Fear And Trembling (Cabernet/Bourbon Blend) | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Fear And Trembling (Cabernet/Bourbon Blend)Fear And Trembling (Cabernet/Bourbon Blend)
Fear And Trembling (Cabernet/Bourbon Blend)Fear And Trembling (Cabernet/Bourbon Blend)

Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Fear and Trembling is Hill Farmstead’s first collaboration – a Baltic Porter brewed with malt that was hand smoked over maple wood by our Danish friend, and former colleague, Anders Kissmeyer. This bottled version was blended from beer aged in both American Oak Cabernet barrels and Bourbon barrels. As a student of philosophy and former resident of Copenhagen, it is fitting that our brewer named our first collaboration after Denmark’s great thinker: Søren Kierkegaard. All three contemplated absurdity, faith, and salvation while wandering the shores of the Baltic Sea…

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…”

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 64 | Ratings: 163
Photo of corby112
2.69/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Pours a dark chestnut brown, almost black color with mahogany and plum colored edges. One finger beige head that slowly settles into lasting. Decent retention with some spotty lacing left behind.

Spicy spirit barrel in the aroma with prominent dry oak/toothpick and spicy green peppers character followed by subtle smoke and robust dark malt notes. Oak and peppers overpower the smoke and dark malts and I'm not picking up much cab or bourbon. Phenols aren't as prominent as in the other variations but it's still there. Slight smoke with charcoal, BBQ meat and ash along with some burnt toast and fried green chilies. Smoke is subtle, barrel notes are weak and the peppers are too strong.

On the fuller end of medium body with harsh spicy booze and lots of dry charred oak. Strong spicy spirit and boozy sweetness yet overwhelming dry with damp, burnt oak. Dry and one dimensional with harsh pepper flavor. Bland barrel character that doesn't add much to the beer.

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Photo of Overlord
2.84/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Big thanks to a very generous RPstevens.

Pours a brackish, turbid black with some dark brown edging. Capped with a quarter inch of dark tan/brown foam. Looks more like a stout.

Smells ... like smoke. Layered with burnt wood, some charred syrup, and smoke. Oh boy. There's some serious smoke going on here.

The flavor seems like it's been almost completely obscured/overpowered by charred ash and liquified, salted, beef jerky smoke. Whatever vinous or bourbon-y notes there might have been, they are mere whispers now. If you search real hard, maybe a bit, just a bit, of lingering malt-y/earthy porter-iness. This totally reminded me of salted and smoked jerky. If I didn't know better, I'd say they tossed some charred tabasco or jalapenos in here.

Oddly enough, we easily finished the bottle between two of us, despite misgivings. Certainly one of the most unique beers I've ever had.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.42/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep brown, almost black. Small khaki head. Wispy surface and a chunky collar.

Smell - Some wine, but it's faint. Light smokiness. Dark chocolate. A little sherry oxidation.

Taste - Sweeter than the fresh base beer, which I had just before this. The smoke has faded a lot. A bit of wine presence. Lots of sherry and oxidation. Some bitter chocolate and smoke in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation. Kinda thin. Tasting old.

Overall - It's a good beer, it's just old. Fresh version is a much better beer.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.65/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours dark brown with thin tan head. Rather smokey nose with some rich chocolate and roasted malts. Flavor is similar, less smokey but still present. Rich chocolate and hint of roasted coffee. Light bourbon towards back with a hint of sweetness. Full body, smooth, good finish.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.7/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A blend of what's still hanging on (the bourbon) and what's going the way of the dodo (the cab). Interesting to have all three at the same time where the dichotomy is in full display. Thanks again so very much Mike.

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Photo of starrdogg
3.7/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to yourefragile for breaking out this bottle. This has been one of my long-time Wants.

A: Pours an opaque dark brown/black with a tan head.

S: Smoke is definitely the most prominent smell here, but there's also some hints of bourbon, oak and dark malts. It smells quite nice, but I had no idea how smoke-forward this beer would be.

M: Wow, this is meaty. The smoke really takes over the flavor and whatever flavor had come from the barrels seems to have largely faded. As it warms, the smoke mellows a bit, and there are some chocolate, oak and dark fruit flavors.

