Holger Danske - Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Holger Danske
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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

197 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 197
Reviews: 43
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 49
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
Smoked Beer |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Thorpe429 on 11-14-2010

Smoked Brown Ale
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 197 | Reviews: 43
Reviews by BrewUSA:
Photo of BrewUSA
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Holger Danske

Look 9/10
Smell 18/20
Taste 37/40
Feel 9/10
Drinkability 16/20

Overall 89/100

Had on tap at Prohibition Pig and Blackback. I always feel bad deducting points for a style I'm not crazy about. I like smoke... don't love it and had it up against a few other HF brews. Was still pretty amazing. Just felt like the smoke was out of place. More like an experiment, and yet still about a 90 in my book. Speaks volumes for HF~

More User Reviews:
Photo of kingcrowing
4.04/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2L pop-top growler poured into a Hill Farmstead wine glass.

Pours a deep dark brown, perhaps a bit hazy but hard to tell because it's so dark. The head is really small, I'm a bit worried that the growler didn't hold the CO2 too well, but a small deep brown head does come and go quickly. The nose is great on this, very malty and sweet, but theres this strong smokiness to it that remins me of a backwoods BBQ, fantastic.

Phew, it's carbonated, albeit it bit light however that's fine for the style. Very smokey as the nose lead on, it's almost a bit like scotch in that peaty rustic smoke way. Theres a very velvety mouthfeel that is really mellow and smooth with just the lightest carbonation bite on your tongue that comes through when you hold it in your mouth. Some more caramel and chewy molasses starts to come through as you get through the smoke. Very unique beer, calling it an American Brown doesn't do it justice.

Photo of bonkus
4.44/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Whetstone Station in Brattleboro VT.

Damn good beer - thought about getting a side of bacon to go alongside it.

It looks like a dark beer. That's because it is one.

The strong smell of smokiness is due to the malts being smoked over beech wood I'm told - which explains the pleasant campfirey quality there.

The taste is complex, there's a fair amount of acridity, but it's well balanced by a light caramelly sweetness and nice clean hop bitterness... it's a taste reminiscent of a bitter dark chocolate in that way. The smokiness is powerful without being overwhelming or off-putting. I feel like this beer is getting away with something.

The mouthfeel is phenomenal - it's at once smooth as silk and a little stingy with carbonation - it's got some kind of funky chemistry going on too, it'll strip the enamel off your teeth (but you know, in a nice way).

Overall this is a great beer. I've had several from Hill Farmstead here at Whetstone, and up till now my experience has been that they're always very crisp & clean with no frills... This is the first one I've tried that had anything I'd consider a 'frill.'

The smokiness in this is strong enough that I can't say I'd drink it every day, regardless of the obvious quality of the ingredients and process... It's a great beer - but I don't think I'll have another, if that puts it in perspective a bit.

Photo of 05Harley
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up two growlers at the brewery after having more than my share on tap. This small brewery up in Vermont just continues it's onslaught of top notch offerings.

Price - $15.00/growler re-fill

A big thanks goes out to Anders Kissmeyer for putting up with my shenanigans for most of the night at Shauns.

Appearance: Pours dark brown with a creamy white head leaving behind a column of lacing through the finish. When held up to the light some sediment is evident but not a concern. This beer looks tastey!

Smell: A near perfect aroma of smoked malt with a fair amount of bacon and some chocolate hidden in the backround. Smells like a summer campfire.

Taste: Smoked malt and bitter chocolate. No doubt the brown ale adds to the sweetness which results in an overall balanced flavor.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and silky smooth with a medium body. The balance between the smoke, sweetness and bitterness is amazing.

Drinkability: Very easy to consume glass after glass. I wouldn't hesitate to put this up against any beer in the smoked category where I think this beer would certainly shine. Too bad it's a limited brew :(

Photo of nickd717
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Ginger Man NYC.

A beautiful beer; very dark brown in color with a lasting, clingy two finger beige head.

Intense aroma of applewood smokiness, roast, dark chocolate, and anise.

The flavor is great. My little sister tried it and said it was like "drinking a fireplace." I agree, but to me this is a good thing. Very ashy and smoky with roasted malt, licorice, dark chocolate, and earth.

Very full-bodied and silky smooth on the palate, with a good soft carbonation level.

You've done well with this one, Shaun. A unique and tasty beverage this one is.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.67/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep brown. Small khaki head. Gone quickly. Transparent.

Smell - Woody and smokey. Malty, but I can't smell any real sugary components.

