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Birth Of Tragedy - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Not Rated.
Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

164 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 164
Hads: 1,078
Avg: 4.38
pDev: 9.13%
Wants: 1,050
Gots: 197 | FT: 22
Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Porter | 9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: s1ckboy on 11-20-2011

Birth of Tragedy is the imperial and oak barrel-aged version of our annual winter porter, Twilight of the Idols. Brewed with locally roasted coffee and Vermont honey, we age this beer for a year in personally selected bourbon barrels from our favorite distilleries.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 164 | Hads: 1,078
Photo of fmccormi
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Straight pour from a 500ml pry-off bottle to a 10oz stemmed tasting glass. As with Twilight of the Idols, this beer was sitting in my basement for the past couple/three years, but made the long and treacherous journey to my fridge a couple of weeks ago.

Appearance (3.75): A fairly aggressive pour yields a half a finger or so of dark tan foam, capping a black as night body. It doesn’t hang out for too long, but leaves some light lacing here and there around the glass which is fairly resilient. It’s pretty, and while the head pales in comparison to that of Twilight of the Idols, it fits fairly well for a barrel-aged beer.

Smell (4.0): Cold brewed coffee, some chocolate syrup, dried apple slices, rich toffee, some vanilla and oak, and of course a little bit of bourbon come through. The barrel aging comes through mostly with the sweet, fruity aromas, like roasted apples and toffee. This barrel character is much better integrated and well-rounded than so many others like it.

Taste (4.5): Like the aroma, this is definitely dominated by the barrel, pushing out jammy, dark berry-like notes (some blackberry, buckwheat honey, and a bit of black cherry). Some vanilla, molasses, and treacle comes through after, mixing with a light coffee flavor, dark cocoa, and pumpernickel. The body is velvet-smooth, right up until the finish, when some of the bourbon heat and a slightly tannic, cocoa-forward flavor come up, behind the waves of jammy fruit and then dark, toffee-heavy malt. As barrel-aged stouts go, this is, again, incredibly well-built with a smooth, rounded structure and several diverse layers.

Mouthfeel (5.0): Smooth, smooth, smooth. The body is medium-full in weight and moderately syrupy in feel, showing only very modest carbonation underneath—sparse, fine, and smooth. It’s fudgy, really. There’s a tannic, slightly boozy texture that crops up after a while, lightening up the syrupy weight of the body before the carbonation finally foams up slightly, carrying the beer away in the finish. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Overall (4.5): If I had to choose between this and its base beer, Twilight of the Idols, I’d go with the latter. This is because I enjoy barrel treatments in some beers, but it can be distracting from what makes the beer underneath it so good to begin with—and that’s even if it’s done well. That said, this is done extremely well. The base is outstanding, the barrels used were outstanding, and the resulting beer is—shocker—outstanding. This beer comes off as 40% barrel, 60% base beer, but fortunately it’s so well balanced and blended that it’s not a distraction.

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Photo of Biggtriksta
4.81/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Picked this up at the brewery. Really a delicious beer. The honey stands out as one of the more dominant, yet subtle flavors, providing just enough sweetness to balance this heavy porter out. It was a bit expensive, but when at HF, you tend to spend a little more than normal!

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.31/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Came out a mostly black and brown liquid. Tiny ring of beige head on it. Falls off quickly.

Aroma was pretty sweet, honey, vanilla, roasted coffee malt. Solid.

Taste hits more chocolate and coffee, not massive. Complimentary. Some minor heat. Burnt sugar in a tiny amount. The bourbon was way in the background, just didn't pick much of it up, but still, an impressive beer, even if not holy grail type of stuff VT might want you to believe.

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Photo of aleigator
4.7/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Birth of tragedy '15 vintage

Pours a night black color, with a decent beige head, which collapses to formable swirls of lacing, coating up the side of the glass.

Consists of a nose, which comes beautifully together, defined by earthy coffee, toffee malts, coconut and oaky, warm Bourbon. All the different aromas stand out on their own, while blending flawlessly together, with wild honey on top, adding a glazed, sweet aspect to the mix. Bourbon is certainly noteable, while not over the top at all, accentuating the other aspects of the beer.

Drinks amazingly smooth and fairly easy, based on its actual abv, while its lower carbonation opens up the palate to sweet honey very effectivly. Doesn't have a thick mouthfeel as bcbs, while it drinks almost smoother.

There is toffee, earthy, bitter coffee, gently wrapped up by wood embraced Bourbon, coconut and wild honey to complete the taste. I am honestly blown away by the outstanding balance of this, while every flavor is easily recognizable on its own, they all seem to benefit from each other, by enhancing each others appearance on the palate. The Bourbon provides a pleasant warmth during the beers finish, easily balanced by slick honey, producing a melting caramel, glazed sugar impression, adding to the toffee, creating the most enjoyable, natural sweetness you could ever wish for.