M: Medium-heavy bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: I was a little disappointed in this one. I'm a big smoked porter fan and really thought that the barrels would add something great to this beer, but the smoke really took over the flavor and made it unbalanced. I wonder how it would've tasted fresh.

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Photo of pwoods
3.74/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to rpstevens for this bottle in secret Santa!

500ml brown bottle poured into a snifter.

A: pours pitch black with a bit of viscosity. Tan head on the pour with pretty good retention and some lacing.

S: Huge smoke. Probably too much but not overly abrasive. The smoke definitely does overpower nearly everything. Theres a bit of the Baltic porter left behind everything but it's nearly all smoke and beef jerky like aroma.

T/M: More of the huge smoke but not quite as overpowering as in the aroma. The Baltic porter base sticks out a bit more. If I try real hard, I get a bit ofthe bourbon and possibly some notes from the cab barrel. Body is full with smoothing carbonation.

D: Split this with Kels and that wasnt too much and I think I could have probably done the whole bottle.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, smoke, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and smoke flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast and smoke bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that doesn't really have any barrel aged characteristics at this point other than wood qualities

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.77/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks again to BeerFMAndy for the third F&T variation. It was nice to compare them all side by side. Poured into a tulip.

A: Pitch black, tiny wisp of mocha head, soapy lace.

S: Roast malt, chocolate, coffee and a solid amount of wine barrel. More cabernet than I would have anticipated. The bourbon and smoke are almost non existent.

T: Pretty much a mirror of the nose. Roasted malts, black coffee and dark chocolate. The smoke and bourbon are very light. Slight hint of the wine barrel comes through in the finish.

M: Medium to full body. Mild carbonation.

D: Overall not much differentiates this from the other two. Not a bad beer at all. Just nothing really stands out.

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Photo of largadeer
3.8/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks, Chad!

Dark mocha brown, pretty much opaque, though not quite black. A thin tan head forms and slowly settles to a crown.

Smoky, meaty nose. Burnt bacon, vinous fruitiness, dark chocolate. The smoke character is pervasive, but fairly enjoyable.

Rum raisin fruitiness on the palate, smoked bacon, tannic oak, roasted malt, bittersweet cocoa. Medium-light body, fairly dry. Charred, smoky bitterness in the finish. Good, but not a beer I'd want to drink terribly often.

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Photo of nkersten
3.83/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into NB globe. Dark brown black with ruby edges, a swirling tan head that fades to a collar. Smokey oak, subtle bourbon, bitter chocolate, a hint of wine, although it is very subtle. Taste is chocolate, smoked malts, slightly sour wine barrel, a bit of oak, some alcohol in the finish. Medium to heavy body with a light carbonation and a strange astringent feel. My favorite of the three F&T, but this one has a strange aftertaste that is putting me off.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.91/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500mL high-shouldered brown glass pry-top bottle purchased at the brewery during their Harvest Festival and stored in my cellar. Opened at 56 degrees.

Pours thick and black into my tulip glass and is topped with creamy dark tan head that leaves lots of lacing/spotting.

Nose is all about the smoke, lots of charred wood notes and some bacon too. Rawhide leather comes to mind too. Chipotle in adobo sauce note too.

Palate is wide open with "low" carbonation (i.e. not a lot of texture but some creaminess on the finish). There's bright juicy berry notes right up front that make me salivate. Tart red fruit (no actual acidity though), some chewy caramel and black vanilla bean puree come through after a few sips and the wonderful flavor of toasted white American oak (used for both the Cabernet barrel and the bourbon barrel).

Notes: The nose is deceptively closed. I was worried that the wood-treatment wasn't going to show up very much, but I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of flavor that was imparted from both barrels. Having tried all three treatments of Fear & Trembling now, I like the French Cabernet Barrel & the Bourbon barrel versions better than this one, but I think it's still an awesome brew!

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Photo of Jeffo
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big thanks goes out to jbeatty for hooking us up with this delicious three beer set. I had almost given up on ever seeing any of these, so I'm absolutely stoked to finally get a chance at the threesome. Cheers man!

