Biere De Norma | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Biere De NormaBiere De Norma

Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: Bière de Garde

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed on the day of my grandmother’s passing (Norma), this is an inspired Biere de Mars fermented entirely in oak and soured with our house spontaneous culture.

Norma (1939 - 2011) was my maternal grandmother, my Guardian Angel, and the woman that nourished the laughter and innocence of my youth. In her honor, we craft this Bière de Mars each February and condition it in oak barrels with our resident microflora, allowing it to develop indefinitely until it is ready for release. We realize the influence of those closest to us only after having left their presence. At Hill Farmstead, our spirit is forever defined by Norma and the memory of our loved ones.

Added by MasterSki on 01-12-2012

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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 596
Photo of AMCimpi
5/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: A dark amber, with a white head that dissipates quickly, but leaves a nice ring around the outside. S: Oak, damp basement funk and musty. Honey sweetness and a little lemon zest. T: Oak upfront with the lemon zest, followed by the honey sweetness that creates this cherry like flavor on the mid palate...finishes with an oaky dryness that leaves you wanting more. M: Carb is on point, just dances on the tongue. Just a nice drinking beer. O: This is unbelievable...just blown away by this beer. I don't think a Biere de Garde can get better than this. Hill does it again

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Photo of cfrances33
4.96/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle #12, batch 1 shared generously by Shaun at Hill Farmstead. Served in a Hill Farmstead stem. Thank you so much Shaun!

Pour: A nice hazy orange, with some reddish notes. A nice crisp, fingers and a half off white head forms, and leaves some very, very nice, sticky lacing.

Smell: Lots of lactic tartness up front, followed by some red grapes and oak. Some light cherry and lemon juice. A very pleasant funk rounds everything out. This smelled unreal.

Taste: Follows the nose with a nice lactic tartness up front, with a light lemon and cherry tartness. Some pear skins. Nice wine tannins as well as a nice rustic funk. Lots of oak round this out, and it finishes dry and lactic with some lemons.

Mouthfeel: Supremely drinkable, and not overly sour. Very, very nice prickly carb compliments the tartness well. Juicy through the palate, but very dry on the end.

Overall: Wow, not only was this beer phenomenal, but everything about having it was perfect. A really clean and rustic beer, and borderline a wild ale. I would rate this just below Flora for taste. Thanks again Shaun, Dan, Phil, and Bob at HF for sharing!

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Photo of Mbrown44
4.78/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Been waiting to post this review, had this the day after the release.

Biere De Norma tastes like a cross between a super oaky flanders red and a citrusy, funky, tart wild ale. This is super complex, finding balance between the lacto of tart apple skins and funky yeast. Sean Hill can do no wrong and this beer is why. The hype is worth it for this one, can't wait to try other sours from Hill Farmstead.



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Photo of MarcWP
4.78/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage poured into Lost Abbey Teku.

Pours a brilliant light walnut color with crimson red highlights and a compact beige head that lingers and leaves bountiful lacing.

Aroma on this is amazeballs. Cherry, pink wine, leather, citrus fruits, and a funky must almost guaranteeing a healthy dose of brettanomyces.

On the palate you get a super tart and dry biere de garde. The base beer is definitely biere de garde in style but it's blasted by super tart wild yeast funk and an oaky wine barrel character. Sweet lemons, acidic pear, new leather, fermenting grape, musty earth, and dried cherries adorn the tongue. Tart throughout the palate with an abrupt bone dry finish.

Mouthfeel on this is perfect. Lovely effervescence, light medium mouthfeel, and an unexplainable silkiness for a beer so dry.

Overall this is the BEST biere de garde or saison for that matter that I've had the pleasure of enjoying. The oak aging on this is what elevates it and even though there are plenty of other great producers of the style like Jolly Pumpkin, Crooked Stave, Logsdon, and Prairie to name a few, HF nails it with Norma. Looking forward to snagging another bottle of this. Worldclass.

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Photo of DaSolomon
4.66/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened up in a nice mini tasting with thezoobrew!

