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Damon (Bourbon Barrel Aged) - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Not Rated.
Damon (Bourbon Barrel Aged)Damon (Bourbon Barrel Aged)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

81 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 81
Hads: 597
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 2.73%
Wants: 1,119
Gots: 99 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jason on 01-10-2012

Damon (1993-2004) The time spent with loved ones, now lost, seems to affect our mind and body perpetually: memories happen upon us, unsuspectingly, and bring about tears of fond remembrance. Damon was our brother – devout and patient in an age of busyness and distraction. In his honor, we crafted and conditioned this Imperial Stout in bourbon barrels from our favorite distillery. We still reflect, daily, upon our Damon and his scruffy chin of grey – of his loyalty and his love.

Aged in Blanton's bourbon barrels.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 81 | Hads: 597
Photo of afksports
3.4/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This reminded me a little of Bell's Black Note. In that they are both hyped barrel aged imperial stouts that underwhelmed. Body was slightly thinner than expected, alcohol was hot and up front, but way boozier than 10% abv should be. Cheap quality bourbon vanilla taste without rounded molasses notes. Sugars found in the middle were syrupy and wet, although there was a nice chocolate component present. Finish didn't carry the roastiness you'd expect from the middle of the taste. But probably the worst was that the booze was overwhelming and clouded by oak, ash and carbon.

Worst part, those pieces - oak, heat, bourbon, stout base, weren't integrated very well. Maybe this was sitting in a hot place before we opened the bottle? I'd tend to give the brewery the benefit of the doubt, based on the tremendous stuff they've put out before.

And that said, for all the negatives, Damon still drank as a solid beer. It did the style adequately (despite the oak), and I'd quaff it again. Especially on tap. But when there's shelf stuff like Oak Aged Yeti available that tops it, I'd only drink Damon as a local find, not as a must-seek "gem". (1,144 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
3.66/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

pour is pitch black with a dark brown head and some large bubbles in the middle. Nose has a fair amount of wood and some sweet bourbon notes. Chocolate cake is rich with a faint ashy, roast coffee bean note. The taste is very big, a bit sweet but not sugary with notes of vanilla and chocolate, the wood isn’t as strong but the bourbon seems to add a very nice balance and some heat in the finish. The body is thick, soft, and smooth. Semi dry finish that lingers for a bit as more rich chocolate continues to stay on the palate.***Had multiple times since first time, overly sweet and a bit singular. First bottle must have been lightning in a bottle, not nearly as good and had both batches multiple times. Rating to reflect. (729 characters)

Photo of Sean9689
3.78/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared at Perennial.

A - Pours black, mocha-colored head, wisps, thin collar.

S - This is a Blanton's/bourbon bomb straight away! After the huge booze, there's roasted malts, chocolate, light bread, caramel, oak, very subtle hops, and burnt sugars. The booze flairs my nostrils...woah.

T - I think this beer needs to additional cellar time to lose some of the booze. The palate offers lots of bourbon, oak, chocolate, light vanilla, caramel, and toasted malts. The alcohol is very noticeable, which detracts from the rest of the beer. Finish is chocolate and booze with light oak. Really more like 3.75 here.

M - Medium to full body, good carbonation, rich, creamy finish.

O - While I like this beer, I want to like it more. I think another 6 months to a year of additional cellar time will do this beer some good. I will revisit then and update when I have it again. Right now, I suggest holding your bottles unless you really want a bunch of alcohol with your RIS (which some people prefer).

In summary, good now but is destined to be great in the future. (1,070 characters)

Photo of brystmar
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by a generous BA at our tasting last weekend.

Aroma boasts dark, strongly roasted malts (almost burnt) with subtle notes of bourbon. Hints of chocolate in the background too.

Starts off roasty but gets immediately blindsided by booze and, to a lesser extent, bourbon. Chocolate tries to save the day towards the end, but the alcohol prevents it from finishing cleanly. A touch ashy overall too.

