Birth Of Tragedy - Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

156 Reviews
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Reviews: 156
Hads: 1,011
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 9.17%
Wants: 1,009
Gots: 189 | 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: 1,011
Photo of pmlondrigan
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 bottle. Black, very black...and flat....very flat. Essentially very little to no carbonation. No lacing, some kind of ring around the glass. Disappointing. Vanilla, oak, bourbon, booze, chocolate....honey. Real nice, very aromatic even for a flat beer. Honey up front, vanilla and bourbon barrelesque flavors, a fair bit of chocolate. Very woody beer. Oily, fatty, rich and thick...but flat. A little cloying, just a little. As tasty as this beer is, and man it does taste good, it is sullied by the lack of prickly bubbles of CO2 escaping from this liquid elixer. I get it though, it is hard to bottle condition a barrel aged beer. (637 characters)

Photo of eyeenjoybeer
3.3/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

2012 bottle.

This bottle poured essentially flat and had a good bit of residue in the bottom of the glass.

The nose was nice barrel notes with hints of coconut. Really nice here

The taste was cloyingly sweet. I got nice, light barrel notes and next to no coffee. The sweetness, which tastes like unfermented priming sugar, was quite a distraction.

This beer had next to no carbonation, so the mouthfeel was a drag.

I loved, loved, loved the first batch of this beer, but this one is not nearly as good, imo. Last year's bottles had a nice level of carbonation for the style. Having read other reviews of low carbonation, I can't help but wonder if this was a widespread issue. (681 characters)

Photo of inlimbo77
4.31/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml, Winter '12
HF wine glass

A: Pours almost pitch black. Didn't get much head, even after an aggressive pour. Only a little layer of light/dark tan head. Formed into only a ring of big bubbles around edges. Definitely some alcohol feet. No lacing.

S: Lots of vanilla right away. Caramel and toffee. Some roast coffee. Not as coffee forward as twilight.

T: Up front you get dark roast coffee. Dark bitter chocolate. Can't get past the lack of carbonation. Really sits heavier than it should. Getting that vanilla from the bourbon barrel and vanilla beans after the coffee. The finish linger and is long. Lck of carbonation makes it stick around for a while.

M: Full bodied. Carbonation would really help. It's basically flat. Docking a couple points because of it. (771 characters)

Photo of stx00lax
4.23/5  rDev -3%
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. (841 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
4.51/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at 2012 Harvest Festival.

Pours an opaque, still and ominous motor oil black with a trace mocha head that quickly dissipates. Aroma has a strong bourbon presence, blending with chocolate, molasses, vanilla, roast coffee, raisin, plum and cocoa (basically everything wonderful). Syrupy, oily thick body with gentle carbonation, little alcohol presence or cloying sweetness. Flavor of a robust porter, roast and chocolate malt, layered with molasses, burnt sugar, vanilla, bourbon. I've had good to great experiences with this (in bottle and draft) and this was one of the great ones. (590 characters)

Photo of axeman9182
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

500 mL bottle, 2012 vintage. Big thanks to notjustgc for bringing this back from VT for me. It was poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Birth of Tragedy pours completely black, with caramel colored foam topping it that struggles to reach a finger in height. Head retention is decent, and lacing is somewhat spotty. The nose is very chocolaty, with vanilla is a strong secondary aroma. Honey and bourbon are both barely appreciable. The flavor profile is a bit more nuanced. It opens with a rich chocolate maltiness. Slightly woody bourbon notes come next, before a brief slightly fruity honey presence (which I'm shocked manages to come through) bridges to a subtle coffee finish. Meanwhile, a vanilla sweetness lingers throughout. The body, noticeably lightened by the honey, isn't too full. That's especially good given that the beer is essentially flat. The mouthfeel is still a little bit syrupy though.I absolutely love the barrel character Hill Farmstead got into Birth of Tragedy, if they tightened up the carbonation it would probably be pushing towards my top 10 beers. (1,081 characters)

Photo of tewaris
4/5  rDev -8.3%
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. (369 characters)

Photo of davey101
4.12/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage - 9% abv. 500 ml bottle into a tulip glass. Thanks so much cfrances33!

A - Pours a very dark brown body that lets very little light through, not quite black. A small half finger of mocha bubbles forms and dissipates quickly. Some random edging but this beer sits mostly still. A swirl coats the sides of the glass with a staining brown coating and some very minimal lacing.

S - Fudge and bourbon heavy. Very sweet vanilla, chocolate ganache and some subdued coffee beans. A touch of woody oak on the finish.

T - Very fudgy and rich. Dense dark chocolate cake, sweet natural vanilla, smooth oak, and espresso beans. Finishes buttery and oily like a bourbon. A very decadent dessert beer. Seems to muddle the flavors of Twilight a bit.

