Hill Farmstead Brewery

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IPA - Black / Cascadian Dark Ale
4.27 | pDev: 9.84%
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Notes: Jim (1954-1998) is the name by which our Uncle was best known. Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his four siblings. In his honor, we barrel aged our Black IPA (James) in a French Oak Pinot Noir barrel for four months and dry hopped the beer with Simcoe. Naturally carbonated and hand bottled, this is one of only 300 bottles.

Pale and Caramel Malt; Roasted Barley; Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe hops; Ale Yeast, and our Well Water.
Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 119 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Skrip
Skrip from New Jersey

4.44/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

batch 1, 500ml bottle poured into a Gandhi Bot snifter.

A~ as dark as can be with a huge siberian desert tan head and soooo much lacing!

S~ lots of smokey roasted dark malts. bacon, bbq, and mesquite like smoke. all followed by lots of what smells like charred fresh leaf hops and a little citrus from them as well.

T~ huge sweet caramel, roasted dark malt flavor up front that explodes on the palet opening up to some smokey hop bitterness. all followed by amazing sweet citrus, that lingers with the mesquite style smoke for what seems like forever!

M~ super nice carbonation, smooth, and has a slight maple syrup like texture. which is what i love about some of their "smokey" brews like Fear and Trembling.

O~ really nice! now once again black IPA's are one of my favorite styles so take that into consideration when reading this review. but this one just packs a punch that delivers so much flavor its kind of unreal. every sip is seriously like an overwhelming yet super balanced explosion of flavor. the complexity never stands in the way for Mr. Hill.

Jun 22, 2013
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.21/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours dark brown/black with a MASSIVE billowy, creamy caramel colored head.

S - Dark roasted malt, dark fruit, light smokiness, and some pine.

T - Mild roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, pine, light hints of wine, some light oak and char.

M - Medium body.

O - The overall blend is delicate roasty bitterness.

Apr 25, 2013
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oline73 from Maryland

4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I was lucky enough to be invited over to try batch 1 and 2 side by side. Poured into a goblet.

Batch 1 - The smell is rather smokey with some wine notes as well. I'm getting some bacon and bbq sauce notes. The flavor it quite smokey as well. This is like a wine barrel rauchbier. There is a slight roast bitterness that builds towards the finish. Just a touch of cardboard due to the age. The body is smooth and dry with a ton of carbonation.

Batch 2 - This one is missing the smoke that made batch 1 so interesting. There is more of a hop bitterness to this one. Just a hint of roast with a higher bitterness level.

I enjoyed both of these, but the older version won the night in my opinion.

Feb 19, 2013
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starrdogg from District of Columbia

4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batches 1 & 2 served side-by-side. Thanks Michael! Scores are for Batch 1.

The beers look nearly identical, both pour a very dark brown with fluffy white heads. This is pretty much where the similarity between the batches ends, however. Batch 1 smells excellent, it's got some roastiness and a bit of smoke which combines very nicely with some hints of red wine and oak. The Batch 2's smell is much more muted and sweet smelling. I'm getting more wine out of the batch 2, but that's really all I'm getting. Flavors on both follow the nose. The Batch 1 has y wou up excellently, and the mix of roast, smoke, red wine and even a little hops comes together in a really nice way. Batch 2 seems to have really fallen off, on the other hand. The flavors have really faded except for the roast and some wine barrel, and it's just not all that exciting. Batch 1 has a nice, medium-full bodied mouthfeel, where Batch 2 is a little thin and overcarbonated. Overall, it's pretty incredible how different these beers are and how much better Batch 1 has held up than Batch 2. We went to Shaun Hill for the answer, and he said that Batch 1 had a small amount of Fear & Trembling blended in which has worked as an excellent preservative (and was the source of the unexpected smoke flavor). I really wouldn't recommend seeking out Batch 2, but if you can get your hands on the original Jim, I would highly recommend it.

