Birth Of Tragedy
Hill Farmstead Brewery

Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Porter - Imperial
Ranked #7
Ranked #210
4.48 | pDev: 8.26%
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy
Notes: Birth of Tragedy is the imperial and oak barrel-aged version of our annual winter porter, Twilight of the Idols. Brewed with locally roasted coffee and Vermont honey, we age this beer for a year in personally selected bourbon barrels from our favorite distilleries.
Reviews: 198 | Ratings: 1,288 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of hopley
hopley from Massachusetts

4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2016 bottle, drank 07.28.20 out of a tulip.

Just spectacular. Beautiful ring of brown head around the edges but not much more than that. Nice dark color. Smelled of mild bourbon and a 50/50 mix of dark/light stout, for whatever that means. Taste was smooth and mild. Perfect mouthfeel, thick and solid but not overly so. Just awesome. The mildness was kind of different from what you'd expect from a beer labeled as a Porter - I'd call it a stout but doesn't really matter to me. I'm sure the age accentuated the all around mildness and smooth feel. Can't wait to try this fresh to see what the differences are. Cheers!

Jul 29, 2020
Photo of emyers
emyers from Illinois

4.45/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into flute glass.

Black with little to no lacing.

Nose: bourbon and vanilla up front, coffee. Some chocolate undertones. Tons of depth and very rich

Taste: similar to the nose. Coffee and vanilla forward with undertones of bourbon. Finish is fairly sweet.

Feel: medium to fill body, low carbonation.

Oct 20, 2019
Photo of Vidblain
Vidblain from Minnesota

5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Kochere variant (apple brandy) - drank 7/13/2019. Bottle opened at Hill Farmstead - incredible surprise. Best beer of the weekend. Layered, rich, amazing apple brandy. So incredible.

Sep 30, 2019
Photo of Ciocanelu
Ciocanelu from Romania

4.6/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black color with creamy brownish head. Aroma is spicy with some liquorice and aromatic herbs. Also dark fruits and whiskey. Taste is bittersweet, roasty, chocolate forward with well integrated bourbon. Medium to full bodied with soft mouthfeel. Overall it's a really well balanced and tasty beer.

Jul 07, 2018
Photo of Sabtos
Sabtos from Ohio

4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Slick oily black with a seemingly headless, smooth silky surface that slowly develops a thin mocha film and a bubbly collar.

The aroma of spiked dark mocha pairs well with the charred oak and sophisticated bourbon that comes with the excellent aging Hill Farmstead has done here. Fire roasted marshmallow and vanilla add a new level of decadence, while some spiced, dusty cinnamon emerges as it warms.

Unbelievably deep, complex and luscious flavors of toasted coconut and nougatty yet dry and charred roasty wood mingle with some spicy, black peppery bourbon, while the cacao and cinnamon come out as light accents on the back end, with mocha becoming more apparent at room temperature.

Slick, smooth and round, the carbonation serves to thin it out a bit with a crisp sort of crunchiness, as the swallow becomes a little warm and then sharply dry.

Jesus Christ do they really know how to improve their base beers with bourbon barrel aging--I'm not sure any other brewery does it this well. I didn't really like Geneaolgy, yet found GoM to be great. The same was true for Twilight of the Idols, yet this was a complete knockout for me. Normally my preferences are often the opposite at other breweries, so major props, yet again, to HF.

Jul 07, 2018
Photo of JLK7299
JLK7299 from North Carolina

5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hill Farmstead is plain and simply the best brewery I have ever been to. I would say that it is the best of all time but who really knows? Everything I have had from there, I'm not sure if you could find anything wrong with it.

May 11, 2018
Photo of darktronica
darktronica from Indiana

4.34/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2016 batch, hard to tell what month due to a smudge on the date stamp. The honey is still a standout, lending a natural sweetness and floral aroma as a counterpoint to the base porter's roasted bitterness, and drying out the finish. The earthy, nutty coffee is less obvious on the nose but still shows up on the palate, alongside an obvious, but not dominating, bourbon and oak character from the barrel. Moderately full body with an exceptionally smooth mouthfeel.

Mar 28, 2018
Photo of Radcpa
Radcpa from Washington

4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Very dark appearance with slight tan head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is a pleasant bourbon and coffee blend. Taste is also a pleasant mild blend of bourbon and coffee.

Jan 03, 2018
Photo of gcamparone
gcamparone from Rhode Island

4.44/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 9.21.16, almost a year old. Poured from a 500mL bottle into a hill farmstead tulip. Purchased at the brewery.

