Birth Of Tragedy - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Not Rated.
Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

156 Reviews
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Reviews: 156
Hads: 1,010
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 3.67%
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: 1,010
Photo of nkeckhar
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

thanks to dtmets84 for bringing this to a bottle share - 2011

Appearance: Pitch black oily, small brown head

Smell: Absolutely beautiful with some spice, vanilla, dark chocolate, sweetness, and barrel.

Taste: Roasty, coffee, vanilla right away...well hidden alcohol. Sweetness from the honey is there.

Mouthfeel: Silky and smooth...good body and round mouthfeel

Overall: Easily a standout in its style, but moreover a standout for me against anything I've drank. We tried this against Black Note, King Henry, and BA Blackout and this one was a consensus winner. I will seek out another bottle of this so more people in my circle can wonder at this marvel. (663 characters)

Photo of dar482
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer comes in a pitch black color.

The aroma is wonderful brilliant of honey, gentle touches of vanilla and bourbon character, a medium amount of sweet roasted coffee.

The flavor is sublime for a character aged beer. Definitely a "Hill Farmstead" style of restraint and complexity. Bourbon lingers throughout. Roasted coffee hits in the front. A honey and vanilla sweetness moves the beer through the palate. The mouthfeel is smooth and minus full, and not very sticky.

One of the best barrel aged beers I've had. Just a shocking amalgamation of flavors that dance wonderfully together. (594 characters)

Photo of wingwalker3
5/5  rDev +14.7%
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. (433 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 ficknish
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Black. Great tan head.

S - Oak. Bourbon. Chocolate. Toasted marshmallow. Some nuttiness. Maple.

T - Toasted marshmallow. Oak. Carmel sweetness. Root beer. Slight bourbon. Bitter chocolate.

M - Silky smooth. Slight bitterness. Slight alcohol heat. Sweet.

O - What an amazing beer. I could drink barrels of this stuff. So deep in flavor and well balanced. Will definitely be drinking again. If I can ever get a hold of more. (430 characters)

Photo of TJSoundguy
4.99/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

Delicious!!! (280 characters)

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

This is my first review on BA, although i frequent the site almost daily. In the last couple of weeks i've had '15 KBS, '14 BCBS, '15 Parabola, BA Framinghammers, etc. BoT is BY FAR the best of the bunch. It is incredibly complex, while somehow not managing to taste overly boozy or too sweet. I try hard not to buy into the HF hype, but, if anything, this beer is simply underrated. (383 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 afi4lifer
4.96/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to Todd @respirologist for this one. A true BA if ever one lived.

A - A perfect, viscous black with a beautiful khaki head.

S - roasty perfection.

T- bourbon perfected. Balance is a word I've heard used a lot. I finally get it. Harmonious symphony of chocolate, fruit hints and woody bourbon.

M - wish I was a poet

O - just get one and drink it (363 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 myspoonistoobig
4.92/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle split two ways, into a Hill Farmstead tasting glass.

Appearance: very dark, thin tan head. Spot on for what I'd expect, though I'd hope for slightly more head retention.

Smell: a knockout punch of bourbon, bittersweet chocolate and molasses kissed with a hint of honey.

Taste: all that and more: roasted malt and coffee notes and it all goes on and on and on...

Mouthfeel: outstanding length, moderate carbonation (again, would prefer just a hint more in that department) and present but restrained bourbon heat.

Overall: beer of the night and the best beer I've had in a while, everything is just hung together in perfect harmony. So glad I have another bottle, but now I know it's going to have to be a very special occasion to bring this out again. (763 characters)

Photo of Hab11
4.92/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

500 ml in a tulip glass with Three Lions.

Appearance: dark very dark with a caramel head.
Smell and taste: almost perfect chocolate, light smoke, vanilla, clotted cream deliciousness. Can't say enough about it.
Mouthfeel: like the perfect woman...velvety smooth, mysterious without being pretentious, sultry without being dirty. What a beer!!!
Overall: A 10!! What did Travis Tritt sing about trashy women? This is that beer. A little dirty but in a respectful way. You feel guilty drinking it because it's above you. Like catching a 10 when you should only get a 4 or 5. (573 characters)

Photo of Patrickbrusil
4.89/5  rDev +12.2%
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 (492 characters)

Photo of Gosox8787
4.89/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Bottle poured into a Cigar City snifter at cellar temperature. Huge thanks to phingdong for picking up a bottle for me at the release. As a huge fan of basically everything Hill Farmstead brews, I am beyond excited to try this, especially after seeing early reviews.

