Birth Of Tragedy | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States | website

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by s1ckboy on 11-20-2011

BEER STATS
Reviews:
170
Ratings:
1,112
Avg:
4.38
pDev:
22.83%
 
 
Wants:
1,064
Gots:
191
For Trade:
20
User Reviews
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Reviews: 170 | Ratings: 1,112
Photo of jegross2
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing Birth of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro Bend, Vermont.

Score: 95

2012 vintage bottle served in a taster glass and enjoyed on 02/23/13. Review is from iPhone notes. I reviewed this beer blind (and then later assigned the name to the review).

Appearance: Jet black in color. Pours a thin layer of bubbly, dark khaki head that settles to a pencil thin ring around the glass. No lacing or retention to speak of. 4/5

Smell: Maple, vanilla, coffee and chocolate. Brown, sugar hint of raisin and cinnamon. Wow. 4.5/5

Taste: Bourbon and maple galaore. Less coffee than nose with a nice vanilla backbone. A touch of boozy hotness. Brown sugar and a nice "non-malty" sweetness too. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Not quite full bodied. Low carbonation. Nice sweetness, but not "sweet." Syrupy mouthfeel. 4.5/5

Overall: I had this beer at a blind tasting and it was one of my favorite of the night. Reminded me a lot of CBS, though it was apparent that this was not CBS from the bottle size. Barrel aged breakfast in a glass, this beer was very maple, coffee and vanilla forward. The 2012 vintage has a lot of bottle variation, as I have had some nearly undrinkable bottles that were nothing more than flat, sweet syrup. Thank you Fitz for bringing this one!

Cost: $15 for a 500 ml bottle.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

A-Black in the glass, deep clear amber when pouring, brown head that barely lasts.

S-Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, roasted malt.

T-Starts with bourbon, vanilla, rich chocolate, slight coffee, roasted malt. Great balance.

M-Medium bodied, no carbonation though. Still smooth but needs some carbonation.

O-An amazing beer. Some carbonation, might make it one of the best.

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Photo of Luk13
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Harvest festival. Pitch black with small mocha bubbles as foam. Rich chocolate, coffee aroma with some strong bourbon vanilla notes. Some spices too. Very sweet but the roastiness from the coffee makes it more dry and drinkable. Low carbonation. This is a decadent beer, a sipper for sure.

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Photo of Mini4x
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best porter out there. It's as black as a black hole, light does not even penetrate, Some excellent bourbon flavor from the barrel aging but it doesn't over power the honey and coffee. Worth the trip to Greensboro Bend just for this.

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to mjmadsen21 for trading this IP back in April. 2012 vintage. Poured blind during a tasting from a 500ml bottle into a snifter alongside other bourbon barrel aged beers.

Pours a pitch black color for a porter, with minimal clarity at the edges, as well as a mocha tinged head at the top that slowly dissipates, but leaves a tremendous amount of sticky foam at the sides of the glass. Carbonation is difficult to make out, but it looks pretty good overall.

Smells very diverse - and, just like the KBS that was poured during the same tasting, this smells very less like straight up bourbon and far more like the greatest aspects imparted from the barrels at hand. Slight coffee and roasted characteristics at the front, but this is surprisingly fruity - not like port wine, mind you, but rather of dried dark fruits ranging from prunes to blackberries, and currants. All of this is soaked in an oak forward, caramelized flavor that ranges from toffee to honey (which, amazingly this old, is still quite present), as well as tobacco, cinnamon, and leather. Quite diverse in terms of its flavor profile, but everything falls into place beautifully as a barrel aged beer should.

The flavor is similar, but undeniably fruitier and sweeter at the finish. This still retains all of the excellent roasted qualities I enjoy in these beers, with notes of espresso and a brief fudge like flavor. However, this is quickly replaced by the dark fruit notes (blackberries, blackcurrant) that linger for a good long while in a sweet, juicy manner. This finish gets to the bourbon barrels, but they aren't sweet flavors, mind you - only elegant and refined. Toffee, honey, leather, and a bit of tobacco. Finishes clean with a lingering sweetness and roasted flavor. This being a porter rather than a stout, it somehow became distinguishable throughout the tasting due to its lighter body. While it's 9% ABV, this key different made it far more refreshing throughout - which is exactly why it was notably a favorite among the group. Complex, yes, but nothing too overboard - and, why should it be? It's tasty exactly as it stands.

