Birth Of Tragedy - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Not Rated.
Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

156 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 156
Hads: 1,010
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 3.67%
Wants: 1,009
Gots: 188 | FT: 26
Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: s1ckboy on 11-20-2011

Imperial porter brewed with coffee and honey and aged in bourbon barrels.

2011 vintage - 11% ABV
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 156 | Hads: 1,010
Photo of jegross2
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing Birth of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro Bend, Vermont.

Score: 95

2012 vintage bottle served in a taster glass and enjoyed on 02/23/13. Review is from iPhone notes. I reviewed this beer blind (and then later assigned the name to the review).

Appearance: Jet black in color. Pours a thin layer of bubbly, dark khaki head that settles to a pencil thin ring around the glass. No lacing or retention to speak of. 4/5

Smell: Maple, vanilla, coffee and chocolate. Brown, sugar hint of raisin and cinnamon. Wow. 4.5/5

Taste: Bourbon and maple galaore. Less coffee than nose with a nice vanilla backbone. A touch of boozy hotness. Brown sugar and a nice "non-malty" sweetness too. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Not quite full bodied. Low carbonation. Nice sweetness, but not "sweet." Syrupy mouthfeel. 4.5/5

Overall: I had this beer at a blind tasting and it was one of my favorite of the night. Reminded me a lot of CBS, though it was apparent that this was not CBS from the bottle size. Barrel aged breakfast in a glass, this beer was very maple, coffee and vanilla forward. The 2012 vintage has a lot of bottle variation, as I have had some nearly undrinkable bottles that were nothing more than flat, sweet syrup. Thank you Fitz for bringing this one!

Cost: $15 for a 500 ml bottle. (1,305 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 tarheels86
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
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 (1,217 characters)

Photo of jmarsh123
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with no head at all. Slight beige cling around the edge of the glass.

Aroma features a ton of vanilla along with a bourbon kick, some roasted malts and sweet chocolate.

Thankfully not quite as sweet as the nose would indicate. Lots of good roasted coffee mingle with the vanilla to produce a good milk chocolate flavor backed up by a kiss of bourbon. Gets a bit boozier as it warms, but very well integrated and never gets overpowering, but complements the base beer. A little residual sweetness although the roasty and sweet flavors balance supremely well.

And here is the bugaboo. I don't think I've ever had a HF beer that did not ace the carbonation test. Whatever the style, they all seem to be perfect and that's what makes this even more disappointing. Good creamy texture, but almost no carbonation. I'm talking near HOTD & Kuhnhenn levels of nothingness. I think a style like this should have lower carbonation, but this level almost mutes the flavors and make it taste almost like stale Irish coffee despite the excellent flavors and great barrel integration.

What could have been. These are some of the most outstanding flavors I've ever had in a porter, but the mouthfeel just makes this a good not great beer for me. That said, it's still pretty impressive that I completely hate one aspect of this and it's still a solid beer. If you like extremely low carbonation levels then you'll love this one as the flavors are great, but if you don't you'll end up just a bit disappointed. (1,515 characters)

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 Sean9689
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As of 7/8, this completes the top 100 here on BA and top 50 on RB. Yeah, I'm badass so whatever.

A - Pours black, tan-colored head, thin collar, big bubbles.

S - Chocolate, booze, coconut, oak, caramel. The booze has smoothed out and the sweetness is balanced nicely with the sweetness. The barrel influence is pretty heavy, but it compliments the base porter and adds some complexity.

T - Chocolate, booze, oak, light roast, vanilla. The barrel has added an additional layer of sweetness and booze, but it's also taken away a lot of the base beer. Alcohol is smooth, but pronounced with vanilla and oak. Finish is bitter dark chocolate, light vanilla, and burnt sugars.

M - Medium to full body, super-rich, smooth booze, creamy finish.