Pours a deep brown body with a nice, frothy three finger heads that reduces to a ring of foam and leaves spotty lacing.

Aromas are very inviting, sweet bourbon, coffee, milk chocolate, honey, sweet vanilla. On the tongue it's pretty sweet, caramel and sweet milk chocolate, developing into vanilla and bourbon, chocolate cake, coffee. The finish is roasty and charred, a lightly bitter coffee / toasted malt flavor that sticks on the tongue for a while. Mouthfeel is rich but not too thick, sweet and decadent. Medium-low carbonation.

A real winner from Hill Farmstead. This release is drinking great, complex yet balanced with tons of flavor and a good bourbon presence.

Oct 01, 2017
Photo of IvoryFoxhole
IvoryFoxhole from Virginia

4.45/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Sep. 2016 Batch. Says to drink within 6 months. Oops. At least I kept it cold. 500 mL bottle poured into snifter and let warm.

L: Pours completely dark with 1F tan head with good retention. Leaves no lacing, but persistent cap and ring.

S: Bourbon barrel, honey, coffee, and roasted malts. Always odd to have honey and coffee together, but it seems to work here.

T: Man this is good. These flavors shouldn't work together, but they do. Coffee and bourbon barrel up front and then honey comes in and persists through the finish. It comes thisclose to running away with it and being too sweet, but stays on the good side. You also get some dark fruits and orange peel up front and in middle. Lots going on here, really.

F: Full-bodied, obviously. This drinks like the ABV is significantly higher than listed here (there is nothing on the bottle). Not much in the way of carbonation. Construction just dead-reckoning perfect, balance fantastic.

O: Well, wait are you waiting for? Jump in your cars and hope they have some at the brewery (I think this is a fall release).

Jun 30, 2017
Photo of GreesyFizeek
GreesyFizeek from New York

4.81/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'16 batch, I think.

This one pours a dark silky looking black, with a small head, and just a little bit of lacing.

Smells just absurd- honey, bourbon, maple sugar, oak, vanilla, fruity coffee, dark chocolate, etc.

This is one of the luxurious beers I've ever had. There's just a ton going on here, and everything is in perfect balance and harmony, which is impressive. The coffee used here is not bitter in the slightest, with fruity and chocolatey overtones, like chocolate-covered cherries. I also get bourbon, honey, and maple. The bourbon is sweet and doesn't really add any heat to this, at all. There's creamy vanilla, a hint of earthy tobacco and light cinnamon. This is absurdly tasty.

The mouthfeel on this is so killer, so creamy and balanced, like drinking silk. The carbonation level is lower.

This is probably the best barrel aged porter out there. It's nearly perfect.

Jun 27, 2017
Photo of Chuckdiesel24
Chuckdiesel24 from Illinois

4.65/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2011 version. Had a 4 oz pour at the brewery.
L: Close to black. Not much head, but the thin line did stay around for a while.
S: Mildly spicy coffee, oak.
T: Chocolate and coffee. Oak barrel, and a little bit of booze to it, but that seems to have settled to the background.
F: Super Smooth and rich.
O: so it's 6 years old. Older than my 2 kids lol. Had to argue with the wife over how much she was allowed to drink :)

Jun 05, 2017
Photo of Phyl21ca
Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

4.21/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color porter with a deep brown color head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of coffee with some bourbon notes and nice vanilla notes. Taste is a complex and rich mix of nice vanilla notes with bourbon and rich black chocolate notes and a sweet honey-laced finish. Body is full with deep oily texture and good carbonation with hints of warming alcohol notes. Very rich porter but a bit too much honey for my taste.

May 07, 2017
Photo of jhavs
jhavs from New York

4.49/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Most recent batch bottle poured into fluted snifter.

Very dark, near black and mostly opaque. Not thick, but able to block light out effectively. Head is light brown and settles slowly.

Aroma has hint of spice, medium roast coffee and floral sweetness. The oak is definitely noticeable with just a slight hint of the booze after warming.

Flavor is bold. Lots of wood, vanilla, and the earthy bourbon flavors push forward. The coffee flavor is dark and bitter, but balances the sweetness of the honey and bourbon well.

Smooth, hint of alcohol burn remains, moderate carbonation. Just under full body.

The barrel aging adds a ton of complexity to this already flavor packed base brew.

