Shirley Mae | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Average: 4.15 | pDev: 7.95%

Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 205

American Porter | 4.00% ABV

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Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States

Notes: Rotating availibility. An American session Porter... "Baby Everett"

Shirley Mae (1936 - 2015) was our cousin, daughter of Everett, and a beloved supporter of her family and Hill Farmstead. In her honor, this American session version of our Everett porter is crafted from American malted barley, English and German roasted malts, American hops, our ale yeast, and water from our well. Chocolate, coffee, and light malty sweetness, this ale embodies her ebullient and generous spirit—a fitting tribute.
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Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 205
Photo of PicoPapa
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On nitro at The Bench. Pours a pitch black color with an inch of creamy tan head. Tons of lacing. Roasted malt aroma with some chocolate, black coffee, and earth. The taste is rich dark chocolate, roasted malts, black coffee and earth. Very little alcohol presence with a creamy mouthfeel. Great easy drinking Porter.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nitro version on tap at Hill. Light mocha colored but as the bubbles cascade down, quickly turns black with a slightly off-white bright head. Coffee, hints of vanilla and roasted malt. Super smooth feel. Light and delicate but very flavorful. It's amazing you can get this much flavor into a sub 5% beer. Impressed. Delicious.

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Photo of ManapuaMan
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Nitro version on tap at Hill Farmstead. Used both my onsite pours on this baby. Ambiance certainly weighs into the impression...and it was damn fantastic. 3.9% ABV, huge flavor, creamy mouthfeel. Pure gold.

Gorgeous nitro body; black with lively, swirling minuscule bubbles of khaki foam. If you ask me all nitro beers are incredible lookers, and this is no exception.

Aroma is roasted malt, fresh coffee grounds and lactose. Robust considering the ABV.

Taste is French roast, chocolate milk, roasted malt, light char. Subtle smokiness complements the flavor profile.

Appropriately bitter but not acrid or acidic. Unbelievably smooth and creamy; that top layer of foam is delicious. Big flavor on the palate but light overall.

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Photo of Damian
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Drank on nitro tap at Mule Bar, Winooski, VT
Served in a slim pint glass

Near pitch black appearance. The liquid was topped by a finger-tall, super tight and creamy, khaki colored head that stuck around for nearly the entire session. A patchy wall of lacing clung to the sides of the glass.

The nose was surprisingly fragrant and pleasantly sweet initially. Powdered cocoa notes came through strong. Some vanilla and creamed coffee as well. Bit of lactose. As the beer sat and the head receded, the aroma turned deeper, darker and, overall, more simplistic. Roasted malts took over. Somewhat grainy. Espresso was also noticeable. Hint of char. With a quick swirl of the liquid, the cocoa and vanilla notes reappeared, but they had a tough time competing with the roastiness.

Roasted malts also dominated in the flavor profile. Bold with a strong toasted grain character. Bit of char. Bitter espresso notes came through in the middle. More lingering roast and ashiness on the finish. Later, some sweet cream and cocoa notes appeared, but they were rather subtle.

Medium bodied, fairly flaccid mouthfeel. The nitro tap lent the beer an extremely fine, subtle effervescence. Smooth and wet on the palate. This felt similar to a cask ale.

Hill Farmstead makes an array of amazing beers, but this lighter version of Everett was pretty mediocre and also rather unusual for the style. Shirley Mae reminded me a lot more of a slighter better version of Guinness than of any type of porter I ever tried. Kudos to Sean for trying something different, but I probably will not be returning to this beer again.

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Jet black. Like a Guinness. Sorry for my laze. Hopefully, you can picture what a Guinness looks like.

S: Roasted cocoa, caramel. Maple? Bacon with a hint of smoke. From VT , so the maple is quite possible. Sweetness is powerful.

M: It's on nitro. So creamy and silky, silly.

T:Having this rendition really subdues the choco malt sweetness, and let's the coffee play a bit more. Very much akin to the cold pressed coffees breweries offer up these days, but with a mocha addition. Not acetic like the cold-coffees, so there's no sharp roasted character.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Mule Bar, Winooski, VT. This was poured into a tulip. The appearance was a dark brown color with a thin bar pour’s kind of white to off white head. Light lacing shows its presence after head dissipation. The smell starts off with some sweet roasty cocoa bean, light coffee and a delicate sweet breadiness underneath. The taste was moderately sweet with a nice roasty coffee/cocoa aftertaste leading into a dry finish. On the palate, this one sat about a light on the body with a nice sessionably smooth sweet and roasty feel. Carbonation runs low. Overall, I say this was a really nice porter that I would have again.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4


Looks exactly like Guinness. Roasted malts, bitter dark chocolate malts, burnt malts, light roasted coffee. Awesome mouthfeel, Super smooth and creamy.

