Birth Of Tragedy - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Not Rated.
Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy

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BA SCORE
98
world-class

996 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 996
Reviews: 160
rAvg: 4.45
pDev: 8.99%
Wants: 1,013
Gots: 186 | FT: 24
Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

Imperial porter brewed with coffee and honey and aged in bourbon barrels.

2011 vintage - 11% ABV
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 996 | Reviews: 160
Reviews by tewaris:
Photo of tewaris
4/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After drinking Twilight of Idols, this came as quite a pleasant surprise. For one, the carbonation was spot on. Others said that there was *no* carbonation, but that works extremely well for this fudgy, creamy, chocolaty beer. Roast but with notes of honey?! Very nice. Coffee in the finish completed it for me. Very glad to have had it and will drink it again anytime.

More User Reviews:
Photo of wingwalker3
5/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

Photo of kingcrowing
4/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a hill farmstead tulip.

Pours a pitch black that's thick as oil. Nose is sweet, malty lots of vanilla and a bit of honey.

Taste is chocolate and roasty, sweet lots of oaky vanilla with a bit of a hot finish. Overall its really creamy and delicious. I don't quite taste it as an imperial twilight but its still very good.

Photo of ehammond1
4.04/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Bottle (2012)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, AdamJackson!

(Aged for ~9 months)

Black throughout. Shiny. Very little carbonation; nearly completely flat. Leaves the glass near clean on the way down.

Rich, complex aroma of chocolates, mild coffee, barrel notes of bourbon, oak, and mild vanilla. A bit of an alcohol presence on the aroma. A touch of nuttiness as well, interestingly.

The flavor is similar to the aroma, with tons of chocolate, coffee, barrel, and mild nut and alcohol components combining. Very drinkable.

Medium and slick in body, with basically zero carbonation. Could really use just a little bit of carbonation.

Fantastic aroma and flavors, but lacking in the body/mouthfeel department, unfortunately.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.31/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured out a mostly black and dark brown liquid. Very small ring of tan head on it, almost instantly wisps itself away. Head banished to the land of wind and ghosts.

Aroma is inviting, bourbon, vanilla, honey and tons of roasted coffee and malt. Pretty good.

Taste drops a good amount of coffee and chocolate up front, the barrel warmth and honey seem to produce a citrus like quality along with the others. Complex, but not overly. Pretty enjoyable. The booze is there, but far from distracting or problematic. Vanilla rolls along, mild sweetness. Mild carbonation throughout the experience. Leaves the mouthfeel heavy hanging. Might be some brown sugar along the way, but this is far from a diabetes beer (not that I have a problem with those either). Coffee is in the background, but you don't have to search for it either. What this beer does really well is have a multitude of flavors, but none of them dominate, they play well with each other.

Best bottle I've ever had from Hill Farmstead (although not as great as some of their 1L growlers of the hoppy stuff).

Thanks to jh1982 for bringing this one to March Madness 2013. No thanks to David Hurley at the El Dorado Casino (a normally really cool place supportive of craft beer). Don't tell us we can have a bottle share, and then renege on your word two days later. Sorry our money is not welcome at your casino I guess.

Photo of chinchill
3.97/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

Photo of mdaschaf
4.51/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Paul for sharing this one.

A: Pours black with a small mocha colored head on top. A small head forms upon pouring, but quickly reduces to a thin ring on top. Very thin lace randomly forms on the glass.

S: Lots of dark fruit upfront, some cherry and plum. Underneath is plenty of chocolate, a little mocha, oak, and some bourbon. The spices and vanilla are rather faint.

T: Great cherry chocolate flavor upfront, the chocolate is quite rich, almost like brownie/fudge. The bourbon comes through very even and smooth, not overpowering at all, with some vanilla and a little oak.

M: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

O: A very good beer, the flavor profile was fantastic - the blend of dark fruit and chocolate was great. The flavors imparted by the barrels blended in very nicely.