Appearance: Pours the anticipated midnight black in color with almost no discernable head. I thought the ABV might cut into the pour a bit, but this almost looks flat on the first pour.

Aroma: Nice roasted coffee beans, sweet bourbon, caramel and vanilla bean are all in balance in the nose. The coffee is nice and in the forefront and the bitterness of the beans is perfectly offset by the honey. Not much burn at all from the alcohol. Really complex and pleasant.

Taste: Coffee beans and espresso upfront. The bitterness of the beans are balanced with vanilla, caramel and the sweetness of the honey. I usually don't care a lot for honey in beer but it works as good as I've had here. The bourbon is expertly blended into the base beer and gives almost no additional burn. Really balanced and tasty. Flawless.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and creamy. Just a touch of carbonation, but it works here. Goes down so smooth.

Overall, a really outstanding barrel aged porter and just a terrific overall beer. Really complex and balanced. The coffee is outstanding and this definitely is drinking great fresh. Pop this open if you have it and enjoy. (1,426 characters)

Photo of KingdomBobcat
4.89/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Got Dad a bottle for Christmas that we split

A-Almost black with thin mocha head with little lacing
S-Coffee up front, subtle bourbon, don't really notice the honey
T-The perfect complement to a brisk christmas day, Coffee is well pronounced, the cinnamon is far subtler than Twilight of the Idols and gives it a nice warmth, get a little bit of the honey before the nice very woody bourbon aftertaste.
M-Not too thick, thinner than Genealogy of Morals, but not too thin/watery, I feel like this allows it to pronounce the bourbon barrel better.
O-I'm glad I have several more bottles (585 characters)

Photo of milliCAN
4.88/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip. 2012

Zero head even after a decent violent pour. A little film forms around the edge of glass. Beautiful black color and inpenatrable even held up to bright lights.

The smell is mosly traditional porter with little booze but as you drink it the booze comes out more which I absolutely love.

The taste throughout is sweet start to finish in the best way possible because it's so balanced with a perfect milk body.

Perfect mouthfeel. Perfect is good right? (481 characters)

Photo of rudzud
4.87/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on tap at the Hill Farmstead release. Sweet mother of mercy.

A - Poured into my Hill Farmstead wine glass a deep, dark black...as black as brown can get with a creamy one finger mocha head that leaves lots of thick, creamy side lacing.

S - Oh...my...god. My nose is assaulted with rich bakers chocolate, oak, carmel, burnt sugars, vanilla, and some of the smoothest bourbon I've ever smelled.

T - My goodness, this is...can BA go higher than a 5? Tastes of rich chocolate, complex oaks and vanilla and carmel. And this bourbon...my goodness. Stuff drinks like its already had 5 years on it to mellow and smooth out.

M - Almost no carbonation on the tongue. Its super creamy though and nicely thick. ALOT of mellow, smooth bourbon.

O - Overall this is one of the best beers I've ever had, easily the best porter by a landslide. This sure is a rare one and wish I could have bought more than 4 bottles. For those who didnt go and only have reviews/numbers to go off of, this really is THAT good. Be prepared to spend big if you missed this one! (1,056 characters)

Photo of stephens101
4.86/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Black with a sturdy, burnt sienna froth that falls off quickly.

Smells of burnt sugar, caramel, oak, black licorice, brown bread and faint cherry notes that mingle at the end.

Smooth, rich and sweet with a perfectly offsetting bitterness deep down. Caramel, milk chocolate, coffee beans, and dark fruits flourish above notes of bourbon, oak, honey and distant peppercorn.

HF make the smoothest, most consistent beers I've ever tried. (437 characters)

Photo of ChrisP802
4.85/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It will take something special to remove this from my top choice for stouts. Nice dark color that releases an aroma of sweet honey with a hint of bourbon. Taste was out of this world, good balance of ingredients with nothing coming on too strong. Only downside was sharing it with two other people. I'm in to sharing most things, but this was difficult. (353 characters)

Photo of jsm1289
4.83/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Well wouldn't you know it, i had finally got my hands on an HF . Funny how these things tend to work out. One day I don't even know anything about HF, the next day I dream of acquiring any and all HF goodness. So after a lovely trade with a very nice fellow, I held in my hands BOT. Now to me, a 9% barrel aged porter is going to have very similar qualities to so called imperial stouts, so i am writing this review wholeheartedly comparing this beer to the likes of kbs, parabola, bcs etc.

