Birth Of Tragedy | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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183 Reviews
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Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy
BEER INFO

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

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Birth of Tragedy is the imperial and oak barrel-aged version of our annual winter porter, Twilight of the Idols. Brewed with locally roasted coffee and Vermont honey, we age this beer for a year in personally selected bourbon barrels from our favorite distilleries.

Added by s1ckboy on 11-20-2011

BEER STATS
Reviews:
183
Ratings:
1,192
Avg:
4.39
pDev:
8.66%
 
 
Wants:
1,062
Gots:
207
For Trade:
23
User Reviews
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Reviews: 183 | Ratings: 1,192
Photo of inlimbo77
4.31/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml, Winter '12
HF wine glass

A: Pours almost pitch black. Didn't get much head, even after an aggressive pour. Only a little layer of light/dark tan head. Formed into only a ring of big bubbles around edges. Definitely some alcohol feet. No lacing.

S: Lots of vanilla right away. Caramel and toffee. Some roast coffee. Not as coffee forward as twilight.

T: Up front you get dark roast coffee. Dark bitter chocolate. Can't get past the lack of carbonation. Really sits heavier than it should. Getting that vanilla from the bourbon barrel and vanilla beans after the coffee. The finish linger and is long. Lck of carbonation makes it stick around for a while.

M: Full bodied. Carbonation would really help. It's basically flat. Docking a couple points because of it.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.77/5  rDev +8.7%
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 Phelps
4.36/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared by the always generous ejyoung at a recent Cooters tasting. Poured into a Russian River glass.

No head at all, even after a pretty aggressive pour. Deep black, with maroon at the edges.

Great aroma. Espresso, dark chocolate, honey, smoke, tangy fig, vanilla bean. Bourbon is in the background, as it should be. A perfect blend of all of them.

More sweetness and fruits in the lead in the flavor. Vanilla beans, figs, prunes, smoke, dark chocolate, honey, coffee beans, bourbon. Kind of like a Baltic porter. Sweet throughout with a little heat in the back. Rich.

Very nearly dead flat, with just a hint of tingly carbonation. The body, however, is a thick, viscous medium-full. Swallows like syrup. A touch of tongue-numbing heat, but nowhere near what you’d expect from 11 percent ABV.

A very smooth and tasty blend. It’s thick, but I could drink it all night. Hill Farmstead knows what it’s doing.

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Photo of Hugonaut13
4.37/5  rDev -0.5%
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 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 GonzoHomebrewer
4.72/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

One of my favorites...

A- Jet black, but no head whatsoever, a few bubbles...maybe something you could call in passing, a "thin lacing" but no, no head.

S- Epic richness. Gobs of various layers of vanilla followed up by deep roasted coffee notes, some sweetened mocha...just fantastic

T- Doesn't seem quite as well rounded as the nose just yet; dominated by the bourbon vanilla sweetness with some signs of the coffee poking through

M- this is pretty flat and some bubbles would help make this more drinkable...but why would you want to drink it any quicker? Sip and Savor. I honestly think it doesn't detract really, just makes all the flavors stick to your palette.

O- I never get tired of this beer. I could drink it all day

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with no head at all. Slight beige cling around the edge of the glass.

Aroma features a ton of vanilla along with a bourbon kick, some roasted malts and sweet chocolate.

Thankfully not quite as sweet as the nose would indicate. Lots of good roasted coffee mingle with the vanilla to produce a good milk chocolate flavor backed up by a kiss of bourbon. Gets a bit boozier as it warms, but very well integrated and never gets overpowering, but complements the base beer. A little residual sweetness although the roasty and sweet flavors balance supremely well.

And here is the bugaboo. I don't think I've ever had a HF beer that did not ace the carbonation test. Whatever the style, they all seem to be perfect and that's what makes this even more disappointing. Good creamy texture, but almost no carbonation. I'm talking near HOTD & Kuhnhenn levels of nothingness. I think a style like this should have lower carbonation, but this level almost mutes the flavors and make it taste almost like stale Irish coffee despite the excellent flavors and great barrel integration.

What could have been. These are some of the most outstanding flavors I've ever had in a porter, but the mouthfeel just makes this a good not great beer for me. That said, it's still pretty impressive that I completely hate one aspect of this and it's still a solid beer. If you like extremely low carbonation levels then you'll love this one as the flavors are great, but if you don't you'll end up just a bit disappointed.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.74/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to bilco for acquiring the bottle. Split with angrybabboon.

