Birth Of Tragedy - Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy

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BA SCORE
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world-class

156 Reviews
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Reviews: 156
Hads: 1,010
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 3.67%
Wants: 1,009
Gots: 188 | FT: 26
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 156 | Hads: 1,010
Photo of jkrug5
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%
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. (349 characters)

Photo of mn_nuge
4.74/5  rDev +8.7%
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. (250 characters)

Photo of SubpoenaDeuces
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: The appearance has that classic imperial porter sheen to it, like the coat of an alcoholic panda bear. Black and slick in all the right places, it beckons to slippery asphalt and car crashes that New Englanders no doubt survived in obtaining this succulent potation. As a side note, my bottle had hardly any cabronation, wah wah, here comes the wahhhmbulance ready to pick some nits.

S: This has a crazy powerful bouquet that smells like melted chocolate, toffee, boozy vanilla extract, and a mild hint of bourbon heat. There is a sweetness that is perfectly balanced by mild alcoholic heat, just like your old bus driver.

T: This is an incredible porter and I know that I ride this brewery's jock like its jock will soon be discontinued, but it's really that good. Top 5 porter and guess what, one of the other spots is held by, that's right Barrel Aged Everett. I can't get over this brewery, like the haughty 14 year old girl, who just wont accept that her 22 year old boyfriend wasn't really in love with her. Ok so, it has a nice sweetness that enters and has a set allowing the alcohol waft to permeate and suddenly you forget that you are at a drive in, then a mild coffee pick me up before the bourbon mellows it all out. Just ridiculously pleasant, koala foot massage pleasant.

M: It is thin, like a porter should be, no fat ass imperial stouts up in this mix. It is just light and coats just enough to be rewarding but then hammers its point home. The alcohol is like a stage director in all black watching every movement, making sure that the pilgrim chocolate kids dont miss their entry cues. Holy mixed metaphors.

D: This is incredibly drinkable, I am trying to tame myself from powering through the entire 500ml bottle with little success. It is thin, hot, and sweet, oh wait here's a patently obvious female entendre. Nope, keeping it classy here. It is totally drinkable and I wish it came in sick sixers or at least tall boys to take up to the lake. PSYCHE. This beer is meant for hearths and post skiing discussions, luge comparisons and other highbrow Vermontean prose. (2,095 characters)

Photo of GonzoHomebrewer
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

One of my favorites...

A- Jet black, but no head whatsoever, a few bubbles...maybe something you could call in passing, a "thin lacing" but no, no head.

S- Epic richness. Gobs of various layers of vanilla followed up by deep roasted coffee notes, some sweetened mocha...just fantastic

T- Doesn't seem quite as well rounded as the nose just yet; dominated by the bourbon vanilla sweetness with some signs of the coffee poking through

M- this is pretty flat and some bubbles would help make this more drinkable...but why would you want to drink it any quicker? Sip and Savor. I honestly think it doesn't detract really, just makes all the flavors stick to your palette.

O- I never get tired of this beer. I could drink it all day (733 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.71/5  rDev +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. (579 characters)

Photo of Psychmusic
4.7/5  rDev +7.8%
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. (1,543 characters)

Photo of DaveHS
4.7/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours pitch bloack with a thin, bubbly coffee colored head. Sticky lacing.

S-Big roasty coffee aromas, followed by bittersweet chocolate, toffee and toasted marshmallow.

T/M-Exceptional on every level. Thinner bodied than the base beer (Twilight of the Idols) with a concentrated, thin caramel sweetness. Round, oaky bourbon goodness washes over the palate, fading softly into a slightly phenolic, dry warming finish. For a beer with such a nice bourbon character, it's not all that sweet.

O-Every aspect of this beer is harmonious. Wouldn't change a thing about it. I don't even know that aging would do anything for it, as it is drinking perfectly now. Another winner from Hill Farmstead. (695 characters)

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.69/5  rDev +7.6%
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. (989 characters)

Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to ravensdkr for sharing this at a recent tasting!

Th beer pours a dark brown to black, very littl carbonation to it at all. The smell explodes with flavor including a hefty dose of vanilla, coffee-espresso, cocoa, big malty chocolate milkshake as well. Very nice aroma!

The flavor is amazing, super huge flavor that follows those very well and adds vein more complexity. All the additions of the bourbon barrel and coffee as well as the nice earthy delectable sweetness of the honey shine through very nice, with a great helping of vanilla bean and chocolate bar as well. A beer that is on one end extremely flavorful but at th same time easily drinkable. THe feel is maybe slightly under carbonated, but this also allows the big flavors to shine though and mingle well, so I can't knock it too much. Juicy, long lasting aftertaste.