From a 500ml bottle into a snifter
This was the last of the three bottles we opened.

APPEARANCE: All of these variants look the same. Pours transparent brown and yields a small, medium looking, light tan head with decent retention. Head fades to a slight wisp and bubbly ring. Black body, relatively clear, with no carbonation evident. Only a ring remains until the end and leaves no lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Smoked malts, roasted malts and some light bourbon and wine notes. Both barrels are there, but not as pronounced as in their respective variants. Dark chocolate and roasted malts are there, but the smoked meat is still in the forefront. More dark chocolate than the other variants and the barrels seem to cancel each other out slightly. Still very nice in its own right, however.

TASTE: Smoked malts and roasted notes with both barrels coming in through the middle into the finish. Bourbon, oak with dark chocolate and smoky meat at the finish with a touch of wine as well. The bourbon barrel is more prevalent, which was expected, since it was bolder than the wine barrel in their respective variants. Mild and lingering aftertaste of oak, bourbon, hints of sine and dark, chocolaty malts. Interesting stuff, very complex, but not quite as flavorful and mind-blowing as the bourbon version.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes slightly sticky. Good feel.

OVERALL: Could definitely tell this was a blend of the two other variants, but unfortunately they seemed to cancel each other out a little, which can sometimes happen with blends. This one was complex and enjoyable for sure, and was perhaps even more complex than the other two. That said, however, it didn’t quite have the boldness in the nose and flavor profile that I loved so much about the regular cabernet and bourbon version, which is why it finishes behind them. Oddly enough, our own 50/50 blend was more flavorful and interesting that this one. In the end though, this F&T set was a phenomenal treat, and I’m extremely glad I had the chance to try them all out. A huge thanks again jbeatty. This was pure class!

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike!

A: Dark brown hue with a thin, tan head that recedes rapidly, leaving but a little lacing.

S: Roast, smoke (rauchbier), hints of oak. This beer was less smoky than the French Oak Cabernet version. In general, I found the aroma to be a bit weaker in this blend.

T: A very good beer, with notes of bourbon, oak, subtle smoke, and a tannic / wine characteristics that adds depth and complexity.

M: Medium to thin bodied with moderately low carbonation.

D: Prior to sampling the three variants, I surmised that this would be my favorite of the Fear and Trembling beers. I preferred the French Oak Cabernet to this.

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Photo of callmemickey
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed January 2011.

A: Black body with a medium sized khaki cap. Nice spotty lacing.

S: Mellow. Smoked, roasted, and charred malts. Oak and dark fruits from the Cab barrels and just the slightest hint of bourbon.

T: Yup, you guessed it. Lots of smoked malt. Slight vinous notes from the Cab barrels (but not a s pronounced as in the Cab Barrel verison). Chocolate, and just a dash of vanilla and bourbon. Similar to the nose, there is quite a bit of smoky roasted malts.

M: Smooth with a medium body and a nice gentle carbonation.

D: The bourbon didn't really do any thing for me to improve what the French Oak Cab barrels did. The second best of the Fear and Trembling series.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A pour from a bottle.

Fear and Trembling looks baltic like as it's a very dark ruddy brown that might as well be black. Some nice suds on top of this elixir surprising me as it's a blend from various barrels. No stick though but that could be the glass. Smell is a bit vinious, I get that right up front. It's also smoky as hell from all the smoked malt. Don't really pick up any bourbon, but I do get some wet wood and some chocolate and berry scents. This is one messed up baltic in a good way. I never had the base but would love to try it. Im thinking the bourbon is being masked by everything else but the cab comes through with vinious spirit, berries as well. I cant get around the smoke but it's not killing me, nice chocolate and hits of vanilla. All together though, the roast rules this beer and that's what a baltic is all about. Feel is above medium and the flavors stick around a bit and the red wine especially, the beer is not flat, bubbles are there. I really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of ChrisPro
4.09/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted blind as part of Blind BIF #6

Blind beer # 10 from sholland119.