Appearance: Near black with a dark khaki head. Solid retention starts with a small head dropping to a constant small creamy cap and collar. Spots of lacing, but it's minimal. Moderate carbonation on the pour.

Smell: Deeply roasted and mildy burnt malts. Raw honey coupled with vaguely nutty coffee. Fresh coffee bean and some slightly burnt malts. Honey builds as it warms. Roasty. A touch sweet with some caramel and caramelized malt. Some char and a hint of smoke. Minimal hopping, adding a touch of an herbal finish. Bourbon barrel is a nice addition adding some vanilla, a hint of coconut, and some toffee almost butterscotch. A ton of cocoa and bitter chocolate.

Taste: Honey bourbon. More cocoa than I've encountered in a porter. Bitter baker's chocolate and some sweeter milk chocolate. So much cocoa. A hint of vanilla, coconut oil, and toffee. Some caramel sauce with a nice compliment of caramelized malts. A touch of butterscotch and alcohol. A touch grassy with some herbal elements. More and more honey as it warms. Boozy with some mild alcohol esters. A touch of vague alcohol spiciness. Sweet sweet sweet.

Mouthfeel: Mostly creamy medium leaning to full body. Moderate carbonation.

Overall: Tragic sugar fat.

Sweet, too much so. Everything else is solid, but I has diabeetus.

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

This thing is way under the radar. Black pour, thick dense head, and lots of bourbon and vanilla to enjoy on the nose and palate. Smooooothness and Drinkability is the story on this one!

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Photo of kingcrowing
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a hill farmstead tulip.

Pours a pitch black that's thick as oil. Nose is sweet, malty lots of vanilla and a bit of honey.

Taste is chocolate and roasty, sweet lots of oaky vanilla with a bit of a hot finish. Overall its really creamy and delicious. I don't quite taste it as an imperial twilight but its still very good.

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

10-2013 vintage pours near black with a light khaki head of less than a finger. Aroma indicates most the coffee has faded, but the honey seems to be hanging on. Stout like nose of roasted malts and dark fruits. Flavor and body are silky smooth. milk chocolate, caramelized malts, sweet and creamy. Hardly any coffee character remains, and I wish I could try fresh, but damn good none the less.

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Photo of kevanb
4.11/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. 2012 vintage poured into a stemmed Hill Farmstead.

The beer pours a very viscous motor oil texture, jet black in color, massively opaque, touches of dark brown around the rim of the glass, no head, only a few bubbles, and no lacing to be found. The aroma is really amazing, big notes of bourbon and charred barrel, bitter baker’s chocolate, vanilla, some slight roast, hard to believe coffee is in this beer, alcohol is definitely present as well. It’s a very intriguing nose, heavy on the barrel and bourbon but the bittersweet chocolate and sweeter alcohol and rich notes play so well together. The flavor is wonderful, balanced to perfection, bourbon, charred oak that lends some sweetness, toffee, bitter dark chocolate, vanilla, roasted coffee definitely has a bigger presence here which really lends a hand to balance this better than the nose, rich malt and smooth warming sweet alcohol at the finish. The body is a bit thinner at first, carbonation is much lower than many other barrel aged stouts or porters, but it is certainly full bodied, thick, viscous, a bit syrupy with a nice smooth finish.

Verdict: A really delicious barrel aged porter from Hill Farmstead. It is certainly on the lower end of the carbonation spectrum, but it is by no means flat or still. A little bit more carbonation would definitely help prop up the flavors and help with the body, but it’s still quite creamy and the balance of flavors is tremendous.

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Photo of starrdogg
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Chris for sharing this one.

Pours a very dark brown/nearly black with very little head and almost no lacing. Smell is very coffee and chocolate with very little bourbon or oak, but still pretty nice. Taste is excellent, a great mix of bourbon, oak, coffee and chocolate, the coffee stands out the most but doesn't take over the flavor, very smooth and incredibly easy to drink for such a big. Mouthfeel is a little thin for the style and it's a bit low on the carbonation, but it doesn't really bring down the experience of drinking the beer. Overall, this is an outstanding tasting beer, the only detractors are the mouthfeel and appearance, but pretty great overall.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.34/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage. Poured from bottle into glass.

A- pours lack with almost no head, except a small tan ring. No lacing on the glass.

S- huge bourbon nose, at first I thought of scotch because of a peat-like aroma, but then I realized it was just the cinnamon and bourbon.

T- cinnamon, bourbon, faint vanilla, and sweet chocolate

M- medium body and low carbonation. Light and smooth, very drinkable.

