Holger Danske - Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Holger Danske
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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

43 Reviews
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Reviews: 43
Hads: 197
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 3.36%
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 43 | Hads: 197
Photo of Jdiddy
4.88/5  rDev +17%
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. (356 characters)

Photo of jbertsch
4.76/5  rDev +14.1%
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. (1,051 characters)

Photo of GatheringBrews
4.68/5  rDev +12.2%
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. (466 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. At the time of this review, this is #1 on the "Top Beers - Smoked Beers" list on beeradvocate.com. Served in a Hill Farmstead stemmed tulip. Growler shared by yourefragile. Thanks. Long time want, finally obtained. Loved it too.

Beer is brown and mostly clear with a wispy tan head of small and large bubbles.

Aroma is smokey but also sweet, hickory or something similar if I were to guess.

Beer is medium in body, a nice balance of smoky and sweet on the palate with a really great finish. The roast and smoke lingers in the mouth / palate for several seconds, making the beer seem dryer than it is. Definitely smoke forward without being over the top, by far the best smoked beer I've ever had. (721 characters)

Photo of 05Harley
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
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 :( (1,123 characters)

Photo of maximep
4.52/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

another banger from the HF brewery

looks blackish brown, clear around the edges but gets really dark in the middle

s- smokey, toffee, chocolate, coffee, bready

t- same as smell, but a little sweeter and more pronounced chocolate

m- thin yet pleasant. reminded me of Nils Oscar's stuff

o- delicious and wonderfully balanced, HF beers never cease to amaze me. (363 characters)

Photo of nickd717
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
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. (565 characters)

Photo of bonkus
4.44/5  rDev +6.5%
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. (1,385 characters)

Photo of Pahn
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Ginger Man in Manhattan. Reviewed from notes taken in the first week of October.

Appearance: Opaque dark red brown. Half inch tan frothy head that sticks around longer than most.

Smell: Cocoa, roasted malt, smoky highlights. Good but could be more pronounced.

Taste: Subdued roasted malt and cocoa, with a smoked malt finish. All the elements are subtle, but together they form a really full flavored beer--and the amazing body really helps. Delicate hand with the smoke, makes the beer soar.

Mouthfeel: Perfection. What does Hill Farmstead understand about mouthfeel that other people don't? Medium bodied, crisp finish, and smooth as silk.

Overall: Refined but straightforward. Doesn't do much, but what it does is delicious and unique. Provides a great fix for the smoked malt lover, and the mouthfeel is to die for. I'm not a big fan of saying "to die for," but it's something you say about perfect, decadent things with the smoothness of world class chocolate. (987 characters)

Photo of BrewUSA
4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
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~ (436 characters)

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the brewery and then again out of a growler a few days later. Once again Shaun has taken one of my favorite styles and created a fantastic interpretation.

This beer is dark brown, borderline black, with a hazy appearance when held to the light. A moderate foam tops my pour. Another of Hill's beers that features a great Brussel's Lace.

Smoke is front and center in the nose. I believe the assistent brewer said the woods used to smoke the malt were beechwood and applewood which were handsmoked by Anders Kissmeyer outside over the course of a day. A sweet maltiness is also present as are distinctive notes of maple, caramel and stone fruits.

Taste is a full-on assault of maple cured bacon. A smoky breakfast beer that was perfect at 11:30 a.m.! There is enough malty sweetness to keep the smoke in check. Bitterness is well in the background and thankfully the malt used wasn't over roasted which can give a smoked beer an ashtray note that is terribly unpleasant.

Mouthfeel was nice with the slight sweetness giving it some viscosity.

Drinkability is high for a smoked beer that has a tinge of residual sweetness.

Overall a great smoked brew that gives Aecht Schelenkerla a run for it's money. (1,226 characters)

Photo of corby112
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at Capone's.

Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even the slightest trace of lighter color when held to a light source and a 1.5 frothy mocha head. Decent retention, only slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves streaks and spots of chunky lacing.

Smokey malt aroma with hints of charcoal, BBQ and bacon but the smokey character isn't too intense. There still plenty of chocolate, oatmeal, toffee and burnt toast in the nose.

Chewy medium body with a lot of roasted smokiness up fentanyl that lngers troughout into a long dry finish. Smokier than the aroma suggest with lots of charcoal, butane, BBQ and bacon but there is still a lot of silky chocolate malt as well as some oatmeal, toffee and hazelnut. The smokiness becomes more dominant as it warms but like the other beers ie had frm this brewery it is well balanced and very quaffable. (877 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clearing out my HF notes. On tap at Capone's 1/7/11.

