Biere De Norma - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Not Rated.
Biere De NormaBiere De Norma

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

532 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 532
Reviews: 61
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 7.5%
Wants: 366
Gots: 107 | FT: 21
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: 532 | Reviews: 61
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.43/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Callmecoon for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

2012 vintage. 1200 bottles.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is sour and tart with fruit, acidic, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with fruit and grain flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with some great aromas and flavors that make this beer super easy to drink.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge, huge thanks to yourefragile for sharing this beer. Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass. Pours a light reddish-brown color with a short tan head. Good retention and a good bit of lacing throughout. The nose carries some typical biere de garde character, with some semi-sweet malt and a touch of bread, followed up with a nice oak component. Also there is a bit of cherry alongside some faint acidity. The acid component grows through the flavor, leading the way to an exquisite mouthfeel -- dry, tart, and a nice bit of oak. Even after just having Ann, this was a beautiful beer and one of the better ones I’ve had in a long time. A great take on the biere de garde style, without being in name only.

Photo of Knapp85
4.36/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This poured out as a deep amber color, the head was white and foamy. The retention was good and the lacing was decent. The smell of the beer was huge with fresh oak, very wooden and kind of funky. The aroma was quite impressive. The taste of the beer is malty, but has a softer oak flavor that I expected it to have judging by how strong the aroma is. There is a bit of light caramel in the aftertaste also. The mouthfeel medium bodied with a big amount of carbonation. The beer finishes on he dry side with a tart sting in the back of the tongue. Overall this beer is very nice, really impressive stuff.

Photo of largadeer
4.32/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Amber body with some haziness, topped by a thin clinging head.

Vinous funk on the nose. Tamarind, leather, barnyard. Slight oxidation, touch of caramel malt sweetness. Smells quite good.

Heavy on the wine barrel, which brings an interesting tamarind and currant quality. Plenty of barnyard funkiness, too. Feels pretty big - good flavors but a bit heavy on the palate. Acidity is moderate. Finishes with lingering tamarind and red wine flavors. Pretty damn good, one of the better farmhouse ales from Hill Farmstead.

Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served in a tulip at Decofest, thanks to Mark for sharing!
Quick review from written notes.

Dark and saturated reddish orange color, wispy seafoam spray of lace around the edges with a thin veil across the surface.

Dried citrus aroma with what seems like a saison yeast.

Tart citrus upfront, finishes dry with some light woody spice and lightly bitter tannins. Medium body, crisp feel with ample creamy carbonation. Light sweetness in the middle. Overall pretty straightforward and not far off from HF's other wild and sour beers.

Photo of jlindros
4.57/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks a ton to shaun for this one, REALLY thanks Shaun. 2011 vintage, bottle number 43 of 300

Gorgeous fluffy head fluffy and rises up to over 1 finger, nice sticky lacing drops down the sides slowly. The beer is a mostly clear golden tan slight honey orange colored.

Nose, yup thats funky alright, a light horsehair wet blanket funk but not overpowering, then nice tart fruit, plenty of sourness with a definite lacto, hints of reddish berry like sour fruit.Under that is a nice saison, light saison malts, wheat like and hint of yeast spices. Touches of barrel aroma.

Taste starts rick and smooth, creamy and malty actually, with light saison malts, light toasty reddish malts as well, with a nice light buttery today oak. So much creamy milk like lactose sugar... So much creamier than I expected. Then funk, just a bit of horse blanket funk, but plenty of sourness. Tart berries almost wild berry like but not quite that much berry just fruit, a juicy tartness but dry bready malt juxtaposition. Tons of carbonation helps to keep the palate from getting too bogged down in tartness and creaminess. Finish is dry but slightly sticky, just a touch phlemy, light bready malts, more creamy lactose, some lingering funk, and tart fruit, and a light bitterness comes through with earthy fruit stem like and a bit of floral hops.

Mouth is ridiculously creamy but plenty of carbonation to offset the sour and creamy.

Overall awesome, I would call this an American wild over biere de garde, or saison, but delicious. Great wild funk, sour fruit, saison like malts, hunts of barrel, light biter hops late in the finish, and delicious delicious lacto.

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 MasterSki
4.37/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle generously shared by Sean. Served in a tulip.

A - White foam settles to a thick collar, near-complete cap, and fingers of lace. Opaque dark orange body.

S - Tons of tropical and dusty brett, spicy and tangy oak, vanilla yogurt, light sourness, and a the bready malts you'd expect from a bière de garde. There's a mildly savory dill note.

T - The taste is a little malt-forward, with the bread and yeast flavors mingling with notes of stone fruit, vinous oak, earthy brett, green apple skin, and a lightly acidic lemon finish.

M - Smooth, medium-full body, with pleasant moderate carbonation, no alcohol presence, and a dry and mildly oaky finish.

D - Shaun's barrel-aging prowess and spontaneous culture have transformed a style I don't generally love into a very enjoyable experience. The oaky, earthy, and vinous notes balance out the malt character of the base quite nicely. That being said, it's not a beer I'd crave often - this may be too sophisticated for my palate.