O - The 11% has really smooth out, but there's still a bunch of sweetness from the barrel. I really like how the barrels have worked with Twilight, but I think the coffee and spices are long-gone as this point. Maybe some of the light roast I picked up is coffee, but I can't be too sure. A really great brew and something I liked more then Damon...good stuff. (1,102 characters)

Photo of birchstick
4.18/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black without much of a head. As the description states, honey, coffee, and vanilla. Starts off chocolate that fades to some bourbon and heat. All of these flavors meld together really well and make a nice porter. Ends dry. Really good bourbon barrel aged porter. I am looking forward to trying more from this brewery. (324 characters)

Photo of afksports
3.9/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nails the porter side, but the bourbon barrel is very weak. It's messy, the oak doesn't come through as strong as you'd hope, and the final product seems a little thin. Especially for an 11% beer.

Looks great though, and it smells on point. But ultimately it was a little disappointing. Especially when 2010 Olde Hickory Imperial Stout was opened on the same night and absolutely blew it out of the water.

Reviewed from notes, shared with alalvarez75 before Birth of Tragedy hit the hype machine! (498 characters)

Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.9/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes. Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a snifter.

Birth of Tragedy pours a mahogany, nearly black color with a small tan mocha cap.

Lots of espresso, somewhat bitter and a bit creamy, dark bitter chocolate, sweet milk chocolate, roasted malt, and a bit of spicy hops in the nose.

The flavor is full of a ton of espresso, a bit of cream, dark, bitter chocolate, deeply roasted malt, and a bit of spice toward the finish. There is a sweetness to some of chocolate notes, but overall it is fairly bitter. There is not very much bourbon character coming through.

The mouthfeel is fairly full, there is a creamy carbonation. It is a bit acrid in its bitterness, with a dryness toward the end. Even without the bourbon flavor coming through, it feels like the dryness from the oak barrel came through fairly strongly.

It was fairly nice, but I really noticed the acrid nature of it, which detracted from the experience. (927 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 Rhettroactive
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

From 500mL bottle to Devil's Backbone glass on 5/5/12
*From notes

-- Gotta shout out to baconsausage for the swap. Cheers, Tucker --

A: Warm muddy brown in hue. A generous pour yields no head or lacing. The tiniest of creamy collars rims the glass.

S: Smokey, minty, herbaceous and much, much more. Extremely complex. Unlike any other bouquet I've encountered. Utterly unique.

T: The thing that I'm beginning to realize about HF is that they're literally blazing new trails within the craft brewing world. Sure, they may produce traditional styles and age in barrels, but what they bottle tastes unlike anything else in-style. This is no exception. Smokehouse smoke, rich unroasted coffee, dark and moody malts, mild bourbon, garden herbs and a touch of warm honey. Once you pick up on one of the flavor notes, it's immediately "on to the next one." Wild stuff.

M: Thin and a bit undercarbed. I'm gonna assume the barrels are guilty of this, yet it's still not quite right.

O: This is a pretty wonderful bottle of beer. You've got to go in with an open mind, folks. This isn't your Daddy's Porter. Rather it's pushing the limits and boundaries of the style, and really making you think about what you're consuming. I've got a lot of respect for what HF is doing.

Now if they'd only drop the hipster beer names.... (1,320 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 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 Phelps
4.36/5  rDev 0%
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. (918 characters)

Photo of CrellMoset
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle courtesy of new trading partner as part of a recent trade - thanks! Poured in to a 22 oz. brandy snifter.

Appearance: A vigorous pour - a really vigorous pour, I'm talkin' straight vertical, 180 degree, glug-glug-glug vigorous - creeps and crawls out of this bottle like used engine oil, smashing and sloshing in to the snifter. It's obscenely thick, viscous, and you can tell right away this one's gonna be a sugar bomb. Even that most extreme of pours only coaxes (gradually, very gradually) three-quarters of a finger of dark tan but not-quite-cocoa head out of depths, settling in to a creamy, meringue-like foam for about a minute before it relaxes to a loose, bubbly collar, much like chocolate milk when you aerate it (you know, like if you were to shake up one of those half pints that you used to get in grade school before pouring in to one of those crappy little poly-plastic glasses you used to get in grade school). Despite the relative lack of retention (which, of course, is forgiveable given the barrel aging and abv%), there are still dribs and drabs of lace that cling to the side of the snifter, quickly drying and leaving patterns throughout the drink.

