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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: 1,057
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: 1,057
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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Photo of Bferber
3.8/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Flavors were balanced but very muted. Hardly any signs of the coffee, bourbon notes present but muted. Most pronounced influence was the honey. Honey really came through. Alcohol hidden and Mouthfeel was smooth but lacking in volume compared to typical HF. Overall solid but didn't live up to the hype for me.

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Photo of MADhombrewer
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

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Photo of CADMixes
4.09/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Hill Farmstead is great at porters in general, and 2012 BoT follows the template. The barrel effect is really nicely done--very evident on the nose, and a big part of the overall taste without overpowering the base beer, which still tastes as fresh and lively as a nice bottle of Everett.

All this is why it's such a shame that the carbonation isn't there. It's a well-known fact about this beer and despite my respect for what HF does it's not really something I can look past. 500 ml of flat beer, no matter how good it tastes, gets tedious over time.

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Photo of Pinknuggets
3.53/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at three penny taproom

A: dark dark brown but not quite black with literally no carbonation

S:reeks of bourbon very strong smell that pretty much over powers everything else

T:lots of bourbon there is some malt there but basically all I can taste is the whiskey which really isn't my thing there is no other porter flavors a little but of dark chocolate that complements well but still over powering

M: thick oily and very heavy definitely a sipper not super drinkable for sure

O: I don't like bourbon so my opinion is skewed but there isn't much porter to this beer not well balanced first hfs beer I didn't love and for that matter I have been less impressed withe their darker beers (accepting Everett) especially in comparison to their hoppy beers and saisons but ill blame it on the style this time.

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Photo of Patrickbrusil
4.89/5  rDev +11.9%
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

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Photo of SubpoenaDeuces
4.72/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: The appearance has that classic imperial porter sheen to it, like the coat of an alcoholic panda bear. Black and slick in all the right places, it beckons to slippery asphalt and car crashes that New Englanders no doubt survived in obtaining this succulent potation. As a side note, my bottle had hardly any cabronation, wah wah, here comes the wahhhmbulance ready to pick some nits.

S: This has a crazy powerful bouquet that smells like melted chocolate, toffee, boozy vanilla extract, and a mild hint of bourbon heat. There is a sweetness that is perfectly balanced by mild alcoholic heat, just like your old bus driver.

T: This is an incredible porter and I know that I ride this brewery's jock like its jock will soon be discontinued, but it's really that good. Top 5 porter and guess what, one of the other spots is held by, that's right Barrel Aged Everett. I can't get over this brewery, like the haughty 14 year old girl, who just wont accept that her 22 year old boyfriend wasn't really in love with her. Ok so, it has a nice sweetness that enters and has a set allowing the alcohol waft to permeate and suddenly you forget that you are at a drive in, then a mild coffee pick me up before the bourbon mellows it all out. Just ridiculously pleasant, koala foot massage pleasant.

M: It is thin, like a porter should be, no fat ass imperial stouts up in this mix. It is just light and coats just enough to be rewarding but then hammers its point home. The alcohol is like a stage director in all black watching every movement, making sure that the pilgrim chocolate kids dont miss their entry cues. Holy mixed metaphors.

D: This is incredibly drinkable, I am trying to tame myself from powering through the entire 500ml bottle with little success. It is thin, hot, and sweet, oh wait here's a patently obvious female entendre. Nope, keeping it classy here. It is totally drinkable and I wish it came in sick sixers or at least tall boys to take up to the lake. PSYCHE. This beer is meant for hearths and post skiing discussions, luge comparisons and other highbrow Vermontean prose.

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Photo of Gfunk720
4.5/5  rDev +3%
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.


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Photo of KingdomBobcat
4.89/5  rDev +11.9%
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

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Photo of afi4lifer
4.96/5  rDev +13.5%
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

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Photo of eyeenjoybeer
3.3/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

2012 bottle.

This bottle poured essentially flat and had a good bit of residue in the bottom of the glass.

The nose was nice barrel notes with hints of coconut. Really nice here

The taste was cloyingly sweet. I got nice, light barrel notes and next to no coffee. The sweetness, which tastes like unfermented priming sugar, was quite a distraction.

This beer had next to no carbonation, so the mouthfeel was a drag.

I loved, loved, loved the first batch of this beer, but this one is not nearly as good, imo. Last year's bottles had a nice level of carbonation for the style. Having read other reviews of low carbonation, I can't help but wonder if this was a widespread issue.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: black with mahogany at the edges with a mocha head. S: roasted malts, coffee, honey. T: fruity chocolate, fruity coffee, some honey, red fruit, especially on the linger. Some bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Only slightly sweet - very well balanced with roastiness and bitterness. Some heaviness to the mouthfeel. Delicious.

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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 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 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 blankenhoney
4.1/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle from Oct. 2013, poured into a snifter. Thanks, Erin, for this, my first HF beer!

A: very dark; soapy brown head

S: roasted coffee beans; chocolate-covered dark cherries; faint honey notes

T: dark chocolate, dark fruit, and coffee; nice vanilla from the barrel; very sweet at first, but stabilizes after a few sips; lots of flavor, yet mild

M: so smooth and creamy; this is the mouthfeel all porters should aspire to

O: A fantastic porter. The barrel adds depth of flavor, and doesn't scream out "barrel aged." Mouthfeel was perfect. Sweet, rich, and restrained.

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Photo of hillvt4me
3.92/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- darkest of brown and blend of black with tinge of red. Minimal head with little lacing.
S-toffee, coffee, waft of cherry bourbon; sweet/honey aroma throughout.
T-Sugar laced Coffee, the cinnamon is fairly present. Minimal bourbon on back.
M-Low end of a medium thickness.
O-solid brew, complex flavor, balanced; though a bit sweet for my preference.

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Photo of ChrisP802
5/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It will take something special to remove this from my top choice for stouts.
Nice dark pour 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.
I would be very happy sipping on this one all day and night.

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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 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 wingwalker3
5/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

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Photo of JoshVandy
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

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Photo of lochraneg
5/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark pour that reveals honey and coffee notes upon first smell. HFS never disappoints! Add this to their impressive list of amazing beers and you can't beat their brewery.

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Photo of stx00lax
4.23/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks Kevanb!

A- Pours fairly flat without any lingering head or lacing

S- Smell starts off with light booze and fudge. Sweet coffee notes and a bit of woodsiness.

T- Fudgy, boozy with obvious honey sweetness. The coffee is subtle but good. This beer advertises three flavors. Bourbon, coffee and honey. I taste all three and they are well balanced and work nicely with the porter.

M- The lack of carbonation is there. As a positive it allows for more subtle flavors to shine, hence the taste scores well. But it ultimately hurts the mouthfeel as it comes across a bit thin. Some say the lack of carbonation is perfect, but I think some more would help a la 2012 cherry adam compared to previous "flat" vintages.

O- A very nice and challenging beer. It has a lot of great things going for it and I cant wait to try again in the future.

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