A real treat, much more than I expected it to be. The flavors come beautifully together, tied together by a balance and smoothness which almost puts Bourbon County to shame, and that at a considerable lower abv. Honey and Bourbon create a incredibly synergy, making up for the lack of roastieness by providing the most enjoyable sweetness I experienced in a beer so far, which makes this perfect for a cold winter night, as well as for every other night in which you want to drink an exeptional beer.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Pours a very dark brown. Leaves legs along my small sample cup. Looks like molasses. Surprised this isn't a double digit ABV brew. Aroma isn't all too stressed upon the coffee or the honey; it's more of a blend of all sorts of scents. Maple, dark fruit, and wood come into play here, too. Flavor is even better than the nose. I get more of the coffee but I think the honey adds more to the feel than the flavor. Chocolate syrup, fudge, dark fruit, molasses and maple. Bourbon and alcohol. Very complex. A lot of heat for a beer under 10%, especially with such a full mouthfeel. The feel is amazing. Thick and chewy. Yeah this was another great brew.

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Photo of Mini4x
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best porter out there. It's as black as a black hole, light does not even penetrate, Some excellent bourbon flavor from the barrel aging but it doesn't over power the honey and coffee. Worth the trip to Greensboro Bend just for this.

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Photo of lochraneg
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark pour that reveals honey and coffee notes upon first smell. HFS never disappoints! Add this to their impressive list of amazing beers and you can't beat their brewery.

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Photo of jkrug5
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2/15 bottle date. This isn't fair, they've already nailed the saison, and IPA styles up there. Add another notch to their belt, this is such a great beer. The honey, and coffee work wonders together, not too big of a beer either. I could enjoy this year round, time to go all in for HF offerings, you can't go wrong with anything from those VT boys.

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Photo of ChrisP802
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It will take something special to remove this from my top choice for stouts.
Nice dark pour that releases an aroma of sweet honey with a hint of bourbon.
Taste was out of this world, good balance of ingredients with nothing coming on too strong. Only downside was sharing it with two other people. I'm in to sharing most things, but this was difficult.
I would be very happy sipping on this one all day and night.

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Photo of Bferber
3.8/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Flavors were balanced but very muted. Hardly any signs of the coffee, bourbon notes present but muted. Most pronounced influence was the honey. Honey really came through. Alcohol hidden and Mouthfeel was smooth but lacking in volume compared to typical HF. Overall solid but didn't live up to the hype for me.

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Photo of TJSoundguy
4.99/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sweetness from the honey, combined with the vanilla notes from the barrel perfectly balance the coffee flavors. Thickness of the mouthfeel only increases the richness. I'm not sure where on the porter/stout line this really falls, but it's a top 15 beer for sure.

Delicious!!!

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Photo of rodmanfor3
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a fantastic beer that delivers simplicity in an otherwise complex barrel aged porter.

The flavor is full of chocolate, vanilla, barrel, and honey, with everything blending together nicely.

Nothing is overdone with this beer.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.58/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: black with mahogany at the edges with a mocha head. S: roasted malts, coffee, honey. T: fruity chocolate, fruity coffee, some honey, red fruit, especially on the linger. Some bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Only slightly sweet - very well balanced with roastiness and bitterness. Some heaviness to the mouthfeel. Delicious.

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Photo of Spokesville
4.97/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my first review on BA, although i frequent the site almost daily. In the last couple of weeks i've had '15 KBS, '14 BCBS, '15 Parabola, BA Framinghammers, etc. BoT is BY FAR the best of the bunch. It is incredibly complex, while somehow not managing to taste overly boozy or too sweet. I try hard not to buy into the HF hype, but, if anything, this beer is simply underrated.

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Photo of Devman171
4.31/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle, fresh, pour is black with low tan head. Aroma is bourbon, pal, roast, chocolate. Taste is bourbon and oak that gives to roast, and a light sweet and floral roast finish.

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Photo of Ilovelampandbeer
4.79/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

What a treat
Look: oil black with a tan head...a peeve of mine is when you pour a porter out and can see how thin and watery it is...this doesn't happen with this beer..pours pretty thick
Smell: extra sweet bourbon in the forefront, chocolate and some coffee
Taste: bourbon, chocolate, coffee, and it's all presented extra sweet which I assume is the honey, but I can't actually pick out honey flavor
Feel: literally at the border between porter and stout...chewy
Overall: second best porter I've ever had, right behind Everett, and that's saying something

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

10-2013 vintage pours near black with a light khaki head of less than a finger. Aroma indicates most the coffee has faded, but the honey seems to be hanging on. Stout like nose of roasted malts and dark fruits. Flavor and body are silky smooth. milk chocolate, caramelized malts, sweet and creamy. Hardly any coffee character remains, and I wish I could try fresh, but damn good none the less.

