Jim | Hill Farmstead Brewery

53 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by sisuspeed on 10-03-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 117
Photo of mikesgroove
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

prepping myself for hobo tasting number 3 or 2.5, i sit here eating pizza with a bottle of Jim(somneone please send me more!) served in a pint glass and enjoyed on 1.16.11.

the pour is dark as night, black with a nice little head of dark tan that falls to a quarter inch and hangs there throughout the entire session, just sitting and mocking me as i drink.

then i take a whiff, one of the best smells i have ever come across, deep pineapple and citrus hops, roasted malts, ash and campfire, tobacco, leather, and a wonderful warming alcohol. my god this is what dreams are made of. the flavor does not dissapoint. creamy and luscious feel is spot on not too heavy at all. first flavor to hit is pineapple and ripe citrus which folds into heavy smoke and ash. roasted malts everywhere with tons of wonderful favors, dark fruits, rich leather like back lash, amazing beer. i am not sure what to call this except amazing. finishing with a smack of grapefruit and smoke that dries the palate and leaves a smokey flavor at the same time, this was quite simply an amazing beer,

overall honestly one of the best beers i have ever had. every sip was better then the one before. each smell better then before, just simply awe inspiring and amazing. top notch in every way.

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Photo of GatheringBrews
4.73/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitchy black color with a khaki head that holds well and laces nicely. Abundant hop aroma and a hint of resin from the dry hopping. Definitely a Vermont black IPA in both body and flavor with plenty of hop bite and a nice sharpness in the finish. Not a lot of the barrel comes through initially, but as it warms, more of the character of the barrel emerges.

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Photo of abuliarose
4.68/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Hill Farmstead goblet glass, revealing thick, tall and slightly tanned head over an essentially black body. Pretty lacing. Smells like intense, fresh floral hops with a little smokiness and a slight fruity, woody sweetness maybe derived from the barrel. Nice smells that intermingle well on the nose to make it a complex bouquet.

Tastes very well-hopped, but with a lingering just-sweet fruity finish (sangria-type fruity) and a tannic astringency that mingles well with the hoppy bitterness. Nice fresh citrus rind presence, grapefruit and orange. Mouthfeel is a little creamy with a tickling of carbonation that adds volume. Medium to heavy-bodied. Very drinkable, very well-layered flavors and no trace of the alcohol. I would say this is quaff-able but it's just so tasty.

The best black IPA I've ever had, for sure.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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Photo of sisuspeed
4.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Hill Farmstead tasting glass. Pure black in color with a thick, creamy, off-white head on top. Waves of lacing left behind. Looks beautiful.

Earthy hops on the nose mixed with wood and light wine notes. Grassy herbal notes resting on top of well roasted malt. The Pinot Noir barrels really add a nice level of complexity to the nose. Juicy, alcohol-laced, grapes, hops and wood.

Tipping back the glass reveals a fairly unique taste that is new to me. Oaky, hoppy and vinous. Upon further sipping I'm pulling out some tannin and subtle vanilla. Like the nose, the flavor really opens up the more you explore it. The malt character is obviously dark with some nice bitterness and even a touch of dark chocolate. Really interesting and tasty.

Mouthfeel is smooth with perfect carbonation. Leaves a mixture of hop and tannin on the tongue.

Drinkability is great. More of a sipper, but one that is hard to put down. A Hill Farmstead tasting glass or wine glass is probably the best way to appreciate this beer. Shaun has really created a unique brew that is both complex and delicious. I'm wishing that I had picked up more of these. Highly recommended.

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Photo of nkersten
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from growler into Saison DuPont glass. Black body with a mocha tan head and excellent laving and retention. Huge hop aromas, pine balanced with roasty malts and amazing bitter combination, some molasses sweetness. Bitter hopiness, herbal, thyme, roasted malts, not overpowering in any way. Black malts make their presence known in the finish while the hops take over everywhere else. Medium bodied with a light carbonation. Drinkability is exellent - the balance of flavors and the smells are wonderful.

