Fear & Trembling
Hill Farmstead Brewery

Fear & TremblingFear & Trembling
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Porter - Baltic
Ranked #9
Ranked #1,432
4.25 | pDev: 8%
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
Fear & TremblingFear & Trembling
Notes: Fear & Trembling was Hill Farmstead’s first collaboration - a Baltic-style porter brewed with malt that was hand smoked over maple wood by our Danish friend, and former colleague, Anders Kissmeyer. This batch was brewed with malt that was hand-smoked over a blend of native woods, then fermented in the traditional way, with lager yeast, and conditioned in stainless steel.
Reviews: 83 | Ratings: 462 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of EMV
EMV from Pennsylvania

4.49/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Dark, dark mahogany brown pour. Nearly black with a finger of mocha colored head. Solid retention/lacing.

S: Bourbon and booze. Rich roasted malts... a hint of smoke and vanilla.

T.F: Semi-sweet and rich. Smooth and creamy. Bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Not picking up as much of the wine barrel (red I'm assuming)... a bit of tanins as it warms with some dark fruit. A very pleasant hint of smoke... not overdone in any way. Dark chocolate, leather, and a bit of char.

O: Absolutely fantastic Baltic porter. It picks up the best of the base style, the smoke, and the barrels. This was a wonderful slow sipper.... complex and delicious.

Mar 13, 2021
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Pinz412 from Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a willi becher, Fear & Trembling poured a dark mahogany that allowed little to no light to penetrate the glass. An inch and a half tan creamy tan reached reached for the rim of the glass and lingered for some time. The aroma was beautifully toasted malt while sitting next to a smoldering campfire. The smoke didn't hit you with every inhale, but the occasional shift in wind carried the scent to you. As it warmed, the smoke became more prevalent. It was not hard to give it that time to develop as this was clearly a beer that demanded your patience and attention from the first sip. That first taste revealed a remarkably rich and robust porter with just enough smoke. Dark chocolate malt, toasted grain, and a bitter and dry finish defined the opening notes. The longer I sipped, the more smoke made it's way closer to the top of the flavor profile. Everything was in perfect balance. The mouthfeel was silky smooth with a body that was well past medium, but not quite full. Fear & Trembling was an absolute stunner.

Feb 27, 2021
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 8/12/20; consumed on 1/19/21

Pours a deep jet-brown/glossy black body capped with multiple fingers of rich, creamy, pale hazelnut-hued foam; excellent head retention yields a finger of equally creamy cap, a moderate, frothy collar, and thick, chunky rings of lacing circling around the walls of the glass.

Aroma initially presents soft notes of sinewy, delicately smoked bacon informing the front of the bouquet before embracing a fluid, milk chocolate sweetness; a middle of underlying coffee and vague nuttiness eases toward a touch of campfire, with hints of maple syrup absorbed by the building malty roast on the close.

Taste opens with hints of milk chocolate taking on an almost mineralic, clean smoke, touched with meaty bacon into a mid-palate embracing bittersweet coffee and toasty malts; dark chocolate implies a brief, robust richness into a back end of charry roast pronounced into smoke and raw cacao showing further on the finish.

Mouthfeel features a plush, pillowy-slick, medium-light body along with a creamy puff of otherwise moderate carbonation; a roasty texture appears quickly upfront and remains consistent across the palate, evolving with a taut, almost chalky, drying bitterness over the back end before reaching a mild char on the finish.

Distinct yet beautifully understated, with all elements, from (Rauchbier-esque) smoke to roast to sweetness, evolving with each sip; the touch and effortless composure Hill Farmstead brings to this beer really shines throughout.

Jan 20, 2021
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ScaryEd from New Hampshire

4.58/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16.9 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a near pitch black color with 2 fingers of creamy tan head. The head leaves a literal wall of lacing as it settles into a thick blanket of foam.

The aroma brings notes of dark chocolate, smoked dark malts, bacon, wood, and roasted coffee. There's a faint hint of maple syrup on the back end.

