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Biere De Norma - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Not Rated.
Biere De NormaBiere De Norma

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

507 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 507
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 7.73%
Wants: 359
Gots: 108 | FT: 16
Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
Bière de Garde |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: MasterSki on 01-12-2012

Brewed on the day of my grandmother’s passing (Norma), this is an inspired Biere de Mars fermented entirely in oak and soured with our house spontaneous culture.

Norma (1939 - 2011) was my maternal grandmother, my Guardian Angel, and the woman that nourished the laughter and innocence of my youth. In her honor, we craft this Bière de Mars each February and condition it in oak barrels with our resident microflora, allowing it to develop indefinitely until it is ready for release. We realize the influence of those closest to us only after having left their presence. At Hill Farmstead, our spirit is forever defined by Norma and the memory of our loved ones.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 507 | Reviews: 59
Photo of kojevergas
3.49/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

BOTTLE: 2014 vintage. Bottled 01/2015. 750ml brown glass. Maroon wax-ed over pry off cap.

Expectations are relatively high; I've enjoyed the few beers I've had from this brewery, but I'm not big on biere de Mars as a style.

Served cold into a tulip and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Reviewed live as a biere de garde per the label.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

7% ABV.

HEAD: ~.25 inches. Recedes almost immediately, lingering as a floater ring for a scant 20 seconds. It was white, but I had no time to note any other characteristics. Leaves no lacing.

BODY: Translucent copper. Nontransparent. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible. Average vibrance.

Appears aptly carbonated. It's a nice looking biere de Mars, but isn't unique or special.

AROMA: Brettanomyces funkiness. Muted dampened oak. I'm not getting as much farmhouse character as I anticipated; there's no straw or hay. Some green apple. Other fruit too - maybe some depleted plum? Seems a biteen on the sweeter side for a biere de Mars. I do find the honey when I look for it, but it's not prominent. Mild clove. Hop presence is minimal, bringing complementary floral hop character into the mix.

Aromatic intensity is average.

I find no booze or off-notes.

Suggests a well-balanced but middling brew.

TASTE: A kiss of sourness - maybe a 2/10 in terms of intensity. Green apple makes an appearance, but it isn't an off-note. Copper malts, grassiness, Belgian pale malts. The honey is subtle and nicely integrated, but does drive the sweetness up. Still, the bitterness/sweetness balance is well handled. Has a European hop profile with complementary grassy and floral hop notes. Some dried lime. Lacks a spice profile or a guiding yeast presence. Cohesive, definitely. Musty throughout. A biteen tannic, even.

It's not gestalt, nor is particularly deep or expressive. I do like it, and the yeasty funkiness is nice, but this isn't a world-class example of the style.

Average duration and intensity of flavour.

The oak needs to be played up; it's muted and reticent. This is nicely built overall, but leaves much to be desired in terms of intricacy and layering of flavour. There's some nice subtlety and nuance to the flavours (especially the honey), but as a whole it's just not more than the sum of its parts.

TEXTURE: Oddly dry, parching the palate somewhat and restraining its ability to refresh. Medium-bodied, lightly smacky on the palate, and smooth. Adequately thick and weighty on the palate. Carbonation is about right, but not perfect. Has a pleasingly crisp finish.

Could be softer. That dryness needs to be curbed.

There's no harmony of texture to taste, but this mouthfeel does a decent job at complementing the flavour profile. Doesn't help accentuate any specific notes.

OVERALL: Drinkable, absolutely. Hides its ABV well. It's not a mind-blowing brew, and doesn't live up to its impeccable reputation, but it's nice work, sure. I wouldn't go out of my way to nab a second bottle. Glad I got to try it.

High B- (3.49)

Photo of MissSmisje
4.16/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

3rd
Amber
Green apple
Fresh grapes
Tart. Lots of oak
Highly carbonated

Photo of Desp59
3.4/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Disappointing. Not a good representation of the style and really wasn't pleasant to drink.

Photo of Sarge3130
3.19/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

really don't understand the hype here. Appearance is similar to a Barley wine. Ton of wet oak on the aroma followed by a slightly apple sour taste. Struggled through a 5oz pour.

Photo of rhong187
2.82/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

murky, reminds me of creek water, smells a bit sweet, probably its best attribute... Sweetness and oak up front, but not much of anything else. I'd like to call it one dimensional, but not sure what dimension that might be. Love HF, but this one was quite disappointing.

Photo of Resuin
4.47/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into an enlarged snifter. This is the 2014 vintage, bottled 01/2015.

