Birth Of Tragedy | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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183 Reviews
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Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
hillfarmstead.com

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:
183
Ratings:
1,193
Avg:
4.39
pDev:
8.66%
 
 
Wants:
1,062
Gots:
207
For Trade:
23
User Reviews
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Reviews: 183 | Ratings: 1,193
Photo of fdig23
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased at the brewery December 2012. Consumed in August 2013.

Appearance: Deep dark black and a really tiny khaki head.

Nose: Super rich dessert. Almond liqueur, sweet vanilla oak, rich milk chocolate, frothy latte. Delicious.

Taste: Sweet and intense. Coconut milk, almonds, chocolate, frozen coffee drinks. Candied, luscious, delicious.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth and perfectly thick.

Overall: This is great. A big improvement over an already excellent beer. This is an ideal dessert beer for me.

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Photo of MLDucky
4.49/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color with a one inch cap of beige foam that leaves some strands of lacing behind

Smell: Dark chocolate, with hints of Bourbon, dark fruit and coffee

Taste: Dark chocolate, up front, with growing elements of Bourbon, dark fruit and coffee through the middle; really big flavors, that reach a crescendo after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, somewhat creamy, with moderate carbonation

Overall: We don't see many Hill Farmstead beers here in NC but when someone has one, it is always going to be a treat

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Photo of Stevedore
4.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle from the recent 2013 vintage (date 11/2013), thanks FleetwoodMatt for sending this one over. Poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 1/2/2014.

Looks stout-ish in its appearance. Pours a dark black body, not viscous like motor oil. With a one finger dark brown head that retains quite well for a barrel aged beer. Eventually, after a few minutes, it becomes a thick brown collar and thin mocha film. Bits of lacing remain on the glass as the beer goes down. Looks very nice and dark.

Smells great. I just had Twilight of the Idols a few days ago and this reminds me of a very dark chocolatey version of it. Some sweet bourbon but not a ton; but plenty of dark chocolates, dark fruits (kind of like Surly Darkness) and espresso. A small bit of toffee, green mint and cinnamon in the background, with a dry oakey finish. There's really a lot going on in this beer for sure, and it deserves some time on its own to savor the nose.

Damn! This beer is bourbon chocolatey on top of the winter porter characteristics that Twilight of the Idols has. It also brings more dark fruit characteristics into the beer, I almost want to say port-like, but it's not quite that sweet- more akin to raisins and dried figs. Dark chocolate bitterness and flavours, freshly made espresso bitterness, toffee sweetness, bourbon sweetness (and accompanying heat which is most apparent on the backend). A dry oakiness is apparent on the finish. There isn't as much of that "mint vanilla ice cream" flavour that I get from Twilight of the Idols, but rather more of the dark chocolate bourbon flavours. In fact, it doesn't really remind me at all of Twilight of the Idols- this is an imperial porter with bourbon barrels imparting a lot of character on it to make it unique.

Medium bodied, on the thicker side. Creamy, silky smooth and well-carbonated. Back end is a slick, oakey bourbon chocolate sweetness that makes it simultaneously a sipper and a quaffer. Leaves a nice warm sticky sweetness on the palate with each swallow. Just the right amount of retrosternal heat that is very enjoyable and great during a winter snowstorm like this one that's going on outside right now. I had no problem drinking the entire 500ml bottle on my own.

Delicious BA imperial porter. I definitely like this one over Twilight of the Idols, especially for a cold, windy and snowy night like this one. Both are phenomenal beers, but this is another case where the bourbon barrels transform an excellent base beer into an even better, more complex and more enjoyable beer. The smell is still remniscent of Twilight though. Highly recommended!

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Photo of Jeffo
4.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Have heard lots of good things about this beer, so stoked to get a chance to try it. This one came in a recent trade with jbeatty. Thanks again man. All these HF brews were top class!

From a 500ml bottle into a snifter
Brewed with coffee and honey and aged in bourbon barrels.

APPEARANCE: Dark brown pour, somewhat transparent, yields a small, medium looking, light tan head with decent retention. Fades to a light wisp and ring with some bubbles on top. Black body, opaque, with lower levels of carbonation evident. A ring and splotchy wisp remain until the end and leave some dots of lacing down the glass. Pretty solid looking.

SMELL: Big nose right off the pour. Roasted malts and burnt coffee beans for sure, with some light honey and a good dose of bourbon, oak and vanilla from the barrels. A light touch of pure, dark chocolate and molasses are detectible as well. Bold and impressive stuff, and everything balances wonderfully.

TASTE: Some bourbon barrel up front initially with some touches of sweet honey and caramel. More of the base beer comes through at the swallow, but it is still much more bourbon barrel forward than the nose had indicated. Bourbon, oak, vanilla and some sweet honey at the finish, with notes of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate as well. The barrel dominant aftertaste is big and persistent, with just a touch of sweet honey and caramel and chocolate notes trying to push through. This is flavorful and delicious, but not quite as well balanced as the nose. Still, an absolutely decadent treat.