Photo of prdstmnky
4.29/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Been really lazy and slacking on written reviews, so figured why not start here!

500 ml bottle into a tulip, aggressive pour yields a finger of creamy mocha head. Some light lacing on the glass. Very dark with some auburn hues when held up to the light. Big alcohol aromas when I popped the cap, which was a bit worrisome but after pouring the smell was much more pleasant in the glass - a nice combination of bourbon, coffee, hints of chocolate, and some honey / vanilla sweetness.

Taste is pretty much inline with the nose, definitely opens up as it warms. Bourbon is certainly prominant but balanced nicely by the coffee, and sweeter notes on the back end - tasty. I really like the mouthfeel of this beer, its not quite like a thick stout, but certainly coats the tongue. Carb is a bit low, but not to the point of taking away from the experience.

Another solid offering from the Hill. Dont think I like it more than Everett, and haven't reviewed Twilight yet (coming soon), but very enjoyable on a cold night!

Photo of Sammy
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

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.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.95/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Josh for this one. 500ml bottle poured into a Founders snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours pitch black and viscous with no head. Very sparse, spotty lace and oily, thick legs. Average for the style.

Nose is booze, honey, molasses, roasted coffee, and fudge. Pretty subtle. Leaves me wanting a bit more here.

Opens sweet honey and molasses. Fudge, chocolate, and booze with some sweet prunes mixed in. Coffee presence is noticeably missing probably because of the age of this one. More booziness floats around at the end, complementing the robust honey, molasses and fudge flavors. Finishes sweet and bourbon-y. Aftertaste of sweet roasted malt, chocolate, and fudge. Tasty but a bit one-dimensional without the coffee.

Medium bodied and nearly flat. Viscous, slick, and oily in the mouth and warm and smooth going down. Messy finish with a long, lingering aftertaste. This might not be for everyone but I like my heavier beers a bit flat and this fits the bill for me.

Pretty sure this one is past its prime at this point. However, that doesn't mean its not good. Flavor is decidedly a bit one-dimensional but its still everything you could want from a barrel-aged porter. Warming and delicious. I'd love to revisit this fresh if its ever made again.

Photo of schmidtmattsays
4.61/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 11/13. Enjoyed side by side with Twilight of the Idols (base beer).

A: Poured from a 500ml bottle into a HF stemmed tulip. Even less carbonation than the base beer, thick oil-like. Reddish hue on the fridges.

S: Lots of mint, greenery from the base beer still coming through on this - to be sure the oak and the bourbon are definitely front and center. The vanilla from the taste in Twilight of the Idols comes through on the smell with the help of the bourbon.

T: Wood and bourbon from the barrel. Coconut, mint, chocolate, vanilla. Marginal roast.

M: Nice mouthfeel, not as thick and full-bodied as a (good) BA stout but definitely substantial.

O: Great base beer that turns fantastic after the barrel treatment. Would definitely seek out again.

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.08/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Viscous black with brown edges. No head. Big mocha bubbles, though.

Smell - Bourbon and coffee blend nicely. Vanilla. The coffee has a nice earthy character. Not a lot of porter comes through, but it doesn't matter much.

Taste - Nice bourbon and vanilla. Lots of coffee. Reminiscent of KBS in its earthy coffee flavor. Milk chocolate with a slight winey finish.

Mouthfeel - Heavy. Viscous for a porter, although that's arguable. Very low carbonation.

Overall - So it isn't as magical as I had hoped, but it's still damn good. Remarkably good, but the bar that Hill Farmstead has set for itself makes me feel the slightest disappointment when the beer isn't perfection.

Photo of Kegatron
4.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle into a couple of glasses. Thanks go to Stakem for sharing this one.

Pours a deep black, with some bubbly edges of dark mocha froth that coat the sides of the glass with spotty lace and gooey brown oils. The aroma smells of charred bourbon warmth, which gives way to notes of coffee, chocolate, brown sugar and a honeyed sweetness. This has a nice density to it with the flavors in the nose.