Taste - More malty. Less intense on the smoke. Very woody. Deep caramel malt, but again no sweetness. Smoke gets stronger throughout. A little chocolate in the back. Ashyand woody finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Medium carbonation. Very strong and bitter finish.

Overall - This is intense, but very strong. Much more caramel as it warms, but still strong verging on rough.

Photo of Kinsman
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a HF stemmed glass and fills it nicely with a dark brown body and light tan colored head. Fades a bit quickly but leaves some nice lace behind.

Smoke greets you first on the aroma but doesn't slap you across the face like some smoked beers. As it warms a variety of notes start to come out, especially from the non-smoked malts giving you the nice caramel and bready notes of a brown ale.

Like many smoked beers, I find the first sip isn't as smokey as the aroma but will make themselves known as you work your way though the grass. A nice caramel/toffee sweetness balances out the nice campfire notes. Rather light on the body with a nice smooth texture. Overall, a tasty smokey treat but falls just a bit short of the worldclass smoked beers coming out of Bamberg.

Photo of Neffbeer
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Blind Tiger:

A: Hazy brown with an off white head. There is limited head retention and no lacing.

S: Oh man is this a smoke bomb. I feel like I just walked into a smoke house in full effect. There is a hint of chocolate and burnt caramel until the smokey bacon and campfire resurfaces.

T: This holds up well to any rauchbier that I have had to date. Great smoke malt presence with enough sweetness to balance the roaring fire.

M: Smooth and creamy, just delicious.

D: I would have to limit myself to one at a time due to the overpowering flavor. That said, it was a great brew that I would love to try again.

Photo of FeDUBBELFIST
3.89/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

$6.00 for 16oz, served in a pint glass
Sampled 08NOV12

[A] Served with a finger high head, light chocolate milk in color and creamy in texture. Retention is a notch above average. The color of the body is dark chestnut brown, much lighter than your average porter, and a good deal of transparency can be seen through the bottom of the glass. The top two thirds of the glass are hazy - murky even. The film on top lasts long and deposits some drooping strands of lace with each sip.

[S] The nose is milder than expected. Peated malts are the most distinguishing factor, providing a musky, soily, smokey aroma. Damp earth. A bit one-note perhaps.

[T] Starts off with the peaty smoke flavor with faint notes of chocolate malts deeper in the background. Completely manageable heat is displayed on the follow through. Overall the flavor comes across extremely clean. If I didn't know any better, I'd guess that this one approaches Baltic Porter territory, with hefty lager-like smoothness.

[M] Stunning mouthfeel. But that is one of the many consistencies you can expect from Mr. Hill. Thick, smooth, velvety. Just big, round and full-bodied in every way imaginable. You can literally feel the beer being 'pulled' through your mouth on the swallow. Impressive.

[O] For me, the exceptional mouthfeel took this beer from 'good' to 'very good.' More impressive scores on the front end would have elevated Holger Danske to 'great.' And pretty easily. But, as always, the experience is always a pleasure.

Photo of blackie
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Draft at Blackback, Waterbury. HD is a deep brown in color with a nice cap of beige carbonation. The base structure brings out a lot of robust malt character on the brown ale end of the spectrum, in a balanced complexity - browned bread, toffee and caramel, chocolate malt, and deep toast. Alongside runs an implanted and balanced beechwood smoke - meaty and very pleasant, backs up well to the firm malt back. On the fuller side of moderate in body with a moderate, gentle carbonation. Unique from any other smoked beer I’ve had, very nice.

Photo of Axic10
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Capone's during their Hill Farmstead event.

Appearance: Brownish black with no head.

Smell: Picking up on this is a very heavy smoky malt flavor, which is enjoyable, mixed with some chocolate and malt notes as well.

Taste: Heavy Smokey flavor at first mixed in with dark chocolate and roasted malt, finishing strong with some more smoke.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and smooth.

Drinkability: I'm not a huge smoked beer fan, but this was a good take on the style, which along the other Hill Farmstead beers I had was very good.

Photo of cbutova
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Listed on-tap at the Dirty Truth as "Hill Farmstead Smoked Brown." Notes taken last night.

A- Dark brown with a nice creamy tan cap that has good retention. Tons of lace all over the glass.

S- Huge leathery smoked profile with notes of all things smoked, bbq, bacon, etc. Nutty brown malt with some coffee presence to it as well. Grainy hints.

T- Very, very, very smoky (bacon, leather, ash, charcoal) which works nicely in this case over a nutty/toasty malt profile. Caramel, slight roast coffee notes as well. Dark fruit just a bit.

MF- Fairly light body with silky smooth lower end carbonation.