For my first HF offering, I'm definitely a bit impressed on how good and well balanced this was. It probably was my favorite one at the tasting, mainly in part with it being able to impart so many of the malty roasted qualities, dark fruit notes, and oak flavors that I enjoy in the style, all while being more lighter bodied and refreshing to drink. World class stuff if I ever drank some - I will make sure that I do what I can to find more beers from Shaun Hill and his gang in the future.

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Photo of largadeer
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stupac2 opened this one. Thanks!

Appearance: Viscous dark brown - not quite opaque. A lower-medium level of carbonation produces a thin cap of foam that disappears pretty quickly.

Smell: Sweet bourbon paired with earthy, bitter coffee, toasted coconut, dark chocolate, caramel candies. Really nice nose, heavier on the chocolate and bourbon than coffee. 4.5

Palate: Lots of bittersweet chocolate up front. The barrel has integrated pretty nicely with the base beer, lending caramel, vanilla and oak flavors that don't overwhelm the malt. Coffee is present but somewhat subdued. Alcohol is at a noticeable but mellow and pleasant level. Sweet and rich with a big chewy body. Fantastic stuff.

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Photo of corby112
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a generous trading partner for sending this bottle. I wanted to share this but it's my birthday and I wants it.

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a thin mocha head that immediately fades into a thin ring. Not much in the way of lacing.

Huge malt aroma that's bursting with roasted gourmet coffee, luscious chocolate and a strong barrel presence. Some prominent toasted oak along with sweet bourbon and vanilla notes followed by dark chocolate, oatmeal, coffee bean, dark fruit and toast. Complex and although the bourbon is strong, it doesn't overpower the other notes.

Slightly viscous mouthfeel with a really nice balance of bourbon barrel, molasses, luscious chocolate, dark fruit and boozy heat. Really well balanced even though there is quite a bit of bourbon flavor. Dry toasted oak along with some sweet vanilla flavor and tons of delicious, sweet bourbon. Underneath, there is a nice molasses character that adds fullness to the palate along with a strong dark malt presence. Bittersweet dark chocolate complimented by a slightly roasted, incredibly smooth coffee flavor that never becomes acrid, astringent or harsh. There's a decent amount of boozy heat in the finish but overall the high ABV is very well masked.

Overall this beer is complex, well balanced and extremely flavorful. It's refreshing to find a beer like this that isn't a complete bourbon bomb. Recommended!

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Photo of auroracrisis
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml into two tulips.

Silky black on the pour with a head that dissipates into a ring of foam around the edges after a big, frothy head.

Soft baker's chocolate and bourbon on the nose, with fudge, heavy roasted espresso, and vanilla. Plenty of oak.

Big roasted notes on the tongue with vanilla and coffee. Fudge, and more roast. Awesome balance between the coffee and bourbon.

Heavy medium on the tongue with a silky body. No carbonation to make note of.

Plenty of barrel in this with good coffee, vanilla, and baker's chocolate. Reminds me of KBS with no oatmeal. Would recommend.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.42/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by yourefragile in my kitchen last night, served in a Hill Farmstead becher. If you didn't, you did it incorrectly. At the time of this reivew, this is #3 on the "Top Beers - American Porter" list on beeradvocate.com and on a side note, this is the last beer I haven't reviewed on the "Top Beers - Popular" list (currently #95) on beeradvocate.com. 100/100 tickers, I win beer!

Beer is black and thick with a thin dark brown head of large bubbles, seriously undercarbonated, low retention, no lacing, looks fine.

Aroma is fudge and heat, strong liquor, strong alcohol, lots of chocolate and fudge, nice aggressive nose. Smells dangerous.

Beer is medium to thin in body, not hot at all AT ALL on the palate, the nose is deceiving. This is a relatively easy drinking beer. The back palate falls away quickly and finishes a little thin but not dry. The forward is all sweetness and fudge, chocolate, oak and liquor. Not detectable alcohol on the beer. I love it. I'd have it again. Increase the carbonation in future bottles of this beer to increase the quality, otherwise don't change a thing.