Overall a better Guinness. Wouldn't compare it to Everett like the menu did but non-beer people would probably think this is the best porter they've had. A good beer.

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Photo of John_M
3.4/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

On nitro tap at the brewery the other day.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is pretty simple, albeit attractive, consisting of considerable coffee, roasty malt, and maybe a hint of vanilla and dark chocolate. The flavor profile is more of the same, but I'm not sure the nitro effect does anything for this beer. The mouthfeel was quite thin, and the finish was dry and fairly short in this "session" porter. Alcohol was well integrated into the flavor profile (but then again, the abv. is only 4%), but given how lackluster this porter was, who cares. I'm glad I didn't commit to full glass of this beer, or I would have been pretty unhappy. It's not an awful beer by any means, but considering the brewer, it's hard not to be a bit disappointed. No way I'd ever order this beer again.

I suspect that if this beer was made by anyone other than HF, it would not have nearly so high a score on BA.

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Photo of agreenman19
4.36/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L - jet black with a light tan head. Looks thicker than it probably is!

S - strong black coffee smell with a touch of lactose and sugar. A little nutty, a little smokey. Bacon and ham. Barley.

T - smoked meat. Hoppy graininess and refreshingly bright. Coffee, cosmic brownies, and red wine barrel tangy tartness. That last one is subtle though.

F - low in carb and outstandingly robust for being a session. Light even that I can't stop sipping, but not hollow and empty.

O - stellar session stout. Never thought a stout could be refreshing, but Shirley Mae nails it, especially when cold.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On nitro at Hill Farmstead. Served in a willi becher glass. Pours a dark brown body, nearly black with a one finger thick nitro white head, good retention, lots of lacing. Smells like a less robust version of Everett as expected; light coffee, milk chocolate, touch of creamer, light earthy roast. Flavour follows; light roast, touch of coffee, milk chocolate sweetness, a dash of espresso bitterness to round things out. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy and appropriate for Nitro; very tasty and works perfectly as a session porter.

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Photo of WunderLlama
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at armsby abbey

Black liquid with brown foam ring which quickly fades

Aroma of coffee, roast malts

Taste of roast malts , coffee

Smooth , no sudsing

Good beer

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Growler filled at Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend, VT.

This one pours a very dark brown, nearly black, with a small white head, and a good amount of lacing.

Smells like ashy roasted malt, light smoke, and dark cocoa.

This has a super hefty level of flavor for only 3.8% ABV. There's lots of roasted malt, and maybe even a bit of lactose type flavor- it kind of props the body up. There's a light smokiness, ashy and charred, with dark powdery cocoa.

This is light bodied, but not thin, with a very creamy mouthfeel.

Everett this is not- it's still incredibly tasty, and impressive for the low ABV.

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Photo of SABERG
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a recently filled growler into the modified tulip glass.
A - Dark wood colored backdrop, a thin cap resides with some cirrus clinging evidence on the glass.
S - Light roast, touch of cocoa, a wisp of smoke, and more cocoa.
T - Follows the nose to a tee. gentle in each element.
M - Lite on the palate, perfectly carbonated, nice dry finish.
O - A real delight, packed with flavor and incredibly compact.

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Photo of kitch
3.15/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25

On tap at Mikkeller & Friends (Stefansgade), Copenhagen, into a Mikkeller tasting glass.

Appearance: It was a dark brown colour with a one finger tanned head that had great retention and lacing.

Aroma: Wonderful coffee bean, chocolate, mocha and a touch of vanilla.

Taste: Surprisingly disappointing considering the great aroma. An un-complex mish mash with a bit of coffee here and a bit of chocolate there.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with very light carbonation.

Overall: I guess this just wasn’t my thing. I easily preferred Everett over Shirley Mae.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at a random bar in Queens and served in a tulip-shaped wine glass.