A: Nice deep amber color, with a solid inch of head.

S: Sweet, fruit funk, oaky and bretts full notes that danced on the nose

T: wow this was so smooth and easy to drink, sour and tart were very balances, with figs, red wine, oakiness, vanilla notes all coming through, very well balanced

M: perfect carbonation levels, very nice mouthfeel easily can drink this all day

O: another hit by HF, the hype behind this is not a let down, would like to see how age affects this.

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Photo of joel66
4.61/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle poured into one of my HF tulip glasses

Deep amber color with a white fluffy pillow head. Very nice retention, little to no lacing.

Nose was oak barrel, raisin, prune and funk

Flavor was extremely complex yet well balanced between sweet and tart. Oak barrel aging really brought out the complexity of fine red wine. Reminded me of coterone only with more funk.. slight sweetness from red grapes, almost fig like. As it came to room temperature the tartness became sharper and imo, even better if that is possible.

Mouthfeel was light and refreshing.

Overall I would rank this second only to juicy in the HF lineup.

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Photo of rudzud
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A huge thanks to Shaun Hill for the bottle of Norma. Bottle number 43/300. Poured into an Ommegang tulip.

A - Poured a hazy golden amber that resembles a legitimate piece of Jurassic park style amber. A great head of off white cream that spontaneously former a two finger blanket later slumps to a half finger dense creamy pillow. Light side lacing.

S - Aromas of horse hair blanket and sour dense lacto dominate the nose in such an enjoyable manner. Wonderful barrel notes are faded into with some slight alcohol coming through. Slight Carmel sweetness is there too. Most aromas are dominated by the lacto and barnyard funk.

T - Wow. This is amazing. I've never had a beer with this much lacto flavour in it! Its like drinking a glass of heavy creamy with sour tart berries and funk. So much lacto, my goodness. Sour tart berries (raspberry) and nice strong barnyard funk. Great funky yeast here. Almost like a wild. Really really different.

M - Mouthfeel is just awesome. Enough carbonation to keep this from being well, too creamy and milky. Tart and sour in the mouth the alcohol isn't even remotely noticeable. Crazy drinkable.

O - Overall this beer was one of the hardest I've had to review. It transcends styles and is so damn lacto. Its just delicious. Really outstanding. All areas of lacto in this with wild ale style funk and tartness. Really enjoyable beer. Like nothing I've ever had before and will probably never have again.

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Photo of davey101
4.59/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml red waxxed bottle into a tulip glass. 2012 vintage, 1200 bottles. Shared moments after returning to CT from the Norma release on an outside patio in the cold. Can't beat it! Quick notes I jotted down.

A - Pours a cloudy dark red body. Messy off-white foam.

S - My first thought was of a Flemmish bruin. Has a lactic twang with some cherries, vinegar, apricot and plenty of oak. Some musky saison notes with a touch of caramel.

T - Tart cherries and vinegar, caramel malts, funky earthy notes, fresh apricot, and some light oak and vanilla. Really complex and tasty. The finish was unreal though. The beer was incredibly tart and then it just vanishes away. Medium bodied with nice carb.

O - The first half of the glass left me a bit underwhelmed. The more I thought about the beer the more I liked it though. Its incredibly complex and unique. Super tart with a perfectly clean finish. It drinks way too easily. Certainly worth the effort to get a bottle in person.

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Photo of Pahn
4.58/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle split 2 ways with morningthief. From the 2013 Collected Works, whatever batch that makes this.

Appearance: Nice glowing opaque chestnut. Streaks of white lacing, mild head. 4.5

Smell: Acetic and mineral-y. Not cantillon mineral-y, but gentle stream mineral-y. Acetic note isn't too in your face either. it's not "bright" but it definitely evokes forest / outdoors. Someplace untamed but clean. Strawberry, mild citrus, unassuming flowers. Great wild yeast-and-bacteria bouquet--getting what you paid for with the bugs. Evolves gradually like the taste.