M - A touch above flat. Does it hurt the beer? A little. I expect a lighter body in a porter and this one is coming off almost syrupy and thick. Its not a huge setback but a bit of carb would help this one out for sure.

O - An extremely decadent and tasty desert beer that's a bit too flat. I really liked this one, but its not as great as Everett or even Twilight. (1,118 characters)

Photo of sleuthdog
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This one courtesy of franklinn
2012 vintage poured into Bruery tulip

Pour: Pours a deep black that a mirror like reflection in the glass. There was no head formation but there is a ring of small to medium bubbles along the edge of the glass. I have struggled to see alcohol legs on on other beers but let me tell you the legs on this were absolutely there! No lacing but wow the alcohol legs cling to the glass!

Smell: Bourbon and inciting vanilla jump up to my nose first. There is an obvious oak, subtle coffee and I do get the sweetness from the honey. Dark chocolate truffle candies drenched in sweet bourbon is the best way I can sum up this one.

Taste: A big sweet vanilla forward bourbon bomb and I'm loving this! Dark chocolate and roasted coffee noted as well. Some smoke and roasted malts mixed in with the background the honey creates is amazing. Alcohol is there but not overpowering at all.

Mouthfeel: As is known this one has little carbonation and this is the only place this beer lets me down a bit. I would appreciate some more carbonation as it feels too flat but with the flavors this beer has I don't give a shit! It is flat but smooth with a medium body.

Overall: This is my first non IPA from HF and my first that has gotten the barrel
treatment and despite the lack of carbonation this is one enjoyable drinking experience. The flavors are all in perfect balance and perfectly complement each other. (1,429 characters)

Photo of kevanb
4.11/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. 2012 vintage poured into a stemmed Hill Farmstead.

The beer pours a very viscous motor oil texture, jet black in color, massively opaque, touches of dark brown around the rim of the glass, no head, only a few bubbles, and no lacing to be found. The aroma is really amazing, big notes of bourbon and charred barrel, bitter baker’s chocolate, vanilla, some slight roast, hard to believe coffee is in this beer, alcohol is definitely present as well. It’s a very intriguing nose, heavy on the barrel and bourbon but the bittersweet chocolate and sweeter alcohol and rich notes play so well together. The flavor is wonderful, balanced to perfection, bourbon, charred oak that lends some sweetness, toffee, bitter dark chocolate, vanilla, roasted coffee definitely has a bigger presence here which really lends a hand to balance this better than the nose, rich malt and smooth warming sweet alcohol at the finish. The body is a bit thinner at first, carbonation is much lower than many other barrel aged stouts or porters, but it is certainly full bodied, thick, viscous, a bit syrupy with a nice smooth finish.

Verdict: A really delicious barrel aged porter from Hill Farmstead. It is certainly on the lower end of the carbonation spectrum, but it is by no means flat or still. A little bit more carbonation would definitely help prop up the flavors and help with the body, but it’s still quite creamy and the balance of flavors is tremendous. (1,462 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 cfrances33
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

2012 bottle, poured into a Hill Farmstead stem.

Pour: Completely still, dark, dark brown body. Not quite black. A few bubble form on the surface, but carb is lacking here it seems completely.

Smell: Big roasted marshmallow up front, followed by some clean bourbon vanilla. A nice milk chocolate comes through, and closes the nose.

Taste: Again, big time roasted marshmallows and milk chocolate. A nice vanilla creamyness. Some bourbon sweetness. Finishes sticky with vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Dead still. There is absolutely zero carb to speak of, and it hurts the feel. Otherwise, clean bourbon flavors provide little to no heat. A sipper, and fantastically drinkable

Overall: A really great beer that I just wish had some carb. It's too flat for me. (751 characters)

Photo of vonnegut21
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 Vintage bottle poured into a Bruery tulip.

A: Pours a deep dark black, with minimal head that fades exceptionally quickly.

S: Huge vanilla presence in the nose. Bourbon notes, caramel, a hint of port wine, maybe some sherry as well. Just a great smelling beer.

T: Vanilla, bourbon, port wine, caramel and touch of dark winter fruit. Bakers chocolate and roasted coffee linger in the background.

M: Undercarbonated, but exceptionally smooth. Nice body for a porter. Very drinkable.