For me, this is actually up there with some of the best porters I've had and is almost like vanilla bean dark lord 'light', excellent beer. (983 characters)

Photo of TWStandley
4.67/5  rDev +7.1%
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. (937 characters)

Photo of kidkarma1971
4.67/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This brewery simply has the most elegant and well proportioned beers, I have not had better stouts and porters anywhere. This one even in a bottle delivers essential expectations on what an American Porter needs to be. I love the way the deep undertones of malt and sugar linger, plus gorgeous smaller bubbles. (310 characters)

Photo of Damian
4.66/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank on-tap at Armsby Abbey, Worcester, MA
Served in a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass

Deep brown/black and slightly watery in appearance. The liquid was topped by a thin film of large, caramel colored bubbles.

The aroma was intense. Amazingly rich and smooth with super strong notes of bourbon. Loads of vanilla and brown sugar sweetness. Chocolate fudge. Dark roast coffee notes came through as well. Tons of caramel and roasted malts. One of the most amazing smelling beers I have come across in quite a while.

The flavor profile was similar to the nose. Bourbon notes were immediately apparent. Lots of brown sugar on the front end. Super smooth, French roast coffee notes came through strong. Tons of vanilla and sweet cream. As the beer warmed, the vanilla intensified. Just a touch of espresso on the finish. For such a bourbon-forward beer, the alcohol was remarkably well buried.

The mouthfeel was lighter bodied (particularly for a beer of this magnitude) and contained a super fine and mild amount of carbonation. By the drink's end, the liquid felt nearly flat.

Birth Of Tragedy is a very sweet, rich and intensely flavored beer. Aside from the disappointing mouthfeel, this was definitely the most impressive porter I have ever tried. (1,250 characters)

Photo of jvillefan
4.66/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Very black body with an extremely minimal mocha colored head that disappears very quickly.

S: Sweet roasted malts with notes of bourbon running throughout the aroma.

T: A dark chocolate flavor starts off the flavor nicely. It then transitions to a sweet bourbon flavor then finally becomes the flavor of deeply roasted malts.

M: Perfect viscosity and creaminess but this beer is under carbonated.

O: Amazing beer. My one problem with it is that it is not a porter. It's a stout. (485 characters)

Photo of SadMachine
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Reviewed from notes from 2/7/14

A- Pours a deep black with brown at the edges. A light brown head leaves good lacing.

S- Huge amounts of oak and honey in the forefront, followed by bitter baker's chocolate and bourbon. Medium roast coffee and a slight tartness are also detected. I also get roasted grains and faint cinnamon. Lots of oaky tannins.

T- This opens up very sweet, highlighted by honey and molasses. The middle is dry and spicy, highlighted with cinnamon. Vanilla, sweet bourbon, oak, and again honey all finish this out. There is the slightest hint of tartness. As it warms I also get some dark chocolate notes. This is complex and wonderful!

M- The mouth feel is medium/thick, with a creamy feel in the middle, and dry at the finish.

O- Overall this is just a delightful barrel aged porter! I enjoyed every minute of drinking it! (848 characters)

Photo of Gushue3
4.64/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A Pours dark ark brown into my Hill Famestead big bulb glass. No heat at all and no lacing to speak of. but I can already smell it.

S The majority of the smell I get is bourbon but doesnt kill everything. Some chocolate and a tiny roast but I'm getting bourbon. nice scent

T Wow.. bourbon is present upfront but somewhat subdued. Light vanilla, chocolate, and sweetness from the malt? Lots of stuff going on and this beer is nice and complex. very well done.

M Medium mouthfeel with small carbonation which makes this really smooth and easy to drink.

O I cant take it, this is so good. Taste is perfectly balanced and so easy to drink. I wish I grabbed more of this. Thank you Shaun. (689 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
4.62/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12/16/2011

Bottle courtesy of bring, thanks! Snifter.

A: Black with a finger of dense light brown froth. Retention is good.

S: Pronounced dark chocolate and oak blend with a subtle char and light spicy notes that almost remind me of chili peppers, though I don't think those were added. Vanilla wafts from the glass and I get a whisper of smoke which accompanies a firm bourbon presence, earthy coffee, and faint caramel notes. Roasted grains are pronounced. Smells great.

T: Sweet up front, reminiscent of brown sugar, with a lower earthy bitterness, moderately roasted malt, and pronounced bourbon. Vanilla is light, and coffee is pervasive yet well integrated. For 11% the booze is very tame in the flavor. Cocoa is powerful and I get lighter notes of caramel and vanilla. The finish shows an increase in bourbon character.