Taste: First off, lots of acetic, and lots of sour but not as much. Dry and almost unpleasant. Deeper in, fruit and flower come out, along with that nice babbling brook freshness from the nose.

Really interesting. It's somehow complex without being "deep"--and this isn't a complaint, nor a qualified compliment. It starts out in one place, and it changes, with little to remind you of where you started from.

In its own muted way, it's actually spectacular.

Mouthfeel: Puckering, light side of medium bodied, very dry, high carbonation (though it barely gushed upon opening the chilled bottle). Spot on.

Overall: The fact is, Shaun Hill is a brewing genius. There's a lot else to say about Hill Farmstead, beer culture, whatever, but forget all that: these people make just fantastic beers, unlike anyone else.

This is what it means to be world class: doing something no one else does, and something really, really worth doing, and worth sharing. Excellent.

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Photo of jlindros
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks a ton to shaun for this one, REALLY thanks Shaun. 2011 vintage, bottle number 43 of 300

Gorgeous fluffy head fluffy and rises up to over 1 finger, nice sticky lacing drops down the sides slowly. The beer is a mostly clear golden tan slight honey orange colored.

Nose, yup thats funky alright, a light horsehair wet blanket funk but not overpowering, then nice tart fruit, plenty of sourness with a definite lacto, hints of reddish berry like sour fruit.Under that is a nice saison, light saison malts, wheat like and hint of yeast spices. Touches of barrel aroma.

Taste starts rick and smooth, creamy and malty actually, with light saison malts, light toasty reddish malts as well, with a nice light buttery today oak. So much creamy milk like lactose sugar... So much creamier than I expected. Then funk, just a bit of horse blanket funk, but plenty of sourness. Tart berries almost wild berry like but not quite that much berry just fruit, a juicy tartness but dry bready malt juxtaposition. Tons of carbonation helps to keep the palate from getting too bogged down in tartness and creaminess. Finish is dry but slightly sticky, just a touch phlemy, light bready malts, more creamy lactose, some lingering funk, and tart fruit, and a light bitterness comes through with earthy fruit stem like and a bit of floral hops.

Mouth is ridiculously creamy but plenty of carbonation to offset the sour and creamy.

Overall awesome, I would call this an American wild over biere de garde, or saison, but delicious. Great wild funk, sour fruit, saison like malts, hunts of barrel, light biter hops late in the finish, and delicious delicious lacto.

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Photo of Skrip
4.57/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into a Hill Farmstead oversized wine glass.

A~ ruby red hue, darkish brown, slight copper color. nice white fluffy head and a little lacing.

S~ some orange and lemon/lime tartness followed by lots of oak.

T~ wow! grapes and black cherrys up front, then comes the orange, grapefruit, lemon/lime tartness. followed by a lot of oak just like the on the nose. pretty sour all the way through. this has crazy complexity and is still very well balanced.

M~ heres where the honey comes into play, smooth but rather thick. perfectly carbonated and slightly dry from the tartness.

O~ yup... amazing! why did i ever doubt it? well probably because Biere De Mars usually isn't my go to style but this definitely stands out from everyone i've ever had. a little of their saison style comes through as well, which i find in some of their beers like Abner and Wheat Is The New Hops. this is exactly what i love about HF. their well water also might have something to do with their outstanding brews. next time i go up there i'm totally asking them to fill a growler with their water haha.

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Photo of gcamparone
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

March 2015 Release. 2014 vintage. Poured from a 750mL bottle into a hill farmstead tulip glass. Purchased at the brewery during the release, refrigerated since purchase.

Pours a muddy brown, pretty hazy body with an orange tinge. Small one finger off white head rises and reduces slowly, leaving a good amount of lacing and a layer of retention. Gusher, -0.25.

Aromas are potent and inviting, heavy oak dominates with a definite acidity present - lactic and light vinegar, musty, old basement, hay. Can't wait to sip this.

On the tongue, a delicious sweet and sour medly is present intermingled with a wild funkyness and delicious oak. Light lactic, sour apple, caramel, toffee, finished with drying wood notes. Medium body with low carbonation.