Jan 26, 2013
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mdfb79 from New York

4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 10/13/12 notes. Big thanks to whoever brought this to the Top Hops tasting in NYC; second new HF beer of the day.

a - Pours a pitch black color with two inches of dark tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Looks great.

s - Smells of roasted malts, pine hops, wood, light smoke, peat, dark fruits, and light chocolate. Some decent pine with lots of roasty notes...pretty nice.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, chocolate, pine hops, dark fruits, oak/wood, smoke, toasted malts, and a tiny bit of sourness almost. Nice taste; very heavy on the roasted notes again.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Very easy to drink; pretty smooth.

o - Overall I thought this was a pretty good Black IPA. Tons of roasted malts to it and some decent pine hops, and I thought the wood came through a decent amount, and added a little smokiness to it. Very nice and worth checking out.

Oct 15, 2012
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billab914 from Virginia

4.17/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for sharing IrishColonial. Poured from a 500ml bottle into a tasting glass. It poured black in color with a thin, creamy head sticking to the sides of the glass.

The aroma shows a lot o citrusy hoppiness to it. I get a good dose of smoke to it along with the roasted malts. The wine barrel gives it a little bit of a fruity and oaky quality. Really nice aroma to it, lots of complexity to it but it comes together well.

The taste show a little more bitter roasted favors to it with a good amount of smoke still showing up. The hoppiness is pretty bold in it as well with some juicy citrus qualities. It tastes a little like burnt, smoky hops, which sounds bad but I'm really kind of liking it. A little bit of the oaky fruity wine barrel smooths it out an brings it together.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and seems fitting for the style. Overall I really liked it, especially the smoke. The hoppiness seemed to work pretty well for it as well, which is impressive to me as I usually think hops and roasted favors clash. The wine barrel was a little reserved in the taste but did seem to smooth it out with the oak and fruit favors. Very good version of the style.

Apr 13, 2012
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Rhettroactive from Pennsylvania

4.37/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

From 500mL bottle to Portsmouth glass on 4/5/12
*From notes

-- Another winner pulled from the cellar of IrishColonial --

A: Dying autumn leaf brown. A good pour yields a .75 finger head. It lingers for some time, and a thick collar and above average lacing follow. A lovely beer.

S: Quite a bit of smoke. As I swirl it in my glass and allow it to warm a bit, I get a lot of freshly picked garden herbs and crushed rose petals. Wildly unique.

T: Extremely complex, and not too far off from the bouquet. It comes off a little salty up front, followed closely by a massive amount of natural smoke. A touch of red vine fruit rides in on the mid. The charred and smoked malts tone down on the back, revealing a vinous, wine-like finish. This literally keeps evolving in my glass like no other beer I've come across.

M: A bit odd. It sort of washes over my palate instead of sticking to it. Oily yet ever-so-slightly velvety. It lacks what I would call proper carbonation. It just feels thin.

O: Hill Farmstead's Jim. What a great beer, folks. I'm not a smoke beer guy in the slightest, yet I found this so inspired and one-of-a-kind. Almost unclassifiable in it's flavor profile. Worth seeking out. My HF sleeper pick.

Apr 10, 2012
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MADhombrewer from Oregon

4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks ramnuts.

Appearance- Black with some brown hightlights around the edges. Tan head and decent lacing. 4

Smell- Pine tree hop aroma and a small amount of dry Pinot Noir grape aroma. 4

T- Pine and some coffee flavors. Good bitterness. It finishes with a Chardonay dryness. 4

M- Good. Style appropriate.

O- An interesting beer to be sure. I am not a big fan of barrel aged IPAs, but this has an interesting twist with the wine barrels. Even though this is a black IPA I would enjoy it in the summer. 4

Feb 28, 2012
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greenmonstah from New Hampshire

4.28/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500mL bottle into HF tulip (bottle is a few months old, hops are expected to be reduced.)

A - Beautiful. Translucent, light can barely peek through. Nice 1-2 finger tan-brown head develops and lingers for a while. Excellent lacing.

S - Chocolate, roasted malts, subdued pine hops.

T - Definite vinous and oaky characteristics. Pinot noir, chocolate, roasted malts, some pine hops. Again, very wine-like in complexity and subtlety, but beer-like in intensity and bluntness of some flavors. I imagine it tastes even better fresh, when the Simcoe dry hopping can really shine.

M - Medium body, a bit wet initially. No real sharpness to speak of, it is rounded out and smooth, even the carbonation is smooth. Perfect drying finish.