Truly surprised at how messy this stout was. If memory serves, my two pours of it on draft at EBF were considerably better and more balanced. Booze character then wasn't the sore thumb it's become in the bottle. *Generously* rating it 4.0 on taste because 1) I recall my EBF pours being quite good, and 2) time might smooth these rough edges.

Our 9-person group's opinion on Damon was (surprisingly) unanimous: this is a hot mess. Bourbon isn't integrated well, nor is the booze character. A tremendous disappointment.

Still, Damon's a decent RIS overall, though it falls far short of my expectations from Hill Farmstead. Founders Imperial Stout truly is a better beer right now, but that could easily change in a year or so. (1,139 characters)

Photo of largadeer
3.92/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Shared by dsgolovin. Thanks!

Appearance: Black as pitch with oily viscosity. A hard pour yields a finger of crusty brown foam that recedes slowly.

Smell: When cold, a lot of bourbon, oak and black licorice with milder notes of dark chocolate. Malt pops out more as it warms up, bringing chocolate to the forefront along with a good amount of molasses and tar. Smells pretty good, but I could do without the ashy, tar-like malt character.

Palate: Quite a bit of ashy, tar-like dark malt flavor. Bittersweet chocolate, molasses, a bit of dark fruit. The malt character reminds me quite a bit of Scandinavian imperial stouts. Bourbon and oak are nicely integrated, and blend well with the huge malt backbone. Mildly bitter with well masked alcohol, just a bit of heat in the finish. Mouthfeel is the highlight of the beer - it's full and viscous but not under-attenuated.

Overall: Very good, but I didn't like it as much as I was expecting to. Birth of Tragedy was more enjoyable to me. (987 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at mrbubbler's tasting.

2011 vintage. Bottle # 609/864.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, vanilla, and bourbon aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa, vanilla, and cookie dough flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a low level of carbonation with an almost flat and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty but the mouthfeel seems slightly off in my opinion. (639 characters)

Photo of AdamF625
3.93/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- flat pour and pitch black, seriously sticky lacing turning the glass brown

S-strong bourbon, oak, alcohol is very strong it almost burns your nose hairs.

T- charred bourbon, astringent bitter roasted malt, dark chocolate, scant vanilla.

M- little to no carbonation, syrupy, very hot.

O- First off I love the lack of carbonation and flat pour. It feels like you have a glass of quality bourbon in front of you. It's too hot, definitely a sipper. This heat masks some of the flavor of the beer but with time I believe this beer will come of age nicely. (559 characters)

Photo of dmhurdle
3.99/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There are many BA stouts and a few regular imperial stouts (mexi cake, d. horse pt5, and bells expedition) which I think are better than this one.

Where this felt short for me:
1. This is a very boozy beer
a. Too boozy smell
b. Too boozy taste
c. At least the nose matched the taste well
2. The mouth-feel was too watery for a BA stout. I wish this beer had some more viscosity.

Bottom line: this beer needs more thickness or less booziness or some combination of both. (475 characters)

Photo of iadler
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Immobilisme for bringing this to our tasting last month. I've been wanting to try this for a while. From notes. Bottle #139/864.

A- Pours a pitch black with a small mocha head that leaves minimal lacing.

S- Plenty of bourbon upfront, oak, roasted malt, burnt caramel, dark chocolate and a hint of smoke.

T- Bourbon hits right away follow by roasted malt, oak, burnt caramel, dark chocolate, smoke and a bit of ash.

M- Light to medium carbonation that finishes fairly hot.