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Photo of Neffbeer
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Blind Tiger:

A: Black body and a tan frothy head. When held up to the light a ruby hue emerges revealing that it is not quite opaque. There was good head retention and lacing.

S: Roast and smoke hit first followed by some pine hops and and a woody character. I pick up some chocolate and coffee somewhere in there along with a hint of wine as well. This is a really complex assembly of aromas.

T: Roasted malt and wood hit first, followed by some pine hops. I taste chocolate and coffee with a hint of fruitiness as the beer warms. Man oh man is this good.

M: The mouthfeel is superb. Thick and viscous and manages to be pillowy smooth at the same time.

D: Overall I am very impressed with this beer. I would struggle to call this a CDA, but it is truly an excellent brew.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Thanks! Poured into my Bruery tulip.

A: Deep brown, near black. Mountainous frothy beige head resulting from a hard pour. Great retention, with a quarter inch froth lingering forever after the initial recession. Lacing is scattered in thick sheets on the glass. Great looking beer.

S: Pine, light citrus in the form of grapefruit, and oak. The wood, in conjunction with the smoke character, is redolent of beachwood; applewood smoked bacon is also brought to mind. The aroma displays just the right amount of smokiness, never overwhelming the other notes. Malt is lightly roasted and shows a dash of chocolate with just a whisper of coffee. Not really noticeable at colder temperatures, the vinous aspect of the beer comes out with substantial warming, but it remains light at all times. Many different aromas are in harmony in this one. I could smell this all night. A damn fine aroma. *edit* when the beer warms up quite a bit, the combination of smoke, chocolate, wine, and pine is intoxicating.

T: Red wine, oak, tannins, pine, grapefruit, light notes of chocolate, roasted malt, and a light smoke character. The beer is dry and moderately bitter, with a great grapefruit rind and pine bitterness attack The beer is increasingly vinous with warming. The smoke character is most evident in the dry bitter pine and grapefruit finish roasted finish. There's a trailing vinous sweetness that comes to life after what seemed to be the terminus of the finish.

The beer is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is dry, creamy, and lightly tannic.

Though the original beer was a Black IPA, the barrel aging and the blending in of Fear and Trembling have transformed this into a delicious Strong Ale. A unique and thoroughly enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Skrip
4.44/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of nickd717
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle thanks to grassrootsVT.

Pours darkest brown with a small but lasting tan head and very good lacing.

The aroma is great, roasty with a hint of dark chocolate, coffee, and big hops, mainly of the piney variety. Slight dark fruit and oak notes from the barrel.

Really tasty with a great malt base to it, with roast, coffee, charcoal, and dark chocolate. Big piney hops, and a nice red wine and oak character to it.

Very crisp and resinous on the palate, medium bodied with an intense charcoal-like dryness. Really excellent mouthfeel on this one.

Well, looks like we've got a hype-liver-upper-to here, or however you say that. Hopefully this one comes back with a bigger bottle count.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500mL bomber 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.

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Photo of starrdogg
4.42/5  rDev +4%
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.

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Photo of rtepiak
4.42/5  rDev +4%
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.

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Photo of CliffBrake
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Modest head with light lace on a dark beer is appropriate to a barrel-aged representative of the style.

The smell is amazing - mocha, smoke, black cherries, it is mind boggling and delicious. I could smell this all night.

The flavor is similarly complex, but somewhat of a let down after the initial impression of the nose. Over the course of sipping this beer though, it seemed to open up and the palate expanded. Perhaps it would benefit from a little more time in the bottle.

A great sipper. Expensive, but I would try it again for sure.

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Photo of hoppymcgee
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Blind Tiger's Very Special Keg Night on 11/3/10 in Manhattan, NYC.

A: Black with a dark tan ring.

S: Hoppy! Vermont at its best.

T: Smoky, hoppy, and just a touch of oak. A perfect blend of flavors and unique.

M: Nicely carbonated. Perfect body on this one.

D: No issues getting through not one but two tulips of this.

Overall, a special treat delivered by Alan!

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter.