O - A fantastic, complex, and interesting beer from a wonderful brewery. I will be sure to drink it fresh next time around. The beer with some age on it is clearly exhibiting some hop fading, but it still remains a delicious and complex brew. Wine fans should enjoy this beer. I think the barrel aging really rounds this out compared to James. Whereas James is a fantastic black ale, this becomes something beyond that when it is aged in barrels. Go Jim!

Feb 13, 2012
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rtepiak from Poland

4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

this beer is on another level with so many nice subtlety it actually makes me think of the potential with a style i never much cared for. pour is like a porter with a good retention and a bit off black brown. nose is very different. roastiness and raspberry cheesecake. simcoe fused with wood. there is two levels to this beer. the delicate and aromatic wine barrel notes that give you a creaminess, interesting fruit, and a very distinct but not forward rosewater. and the foundation of beer and well placed hopping. roast, chocolate, and bittering is a dry feeling on your tongue. creamy sweet start like a full body wine with a moment of fruit cobbler to a bitter hint of ash at the end. i beer i would recommend is had without food and sipped.

Jan 14, 2012
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yourefragile from District of Columbia

4.2/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Harvest Festival. Waited until opening a bottle from this release before writing up both.

Dark, near black with a creamy tan head. Nice retention and a large amount of sticky lacing. Extremely hoppy aroma, pine and wood, with light roast that easily overwhelmed. Flavor is similar, a robust, creamy body with light roast and chocolate malt but the pine hops dominate every aspect of the flavor. Very little oak or wine present in this version. A very pleasant dry hopped black IPA, but lacking the complexity of fresh or aged versions in the bottle.

Nov 23, 2011
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ororke5000 from Ohio

4.16/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

first review! thanks to Jon for a surprise package!

French oak aged black IPA, then dry hopped with simcoe and bottled by hand. (from the label)

pours dark brown/black, when held up to light it is a nice brown/red sienna edge. thin tan head of tiny bubbles. smells of oak, earth, sage bush and hops, with rich earthy leather/sage being the most noticeable.

tastes of resiny hops and the soft earthy leather upfront, melds with a dry sage/smudge (all the hippies know what i mean) coming in last, with some roasted malt bitterness hitting the back of the tongue. with a soft and clingy mouth feel.

this beer if great! i was skeptical of the the whole thing but i love this beer. wouldn't mind having another bottle and sharing it with friends.


Nov 23, 2011
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rfgetz from New Jersey

4.27/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, near black with thin cap of brown froth, little retention save for a ring of brown that leaves good, sticky lacing the first half of the glass. Scent brings heavy roasted malt with notes of char and smoke, strong grapefruit and pineapple notes come through almost as strong, hints of oak and leather. Taste brings a complete balance of roasted malt and fruity hops not found in many Black IPAs i've had. The oak keeps the hops fruity without too much bitterness. Roasted malts and hops both very strong in flavor but the balance makes it fantastic. Medium bodied, lightly oily. dry on the finish. A fantastic barrel aged IPA, would have loved to have sampled fresh and this aged version side by side.

Nov 16, 2011
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ColForbinBC from New Jersey

4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours a dark brown with reddish highlights around the edges when held up to the light. The cap is firm and thick, and has some great retention. A good amount of sticky lace all over the glass.

There is a nice balance in the aroma. Roast and smoke, vinous wine, oak, pine, orange peel and bit of an earthy aroma. Hops are bold, but so is everything else. The fruity notes from the pinot noir is readily noticeable.

This has everything you want in a black ipa. Roast and smoke up front with piney hops, while pinot noir and oak carry you through the middle. The wine lends a touch of fruity sweetness and the oak lends a welcome dryness. The finish is of pine, orange peel and a hearty burst of roast. Everything has its place in this guy.

The feel is medium to full. I found it to be a little prickly on the back end, or I would have rated this higher. It didn't hurt the drinkability, but detracted a bit from the overall smoothness.

This is the best black ipa I have ever had. It's a nice meld of roasty notes and hoppiness with the added kicker of being aged in pinot noir barrels. Everything works really well together.

Nov 10, 2011
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Sammy from Canada (ON)

3.88/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

John S's bottle, recently acquired. The aroma is chocolate and orange (reflecting the Simcoe). all in a very dark brown to black appearance. very smooth and understated carbonation, even less than many cask ales. The wine barreling overcomes everything, so that the hops are understated as well. A rich worthwhile beverage more akin to a wine itself.

