Birth Of Tragedy | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy

Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States

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

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Reviews: 170 | Ratings: 1,113
Photo of schmidtmattsays
4.61/5  rDev +5.3%
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 Gosox8787
4.89/5  rDev +11.6%
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 alcstradamus
3.65/5  rDev -16.7%
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 fmccormi
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of davey101
4.12/5  rDev -5.9%
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 Ilovelampandbeer
4.79/5  rDev +9.4%
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 afksports
3.9/5  rDev -11%
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 +2.3%
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 +2.7%
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.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.7/5  rDev +7.3%
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 -7.8%
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 Lochnessmonster
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
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 tewaris
4/5  rDev -8.7%
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 Gushue3
4.64/5  rDev +5.9%
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 claaark13
4.6/5  rDev +5%
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 +5.5%
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 +5.5%
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 ScotNH
4.58/5  rDev +4.6%
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 auroracrisis
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml into two tulips.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of 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!

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

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

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Photo of 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 BoldRulerVT
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
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, 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 nkeckhar
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

thanks to dtmets84 for bringing this to a bottle share - 2011

Appearance: Pitch black oily, small brown head

Smell: Absolutely beautiful with some spice, vanilla, dark chocolate, sweetness, and barrel.

Taste: Roasty, coffee, vanilla right away...well hidden alcohol. Sweetness from the honey is there.

Mouthfeel: Silky and smooth...good body and round mouthfeel

Overall: Easily a standout in its style, but moreover a standout for me against anything I've drank. We tried this against Black Note, King Henry, and BA Blackout and this one was a consensus winner. I will seek out another bottle of this so more people in my circle can wonder at this marvel.

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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.38 out of 5 based on 1,113 ratings.
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