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Photo of sholland119
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the bottle into a Tripel Karmeliet glass.

A-deeply opaque cedary brown with a few bubbles of head that settle quickly into a thin ring.

S-lots of charred oak barrel goodness with a slight sweetness behind. Very nice.

T-oh yes this one has it all. Great oak character and a very pleasant underlying sweetness. Nice bourbon character, hints of marshmallow, rich but not overwhelming.

M-perfect. Rich but not too much. Sweet but not cloying. Hints of alcohol are nicely restrained.

O-pretty awesome overall. Great way to cap off a tough week.
HV

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Photo of ragnar3
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a taster. Big coffee and chocolate, followed by a hint of honey and a slight barrel presence. Well balanced, enjoyable brew!

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Pours a very dark brown. Leaves legs along my small sample cup. Looks like molasses. Surprised this isn't a double digit ABV brew. Aroma isn't all too stressed upon the coffee or the honey; it's more of a blend of all sorts of scents. Maple, dark fruit, and wood come into play here, too. Flavor is even better than the nose. I get more of the coffee but I think the honey adds more to the feel than the flavor. Chocolate syrup, fudge, dark fruit, molasses and maple. Bourbon and alcohol. Very complex. A lot of heat for a beer under 10%, especially with such a full mouthfeel. The feel is amazing. Thick and chewy. Yeah this was another great brew.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 bottle. Black, very black...and flat....very flat. Essentially very little to no carbonation. No lacing, some kind of ring around the glass. Disappointing. Vanilla, oak, bourbon, booze, chocolate....honey. Real nice, very aromatic even for a flat beer. Honey up front, vanilla and bourbon barrelesque flavors, a fair bit of chocolate. Very woody beer. Oily, fatty, rich and thick...but flat. A little cloying, just a little. As tasty as this beer is, and man it does taste good, it is sullied by the lack of prickly bubbles of CO2 escaping from this liquid elixer. I get it though, it is hard to bottle condition a barrel aged beer.

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Photo of fmccormi
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Straight pour from a 500ml pry-off bottle to a 10oz stemmed tasting glass. As with Twilight of the Idols, this beer was sitting in my basement for the past couple/three years, but made the long and treacherous journey to my fridge a couple of weeks ago.

Appearance (3.75): A fairly aggressive pour yields a half a finger or so of dark tan foam, capping a black as night body. It doesn’t hang out for too long, but leaves some light lacing here and there around the glass which is fairly resilient. It’s pretty, and while the head pales in comparison to that of Twilight of the Idols, it fits fairly well for a barrel-aged beer.

Smell (4.0): Cold brewed coffee, some chocolate syrup, dried apple slices, rich toffee, some vanilla and oak, and of course a little bit of bourbon come through. The barrel aging comes through mostly with the sweet, fruity aromas, like roasted apples and toffee. This barrel character is much better integrated and well-rounded than so many others like it.

Taste (4.5): Like the aroma, this is definitely dominated by the barrel, pushing out jammy, dark berry-like notes (some blackberry, buckwheat honey, and a bit of black cherry). Some vanilla, molasses, and treacle comes through after, mixing with a light coffee flavor, dark cocoa, and pumpernickel. The body is velvet-smooth, right up until the finish, when some of the bourbon heat and a slightly tannic, cocoa-forward flavor come up, behind the waves of jammy fruit and then dark, toffee-heavy malt. As barrel-aged stouts go, this is, again, incredibly well-built with a smooth, rounded structure and several diverse layers.

Mouthfeel (5.0): Smooth, smooth, smooth. The body is medium-full in weight and moderately syrupy in feel, showing only very modest carbonation underneath—sparse, fine, and smooth. It’s fudgy, really. There’s a tannic, slightly boozy texture that crops up after a while, lightening up the syrupy weight of the body before the carbonation finally foams up slightly, carrying the beer away in the finish. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Overall (4.5): If I had to choose between this and its base beer, Twilight of the Idols, I’d go with the latter. This is because I enjoy barrel treatments in some beers, but it can be distracting from what makes the beer underneath it so good to begin with—and that’s even if it’s done well. That said, this is done extremely well. The base is outstanding, the barrels used were outstanding, and the resulting beer is—shocker—outstanding. This beer comes off as 40% barrel, 60% base beer, but fortunately it’s so well balanced and blended that it’s not a distraction.

