Phenomenology | Hill Farmstead Brewery

Liked This Beer
4.35 w/ 18 ratings

Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This is the base beer for Phenomenology of Spirit and is un-oaked.

Added by Gobzilla on 02-25-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 18 |  Reviews: 9
Reviews by Deuane:
Photo of Deuane
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up at the brewery during a recent visit.

A-Deepest darkest brown/black with a thin tan head that hangs on strong and leaves decorative webbing lace.

S-Rich, moist earth, light apple wood smoked cherries, fresh hung, wet tobacco, fresh cut red oak and a touch of roasted malt. Aroma is quite engaging, interesting and quite complex.

T-WHOA! Massively complex with a swirl of spice, smoke and earthy bitterness. Spiciness shines through but not overly so and accents the cornucopia of flavours more than it dominates them. Oak and cherry astringency along with a touch of leather in the drying finish. Very interesting stuff for sure!

M-Medium body and quite sharp with a light tartness sneaking through the drying finish. Long lingering earthy bitterness.

D-A complex beer to say the least. It almost wears my palate out but then I think it is so damn interesting I continue to want more! A fantastically complex, interesting brew with tons of depth. Well done Shaun!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Billolick
4.05/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

32 ounce growler filled up at DeCicco's in Ardsley, NY.

Pours pretty darn dark, black in fact, dark mocha head, creamy and long lasting, leaves lucious sheeting. Herbal and woody nose, with more then hints of ripe bananas.

Flavorful brew, more bananas, darker malts, smoke, some charred wood. Pepper in the rear.

Different, doesn't really hit me as any sort of saison/farm house ale. Tastes more like a stout truth be told...tasty enough, quality offering, just not exactly what was advertised...whatever

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Photo of beenitty
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Like most HF beers, it got alot of buzz so I was pumped to try it.

Growler fill from Decicco's Ardsley: Thanks Alex!

A: Dark brown, virtually black, darkest of saisons. Insanse amounts of spiderwebby lacing everywhere. Looks great.

S: Lots of fruit, but not fruity. Tough to distinquish. Apples, Banana, others I cant quite make out. Spices as well. Very Nice

T: Heat and Spice up front. Then smooth faint fruit notes of the apple/banana blended with the malt, slight bitter aftertaste.

M: Good but left me kinda confused about where the beer went. Good carbonation but the flavors of the taste kinda dissapeared after once my sip was over. Fruit notes accumulate but kinda left me hanging.

Alot of saisons IMO dont leave alot on the palate. Considering the look and smell, the mouthfeel felt too fleeting.

D: High. Most saisons are good session beers and this is no different.

This is a great beer. I probably built it up too much as alot of ppl were raving about the complexity. I didnt get that in my tasting but definitely a great crafted saison. Try it if you get the chance.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ The Farmhouse (Burlington, VT) on 2/19/11. Served in a wine glass. This is the base Saison that was used in the recent bottle release of the Phenomenology of Spirit collaboration beer. As per the brewer, please note that that beer relase was only bottled and that any seen as advertised on draft is actually this beer.

This pours black, with a ½ finger of tight yet creamy mocha colored head. This keeps some richness on the edges, with more of a wispier look in the center, while ringing the sides of the glass with some nice looking sticky lacing. Soft fruit and funk flavors sit right at the top of the aroma, mixing with additional notes of musty earth and spice. Roast and citric hops sit underneath and digging deeper even pulls up a touch of cocoa sweetness. Just a smidge of alcohol works its way in as well, adding some light warmth to the nose.

The taste is fairly bitter right off the bat, with dark roast and bitter citric fruit taking control. About half way through the glass though, things really starts to open up and come together nicely, as that dark bitterness starts to meld with softer notes of earthy fruit, spice, and some light chocolate sweetness. The more funky and fruity flavors of the brett really starts to emerge as this warms, just hanging on the edges of the profile and then pulling together into the finish with a warm and dry feel that lingers on the breath after each sip. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and has an overall pretty lively and sharp feel that bounces all of those flavors around in the mouth. The ABV is well hid with alcohol notes being masked by the complex flavors here.

It took a bit for this to get going, but once it did, I really started to enjoy it. Even as more balancing yeast and bretty notes emerged and this grew more complex, this never did lose its Dark Saison character, as this stayed fairly roasty and bitter the whole way through. I was very impressed with the complexity of this. I can't wait to crack into my bottle of Phenomenology of Spirit and see how the barrel has added to it, as the base Saison here is quite good.

 2,109 characters

Photo of phingdong
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Growler courtesy of Todd's continuing generosity with Hill Farmstead beers.

A: Pours a very, very dark brown that is just about black. There is a finger or so of tan foam perched on top.