Appearance: Pours an opaque raspberry red and leaves a couple of fingers of off-white head that fade to a white layer atop the beer. The bottle gushed upon opening. (4.5)

Smell: Green apple, white grapes, mild cheesy funk, wine oak barrels, cranberry. Nice, delicate aroma. (4.25)

Taste: Apple skins, white grapes, light hay funk, mild oak, light cheesy funk, tart cranberry. Nice and balanced with some subtle, interesting flavors. (4.5)

Mouth-feel: Medium carbonation with a medium, slightly spritzy, acidic body. Finishes a tad dry but quite smooth all the way through. Nice feel. (4.75)

Overall: This is a really nice, balanced, drinkable saison. The oak barrels give it some nice oaky and dry characteristics, and there are lots of tart fruit flavors as well as some nice light funk. (4.5)

Photo of Jwale73
3.85/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours the color and clarity of cider. Nose expresses cider vinegar and vanilla notes. Taste consistent with nose but it comes off a bit watered-down. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with an even carbonation and a kiss of astringency. All and all a decent beer but a bit off-style, although I can't say that I've ever had an oak-aged Biere de Mars.

Photo of Roze
4.53/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amazing beer from Hill Farmstead- Vintage 2011 bottle

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.28/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle says 2013 vintage. Transparent medium-amber body with a soapy, off-white head. Lots of mini carbonation bubbles rise throughout the body. Aroma is of caramel malts, honey, hints of earthy funk, a dash of toasted oak and some floral qualities. Tart up front with the caramel malts and oak taking over next. Finish is tart and puckering with some lingering sweetness. The feel is medium bodied with crisp carbonation and a tart, prickly finish. A very good beer and very good for the style; toasted malts and oak and tartness with a hint of honey.

Photo of obiwan_k3n00bi
4/5  rDev -9.1%

Batch 3 is miles ahead of batch 2.

Photo of rlee1390
4.4/5  rDev 0%

A-Cloudy deep orange, nice carbonation, two finger head that leaves nice lacing.

S-Oak, grapes, wine, honey, nice funk notes as well.

T-Starts with very tart oak with grapes. Some carbonation.

M-Lighter, semi dry finish, nice carbonation.

O-Another great beer from HF, what can I say.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.41/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle with thick red wax. Vintage 2013

Split 3 ways with my local beer crew into 3 HF Wine Stems.

Appearance: Orangish and murky crimson colored body maybe a copper hue as well. Thick cap of white head that drops to a thin cap.

Smell: Very wine barrel forward. Mild funk that is familiar to me as Hill Farmstead funkiness. Fruity and oaky. Slightly briney and minerally.

Taste: boarders between mild and moderate tart/tanginess. Tannic wet oak, vinous red wine, combine with subtlely sweet malt profile. Earthy and mustiness about the beer. Fruity and the minerals flavors also come through. As this beer gets warmer a musty funk becomes slightly cheezey or yogerty like some lactobacillus was involved in the brewing process.

Mouthfeel: medium boided beer with low carbonation. Just the right amount of driness in the beer to drive home the wine barrel character in this beer is a most pleasant way. Drinks pretty well.

Overall: I have only tried a handful of beers from the Beire de Garde family of beer styles. Aging this style in a wine barrel is a great idea. It compliments the beer style very nicely. This is the best that I have had out of all the Biere De Garde beers so far! Again another beer that is excuted so well by S. Hill.

Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to seblp for going to Vermont and bringing this back for us.

A: Tawny brown topped with a sand coloured foam, rocky and solid on the pour hold well both on the surface and up the glass with plenty of lacing.

S: Dank wet oak with plenty of fresh tart fruit notes, tart cherries, plums and musky grapes. A sour dankness of brett and some warm caramel malts round the finish off.

T: Resembling a red wine in many ways, it's tannic with a musty grape flavour with notes of minerals. Herbal notes show up mid palate that dance with the tart fruits, plums and grape skins.

M:Mouth feel seems to be all about supporting the tartness, it a snappy carbonation with plenty of dryness on the back end.

O: A terrific brew that manages to straddle the world of wine and beer, tangy dry tart and just a hint of wild sour yeasts are bold and unapologetic. Notable how the head holds strong on the brew from start to finish.

Photo of stakem
3.79/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thank you cparles for sharing this with me. I believe it was the 2012 version poured into a Bullfrog Grrrz snifter. The brew appears a clear copper color with an off-white cap that persists with decent retention.

The aroma is funky brett and earth character before getting vinous with some tangy nose to it. As it warms up, it has a hint of caramel malt and faint herbal hop note.

The taste is tart with an herbal backing of hops. Somewhat tannic and drying with a strange meaty character if that makes any sense. Across the back is a fresh biscuit graininess. The flavors of this are peculiar and initially dont seem to jive but as you take more sips it really starts to work.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is a decent brew with quite a unique overall feel. I say this brew is mediocre at best...than I think about the Biere de garde style as a whole and cannot think of any true standouts. For the style, id say this is well beyond average. Id drink it again if offered but id never attempt to trade for one considering what HF beers command.

