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: 597
Photo of PHBoiler
4.13/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A blend of malty body and dry finish. Interesting beer and style. Fairly tart with a bit of funk as well. Similar to a dry cider. Almost a spontaneous type of tart flavor. The body gives hints of honey and fruit.

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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 Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a brown/reddish color ale with a small foamy head. Aroma of tart notes with light fruity undertones is pleasant. Taste is also a mix of tart notes with light fruity undertones and some light caramel notes with some oak notes also clearly identifiable. Body is about average with good carbonation. Not bad but I would say that the vinous and tart level is quite high for the style.

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Photo of rodmanfor3
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is one of those, "I want it once a year," type beers, especially at $30 per bottle.

Very unique flavor profile that exhibits oak barrel characteristics, earthy notes, subtle fruit, and a combination of bitterness from the hops, a touch of leather and tobacco, and a slightly sour finish.

With so many other great offerings from this brewery, I may not seek this out again, though I would certainly never turn it down.

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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 mdfb79
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 11/28/15 notes.

Very fruity, and lightly sour. Fruity malts, tropical notes, oak, light funk. Medium body and moderate carbonation.

Had never had this and thought it was great; hope they make this one again.

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Photo of Myotus
4.22/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A huge thanks to Pearpicker for this bottle!
Poured from a 750ml bottle (2014 vintage) at
46°F into a tulip.
LOOK: Pours with a half finger's worth of off-white foam that shrivels into a line after 10 seconds. A beautiful dark amber in color (leaning more towards red than orange) with an extreme amount of cloudiness. Rising bubbles are small in size and very subtle in quantity. Lacing is thin and very subtle, also.
SMELL: Mild aromas of sour green apple acidity, tobacco, oak, and bittersweet red wine are backed by hints of toasted malts and honey.
TASTE: Strong sour green apple and oak flavors enter initially and are immediately followed by strong tobacco flavors. Mild bittersweet red wine, subtle toasted malt, and hints of honey flavors enter lastly as all previous flavors persist.
FEEL: Medium-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down smooth. Sourness from the somewhat aggressively agitates the tongue. Finishes with a moderate dryness.
NOTE: As beer warms, red wine and honey flavors grow slightly stronger. Still, the honey wasn't strong enough. I would have also like to have had more sweetness from the red wine.

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Photo of Zaximus
4.14/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 Vintage - Dated 1/2015

L- Pours a very deep copper with modest head and excellent lacing.

S- Fantastic. Very funky. Dark fruit.

T- Tart but not overly sour or funky. Some dark fruit. Sour apple. But overall the flavors are somewhat muted. Misleading considering the nose.

M- Very, very dry. Wine-like. Lot of carbonation.

O- I was very excited to try this one but it was somewhat of a disappointment. Definitely solid but I felt like it lacked an identity as it fluctuated between a tart saison and a mild sour without really delivering a memorable experience on either front. Perhaps it's just te stud in general. Still worth trying.

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Photo of markgugs
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage. Funk, funk & more funk, dayum. Apple skin tannic, dragged through the hay and grass. Caramel and earth. Fantastic. Now to track down a fresh one...

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Photo of TampaRainman
3.79/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

What can I say. Normally I dig everything HF puts out. Not much has been a real miss with me, but I just didn't like the way this tasted. Perhaps I'm not a fan of the style--haven't had many--but this was not particularly pleasant from a flavor standpoint.

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Photo of kevanb
4.36/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, marked as 2014 vintage, but packaged 1/2015, poured into a Hill Farmstead oversized wine glass. Enjoyed on June 13, 2015, reviewed from Tasting Journal.

The beer pours a dark amber color, hazy and opaque, burgundy and maroon hues with a bone colored head, about a finger or so high, decent retention and lace. The aroma is pleasant, stone fruits, red wine tannin, oak, leather, pinot noir definitely comes to mind, green apple, crusty bread, wildflower with mild tartness. The flavors are great, loads of pitted stone fruits, perhaps even some blackberry, very, very fruity, but with nice underlying complexity, oak, leather, toasted oak, musty red wine acidity, a bit of raw and earthy honey with a nice backbone of darker malts, chewy, sturdy, bready, with just a touch of bitterness and that signature light tartness from Hill Farmstead that is in all their farmhouse beers. The mouthfeel is very nice, coating, moderate carbonation, gentle and smooth as always, the finish is a bit dryer than I'd prefer, a touch of sharpness that almost goes from tart to full on sour.

