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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: 1,058
Avg: 4.37
pDev: 23.34%
Wants: 1,042
Gots: 195 | 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: 1,058
Photo of mdaschaf
4.51/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of Ahappyhiker2
3.82/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

Batch 1.

A- Dark brown/black in color. Thinner than expected, almost no carbonation present. The appearance is pretty cool though, there's a shade of red on the outside of the glass. The only other beer I remember having a similar effect was Hunahpu's.

S- Cinnamon, honey, a hint of coffee, molasses, smoke, some booze. Nice, complex aroma.

T- A lot of flavors come through in this one. Bitter dark chocolate, coffee, sweetness from the honey, smoke, cinnamon, coconut. It's very, very smooth. Aftertaste is espresso/coffee and roasty flavors. Not much barrel character.

M- Very flat, almost no carbonation.

O- This beer has lots of complex flavors in the taste and the nose, but it falls short because of how flat it is. Also, it has such a lack of barrel character. I was expecting more of a bourbon/vanilla taste and it just isn't there. Honestly I like Everett so much better than this. I've read that batch 1 blows away batch 2, so I'm not going to try to hunt down another bottle or vintage. The complexity is there, but it is a bit of a letdown in my book. I'm glad I got to try this, but I'd recommend going after other beers if this is a whale for you.

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Photo of cdmillard
4.59/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Had the opportunity to try this. Had a 500 ml bottle, pored into a Duvel tulip.

This is one of the best tasting beers I have had the pleasure to drink. As previous posts have mentioned, my only issue with it is that it lacks any form of carbonation. Just felt like it was missing something. Otherwise, a fantastic beer. I would do it again...and again...

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Photo of Florida9
3.9/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A: Bottle opened with the faintest hiss. Poured into a tulip. Forms a few big bubbles and the slightest hint of a head, but in reality this one just looks flat. No lacing. Very dark brown or black in color.

S: Well the smell is pleasant. Dark roasted malts, oak, vanilla, chocolate. Damn, smells like freshly baked brownies.

T: Didn't think it was possible, but the taste is even better. Sweet, chocolately brownies. Mild oak. Lots of vanilla. A touch of coffee. Some dark fruits, like plum and raisin, but the sweet chocolate flavor dominates.

M: Fucking flat. There's no carbonation here. And thats the problem. Slick, oily, and viscous with a chalky finish.

O: Apparently the carbonation isn't allowed to leave VT. This beer truly has the potential for greatness, but it should be properly carbonated. And it's not. There is nothing there leaving a sweet, chocolatey liquid to swirl around the mouth.

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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 caskstrength
2.31/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

2nd batch. Pours a flat black. I was hoping holding off for a while would result in some bubbles.

Smells are vanilla, chocolate. Barrel not that strong. Lack of bubbles leads to lack of aromatics.

Heavy and dull on the palate. I'm being harsh here, had a GI BCBS before drinking this, and this paled in comparison. Would have had a hard time standing up if carbonated. Without carbonation, this beer fell flat.

Mouthfeel sucked. Needed some bubbles to move things around.

Twilight of the Idols was much better. Everett rocks. This batch of beer was a failure.

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Photo of harrymel
3.95/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage

Dark brown, flat appearing beer. Smells decadent: vanilla, oak, nougat, more vanilla, bits of graham, some cocoa, a hint of dark fruits. A really nice nose. Flavor follows suite - really fine dark chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, oak, bits of minced licorice, some leather. The flavor is really nice also. Mouthfeel: this is where the beer falls apart. While full bodied with a silky feel, not even a swish through the teeth makes this bubbly, slightly wet. A real treat - with carbonation this would be hard to beat, honestly.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.21/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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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 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 Chico1985
3.86/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First choice at Stoutfest 2013, Armsby Abbey. ~10 oz. pour into a tulip glass.

Pour is black with a thin bubbly tan ring for a head, sticks around as such.

Smell is good - chocolate and bourbon forward, with roast and vanilla there as well. Not extremely potent, but definitely a nice scent.

Taste is a slight improvement, opens up more with warmth. Chocolate brownie, bourbon oak up front with light vanilla, roasted malts, toasty malts. Just a hint of spices here. Sweet and kinda boozy.

Carbonation is pretty low, feels a bit thin and boozy for 9%. Not bad, but could've used some more heftiness.

Good beer, nothing that blew me away though- felt a little disjointed. I actually wound up enjoying the base beer (Twilight of the Idols) more, the spices here were a little too smothered by bourbon and sweetness.

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Photo of milliCAN
4.88/5  rDev +11.7%
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?

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Photo of kels
4.16/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to my fiance for bringing this home with him. Good man. 2012 vintage.

Pours a super dark chocolate brown, nearly black, only given away at the edge of the surface where the light can actually get through - barely. A little spittle of bubbles washes the side of the glass when tipped, but it disappears immediately into nothingness in the void where at least some sort of head or skim - nowhere to be found - is expected to be present. In fact, it looks almost flat and watery, with enough alcohol to leave what looks like an oil skim on top.

Fantastic aroma. Rich, creamy vanilla and a hint of earthy honey is nicely offset by a dry, roasted grain. Only a hint of the bourbon barrel. Just simple, straightforward, and delicious.

Taste is delicious, but walking the line on the cloying side sweet. Vanilla, honey, molasses all hit the back of the jaw a little hard, and the only thing offering relief is the roasted malt. It's dry and hearty and contends well with the sweetness.