O: I think the 2012 vintage is a bit less carbonated than the 2011 vintage, but I really feel like the flavor profile is fuller and more complex than last year's, which I didn't think was possible. Easily the best porter I've ever had. I truly love this beer. Shaun is known for his IPA's and Saisons, but his barrel aged dark beers are exceptional. (842 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 johnnnniee
3.54/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.5

Brought back from the north by a friend, thanks for the hookup Matt.
Pours a solid black color with about forty bubbles eventually making their way to the surface. Yup this one is flat. Smells of chocolate brownie batter, coconut, light bourbon, coffee, a bit of oak tannin and some sugary sweetness to tie this all together. The flavor is sweet and chocolatey with a bit of coconut, caramel, roast, warming alcohol, tannin, and earthy hop to provide some balance. This tastes like an alcoholic mounds bar really. Medium to thick body with a non existent level of carbonation and a sweet syrupy sugary mouthfeel. This honestly smells wonderful, tastes good, but the lack of bubbles messes with the mouthfeel a bit leaving a syrupy feel to it. I'd love to try this with bubbles. (777 characters)

Photo of jaasen64
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Three Penny Taproom. Served in a HF stemmed glass. Initially served too cold, so I let it warm up in the glass a little bit until it was close to room temp. The '12 batch is only 9% abv. This review is from two pours (before and after dinner)

A- Pours an opaque jet black with a still top (1st pour had a little bit of a mocha bubbly top) and some consistent small carbonation bubbles, but not overly carbonated.

S- Sweet bourbon, molasses, honey, brown sugar, coffee, some dark fruits, fairly aromatic and definitely on the sweet side.

T- Molasses, honey, brown sugar, coffee, finishes with sweet bourbon that blends well with the porter aspects. Sweet lingering aftertaste of light molasses and bourbon.

M- Medium bodied, fairly low carbonation, slightly oily, very smooth, nice feel for a BA porter.

O- This was a very good barrel-aged porter but nothing overly mind-blowing. There was plenty of sweet bourbon and a nice sweet molasses taste that balanced well, but I was expecting a little bit more coffee and chocolate to come out. Overall this is very good, but I think there are a few barrel-aged porters out there that are slightly better. Definitely don't drink this cold, it dulls the flavors and makes it taste a little bit watery. I would love to see what a little bit of age in the bottle does to this beer. (1,335 characters)

Photo of Pinknuggets
3.53/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at three penny taproom

A: dark dark brown but not quite black with literally no carbonation

S:reeks of bourbon very strong smell that pretty much over powers everything else

T:lots of bourbon there is some malt there but basically all I can taste is the whiskey which really isn't my thing there is no other porter flavors a little but of dark chocolate that complements well but still over powering

M: thick oily and very heavy definitely a sipper not super drinkable for sure

O: I don't like bourbon so my opinion is skewed but there isn't much porter to this beer not well balanced first hfs beer I didn't love and for that matter I have been less impressed withe their darker beers (accepting Everett) especially in comparison to their hoppy beers and saisons but ill blame it on the style this time. (820 characters)

Photo of BarrytheBear
3.66/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of GoGriz..thank you Cody! According to my notes I received this bottle in our trade last November. I am tired of looking at beer in my cellar, so here goes.

Dark black pour with an oily sheen across the surface and a few tiny rogue bubbles along the edges. Nary any lacing or head to speak of. Harrrumph!

Bourbon and honey play a prominent role on the nose. Neither are massive, but the bourbon imparts a spicy heat that reaches into my nostrils to fizzle any hair that may dwell within. Underlying dark chocolate is rich along with a drying bark quality I also found in Daybreak. Hops perhaps?

Rich melted dark chocolate truffle and warm butterscotch up front. Middle displays the rough and leafy bark from the nose. The coffee presence is light and mellow, whether from time passed or intention is uncertain. If pressed to hazard a guess, I'd choose the former. The finish is dry, tannic, and shockingly harsh.

The mouthfeel here is a real letdown. I always find myself frustrated when supposed, or actual, world class beers fail spectacularly to support the nuances and effort taken to create their beer. Adequate carbonation would do this a world of good.

This is a meaty stick to your bones porter that shockingly fails to hide any of its 11 percent. A bump in carbonation would certainly help, as the structure for a really nice beer are in place but a few support beams are shaky. It's hot as hell.

Having now dabbled more extensively in the HF portfolio, I'm left with mixed feelings. So far I have enjoyed their hoppy offerings more than their stouts and porters. I would think long and hard before trading away what this beer might command. Please don't sit on this beer any longer if you've got it. (1,733 characters)

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.95/5  rDev -9.4%
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. (1,269 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Bruery snifter.

Big thanks to cbeer88 for this bottle!