Photo of drabmuh
4.3/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Michael, beer served in a Hill Farmstead glass. Beer is ruby and mostly clear with an off white head of small and medium bubbles, some lacing, moderate retention, moderate to low carbonation.

Aroma is good, a little oaky, woody, earthy, sweet, yeast comes through nicely.

A very nice beer, delicate and complex with hints of oak, esters, yeast, mild funk, sweetness as well. An overall great beer and I'd have it again.

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 Huhzubendah
4.45/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle thanks to yourefragile. Thanks! Served side by side with HF Ann. Like a boss.

Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass.

The beer is hazy and dark orange with a half inch of off white head.

The aroma brings oranges, citrus, malt, grass, light spice. Smells great.

The initial flavor is malty, followed by some earthy citrus. Again, very well done. Light spice, grass, tangerine.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Another winner from Shaun and Hill Farmstead. More confirmation that HF is one of the best breweries on the planet.

Photo of yourefragile
4.55/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 mL 2011 bottle. Thanks Tucker. Shared shortly after the Ann release.

Pours a generally clear ruby brown with a large off white head. Long retention and sticky, thick lacing. Nose is a complex blend of sweet bread, malt, woodsy and earthy oak, vanilla, and yeasty spice. Flavor is more of the same as the nose, funky and earthy, spicy yeast and oak, mild vanilla and malt sweetness. Medium thick body, prickly carbonation, mild tartness in the finish. Just wow, as nice as Ann was, this was the standout for me. Edit: Early sample of the 2012 batch was equally special, with a little more barrel (port like) and fruit presence than I remembered from the 2011 bottle.

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.1/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Batch 2. Finally reviewing this after having it multiple times.

Appearance - Very dark outside as I drink. Appears to have a nice khaki head. Murky lightbrownish body.

Smell - Acidic. Malty. Lots of oak. All three aromas blend together seamlessly.

Taste - Mild acidity. Malty. Slight citrus tang. Very oaky. Oak pulls together the flavors in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Well carbonated. Mild sourness.

Overall - A beer that is greater than the sum of its parts. Simple flavors put together very well.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.24/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle opened on 12.21.13
2012
1200 Bottles

A - Pours a hazy amber-brown with a fluffy, tan head that fades slowly.

S - Tart-funky, wood, apple.

T - Funky, red apples, pear, wood, acidic-dry finish.

D - Good carbonation with a lighter body.

O - Funky and dry with some orchard fruit flavors.

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

A huge thanks to Shaun Hill for the bottle of Norma. Bottle number 43/300. Poured into an Ommegang tulip.

A - Poured a hazy golden amber that resembles a legitimate piece of Jurassic park style amber. A great head of off white cream that spontaneously former a two finger blanket later slumps to a half finger dense creamy pillow. Light side lacing.

S - Aromas of horse hair blanket and sour dense lacto dominate the nose in such an enjoyable manner. Wonderful barrel notes are faded into with some slight alcohol coming through. Slight Carmel sweetness is there too. Most aromas are dominated by the lacto and barnyard funk.

T - Wow. This is amazing. I've never had a beer with this much lacto flavour in it! Its like drinking a glass of heavy creamy with sour tart berries and funk. So much lacto, my goodness. Sour tart berries (raspberry) and nice strong barnyard funk. Great funky yeast here. Almost like a wild. Really really different.

M - Mouthfeel is just awesome. Enough carbonation to keep this from being well, too creamy and milky. Tart and sour in the mouth the alcohol isn't even remotely noticeable. Crazy drinkable.

O - Overall this beer was one of the hardest I've had to review. It transcends styles and is so damn lacto. Its just delicious. Really outstanding. All areas of lacto in this with wild ale style funk and tartness. Really enjoyable beer. Like nothing I've ever had before and will probably never have again.

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 cpetrone84
3.97/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pour is orangish red with an off white head leaving a decent lace. Nose is heavy red wine, juicy dark grape, notes of oak, very rustic and pleasant. Taste is a bit muted, the red wine is there but the finish is a touch empty. More Brett but not pronounced, leathery and dusty. Body is light, assertive carbonation, and a touch of dryness to it.

Photo of Davepoolesque
4.21/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tart. Crisp. Nice wine flavor. Delicious.

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 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 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 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 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 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 Sean9689
4.38/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared at Fountainhead.

A - Pours a burnt reddish/orange color, off-white head, sticky lace, thin cap, nice collar.

S - Tart fruit, oak, funky farmhouse notes, citrus zest. A nice mix of tartness, funk, and oak really work well together. It has just enough tartness and just enough sweetness to really capture everything.

T - Really nice oak & tart notes mixed with the funk from the base beer. Some tart fruit, oak, citrus, cherry yogurt, touch of malts. Hard to put everything into words, so I'll just say "try this".

M - Medium body, good carbonation, refreshing, dry finish.

O - This is more wild then Bière de Garde, no doubt. One of my favorite beers that I've had from HF (and I've had most all of them). I have one bottle left that I'm going to cellar for a year or so and revisit...hopefully, I'll run into another during that time. Recommend.

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Biere De Norma from Hill Farmstead Brewery
97 out of 100 based on 532 ratings.