The taste is similar, with a rich mix of chocolate, honey, coffee, green citrus, a touch of molasses or brown sugar notes on the edges and then a dry and burnt oaky feel on the finish. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a chewy firm creaminess to the carbonation. That 11% ABV naturally brings some alcohol to the table and while it mostly serves to bring out a bit of aggressiveness from some of the more assertive flavors here, it does stick with you for a bit.

I really liked the richness and balance of flavors here but unlike some other recent Hill Farmstead offerings that I’ve had, this doesn’t quite mask its alcohol quite as well as you as I would have liked. It doesn’t doesn’t bring any stinging heat to the profiles or anything like that but does slow the drinkability up a bit. This is still a really nice beer though. Thanks again for sharing it Adam!

Photo of Vonerichs
4.06/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pitch black color. There's a gathering of a dozen large bubbles in the center, but otherwise no trace of carbonation whatsoever. I'm a little concerned about the flat appearance.

Ok, aroma takes it up a few levels. Robust scents of vanilla, oak, tobacco, leather, and coffee. I'm more encouraged now.

The flavor is vivid and displays good bourbon qualities of charred oak, vanilla, and leather. Coffee and chocolate, but...

Very flat. The consistency is right where it should be but there's no carbonation.

Wow, what a roller coaster. I guess they got it right in the two most important categories, but the mouthfeel is a bummer. This is a really, really good beer that could be great with just a little carbonation.

Photo of claaark13
4.6/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Brought this to a tasting and got to try an ounce. Intrigued, I was able to track down more. Thanks to the guys that have provided these bottles. Poured slightly too cold into a HF tulip. Warmed and consumed with happiness.

A - Very dark with a very, very slow rising low head. Slight lacing remains. Decent, certainly not spectacular. It sticks well to the side.

S - Coffee, a slight amount of sweetness, likely from the honey. The coffee is a smooth aroma, nothing burnt/harsh. Pretty well rounded. I can't tell if I am smelling the honey or faint vanilla.

T - Coffee, very light yet smooth vanilla. A little bit of dryness tries to come out towards the end but is subdued so well. The finish provides for the sweet coffee to return. There is almost a cocoa or cinnamon poking through the backbone. Chocolate comes out more as the tongue gets coated after a few sips. The barrel is pretty faint and seems to add a couple favorable notes. Great balance.

M - On the thicker side of medium. There is pretty low carbonation, but I somehow still really enjoy the feel. Any heaviness on the tongue seems to be due to the very low carbonation.

O - I love this beer. It presses the barrier between a Porter and a RIS. The barrel seems to be there just complementing and guiding along the base flavors. Very well crafted. I can't imagine a Porter getting any better.

Photo of TWStandley
4.67/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Prohibition Pig (also from a bottle, thought they were close).

Appeared an oily black color with very little dark brown head. Very "dead" looking (ie. no carb).

Smell is great. Definetely some strong Bourbon scents, lots of vanilla and sugar. Some plum and raisin notes in the nose as well.

Taste is incredible. First sip is very much bourbony. Then comes in the sweetness. The taste is so rich and layered that even the smallest of sips produces a sensory overload. Wow. Vanilla, plums, raisins, bourbon, coconut...just delicious.

Loved the mouthfeel. Very smooth and soft. Barely any carbonation - both from the bottle and on draft.

Overall this is a treat. Glad I have a few bottles in the cellar to see what some additional time and blending will do. Very rich and complex - extremely sweet. The bottle was consumed while playing some trivia games while it snowed outside - perfect atmosphere for this one IMO.

Photo of rjp217
2.17/5  rDev -51.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

This really fell off. The nose is weak, tastes infected. I guess I waited too long unfortunately as the honey is off putting.

Photo of Psychmusic
4.7/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased 12/20/12 after a somewhat stressful 4 1/2 hour drive through often treacherous snow covered roads.