Nov 02, 2011
Photo of Reagan1984
Reagan1984 from Massachusetts

4.43/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to Mtardiff for providing this beer in what was an insane box of Hill Farmstead goodies. Bottle says one of 300. Wow…

What a nice looking beer. Pours like a big stout and the head even erupts from within the beer like an Imp Stout. The head is wonderfully creamy and thick. Like a thick shake it sits atop the brew and starts depositing clumpy lace all inside the glass. The beer is the darkest brown and lets no light through.

Aroma is also really nice. A touch of coffee, some pine a lot of fruit just below the surface.

Good beer. Light roast coffee note to start, some more pine a rounded soft dark roasted malt and then a nice pine bitterness again. The label talks about wine (pinot) barrel aging and I have to admit I would not have picked up any notes here if I wasn’t told. Even after looking for it, there isn’t much. Perhaps this is contributing to the complexity of flavor and the almost earthy tones. Smooth cocoa, light coffee and cream with pine accents rule the day for me here. Melds nicely.

Mouth feel is wonderful. Velvety and so smooth. I have to decide if mouth feel gets a 4.5 or perfect 5.0. It’s that luxurious as you drink it.

Based on the dates of the other reviews, this appears to have a little age on it. I’d say the effects of the dry hopping have probably faded, but this has held up quite well. Very soft and rounded. Nice. Not a hint of oxidation.

Oct 23, 2011
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WanderingFool from Massachusetts

4.55/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I purchased my bottle of Jim at the Hill Farmstead harvestfest.

Jim pours black into the glass with a small light tan head on top. The foam fades slowly to a sheet on the beer, leaving behind lots of lacy spots on the glass.

The aroma has notes of oak. chocolate, and piney hops. Some roasty malt notes are also present.

Each sip of this medium bodied brew is slick and oily with light carbonation. The flavor is rich and malty. Chocolate, oak, toffee and dark fruits are followed by piney hop notes. Once gone the pine and oak linger on the palate.

This is an easy drinking, delicious beer. Get it if you can.

Oct 17, 2011
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andrewinski1 from New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a wine taster. The color is black with a light tan head that has a lot of sticky lacing.

The aroma is chocolatey with some nice notes of pine and mint.

The taste starts out sweet and chocolatey with a lot of vegetable-like hop flavor. There is a good fruity hop finish with a dose of bitter pine.

the body is medium and the mouthfeel nice and creamy.

Very good stuff. The barrel aging comes across subtlely in the flavor. I would have to do a side by side to be sure the effects.

Oct 11, 2011
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05Harley from New Hampshire

3.78/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased @ Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro VT.

Price - $12.00/bomber

Pours near black with a moderate amount of lite tan foam and looks delicious. After sitting for several minutes a creamy film remains. Lacing is heavy and proves to be quite decorative.

The aroma is sort of mild at first, but after several minutes reveals citrus and pine followed by a very faint smell of smoked malt.

Wow, I can actually taste apricot, with out question. A piney resin is next followed by caramel, ash, burnt wood and alcohol. Individually I love all these flavors but for some reason together here somethings not right.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a lingering bitter finish. Carbonation is lite and in the end very dry which puts the smoothness to bed.

Overall finishing the bottle by myself took a little bit of effort. Not to say it wasn't good, just not my flavor I guess. By far this one is my least favorite from Hill Farmstead. I'm not sure if it's the wine barrels or what. Definitely a unique experience for the style.

Oct 07, 2011
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Bendurgin from Maine

4.03/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip. Pours dark brown with two fingers of light tan head. It settles leaving a coat of lace and a solid cap of foam on top.

The aroma is grapefruit with some sappy pine. Bitter on the finish with lingering white grapes in the background. A little bit of a roast character on the flavor with a citrus grapefruit hop character. Bitter and piney in the finish with a woody flavor.

The body is light and the carbonation is good. The flavor really sticks to the pallet. Overall this is one of the better black IPAs I've had.

Oct 05, 2011
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landhoney from Florida

4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Eric for this one as well!

