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Birth Of Tragedy | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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BA SCORE
96
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170 Reviews
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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:
1,111
Avg:
4.38
pDev:
22.83%
 
 
Wants:
1,063
Gots:
191
For Trade:
20
User Reviews
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Reviews: 170 | Ratings: 1,111
Photo of prdstmnky
4.29/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Been really lazy and slacking on written reviews, so figured why not start here!

500 ml bottle into a tulip, aggressive pour yields a finger of creamy mocha head. Some light lacing on the glass. Very dark with some auburn hues when held up to the light. Big alcohol aromas when I popped the cap, which was a bit worrisome but after pouring the smell was much more pleasant in the glass - a nice combination of bourbon, coffee, hints of chocolate, and some honey / vanilla sweetness.

Taste is pretty much inline with the nose, definitely opens up as it warms. Bourbon is certainly prominant but balanced nicely by the coffee, and sweeter notes on the back end - tasty. I really like the mouthfeel of this beer, its not quite like a thick stout, but certainly coats the tongue. Carb is a bit low, but not to the point of taking away from the experience.

Another solid offering from the Hill. Dont think I like it more than Everett, and haven't reviewed Twilight yet (coming soon), but very enjoyable on a cold night!

 1,017 characters

Photo of spicelab
3.81/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

500mL bottle with props to MrKennedy. 2012 I think. Reviewed from notes.

Inconspicuous black with a small mocha head that animates nicely with agitation.

Nose has a quite delicate bourbon canvas supporting notes of fennel, liquorice, rich molasses, tar and some mild phenolics.

Similar but sweeter from the honey and appreciable vanilla barrel contingent. Choc-caramel slice, cola, maple syrup and dried figs.

Light to medium with restrained carbonation and slight booze warmth on the back end. Would barely have guessed this was 7% let alone 9%

This is really well crafted, but lacks a little punch and complexity for a large-ish BA stout/porter.

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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 ehammond1
4.04/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Bottle (2012)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, AdamJackson!

(Aged for ~9 months)

Black throughout. Shiny. Very little carbonation; nearly completely flat. Leaves the glass near clean on the way down.

Rich, complex aroma of chocolates, mild coffee, barrel notes of bourbon, oak, and mild vanilla. A bit of an alcohol presence on the aroma. A touch of nuttiness as well, interestingly.

The flavor is similar to the aroma, with tons of chocolate, coffee, barrel, and mild nut and alcohol components combining. Very drinkable.

Medium and slick in body, with basically zero carbonation. Could really use just a little bit of carbonation.

Fantastic aroma and flavors, but lacking in the body/mouthfeel department, unfortunately.

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Photo of fdig23
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

 511 characters

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.77/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip from a 500ml bottle.
2012 Vintage.

Pours a gorgeous viscous dark black liquid with a nice quarter inch tan head. The head is dense but recedes fairly quickly down to a nice thin film and a thicker ring around the glass. Head like a frothy espresso.

Aroma is simply marvelous. Perfect roasty notes of coffee and burnt malts mix in perfectly with a cocoa powder and milk chocolate sweetness with a tinge of dark cocoa. Some oat notes can be perceived as well in the nose. So perfectly layered like a rich chocolate cake. Coffee notes are present but not overdone exquisite nose. The back end of the nose leads you into the nice vanilla and caramel of bourbon barrels along with mild oak. Complex and well blended aromas.

Here goes nothing. Mouthfeel is rich and velvety. Amazing low carbonation lets you experience all the flavors with enough cleaning and bubbly power to leave you wanting more. Wow. Taste starts off with some mild boozy heat followed by an amazing coffee note that plays ever so slightly yet perfectly with great sweet honey notes. The honey is a robust sweetness that give the brew some oomph but isn't sugary or cloying. AS the brew progresses there is a nice blend of oat-like notes with milder roasted malts and of course a nice powdery dark cocoa note that has equal sweetness and bitterness. As the brew warms the sweetness of the honey starts to blend very well with all the notes as opposed to being a stand alone flavor. Complex, creamy and delicious brew.

