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Birth Of Tragedy - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Not Rated.
Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy

Educational use only; do not reuse.

161 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 161
Hads: 1,056
Avg: 4.37
pDev: 9.15%
Wants: 1,043
Gots: 196 | FT: 22
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

Birth of Tragedy is the imperial and oak barrel-aged version of our annual winter porter, Twilight of the Idols. Brewed with locally roasted coffee and Vermont honey, we age this beer for a year in personally selected bourbon barrels from our favorite distilleries.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 161 | Hads: 1,056
Photo of largadeer
4.44/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of corby112
4.44/5  rDev +1.6%
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!

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Photo of auroracrisis
4.44/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml into two tulips.

Silky black on the pour with a head that dissipates into a ring of foam around the edges after a big, frothy head.

Soft baker's chocolate and bourbon on the nose, with fudge, heavy roasted espresso, and vanilla. Plenty of oak.

Big roasted notes on the tongue with vanilla and coffee. Fudge, and more roast. Awesome balance between the coffee and bourbon.

Heavy medium on the tongue with a silky body. No carbonation to make note of.

Plenty of barrel in this with good coffee, vanilla, and baker's chocolate. Reminds me of KBS with no oatmeal. Would recommend.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.42/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of sholland119
4.41/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the bottle into a Tripel Karmeliet glass.

A-deeply opaque cedary brown with a few bubbles of head that settle quickly into a thin ring.

S-lots of charred oak barrel goodness with a slight sweetness behind. Very nice.

T-oh yes this one has it all. Great oak character and a very pleasant underlying sweetness. Nice bourbon character, hints of marshmallow, rich but not overwhelming.

M-perfect. Rich but not too much. Sweet but not cloying. Hints of alcohol are nicely restrained.

O-pretty awesome overall. Great way to cap off a tough week.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Pours a very dark brown. Leaves legs along my small sample cup. Looks like molasses. Surprised this isn't a double digit ABV brew. Aroma isn't all too stressed upon the coffee or the honey; it's more of a blend of all sorts of scents. Maple, dark fruit, and wood come into play here, too. Flavor is even better than the nose. I get more of the coffee but I think the honey adds more to the feel than the flavor. Chocolate syrup, fudge, dark fruit, molasses and maple. Bourbon and alcohol. Very complex. A lot of heat for a beer under 10%, especially with such a full mouthfeel. The feel is amazing. Thick and chewy. Yeah this was another great brew.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

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Photo of billab914
4.39/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of TheBronze
4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

2012, 500ml bottle
Poured into a Hill Farmstead raised snifter.

A - Pours with slight bubbles forming and no head.

S – A very pleasant aroma with soft notes of coffee, honey, and carmel.

T - Very nicely integrated coffee, slight sweetness from the honey, and a light roastiness. A very light barrel presence of wood and bourbon. Overall, a very delicate yet fulfilling taste.

M - Medium body with very light carbonation – just enough to not be considered flat. A very clean feel for this style of beer.

O – I really enjoyed this. Another example from Hill Farmstead of a well integrated beer that is complex yet immensely enjoyable and easy to drink. The only thing holding this back is how lightly it is carbonated. I’d like to try a new release sometime to experience it properly carbonated.

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Photo of Hugonaut13
4.37/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle poured into HF stem. Thanks to cfrances33 for this bottle!

A - Pours a deep black with minimal head. Bubbles retain around the edge of the glass.

S - Smells of roasted coffee and vanilla. No scent overpowers the other. Smells good.

T - Immediately thrown into a pool of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, sweetness. Like a chocolate brownie. All the flavors meld together very well as it warms up. Finishes with some coffee bitterness. Very tasty BA porter.

M - This isn't completely flat anymore. Quite smooth. Low alcohol presence.

O - This is a beer that definitely should be consumed at 50 degrees or higher. At lower temps, the coffee aspect was a bit off putting and seemed like it tried to rush the delicious brownie taste out of your mouth. This beer drinks like BBPt5's little brother.

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Photo of cradke
4.37/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The taste of this is fantastic. The bourbon is spot on, great sweetness from the honey but the lack of carbonation kills this. So thin. Tastes like a stout more than a porter but with a little restraint on the malt. Great overall but just needs some carbonation and body.

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Photo of Phelps
4.36/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared by the always generous ejyoung at a recent Cooters tasting. Poured into a Russian River glass.

No head at all, even after a pretty aggressive pour. Deep black, with maroon at the edges.

Great aroma. Espresso, dark chocolate, honey, smoke, tangy fig, vanilla bean. Bourbon is in the background, as it should be. A perfect blend of all of them.

More sweetness and fruits in the lead in the flavor. Vanilla beans, figs, prunes, smoke, dark chocolate, honey, coffee beans, bourbon. Kind of like a Baltic porter. Sweet throughout with a little heat in the back. Rich.

Very nearly dead flat, with just a hint of tingly carbonation. The body, however, is a thick, viscous medium-full. Swallows like syrup. A touch of tongue-numbing heat, but nowhere near what you’d expect from 11 percent ABV.

A very smooth and tasty blend. It’s thick, but I could drink it all night. Hill Farmstead knows what it’s doing.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.36/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.35/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.34/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

thanks to pjl44 for this bottle!

poured into a tulip glass.

bottle on date of 10/2013.

drank this side by side with Everett! 8oz pour of BoT and 8oz pour of Everett for comparision of base beer with the barrel aged verison and it adjuncts! Sounds like a fun beer experiment to me!