May 03, 2017
Photo of wordemupg
wordemupg from Canada (AB)

4.44/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one at a tasting a ways back, from notes
Cinnamon, nutmeg, more wood then bourbon, coffees late, honey comes through as maple, licorice, a little smoke in the mouth but it might just be burnt coffee, sticky on the lips…

Apr 17, 2017
Photo of Furlinator
Furlinator from California

4.28/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2016.
Pours opaque and near black. A half inch beige head forms and settles as a thick ring on top and leaves strands of lace. The smell is of burnt wood and faint coffee. The taste is of roasted malt, honey, black cherries, coffee and subtle bourbon notes. Thick texture with medium carbonation. I was expecting more coffee presence. This is a world class porter nonetheless.

Apr 05, 2017
Photo of KevSal
KevSal from California

4.43/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

i've had this guy before and thought it was alright. this is the most recent batch

500ml poured into a perfect stout glass

looks good in the glass, completely dark with a khaki head. darker than expected

aroma brings forth bourbon, some sweetness, tasty malts, some more oak and alch at the tail end

taste follows the aroma, but the oak wallop is fantastic! much more vanilla in the flavor. finishes sweet with some alch. malts have some baltic porter notes

mouthfeel really carries this one. alch is still present, unusual for hf. but the velvet body really makes this nice

overall i wasn't expecting to enjoy this one so much. real tasty, i wouldn't mind having it again. a few steps behind gom tho

Apr 03, 2017
Photo of troupos40
troupos40 from New Jersey

4.06/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This one was a slight disappointment, all honey, no coffee, maybe I should have drank it sooner but you figure a BA Porter would hold up with in 6 months of bottling. Not bad, but did not live up to its billing

Mar 23, 2017
Photo of rabbott2
rabbott2 from Illinois

4.65/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

most recent batch (didn't note the date) drank on 3/4/2017

L-not overly thick, deep dark brownish black, tan head

S/T-BOOM! just fantastic combination of heavy oak, bourbon and milk chocolate, with some additional sweetness coming through from the honey and a hint of vanilla too and the coffee is subdued. Boy this is glorious

F-drinkable for sure. no booze

Overall-the smell and taste explain it all. Glad I have another one of these as this was just fantastic. Definitely underrated and I will seek out more of this.

Mar 06, 2017
Photo of Hootie159
Hootie159 from Massachusetts

4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

From bottle. Near black. Dark head dissipated to slicks. Smell is elegant. Good, clean malts. Surprised this isn't BA. Has a rich caramel and vanilla element. Sweet and smooth. HF feel never disappoints. Great beer.

Feb 19, 2017
Photo of OleDixie
OleDixie from Pennsylvania

4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark pour with a tan head that leaves a ring around the glass as you drink it. Roasted malts and coffee on the nose with some bourbon barrel. Honey sweetness blends nicely with coffee, oak, dark fruits, dark chocolate, and bourbon. My lips were sticky after the first sip. A nice, thick body on this beer. Overall, a very tasty beer.

Feb 09, 2017
Photo of BeantownBrews
BeantownBrews from Massachusetts

4.72/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Beautiful pitch black pour with a moderate khaki head
Smell of honey is up front, back end a hint of barrel and almost nutmeg
Wonderfully complex, a bit of vanilla, coffee and a spice I can't but my tongue on (maybe a touch of cardamom?) fades into sweet honey and a lovely bourbon finish with pleasant heat
For the style, the mouth feel is perfect not too thin, coating but drinkable
Overall, really glad I got to try this one and will certainly seek it out again

Jan 31, 2017
Photo of MLDucky
MLDucky from Texas

4.49/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drinks like a stout. Dark roast flavors, and a really nice vanilla and bourbon added from the barrel. Complex as a porter can be. Don't expect a huge BA stout, it is a porter after all, but if you want a well made example of an imperial with stout like characteristics, this is the one.

Jan 11, 2017
Photo of edthehead
edthehead from New York

4.6/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This thing is way under the radar. Black pour, thick dense head, and lots of bourbon and vanilla to enjoy on the nose and palate. Smooooothness and Drinkability is the story on this one!

Dec 10, 2016
Photo of Sheppard
Sheppard from Virginia

4.54/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with tan head. There's some barrel aroma, vanilla and booze. It really is super balanced, delicate, and well finessed. The honey seems to subdue the barrel character or at least keep it from being as heavy handed as some other BBA stouts. There's some chocolate in there too. It's super smooth to the point where the bourbon punch is a pinch. BoT is just a phenomenal porter.

Dec 01, 2016
Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 99 out of 100 with 1288 ratings