Appearance: Pours a deep black... somewhat shiny and oily looking. No trace of a head at all, some bubbles around the edges from a relatively vigorous pour, but they disappear fairly quickly. Some dark brown around the edges of the glass.

Smell: Sweet chocolate, vanilla, coconut, complimented by nice warm round coffee notes. After a few whiffs I started getting excited again despite the apparent lack of carbonation- the smell is incredibly enticing.

Taste: Much as the nose would suggest, the taste starts with sweet milk chocolate and coconut, fading into a smooth bourbon followed by roasted coffee and darker chocolate. These flavors are precisely what I'd hope they'd be. The already incredible base beer is completely elevated by the barrel aging, and in the taste category this is one of my favorites.

Mouthfeel: There is some very slight carbonation here, but I think it's fair overall to say this is flat. The body is relatively light given the hefty flavors, not syrupy as I would have expected given the smell. Overall, I'm conflicted about the mouthfeel. The flavor profile can definitely stand up to very light carbonation, but I think I'd like more in the end.

Overall: If this beer had very slightly more carbonation, it would be in a league of it's own as far as I'm concerned. As it stands the aromas and flavors are such that it is still one of my very favorites regardless of the carbonation issues.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.71/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to David for this bottle!
2012 Vintage poured in to HF Stemmed Tulip.

A - Deep black with half a finger of light brown head and good retention.

S - Sweet bourbon, oak and vanilla up front from the barrel, followed by a big hit of espresso, chocolate fudge and molasses. A fantastic nose!

T - Charred oak, sweet bourbon and vanilla flavours give way to chocolate fudge, molasses and dark roasted coffee and a light dark cherry flavour. The finish is somewhat dry with a lingering vanilla sweetness and charred oak flavour.

M - Medium body. Creamy. Light carbonation.

Photo of jegross2
4.47/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing Birth of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro Bend, Vermont.

Score: 95

2012 vintage bottle served in a taster glass and enjoyed on 02/23/13. Review is from iPhone notes. I reviewed this beer blind (and then later assigned the name to the review).

Appearance: Jet black in color. Pours a thin layer of bubbly, dark khaki head that settles to a pencil thin ring around the glass. No lacing or retention to speak of. 4/5

Smell: Maple, vanilla, coffee and chocolate. Brown, sugar hint of raisin and cinnamon. Wow. 4.5/5

Taste: Bourbon and maple galaore. Less coffee than nose with a nice vanilla backbone. A touch of boozy hotness. Brown sugar and a nice "non-malty" sweetness too. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Not quite full bodied. Low carbonation. Nice sweetness, but not "sweet." Syrupy mouthfeel. 4.5/5

Overall: I had this beer at a blind tasting and it was one of my favorite of the night. Reminded me a lot of CBS, though it was apparent that this was not CBS from the bottle size. Barrel aged breakfast in a glass, this beer was very maple, coffee and vanilla forward. The 2012 vintage has a lot of bottle variation, as I have had some nearly undrinkable bottles that were nothing more than flat, sweet syrup. Thank you Fitz for bringing this one!

Cost: $15 for a 500 ml bottle.

Photo of jmarsh123
4.1/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with no head at all. Slight beige cling around the edge of the glass.

Aroma features a ton of vanilla along with a bourbon kick, some roasted malts and sweet chocolate.

Thankfully not quite as sweet as the nose would indicate. Lots of good roasted coffee mingle with the vanilla to produce a good milk chocolate flavor backed up by a kiss of bourbon. Gets a bit boozier as it warms, but very well integrated and never gets overpowering, but complements the base beer. A little residual sweetness although the roasty and sweet flavors balance supremely well.

