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 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 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 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 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 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 Dmbphoenix
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Placed in a cellar for five months. Opened last night. Pours a garnet red into tulip glass. Smells a bit of oak, slightly sweet malt. First sip is tart, good carbonation but not overbearing. Medium bodied on the tongue. Finishes very dry, crisp all the way through. Shared with a lovely gal who loved it. When I asked why, she said maybe cuz it reminded her of a hard cider....for what that's worth...

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.97/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pour is orangish red with an off white head leaving a decent lace. Nose is heavy red wine, juicy dark grape, notes of oak, very rustic and pleasant. Taste is a bit muted, the red wine is there but the finish is a touch empty. More Brett but not pronounced, leathery and dusty. Body is light, assertive carbonation, and a touch of dryness to it.

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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 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 Alieniloquium
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Batch 2. Finally reviewing this after having it multiple times.

Appearance - Very dark outside as I drink. Appears to have a nice khaki head. Murky lightbrownish body.

Smell - Acidic. Malty. Lots of oak. All three aromas blend together seamlessly.

Taste - Mild acidity. Malty. Slight citrus tang. Very oaky. Oak pulls together the flavors in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Well carbonated. Mild sourness.

Overall - A beer that is greater than the sum of its parts. Simple flavors put together very well.

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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 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 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 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 HuskyinPDX
4.24/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle opened on 12.21.13
1200 Bottles

A - Pours a hazy amber-brown with a fluffy, tan head that fades slowly.

S - Tart-funky, wood, apple.

T - Funky, red apples, pear, wood, acidic-dry finish.

D - Good carbonation with a lighter body.

O - Funky and dry with some orchard fruit flavors.

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Photo of Luk13
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Hazy dark gold pour with white head, very pretty, almost glowing orange. Aroma has some brett, peach, lots of oak, vanilla, light buttery aroma, honey. Taste like TDD Dulcis, grape peel, honey, grain, butter, vanilla, very tasty. Not really sour but has a nice funk and a tart, citric finish. Palate is well carbed, and full bodied. Delicious.

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Photo of jaasen64
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle poured into HF stemmed glass. 2012 vintage- 1200 bottles, ~850 released. Second time having this in the last month.

A- Pours a slightly murky reddish brown with a slight yellowish hue. Thin layer of white foamy head that leaves some spotty lacing and recedes to a fairly flat top.

S- Vinous fruits, sweet lightly bready malts, light sauvignon blanc wine and oak presence that balances nicely with the vinous fruits, slight vinegar tartness.

T- Vinous fruits of light grapes, some cherries, etc. (not overly fruity), balanced with sweet malts that have a subtle bready presence, finishes with a fairly light tart presence, some light oak, and wine presence. Very well balanced although a little bit sweeter then I was expecting and slighlty less tart then I was hoping.

M- Medium bodied, very easy drinking, just the right amount of carbonation, smooth.

O- This was another great beer from HF, but I wouldn't say I was blown away by it. It was slightly different then I was expecting having a slightly sweeter and less tart presence then I was expecting. I've only had a few Biere de Gardes as I wouldn't say it's a style that is brewed a lot, but this is easily the best of the style I've had and perhaps one of the best representations of the style out there. That being said I wouldn't say I enjoyed this that much more then Shaun's more common offerings such as Anna, Arthur, etc.. I highly recommend checking it out though and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle (2013)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, baconsausage!

Dark orange or a glowing, light ruby in color. Nearly clear, though some faint sediment visible throughout. Pillowy near-white head. Irregular dots of stick left down the glass.

Tart fruit, musk and dust, a little bit of farmhouse funk, and oak combine quite nicely. A bit of a yogurt character, red grape, and dried cherry character as well.

The flavor is similar to the aroma, with the farmhouse funk, dried grass, red grapes, and sun-dried cherry flavors leading the way. A bit of a muted citrus character as well. Some simple grain and bread notes, but tasty and complementary.

Medium mouthfeel with high, but creamy, carbonation. Disappearing.

Excellent departure from the style. Unique, flavorful, and delicious.

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Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served in a tulip at Decofest, thanks to Mark for sharing!
Quick review from written notes.

Dark and saturated reddish orange color, wispy seafoam spray of lace around the edges with a thin veil across the surface.