Overall quite an enjoyable beer. Great sweet and sour notes, lots of funk, lots of oak. Very nice.

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Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured on tap at Farmhouse in Burlington.
Pours dark hazy amber. Minimal to no head.
Smells of big barnyard, brett funk.
Taste is powerful, tangy, twangy, seriously tasty. Nice sourness.
Mouthfeel is really really impressive, drawing you for another sip.
Amazing how much the wild yeast reminds me of brett. This is incredible beer.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.55/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 mL 2011 bottle. Thanks Tucker. Shared shortly after the Ann release.

Pours a generally clear ruby brown with a large off white head. Long retention and sticky, thick lacing. Nose is a complex blend of sweet bread, malt, woodsy and earthy oak, vanilla, and yeasty spice. Flavor is more of the same as the nose, funky and earthy, spicy yeast and oak, mild vanilla and malt sweetness. Medium thick body, prickly carbonation, mild tartness in the finish. Just wow, as nice as Ann was, this was the standout for me. Edit: Early sample of the 2012 batch was equally special, with a little more barrel (port like) and fruit presence than I remembered from the 2011 bottle.

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Photo of cbutova
4.54/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Reviewed from notes last night. Huge thanks to Kimmy for opening this treasured bottle.

A- Poured from a 750ml to five glasses for a tasting with a fairly murky, light apple red body. A foamy, frothy white head builds to a finger without much retention. Foamy ring leaves drizzle and spotty lace on the glass.

S- A mix of fruits, Brett and barrel souring. Tart apples, white wine grapes, a Brett aroma reminiscent of barnyard, tart cherries and mustiness. Certainly some wet oak, lactic acid, slight vinegar and a tiny band-aid hint at the very end.

T- A myriad of tart fruits jump all over the palate without being sour. These mix with a funky Brett profile of barnyard, straw, cherry pits and band aid. Fruits that come to mind are tart green apples, vinous grapes, lactic sour lemon, white grape juice, cranberry and cherry. A slight spiciness along with fresh oak tannins and an acetic hint.

MF- Fairly dry but the body still has a substantial moderate thickness for the style. Somewhat creamy with medium carbonation and a tartness lingering at the end.

Biere de Garde that strikes a great balance between tart fruits, Brett funk (without overpowering), oak fermentation byproducts and souring bacteria. A damn fine brew that brings on some insane complexity.

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Photo of dar482
4.52/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer comes in a light hazy brown.

The aroma is extremely tart of apples, berries, some acetic sourness, along with oak and a bit of malty sweetness.

The flavor follows with that cherry, pomegranate, grape, fruity tartness in the front. It moves onto a dense aggressive funk and mustiness, which is complimented by oak. The sour qualities has an herbal dill and apple cider vinegar. A slight bready sweetness continues on through the beer. A oak and vinous drying on the finish. The middle palate is quite lacking in flavor.

A wonderful funky wild ale. Tons of complexity and the funk notes remind one of Cantillon's character.

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Photo of SABERG
4.51/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Served into an HFP snifter.

A - Color copper, rust, tinges of burnt umber. Fine formation and retention, lacing throughout.

S - Wine, grass, ruby fruit, apricot and fresh leather. As it warms even more complex with fig and light tannins.

T - Smart, sharp tones of fruit wine, young fig, autunm flowers, mild tart mid and dry finish.

M - Initially oily then dry tight closure, tart singularity, fine blend of carbonation and body. Interesting that it could be served as an appartif, or cordial.

O - Barrel touch adds to the Biere de Mars style, complex offering from a talented craftsmen ( team). The offering is a challenge, and a pleasure. What a treasure this is.

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Photo of stx00lax
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Dave. Finally, thank you!

A- pours a copper-amber hue with a long lasting white/off-white head.

S- oak, light toasty/bitter malts, grapes, dates and a bit of musty lactic twang.

T- oak and malts up front leading to a dry,vinous and tart finish.