Appearance: Black, exceedingly dark brown/black, tan head

Smell: Roastiness, and hop aroma are first on the nose

Taste: Wow, a lot going on here: wine/wood sweetness up front and a dry roasty hoppy finish at the end. Excellent taste, that manages to be sweet upfront and dry on the finish.

Mouth-feel: More carbonated and dry than I was expecting, but overall very nice dryness and carbonation, that compliment the beer well.

Overall: What a nice/unique beer. I could see room for improvement, but it seemed just in the execution, good components that could be better integrated together. That said, a very enjoyable beer that is drinkable and complex.

May 12, 2011
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Ryan011235 from Ohio

4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 2/27/11

Much appreciation to Nickd717

Pours a dull drown. It's dark in the glass - muddy brown at the stem and slight ruby highlights throughout. One and a half finger head that thins after a few minutes leaving impressive swaths of clumpy lace. Wispy retention but a solid wall of lace.

The aroma is rather subtle but offers equal complexity. Dry, vinous overtones of grapes and berries; musty oak; soft hints of coffee beans and a spot of roastiness buried deep down. Simcoe adds a subtle citric blend to the fruit notions imparted by the Pinot Noir barrels. A tad earthy.

The wine characteristics are first with dry, dark fruit. Earthy, piney hops shy from sheer bitterness. Roasted coffee, espresso and bittersweet chocolate manifest toward the finish. Modest hits of wood linger, too. Each aspect seems a bit disjointed initially but really comes together as it warms and opens up.

Medium body with gritty underpinnings, almost to the point of having a dirt-like feel (fine with me). Despite the initial cap of foam, carbonation is reasonably low. Slightly coating feel.

At first I thought this was ok. Now, after most of the bottle, I'm really digging it. This is definitely one to let warm up a bit. I added this to my wants because it sounded interesting; never thought I'd actually get to try it. Thanks, Nick!

Mar 15, 2011
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iowaherkeye from California

4.32/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500mL bottle, picked up at the release. Also have some other notes somewhere, but here is my present (aged) bottle rating. Black body with a one finger creamy beige head. Big red wine and berry nose, followed by pine resin and tangerine hops and a bit of wet oak, some dry hopping still present, as well as moderate roast and a bit of minerals. Flavor follows suit with the citrus hops and lovely red wine oak barrels. Dry finish with just a tinge of alcohol, bitterness peaking at a 6, and dry. Medium body with light to moderate carbonation. Wow, even ~4 months old, this is still in the top two or three black IPA's that I've had, and those better were probably HF beers anyway. Very close to fantastic.

Mar 06, 2011
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JAXSON from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a big, tight, creamy head. Nose is first pine, spruce, perhaps some light citrus. Behind that are nice toasted malts, crackers, grains. Behind that still, smoked ham, quite subtle, but nice. Mouth is a bit darker than the nose, focuses on the toasted and smoked parts, thankfully. I thought I wouldn't like this and that the bright hops would clash with the darker malts, but it's quite nice. Barrel aging is subtle and well done. Really this comes across as a fairly hoppy imperial stout more than anything else. The finish is the only part reminiscent of an IPA, with a long hop bite. I like it.

Mar 01, 2011
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Verecund from Texas

4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml. Thanks to a generous BA for this. Opened on 2/24/2011.

Pours a very, very dark brown with dark purple hues. A huge two finger mocha brown head recedes to a half finger in width. Thick lacing. Just about perfect.

Surprisingly, after all this time, the nose still features a complex bouquet of hop aromas: resiny (accompanies by a cedar woodiness), grapefruit, small amounts of citrus. An oakiness shines through, making me think of my grandparent's Tsuga covered in snow in the winter. A sweet, almost vinous note is present as well.

Citrus and resiny up-front with lots of roast, like burnt wood, mid-palate. Tons of woody pine, grapefruit pith, and oak (tannic) dissolves into the roasted barley, smoky finish. The Pinot Noir sweetness is barely there, but shows on the tip of the tongue on the finish.

Medium-low carbonation, but fairly light in the mouth. By and large the most "raw" (dare I say: "gutteral") of the American Black Ales/Black IPAs I've had to date. I wish it had a little more of the vinous sweetness I see in F/T, since the finish can be a bit acrid, but overall, quite different and enjoyable.

Feb 25, 2011
Jim from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 119 ratings