Overal, this brew floored me. Its pretty amazing. The mouthfeel is legit. Amazing creamy, silky and velvety smooth. Pretty sticky too. Nice roasted malt notes fill the palette but play second fiddle to awesome honey and bourbon sweetness with some cocoa to boast.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.84/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Batch 2 (flat batch). pour us jet black with no head even with a vigorous pour. The nose is very nice, rich chocolate cake with a strong bourbon note and lightly scorched barrel. Taste has all the chocolate cake, dry chocolate through the finish, faint bourbon much less than the nose, virtually no carb with a burnt finish and a medium silky body.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.68/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to ravensdkr for sharing this at a recent tasting!

Th beer pours a dark brown to black, very littl carbonation to it at all. The smell explodes with flavor including a hefty dose of vanilla, coffee-espresso, cocoa, big malty chocolate milkshake as well. Very nice aroma!

The flavor is amazing, super huge flavor that follows those very well and adds vein more complexity. All the additions of the bourbon barrel and coffee as well as the nice earthy delectable sweetness of the honey shine through very nice, with a great helping of vanilla bean and chocolate bar as well. A beer that is on one end extremely flavorful but at th same time easily drinkable. THe feel is maybe slightly under carbonated, but this also allows the big flavors to shine though and mingle well, so I can't knock it too much. Juicy, long lasting aftertaste.

For me, this is actually up there with some of the best porters I've had and is almost like vanilla bean dark lord 'light', excellent beer.

 983 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to David for this bottle!
2012 Vintage poured in to HF Stemmed Tulip.

A - Deep black with half a finger of light brown head and good retention.

S - Sweet bourbon, oak and vanilla up front from the barrel, followed by a big hit of espresso, chocolate fudge and molasses. A fantastic nose!

T - Charred oak, sweet bourbon and vanilla flavours give way to chocolate fudge, molasses and dark roasted coffee and a light dark cherry flavour. The finish is somewhat dry with a lingering vanilla sweetness and charred oak flavour.

M - Medium body. Creamy. Light carbonation.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.51/5  rDev +3%
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 Ahappyhiker2
3.82/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

Batch 1.

A- Dark brown/black in color. Thinner than expected, almost no carbonation present. The appearance is pretty cool though, there's a shade of red on the outside of the glass. The only other beer I remember having a similar effect was Hunahpu's.

S- Cinnamon, honey, a hint of coffee, molasses, smoke, some booze. Nice, complex aroma.

T- A lot of flavors come through in this one. Bitter dark chocolate, coffee, sweetness from the honey, smoke, cinnamon, coconut. It's very, very smooth. Aftertaste is espresso/coffee and roasty flavors. Not much barrel character.

M- Very flat, almost no carbonation.

O- This beer has lots of complex flavors in the taste and the nose, but it falls short because of how flat it is. Also, it has such a lack of barrel character. I was expecting more of a bourbon/vanilla taste and it just isn't there. Honestly I like Everett so much better than this. I've read that batch 1 blows away batch 2, so I'm not going to try to hunt down another bottle or vintage. The complexity is there, but it is a bit of a letdown in my book. I'm glad I got to try this, but I'd recommend going after other beers if this is a whale for you.

 1,166 characters

Photo of cdmillard
4.59/5  rDev +4.8%
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...

 355 characters

Photo of Florida9
3.9/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A: Bottle opened with the faintest hiss. Poured into a tulip. Forms a few big bubbles and the slightest hint of a head, but in reality this one just looks flat. No lacing. Very dark brown or black in color.

S: Well the smell is pleasant. Dark roasted malts, oak, vanilla, chocolate. Damn, smells like freshly baked brownies.

T: Didn't think it was possible, but the taste is even better. Sweet, chocolately brownies. Mild oak. Lots of vanilla. A touch of coffee. Some dark fruits, like plum and raisin, but the sweet chocolate flavor dominates.