500 mL? bottle poured into my Victory tulip.

A - Opaque onyx with a one finger khaki head. Splotches of lacing on the glass, but a nice "oil slick" of bubbles across the top. 3.5

S - Rauch geek breakfast, for sure. Awesome campfire smoke, and some rich spicy coffee behind it. I don't know what coffee it is, but it it reminds me of an earthy African coffee. Hard to get much else beyond that. Seems like there's some oak aging, but I think that's just the smoked malt. 4.5

(my wife's quote after her first sniff: "Damn, I might as well smoke a cigarette!")

T - Much sweeter than the nose indicates. Great vanilla and milk chocolate. Not as much coffee as I expected. Hmm...Awesome dry smoke finish. Very little hop bitterness but some nice roasted char. It's definitely a Scandinavian style stout. Slightly tart fruitiness adds a twist as it warms. 4

M - Light carbonation. Very full bodied. A touch of heat, but I'm thinking this is still in the 7-8% range. Slightly dry finish. 4.0

O - Pretty quaffable. On the sweeter side (I like!) but great. This is a pretty complex stout. Tons going on, so I can't tell if there are any flaws, but it drinks so well I don't care! Great brew. 4.0

While the nose reminded me of rauch geek breakfast, there's not as much coffee as I wanted. This may actually just be a smoked imperial stout. Definitely Scandinavian, but on the sweet side.

Final Guess: A Scandinavian smoked imperial stout. Rauch Geek Breakfast is my only guess.

the reveal: Hill Farmstead Fear and Trembling Cabernet/Bourbon blend

This was a HUGE want. Thanks, Scott! Now knowing what it is, I do realize that there was, in fact oak on the nose. And the slightly twangy fruitiness is definitely the cab. Really cool complex brew and one I'm going to savor the rest of the bottle. Thanks a ton!

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Photo of Blanco
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

reviewed from notes, had at capone's during PBW.

Pours a black color with chocolate head. Smells like roasted malts and some odd, hard to make out smells that are either the utopias or cabernet barrels. Tastes extremely fruity with the flavor of dark berries and hints of bourbon, raisins and chocolate. Slightly medicinal in quality. Light bodied. This one is quite unique and another solid offering from Hill Farmstead.

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Photo of kels
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It seems I start all my reviews this way...thanks pwoods, for sharing with me! This is definitely not a brewery I'd see without his assistance, so it's cool to get a chance to try.

I can't imagine a beer of this style looking like anything other than this beer. It pours just lovely. Darkest chocolate brown, practically black, and completely opaque, it supports a full finger of chocolate-milk-hued foamy, soft head that lasts until the first drink breaks it. The froth fades into a murky skim atop the beer, and a bubbly ring of lace clings to the side and spreads up the walls in spitty little bubbles.

Smoked is the essence of this nose. The first word that comes to mind is campfire, then grilled meat. The smoke and wood of the roast dominate the aroma, and it takes some time with the beer to start pulling out other notes of sharp alcohol and a sweet cherry-like presence.

Complex, bold, unusual, acquired - these are all words that come to mind while contemplating the first few sips. As in the nose, the roasted grains and the smokiness from their preparation take a significant lead in the flavor. The campfire quality is reinforced in the taste of ash that sits especially long on the tongue. Along with these flavors comes a nice, mellow sweetness that adds some balance. It's like a nice chocolate-covered cherry that I attribute in part to the malts and in part to the bourbon barrels. It has that lingering, warming sweetness of bourbon that's recognizable, yet hard to describe. The best part of this beer by far, however, is the clearly distinguishable cabernet in the finish. Somewhat notable in the taste, it really comes through in the aftertaste with deep, plummy fruitiness and a feel that even mimics the midweight heaviness of a good cab. The feel of the beer overall is moderate with fairly low carbonation. It's sticky enough to have to lick from the lips, but not chewy.

This is definitely a different beer, and not one for everyday. The smell really knocks the drinkability down for me a note. I think it drinks a little too fast once I'm past that, though, because I take drink after drink in order to figure out what's all happening in there.

