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: 1,010
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 Sammy
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

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. (186 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BrianTheBrewer30 for sharing this one while waiting in line for Churchill's Renaissance at Churchill's Pub & Grille in San Marcos, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy tan head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. No lacing on this one. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, vanilla, wood, and bourbon. Taste is of dark roasted malt, cocoa powder, vanilla, bourbon, and a woody flavor on the aftertaste. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a medium body. Overall, this is a very good barrel aged porter that is quite tasty and drinkable. (574 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of aapp. Served in a Hill Farmstead long-stem tulip.

Pours black with a good tan-mocha head and nice retention. Lacing on the glass. The nose brings forward very smooth bourbon with a bit of roast and chocolate. Some coffee there as well. Flavor integrates bourbon and chocolate quite well. Nicely done, but nothing to really bring it over the top. Mouthfeel is ultra smooth without any trace of alcohol. Fantastic barrel usage, but lacking the final oomph to really make it world class. Still, a great beer. (525 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color with a one inch cap of beige foam that leaves some strands of lacing behind

Smell: Dark chocolate, with hints of Bourbon, dark fruit and coffee

Taste: Dark chocolate, up front, with growing elements of Bourbon, dark fruit and coffee through the middle; really big flavors, that reach a crescendo after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, somewhat creamy, with moderate carbonation

Overall: We don't see many Hill Farmstead beers here in NC but when someone has one, it is always going to be a treat (548 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

a really interesting beer, courtesy of one of denvers great beer men, lucky me. It pours a really dense black, midnight or darker, with essentially no carbonation, a motor oil viscosity, and just a thin film of mocha bubbles around the rim of my glass. the nose on this is heavy bourbon, oaky and charcoaly, with spice notes of cinnamon and clove, a very intense roast, and a summery sweetness amidst all the black thick stuff. the flavor, just like the nose, is bourbon first. I also get really strong cinnamon from this, although I don't think that its an ingredient. I do pick up the honey through the bitter dark malt, and its sweetness is welcomed to lighten things up a little. this is a teeth coating brew, sticky and about as thick as any ive encountered in terms of body. I really wish it had a little more carbonation. not a ton, but enough to get it moving a little bit, but I understand that a barrel can reduce that quite a bit. more would aid its drinkability, but I don't think its trying to be a session beer of course. I love the aftertaste on this, with the bourbon, vanilla, and warming alcohol. this is a beer of impressive quality and depth, not one to be consumed frequently, but one to treasure and share. hill farmstead never ceases to impress me, and although this is amazing, its a level below some of their hoppy and farmy stuff. (1,356 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured out as a really nice looking black color with a brown head on top. The smell of the beer was sweet with lots of wooden aromas to it. The taste of the beer had some interesting transitions to it, the beer was sweet up front with some nice bourbon vanilla flavors that got a little funky in the aftertaste. The honey didn't really come through too well but the coffee notes were a good bittering agent here. The mouthfeel was of a typical porter but it was on the fence with a stout. Overall I liked it quite a bit. I would enjoy this one again. (555 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
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. (693 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pretty much black in color with a very small khaki head. Intense roasted malt and bourbon aromas. Lots of vanilla notes to it. There's a bit of the honey coming through as well as the coffee. I don't get much spice, though. A nice bit of chocolate in the back ground. The flavor is a touch boozy at first, but otherwise quite nice. Excellent vanilla and bourbon notes with some roast, coffee, and dark chocolate. Really smooth and well done. Medium to full bodied with a low, smooth mouthfeel. (499 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 oline73
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was able to try this during Night of the Barrels and during the EBF.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown, almost black with a layer of tan head that fades quickly to a ring around the cup.

Smell: This one has more roast than I expected. I'm picking up some bourbon, chocolate, and alcohol heat as well.

Taste: As in the smell, quite roasty. I'm picking up the wood from the barrel and a mild peppery flavor. Sweet, but the bitterness from the roast is the dominant flavor. Would have liked it to be a tad smoother.

Mouthfeel: Just on the thick side of medium with a tingle of carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I would have liked this beer to be a tad thicker. I enjoyed the flavors that the wood added. I would have another. (736 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
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! (1,284 characters)

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

Tap at the Armsby Abbey Hill Farmstead takeover.