M: Fucking flat. There's no carbonation here. And thats the problem. Slick, oily, and viscous with a chalky finish.

O: Apparently the carbonation isn't allowed to leave VT. This beer truly has the potential for greatness, but it should be properly carbonated. And it's not. There is nothing there leaving a sweet, chocolatey liquid to swirl around the mouth.

 911 characters

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

 552 characters

Photo of caskstrength
2.31/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

2nd batch. Pours a flat black. I was hoping holding off for a while would result in some bubbles.

Smells are vanilla, chocolate. Barrel not that strong. Lack of bubbles leads to lack of aromatics.

Heavy and dull on the palate. I'm being harsh here, had a GI BCBS before drinking this, and this paled in comparison. Would have had a hard time standing up if carbonated. Without carbonation, this beer fell flat.

Mouthfeel sucked. Needed some bubbles to move things around.

Twilight of the Idols was much better. Everett rocks. This batch of beer was a failure.

 565 characters

Photo of harrymel
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage

Dark brown, flat appearing beer. Smells decadent: vanilla, oak, nougat, more vanilla, bits of graham, some cocoa, a hint of dark fruits. A really nice nose. Flavor follows suite - really fine dark chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, oak, bits of minced licorice, some leather. The flavor is really nice also. Mouthfeel: this is where the beer falls apart. While full bodied with a silky feel, not even a swish through the teeth makes this bubbly, slightly wet. A real treat - with carbonation this would be hard to beat, honestly.

 537 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.21/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

a really interesting beer, courtesy of one of denvers great beer men, lucky me. It pours a really dense black, midnight or darker, with essentially no carbonation, a motor oil viscosity, and just a thin film of mocha bubbles around the rim of my glass. the nose on this is heavy bourbon, oaky and charcoaly, with spice notes of cinnamon and clove, a very intense roast, and a summery sweetness amidst all the black thick stuff. the flavor, just like the nose, is bourbon first. I also get really strong cinnamon from this, although I don't think that its an ingredient. I do pick up the honey through the bitter dark malt, and its sweetness is welcomed to lighten things up a little. this is a teeth coating brew, sticky and about as thick as any ive encountered in terms of body. I really wish it had a little more carbonation. not a ton, but enough to get it moving a little bit, but I understand that a barrel can reduce that quite a bit. more would aid its drinkability, but I don't think its trying to be a session beer of course. I love the aftertaste on this, with the bourbon, vanilla, and warming alcohol. this is a beer of impressive quality and depth, not one to be consumed frequently, but one to treasure and share. hill farmstead never ceases to impress me, and although this is amazing, its a level below some of their hoppy and farmy stuff.

 1,356 characters

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 Beerandraiderfan
4.31/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured out a mostly black and dark brown liquid. Very small ring of tan head on it, almost instantly wisps itself away. Head banished to the land of wind and ghosts.

Aroma is inviting, bourbon, vanilla, honey and tons of roasted coffee and malt. Pretty good.

Taste drops a good amount of coffee and chocolate up front, the barrel warmth and honey seem to produce a citrus like quality along with the others. Complex, but not overly. Pretty enjoyable. The booze is there, but far from distracting or problematic. Vanilla rolls along, mild sweetness. Mild carbonation throughout the experience. Leaves the mouthfeel heavy hanging. Might be some brown sugar along the way, but this is far from a diabetes beer (not that I have a problem with those either). Coffee is in the background, but you don't have to search for it either. What this beer does really well is have a multitude of flavors, but none of them dominate, they play well with each other.

Best bottle I've ever had from Hill Farmstead (although not as great as some of their 1L growlers of the hoppy stuff).

Thanks to jh1982 for bringing this one to March Madness 2013. No thanks to David Hurley at the El Dorado Casino (a normally really cool place supportive of craft beer). Don't tell us we can have a bottle share, and then renege on your word two days later. Sorry our money is not welcome at your casino I guess.