Reviewed blind as part of Blind BIF 7. This stuff pours a straight obsidian topped by a half-finger at best of sienna foam. The nose comprises rich cocoa, dark fruits, and molasses. I didn't really get any barrel character at this point, interestingly.. The taste brings in more of the same, with a seeming fudge component coming in up front. Again, no real barrel character comes through to me, but it doesn't detract from the rest of the experience. The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly chewy feel. Overall, a very nice, rich porter. I was a little disappointed to not really get any barrel out of this thing, but it's still pretty damn good. (I initially thought this was a smooth stout, and I will continue to say that it does come close to that kind of experience.) (882 characters)

Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from tap at the Harvest Festival. Pours an oily syrup black/brown with deep brown head that dissapates quickly. Lots of syrupy lacing. Great sweet chocolate and booze aromas. Taste is just amazing...rich chocolate, lot of booze, slight vanilla. My only gripe is its a bit over-sweet or id give the taste a 5. Smooth and rich mouthfeel.
One of the best porters, if not the best, id ever had. Get this brew ASAP! (417 characters)

Photo of lovindahops
4.95/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

On draft at the Hill Farmstead Harvest Festival. Final brew of the fest for us. Poured from Shaun into a HF glass

A- birth of tragedy pours a black body with slightly tan edges ever so lightly clinging to the glass. The thinnest thought of foam almost wants to climb the glass but struggles to emerge. BoT literally gleams as the glass is held up to the sun that castes over the Hill farm

S- WOW! A cocoa nib theme is traced over with a smooth coffee scent. Another layer of sweetness is completely present as the smoothness of bourbon kicks in. Notably, the chocolate, coffee, honey, and bourbon even allow room for a hoppy presence to kick in and make for a symphony of unique flavors

T- essentially a porter to be able to take a on sweet chocolate flavor that is heightened and complemented by the bourbon. So smooth and flavorful that you can't even find the alcohol other than assume its there because if the bourbon. Somehow the sweet honey not only contributes to the bourbon flavors but it also calms it down and perhaps enhances it

M- the syrupy flavor coates the mouth with the aforementioned flavors. So enjoyable because BoT has so much going on and makes for a great mouthfeel

O- Birth of Tragedy was an absolute highlight for us. This is without a doubt the best porter I have ever had. The melody of flavors coming from the 2011 keg made for an amazing experience (1,383 characters)

Photo of Luk13
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Harvest festival. Pitch black with small mocha bubbles as foam. Rich chocolate, coffee aroma with some strong bourbon vanilla notes. Some spices too. Very sweet but the roastiness from the coffee makes it more dry and drinkable. Low carbonation. This is a decadent beer, a sipper for sure. (303 characters)

Photo of stakem
3.74/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle into a couple of snifters. The brew appears black in color with a line of brown around the edges. Little to no head formation but a few bubbles make their way to the surface. Instead of lacing effect, there are some legs of alcohol noted that droop down the edges of the glass.

The aroma has some hints of cocoa minorly reminescent of brownie batter. A light touch of honey sweetness blends into some roasty grain quality. Some suggestion of coffee, solvent alcohol, vanilla, oak and a spicy hint of cinnamon.

The taste is boozy with a solent alcohol touch that blends into a roasty grain flavor that is akin to strong coffee. A trace of honey flavor without any residual sweetness. Somewhat musty that transitions into more fusel alcohol. The aftertaste is both roasty and nutty.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest to lighter level of carbonation. It is a boozy sipper that is unique. Big alcohol impact and minor barrel influence. I am glad to have tried this but wouldnt go through the trouble to have it again. (1,038 characters)

Photo of Arbitrator
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from fridge -- I let it warm up for 30 minutes before opening and serving. Thanks!

A: Pours a semi-clear dark mahogany body with the slightest coalescence of tan bubbles on top of the beer. They never really materialize into a head. No lace or register marks.

S: Vanilla-forward bourbon barrels with an earthy, roasted coffee aroma. This has a strong cinnamon and possibly coriander nose that remind me immediately of pumpkin pie. I don't see any mention of spices on the label, so I'm assuming that's some artifact from honey impurities being left behind after fermentation. Roasted coffee and chocolate truffles, some orange, and light booze.

T: Birth of Tragedy comes off as a delicate vanilla chocolate-fudge experience. I say delicate because it's not overpowering in sweetness. Coffee lends a mild bitterness that accents the beer's other flavors. Bourbon is noticeable both at the front and at the finish, though the finish is mostly dominated by a spicy flavor (again, cinnamon and cardamom are my closest associations) that carries into the aftertaste, which is slightly drying and tannic. This is very well composed; I actually get the feeling there was more to it when fresh.

M: I'm surprised this is 11% and yet so dry. However, that seems to leave its ABV exposed on the back end, with a small booze sting (though I wouldn't call this solventy). I normally like carbonation on the lower end, but I feel that this one is a tad lower than even my preference, and it could use more bubbles.

O: This really is a fantastic porter; I'm not really surprised, given the brewery's other hits. I would caution against aging this one; despite the small heat, one thing that impressed me about the beer was how balanced all the flavors are. Aging it might temper the booze, but at the expense of that balance, causing the symphony of flavors to lose its rhythm. (1,878 characters)

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