Verdict: A very nice annual release from Hill Farmstead, perhaps not the truest to style, but unique and interesting. The prominent cherry/stone fruit flavor blended with the red wine-esque flavors, on a darker, more amber/brown malt base, really reminded me at times of Supplication from Russian River. While not nearly as sour, this had a lot of similar flavors and complexities and was not a comparison I expected to see myself making.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.49/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

BOTTLE: 2014 vintage. Bottled 01/2015. 750ml brown glass. Maroon wax-ed over pry off cap.

Expectations are relatively high; I've enjoyed the few beers I've had from this brewery, but I'm not big on biere de Mars as a style.

Served cold into a tulip and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Reviewed live as a biere de garde per the label.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

7% ABV.

HEAD: ~.25 inches. Recedes almost immediately, lingering as a floater ring for a scant 20 seconds. It was white, but I had no time to note any other characteristics. Leaves no lacing.

BODY: Translucent copper. Nontransparent. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible. Average vibrance.

Appears aptly carbonated. It's a nice looking biere de Mars, but isn't unique or special.

AROMA: Brettanomyces funkiness. Muted dampened oak. I'm not getting as much farmhouse character as I anticipated; there's no straw or hay. Some green apple. Other fruit too - maybe some depleted plum? Seems a biteen on the sweeter side for a biere de Mars. I do find the honey when I look for it, but it's not prominent. Mild clove. Hop presence is minimal, bringing complementary floral hop character into the mix.

Aromatic intensity is average.

I find no booze or off-notes.

Suggests a well-balanced but middling brew.

TASTE: A kiss of sourness - maybe a 2/10 in terms of intensity. Green apple makes an appearance, but it isn't an off-note. Copper malts, grassiness, Belgian pale malts. The honey is subtle and nicely integrated, but does drive the sweetness up. Still, the bitterness/sweetness balance is well handled. Has a European hop profile with complementary grassy and floral hop notes. Some dried lime. Lacks a spice profile or a guiding yeast presence. Cohesive, definitely. Musty throughout. A biteen tannic, even.

It's not gestalt, nor is particularly deep or expressive. I do like it, and the yeasty funkiness is nice, but this isn't a world-class example of the style.

Average duration and intensity of flavour.

The oak needs to be played up; it's muted and reticent. This is nicely built overall, but leaves much to be desired in terms of intricacy and layering of flavour. There's some nice subtlety and nuance to the flavours (especially the honey), but as a whole it's just not more than the sum of its parts.

TEXTURE: Oddly dry, parching the palate somewhat and restraining its ability to refresh. Medium-bodied, lightly smacky on the palate, and smooth. Adequately thick and weighty on the palate. Carbonation is about right, but not perfect. Has a pleasingly crisp finish.

Could be softer. That dryness needs to be curbed.

There's no harmony of texture to taste, but this mouthfeel does a decent job at complementing the flavour profile. Doesn't help accentuate any specific notes.

OVERALL: Drinkable, absolutely. Hides its ABV well. It's not a mind-blowing brew, and doesn't live up to its impeccable reputation, but it's nice work, sure. I wouldn't go out of my way to nab a second bottle. Glad I got to try it.

High B- (3.49)

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Photo of Sarge3130
3.19/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

really don't understand the hype here. Appearance is similar to a Barley wine. Ton of wet oak on the aroma followed by a slightly apple sour taste. Struggled through a 5oz pour.

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Photo of rhong187
2.82/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

murky, reminds me of creek water, smells a bit sweet, probably its best attribute... Sweetness and oak up front, but not much of anything else. I'd like to call it one dimensional, but not sure what dimension that might be. Love HF, but this one was quite disappointing.

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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 Jwale73
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours the color and clarity of cider. Nose expresses cider vinegar and vanilla notes. Taste consistent with nose - I feel like I get a distinct wine barrel presence. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with an even carbonation and a kiss of astringency. All and all, the first time I had this beer I found it a little watery; however, this time around I have to say that I was pretty blown away.