And here is the bugaboo. I don't think I've ever had a HF beer that did not ace the carbonation test. Whatever the style, they all seem to be perfect and that's what makes this even more disappointing. Good creamy texture, but almost no carbonation. I'm talking near HOTD & Kuhnhenn levels of nothingness. I think a style like this should have lower carbonation, but this level almost mutes the flavors and make it taste almost like stale Irish coffee despite the excellent flavors and great barrel integration.

What could have been. These are some of the most outstanding flavors I've ever had in a porter, but the mouthfeel just makes this a good not great beer for me. That said, it's still pretty impressive that I completely hate one aspect of this and it's still a solid beer. If you like extremely low carbonation levels then you'll love this one as the flavors are great, but if you don't you'll end up just a bit disappointed.

Photo of stx00lax
4.23/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks Kevanb!

A- Pours fairly flat without any lingering head or lacing

S- Smell starts off with light booze and fudge. Sweet coffee notes and a bit of woodsiness.

T- Fudgy, boozy with obvious honey sweetness. The coffee is subtle but good. This beer advertises three flavors. Bourbon, coffee and honey. I taste all three and they are well balanced and work nicely with the porter.

M- The lack of carbonation is there. As a positive it allows for more subtle flavors to shine, hence the taste scores well. But it ultimately hurts the mouthfeel as it comes across a bit thin. Some say the lack of carbonation is perfect, but I think some more would help a la 2012 cherry adam compared to previous "flat" vintages.

O- A very nice and challenging beer. It has a lot of great things going for it and I cant wait to try again in the future.

Photo of largadeer
4.44/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stupac2 opened this one. Thanks!

Appearance: Viscous dark brown - not quite opaque. A lower-medium level of carbonation produces a thin cap of foam that disappears pretty quickly.

Smell: Sweet bourbon paired with earthy, bitter coffee, toasted coconut, dark chocolate, caramel candies. Really nice nose, heavier on the chocolate and bourbon than coffee. 4.5

Palate: Lots of bittersweet chocolate up front. The barrel has integrated pretty nicely with the base beer, lending caramel, vanilla and oak flavors that don't overwhelm the malt. Coffee is present but somewhat subdued. Alcohol is at a noticeable but mellow and pleasant level. Sweet and rich with a big chewy body. Fantastic stuff.

Photo of angrybabboon
3.79/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Cheers to Bilco for acquiring this for both Goblinmunkey7 and me, cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this particular bottle

Appearance: Dark brown, pours with a light tan head, keeps a small cap, leaves some nice spots of lacing

Smell: Chocolate in abundance with a hint of bourbon - dark chocolate, cocoa, and milk chocolate - chocolate and caramel malts - roasty coffee in the aroma, but the honey is even more obvious - very sweet smelling, with milk chocolate and honey - bourbon rounds out the aroma - some dark fruits and vanilla as well

Taste: Big chocolate with some bourbon - almost like some kind of artisan chocolate bar - dark chocolate, fudge, cocoa, semisweet chocolate - sweet malts with a serious honey component - coffee and roasted malts, but these flavors are mostly overshadowed by the honey - bourbon flavor is quite potent without being overly woody, boozy, or intense - lots of malt sweetness with some vanilla

Mouthfeel: Somewhere between medium and full, smooth, nicely carbonated, finishes and clean

Overall: Birth of the Beetus

As one would expect, Hill Farmstead can make a great imperial porter. This has some remarkable chocolate notes, with some equally remarkable honey notes. The coffee is pretty nice, but overall it's a bit too sweet. This may improve substantially over time.

Photo of Patrickbrusil
4.89/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The real deal in a bottle. Look no further.

This one oozes with bourbon, coffee, and honey. A combination that would make a fine cocktail and rallies into an unprecedented porter.

What truly puts this ahead of other dark barrel aged beers is that it had that slight smokey characteristic and lighter body than a viscous stout - and god damn that is AWESOME.

The smell is heavenly. If I could make it into a cologne I would wear it daily. I'd shower in this stuff.

Bravo hill farmstead

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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
98 out of 100 based on 996 ratings.