M- light to medium body. Ample carbonation. Drying oak.

O- awesome! I have only had a few beers in this style, but this is as good or better than any i tried. I think the amount of tartness, spritzy carbonation and unique house yeast separate this from the rest and make for a very complex and refreshing brew.

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Photo of owend
4.47/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-red hued, slightly murky dark copper color with a small white head that leaves behind some light lacing

S- funky along with a nice blend of fruity sweetness, oak, a bit of grass, and bready malts.

T- Bready malts with a sharp sour apple tartness nicely cut with oak overtones. Hints of not quite ripe stone fruits, including apricot and plum. Dry finish with a bit of lingering tartness on the back of the tongue.

M-relatively low carb, medium body.

O-Another very nice offering from HF. Very complex beer that offers a wonderful blend of flavors that truly develop during tasting

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Photo of Resuin
4.47/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into an enlarged snifter. This is the 2014 vintage, bottled 01/2015.

Appearance: Pours an opaque raspberry red and leaves a couple of fingers of off-white head that fade to a white layer atop the beer. The bottle gushed upon opening. (4.5)

Smell: Green apple, white grapes, mild cheesy funk, wine oak barrels, cranberry. Nice, delicate aroma. (4.25)

Taste: Apple skins, white grapes, light hay funk, mild oak, light cheesy funk, tart cranberry. Nice and balanced with some subtle, interesting flavors. (4.5)

Mouth-feel: Medium carbonation with a medium, slightly spritzy, acidic body. Finishes a tad dry but quite smooth all the way through. Nice feel. (4.75)

Overall: This is a really nice, balanced, drinkable saison. The oak barrels give it some nice oaky and dry characteristics, and there are lots of tart fruit flavors as well as some nice light funk. (4.5)

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Photo of Stevedore
4.46/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle of batch 4. Poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 4/24/2014.

A- Dark orange- brown body, not particularly sexy, with a one finger white head with a nice collar on it. Good retention. A bit of lacing.

S- vinegar, lactic acid, white wine grapes, green apple skin, oak, Vermont barnyard funk. Complex and appealing.

F- jeez. Just as good as it smells. Lactate, vinegar, lemon zest, pear, apple skin, more vinegar than lactate. Vinous qualities, barnyard funk, a more bitter finish. Nice oak background.

M- medium body, well carbonated with a nice vinous oak finish. Not as white wine forward as Flora, but this is great.

O- this is a great Biere de Garde. One of Shaun's better creations. Not Flora level but it's excellent.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a semi-cloudy deep ruby red color with a light, bubbly, semi-frothy white head, very good legs and sticks to the glass.

S - Oak, white grapes, tart red grapes, barnyard, funk sweetness,

T- Tart, oak, red and white grapes with a lingering puckering sourness., fruity.

M - Full medium body, thick, puckering.

O - ery unique and amazing.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.45/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle thanks to yourefragile. Thanks! Served side by side with HF Ann. Like a boss.

Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass.

The beer is hazy and dark orange with a half inch of off white head.

The aroma brings oranges, citrus, malt, grass, light spice. Smells great.

The initial flavor is malty, followed by some earthy citrus. Again, very well done. Light spice, grass, tangerine.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Another winner from Shaun and Hill Farmstead. More confirmation that HF is one of the best breweries on the planet.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.43/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Callmecoon for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

2012 vintage. 1200 bottles.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is sour and tart with fruit, acidic, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with fruit and grain flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with some great aromas and flavors that make this beer super easy to drink.

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Photo of Mikeypnh
4.43/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice brown/amber, with a thin head, some bubbles on the side. Some decent lacing. Smells is very sour and a lot like wine. Some oak, dark fruits, funk. The taste is sour but not as sour as I thought, it might be perfect. There's a very soft mouthfeel and it's really smooth. There's some funk, oak, wine, sour cherry. Just enough carbonation to feel it on the tongue. Fairly light and refreshing. Really nice.

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Biere De Norma from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.33 out of 5 based on 596 ratings.
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