Dried citrus aroma with what seems like a saison yeast.

Tart citrus upfront, finishes dry with some light woody spice and lightly bitter tannins. Medium body, crisp feel with ample creamy carbonation. Light sweetness in the middle. Overall pretty straightforward and not far off from HF's other wild and sour beers.

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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 scottfrie
4.29/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle poured into snifter. Thanks for sending me this one, Kevin!

A: Pours a deep ruddy iced tea color with a thin off-white head that faded into a fuzzy film. Spotty streaks of lace were left down the glass.
S: Musty and tart overall, with notes of dry oak barrel, red fruits, unripe fruits, apricot, and slight notes of perfume.
T: I get notes of buttery oak barrel, tart cranberry, caramel, and cherry pits. Not as tart as I was expecting. I get mild notes of lemon and sour barrel funk in the finish. The aftertaste is buttery, leather, cranberry and slight pomegranate.
M: Buttery and slick mouthfeel, not as dry and I would have liked. Smooth mouthfeel, rich and full boy, low carbonation.
O: Really good flavor, easy to drink and smooth. I would have liked it drier, but I wouldn't turn down another glass of this. Thanks again, Kevin!

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Photo of drabmuh
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Michael, beer served in a Hill Farmstead glass. Beer is ruby and mostly clear with an off white head of small and medium bubbles, some lacing, moderate retention, moderate to low carbonation.

Aroma is good, a little oaky, woody, earthy, sweet, yeast comes through nicely.

A very nice beer, delicate and complex with hints of oak, esters, yeast, mild funk, sweetness as well. An overall great beer and I'd have it again.

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Photo of jbuddle
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this about 3 months ago and lucky enough to split a bottle last night with my friend who went to the release with me. Cheers, Eric!

A opaque ruby red with an off white head that lasts for hours, literally. Great lacing
S super fruity, much more than I remember. Some brett dancing in the background but dominated by juicy, tart, fruits. A bit of oak too.
T A bit of a letdown from the intensely fruit forward nose, but still quite good. Citrus fruits, some pineapple and kiwi come to mind, all balanced by a nice bready backbone. Pretty funky and musty, just a bit of sourness coming around.
M Fantastic light and airy. Not super carbed like some bretty AWA's, but it did gush a bit after opening.
O A fantastic beer from HF as usual. This has developed some serious fruit notes and is starting to get a bit more sour.

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Photo of largadeer
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Amber body with some haziness, topped by a thin clinging head.

Vinous funk on the nose. Tamarind, leather, barnyard. Slight oxidation, touch of caramel malt sweetness. Smells quite good.

Heavy on the wine barrel, which brings an interesting tamarind and currant quality. Plenty of barnyard funkiness, too. Feels pretty big - good flavors but a bit heavy on the palate. Acidity is moderate. Finishes with lingering tamarind and red wine flavors. Pretty damn good, one of the better farmhouse ales from Hill Farmstead.

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Photo of Maxwell
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours out a dark copper-amber color with a tiny scrim of caramel-white bubbles that mellow into a nice ring around the glass. In body, the beer is nearly a uniform color throughout with a rich opacity. On the nose, this beer reeks of beautiful funk; lemon-lime and horse blanket tango on the nostrils alongside nuances of pineapple, leather, cherry pie, and deep barnyard scents. What a beautiful nose on this beer. On the tongue, the beer tastes of a wonderfully balanced tartness alongside a smooth malt sweetness and just a kiss of herbal and spicy hop bitters at the back and finish. As the beer warms, a smooth and syrupy sweetness also starts to blanket the tongue throughout the sip, further pressing a nice balance throughout the beer. In flavor, the beer begins as pineapple juice and light caramel, slowly working its way to sweet barnyard and horse blanket. The finish blends horse blanket, caramel malt, pineapple juice, herbal hay, and grass notes onto the tongue. Soft touches of pine and this delicious yet unplaceable sweetness splash over the back of the palate. The aftertaste is a delicious blend of caramel and funk, almost like a softly candied funk. In the mouth, the beer is on the light side of medium, with a soft carbonation and a mouthfeel that is smooth and slightly syrupy. Overall, this is delicious and a perfect candidate for aging. The funk will only get better. Sometimes I want to dislike Hill Farmstead’s beer, but I never can. This beer is great.

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