 1,386 characters

Photo of Chico1985
3.86/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First choice at Stoutfest 2013, Armsby Abbey. ~10 oz. pour into a tulip glass.

Pour is black with a thin bubbly tan ring for a head, sticks around as such.

Smell is good - chocolate and bourbon forward, with roast and vanilla there as well. Not extremely potent, but definitely a nice scent.

Taste is a slight improvement, opens up more with warmth. Chocolate brownie, bourbon oak up front with light vanilla, roasted malts, toasty malts. Just a hint of spices here. Sweet and kinda boozy.

Carbonation is pretty low, feels a bit thin and boozy for 9%. Not bad, but could've used some more heftiness.

Good beer, nothing that blew me away though- felt a little disjointed. I actually wound up enjoying the base beer (Twilight of the Idols) more, the spices here were a little too smothered by bourbon and sweetness.

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Photo of milliCAN
4.88/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip. 2012

Zero head even after a decent violent pour. A little film forms around the edge of glass. Beautiful black color and inpenatrable even held up to bright lights.

The smell is mosly traditional porter with little booze but as you drink it the booze comes out more which I absolutely love.

The taste throughout is sweet start to finish in the best way possible because it's so balanced with a perfect milk body.

Perfect mouthfeel. Perfect is good right?

 481 characters

Photo of kels
4.16/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to my fiance for bringing this home with him. Good man. 2012 vintage.

Pours a super dark chocolate brown, nearly black, only given away at the edge of the surface where the light can actually get through - barely. A little spittle of bubbles washes the side of the glass when tipped, but it disappears immediately into nothingness in the void where at least some sort of head or skim - nowhere to be found - is expected to be present. In fact, it looks almost flat and watery, with enough alcohol to leave what looks like an oil skim on top.

Fantastic aroma. Rich, creamy vanilla and a hint of earthy honey is nicely offset by a dry, roasted grain. Only a hint of the bourbon barrel. Just simple, straightforward, and delicious.

Taste is delicious, but walking the line on the cloying side sweet. Vanilla, honey, molasses all hit the back of the jaw a little hard, and the only thing offering relief is the roasted malt. It's dry and hearty and contends well with the sweetness.

The feel of the beer falls flat, and recalls milk stout or RIS more than imperial porter. It's thick, sticky, and viscous, like a syrup in the mouth. Carbonation is nearly undetectable, and everything coats the palate, sticking around for quite a while. It works, but it's heavy.

Overall, nice beer. Hard to drink, but that's okay, right?

 1,333 characters

Photo of Skrip
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle poured into a Deschutes teku.

A~ dark as night exactly like it should be!

S~ bourbon bomb! with a little bit of coffee, booze and roasty malts.

T~ lots of bourbon with a lot of sweetness. a little vanilla and caramel towards the end. no booze once so ever, very smooth all around.

M~ very smooth, lightly carbonated. the "porter" aspect doesn't come over well, it feels more like a thin stout.

O~ definitely a treat! i usually like this style to be a bit thicker. come to think of it bourbon aged Fear And Trembling would be absolutely ridiculous! i would totally drink it again, its one hell of a dessert beer!

 629 characters

Photo of Jwale73
4.27/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml courtesy of Ineedabeerhere (thanks Joe). Served in a tulip. Pours one shade shy of black and completely opaque. No head on this one, just a mocha-colored cluster of bubbles around the shoulders. What an incredible nose on this beer - Dark, roasted malts as well as red wine notes, followed by bourbon and traces of ethanol at the back. Taste follows nose with the barrel qualities being less intense, thus allowing some honey and perhaps coconut to come out. Mouthfeel is medium-light in body (perhaps a little thin) and virtually still; there's also a little bit of acidity. Overall, a complex and interesting beer. I'd even venture to say the best BA version of an American Porter out there.

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