DB- A true smoke bomb and in a very nice way. I could see how people would be turned off by the level of smoke in a beer like this but to me it is great, especially over the toasty malt profile. If you want your fix of BBQ in a glass, find a beer like this.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Hill Farmstead on November 4, 2010. Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass. Thanks to Shaun for his incredible generosity for spending a good deal of time with us.

The pour is a moderately-dark brown with a light tan head. A good dose of lacing as the brew goes down my glass. The nose is really nice with a combination of some smoked malt as well as a bit of light malt and bread. The smoke pervades the entirety of the beer, but isn't a complete takeover. A really nice balance of that in the nose, and it lends itself well within the flavor as well. Feel is of a medium body with a nice smoky presence. A really nice beer that I was glad to try.

I thought I'd add this as an American Brown Ale, as I didn't know if it quite rose to the level of a rauchbier.

Photo of jlindros
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Light 1/2 finger creamy head fades at a med pace with decent lacing, over dark molasses colored beer with a ruby hue.

Nose has a big smoke, not much campfire smoke but more smoked cheese like, a chewy smoke, with a bit of wheat I think, some caramelized sugars, caramel, slight burnt toffee, light roasty quality, some earthy hops somewhere under that, and a touch of cocoa.

Taste starts a little creamy, but quickly turns to smoke, again not really campfire smoke more like a smoldering log smoked cheese, light toasted quality. Again light caramelized molasses like sugars, smoked wheat, light bitter roast and some earthy hops, light creme brulee with a bit of sweetness, and a light creamy cocoa. Finish is a bit drier, long lingering tasty smoke with a bit more dark chocolate, smoked cheese, little creaminess feel, and a big bitter kick at the end with more earthy slight grassy hops.

Mouth is med to slightly fuller bodied, decent carb, no booze.

Overall interesting, a decent smoked beer without over bitter or campfire, nice flavors, long tasty finish. Despite being a good beer, not quite as high caliber as most of the other Hill beers.

Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Hill Farmstead

Dark brown pour with a small beige head; minimal retention and lacing. Obvious smoked malts in the nose, ash, toasted bread, dark sugars. More of the same in the taste, smoke and charcoal, toasted bread, roasty malts, toasted grains, caramel and brown sugar, hazelnut candy. Pretty well-balanced for the style, though the smokiness is still fairly large and in charge. Medium body, lower carbonation, quite good overall. Snagged a liter growler for my buddy. Cheers!

Photo of Jdiddy
4.88/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at La Laiterie in Providence. Holy, mother of god, Farmstead rocks! As I always knew, Shaun is a master of brewing. Easily, one of the smoothest beers I have ever tasted. The head on this is like molten, smoky foam. Perfect smoke, perfect brown, perfect beer. Nuff said. Exceptional smoked beer. Gives any smoked beer I have had a run for the money.

Photo of cfrances33
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Prohibition Pig, served in a half pint.

Pour: Dark brown and mostly clear body with a finger+ of tan frothy head. Leaves some lacing, but not a ton.

Smell: Big roasted smokey malts up front. A bacon-like aspect. It smells like a bbq pit sans the meat.

Taste: Again big roasted smokey malts up front, followed by some really nice caramel and a light coffee. This beer really reminds me of George in every way, except that they just smoked the malts. Some bitter floral hops and a smokiness finish.

Mouthfeel: Really nice medium to light body, but this is a sipper for the full face smokey assault that it is.

Overall: Easily the best smoked beer I've had yet, but my half pour was more than enough.

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.23/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Hill Holger, on tap at Pony Bar, served in their eight-ounce glass.

Appearance: Shiny ruby-chestnut-fancy wood color. Classic head that doesn't last, thick lacing.

Smell: Weak nose for a big, smoked brew. Chocolate, bacon, fireplace, smokehouse in Alaska.

Taste: Sweeter than I expected, and again- weak. A tangy/funky (almost sour) touch at the end. Some peated whiskey notes, umami. Maybe some chicory. Wood. Not very impressive.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and flavor, low carbonation. Thin all around. Astringent at the end.

Overall: Drinkable and pleasant enough, but unremarkable- more so coming from the mighty Hill.

Photo of brystmar
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Brouwerij Lane.

Dark brown, decent head, stubborn lace. Aroma wreaks of smoked malts and wood, smells dry and roasty too which gives me hope.

Strongly roasty; malt-forward, mildly smoked. Big hop profile takes over midway through, carrying me through the end without offensive amounts of smoke. Dry, delicious, impeccably balanced. Rare for a style (smoked porter) where brewers typically go overboard with the smokey profile.