O- Somewhat disappointed as this was just too hot at the moment and not nearly as complex as the other stout offerings I've had from HF. This definitely needs some more time to mellow. It's a bit rough around the edges right now, but with the bourbon mellowing some and letting some of the other flavors shine, I could see this being quite good. (839 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with a small tan head. Very roasty with plenty of dark chocolate. A mild vanilla note, some bourbon, and a bit of oak. The flavor is heavy on the roast and is mildly bitter. Some bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Dark chocolate, a bit of ash, maybe some dark fruit notes as well. Good, but not amazing. (316 characters)

Photo of jethrodium
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle generously shared by scottfrie. Thanks Scott. Pours a dark black with just a bit of light coming through at the edges. A small tan head settles to a ring and leaves some light lacing on the glass. The aroma is lots of bourbon, vanilla, oak, quite a bit of chocolate, and some light coffee. The taste is sweet with quite a bit of bourbon, some vanilla, a bit of oak, and lots of rich chocolate. There is also a light nuttiness. The finish is sweet with more rich chocolate and some oak and a light alcohol presence. Medium body. Low carbonation. Solid beer. Really rich. (583 characters)

Photo of corby112
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to sideshowe for sharing. Bottle 281.

Pours a dark chestnut brown color that appears black and opaque in the glass.  Half finger dark mocha head that quickly settles into a lasting ring leaving spotty lacing behind.

Smokey, roasted malt aroma with subtle barrel integration.  Some toasted oak and subtle booziness with more of an oak and peaty scotch presence than sweet, boozy bourbon.  There a faint malt backbone with some smoke, dark chocolate, coffee bean and oatmeal but the oak and peat notes overpower things a bit.

Medium bodied with a nice smokey barrel presence that's nicely integrated into the dark malts of the base beer.  Smokey, peaty scotch flavor with toasted oak, ash, smoked meat and burnt malt along with subtle vanilla and dry oak.  This is countered by a balance of sweet and roasted dark malt flavors with hints of dark chocolate, toast, coffee bean and oatmeal.  Well balanced with a nicely integrated barrel presence, however, I'm getting more of a dry oak than bourbon flavor.  Complex with a well masked ABV that makes it easy to drink but there's something a touch off that i cant put mu finger on.  Still, an enjoyable beer that I'm glad to have tried. (1,207 characters)

Photo of Stevedore
4.01/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, dated 8/2013, thanks to FleetwoodMatt for sending this one as an extra. Poured into an unlabeled snifter today, 2/6/2014.

App- Typical RIS- dark black body, opaque with a nice 1cm light mocha head that dissipates slowly. Some lacing on the collar. Stains the glass oily brown when I swirl it.

Smell- Chocolate fudge, dark chocolates. Not much dark fruit here. Smells interesting with a nice bourbon charcoal sweetness. Interesting but not mindblowing.

Flavour- Pretty good! A nice base russian imperial stout is there with a nice umami flavour. The base malts are strong and roasty and sweet; but as it warms up, there is a more predominant umami flavour which makes the beer that much more interesting. I get much more of a drizzled chocolate fudge brownie flavour at room temp. Cold, it's just basically an imperial stout.

Mouthfeel- The most disappointing aspect of the beer. Watery, not particularly well-carbonated but carbonated well enough. Aftertaste is a slick chocolate brownie sensation. Definitely a sipper.

Overall- It's good but not great. Don't give up too much for this beer... unless you have a dog! (1,135 characters)

Photo of kevanb
4.02/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, from the Sept. 2013 release, poured into a snifter, shared with friends.

The beer pours a deep jet black color, oily and slick, with a few brown bubbles rising from the beer but the vanish quickly leaving a murky beer behind with no lace or film to be found. The aroma is of potent bourbon, lots of oak and toffee, mega barrel character, with lots of fudgey chocolate, rich malt, stone fruit, plum and cherry with an assertive amount of astringent alcohol towards the end that really mellows out as the beer warms. The flavors are very impactful, the barrel character is a bit more integrated on the tongue vs the nose, lots of chocolate, molasses, oak, toffee bourbon notes, charred wood, a bit of ashiness or chalkiness, with lots of fruit character that I really enjoyed that brings out a touch of vanilla. The mouthfeel is a bit lacking, the beer could definitely use a bit more carb, and while it's not flat, it's certainly a bit thin. It does coat the mouth well and finishes remarkably smooth, but I still wish it had a bit more liveliness or carb to help prop it up a bit more.