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Photo of seeswo
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured at a recent Madison tasting, sent to me by KristenCooks (thanks!). Review #50

Pours dark with a small tan head. Smells strongly of smoke with a touch of oak. Like, really strong. I don't get any cab in the flavor, but a bit of oak and vanilla surround a really tasty smoked porter. The flavor is much more balanced, and way less smoky than the nose. The cab must be smoothing out the underlying flavor, and the blend is welcomed because more bourbon would seem to overwhelm this beer. Medium mouthfeel and carbonation fit appropriately. This beer is very drinkable. Other than the hit on the nose, this is a really enjoyable beer. Too bad it is so limited.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark brown/black pour, thin creme colored lacing.

S - Some smokiness, chocolate char, red grape skins.

T - Smokey/char, big lingering dark smoked chocolate, cabernat red grape skins.

M - Full bodied.

O - Held up well.

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Photo of maximum12
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to an A+ trader, sholland119, for this bottle. Had no idea there were so few floating around - I had some previously at an epic tasting along with the others in a set, but now get to have one all to myself (my lovely wife objects to any smoke in her beer).

Poured into my big Terrapin snifter, leaving a bit in the bottom of the 500ML bottle for later dispensation. Black. Ring of head like white hair on an aging accountant. Smoke is the primary driver in the smell: really, the only smell. Nothing else parts the curtain.

Fear & Trembling: Mixed Up is par for the course for the triplets. Woodfire blazing up front initially overwhelms the palate, but as the taste buds adjust to the onslaught, other tastes slip in underneath. The cabernet is evident as a dash of wine in the mix underpinned by a healthy, drying factor of oak. Wood-fired bacon is present but doesn't pork the place up. Bourbon? Shows up mainly in the tongue-numbling backdraft, an echo of vanilla & alcohol. 40/60 I could have picked it out without a label, but it does come forward as the beer warms.

Beautiful baltic porter. More subtle & restrained than many barrel-aged brews, it's a good thing the base beer is (presumably) world-class. Excellent beer. Now, to track down a bottle of the bourbon...

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Photo of ShanePB
4.19/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of Capone's last PBW event, 5.5 ounce pour into a miniature snifter glass, served a bit cold but let it warm up to a nice tempature.

A: Extremely deep black for being considered in the Porter family, some very faint dark brown hues line the edges with virtually no head by the time it was poured. No lacing or retention here, either.

S: Smoked wood, pecan, vanilla, dry Cabernet, bourbon and a finishing note of some charred coffee beans. Wonderfully complex and inviting, this blending of all things smokey to the subtle fruitiness of a dry wine is outstanding.

T: Lots of hickory smoked wood and bacon notes up front, nuts (almonds, pecans), a hint of chocolate and finishes with some great mellow bourbon undertones. Again, a great blending of varying flavors, smoke seems to be the constant in this beer.

M: Creamy, lower carbonation, a bit chewy for a Porter but I absolutely loved it.

Honestly, I could sit and sip on this beer all afternoon. The flavors are so intense in the correct proportions and diverse that every sip brings something new to your senses. My first beer from Hill Farmstead and what an impression they left.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle. Drank alongside the other two Fear and Trembling beers.

The beer pours a black color with a tan head. The aroma is pretty similar to the other two beers from this series. I get a lot of smoked malt, chocolate, oak and roasted malt. Not real surprises.

The flavor is not surprisingly, a blend of the other two beers. The chocolate is the predominant flavor, but I also get some oak, bourbon, smoke, roasted malt and peet. There is also some dark fruit notes. Easy to drink. The alcohol is fairly well hidden.

Medium to thick mouthfeel and low carbonation.

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Photo of jale
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to bearsonacid for this.

A: Pours dark brown with two quarters of tan head.

S: Smoked malt.

T: Sweet smoked malt upfront followed by just a hint of wine. I don't detect any bourbon in this. Slight bitter coffee and very mild hops.

M: Medium body with good carbonation.

O: Would like a little more of the bourbon flavors but still a nice drinking beer.

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Fear And Trembling (Cabernet/Bourbon Blend) from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 163 ratings