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Birth Of Tragedy | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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173 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:
173
Ratings:
1,130
Avg:
4.39
pDev:
22.55%
 
 
Wants:
1,065
Gots:
200
For Trade:
23
User Reviews
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Reviews: 173 | Ratings: 1,130
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 Sammy
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

There was some coffee, not so much bourbon because the whole IP was so balanced and tasty and drinkable. One of the best porters I have had. Thanks Tomtom for the hookup.Thick mouthfeel.

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Photo of Gfunk720
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Tucker for this bottle. Out of my HFS stemware.

A- Pitch black and oily, basically no head. No lacing, just an oily slick that lightly coats the glass.

S- Dark fruit and booze primarily, with a touch of oaky/smoke. Some chocolate and vanilla smells as well, and hints of coffee.

T-Amazing blend of vanilla. chocolate, and bourbony oak. It's sweet, but extremely smooth and malty. A nice roasted malt aftertaste, with touches of honey and coffee.

M- Aside from being pretty much flat, the mouth feel is quite good. Probably the only real negative about this beer.

O- Overall this was great, very complex while not being too boozy. Could have used some carbonation, but was a treat none the less. Will have to try it in another year and see how it holds up.

-GFunk

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from tap at the Harvest Festival. Pours an oily syrup black/brown with deep brown head that dissapates quickly. Lots of syrupy lacing. Great sweet chocolate and booze aromas. Taste is just amazing...rich chocolate, lot of booze, slight vanilla. My only gripe is its a bit over-sweet or id give the taste a 5. Smooth and rich mouthfeel.
One of the best porters, if not the best, id ever had. Get this brew ASAP!

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Photo of jlindros
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tap at the Armsby Abbey Hill Farmstead takeover.

Almost no head, pitch black thick syrupy looking beer with nice legs on the sides of the glass.

Nose chocolate galore, bourbon glazed, oak, vanilla, roast, caramel, coffee, syrupy molasses, huge dark malt roasted aroma, pure darkness, earthy hops, aged barrel aroma.

taste oh man! wow, bourbon and barrel mixed with awesome dark stout. Plenty of chocolate dark bakers, dark fruit brandy soaked raisin, caramel, vanilla and oak, barrel goodness. Bourbon is prevalent, oaky and caramel bourbon, light boozy tingle, syrupy sweet heavy thick. Finish of big, syrupy sweet little booze, tons of bourbon and chocolate, coffee and roast, caramel, vanilla, and oak barrel.

Mouth is huge, thick and syrupy, bit of booze, carb is good for the style.

Overall just great, great malts (which I already knew as Twilight was great), great dark flavors, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and barrel additions just add even more awesomeness to it.So great.

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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 mdaschaf
4.51/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Paul for sharing this one.

A: Pours black with a small mocha colored head on top. A small head forms upon pouring, but quickly reduces to a thin ring on top. Very thin lace randomly forms on the glass.

S: Lots of dark fruit upfront, some cherry and plum. Underneath is plenty of chocolate, a little mocha, oak, and some bourbon. The spices and vanilla are rather faint.

T: Great cherry chocolate flavor upfront, the chocolate is quite rich, almost like brownie/fudge. The bourbon comes through very even and smooth, not overpowering at all, with some vanilla and a little oak.

M: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

O: A very good beer, the flavor profile was fantastic - the blend of dark fruit and chocolate was great. The flavors imparted by the barrels blended in very nicely.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.51/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at 2012 Harvest Festival.

Pours an opaque, still and ominous motor oil black with a trace mocha head that quickly dissipates. Aroma has a strong bourbon presence, blending with chocolate, molasses, vanilla, roast coffee, raisin, plum and cocoa (basically everything wonderful). Syrupy, oily thick body with gentle carbonation, little alcohol presence or cloying sweetness. Flavor of a robust porter, roast and chocolate malt, layered with molasses, burnt sugar, vanilla, bourbon. I've had good to great experiences with this (in bottle and draft) and this was one of the great ones.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip. Huge thanks to the sharer at CdC.

A: Clear dark brown body, almost no head. Underwhelming.

S: Spicy, chocolatey, and rich. Vanilla, bourbon, cinnamon, oak, chocolate, and awesomeness. Wow.

T: Sweet and spiritous up front, with bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, and deliciousness. A little boozy, but that's a minor quibble.

M: Lively, creamy medium body. Great.

O: What a terrific beer. I absolutely loved Twilight of the Idols, and this is even better. The base beer and barrel pair beautifully, and it's just an absolute treat. By far my favorite dark beer from Hill Farmstead.

Cheers!

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Photo of rodkin
4.54/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark brown, small tan head, dissipates pretty quickly, minimal lacing.