The flavor brings notes of molasses and maple syrup, followed by smoked bacon and dark chocolate. Finishes with some roasted coffee and charred leather.

The feel is medium-full bodied with soft carbonation. Very smooth and rich with a dry finish. A bit syrupy.

Overall, a fantastic Baltic Porter that is wonderfully complex, bringing forth an array of flavors and aromas that are somewhat atypical of a porter. Has lots of elements of a German Rauchbier that cannot be ignored.

Dec 20, 2018
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FFreak from Vermont

4.76/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Purchased at the brewery over a year ago. Such an awesome porter! Oily black with a fluffy, dark tan head. Syrupy smells with maybe a little bourbon. A complexity of flavors with a slight tartness from the wine barrells (?) melding with a soft and smooth bourbon/maple syrup sweetness. Mouth feel is awesome...so soft and excellent. Overall, a wonderful beer.

Nov 14, 2018
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yasky from Canada (ON)

4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Near black pour, larger light tan head, good retention, gobs of lacing. Aroma of smoked malts, black coffee, light woody notes, bakers cocoa. Moderate smoke up front, dark malts, light black strap molasses, strong black coffee. Medium body, very light smoky aftertaste. Pair with a rainy day and some Alpha Tolman.

Mar 28, 2018
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Zythophile from District of Columbia

4.21/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle Date: 9/13/16
Palate Contaminants: other beer

The look is an opaque deep brown. Fair amount of tan head, mostly fine, but with some larger bubbles.

Smell is chicory and non-bitter dark chocolate. And this might seem strange, but I get roasted coffee without the coffee. (In other words, just the roast.) It's somewhat lactic, as well.

Taste is roasted chocolate, if that makes sense. (i know, I keep getting things in combinations that don't make normal sense.) Dark rum. Lots of barrel, but not overly charred, which sometimes drags the whole affair down. Green tree stems. There's some burned coffee, but it's more bitter than acidic, although the bitterness doesn't overwhelm.

The label says it's a niner, but I can't pick out the alcohol. Carbonation is fairly coarse, yet not prickly. In the aftertaste, whatever was burnt recedes back to toastiness.

Oct 09, 2017
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Stevedore from Oregon

4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle, dated 10.28.15. Served in a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass.

Pours a dark cola brown body, nearly black, one and a half finger thick mocha head, good retention, medium collar that sticks around for quite a while, good retention, not much lacing. Smell is moderate smoke and oak, with a nice milk chocolate sweetness in the background that somehow moderates the smoke. I was expecting a campfire, but this is starting to smell more like s'mores. It's still fairly smoky, and that smooths over on the flavour- which is really, really nice. It tastes like chocolate milk with a nice dose of smoke and oak, with more of the milk than the chocolate. It's got a nice sweetness to it that reminds me of lactose, with a some Ritter sport milk chocolate dunked in there. You know how you take a square of Ritter and just put it in your mouth and let it melt? That's what it tastes like, plus a fair bit of smoke and oak? Nice. The mouthfeel is medium-fuller bodied, creamy, perhaps from the lager yeast, or any particular non-fermentable addition, who knows? This is a delight to drink, and I'm happy to finally tick this one off. I usually dislike smoked beers, but this is perfectly balanced by the grain bill on this beer, plus a nice bit of complexity too. S'mores without going over the top. It'd be even neater if they tossed some vanilla beans in.

Jul 25, 2017
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Kendo from New York

4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 9/13/16; consumed on 7/6/17 (I just found this in the fridge in my garage; not sure how it got there, to be honest).

A: Poured into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is black with a 1-finger foamy brown head. Good staying power on that head, and it leaves behind decent lacing.

S: Roasted barley malt, some chocolate malt and a touch of smoke/char.

T: Up front it's big on the roasted barley malt, but that's followed by a bit of chocolatey malt and then finishes with slightly charred wood and a tannic, woodsy bitterness, which offsets the sweeter/roasty malt characteristics.