S: As expected, quite a bit of roasted malt and a touch of char on the nose. Lots of yeast and some spicy phenols, mainly pepper. There are some nice earthy and chocolate notes and a surprising touch of banana.

T: Lots of banana on the flavor, which provides a nice sweetness and even a touch of creaminess. Solid dark chocolate and roasted malt flavors help to balance that out. Yeast which reminds you that you're drinking a saison and just a bit of tart dark fruit.

M: Medium in body with a moderate level of carbonation.

D: This was a really solid beer. Apparently the yeast being used for the saisons is going to be changing, which would definitely make it more "saison-like", but this one is good as is.

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Photo of HopStoopid120
5/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of Gobzilla
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured a dark brown in color with brown highlights and had a thin frothy head leaving plenty of lacing sticking to the glass

S: definitely had some dark fruit aroma upfront with apple, pear, some banana and mild bretty funky notes but had a little brown sugar roastiness.

T: the banana flavor was more potent on the palate with applesauce,pear, mild roasty, spice, brown sugar accents and a touch of bretty funky notes.

M: the brew was medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, fruity, mild roasty, and silky finish.

D: it was drinking pretty damn good and was a nice twist on the saison style but was pretty tasty too.

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Photo of Mini4x
5/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of dunix
5/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of yourefragile
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lucky enough to find this on tap at the Pitcher Inn in Warren, VT the same weekend I got to try Phenomenology of Spirit and Phenomenology of Flora at HF.

This pour looks even less like a traditional saison than the oaked or blended versions do. Near black with a mahogany/maroon hue. Bubbly light beige head that has good retention and leaves extreme amounts of web like lacing. Aroma is surprising at first, and quickly becomes intriguing and enjoyable. I didn't make the hefe connection like previous reviews when sampling, but that jumps out now. Instead I picked up on more of the dark fruits (plum, cherry) and mild chocolate and burnt aromas. Some underlying spice and if I twist my mind just right I can believe this is a "saison".

The saison yeast and earthy spiciness are more present in the base of the flavor but again this quickly becomes dominated by brown sugar, plums, apples, jam, chocolate and mild roast. Medium bodied, with lighter than expected carbonation. Combination of the lacking body and rich, sweet flavors is the lowpoint of this otherwise enjoyable beer. The end result of this makes perfect sense as a saison even if the description of the individual components fail to suggest it.

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Photo of maximum12
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Grateful for having a few full glasses of this brew roll out of the brewery, fall into a truck, & land on my doorstep, somehow intact. Enjoying with my wife on the eve of her departure on a warm, sunny vacation without me (sniffle, sniffle).

Pour is dark, dark, with snippets of brown around the edges only when held up to naked UV rays. Smell breaks some color barriers; like a hefe, this one sports strong banana, plus a bit of wheat, spring grass, cloves. Somebody cloned a hefe & stuck the nose on this dark creature. Nice.

Phenomenology mixes beer genres with eyebrow-lifting abandon. Ditto the nose, banana is the biggest factor. Big oak notes underneath join with the yeast & mild roast to confuse the palate even more. Dark fruit, hops bitterness flash in & out of the senses. Light caress of gentle funk emerges into the light as the beer continues to warm, just enough, not too much. Smooth & easy-drinking, this could be one of the few saisons you could sip while manning the grill.

Very good beer. Saison? Not really, but who cares, this one gets points for originality. If you can color outside the lines & end up with a brew like this, there's not much need for lines anymore.

 1,196 characters

Photo of rodmanfor3
4.12/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of jaasen64
4.41/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -8%

Photo of DCLAguy11
4.09/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of ffejherb
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Deuane for sharing a growler on 3/20/11.

A - Jet black with deep purple hues, this liquid is impervious to light. A bubbly beige cap sits on top, which gives way to a patchy veil that flared up with each swirl of my tulip, leaving behind some spotty lacing. Easily the blackest Saison I've ever come across.

S - Dark fruit, light smoke and herbal hop notes comprise the base of this Saison. Hints of tobacco, chocolate, wet hay and spiced plum add depth and complexity to the aroma.

T - Dark front is at the forefront, followed by a healthy dose of herbal spices and a subtle funky sourness suggesting barnyard notes and wet hay. The initial flavor segues into plenty of herbal hop bitterness that lasts through the backend, then combines with a hint of smokiness and roasted malt, giving the finish a somewhat herbal, medicinal bite.

M - Medium bodied with subtle carbonation and a slight syrupy texture, though kind of watery overall. Finishes with plenty of bitterness and a bit of sourness on the palate.

D - Phenomenology is an amazingly complex Saison with a pleasant smokey character, plenty of signature farmhouse attributes and quite a bit of hop bitterness. A unique and tasty brew for sure!

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Phenomenology from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 100% out of 100 with 18 ratings
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