Photo of Chico1985
4.06/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage. Thanks to Kim for opening this somewhat limited brew. Shared at a tasting a few nights ago, reviewed from phone notes.

Dusty light brownish red color with an off-white head. Retention is pretty good as a full cap for the duration. The smell is great and the highlight for me. Bretty berries, a mix of red and white wine flavors, vanilla, honey, musty caramel, lactic funk. Taste missed some of the complexities of the scent but still pretty nice. A vinous feel rules overall; lots of red and green grape, tart apple cider, oak, berry yogurt/lactic tones, some farmy funk. Medium-high carbonation, dry finish, feels maybe a bit bigger than 7%.

It didn't floor me like it seemed to have done for the majority, but definitely quite good. Biere de garde base funkified with a good amount of unique flavors.

Photo of cbutova
4.54/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Reviewed from notes last night. Huge thanks to Kimmy for opening this treasured bottle.

A- Poured from a 750ml to five glasses for a tasting with a fairly murky, light apple red body. A foamy, frothy white head builds to a finger without much retention. Foamy ring leaves drizzle and spotty lace on the glass.

S- A mix of fruits, Brett and barrel souring. Tart apples, white wine grapes, a Brett aroma reminiscent of barnyard, tart cherries and mustiness. Certainly some wet oak, lactic acid, slight vinegar and a tiny band-aid hint at the very end.

T- A myriad of tart fruits jump all over the palate without being sour. These mix with a funky Brett profile of barnyard, straw, cherry pits and band aid. Fruits that come to mind are tart green apples, vinous grapes, lactic sour lemon, white grape juice, cranberry and cherry. A slight spiciness along with fresh oak tannins and an acetic hint.

MF- Fairly dry but the body still has a substantial moderate thickness for the style. Somewhat creamy with medium carbonation and a tartness lingering at the end.

Biere de Garde that strikes a great balance between tart fruits, Brett funk (without overpowering), oak fermentation byproducts and souring bacteria. A damn fine brew that brings on some insane complexity.

Photo of Stevedore
4.46/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle of batch 4. Poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 4/24/2014.

A- Dark orange- brown body, not particularly sexy, with a one finger white head with a nice collar on it. Good retention. A bit of lacing.

S- vinegar, lactic acid, white wine grapes, green apple skin, oak, Vermont barnyard funk. Complex and appealing.

F- jeez. Just as good as it smells. Lactate, vinegar, lemon zest, pear, apple skin, more vinegar than lactate. Vinous qualities, barnyard funk, a more bitter finish. Nice oak background.

M- medium body, well carbonated with a nice vinous oak finish. Not as white wine forward as Flora, but this is great.

O- this is a great Biere de Garde. One of Shaun's better creations. Not Flora level but it's excellent.

Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.55/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured on tap at Farmhouse in Burlington.
Pours dark hazy amber. Minimal to no head.
Smells of big barnyard, brett funk.
Taste is powerful, tangy, twangy, seriously tasty. Nice sourness.
Mouthfeel is really really impressive, drawing you for another sip.
Amazing how much the wild yeast reminds me of brett. This is incredible beer.

Photo of hillvt4me
4.39/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a hazy amber with a fluffy head.

S - Tart-funky, wood, earthy, salt, sour fruit.

T - Funky, earthy, sour fruit pear and acidic-dry finish.

M - Good carbonation with a lighter body.

O - Funky, sour and dry with some orchard fruit flavors.

Photo of scottfrie
4.29/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle poured into snifter. Thanks for sending me this one, Kevin!

A: Pours a deep ruddy iced tea color with a thin off-white head that faded into a fuzzy film. Spotty streaks of lace were left down the glass.
S: Musty and tart overall, with notes of dry oak barrel, red fruits, unripe fruits, apricot, and slight notes of perfume.
T: I get notes of buttery oak barrel, tart cranberry, caramel, and cherry pits. Not as tart as I was expecting. I get mild notes of lemon and sour barrel funk in the finish. The aftertaste is buttery, leather, cranberry and slight pomegranate.
M: Buttery and slick mouthfeel, not as dry and I would have liked. Smooth mouthfeel, rich and full boy, low carbonation.
O: Really good flavor, easy to drink and smooth. I would have liked it drier, but I wouldn't turn down another glass of this. Thanks again, Kevin!