Aroma: The honey is very prominent in the nose, a sweet, vaguely fruity presence, hinting at tropical and spicy notes, sort of like the cane sugar you get out of processed canned fruits but without any of the negative connotations that very approximate simile is encumbered with. The sweetness rolls in to the underlying malts, bringing the earthy, toastiness around to creamed coffee, the cocoa around to milk chocolate, and the handful of lighter roasted notes around to well-kilned toffee. The barrel presence is definite, too, with hints of char, vanilla, and caramel all being augmented by the added sweetness in different ways. The caramel and vanilla overtones, in particular, combine to take on the obligatory crème brûlée gestalt when cast over the honey notes.

Taste: A thing of beauty. The thickness and richness of the nose don't prepare you for the delicate balance of the mouth, which is sweet, sure, but has a ton of fruity esters, malty overtones, and earthy underpinnings to balance the whole thing out. Up at the very top of the range are bright fruits, hints of grapes, apricots, and slightly heavier notes like cherry all the way down to plump, juicy, sweet raisins and dates. The sweetness also augments the malts in ways similar to what I described above in the aroma. The barrel notes are a little less forward than in the nose - sweet, caramel bourbon is strong, and the oak sort of slides behind the other "extracted" barrel notes, each of which lends itself well to being "sweetened." All in all, the flavor is incredibly well-rounded, showcasing a little bit of everything.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, slick, slimy, and s-mildly effervescent. It works pretty well given the flavor components here - the sweetness is balanced by the persistent and slight carbonation, but none of what otherwise be fairly abrasive notes are augmented by excessive carbonation.

Overall: A really excellent beer from one of the biggest "up and coming" breweries out there. A definite treat, as it is on the sweeter side. Dry this out a smidge - either by adding less honey or letting it attenuate a little longer - and you'd have a true world-class brew here. As it stands, it's merely excellent, a whole greater than the sum of its parts, and surprisingly easy to put away at 11.0%. (3,479 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
3.81/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle into Block 15 snifter. Thank you for giving me this, Michael.

A: Well, there’s no head. I get a few bubbles, but even those quickly disappeared. The color is a deep dark woody/raisin brown.
S: The nose makes up for this beer’s meager looks. The coffee really shines through and mixed well with spicy scents of bourbon and oak. The coffee is fresh and roasted smelling unlike some stouts that smell like burnt coffee ground. I detect some sweet vanilla as well.
T: Follows the nose with rich notes of roasted coffee and dark roasted malts, vanilla and moderate bourbon. Flavors are smooth and syrupy. Finish is full of dark chocolate, and the aftertaste and a few notes of roasted coconut and caramel.
M: Flat as hell but the thick body helps it out. Man this is flat. The mouthfeel is very slick and greasy, so at least the beer isn’t watery.
O: This beer would kill if it had a few bubbles. Flavors were rich and well integrated. A roasted bal-aged porter all around. The flatness saddens me, and I knocked the score because of it. Thanks again, SneezyAchew. (1,084 characters)

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

Reviewed from notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks ramnuts

Appearance- Black body with a tan head. Slight lacing.

Smell- Vanilla is first rounded out by dark chocolate

Taste- The Alcohol is a big part. It move right up to your sinuses. Dark chocolate, roasted malts, and bits of vanilla.

Mouthfeel- Nice and thick. Just the way I like it.

Overall - Good beer. I would drink this more often if it was readily available to me, alas it is not. Didn't realize till just now that this is classified as a porter. That seems to make it more interesting for some reason. (527 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 Gfunk720
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Tucker for this bottle. Out of my HFS stemware.

A- Pitch black and oily, basically no head. No lacing, just an oily slick that lightly coats the glass.