The thing to celebrate with this beer is the light body and accompanying bold roasted malt flavor and notes of chocolate and vanilla. It's such a thin-bodied, easy-drinking beer, yet it still offers plenty in flavor and even feel. It's perfectly appropriate for the hotter months and provides a much-needed alternative to session anything.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown color with tan head. Both aroma and taste have cacao/ nesquick style notes with some coffee on top. Body is light but the nitro tap made it feel nice and soft. Overall it was good but nothing really special.

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Photo of juliuscaesar2701
2.63/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

Had this at Armsby's stoutfest. This brew had no business being there. It was hoppy, overly bitter and just plain awful. It was so bad I sent it back instead of finishing it. It had virtually no taste of a porter and tasted more like a session IPA.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours one shade shy of black with a tight khaki-colored head. Nose expresses roast, cocoa and a hint of lactose. Taste is more roast than chocolate; however, it comes off a bit watered down. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body, but closer to light. Texture is not as silky as I'd expect from a nitro offering. Overall, extremely drinkable for a 3.8% beer. Nice job!

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Photo of rlee1390
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Very similar to Everett. Great coffee, nice chocolate and a creamy mouthfeel. Shocked that so much flavor is packed into 4%. Although Everett is better, a porter this tasty at 4% is rather nice.

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Photo of Trevor11
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have never had such a dark beer be so low ABV. Shirley Mae is indeed sessionable as I feel I did not even get remotely intoxicated. One poured from the 750 mL, it had a nice three finger creme white head on charcoal black body. Shirley Mae smelled of roasted nuts and melted dark chocolate. This porter was so light and smooth it tasted as if I was drinking a cold pressed or iced coffee. Very enjoyable and extremely drinkable. I will have to try Everett soon to understand Shirley Mae's ancestor.

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Photo of JMUbrewz
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tons of chocolatey, roast flavor at 4.0%. It also finds a way to be relatively creamy and rich at such a low gravity. Definitely the tastiest sub-5% dark beer I've had.

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Photo of cbutova
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Full notes taken at Hill Farmstead a few days ago.

A- Nitro tap to becher with a purely black body and a very tall, silky deep tan cap with that classic nitro look. Infinite creamy head and plenty of thick lace sheets.

S- As I find with many nitro beers the aroma is subdued in overall strength. Deeply roasted barley and cocoa off the top.

T- Richness presents itself with more malty complexity than the smell. A bouquet of toasted to charred malts with lots packed into a 3.8% package. Strong cocoa powder and roast barley lead to toast, medium caramel, slight burnt grain, cereal grains and a hint of coffee acidity.

MF- Rich medium to thick body considering the ABV. Creamy and silky smooth nitro bubbled gently caress the palate.

Session Everett indeed. Decadent roasty grains jammed into a low ABV wrapper.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.94/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On nitro at Hill Farmstead. Pours with a giant creamy nitro head. Black body. Smells of chocolate roasted malt. Taste is extremely roasty. Light creamy sweetness up front that immediately gets crushed by coffee and dark chocolate bitterness. Creamy and light. It’s like drinking a latte with the nitrogenation. Surprisingly nice.

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Photo of ScaryEd
4.67/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a growler filled at the brewery.

The pour is near-black with a 1 finger caramel head. Not a lot of retention but the lacing is legit. Leaves a creamy ring around the glass after every sip.

The aroma is very subtle, but there's some dark roast coffee notes as well as plenty of dark chocolate. A tad smokey with some roasted oats as well.

The flavor packs an amazing punch for a 4% porter. Very bold and complex. I get notes of dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans, as well as sweet, grainy malts. I also get just the faintest touch of dark fruits on the end.

The mouth is medium-light bodied with moderate carbonation. Velvety, smooth, and creamy as hell. Amazing considering the ABV.

Overall, a fantastic porter that is far more robust than you would expect. It's sweet, but not overly so. Lightly Smokey and a velvety mouthfeel. I might prefer this to Everett.

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Photo of Skrip
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750ml growler poured into a Carton Teku.

A~ black as could be with a fluffy tan head and a lot of lacing.

S~ a little smokey up front kind of liked smoked meat. followed by roasty malt and a little coffee.

T~ not too much going on till you let it warm up. otherwise it follows the nose with a little vanilla on the back end.

M~ heres where it shines! amazing silky mouthfeel! nice carb as well!

O~ very well executed! i was worried about the mouth feel cause as we all know thats what makes Everett amazing as well! but it could not have been better! could crush this daily!

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Shirley Mae from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 205 ratings