The nose on this thing is phenomenal. Honey, chocolate, coffee, oak, vanilla, toffee, whisky, all melded together into this wonderful blend. Each sniff produces a new note.

Taste is big on honey upfront, followed by some coffee (though not overly bitter), oak, vanilla, chocolate. Really well done.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, a little low on carbonation.

Wonderfully drinkable. Excellent.

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Photo of Sheppard
4.54/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.54/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into Hill Farmstead glasses.
Pours jet black with toffee colored head. Very minimal head, with great retention.
Smells...holy cow...coffee, chocolate, mint, roasted malt, sweetness, complex.
Taste was right in line with aromas, coffee, chocolate, almost some wintergreen, some mellow sweetness from the honey. Flat out amazing.
Mouthfeel was unique. It was velvety, silky, but not thick. It was refreshing actually.
Overall, this beer is extraordinary. It's balanced with sweetness and roastedness. It's complex. It's utterly delicious and skillfully crafted.

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Photo of steeptrails
4.57/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark, thick body with thin head

S - Bourbon scent invites you in.

T - Strong bourbon and honey; a very nice combo. Coffee wasn't very pronounced. Strong aftertaste that lingers.

M - Thick and sits well on tongue; very pleasant.

O - A terrific brew, one of my top 10. If you like Bourbon County you're gonna love this; it's better IMO.

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Photo of ScotNH
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a very dark brown, nearly black, with a half a finger of a fine mocha colored head that dissipates to a beautiful light swirl.

S - A slight hint of alcohol, very sweet, slightly roasty, and a very faint smell of honey.

T - Extremely well balanced. Begins with a very sweet and smooth coffee flavor, with a hint of honey. Finishes with a roasty, chocolate flavor with a very mild alcohol heat.

M - Medium-full bodied, with light carbonation. Perfect.

O - This is a fantastic bourbon barrel aged porter. It is so well balanced, there are no overpowering flavors. A very mild and smooth alcohol "burn", just enough to remind you this is a serious beer.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: black with mahogany at the edges with a mocha head. S: roasted malts, coffee, honey. T: fruity chocolate, fruity coffee, some honey, red fruit, especially on the linger. Some bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Only slightly sweet - very well balanced with roastiness and bitterness. Some heaviness to the mouthfeel. Delicious.

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Photo of Pahn
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22oz (?) bottle split 2 ways with BA morningthief.

Appearance: Pours black with a tan head and leaves a wall of lacing.

Smell: Coffee and some boozy malt notes.

Taste: Excellent. Coffee, raisin, bourbon soaked brownies, thin mints. I'm not a huge fan of the base beer, but the time in a bourbon barrel did the requisite magic.

Mouthfeel: Soft and creamy. Full side of medium bodied. No dryness, but still excellent.

Overall: Another great Hill Farmstead BBA beer. They're as good or better than Firestone Walker or Goose Island or Fifty/Fifty or the Bruery with barrel aging.

What's there to say? Lots of thin mint, dark fruit, coffee, vanilla. It's an excellent beer.

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Photo of cdmillard
4.59/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Had the opportunity to try this. Had a 500 ml bottle, pored into a Duvel tulip.

This is one of the best tasting beers I have had the pleasure to drink. As previous posts have mentioned, my only issue with it is that it lacks any form of carbonation. Just felt like it was missing something. Otherwise, a fantastic beer. I would do it again...and again...

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Photo of Resuin
4.59/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a stemmed glass. This was bottled 10/2013.

Appearance: Pours a deep, deep brown/black and leaves a finger of brown/dark tan head, which lingers for a short while before fading to a tan layer atop the beer.

Smell: Rich dark chocolate, coffee, charred oak, vanilla, dark fruits, a hint of raspberry. Very well balanced.

Taste: Sweet vanilla, milk chocolate, coffee beans, cinnamon, honey, charred oak, a hint of plum and raspberry. Sweet, but to a nice level (not overly). Again, well balanced with really nice flavors.

Mouth-feel: Low to medium carbonation with a medium to thick, creamy body. Smooth finish - alcohol is masked well.

Overall: Really well balanced porter with a delicious, sweet profile. Really nice, creamy body and a great finish. One of the best porters I've ever had.

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Photo of claaark13
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Brought this to a tasting and got to try an ounce. Intrigued, I was able to track down more. Thanks to the guys that have provided these bottles. Poured slightly too cold into a HF tulip. Warmed and consumed with happiness.

A - Very dark with a very, very slow rising low head. Slight lacing remains. Decent, certainly not spectacular. It sticks well to the side.

S - Coffee, a slight amount of sweetness, likely from the honey. The coffee is a smooth aroma, nothing burnt/harsh. Pretty well rounded. I can't tell if I am smelling the honey or faint vanilla.