Verdict: A very nice bourbon barrel stout from Hill Farmstead. This beer definitely needed some time to open up and round itself out after opening and really hit the spot. It does need some body to it, the thin feel was a bit underwhelming, but all in all, this is a quality beer, perhaps not the world beater that it's being tossed around as, but a very quality beer. (1,470 characters)

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

New batch. 500ml bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours barely a head. Beer is pitch black. Lacing is stringy and sparse but with nice legs. Decent.

Nose is chocolate, molasses, honey, cocoa, and booze. Solid but pretty straightforward.

Opens chocolate, plum, and fudge. Very sweet. Molasses and booze emerge from the depth and combine with the chocolate and subtle dark fruit nicely. Finishes sweet booze and more molasses with just a touch of woodiness. Aftertaste of bourbon and fudge. Very enjoyable.

Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Oily and slick in the mouth and goes down warm and smooth. Messy finish with a lingering, sticky aftertaste. Very good.

Hill Farmstead's recent Imperial Stouts have been a bit lacking by their high standards. Very solid but the flavors need to smooth out just a bit in this one. I'd wait on this for 4-5 months. (890 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, #419/864. Thanks a ton for sending this, SneezyAchew.

A: Pours black with raisin highlights around the edges. The head is thin and deep brown.
S: Licorice comes through along with nutty and smoky notes. Caramel, roasted malts and toasted coconut come out as it warms.
T: Rich chocolate, black licorice, toasted grains, slight caramel and toffee with smoke and a bit of warming booze in the finish. Bourbon and some chocolate fudge sweetness fill the aftertaste, which lingers long after the swallow.
M: Super smooth mouthfeel, velvety carbonation that bubbles up in the finish. Full body, smooth warming booze that isn’t too hot or distracting.
O: An extremely rich sipper. One of the richest and longest lasting aftertastes I’ve had. Definitely split with some friends. Thanks again, Michael! (816 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.07/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle poured into a Hunahpu snifter. Bottle # 723/864.

Appearance - Small khaki head. Not quite inky. Wispy lacing.

Smell - Tons of black patent malt. Light bourbon. A big oaky presence, more than the bourbon and vanilla.

Taste - Lots more barrel blends into the flavor. Bourbon is still light, but vanilla and caramel come out. Dark fruit flavor right at the front, which might be a byproduct of the alcohol and black patent malt. Lots of molasses. Gives it a bitter flavor in the back.

Mouthfeel - Bitter. Not really chewy, but easy to drink at this ABV. The molasses gives it a sweet flavor that implies viscosity, without it actually being there.

Overall - Second time having this it was significantly better than the first. I was also smashed the first time. It would be really good with more barrel presence. (827 characters)

Photo of jmarsh123
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours almost pitch black with a small tan head that fades into a wisp.

Smells of sweet bourbon, chocolate, vanilla and coconut. No one aroma overpowers the others.

Taste is similar. Starts out chocolately before showing some of the barrel characteristics. Coconut and vanilla especially come to the forefront and increase as it warms. Bourbon adds just a kiss of a boozy flavor to it, but isn't the main feature.

Fairly thick and viscous mouthfeel, something HF always nails on their IPA's and does so again on this.

Overall this is a very good beer, but hardly the mind blowing experience many others made me expect. I feel it could use some coffee or some other bitter roasted malt to balance it out more. There are lots of good flavors, but they are all on the sweeter side. Still good, but would probably shoot to being one of my favorite with a touch of balance. (872 characters)

Photo of Luk13
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Pour a dark brown-black, with mocha lacing. Aroma is decadent fudge, almonds, dates and prunes. Not your usual bourbon barrel imperial stout as it isn’t overly bourbony and leans more towards dark fruits and conforting alcohol heat. Not very roasted and coffee either. some dark chocolate and a slight roastiness. Very subtle and refine. Oily mouthfeel and low carbonation. (383 characters)

Photo of thebigredone
4.14/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jeff for sharing this bad boy.

Pours a dark brown, light black color with virtually no head at any point.

A nice aroma of bourbon and chocolate rises from the glass.