O- very good beer. Nose implies a very bourbon forward beer, but the flavors meld very well together.

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Photo of TWStandley
4.67/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Prohibition Pig (also from a bottle, thought they were close).

Appeared an oily black color with very little dark brown head. Very "dead" looking (ie. no carb).

Smell is great. Definetely some strong Bourbon scents, lots of vanilla and sugar. Some plum and raisin notes in the nose as well.

Taste is incredible. First sip is very much bourbony. Then comes in the sweetness. The taste is so rich and layered that even the smallest of sips produces a sensory overload. Wow. Vanilla, plums, raisins, bourbon, coconut...just delicious.

Loved the mouthfeel. Very smooth and soft. Barely any carbonation - both from the bottle and on draft.

Overall this is a treat. Glad I have a few bottles in the cellar to see what some additional time and blending will do. Very rich and complex - extremely sweet. The bottle was consumed while playing some trivia games while it snowed outside - perfect atmosphere for this one IMO.

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Photo of lovindahops
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

On draft at the Hill Farmstead Harvest Festival. Final brew of the fest for us. Poured from Shaun into a HF glass

A- birth of tragedy pours a black body with slightly tan edges ever so lightly clinging to the glass. The thinnest thought of foam almost wants to climb the glass but struggles to emerge. BoT literally gleams as the glass is held up to the sun that castes over the Hill farm

S- WOW! A cocoa nib theme is traced over with a smooth coffee scent. Another layer of sweetness is completely present as the smoothness of bourbon kicks in. Notably, the chocolate, coffee, honey, and bourbon even allow room for a hoppy presence to kick in and make for a symphony of unique flavors

T- essentially a porter to be able to take a on sweet chocolate flavor that is heightened and complemented by the bourbon. So smooth and flavorful that you can't even find the alcohol other than assume its there because if the bourbon. Somehow the sweet honey not only contributes to the bourbon flavors but it also calms it down and perhaps enhances it

M- the syrupy flavor coates the mouth with the aforementioned flavors. So enjoyable because BoT has so much going on and makes for a great mouthfeel

O- Birth of Tragedy was an absolute highlight for us. This is without a doubt the best porter I have ever had. The melody of flavors coming from the 2011 keg made for an amazing experience

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Photo of callmemickey
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Koopa

A: Dark black with a minimal brownish head. A few stray stands of lacing.

S: Bourbon, caramel, molasses, honey sweetness.

T: Like the nose there is a healthy dose of bourbon and sweet malts. Definitely some caramel, dark fruits, and a little smokey/roasty malts.

M: Medium-full bodied. Light carbonation. A tad too much residual sweetness in the finish.

O: An interesting effort, but a bit too ambitious.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.69/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: pours black and thick. little to no brown in the color, even near the edges. thin creamy tan head with good retention and a solid lacing. opaque with darkness.

Smell: maple syrup, molasses, bourbon soaked oak, chocolate. hints slightly at a nice strong dark roast or espresso.

Taste: opens with a strong and sweet maple syrup, the sweetness is cut a little at the end by slightly bitter roasted malts. more sweetness comes through in the middle with notes of brown sugar, molasses and deep caramels. the end is rounded out by oak, dripping in bourbon and a kick of espresso.

Mouthfeel: ends fairly bitter after a sweet start. fairly creamy. viscous and full bodied.

Overall: this is my second of Hill Farmstead's barrel aged stouts/porters and I must say it is their most impressive category to me. This beer has a lot of complexity and the balance works out extremely well with a sweet start and a lingering bitter finish. The creamy but thick mouthfeel is tough to beat.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

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Photo of jkrug5
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2/15 bottle date. This isn't fair, they've already nailed the saison, and IPA styles up there. Add another notch to their belt, this is such a great beer. The honey, and coffee work wonders together, not too big of a beer either. I could enjoy this year round, time to go all in for HF offerings, you can't go wrong with anything from those VT boys.

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Photo of cfrances33
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

2012 bottle, poured into a Hill Farmstead stem.

Pour: Completely still, dark, dark brown body. Not quite black. A few bubble form on the surface, but carb is lacking here it seems completely.

Smell: Big roasted marshmallow up front, followed by some clean bourbon vanilla. A nice milk chocolate comes through, and closes the nose.