M: Full in body with medium carbonation that eventually becomes low due to me swirling the damn glass so much. The mouthfeel is silky, sticky, and smooth.

Overall: I've never had Twilight of the Idols, but Birth of Tragedy is a fine beer. (1,071 characters)

Photo of JAXSON
4.62/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Robert! Pours black with a medium, sticky mocha foam head. Nose is roasted malt, lightly charred, with a strange sweet liquor that's pretty interesting, blackberry like. Light coffee and bourbon, vanilla. Pretty tight and integrated with that weird spirit edge. Mouth is pretty thin, opens with dry cocoa powder, light char, unfolding into vanilla, this very unique fruity liquor quality, and a long finish with alcohol and vanilla. Soft up front with a sharp dark fruit quality as it lingers. Very unique brew here, the barrel treatment is awesome. (556 characters)

Photo of s1ckboy
4.62/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Very dark body, 1 finger head from aggressive pour that stuck around for a while

S - Oak, A lot of bourbon, a bit sweet, a touch of coffee.

T - At first a lot of bourbon, cinnamon, a touch of coffee and honey. A lot of roasty flavors. Reminds me of KBS, but I think this is better.

M - Medium to thick, with some nice carbonation.

O - An exceptional beer. My favorite so far from Hill Farmstead. (404 characters)

Photo of schmidtmattsays
4.61/5  rDev +5.7%
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. (764 characters)

Photo of claaark13
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
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. (1,365 characters)

Photo of JoshVandy
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes:

HUGE shout out to Patrickbrusil for hooking me up with a few of these. He's the man.

500mL bottle into a Hill Farmstead wine glass. Shared with Emmaus217 on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2011.

A- Pours a deep black, mahogany color with a very little dark brown head. Thick and oily. No lacing, only sticky oil residue on the sides of the glass.

S- Sweet chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark fruits. It's all here. Very nice.

T- Fantastic chocolate and bourbon flavors, followed by some oak and vanilla. Nice full roasted malt character in there as well. A slight warming from the alcohol is the only trace of it. Just flat-out fantastic.

M- Silky smooth, not too thick, but not too thin either. No heat to speak of. Seriously, this is levels above any other fresh bal-beer I've had in a long time. Absolutely mind-blowing.

O- Yep. Easily my favorite porter of all time, although it walks a fine line between a porter and a stout. One of the best of last year. Period. (1,010 characters)

Photo of cdmillard
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Had the opportunity to try this. Had a 500 ml bottle, pored into a Duvel tulip.

This is one of the best tasting beers I have had the pleasure to drink. As previous posts have mentioned, my only issue with it is that it lacks any form of carbonation. Just felt like it was missing something. Otherwise, a fantastic beer. I would do it again...and again... (355 characters)

Photo of Resuin
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a stemmed glass. This was bottled 10/2013.

Appearance: Pours a deep, deep brown/black and leaves a finger of brown/dark tan head, which lingers for a short while before fading to a tan layer atop the beer.

Smell: Rich dark chocolate, coffee, charred oak, vanilla, dark fruits, a hint of raspberry. Very well balanced.

Taste: Sweet vanilla, milk chocolate, coffee beans, cinnamon, honey, charred oak, a hint of plum and raspberry. Sweet, but to a nice level (not overly). Again, well balanced with really nice flavors.

Mouth-feel: Low to medium carbonation with a medium to thick, creamy body. Smooth finish - alcohol is masked well.

Overall: Really well balanced porter with a delicious, sweet profile. Really nice, creamy body and a great finish. One of the best porters I've ever had. (824 characters)

Photo of ScotNH
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a very dark brown, nearly black, with a half a finger of a fine mocha colored head that dissipates to a beautiful light swirl.

S - A slight hint of alcohol, very sweet, slightly roasty, and a very faint smell of honey.

T - Extremely well balanced. Begins with a very sweet and smooth coffee flavor, with a hint of honey. Finishes with a roasty, chocolate flavor with a very mild alcohol heat.

M - Medium-full bodied, with light carbonation. Perfect.

O - This is a fantastic bourbon barrel aged porter. It is so well balanced, there are no overpowering flavors. A very mild and smooth alcohol "burn", just enough to remind you this is a serious beer. (664 characters)

Photo of MissSmisje
4.58/5  rDev +5%
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. (321 characters)

Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
96 out of 100 based on 156 ratings.