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James Black Ale - Hill Farmstead Brewery

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James Black Ale
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56 Reviews
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Reviews: 56
Hads: 360
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 7.57%
Wants: 30
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  6.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: SFLpunk on 06-27-2010

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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 56 | Hads: 360
Photo of 321jeff
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750ml Growler provided by Michael, thanks!

Pours a dark brown that is lighter around the edges with just a bit of tan head.

Aroma is bright and hoppy with mostly piney hops but there is a nice roast note in the background. The hops really dominate here, surprising for an older growler.

Bitter pine hop resins hit up front before the roast takes over. Pretty mellow flavor profile that is brought together nicely.

I think the time in the growler has hurt the mouth feel in this one, it comes across aa little flat. Still very nice overall, and I'd love the chance to try this fresh out of the tap.

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Photo of corby112
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on draft at Capone's.

Pours pitch black and almost complety opaque with only the slightest hint of deep, dark mahogany edges when held to a light source and a one finger beige foam head that settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic chunks of lacing left behind.

Interesting aroma with hints of roasted malt as well as some sweet citrus and earthy pine hop notes. Slightly roasted with hints of chocolate and caramel but not as malty as I expected.

Medium bodied with a nice bitter blast of earthy hops up frotthat is immediately coutered by sweet citrus and tropical frut notes. The roasty malt is minimal and is actually used to counterbalance the hops. Subtle toasty bread, chocolate and caramel but this beer is all about the sweet citrus and tropical hop flavor. Only slightly bitter with some earthy pine as well as some grapefuit, lemon, pineapple and orane peel. This was a really interstig beer and one of the better black IPAs ibe had.

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Photo of Sammy
3.92/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.92/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

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Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Juicy, a little roasty, great smell. This tops Blakkr as my favorite ipa. Usually not a huge fan of these. This is good.......................................

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

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Photo of durlta
4/5  rDev -5.4%

My least favorite from a recent Hill Farmstead growler party. A good beer, but seemed more of a smoked black ale than the black ipa style printed on the growler tag.

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Photo of rudzud
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at the brewery in their tasting room.

A - Poured a rich dense black with a nice small creamy mocha head.

S - Mostly consists of dark roasted malts and some nice chocolate notes. Some light pine/citrus from the hops.

T - More of the same with nice roasty, dark malts that give way to good dark chocolate flavours. Its rounded out at the end by some light, but definately present pine and grapefruit rind bitterness.

M - Mouthfeel is good with some nice creamy carbonation.

O - Overall this was a tasty black ale. I would have liked a bit more dark roasted malts though as opposed to the hops.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

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Photo of MDDMD
4/5  rDev -5.4%
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

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Photo of Chico1985
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tap at the Hill farmstead tasting room.

Dark almost black color, hint of ruby light coming through, creamy head with lacing.

Nose great spicy earthy hops, light citrus, some pine, dark caramel malts and molasses, chewy malts and hops.

Taste chewy spicy earthy hops, bit of pine, creamy dark malts, caramel, light roast, fairly bitter. Dry very bitter finish, bit of darker creamy malts.

Mouth is creamy med bodied, good carb.

Overall pretty good, less of the darker malts and more of the big bitter hops, not quite what I was expecting but maybe what I should have expeccted from Hill Farmstead. A taste drinkable beer but less dark malts than I expected.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.06/5  rDev -4%
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.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

64oz growler poured into a Hill Farmstead wine glass.

Pours dark, dark black with a small brown head that quickly fades, thin lacings starts to slowly form. Nose is awesome, it's hoppy and fruity, wild fruit and pine nots come through strongly. There's a bit of maltiness but it's not over the top which is good.

Right off the mouthfeel is really nice, it's light and sharp and quite creamy, very similar to a good American IPA, with a nice sharp finish. The taste is quite roasty and a bit grainy - I get this from all Black IPAs, and I'm not a big fan of it, but it seems to just be inherent in the style. There hop flavors are well balanced with the dark malts, and the citrus and mango flavors come through well. I think this is one of the best examples of a Black IPA that I've had to date.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of mountsnow1010
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Mount Snow 1/02/11

A - Hazy dark brown to black with a tan/caramel creme head. Some lacing but not much
S - Pine and toast with a citrusy kick.
T - The smell all over again - quite resiny and citrusy, loads of hops crammed into this with a nutty toasty malt backbone. Bit of a bite.
MF - Crisp and clean - refreshing after skiing all day. Goes down pretty smooth.
D - Could have 2-3 but the subtle hops flavors would be dominated by the bitterness at this point.

Very nice beer with some very interesting and complex flavors. Would definitely seek out again.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL growler.

Pours a clear dark brown, near black with a bubbly tan, ruby tinged head. Aroma is resin, pine, roast malt, and light citrus hops. Mouthfeel is suffering a little from sitting on this growler for too long. Light carbonation on a medium thick body with a slightly watery finish. Much less roast in the flavor than the nose, pine hops dominate, bitter and resiny with light citrus in the finish. Aftertaste lingers more malty than the body with soft roast and light chocolate. Having had this fresh, I won't ding the mouthfeel from this sample; one of my favorite Black IPAs.

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Photo of Pinknuggets
4.19/5  rDev -0.9%
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.

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Photo of mltobin
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in Putnam County, New York.

The appearance is a dark brown color with a short tan head. Its` nose has grass, roasted malts, some light fruit. Sipping this and it tastes of big roasted malts, followed by chocolate and and a small amount of bitterness. Mouthfeel is nearly medium, a fairly crisp finish. It drinks very easily and makes for a great growler fill, especially with being under 7% abv.

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Photo of koopa
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler fill picked up at the brewery this past Saturday at the Thanks Given event.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown to black, opaque, and slightly murky. The crown is 1 finger, khaki, shows little retention, and good lace.

Smell: Chocolate, moderately roasty, some grapefruit, pineapple and pine resin.

Taste: Same as the nose but bigger flavor and good hop bitterness. A touch of caramel malt but mainly a bready / biscuit charge.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Really solid black ipa

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Photo of Hojaminbag
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

James has a body that borders on black, but I would still call a very dark brown. The tan head is solid looking, and showcases pretty good retention and lacing.

The aroma is straight hops, with all kinds of fruit and some resin. The malt barely makes an appearance, contributing perhaps a hint of both sweetness and roast.

The flavor certainly showcases a little bit more malt, but James is still one of the most hop-dominated American Black Ales that I have come across. Loads of hops, with some citrus and tropical fruit, but lots of earthy, grassy and resinous flavors as well. The bitterness is only moderate. The malt isn't completely shut-out, as it adds sizable flavors of caramel, chocolate and roasted malts.

This one feels creamy and smooth; both the body and carbonation as quite well-done.

Every hoppy beer that I have tried from Hill Farmstead has been phenomenal, and James proves that statement true regardless of what malt is used.

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James Black Ale from Hill Farmstead Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 56 ratings.