, roasted dark malts, cocoa, toasted grains. Medium body, decent balance. It's hard to get too much variety with this style, but that doesn't mean there aren't good ones and bad ones. This one was pretty good. It is HF after all.

Serving type: on-tap

10-13-2012 20:10:02 | More by Rifugium
Photo of Phyl21ca
Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

4.68/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Growler: Poured a clear deep black color ale with a large dirty brown foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of piney hops is incredibly intense with great floral qualities. Taste is a mix between roasted malt notes with light bitter and dry notes submerged by a huge amount of piney hops with some citrus notes. Body is average with good carbonation. This a great demonstration on how dry-hopping should be done to limit the bitterness of hops but ensure floral piney notes are prevalent.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2012 17:03:33 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of jaasen64
jaasen64

Massachusetts

4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml growler filled at the brewery on Saturday (2 days ago). Poured into a HF stemmed glassware. Split bottle 2-ways. Also had it on tap at Prohibition Pig while I was in VT.

A- Pours a completely opaque dark black with about a two finger thick creamy yeasty brownish head that has decent retention, but slowly fades away to leave lots of spotty lacing. Nice carbonation.

S- Piney citrus hops, notes of pine, grapefruit, some light lemon, baker's chocolate, subtle spices, definitely slightly above average aroma strength.

T- Piney hops with a light grapefruit flavor and a not too overpowering pine presence, finishes with a nice baker's chocolate with a bitterness from the hops which is at the perfect level (not too bitter, but definitely present). Awesome balance between all the flavors.

M- Medium bodied, decent carbonation, easy drinking, abv very well hidden, fairly smooth.

O- I'm beginning to think HF can do almost any style of beer almost perfectly. This is definitely one of the better black IPAs I've had. Nicely balanced between all of the flavors that a black IPA should have. I could easily knock back a few glasses of these. I definitely recommend trying it.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2012 22:30:15 | More by jaasen64
Photo of MDDMD
MDDMD

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-dark brown/black color with a decent tan head and some lacing

S-roasted malt, citrus, pine

T-dark roasted malt, citrus, pine, hints of sweetness and some bitterness in the finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-a good black ale but lacked a little depth in the flavor

Serving type: on-tap

09-15-2012 16:26:52 | More by MDDMD
Photo of Bendurgin
Bendurgin

Maine

3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. This one pours black with a dark khaki head about an inch tall. Nice thick sticky lace.

Lots of piney hops hit the aroma right away with some citrus in the background. Hints of cocoa and nice roasted malts in the background. Real nice balance here. The pallet is a bit more bitter than the aroma indicates. Piney hops with a bit of a citrus background. A little less of a roasted character in the background.

The body is medium with good carbonation. Overall this one is pretty enjoyable. A good one to grab when it's around.

Serving type: growler

09-10-2012 02:40:00 | More by Bendurgin
Photo of andrewinski1
andrewinski1

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bendurgin for sharing. There is a large mocha colored head atop a pitch black body. There is minimal lacing.

The aroma has a nice resiny hop aroma. There is nice earthiness.

The taste is bitter and emphasizes the dank hops with a slight touch of chocolate malt sweetness. The start is mellow, but the finish is bitter.

This is medium bodied with smooth carbonation. I like this one a lot, but it's hard to emphasize the hops in a black ale. This one falls a little short of greatness. It is still a great drink, and goes down quickly.

Serving type: growler

09-10-2012 02:37:28 | More by andrewinski1
Photo of Bierman9
Bierman9

New Hampshire

4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My nightcap at The Reservoir on 02SEP12. Got a 10+ oz snifter for $6.50.

Poured a verry dark, near-opaque brown. Topping was a thin, rim job of light tan foam, with a touch of lace. Nose was a combo of rindy, resiny, toasty notes, which was inviting. A solid, medium body and a smooth feel helped things along.

Had some roasty coffee and chocolate at the start. Soon after came some rindy citrus, with bitter, piney, pithy characteristics. Quite flavorful; a solid BIPA! Zum Wohl!

4.33/5 rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1498

Serving type: on-tap

09-08-2012 19:02:50 | More by Bierman9
Photo of smakawhat
smakawhat

Maryland

4.13/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured on tap into a solo clear plastic cup, at the Celebrate Vermont Fair outside Stowe VT.

Black walnut brown body, no head given, barely a tan collar, with some light rising carbonation. Kind of boring and ordinary, but sometimes you get what you are given.

Great hop and malt nose on the brew. Charing coffee roast with some light carbon and simple profile. Hop action seems pine like on the nose but fairly mild on the nose.

Palate hits nicely with a great mouthfeel of mixing creamy character of playful carbonation. Coffee and chocolate, with a real lingering hop and bitter dark chocolate finish. Hop angle seems a little bit hard to pinpoint along all the roast flavor.

Overall a real fun beer, perhaps not my favorite but a really well made.

Serving type: on-tap

08-25-2012 02:14:35 | More by smakawhat
Photo of Huhzubendah
Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at the Blind Tiger in NYC.

The beer appears black with a thick, tan head. Long lasting retention with copious lacing. Hill Farmstead beers are beautiful. The aroma brings roast, pine, a hint of chocolate. Nice flavor. Well balanced, with a healthy pine bitterness on top of a roasted malt bill. Medium bodied with lingering chocolate in the finish. A solid beer.

Serving type: on-tap

08-21-2012 03:13:25 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of Sammy
Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.93/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at the Black Back Pub. An IPA that happens to have a shwartzbier element,resiny,piney, chocolate stoutish and grapefruit. Dark body and some lace.Hops and some roast aroma. The roast was lightly done which was nice to drink. Average mouthfeel.

Serving type: on-tap

08-17-2012 23:19:24 | More by Sammy
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James Black Ale from Hill Farmstead Brewery
94 out of 100 based on 245 ratings.