James Black Ale
Hill Farmstead Brewery

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From:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
 
Vermont, United States
Style:
Black IPA
ABV:
6.8%
Score:
94
Avg:
4.22 | pDev: 7.35%
Reviews:
67
Ratings:
358
Status:
Active
Rated:
Dec 24, 2019
Added:
Jun 27, 2010
Wants:
  36
Gots:
  13
SCORE
94
Outstanding
Notes: James was our Uncle (Edward James Hill Jr.). Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his four siblings. In his honor, this Black Ale is dutifully crafted from American and German malted barley, American hops, our ale yeast, and water from James’ well. It is unfiltered, naturally carbonated, and dry hopped. Roasty and smooth, with accents of chocolate and a balanced hoppy finish, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with James.

Pale and Caramel Malt; Roasted Barley; Centennial and Columbus hops; Ale Yeast, and our Well Water.
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Rated: 4.25 by Hyptochrons from Massachusetts

Dec 24, 2019
Photo of Sabtos
Reviewed by Sabtos from Ohio

4.02/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Coffee black-ish brown with a short, fuzzy tan blanket settling to thin wisps.

This is a very measured, crushable black IPA. Characteristics of roasty stout and toasty brown ale pair with hints of coffee--all of which are mild and not overbearing--while the hops have a brightening, semi-bitter presence, becoming zesty and zippy in just the right balance. The body is crisply medium and finishes semi-dry.

Much more enjoyable than I was expecting.
Apr 16, 2019
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Reviewed by Luscious_Malfoy from Illinois

4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
poured from a 12oz can into a rastal tumbler. pours a weird brown. almost like coffee that didn’t have enough grounds in the filter. smell is a nice mix of piney hops and subtle chocolate and caramel. taste is similar although it doesn’t work quite as well as it does on the nose. feel is a little bit thin and watery. nothing terrible though. pretty solid black ale. preferred S&S#2 over this but this is a much lighter, more approachable version of that beer.
Apr 14, 2019
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Reviewed by VelvetExtract from Massachusetts

3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Growler. Surprised I haven't had this before. Pours dark, muddy brown. A Black IPA done right. Nice mixture of bitterness and dark ale elements. Pleasant fruity hop notes mixed in. Flavors balanced well in a style that isn't easy to nail.
Mar 25, 2019
 
Rated: 4 by jkrug5 from Maryland

Mar 25, 2019
 
Rated: 4.21 by Uconnelmo from Connecticut

Mar 23, 2019
 
Rated: 4.1 by SkiBum22 from New York

Mar 22, 2019
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Reviewed by FriedSlug from North Carolina

4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Dark with caramel, char, grapefruit, floral notes and pine. Tastes lightly sweet up front with a lot of citrus and pine. Finished with some char and pine resin. Nice carbonation and good mouthfeel.
Mar 21, 2019
 
Rated: 3.9 by Jhfinn from New York

Mar 19, 2019
 
Rated: 4.76 by StormAles from Canada (ON)

Mar 17, 2019
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Reviewed by angrybabboon from Massachusetts

4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Consumed 3/15/19

A: Dark brown with some medium brown around the edges - clarity around the edges as well, not exactly opaque - pours with a small tan head, maintains a small collar and leaves some streaks of lacing

S: Nice balance of chocolatey and hoppy aromas - citrus, with some orange and grapefruit juice and zest - floral citrus - herbal notes and some soft pine - nicely roasty with some hints of burnt, some semisweet and dark chocolate notes - notes of caramel as well - nothing aggressive

T: Maybe even more balanced than the aroma - tangerine and orange juice, notes of grapefruit zest - floral citrus - herbal notes and soft pine - moderately roasty, lightly burnt, lightly toasted - dark chocolate - medium low level of bitterness despite bitterness coming from both the hops and the roasted malt burnt bitterness - some slight caramel and pale malt at the base, finishes impressively clean

M: Medium body, medium-low carbonation, smooth

O: Damn it, Jim

If more Black Ales/Black IPAs/Cascadian Dark Ales/whatever.jpg were made like this, the style wouldn't be essentially dead. Some have the subtlety of a chocolate orange blasted with a flamethrower. James is so impressive because it's so impressively balanced.
Mar 16, 2019
 
Rated: 4.21 by zotzot from Vermont

Mar 14, 2019
 
Rated: 4.33 by edthehead from New York

Mar 10, 2019
 
Rated: 4.35 by jvillefan from California

Mar 08, 2019
 
Rated: 4.22 by xtonytx from Connecticut

Mar 03, 2019
 
Rated: 4.04 by moltch from Massachusetts

Feb 28, 2019
 
Rated: 3.85 by rogacks from Massachusetts

Jan 02, 2019
 
Rated: 4.31 by CharlesK from Pennsylvania

Nov 08, 2018
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Reviewed by sulldaddy from Connecticut