S- Dark fruit and booze primarily, with a touch of oaky/smoke. Some chocolate and vanilla smells as well, and hints of coffee.

T-Amazing blend of vanilla. chocolate, and bourbony oak. It's sweet, but extremely smooth and malty. A nice roasted malt aftertaste, with touches of honey and coffee.

M- Aside from being pretty much flat, the mouth feel is quite good. Probably the only real negative about this beer.

O- Overall this was great, very complex while not being too boozy. Could have used some carbonation, but was a treat none the less. Will have to try it in another year and see how it holds up.

-GFunk (778 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 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 Jeffo
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Have heard lots of good things about this beer, so stoked to get a chance to try it. This one came in a recent trade with jbeatty. Thanks again man. All these HF brews were top class!

From a 500ml bottle into a snifter
Brewed with coffee and honey and aged in bourbon barrels.

APPEARANCE: Dark brown pour, somewhat transparent, yields a small, medium looking, light tan head with decent retention. Fades to a light wisp and ring with some bubbles on top. Black body, opaque, with lower levels of carbonation evident. A ring and splotchy wisp remain until the end and leave some dots of lacing down the glass. Pretty solid looking.

SMELL: Big nose right off the pour. Roasted malts and burnt coffee beans for sure, with some light honey and a good dose of bourbon, oak and vanilla from the barrels. A light touch of pure, dark chocolate and molasses are detectible as well. Bold and impressive stuff, and everything balances wonderfully.

TASTE: Some bourbon barrel up front initially with some touches of sweet honey and caramel. More of the base beer comes through at the swallow, but it is still much more bourbon barrel forward than the nose had indicated. Bourbon, oak, vanilla and some sweet honey at the finish, with notes of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate as well. The barrel dominant aftertaste is big and persistent, with just a touch of sweet honey and caramel and chocolate notes trying to push through. This is flavorful and delicious, but not quite as well balanced as the nose. Still, an absolutely decadent treat.

PALATE: Medium full body with medium levels of carbonation. Slightly creamy, though a bit prickly on the palate, goes down fine and finishes mouth-coating. A slight burn and some heat lingers after the swallow. Pretty decent feel, though a touch hot still maybe.

OVERALL: This was a really tasty treat. The nose on this thing is out of this world, with plenty of bold aromas and a fantastic balance between the base beer and adjuncts on the one hand, and the barrel on the other. The taste is also fantastic, but the barrel pushes the balance just a touch off center. In the end, this is a phenomenal brew and is another chapter in the brilliant imperial porters that Hill Farmstead seems to be brewing up. I would more than love to have this again at some point. Thanks again jbeatty. Whole-heartedly recommended. (2,363 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 claaark13
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Brought this to a tasting and got to try an ounce. Intrigued, I was able to track down more. Thanks to the guys that have provided these bottles. Poured slightly too cold into a HF tulip. Warmed and consumed with happiness.

A - Very dark with a very, very slow rising low head. Slight lacing remains. Decent, certainly not spectacular. It sticks well to the side.

S - Coffee, a slight amount of sweetness, likely from the honey. The coffee is a smooth aroma, nothing burnt/harsh. Pretty well rounded. I can't tell if I am smelling the honey or faint vanilla.

T - Coffee, very light yet smooth vanilla. A little bit of dryness tries to come out towards the end but is subdued so well. The finish provides for the sweet coffee to return. There is almost a cocoa or cinnamon poking through the backbone. Chocolate comes out more as the tongue gets coated after a few sips. The barrel is pretty faint and seems to add a couple favorable notes. Great balance.

M - On the thicker side of medium. There is pretty low carbonation, but I somehow still really enjoy the feel. Any heaviness on the tongue seems to be due to the very low carbonation.

O - I love this beer. It presses the barrier between a Porter and a RIS. The barrel seems to be there just complementing and guiding along the base flavors. Very well crafted. I can't imagine a Porter getting any better. (1,365 characters)

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