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Photo of mn_nuge
4.74/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from 10/2013. An absolutely beautiful beer. Restrained coffee notes on this bottle but a very pleasant coconut aroma and flavor typical of a bourbon barrel aged beer. Better than Black Note, on par with BCS. Rich, but slightly drier than BCS.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: pours black and thick. little to no brown in the color, even near the edges. thin creamy tan head with good retention and a solid lacing. opaque with darkness.

Smell: maple syrup, molasses, bourbon soaked oak, chocolate. hints slightly at a nice strong dark roast or espresso.

Taste: opens with a strong and sweet maple syrup, the sweetness is cut a little at the end by slightly bitter roasted malts. more sweetness comes through in the middle with notes of brown sugar, molasses and deep caramels. the end is rounded out by oak, dripping in bourbon and a kick of espresso.

Mouthfeel: ends fairly bitter after a sweet start. fairly creamy. viscous and full bodied.

Overall: this is my second of Hill Farmstead's barrel aged stouts/porters and I must say it is their most impressive category to me. This beer has a lot of complexity and the balance works out extremely well with a sweet start and a lingering bitter finish. The creamy but thick mouthfeel is tough to beat.

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Photo of chinchill
3.97/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Hill Farmstead Birth of Tragedy - bottled Oct. 2013.

Opaque; near black with a modest, sudsy head that has good retention.

Overall nearly on par with FW Parabola consumed just beforehand. Compared to Parabola, this was sweeter, had less coffee, and was smoother.

O: Rich but easy to drink and very well balanced. Tastes and feels more aged than just 1 year.

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Photo of Sammy
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

There was some coffee, not so much bourbon because the whole IP was so balanced and tasty and drinkable. One of the best porters I have had. Thanks Tomtom for the hookup.Thick mouthfeel.

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Photo of macrosmatic
3.64/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to ActonBrewer for this one. Reviewed from notes. Poured from 16.9 oz. bottle into a Cigar City snifter.

NOTE: The problems here started early. Upon removing the bottle cap, there was no noise, no "pfft" of releasing carbonation, nothing...

A: Dark - essentially black - and opaque. Other than a few stray large bubbles that formed briefly on the top, there was no head, and no visible carbonation at all.

S: Here's where the bottle really shined. Bourbon, roasted sweet malts, dark fruit, candied raisins and plums, chocolate, leather, oak barrel tannins, and an overarching coffee aroma that still let the other notes have their places. Very nice.

T: Bourbon, roasted malts, and barrel in a nice balance. Sweetness from the bourbon and dark fruits, coffee and cacao. Some hop bitterness mixed in with the rich mocha hang.

M: Body seems thinner than the other Hill Farmstead porters I've had. Alcohol seems well-integrated into other flavors. But the big loser here is the complete lack of carbonation.

O: I feel like this could have been a sample of a beer pulled of the tank, and I would have said, "Wow, that's going to be a really good beer when it's finished." Unfortunately, this was what made it into this bottle. I'd love to give it another chance, and if so I will update these scores. But the total lack of carbonation killed the mouthfeel, and didn't let the flavors come through as they should have. I guess this may have been a bad bottle? But I'm very disappointed.

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Photo of Pahn
4.58/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22oz (?) bottle split 2 ways with BA morningthief.

Appearance: Pours black with a tan head and leaves a wall of lacing.

Smell: Coffee and some boozy malt notes.

Taste: Excellent. Coffee, raisin, bourbon soaked brownies, thin mints. I'm not a huge fan of the base beer, but the time in a bourbon barrel did the requisite magic.

Mouthfeel: Soft and creamy. Full side of medium bodied. No dryness, but still excellent.

Overall: Another great Hill Farmstead BBA beer. They're as good or better than Firestone Walker or Goose Island or Fifty/Fifty or the Bruery with barrel aging.

What's there to say? Lots of thin mint, dark fruit, coffee, vanilla. It's an excellent beer.

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Photo of wingwalker3
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Taste: beautiful, complex. subtle intermingling of flavors.
The bourbon and chocolate notes were both subtle and distinctive.
thick and substantial mouthfeel...The bourbon presence is perfection.
I absolutely loved this, from the moment I took my first sip,
and it immediately became my favorite beer of all time.
this is phenomenal! I cannot wait until the time I may be fortunate enough to have this truly special offering again.

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Photo of blankenhoney
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle from Oct. 2013, poured into a snifter. Thanks, Erin, for this, my first HF beer!

A: very dark; soapy brown head

S: roasted coffee beans; chocolate-covered dark cherries; faint honey notes

T: dark chocolate, dark fruit, and coffee; nice vanilla from the barrel; very sweet at first, but stabilizes after a few sips; lots of flavor, yet mild

M: so smooth and creamy; this is the mouthfeel all porters should aspire to

O: A fantastic porter. The barrel adds depth of flavor, and doesn't scream out "barrel aged." Mouthfeel was perfect. Sweet, rich, and restrained.

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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
96 out of 100 based on 164 ratings.