The initial taste is of dark fruit and bourbon. Moderate sweetness and a little bit of alcohol heat gives way to a difficult to find dark roast/dark chocolate finish.

Mouthfeel is moderately thick and viscous. The sweetness really coats the tongue, and there is no carbonation to help move things along.

On the whole, a very solid beer by Hill Farmstead. However, in a crowded BA Stout category, this falls just short of cracking the top tier for me. Perhaps a better carbed bottle would have made all the difference. (699 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.14/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Batch 2: bottled 8/13

Appearance: A heard pour raises a modest mocha-colored head that quickly fades away leaving the pitch black liquid by its lonesome; viscous but not a lot of lacing

Smell: Chocolate fudge, molasses, Bourbon and hints of smoke/oak

Taste: Chocolate fudge and molasses, up front, with the Bourbon tones developing in the middle; after the swallow, the smoke and oak emerges along with a touch of soy

Mouthfeel: A bit thinner than I would have expected for the style but still full-bodied; low carbonation and some warmth in the gullet

Overall: I come out on the side of the BAs who have previously said this is a good but not great beer; the flavor lacks the range of the great brews and the mouthfeel is definitely an issue; glad to have tried it but I think the score reflects the brewery's reputation and I can well understand that

Thanks, Nuwanda, for the opportunity (900 characters)

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.19/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 10.10.13
Bottled 08 2013

A - Pours a motor oil black with a small very dark brown head that fades to the edges quickly.

S - Bourbon, sweet chocolate, almost a sweet fruitiness.

T - Lots of bourbon, sweet chocolate, bitter-acidic woody finish.

D - Heavy body with lower carbonation.

O - Bourbon and oak heavy with a nice chocolate middle. (359 characters)

Photo of Mikeypnh
4.19/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours black, with a lot of mocha swirls, and bubbles around the glass. Heads goes away fast but leaves some nice lacing. Smell isn't as strong as I would have thought. Chocolate, bourbon, some coffee. Taste is sweet bourbon right up front. Hints of toffee, black licorice, sweet molasses, on the backend but mostly the bourbon is over powering. I do wish it weren't so sweet. Mouthfeel is sticky, fairly easy to drink. Decent bourbon stout but awfully sweet. (458 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.2/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at EBF Saturday afternoon. Solid black color with an off white head. Aromas of bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Flavor follows the aroma quite well with a bit of a dry finish. Light body and level of carbonation with a sweet slick mouthfeel. Smells wonderful tastes pretty good but is a bit thin and finishes kind of dry. I’m a bit disappointed with this one because the other Hill stuff I’ve had has been exceptional. Maybe I can revisit this after the bottles come out.
I was able to try this again out of a bottle on 5/11/2012, thanks Matt. Pours a solid black with a thinnish tan head. Smells a lot of bourbon with chocolate, oak, vanilla, coffee, roast, and a hint of smoke. Flavor is big and bold with the bourbon and the alcohol that comes with it. Roasty chocolate and coffee with hints of vanilla and oak in there. Medium to thick body with a light level of carbonation and a chewy sweet mouthfeel. I certainly enjoyed the sample I had out of the bottle much better than at the fest. This is a damn good stout and I do love me some stout. Its a shame these beers are so hard to come by. My rating reflects my impression of the bottle version. (1,185 characters)

Photo of funkel81
4.21/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

was uber excited to get to try this guy at the extreme beer fest last weekend. went back for seconds and thirds! hopefully i'll be able to get a bottle at some point.
anyway, it pours jet black with a small tan head. smelled just how a ris should...not too much bourbon on the nose which is fine by me, i like it to be present, but subtle. tastes great. again, not too much bourbon but enough to notice...lots of roasty malt character in this one. low carbonation, but it's from a keg so no idea how the bottles will turn out. this was one of my favs of the fest along with wide awake and gorilla warfare. bottoms up (616 characters)

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Damon (Bourbon Barrel Aged) from Hill Farmstead Brewery
96 out of 100 based on 81 ratings.