There was absolutely no head upon pouring, and it poured so thick i thought i was drinking bcs for a moment. Smell was godly, huge bourbon, honey notes, rich chocolate/coffee aroma, only negative here was I kept detecting a sharp alcohol note, but im not sure if my mind was playing tricks with me here and it was actually the bourbon, so i wont deduct points here. Funny thing is I kept smelling it and sometimes I would get a nice fresh coffee note and no alcohol, sometimes i would get the alcohol with no coffee, go figure.

the taste is where this really sets itself apart. massive complexity, smooth as a baby's butt and as delicious as gods nectar. It was really amazing . Huge huge flavor and as drinkable as water. I cant believe how awesome it was.

for those who can visualize it, i will say it tasted and smelled like bcs crossed with a solid hint of KBS. ....mmm !

I will say, of all the stouts/porters/whatever you want to call it, only KBS can stand up next to bot, and I will say kbs is slightly better in my opinion. Everyone other stout bot wins no question ! (1,573 characters)

Photo of Ilovelampandbeer
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

What a treat
Look: oil black with a tan head...a peeve of mine is when you pour a porter out and can see how thin and watery it is...this doesn't happen with this beer..pours pretty thick
Smell: extra sweet bourbon in the forefront, chocolate and some coffee
Taste: bourbon, chocolate, coffee, and it's all presented extra sweet which I assume is the honey, but I can't actually pick out honey flavor
Feel: literally at the border between porter and stout...chewy
Overall: second best porter I've ever had, right behind Everett, and that's saying something (556 characters)

Photo of rowingbrewer
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a nice brownish black color with minimal head. the smell is heavy upfront with bourbon followed by a hint of coffee. the flavor follows through(though it is a little muted in comparisson to the tap version) with one of the smoothest least burning bourbon flavors I have ever had in a beer, It is truly amazing how well the bourbon melds into this beer, the coffee is a nice little side note in the flavor, the bourbon is followed by sweet rich and chocolatey notes. the mouthfeel is full, but not syrupy full. carbonations is low to low medium, which compliments the beer nicely. overall i would say this beer is better on tap but still excellent out of the bottle (680 characters)

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip from a 500ml bottle.
2012 Vintage.

Pours a gorgeous viscous dark black liquid with a nice quarter inch tan head. The head is dense but recedes fairly quickly down to a nice thin film and a thicker ring around the glass. Head like a frothy espresso.

Aroma is simply marvelous. Perfect roasty notes of coffee and burnt malts mix in perfectly with a cocoa powder and milk chocolate sweetness with a tinge of dark cocoa. Some oat notes can be perceived as well in the nose. So perfectly layered like a rich chocolate cake. Coffee notes are present but not overdone exquisite nose. The back end of the nose leads you into the nice vanilla and caramel of bourbon barrels along with mild oak. Complex and well blended aromas.

Here goes nothing. Mouthfeel is rich and velvety. Amazing low carbonation lets you experience all the flavors with enough cleaning and bubbly power to leave you wanting more. Wow. Taste starts off with some mild boozy heat followed by an amazing coffee note that plays ever so slightly yet perfectly with great sweet honey notes. The honey is a robust sweetness that give the brew some oomph but isn't sugary or cloying. AS the brew progresses there is a nice blend of oat-like notes with milder roasted malts and of course a nice powdery dark cocoa note that has equal sweetness and bitterness. As the brew warms the sweetness of the honey starts to blend very well with all the notes as opposed to being a stand alone flavor. Complex, creamy and delicious brew.

Overal, this brew floored me. Its pretty amazing. The mouthfeel is legit. Amazing creamy, silky and velvety smooth. Pretty sticky too. Nice roasted malt notes fill the palette but play second fiddle to awesome honey and bourbon sweetness with some cocoa to boast. (1,772 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 Reagan1984
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Certainly the highlight of beers yesterday at Armsby Abbey. Of course, that is saying a lot as this line-up was truly unreal.

Served in a Hill Farmstead tulip glass with no head at all. No lacing to follow. A very shiny deep brown/black color. No light getting through.

Aroma was fantastic. Vanilla, bourbon, and an almost dank malty chocolatey aroma. (nice, not negative)

Before I had this, we had one of the Twilight of the Idols which someone said was the base beer for this. That was a very nice beer. This was a very special beer. Great balance and depth. Chocolate, bourbon and vanilla meld to create an awesome flavor. I get quite a bit of brown sugar from the malt bill here and really en joy it.

Silky smooth, satin like on your tongue. Medium to bold while not being as thick as Imp Stouts. Extremely light carbonation… if any.

Great beer. It’s just that simple. (882 characters)

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