Taste: Again, big time roasted marshmallows and milk chocolate. A nice vanilla creamyness. Some bourbon sweetness. Finishes sticky with vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Dead still. There is absolutely zero carb to speak of, and it hurts the feel. Otherwise, clean bourbon flavors provide little to no heat. A sipper, and fantastically drinkable

Overall: A really great beer that I just wish had some carb. It's too flat for me.

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Photo of Treebs
4.31/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500 ml bottle shared by cosmicevan. Served in a HF wine glass.

A: Pours an opaque deep brown color with some clearer edges. A thin tan head forms on the pour and recedes quickly to a thin ring. A few splotches of lace are left down the glass.

S: Smooth bourbon up front with a ton of fudge. Heavily roasted malts with a light chocolate sweetness. Besides the smoothness and lightness of the bourbon the barrel isn't all that noticeable.

T: The taste just took on a complexity that wasn't found in the nose. The smoothness of the bourbon carried over and blended wonderfully with some ground coffee beans and espresso notes. The bourbon took a sweeter turn mid palate and balanced the heavy roasted malt body. A little oak barrel shows up and blend nicely with a rich and lush chocolate on the finish.

M: Low carbonation here with a medium to light body. For hour luscious the taste was I would have liked a little more body to this.

O: Absolutely delicious. I like Twilight of the Idols, but I like this even more. If they would beef up the gravity a bit I bet this would be able to hold onto the barrel a little better and get a better mouthfeel. Still, I'm just nitpicking here. A great beer.

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Photo of aleigator
4.7/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Birth of tragedy '15 vintage

Pours a night black color, with a decent beige head, which collapses to formable swirls of lacing, coating up the side of the glass.

Consists of a nose, which comes beautifully together, defined by earthy coffee, toffee malts, coconut and oaky, warm Bourbon. All the different aromas stand out on their own, while blending flawlessly together, with wild honey on top, adding a glazed, sweet aspect to the mix. Bourbon is certainly noteable, while not over the top at all, accentuating the other aspects of the beer.

Drinks amazingly smooth and fairly easy, based on its actual abv, while its lower carbonation opens up the palate to sweet honey very effectivly. Doesn't have a thick mouthfeel as bcbs, while it drinks almost smoother.

There is toffee, earthy, bitter coffee, gently wrapped up by wood embraced Bourbon, coconut and wild honey to complete the taste. I am honestly blown away by the outstanding balance of this, while every flavor is easily recognizable on its own, they all seem to benefit from each other, by enhancing each others appearance on the palate. The Bourbon provides a pleasant warmth during the beers finish, easily balanced by slick honey, producing a melting caramel, glazed sugar impression, adding to the toffee, creating the most enjoyable, natural sweetness you could ever wish for.

A real treat, much more than I expected it to be. The flavors come beautifully together, tied together by a balance and smoothness which almost puts Bourbon County to shame, and that at a considerable lower abv. Honey and Bourbon create a incredibly synergy, making up for the lack of roastieness by providing the most enjoyable sweetness I experienced in a beer so far, which makes this perfect for a cold winter night, as well as for every other night in which you want to drink an exeptional beer.

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Photo of rowingbrewer
4.77/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a nice brownish black color with minimal head. the smell is heavy upfront with bourbon followed by a hint of coffee. the flavor follows through(though it is a little muted in comparisson to the tap version) with one of the smoothest least burning bourbon flavors I have ever had in a beer, It is truly amazing how well the bourbon melds into this beer, the coffee is a nice little side note in the flavor, the bourbon is followed by sweet rich and chocolatey notes. the mouthfeel is full, but not syrupy full. carbonations is low to low medium, which compliments the beer nicely. overall i would say this beer is better on tap but still excellent out of the bottle

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

From notes. Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a snifter.

Birth of Tragedy pours a mahogany, nearly black color with a small tan mocha cap.

Lots of espresso, somewhat bitter and a bit creamy, dark bitter chocolate, sweet milk chocolate, roasted malt, and a bit of spicy hops in the nose.

The flavor is full of a ton of espresso, a bit of cream, dark, bitter chocolate, deeply roasted malt, and a bit of spice toward the finish. There is a sweetness to some of chocolate notes, but overall it is fairly bitter. There is not very much bourbon character coming through.

The mouthfeel is fairly full, there is a creamy carbonation. It is a bit acrid in its bitterness, with a dryness toward the end. Even without the bourbon flavor coming through, it feels like the dryness from the oak barrel came through fairly strongly.

It was fairly nice, but I really noticed the acrid nature of it, which detracted from the experience.

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Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.39 out of 5 based on 1,192 ratings.
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