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
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:
180
Ratings:
1,180
Avg:
4.39
pDev:
8.66%
 
 
Wants:
1,059
Gots:
207
For Trade:
23
User Reviews
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Reviews: 180 | Ratings: 1,180
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 Bendurgin
4.16/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

John's parents hooked this one up too! Man, they rock! Poured into a tulip. This one pours black with some brown highlights. No head on the pours even though we went right down the middle of the glass.

The aroma has hints of bourbon and toffee. Hints of dark chocolate and big roast malts. Vanilla and dark cherries linger in the background. Really a no nonsense in the aroma here. The taste is a lot like the aroma. Rich coffee and dark chocolate flavors on the pallet with vanilla adding a nice sweet finish. Good barrel aging here, really nice non-overpowering flavor.

The body is nice a full but this is pretty close to flat; very little carbonation.

Overall this one is pretty rock solid. Would really love better carbonation here. Maybe just a sub par bottle, but let's face it. Even a sub par bottle is pretty damn good.

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Photo of axeman9182
4.27/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

500 mL bottle, 2012 vintage. Big thanks to notjustgc for bringing this back from VT for me. It was poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Birth of Tragedy pours completely black, with caramel colored foam topping it that struggles to reach a finger in height. Head retention is decent, and lacing is somewhat spotty. The nose is very chocolaty, with vanilla is a strong secondary aroma. Honey and bourbon are both barely appreciable. The flavor profile is a bit more nuanced. It opens with a rich chocolate maltiness. Slightly woody bourbon notes come next, before a brief slightly fruity honey presence (which I'm shocked manages to come through) bridges to a subtle coffee finish. Meanwhile, a vanilla sweetness lingers throughout. The body, noticeably lightened by the honey, isn't too full. That's especially good given that the beer is essentially flat. The mouthfeel is still a little bit syrupy though.I absolutely love the barrel character Hill Farmstead got into Birth of Tragedy, if they tightened up the carbonation it would probably be pushing towards my top 10 beers.

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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 OleDixie
4.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.89/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Bottle poured into a Cigar City snifter at cellar temperature. Huge thanks to phingdong for picking up a bottle for me at the release. As a huge fan of basically everything Hill Farmstead brews, I am beyond excited to try this, especially after seeing early reviews.

Appearance: Pours the anticipated midnight black in color with almost no discernable head. I thought the ABV might cut into the pour a bit, but this almost looks flat on the first pour.

Aroma: Nice roasted coffee beans, sweet bourbon, caramel and vanilla bean are all in balance in the nose. The coffee is nice and in the forefront and the bitterness of the beans is perfectly offset by the honey. Not much burn at all from the alcohol. Really complex and pleasant.

Taste: Coffee beans and espresso upfront. The bitterness of the beans are balanced with vanilla, caramel and the sweetness of the honey. I usually don't care a lot for honey in beer but it works as good as I've had here. The bourbon is expertly blended into the base beer and gives almost no additional burn. Really balanced and tasty. Flawless.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and creamy. Just a touch of carbonation, but it works here. Goes down so smooth.

Overall, a really outstanding barrel aged porter and just a terrific overall beer. Really complex and balanced. The coffee is outstanding and this definitely is drinking great fresh. Pop this open if you have it and enjoy.

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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 alcstradamus
3.65/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours black with a thin cola-like head. Aroma is vanilla, toffee, alcohol, and sweet fudge. Flavor is dominated by the barrel flavor although not overpowering in booziness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and appropriately carbonated.

My overall feeling about this beer is one of severe disappointment. I feel that Twilight of the Idols is probably the best porter I have ever had, and this barrel aged version is a clear departure from that wonderfully nuanced flavor and it is not a positive change at all. The barrel flavor here is not powerful like..say..a Bourbon County Stout, but it still masks almost all the underlying complexity.

It is a good beer when judged on its own merits, but it is not one I would ever want again.

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Photo of Lochnessmonster
4.69/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Did side-by-side with Damon, and for me this blew Damon out of the water. The complexity of this beer is fantastic. I was worried about it maybe being a bit too sweet from the honey, but the coffee flavor mellowed it out nicely. Would love to repeat!

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Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.74/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Another fine offering from Hill Farmstead! Nice bourbon notes on this one right on the pour. Light bourbon notes and a very smooth drinker. A little bit light but its a porter so to be expected.

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Photo of Ilovelampandbeer
4.79/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

What a treat
Look: oil black with a tan head...a peeve of mine is when you pour a porter out and can see how thin and watery it is...this doesn't happen with this beer..pours pretty thick
Smell: extra sweet bourbon in the forefront, chocolate and some coffee
Taste: bourbon, chocolate, coffee, and it's all presented extra sweet which I assume is the honey, but I can't actually pick out honey flavor
Feel: literally at the border between porter and stout...chewy
Overall: second best porter I've ever had, right behind Everett, and that's saying something

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Photo of davey101
4.12/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage - 9% abv. 500 ml bottle into a tulip glass. Thanks so much cfrances33!