Pours nearly black with a single-finger tan head and a bit of lacing plus a nice collar. The nose brings some strongly resinous pine along with a bit of roasted malt character.

The taste is more of the same as the nose with a pungent pine character and quite a bit of resin. A bit of earth there as well in addition to some roasted malt. Mouthfeel is nice and medium with a really bitter, dry finish. Drinkability is high as well. A really, really solid brew from Shaun and I'm glad to have been able to nab a bottle of this.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark brown in color with brown highlights when held up to the light that had a half finger of head and left plenty of lacing sticking to the glass. Lots of piney earth hops pop out on the nose with some nice roasty sweet malts alongaside subtle oak notes and faint coffee. The piney hop flavors dominate the palate with oaky roasted malt accents that did add some sweetness but had slight caramel notes and a touch of smoke with mild coffee character. The brew was medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a very piney hoppy, roasted, slight sweet but bitter finish. I was digging this intresting beer and drank good but I'm starting to like how roastiness is adding dimension to hop forward brews.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike!

A: This black IPA appears well...dark brown. The beige head is about an inch thick and leaves plenty of lacing on the glass.

S: I can tell that this is going to be a good beer. The aroma is a delicate balance of pine, hops, and roasted malt. Very enticing!

T: This beer is excellent. Roasted malt, meet piny hop resin. Absolutely delicious. Hill Farmstead nailed this one!

M: Medium bodied with a present hop bitterness and somewhat of a dry finish.

D: A great example of the style. I would be excited to have this again.

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Photo of iowaherkeye
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle. Thank you Jason!

A - Pours black, reddish/brown hue, nice cream-colored head, thick ring with big bubbles, thin film on top as the cap.

S - Smoke notes, barrel/oak, red wine, bacon. Lots of crazy things going on here. Smoke? Wine? Barrel? Bacon? What? I don't know...I'm kinda digging it. The F&T that's been blended into this beer adds another dimension to the beer, which I very much enjoy.

T - Red wine, oak, smoke, light hops. I like the wine and smoke notes with the IPA profile. The wine notes and oak overpower the hops, but I still mostly getting a black IPA profile on the palate. I was hoping the barrel/smoke/wine characteristics would be a bit more here, but it's still very unique and good.

M - Light to medium, soft carbonation, dry finish (from the wine/oak?). Interesting.

D - Like nothing I've had, what the heck, it's a nice change of pace. Not a black IPA, but kinda, but not really. Very....interesting.

Edit: I was given additional information, which helps explain where the smoke character came from. Some of the F&T was blended into this beer to give it that smoke character. I was contributing this to the oak/barrel, but it appears that there's actually some of the F&T in the blend. Very cool! I've edited my review appropriately.

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Photo of landhoney
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of madorb
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle picked up on a Thanksgiving trip home to Vermont. Was awesome to make the trip out to Greensboro and meet Shaun and his Mom. Lost track of time and showed up a bit early and interrupted his breakfast but he was quite gracious about it.

Really amazing nose on this one, I got wine, oak, smoke, vanilla, dark cherry, and perhaps even a bit of tropical fruit (pineapple??), chocolate... as others have mentioned, this is one of the most convoluted and interesting noses i've come across in a beer.

That said, the flavor did not fully live up to the nose, the various flavours just didn't pull fully together into a cohesive whole, it was quite good, but not as good as I hoped from the nose.

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Photo of mikey711
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep brown, near black with a frothy mocha colored head that holds very well and leave great lacing.

S: Nice roasted coffee aroma followed by a light pine hoppines. there is a nice fruitness from the pinot noir. some light vanilla notes from the barrel

T: the roastiness is very present and quite enjoyable and the hops add a nice balance. nice pine hoppiness and a tough of grasiness. the pinot adds a very nice fruit characteristic as well

M: Very nice creaminess with no rough qualities, thre is no heat and it is very smooth

D: A slow sipper with lots of full flavors. definitely one i would like to try again

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Jim from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.25 out of 5 based on 117 ratings.
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