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: 65 | Ratings: 594
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 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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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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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 SpeedwayJim
4.39/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kyle for getting this for me. 2012 vintage into Hill Farmstead stemware. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a 1.5 finger light cream colored head with low retention. Beer is a stunning, clear red. Lacing is patchy but sparse with good stick. Very good.

Nose is oak, sour red fruit, light vinegar and a spritzy creaminess. Some cinnamon mixes well with the acidity. Pretty good though not the most aromatic.

Opens oak, lightly sour red fruit, cinnamon, leather, and a distinct, yeasty funk. Bone dry through the experience. Some pomegranate in the middle with a lightly bitter yeasty straw funk. End is foamy. Cobwebs, hay, and farmhouse come to mind. Finishes slightly sweet and fruity with a lightly tart, yeasty aftertaste. Very delicate with some unique flavors for sure.

Light bodied with ample carbonation. Prickly and lively in the mouth and goes down very dry. Finishes filmy with a bone dry aftertaste. Almost exactly what I want from the style. Excellent.

A magnificently balanced and crafted beer with a ton of nuances that only Hill Farmstead could pull off. Delicate nose, flavor, and feel pull this one together just right. That being said, sometimes I want a little bit more distinctness and oomph to my beers. Still, this is, no question, an excellent brew and well worth seeking out.

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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 Etan
4.39/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml into a tulip. Batch 2.

A: Pours a slightly murky dark amber with a nice off-white head.

S: Red wine tannins, clean lactic notes, mild acetic character, overripe cherry, leather, pineapple, a hint of caramel sweetness.

T: Taste brings moderate lactic tartness, more notes of cherry and currant, toasted grain, buttery oak tannins, vinous, apricot, a bit of pleasant wild mustiness, mild floral bitterness, dry finish.

M: Medium-bodied with silky carbonation.

O: What a treat. I can imagine this aging well in the bottle.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 WillCarrera
4.42/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle generously shared at the Peg's tasting on 3/8/13.

A- Pours a murky orange color, topped with a thin white head.

S- Sweet aroma of peach, apricot, brett, oak, and bready, grainy malt.

T- Bready malts and yeast upfront, followed by a nice, slightly tart, brett flavor with some peach, dry oak and a vinous, dry finish.

M- Medium-bodied, smooth feel, dry finish.

O- A very nice beer, the dry, vinous, oaky flavors and the fruity brett are really nice, the flavors are complex but very subtle, awesome stuff overall.

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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 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 Knapp85
4.36/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This poured out as a deep amber color, the head was white and foamy. The retention was good and the lacing was decent. The smell of the beer was huge with fresh oak, very wooden and kind of funky. The aroma was quite impressive. The taste of the beer is malty, but has a softer oak flavor that I expected it to have judging by how strong the aroma is. There is a bit of light caramel in the aftertaste also. The mouthfeel medium bodied with a big amount of carbonation. The beer finishes on he dry side with a tart sting in the back of the tongue. Overall this beer is very nice, really impressive stuff.

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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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Biere De Norma from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.33 out of 5 based on 594 ratings.
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