Photo of Maxwell
4.32/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours out a dark copper-amber color with a tiny scrim of caramel-white bubbles that mellow into a nice ring around the glass. In body, the beer is nearly a uniform color throughout with a rich opacity. On the nose, this beer reeks of beautiful funk; lemon-lime and horse blanket tango on the nostrils alongside nuances of pineapple, leather, cherry pie, and deep barnyard scents. What a beautiful nose on this beer. On the tongue, the beer tastes of a wonderfully balanced tartness alongside a smooth malt sweetness and just a kiss of herbal and spicy hop bitters at the back and finish. As the beer warms, a smooth and syrupy sweetness also starts to blanket the tongue throughout the sip, further pressing a nice balance throughout the beer. In flavor, the beer begins as pineapple juice and light caramel, slowly working its way to sweet barnyard and horse blanket. The finish blends horse blanket, caramel malt, pineapple juice, herbal hay, and grass notes onto the tongue. Soft touches of pine and this delicious yet unplaceable sweetness splash over the back of the palate. The aftertaste is a delicious blend of caramel and funk, almost like a softly candied funk. In the mouth, the beer is on the light side of medium, with a soft carbonation and a mouthfeel that is smooth and slightly syrupy. Overall, this is delicious and a perfect candidate for aging. The funk will only get better. Sometimes I want to dislike Hill Farmstead’s beer, but I never can. This beer is great.

Photo of Mikeypnh
4.43/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice brown/amber, with a thin head, some bubbles on the side. Some decent lacing. Smells is very sour and a lot like wine. Some oak, dark fruits, funk. The taste is sour but not as sour as I thought, it might be perfect. There's a very soft mouthfeel and it's really smooth. There's some funk, oak, wine, sour cherry. Just enough carbonation to feel it on the tongue. Fairly light and refreshing. Really nice.

Photo of dar482
4.52/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer comes in a light hazy brown.

The aroma is extremely tart of apples, berries, some acetic sourness, along with oak and a bit of malty sweetness.

The flavor follows with that cherry, pomegranate, grape, fruity tartness in the front. It moves onto a dense aggressive funk and mustiness, which is complimented by oak. The sour qualities has an herbal dill and apple cider vinegar. A slight bready sweetness continues on through the beer. A oak and vinous drying on the finish. The middle palate is quite lacking in flavor.

A wonderful funky wild ale. Tons of complexity and the funk notes remind one of Cantillon's character.

Photo of MarcWP
4.78/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage poured into Lost Abbey Teku.

Pours a brilliant light walnut color with crimson red highlights and a compact beige head that lingers and leaves bountiful lacing.

Aroma on this is amazeballs. Cherry, pink wine, leather, citrus fruits, and a funky must almost guaranteeing a healthy dose of brettanomyces.

On the palate you get a super tart and dry biere de garde. The base beer is definitely biere de garde in style but it's blasted by super tart wild yeast funk and an oaky wine barrel character. Sweet lemons, acidic pear, new leather, fermenting grape, musty earth, and dried cherries adorn the tongue. Tart throughout the palate with an abrupt bone dry finish.

Mouthfeel on this is perfect. Lovely effervescence, light medium mouthfeel, and an unexplainable silkiness for a beer so dry.

Overall this is the BEST biere de garde or saison for that matter that I've had the pleasure of enjoying. The oak aging on this is what elevates it and even though there are plenty of other great producers of the style like Jolly Pumpkin, Crooked Stave, Logsdon, and Prairie to name a few, HF nails it with Norma. Looking forward to snagging another bottle of this. Worldclass.

Photo of Pahn
4.58/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle split 2 ways with morningthief. From the 2013 Collected Works, whatever batch that makes this.

Appearance: Nice glowing opaque chestnut. Streaks of white lacing, mild head. 4.5

Smell: Acetic and mineral-y. Not cantillon mineral-y, but gentle stream mineral-y. Acetic note isn't too in your face either. it's not "bright" but it definitely evokes forest / outdoors. Someplace untamed but clean. Strawberry, mild citrus, unassuming flowers. Great wild yeast-and-bacteria bouquet--getting what you paid for with the bugs. Evolves gradually like the taste.

Taste: First off, lots of acetic, and lots of sour but not as much. Dry and almost unpleasant. Deeper in, fruit and flower come out, along with that nice babbling brook freshness from the nose.

Really interesting. It's somehow complex without being "deep"--and this isn't a complaint, nor a qualified compliment. It starts out in one place, and it changes, with little to remind you of where you started from.

In its own muted way, it's actually spectacular.

Mouthfeel: Puckering, light side of medium bodied, very dry, high carbonation (though it barely gushed upon opening the chilled bottle). Spot on.

Overall: The fact is, Shaun Hill is a brewing genius. There's a lot else to say about Hill Farmstead, beer culture, whatever, but forget all that: these people make just fantastic beers, unlike anyone else.

This is what it means to be world class: doing something no one else does, and something really, really worth doing, and worth sharing. Excellent.

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Biere De Norma from Hill Farmstead Brewery
97 out of 100 based on 507 ratings.