PALATE: Medium full body with medium levels of carbonation. Slightly creamy, though a bit prickly on the palate, goes down fine and finishes mouth-coating. A slight burn and some heat lingers after the swallow. Pretty decent feel, though a touch hot still maybe.

OVERALL: This was a really tasty treat. The nose on this thing is out of this world, with plenty of bold aromas and a fantastic balance between the base beer and adjuncts on the one hand, and the barrel on the other. The taste is also fantastic, but the barrel pushes the balance just a touch off center. In the end, this is a phenomenal brew and is another chapter in the brilliant imperial porters that Hill Farmstead seems to be brewing up. I would more than love to have this again at some point. Thanks again jbeatty. Whole-heartedly recommended.

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Photo of CrellMoset
4.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle courtesy of new trading partner as part of a recent trade - thanks! Poured in to a 22 oz. brandy snifter.

Appearance: A vigorous pour - a really vigorous pour, I'm talkin' straight vertical, 180 degree, glug-glug-glug vigorous - creeps and crawls out of this bottle like used engine oil, smashing and sloshing in to the snifter. It's obscenely thick, viscous, and you can tell right away this one's gonna be a sugar bomb. Even that most extreme of pours only coaxes (gradually, very gradually) three-quarters of a finger of dark tan but not-quite-cocoa head out of depths, settling in to a creamy, meringue-like foam for about a minute before it relaxes to a loose, bubbly collar, much like chocolate milk when you aerate it (you know, like if you were to shake up one of those half pints that you used to get in grade school before pouring in to one of those crappy little poly-plastic glasses you used to get in grade school). Despite the relative lack of retention (which, of course, is forgiveable given the barrel aging and abv%), there are still dribs and drabs of lace that cling to the side of the snifter, quickly drying and leaving patterns throughout the drink.

Aroma: The honey is very prominent in the nose, a sweet, vaguely fruity presence, hinting at tropical and spicy notes, sort of like the cane sugar you get out of processed canned fruits but without any of the negative connotations that very approximate simile is encumbered with. The sweetness rolls in to the underlying malts, bringing the earthy, toastiness around to creamed coffee, the cocoa around to milk chocolate, and the handful of lighter roasted notes around to well-kilned toffee. The barrel presence is definite, too, with hints of char, vanilla, and caramel all being augmented by the added sweetness in different ways. The caramel and vanilla overtones, in particular, combine to take on the obligatory crème brûlée gestalt when cast over the honey notes.

Taste: A thing of beauty. The thickness and richness of the nose don't prepare you for the delicate balance of the mouth, which is sweet, sure, but has a ton of fruity esters, malty overtones, and earthy underpinnings to balance the whole thing out. Up at the very top of the range are bright fruits, hints of grapes, apricots, and slightly heavier notes like cherry all the way down to plump, juicy, sweet raisins and dates. The sweetness also augments the malts in ways similar to what I described above in the aroma. The barrel notes are a little less forward than in the nose - sweet, caramel bourbon is strong, and the oak sort of slides behind the other "extracted" barrel notes, each of which lends itself well to being "sweetened." All in all, the flavor is incredibly well-rounded, showcasing a little bit of everything.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, slick, slimy, and s-mildly effervescent. It works pretty well given the flavor components here - the sweetness is balanced by the persistent and slight carbonation, but none of what otherwise be fairly abrasive notes are augmented by excessive carbonation.

Overall: A really excellent beer from one of the biggest "up and coming" breweries out there. A definite treat, as it is on the sweeter side. Dry this out a smidge - either by adding less honey or letting it attenuate a little longer - and you'd have a true world-class brew here. As it stands, it's merely excellent, a whole greater than the sum of its parts, and surprisingly easy to put away at 11.0%.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a wine taster. the color is very dark brown and appears black. There is no head, and a couple bubbles appear from a bit of agitation.

The aroma is full of vanilla, raisins, fig, chocolate, with a touch of bourbonesque booze. Pretty much the perfect barrel aged beer aroma.

The taste is sweet vanilla and chocolate, with a nice bitter chocolate finish that leaves a lingering bourbon sting. This is the only barrel aged Hill Farmstead beer that picked up a strong component of the barrel, most are a bit more subtle. This makes me happy.

This is thick and heavy. This is probably undercarbonated by most people's standards, but I don't think it lowers the drinkability at all if any. I enjoy the smoothness.

Another top notch beer by Hill Farmstead. I'm hoping my other bottle at least pours a bit prettier.

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Photo of Hootie159
4.48/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of jegross2
4.47/5  rDev +1.8%
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 +1.8%
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 +1.8%
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 +1.6%
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 +1.4%
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 +1.1%
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 wordemupg
4.44/5  rDev +1.1%
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…

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Photo of corby112
4.44/5  rDev +1.1%
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 +1.1%
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 KevSal
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
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

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Photo of drabmuh
4.42/5  rDev +0.7%
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 +0.5%
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 +0.5%
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 +0.2%
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 +0.2%
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%
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%
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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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.39 out of 5 based on 1,193 ratings.
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