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Photo of billab914
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Rhettroactive for sharing a 500 ml bottle of this the other night. It poured Pitch black with a trace amount of tiny tan bubbles sticking to the edges of the glass. Pretty still looking, but the color is pretty good.

The aroma shows off the coffee and vanilla notes very well. Very light on the bourbon but I get a little brown sugar sweetness. The dark chocolate notes I get are very rich in it and really good.

In the taste I get more bitter sweet chocolate mixing with the roasted coffee favors. Vanilla, brown sugar and some honey sweetness come out in the finish with just a bit of bourbon as well. The roasted, bitter malts and the sweetness of the additions and barrel aging balance each other very well. Very drinkable with some very bold and delicious favors.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied for the style and slick. Carbonation is very low, but I like low carbonation in these type of beers. Overall it had some very good and unique flavors to it. The bold, bitter coffee really worked well with sweeter honey and vanilla flavors. Really good beer overall.

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Photo of TheBronze
4.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

2012, 500ml bottle
Poured into a Hill Farmstead raised snifter.

A - Pours with slight bubbles forming and no head.

S – A very pleasant aroma with soft notes of coffee, honey, and carmel.

T - Very nicely integrated coffee, slight sweetness from the honey, and a light roastiness. A very light barrel presence of wood and bourbon. Overall, a very delicate yet fulfilling taste.

M - Medium body with very light carbonation – just enough to not be considered flat. A very clean feel for this style of beer.

O – I really enjoyed this. Another example from Hill Farmstead of a well integrated beer that is complex yet immensely enjoyable and easy to drink. The only thing holding this back is how lightly it is carbonated. I’d like to try a new release sometime to experience it properly carbonated.

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Photo of Hugonaut13
4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle poured into HF stem. Thanks to cfrances33 for this bottle!

A - Pours a deep black with minimal head. Bubbles retain around the edge of the glass.

S - Smells of roasted coffee and vanilla. No scent overpowers the other. Smells good.

T - Immediately thrown into a pool of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, sweetness. Like a chocolate brownie. All the flavors meld together very well as it warms up. Finishes with some coffee bitterness. Very tasty BA porter.

M - This isn't completely flat anymore. Quite smooth. Low alcohol presence.

O - This is a beer that definitely should be consumed at 50 degrees or higher. At lower temps, the coffee aspect was a bit off putting and seemed like it tried to rush the delicious brownie taste out of your mouth. This beer drinks like BBPt5's little brother.

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Photo of cradke
4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The taste of this is fantastic. The bourbon is spot on, great sweetness from the honey but the lack of carbonation kills this. So thin. Tastes like a stout more than a porter but with a little restraint on the malt. Great overall but just needs some carbonation and body.

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Photo of Phelps
4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared by the always generous ejyoung at a recent Cooters tasting. Poured into a Russian River glass.

No head at all, even after a pretty aggressive pour. Deep black, with maroon at the edges.

Great aroma. Espresso, dark chocolate, honey, smoke, tangy fig, vanilla bean. Bourbon is in the background, as it should be. A perfect blend of all of them.

More sweetness and fruits in the lead in the flavor. Vanilla beans, figs, prunes, smoke, dark chocolate, honey, coffee beans, bourbon. Kind of like a Baltic porter. Sweet throughout with a little heat in the back. Rich.

Very nearly dead flat, with just a hint of tingly carbonation. The body, however, is a thick, viscous medium-full. Swallows like syrup. A touch of tongue-numbing heat, but nowhere near what you’d expect from 11 percent ABV.