Pours an opaque near black with a thick mocha head. Nice retention fading to a thick collar and with clumps of lacing. Smokey, mild burnt aroma with balance coming from toast and chocolate malt. Thick, chewy body with a dry, ashy finish. Dark chocolate, licorice, roast malt, tobacco and faint dark fruit balance out the intense bbq and smoke of the flavor. Smoke in a glass? yes, but more complexity than typical for this style if you get past the initial "shock". (519 characters)

Photo of jaasen64
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had during a tasting at HF, it was one of my favorites that they had on draft (they had just tapped it a day or two before). This review though is from a 16oz serving served in a standard pint glass for $6 at Parker Pie Co.. Note- This review is from Parker Pie in Glover, VT (about 20 mins from the brewery) while still keeping in mind how it tasted at the source.

A- Very dark brown appears almost completely opaque black with a little bit of translucency around the edges and once you get towards the bottom of the glass. A thin layer beige mocha head. Doesn't appear to be too thick and about average carbonation for a porter.

S- Roasted malts, some sweet chocolate, a little bit of espresso, and a not too heavy smoked malt presence that balances well with the sweet robustness of the brown ale. A little bit above average aroma strength.

T- Roasted malts, espresso, chocolate, some sweet caramel all balanced with a nice amount of smoke. Full of flavor with a nice sweetness and in my opinion just the right amount of smoke (not overpowering, but definitely present). The beer at Parker Pie didn't taste nearly as sweet as from the source, but still tasted very good.

M- Very drinkable, a little bit on the thin side but still maintaining a slight creaminess, abv very well hidden. In my opinion could have been a tiny bit more full bodied.

O- This was a very well done smoked beer that is definitely one of the better beers of the style that I've had (pretty much like every HF beer). The sweet porter-like aspects of the beer were very well done that combined everything with a nice smoked aspect that wasn't too overpowering, but enough to give it a significant presence and add an additional flavor component to the beer.

If you like smoked beers I definitely recommend trying this beer, although I definitely recommend trying to drink it as fresh as possible and from the source. While the beer was good at Parker Pie it definitely wasn't as good as from the freshly tapped keg at HF. It seemed like a little bit of the sweetness was definitely missing from it. (2,087 characters)

Photo of garuda
4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep ruby, khaki head that recedes to a thin layer of bubbles, but leaves thick lacing.

S/T - Wood smoke up front, nice backed up by roast malt, dark chocolate, smooth coffee roast and finishing with a pine hop bite at the end. Underlying wood smoke throughout the flavor profile.

F - Medium body, maybe a little thin, velvety, but a little astringent in the finish.

O - Depths of malt flavor with the smoke nicely complimentary throughout the drink and never overwhelms the other aspects. (497 characters)

Photo of cbutova
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
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. (860 characters)

Photo of Neffbeer
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
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. (629 characters)

Photo of blackie
4.21/5  rDev +1%
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. (543 characters)

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

The beer appears dark brown with a small beige cap.

The aroma offers dark, roasted malts, Dense, crushed toffee, smoked malt. Different than a rauchbier for sure, this one is akin in some regards to a smoked porter.

The flavor offers smokey notes, but no meat, sauasage, or campfire character. Dense malt with a light BBQ flavor and brown ale tones. I like it. Whatever this is, it is tasty.

Medium bodied with fairly low carbonation.

A solid beer. Hill Farmstead can do no wrong it seems. (494 characters)

Photo of MDDMD
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A-medium to dark brown with a smallish tan head and some lacing

S-dark roasted malt, smoke, coffee, hints of chocolate

T-smoky dark malt, coffee, light chocolate, hint of pine and slight bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth and silky, creamy

O-a great beer with barbecue, this had a great smooth feel and good flavor, but not as much smoke as I anticipated (385 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev 0%
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. (771 characters)

Photo of cfrances33
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (712 characters)

Photo of brystmar
4.13/5  rDev -1%
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. (517 characters)

Photo of Duane_Opfer
4.13/5  rDev -1%
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. (607 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 10/01/12 notes. Had 2 8oz. pours of this at Pony Bar in NYC on the UES.

a - Pours a dark brown color with two inches of medium tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of smoke, roasted malts, toasted malts, coffee, cream, vanilla, bacon, and bready malts. As first I didn't find it too smoky, but by my second glass of it I found it extremely smoky. Very nice nose; the coffee and cream/vanilla add something nice to it.

t - Tastes of of roasted malts, caramel malts, smoke, bacon, toasted malts, burnt malts, light coffee, and light cream. Taste doesn't have as much smoke as the nose; still very good, but a slight step down for me.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Nice body, pretty easy to drink.

o - Overall a very nice smoked beer. Not my favorite HF beer but good for the style. Nose is super smokey, while the taste isn't quite as heavy on the smoke. Worth checking out, especially if you liked smoke beers, and I'd certainly have it again. (991 characters)

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Holger Danske from Hill Farmstead Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 43 ratings.