A - Pours a very dark brown body that lets very little light through, not quite black. A small half finger of mocha bubbles forms and dissipates quickly. Some random edging but this beer sits mostly still. A swirl coats the sides of the glass with a staining brown coating and some very minimal lacing.

S - Fudge and bourbon heavy. Very sweet vanilla, chocolate ganache and some subdued coffee beans. A touch of woody oak on the finish.

T - Very fudgy and rich. Dense dark chocolate cake, sweet natural vanilla, smooth oak, and espresso beans. Finishes buttery and oily like a bourbon. A very decadent dessert beer. Seems to muddle the flavors of Twilight a bit.

M - A touch above flat. Does it hurt the beer? A little. I expect a lighter body in a porter and this one is coming off almost syrupy and thick. Its not a huge setback but a bit of carb would help this one out for sure.

O - An extremely decadent and tasty desert beer that's a bit too flat. I really liked this one, but its not as great as Everett or even Twilight.

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Photo of afksports
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nails the porter side, but the bourbon barrel is very weak. It's messy, the oak doesn't come through as strong as you'd hope, and the final product seems a little thin. Especially for an 11% beer.

Looks great though, and it smells on point. But ultimately it was a little disappointing. Especially when 2010 Olde Hickory Imperial Stout was opened on the same night and absolutely blew it out of the water.

Reviewed from notes, shared with alalvarez75 before Birth of Tragedy hit the hype machine!

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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 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 DaveHS
4.7/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours pitch bloack with a thin, bubbly coffee colored head. Sticky lacing.

S-Big roasty coffee aromas, followed by bittersweet chocolate, toffee and toasted marshmallow.

T/M-Exceptional on every level. Thinner bodied than the base beer (Twilight of the Idols) with a concentrated, thin caramel sweetness. Round, oaky bourbon goodness washes over the palate, fading softly into a slightly phenolic, dry warming finish. For a beer with such a nice bourbon character, it's not all that sweet.

O-Every aspect of this beer is harmonious. Wouldn't change a thing about it. I don't even know that aging would do anything for it, as it is drinking perfectly now. Another winner from Hill Farmstead.

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Photo of gueuzedreg
4.04/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had Twilight, this one maybe better; I feel like the nuances are not as pronounced through the barrel aging.

A- Dark, nice dark look to this porter. Thin lacing, nothing too special for me on the A

S- Charred dark fruit/ pretty standard for a HF dark brew here. Lots of belgian dark qualities. Fig, etc. Barrel is way in the back but more forefront than tiny microbrew's attempts.

T- Follows the nose with dark fruit and fig combined with barrel aging. It is a great porter; I gave it great grades, but nothing mindblowing. Pretty standard to HF belgian dark qualities

M- Mouthfeel is the highlight for me. Nice and smooth and creamy. Just the right touch of carb in this.

O- A great BA porter, but nothing that made me inch closer to me bowing to HF, which a few BA friends are nudging me to do.

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Photo of Gushue3
4.64/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A Pours dark ark brown into my Hill Famestead big bulb glass. No heat at all and no lacing to speak of. but I can already smell it.

S The majority of the smell I get is bourbon but doesnt kill everything. Some chocolate and a tiny roast but I'm getting bourbon. nice scent

T Wow.. bourbon is present upfront but somewhat subdued. Light vanilla, chocolate, and sweetness from the malt? Lots of stuff going on and this beer is nice and complex. very well done.

M Medium mouthfeel with small carbonation which makes this really smooth and easy to drink.

O I cant take it, this is so good. Taste is perfectly balanced and so easy to drink. I wish I grabbed more of this. Thank you Shaun.

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Photo of tewaris
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After drinking Twilight of Idols, this came as quite a pleasant surprise. For one, the carbonation was spot on. Others said that there was *no* carbonation, but that works extremely well for this fudgy, creamy, chocolaty beer. Roast but with notes of honey?! Very nice. Coffee in the finish completed it for me. Very glad to have had it and will drink it again anytime.

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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 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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Photo of Fireman_RK
4.64/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: Jet black opaque hues with a thin sandy head
S: Honey, bourbon, mocha, and a bit of cinnamon
T: This is a 2012 bottle, but the bourbon barrel is evident from the first sip; the taste is not 'hot' with alcohol, but rather the delicious residual flavors are apparent; this flavor recedes into thick honey, coffee, and a bit of vanilla
F: Medium mouthfeel (when compared to Twilight it feels measurably thicker however) with mild carbonation
O: This was an incredibly tasty and complex stout. Despite the age on my bottle the beer has held up incredibly well and enhanced the sweetness and bourbon, while softening the coffee notes. Very enjoyable!

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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 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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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.39 out of 5 based on 1,180 ratings.
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