Almost no head, pitch black thick syrupy looking beer with nice legs on the sides of the glass.

Nose chocolate galore, bourbon glazed, oak, vanilla, roast, caramel, coffee, syrupy molasses, huge dark malt roasted aroma, pure darkness, earthy hops, aged barrel aroma.

taste oh man! wow, bourbon and barrel mixed with awesome dark stout. Plenty of chocolate dark bakers, dark fruit brandy soaked raisin, caramel, vanilla and oak, barrel goodness. Bourbon is prevalent, oaky and caramel bourbon, light boozy tingle, syrupy sweet heavy thick. Finish of big, syrupy sweet little booze, tons of bourbon and chocolate, coffee and roast, caramel, vanilla, and oak barrel.

Mouth is huge, thick and syrupy, bit of booze, carb is good for the style.

Overall just great, great malts (which I already knew as Twilight was great), great dark flavors, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and barrel additions just add even more awesomeness to it.So great. (981 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review #2100. Bottle courtesy of AshleyMiller. Shared with Jason for "Polish" Christmas. Served in a tulip of some sort.

A - Quick-dissolving sliver of mocha foam settles to a thin ring, a few wisps, and tiny specks of lace. Black body with a glint of brown at the rim of the glass.

S - This was probably served too cold, so I was forced to let it sit and warm up over an extended period of time. The initial aroma was heavy in dry oak, bourbon, and a hint of solvent alcohol. However, as the beer reached an appropriate temperature more of the base beer's dark chocolate, roasted malts, and cinnamon joined the mix. Coffee and vanilla are present, but quite faint.

T - I find the taste to actually be superior to the aroma, as it cuts some of the harsh oak and bourbon cuts and amps up the rich dark chocolate, cake, fudge, and vanilla bean flavors. Perhaps I have a sweet tooth, but this just seems like a better balance of flavors to me. Alcohol is extremely well-hidden - I didn't realize this was so much stronger than Twilight of the Idols.

M - Medium-full body, low carbonation, chewy texture, and light tannic dryness in the finish. Pretty much what I like in a barrel-aged Imperial Porter.

D - I liked this beer quite a bit, but I think I prefer the base beer more, as I like the interesting mix of adjuncts and malt flavors and some of that is masked by the barrel-aging. Still, this is a high-quality and well-crafted beer that is well worth seeking out - but did anyone expect anything less from Hill Farmstead? (1,528 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 02/03/12

a - Pours a pitch black color with one inch of dark tan head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts, sweet milk chocolate, coffee, vanilla, bourbon, sweet dark fruits, oak, and toasted malts. Very chocolatey and sweet, and the bourbon comex through nicely, but doesn't overpower. Really awesome nose.

t - Tastes of sweet chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon, coffee, oak, vanilla, and dark chocolate. A tiny bit hot, and a step down from the nose, but still pretty nice.

m - Medium to full body and low to moderate carbonation. A tiny bit hot but not bad at all. Smooth and creamy.

o - Overall a really nice porter. I think I pretty much liked this just as much as Everett, but for different reasons, as this one focuses more on bourbon. Would like to get a bottle of this. (809 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by yourefragile in my kitchen last night, served in a Hill Farmstead becher. If you didn't, you did it incorrectly. At the time of this reivew, this is #3 on the "Top Beers - American Porter" list on beeradvocate.com and on a side note, this is the last beer I haven't reviewed on the "Top Beers - Popular" list (currently #95) on beeradvocate.com. 100/100 tickers, I win beer!

Beer is black and thick with a thin dark brown head of large bubbles, seriously undercarbonated, low retention, no lacing, looks fine.

Aroma is fudge and heat, strong liquor, strong alcohol, lots of chocolate and fudge, nice aggressive nose. Smells dangerous.

