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 FeDUBBELFIST
3.89/5  rDev -6.7%
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. (1,499 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
3.97/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Blackback Pub in Waterbury.

A: Clear deep garnet body; 1/2" head of off-white foam. Pretty good retention, spotty lace. Ok.

S: Pure smoke - cherry wood? Really clearn, light, fruity smoke, but nothing but smoke. Nice.

T: Smoke up front, smoke in the middle, and smoke on the finish. Some dark fruity adn malt in the background. BItter, smoky finish. Tasty.

M: Creamy, lively medium body. Good.

O: Quite a nice smoked beer, but honestly not quite as good as a classic Aecht Schlenkerla.

Cheers! (514 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 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 DoubleSimcoe
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
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. (626 characters)

Photo of rudzud
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler from Hill Farmstead poured into my dogfish head tulip.

A - Poured a deep dark brown hue with a two finger khaki head leaving nice sticky side lacing and a very nice thin blanket.

S - Aromas of lightly roasted smoked malts here and nice and subtly smokey.

T - Taste though is much different than the nose in that much more smokey than the nose with more sweet notes with some light chocolate notes as well.

M - Mouthfeel is nice with lots of carbonation very sharp and crisp in the mouth.

O - Overall this was a very tasty smoked beer with very nice richness going for it. Another good brew from Hill Farmstead. (623 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
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. (1,152 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 Rifugium
4/5  rDev -4.1%
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! (503 characters)

Photo of Kinsman
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
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. (782 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)

Photo of BARFLYB
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
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. (781 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 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 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 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 Sean9689
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at HF Harvest Fest 2012...into HF wine glass.

Pours a darker brown/black color, tan-colored head, bubbles, thin collar. Nose is smokey, toasted malts, light roast, chocolate. Flavor is similar, perfect balance of smoke and sweetness, nice level of roast, cream, and tobacco. Medium body, good carbonation, creamy finish.

This reminded me of Fear & Trembling with slightly more smoke (now) and a lighter body. I really enjoyed this beer even more then I was expecting, and might have been the surprise of the Harvest Fest for me. Great smoked beer that's very close to a smoked porter. (593 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 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 deapokid
3.82/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank on tap at Capone's on 1-8-11. Reviewed from notes.

My first Hill Farmstead!

This "smoked brown ale" has a black body, no head or lacing and a light, still carbonation. The lack of carbonation and liveliness reminded me of a beer with a much higher ABV, which would have explained the dullness and lack of body.

Aroma is lightly smoked, packing in some dry fruit, fresh firewood and a touch of spicing. It's subtle and complex, which works to its advantage.

Flavor packs a heavy smokiness that one would expect from a well-cooked piece of brisket. Beechwood in the conclusion is rich, acting as a a nice counterpoint to the dry smoke. Bacon, apple and cinnamon also peak out, adding a pleasant spiciness to the raging fire of smoky flavor.

The mouth is a shade thinner than expected, but that allows the bold flavors to be more forceful. Surprisingly, the balance is still there and the flavor profile is varied.

For those seeking a smoky, nutty ale, this is a nice sipping beer for a snowy Winter's day. (1,015 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
3.96/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours brown with a mild white head, no real lace, average head retention.

S: No kidding on the smoked beer aspect. Campfire, wood, an elegant but pungent aroma.

T: Smoke is dominant, but the caramel type malt flavour comes through, making it not as one dimensional as a lot of the smoked beers I've had. Not Schlenkerla, but good.

M: Medium-bodied, heavy smoke with a shaky but good balance of flavours. Long aftertaste.

D: One of the better smoked beers I've had for sure. I've never seen Hill Farmstead in the Southland before; I'll have to be on the lookout for more of their stuff. (618 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 orangesol
3.77/5  rDev -9.6%
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. (1,061 characters)

Photo of Axic10
4/5  rDev -4.1%
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. (537 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)

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