4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Sampling a cold 12 oz can from 8-20-2018. The beer is poured into a snifter and exhibits a dark coffee colored brew that allows some light to pass through my glass, but not much. A creamy khaki colored head foams up about 2 cm and fades slowly to a tight clingy edge layer and one large wispy island in my glass. The foam leaves dense lattice after each sip.
Aroma is a little bit of dark malt and caramel and then pine sap and a little grapefruit note. Nicely mixed and balanced nose. First sip reveals a smooth textured average thickness body with fine tingly carbonation that stabs my palate as it glides across on each mouthful.
the flavor is similar to the nose with some roasted malt notes and caramel, but isnt sweet at all. This gives way to some pine sap and resin hops and finishes fairly dry with a bit of grapefruit rind astringency that lingers long after the swallow. I dont get any hint of alcohol which makes sense at only 6.8%. The beer is very easy to drink and an enjoyable mix of malt and hop profile. I finish this can very quickly and Im glad to have had a chance to try this one.
Nov 02, 2018
 
Rated: 4.28 by Gkruszewski from New York

Sep 26, 2018
 
Rated: 3.79 by Rub_This_BBQ from Massachusetts

Sep 23, 2018
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Reviewed by kevanb from Illinois

3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
750ml growler, poured into a Hill Farmstead etched Rona wine glass.

The beer pours a dark cola brown color, nearly jet black but with nice bits of garnet and ruby red when struck by the light. A foamy head appears, about two fingers tall, khaki color that has incredible retention and yields plenty of sticky lacing. The aroma is nice, lots of resinous and piney hops, dark roasted malt, light chocolate, mild citrus peel. The flavors echo the nose nicely, lots of pine and resinous hop flavors, grapefruit peel, lightly floral before the dark grains really take over. Almost chocolatey but with a nice roast and toasted biscuit quality. The mouthfeel is good, coating, lively and crisp, medium body with a very dry finish.

Verdict: A nice Black Ale/IPA from Hill Farmstead. Hoppy, crisp, earthy but nicely balanced with dark malts that offer some nice counterbalances and aren't too sweet or out of line. There is a nice harmony and cooperation between the flavors.
Sep 22, 2018
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Reviewed by TheDoctor from Canada (QC)

4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Serving: Can
Canned: Aug-20-2018


It pours dark mahogany with a couple fingers of fizzy tan head. Good retention and rings of lacing.
Citrus and juniper hit the nose right away. As it warms a little there is a background of maple and toffee.
In the flavor department, the malt holds off at first letting a biting, resinous snap of grapefruit pith hops take over and then there is a rush of rich chocolate in the finish.
This is a soft-feeling beer with moderate carbonation and a hop-shellac finish.

This beer is about as balanced as could be. Both sides are assertive, but neither ever fully takes the wheel. There is probably more hop presence since there is a lingering hop oil presence, but the malt side is very nice as well with rich chocolate and caramel notes.
Sep 16, 2018
 
Rated: 4.46 by HopBelT from Belgium

Sep 02, 2018
 
Rated: 4.2 by redsoxjim from Massachusetts

Aug 26, 2018
 
Rated: 4.09 by BeerBucks from New York

Aug 25, 2018
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Reviewed by Lone_Freighter from Vermont

3.03/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
The appearance was a dark brown to black color with a thin off white foamy little head that quickly dissipated. Lacing was few and far between (barely there). The smell started off with grassy bitter and hop indulgent citrusy notes rolling into a light bitter cocoa and coffee bean, it’s good. The taste was mainly the same with the bitterness really taking the lead and amplifying the dryness rolling into the aftertaste and finish. On the palate, this one sat about a medium in body with a nice sipping to almost sessionable sort of feel to it. Carbonation feels good allowing the bitterness hitting my tongue appropriately. Overall, Black IPA, well, it works, but it’s not the best one of the market, better ones.
Jun 08, 2017
 
Rated: 3.75 by Mikeluzzjr from Massachusetts

Jun 14, 2016
 
Rated: 4.17 by s35keith from Massachusetts

Mar 29, 2016
 
Rated: 4.25 by jbarletto from Massachusetts

Mar 24, 2016
 
Rated: 4 by outoffocus from Pennsylvania

Mar 21, 2016
 
Rated: 4.16 by jason3125 from Vermont

Mar 15, 2016
 
Rated: 4.47 by PeterPGH from Pennsylvania

Mar 09, 2016
 
Rated: 3.97 by TBonez477 from Vermont

Mar 06, 2016
 
Rated: 4.75 by chivermac from New York

Mar 05, 2016
 
Rated: 4.1 by richj1970 from Alabama

Feb 28, 2016
 
Rated: 4.25 by Casey3236 from Pennsylvania

Feb 28, 2016
 
Rated: 4.18 by Dolphinsmarlins1 from Massachusetts

Feb 24, 2016
 
Rated: 4.28 by oriolesfan4 from Maryland

Feb 21, 2016
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Reviewed by Hootie159 from Massachusetts

4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
On tap. Looks just like a porter. Dollop of foam just sits. Beautiful lacing. Smell is a bit fragile but nice. Mostly getting the toasted malt. Taste is nice but a little maltier than I'd like, even for black ipa. Presence of some coffee and a hint of chocolate. Smooth and creamy but carb is a touch high. Black ipas might never be my thing, but this is a good beer.
Feb 20, 2016
James Black Ale from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 425 ratings