The feel of the beer falls flat, and recalls milk stout or RIS more than imperial porter. It's thick, sticky, and viscous, like a syrup in the mouth. Carbonation is nearly undetectable, and everything coats the palate, sticking around for quite a while. It works, but it's heavy.

Overall, nice beer. Hard to drink, but that's okay, right?

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Photo of Skrip
4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle poured into a Deschutes teku.

A~ dark as night exactly like it should be!

S~ bourbon bomb! with a little bit of coffee, booze and roasty malts.

T~ lots of bourbon with a lot of sweetness. a little vanilla and caramel towards the end. no booze once so ever, very smooth all around.

M~ very smooth, lightly carbonated. the "porter" aspect doesn't come over well, it feels more like a thin stout.

O~ definitely a treat! i usually like this style to be a bit thicker. come to think of it bourbon aged Fear And Trembling would be absolutely ridiculous! i would totally drink it again, its one hell of a dessert beer!

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Photo of Jwale73
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml courtesy of Ineedabeerhere (thanks Joe). Served in a tulip. Pours one shade shy of black and completely opaque. No head on this one, just a mocha-colored cluster of bubbles around the shoulders. What an incredible nose on this beer - Dark, roasted malts as well as red wine notes, followed by bourbon and traces of ethanol at the back. Taste follows nose with the barrel qualities being less intense, thus allowing some honey and perhaps coconut to come out. Mouthfeel is medium-light in body (perhaps a little thin) and virtually still; there's also a little bit of acidity. Overall, a complex and interesting beer. I'd even venture to say the best BA version of an American Porter out there.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.08/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle. 2012 vintage (9.0%) that I got from gn0sis. Thanks!

Pouring black with a slowly rising reverse-cascading head that falls off to a thin but choppy bubbly dark brown head, this looks pretty good. The nose is very, very good. Honey, caramel, dark chocolate and fresh coffee form the bulk of what this beer expresses on the nose. A moderate bourbon character is present with a blend of vanilla, coconut and a boozy accent. The base porter, which is an imperial version of Twilight, seems rich and strong enough to stand up to the adjuncts. The dark chocolate complements the vanilla, the honey complements the bourbon, and the medium-roasted coffee is wholly pleasant. I can see why people compare this beer to Eclipse.

The palate opens with a big, boozy, bourbon dark chocolate bite. Despite the fact that this is quite sweet with caramel and honey and without enough roast to temper the sweetness, the complexity and layered flavors do make this beer very enjoyable. Some molasses, some toffee, a little bit of brown sugar and buckwheat honey are layered here. There is, of course, chocolate and coffee. While the nose suggests dark coffee, the mid-palate brings to mind medium-dark chocolate. Faintly spicy, and while it isn't wholly clear that the spice character isn't from the alcohol, there's just a hint of cinnamon. With the sweetness and slight oiliness that the chocolate character has, it brings to mind a ganache. Medium in body with light carbonation, this beer is rather excellent on the palate. The finish is long and delicate, with a blend of honey, chocolate and coffee. Alcohol is well-hidden.

In short: imagine if Deschutes brewed The Abyss with an Eclipse-like base - rich, delicate and nuanced, but sweet. Highly recommended.

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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 GonzoHomebrewer
4.72/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

One of my favorites...

A- Jet black, but no head whatsoever, a few bubbles...maybe something you could call in passing, a "thin lacing" but no, no head.

S- Epic richness. Gobs of various layers of vanilla followed up by deep roasted coffee notes, some sweetened mocha...just fantastic

T- Doesn't seem quite as well rounded as the nose just yet; dominated by the bourbon vanilla sweetness with some signs of the coffee poking through

M- this is pretty flat and some bubbles would help make this more drinkable...but why would you want to drink it any quicker? Sip and Savor. I honestly think it doesn't detract really, just makes all the flavors stick to your palette.

O- I never get tired of this beer. I could drink it all day

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Photo of jvillefan
4.66/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Very black body with an extremely minimal mocha colored head that disappears very quickly.

S: Sweet roasted malts with notes of bourbon running throughout the aroma.

T: A dark chocolate flavor starts off the flavor nicely. It then transitions to a sweet bourbon flavor then finally becomes the flavor of deeply roasted malts.

M: Perfect viscosity and creaminess but this beer is under carbonated.

O: Amazing beer. My one problem with it is that it is not a porter. It's a stout.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

A-Black in the glass, deep clear amber when pouring, brown head that barely lasts.

S-Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, roasted malt.

T-Starts with bourbon, vanilla, rich chocolate, slight coffee, roasted malt. Great balance.

M-Medium bodied, no carbonation though. Still smooth but needs some carbonation.

O-An amazing beer. Some carbonation, might make it one of the best.

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Photo of jsm1289
4.83/5  rDev +10.5%
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 !

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Photo of rodkin
4.54/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark brown, small tan head, dissipates pretty quickly, minimal lacing.

The nose on this thing is phenomenal. Honey, chocolate, coffee, oak, vanilla, toffee, whisky, all melded together into this wonderful blend. Each sniff produces a new note.

Taste is big on honey upfront, followed by some coffee (though not overly bitter), oak, vanilla, chocolate. Really well done.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, a little low on carbonation.

Wonderfully drinkable. Excellent.

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