T - Coffee, very light yet smooth vanilla. A little bit of dryness tries to come out towards the end but is subdued so well. The finish provides for the sweet coffee to return. There is almost a cocoa or cinnamon poking through the backbone. Chocolate comes out more as the tongue gets coated after a few sips. The barrel is pretty faint and seems to add a couple favorable notes. Great balance.

M - On the thicker side of medium. There is pretty low carbonation, but I somehow still really enjoy the feel. Any heaviness on the tongue seems to be due to the very low carbonation.

O - I love this beer. It presses the barrier between a Porter and a RIS. The barrel seems to be there just complementing and guiding along the base flavors. Very well crafted. I can't imagine a Porter getting any better.

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Photo of JoshVandy
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes:

HUGE shout out to Patrickbrusil for hooking me up with a few of these. He's the man.

500mL bottle into a Hill Farmstead wine glass. Shared with Emmaus217 on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2011.

A- Pours a deep black, mahogany color with a very little dark brown head. Thick and oily. No lacing, only sticky oil residue on the sides of the glass.

S- Sweet chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark fruits. It's all here. Very nice.

T- Fantastic chocolate and bourbon flavors, followed by some oak and vanilla. Nice full roasted malt character in there as well. A slight warming from the alcohol is the only trace of it. Just flat-out fantastic.

M- Silky smooth, not too thick, but not too thin either. No heat to speak of. Seriously, this is levels above any other fresh bal-beer I've had in a long time. Absolutely mind-blowing.

O- Yep. Easily my favorite porter of all time, although it walks a fine line between a porter and a stout. One of the best of last year. Period.

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Photo of rodmanfor3
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a fantastic beer that delivers simplicity in an otherwise complex barrel aged porter.

The flavor is full of chocolate, vanilla, barrel, and honey, with everything blending together nicely.

Nothing is overdone with this beer.

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Photo of schmidtmattsays
4.61/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 11/13. Enjoyed side by side with Twilight of the Idols (base beer).

A: Poured from a 500ml bottle into a HF stemmed tulip. Even less carbonation than the base beer, thick oil-like. Reddish hue on the fridges.

S: Lots of mint, greenery from the base beer still coming through on this - to be sure the oak and the bourbon are definitely front and center. The vanilla from the taste in Twilight of the Idols comes through on the smell with the help of the bourbon.

T: Wood and bourbon from the barrel. Coconut, mint, chocolate, vanilla. Marginal roast.

M: Nice mouthfeel, not as thick and full-bodied as a (good) BA stout but definitely substantial.

O: Great base beer that turns fantastic after the barrel treatment. Would definitely seek out again.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12/16/2011

Bottle courtesy of bring, thanks! Snifter.

A: Black with a finger of dense light brown froth. Retention is good.

S: Pronounced dark chocolate and oak blend with a subtle char and light spicy notes that almost remind me of chili peppers, though I don't think those were added. Vanilla wafts from the glass and I get a whisper of smoke which accompanies a firm bourbon presence, earthy coffee, and faint caramel notes. Roasted grains are pronounced. Smells great.

T: Sweet up front, reminiscent of brown sugar, with a lower earthy bitterness, moderately roasted malt, and pronounced bourbon. Vanilla is light, and coffee is pervasive yet well integrated. For 11% the booze is very tame in the flavor. Cocoa is powerful and I get lighter notes of caramel and vanilla. The finish shows an increase in bourbon character.

M: Full in body with medium carbonation that eventually becomes low due to me swirling the damn glass so much. The mouthfeel is silky, sticky, and smooth.

Overall: I've never had Twilight of the Idols, but Birth of Tragedy is a fine beer.

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Photo of JAXSON
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Robert! Pours black with a medium, sticky mocha foam head. Nose is roasted malt, lightly charred, with a strange sweet liquor that's pretty interesting, blackberry like. Light coffee and bourbon, vanilla. Pretty tight and integrated with that weird spirit edge. Mouth is pretty thin, opens with dry cocoa powder, light char, unfolding into vanilla, this very unique fruity liquor quality, and a long finish with alcohol and vanilla. Soft up front with a sharp dark fruit quality as it lingers. Very unique brew here, the barrel treatment is awesome.

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Photo of s1ckboy
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Very dark body, 1 finger head from aggressive pour that stuck around for a while

S - Oak, A lot of bourbon, a bit sweet, a touch of coffee.

T - At first a lot of bourbon, cinnamon, a touch of coffee and honey. A lot of roasty flavors. Reminds me of KBS, but I think this is better.

M - Medium to thick, with some nice carbonation.

O - An exceptional beer. My favorite so far from Hill Farmstead.

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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.39 out of 5 based on 1,130 ratings.
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