Beer is medium to thin in body, not hot at all AT ALL on the palate, the nose is deceiving. This is a relatively easy drinking beer. The back palate falls away quickly and finishes a little thin but not dry. The forward is all sweetness and fudge, chocolate, oak and liquor. Not detectable alcohol on the beer. I love it. I'd have it again. Increase the carbonation in future bottles of this beer to increase the quality, otherwise don't change a thing. (1,108 characters)

Photo of chinchill
3.97/5  rDev -8.9%
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. (364 characters)

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.97/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Alright, every time I think I've found my favorite Hill Farmstead tipple Shaun releases a new beer that is at the top of it's class. Such is the case with Birth of Tragedy. A great thank you to jammalamma for allowing me the opportunity to try this in the bottle. I had this on tap at the brewery on Saturday and then again in the bottle tonight and in each occasion I was blown away.

This beer is dark roasted black in the glass with auburn highlights when held up to the light. A very slight head is formed on a vigorous pour.

Aroma is where this beer becomes otherworldly. Deep vanilla bean, caramel, toffee, candied cashews, clarified butter in the best sense. Fine expresso with a touch of sweet cream, honey, strong agave nectar (think fine anejo tequila) - so much going on!!

Taste is strong on the nuts, agave theme with mocha and honey notes. Outstanding! There more you sip the more you discover! Vanilla and toffee really come to the fore the more the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is spot on for a barrel-aged beer. Light to moderate carbonation with a moderately heavy viscosity that belies the beer's hefty abv.

Overall just a tremendous beer from the get go and here's hoping it becomes a standard yearly release. Well done!! (1,237 characters)

Photo of mdaschaf
4.51/5  rDev +3.4%
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. (807 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 Huhzubendah
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The beer is near black with an inch of dense, beige foam atop the beer. Looks thick and a bit viscous. Fabulous aroma. Honey emerges more than coffee. Grandiose and lovely honey presence in both the scent and flavor. Beautiful blend of flavors here. Roast and honey marry up to form a slightly sweet, chocolaty beer with just enough bittering hops to balance it all out. Silky smooth on the palate. Long lasting aftertaste. Bourbon character is subtle. This beer is all about balance. If any one ingredient stands out, it is certainly the honey. Yet another fabulous brew from Hill Farmstead. (592 characters)

Photo of billab914
4.39/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Rhettroactive for sharing a 500 ml bottle of this the other night. It poured Pitch black with a trace amount of tiny tan bubbles sticking to the edges of the glass. Pretty still looking, but the color is pretty good.

The aroma shows off the coffee and vanilla notes very well. Very light on the bourbon but I get a little brown sugar sweetness. The dark chocolate notes I get are very rich in it and really good.

In the taste I get more bitter sweet chocolate mixing with the roasted coffee favors. Vanilla, brown sugar and some honey sweetness come out in the finish with just a bit of bourbon as well. The roasted, bitter malts and the sweetness of the additions and barrel aging balance each other very well. Very drinkable with some very bold and delicious favors.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied for the style and slick. Carbonation is very low, but I like low carbonation in these type of beers. Overall it had some very good and unique flavors to it. The bold, bitter coffee really worked well with sweeter honey and vanilla flavors. Really good beer overall. (1,079 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 Alieniloquium
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
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. (757 characters)

Photo of corby112
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a generous trading partner for sending this bottle. I wanted to share this but it's my birthday and I wants it.

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a thin mocha head that immediately fades into a thin ring. Not much in the way of lacing.

Huge malt aroma that's bursting with roasted gourmet coffee, luscious chocolate and a strong barrel presence. Some prominent toasted oak along with sweet bourbon and vanilla notes followed by dark chocolate, oatmeal, coffee bean, dark fruit and toast. Complex and although the bourbon is strong, it doesn't overpower the other notes.

Slightly viscous mouthfeel with a really nice balance of bourbon barrel, molasses, luscious chocolate, dark fruit and boozy heat. Really well balanced even though there is quite a bit of bourbon flavor. Dry toasted oak along with some sweet vanilla flavor and tons of delicious, sweet bourbon. Underneath, there is a nice molasses character that adds fullness to the palate along with a strong dark malt presence. Bittersweet dark chocolate complimented by a slightly roasted, incredibly smooth coffee flavor that never becomes acrid, astringent or harsh. There's a decent amount of boozy heat in the finish but overall the high ABV is very well masked.

Overall this beer is complex, well balanced and extremely flavorful. It's refreshing to find a beer like this that isn't a complete bourbon bomb. Recommended! (1,411 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)

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