A very smooth and tasty blend. It’s thick, but I could drink it all night. Hill Farmstead knows what it’s doing.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BrianTheBrewer30 for sharing this one while waiting in line for Churchill's Renaissance at Churchill's Pub & Grille in San Marcos, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy tan head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. No lacing on this one. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, vanilla, wood, and bourbon. Taste is of dark roasted malt, cocoa powder, vanilla, bourbon, and a woody flavor on the aftertaste. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a medium body. Overall, this is a very good barrel aged porter that is quite tasty and drinkable.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pretty much black in color with a very small khaki head. Intense roasted malt and bourbon aromas. Lots of vanilla notes to it. There's a bit of the honey coming through as well as the coffee. I don't get much spice, though. A nice bit of chocolate in the back ground. The flavor is a touch boozy at first, but otherwise quite nice. Excellent vanilla and bourbon notes with some roast, coffee, and dark chocolate. Really smooth and well done. Medium to full bodied with a low, smooth mouthfeel.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

thanks to pjl44 for this bottle!

poured into a tulip glass.

bottle on date of 10/2013.

drank this side by side with Everett! 8oz pour of BoT and 8oz pour of Everett for comparision of base beer with the barrel aged verison and it adjuncts! Sounds like a fun beer experiment to me!

Appearance: black bodied beer with 1 finger of white head that drops down to a thin head on the beer.

Smell: A fairly mellow nose. Bourbon and honey sweetness. Nutty coffee notes. Oak barrel.

Taste: The beer starts of sweet and barrel forward with bourbon and honey. Milk chocolates. Mild nutty coffee. And the beer nears room temperature, molassess and hints of black licorice begin to emerge. Lingering honey, oak, and bourbon in the finish.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with low carbonation. Super smooth and creamy mouthfeel. This beer drinks rediciously easily like its a 7% abv barrel aged porter! thats impressive.

Overall: You all are going to think that I am crazy, but i like regular Everett better that Birth of Tragedy. This even shocked me as I came to this conclusion... Great complexity and balance are found in this brew. i wish that a more roasty coffee was used in this beer, I think that would have made this beer even better. Its another great Hills Farmstead beer.

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Photo of AlexFields
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Nose is all sweet bourbon, with some sugary sweet chocolate and vanilla and other rich maltiness. This is obviously going to be very sweet, smells delicious.

Taste is extremely sweet, huge bourbon again, chocolate and lots of vanilla and caramel. I didn't know when I was drinking this that it was brewed with honey but I'm not surprised as it is very very sweet. Delicious.

Pretty drinkable for such a sweet beer but the mouthfeel could be slightly more robust.

Great beer, definitely the best of the darker HF beers I've had.

8.7/10

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage. Poured from bottle into glass.

A- pours lack with almost no head, except a small tan ring. No lacing on the glass.

S- huge bourbon nose, at first I thought of scotch because of a peat-like aroma, but then I realized it was just the cinnamon and bourbon.

T- cinnamon, bourbon, faint vanilla, and sweet chocolate

M- medium body and low carbonation. Light and smooth, very drinkable.

O- very good beer. Nose implies a very bourbon forward beer, but the flavors meld very well together.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.32/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle into a couple of glasses. Thanks go to Stakem for sharing this one.

Pours a deep black, with some bubbly edges of dark mocha froth that coat the sides of the glass with spotty lace and gooey brown oils. The aroma smells of charred bourbon warmth, which gives way to notes of coffee, chocolate, brown sugar and a honeyed sweetness. This has a nice density to it with the flavors in the nose.

The taste is similar, with a rich mix of chocolate, honey, coffee, green citrus, a touch of molasses or brown sugar notes on the edges and then a dry and burnt oaky feel on the finish. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a chewy firm creaminess to the carbonation. That 11% ABV naturally brings some alcohol to the table and while it mostly serves to bring out a bit of aggressiveness from some of the more assertive flavors here, it does stick with you for a bit.

I really liked the richness and balance of flavors here but unlike some other recent Hill Farmstead offerings that I’ve had, this doesn’t quite mask its alcohol quite as well as you as I would have liked. It doesn’t doesn’t bring any stinging heat to the profiles or anything like that but does slow the drinkability up a bit. This is still a really nice beer though. Thanks again for sharing it Adam!

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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
96 out of 100 based on 170 ratings.
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