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Photo of stephenjmoore
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle says 2013 vintage. Transparent medium-amber body with a soapy, off-white head. Lots of mini carbonation bubbles rise throughout the body. Aroma is of caramel malts, honey, hints of earthy funk, a dash of toasted oak and some floral qualities. Tart up front with the caramel malts and oak taking over next. Finish is tart and puckering with some lingering sweetness. The feel is medium bodied with crisp carbonation and a tart, prickly finish. A very good beer and very good for the style; toasted malts and oak and tartness with a hint of honey.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%

A-Cloudy deep orange, nice carbonation, two finger head that leaves nice lacing.

S-Oak, grapes, wine, honey, nice funk notes as well.

T-Starts with very tart oak with grapes. Some carbonation.

M-Lighter, semi dry finish, nice carbonation.

O-Another great beer from HF, what can I say.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.41/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle with thick red wax. Vintage 2013

Split 3 ways with my local beer crew into 3 HF Wine Stems.

Appearance: Orangish and murky crimson colored body maybe a copper hue as well. Thick cap of white head that drops to a thin cap.

Smell: Very wine barrel forward. Mild funk that is familiar to me as Hill Farmstead funkiness. Fruity and oaky. Slightly briney and minerally.

Taste: boarders between mild and moderate tart/tanginess. Tannic wet oak, vinous red wine, combine with subtlely sweet malt profile. Earthy and mustiness about the beer. Fruity and the minerals flavors also come through. As this beer gets warmer a musty funk becomes slightly cheezey or yogerty like some lactobacillus was involved in the brewing process.

Mouthfeel: medium boided beer with low carbonation. Just the right amount of driness in the beer to drive home the wine barrel character in this beer is a most pleasant way. Drinks pretty well.

Overall: I have only tried a handful of beers from the Beire de Garde family of beer styles. Aging this style in a wine barrel is a great idea. It compliments the beer style very nicely. This is the best that I have had out of all the Biere De Garde beers so far! Again another beer that is excuted so well by S. Hill.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to seblp for going to Vermont and bringing this back for us.

A: Tawny brown topped with a sand coloured foam, rocky and solid on the pour hold well both on the surface and up the glass with plenty of lacing.

S: Dank wet oak with plenty of fresh tart fruit notes, tart cherries, plums and musky grapes. A sour dankness of brett and some warm caramel malts round the finish off.

T: Resembling a red wine in many ways, it's tannic with a musty grape flavour with notes of minerals. Herbal notes show up mid palate that dance with the tart fruits, plums and grape skins.

M:Mouth feel seems to be all about supporting the tartness, it a snappy carbonation with plenty of dryness on the back end.

O: A terrific brew that manages to straddle the world of wine and beer, tangy dry tart and just a hint of wild sour yeasts are bold and unapologetic. Notable how the head holds strong on the brew from start to finish.

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Photo of stakem
3.79/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thank you cparles for sharing this with me. I believe it was the 2012 version poured into a Bullfrog Grrrz snifter. The brew appears a clear copper color with an off-white cap that persists with decent retention.

The aroma is funky brett and earth character before getting vinous with some tangy nose to it. As it warms up, it has a hint of caramel malt and faint herbal hop note.

The taste is tart with an herbal backing of hops. Somewhat tannic and drying with a strange meaty character if that makes any sense. Across the back is a fresh biscuit graininess. The flavors of this are peculiar and initially dont seem to jive but as you take more sips it really starts to work.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is a decent brew with quite a unique overall feel. I say this brew is mediocre at best...than I think about the Biere de garde style as a whole and cannot think of any true standouts. For the style, id say this is well beyond average. Id drink it again if offered but id never attempt to trade for one considering what HF beers command.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.06/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage. Thanks to Kim for opening this somewhat limited brew. Shared at a tasting a few nights ago, reviewed from phone notes.

Dusty light brownish red color with an off-white head. Retention is pretty good as a full cap for the duration. The smell is great and the highlight for me. Bretty berries, a mix of red and white wine flavors, vanilla, honey, musty caramel, lactic funk. Taste missed some of the complexities of the scent but still pretty nice. A vinous feel rules overall; lots of red and green grape, tart apple cider, oak, berry yogurt/lactic tones, some farmy funk. Medium-high carbonation, dry finish, feels maybe a bit bigger than 7%.

It didn't floor me like it seemed to have done for the majority, but definitely quite good. Biere de garde base funkified with a good amount of unique flavors.

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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 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 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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Biere De Norma from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.33 out of 5 based on 597 ratings.
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