Appearance: black bodied beer with 1 finger of white head that drops down to a thin head on the beer.

Smell: A fairly mellow nose. Bourbon and honey sweetness. Nutty coffee notes. Oak barrel.

Taste: The beer starts of sweet and barrel forward with bourbon and honey. Milk chocolates. Mild nutty coffee. And the beer nears room temperature, molassess and hints of black licorice begin to emerge. Lingering honey, oak, and bourbon in the finish.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with low carbonation. Super smooth and creamy mouthfeel. This beer drinks rediciously easily like its a 7% abv barrel aged porter! thats impressive.

Overall: You all are going to think that I am crazy, but i like regular Everett better that Birth of Tragedy. This even shocked me as I came to this conclusion... Great complexity and balance are found in this brew. i wish that a more roasty coffee was used in this beer, I think that would have made this beer even better. Its another great Hills Farmstead beer.

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Photo of AlexFields
4.34/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Nose is all sweet bourbon, with some sugary sweet chocolate and vanilla and other rich maltiness. This is obviously going to be very sweet, smells delicious.

Taste is extremely sweet, huge bourbon again, chocolate and lots of vanilla and caramel. I didn't know when I was drinking this that it was brewed with honey but I'm not surprised as it is very very sweet. Delicious.

Pretty drinkable for such a sweet beer but the mouthfeel could be slightly more robust.

Great beer, definitely the best of the darker HF beers I've had.


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Photo of kawilliams81
4.34/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage. Poured from bottle into glass.

A- pours lack with almost no head, except a small tan ring. No lacing on the glass.

S- huge bourbon nose, at first I thought of scotch because of a peat-like aroma, but then I realized it was just the cinnamon and bourbon.

T- cinnamon, bourbon, faint vanilla, and sweet chocolate

M- medium body and low carbonation. Light and smooth, very drinkable.

O- very good beer. Nose implies a very bourbon forward beer, but the flavors meld very well together.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.32/5  rDev -1.1%
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!

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Photo of tarheels86
4.32/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

500mL thanks to oteyj. Pours near ink, very black SRM generating a surprisingly fizzy, reddish tan head settling to a thin cappuccino froth. Sticky, webby tan lace. Nose is interesting. Sharp vanilla bean and ancho/guajillo chili pepper dark chocolate sprinkled with turbinado sugar. Wow. Soft bourbon spice. Subtle yet fantastic nose- must allow it to decant a little bit. Morphs to melted dark chocolate bar. Taste....wow. Very silky, soft, almost like drinking super dark chocolate milkshake. Wild palate. Hilariously soft- almost impossibly soft. Muted bourbon spice, buttery dark chocolate ganache, true French truffles melting. In the finish is mild barrel character. Palate is 6/5. I can see all those people at Dark Lord Day pooping in Port-A-Potties and reeking of BO waiting for 8 hours to try a beer that they think will taste like Hill Farmstead Birth of Tragedy, but sadly is Dark Lord. A 3.8 level imperial stout at best that trembles in the presence of this behemoth, which is devastating not only in aesthetics and taste but also in subtlety and softness. What a magical experience. I will say one thing: DO NOT AGE!! You will be wildly disappointed. This baby is good to go. 12/10/2011 9/4/8/5/18=4.4

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Photo of Knapp85
4.32/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.31/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.31/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle thanks to shawnm213

500ml poured into a Bruery Tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark brown with a small dark brown head that slowly fades to the edges.

S - Sweet coffee, almost like soy sauce.

T - Whiskey, chocolate, coffee, lots of carmel and vanilla. So very good.

D - Avearage carbonation and body for the style.

O - A wierd smell, but the taste is just so nice. My wife was fighting me over this one. Thanks so much Shawn for this one.

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Photo of Devman171
4.31/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle, fresh, pour is black with low tan head. Aroma is bourbon, pal, roast, chocolate. Taste is bourbon and oak that gives to roast, and a light sweet and floral roast finish.

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Photo of Treebs
4.31/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500 ml bottle shared by cosmicevan. Served in a HF wine glass.

A: Pours an opaque deep brown color with some clearer edges. A thin tan head forms on the pour and recedes quickly to a thin ring. A few splotches of lace are left down the glass.

S: Smooth bourbon up front with a ton of fudge. Heavily roasted malts with a light chocolate sweetness. Besides the smoothness and lightness of the bourbon the barrel isn't all that noticeable.

T: The taste just took on a complexity that wasn't found in the nose. The smoothness of the bourbon carried over and blended wonderfully with some ground coffee beans and espresso notes. The bourbon took a sweeter turn mid palate and balanced the heavy roasted malt body. A little oak barrel shows up and blend nicely with a rich and lush chocolate on the finish.

M: Low carbonation here with a medium to light body. For hour luscious the taste was I would have liked a little more body to this.

O: Absolutely delicious. I like Twilight of the Idols, but I like this even more. If they would beef up the gravity a bit I bet this would be able to hold onto the barrel a little better and get a better mouthfeel. Still, I'm just nitpicking here. A great beer.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.31/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
96 out of 100 based on 161 ratings.