Could use more body. I hate most smoked beers and thought this was excellent.

Photo of orangesol
3.77/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Capone's into a sampler glass.

A - Pours deep, dark, brown with a strong half finger off-white head, dissipating to spotty patches of head, leaving streaks of lacing down the glass.

S - Lots of smokey darkness in this one for sure. A bit of chocolate and dark roasted coffee lend a bit of balance but the smokey ash permeates all aspects of the nose.

T - Lots of smoke up front giving way slowly to a mix of smokey ash and sweet roasty malt. Finish is, you guessed it, plenty of lingering smoke. I think this is what a beer would taste like if I brewed it in my fire pit. Soooo much smoke, if it was a little bit more balanced I think this could be an excellent smoked beer.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Nice soft feel on the pallet is a welcome addition to all that smoke. Finish is quite smokey becoming overpowering over the course of the glass.

D - Pretty good. I like smoked beers but this one was VERY smokey. I think I could still drink a few of these but the aftertaste would definitely get to me over time.

Photo of BARFLYB
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at Blue Dog.

Holger Danske comes to me looking the brown color but not deep dark and bold brown, just a simple brown with a nice sturdy amount of cream colored foam on top leaving some spotches on the way down, healthy looking beer. Smell is smoky but a nice amount of caramel, roasted malt, cocco, and earth pop through in the scent, not smoked to the max. Taste is pretty well rounded and I got more out of it with each sip. The smoke sort of surrounds the other flavors mentioned above and dont take over the show. Taste is decadent, body is rich and medium and the carb is not a tounge lasher, this went down rather smoothly, with no intrusion from the 7.5% I could of drank a lot more of this beer, it did not bonk me over the head with ash and smoke. Would get again.

Photo of GatheringBrews
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have to be honest, I don't have a ton of experience with smoked beers, but given that I usually can't stand smoke in anything anymore (a devastating house fire will do that), this is outstanding. Pours a rich brown with an off-white/khaki head from a growler. Smoke is evident in the aroma with some malt.

As a brown ale, it's exceedingly well conceived, and the addition of the smoke works surprisingly well; it's not gimmick, it balances the other flavors well.

Photo of Duane_Opfer
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On-tap at Hill Farmstead. Reviewed while in line for growler fills. Review written from notes. Consumed on 11/2.

A - Brown approaching black. Pour yielded 1 finger head of whitish head. Left lacing as liquid receded.

S - No doubt about it... smelled of smoke.

T - Also dominated by a smoky flavor with a lasting tart finish.

M - As with all HF beers, outstanding quality. Clean and crisp.

O - I say this with respect for HF products, but a "smoked beer" seems more of a novelty to me. The smoky flavor was clearly represented in the mouth, but not something I would seek out. It was worth a try though.

Photo of jbertsch
4.76/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at prohibition pig in Waterbury.

Looks almost porter like. Very dark brown. Almost black. Light tan colored head is frothy and caps wells.

Aroma wasn't as smokey as I anticipated though I did gett a little. I mostly smelled a mix of roasted malts with a bit of meat and molasses.

Wow. I didn't expect it to taste so beautiful. To be honest I don't pick up on much of the smoke. It's faint for me. I mostly am enamored with the seamless blend of flavor notes that include caramel, coffee, chocolate, vanilla and roasty smoked grains that blend so well together that I can't ask for anything more. Yet none of those flavors overpower each other. Its an all for one kind of palate. So smooooth.

Mouthfeel is sublime. Velvet smooth. Reminds me of founders porter.

Overall I liked this more and more with each sip, and it paired incredibly with the beef brisket I ate. I know Shaun wins big with IPAs and Saisons but this shows he's got other talent up his sleeve. I didn't expect this to be one of my top favorite HF beers but it is. Wow.

Photo of Stevedore
4.07/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

App- cola brown body, fairly minimal one finger head with minimal retention. No lacing.

Smell- smells like a sweet brown ale- caramel, molasses, brown sugar with a bit of chocolate. And a nice smoky presence that isn't overpowering but is definitely there.

Flavour- same as the smell but the smokiness is much more pronounced on the backend. Much more enjoyable than any other smoked beer I've ever had where it is smoked all day long like a campfire. Complex with the smoke being just another layer on top of all the other brown ale characteristics.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied, creamy and a nice smoky and dry finish. Drinkable for sure.

Overall- certainly is the best smoked beer I've had as the smoke is masterfully woven into the rest of the beer. It's still a smoked beer, though..

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Holger Danske from Hill Farmstead Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 197 ratings.