M: Medium-to-heavy in heft, with good carbonation. Smooth but chewy.

O: Very good. Probably better fresh, but here we are.

Jul 07, 2017
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Buck89 from Tennessee

4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 version poured into a snifter. Nearly opaque dark brown with a nice, long-lasting tan head. Smoked wood, cedar, coffee, and toast on the aroma. The taste followed with a creamy milk chocolate opening that gave way to a gentle smoke and more bitter notes - char, coffee, toast. My favorite aspect is the light, creamy feel for such a big beer. Only a gentle warming on the finish gives it away. Delicious.

Jun 02, 2017
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ArkyVaughan from New Jersey

4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 batch from a bottle. Pours nearly black with a fluffy head. Smoke flavor is very subdued - lots of coffee and chocolate notes, although neither were used to brew this beer. Feel is super creamy. This is how you do a Baltic Porter. Well done.

Apr 17, 2017
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professorchow from Massachusetts

4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark, almost inky, with modest head. Smells of smoke, coffee, chocolate. Taste is similar. The smoke is far from overpowering, but is a presence, making what would already be a pleasant porter much more interesting. You get no idea--none--how much alcohol there is in this. Mouthfeel is smooth as can be. I'll almost always reach for a stout over a porter, but this porter is one I'd drink whenever (at best rarely, alas) it's available.

Feb 19, 2017
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aquabears from Connecticut

4.46/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark, chocolate brown. Smells like roast, very slight hint of smokiness. Taste is a rich, full, sweet, smokey chocolate. Leaves a solid smoke taste after you swallow that fills your mouth and makes your breath feel "thick." Hint of bitter from the malt that grows as the beer warms and you keep drinking. No alcohol heat... super smooth and chewy, low carbonation.

Feb 04, 2017
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This one pours a pretty thick and creamy looking black, with a thick and persistent head, and lots of lacing.

Smells like rich woody smoke, very roasty coffee, slight powdery chocolate, vanilla cream, and really awesome roasted malt.

This is nearly flawless. It's quite smoky, so if you don't like that flavor, you might be out of luck. However, I really dig that sort of flavor. It's a very woody and dry smoke flavor, earthy and super tasty. There's lots of smoky chocolate flavor too, with roasted coffee bean, some light vanilla cream, and a definite nuttiness. It's got such a creamy and wonderfully smoky flavor.

This has a really creamy and full body, while remaining quite drinkable. It has a super decadent feel to it, without being very sweet, which is an interesting effect.

This is one of the best smoked beers I've ever had. It's absolutely wonderful.

Dec 07, 2016
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rjp217 from Massachusetts

4.66/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Not my favorite style but you gotta give it up to SH on this one. Just the perfect hint of smoke, not overpowering in the least. Smooth body, lots of chocolate and some robust roast. For the type of beer they're going for here, it really can't be made better than this.

Nov 19, 2016
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Duff27 from Illinois

4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Cap and collar of darker brown throughout. Darkest of brown in body.

Aroma of fresh ground fudgey coffee beans.

It's a battle of chocolate and smoke throughout with roasty notes pulling it all together. Drinks at around 7%

Velvety smooth mouthfeel, tight carb.

This was a well made (and drank!) beer from HF. I jump at any chance to tick a smoked/rauch beer. Thanks egrace84

Oct 24, 2016
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SABERG from Massachusetts

4.06/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a recent release, bottle date of 9/13/2016 into a small goblet.
A - Dark and mysterious, lurking in the void is carbonation feeding a mocha colored cap of loose knit spheres supporting
an unstable structure of intrigue.
S - Madagascar chocolate, dark roast malts, at first the cocoa is strong and the smoked malts are in the background. Upon warming the smokiness smolders to the front. Gentle application of the smoked malts proves delightful. Dark fruit
fig and plum run between the chocolate and smoked malts.
T - Wonderful toasted malts, dark chocolate, a bit of sweet fruits, fig, raisin blend seamlessly with a bit of blond tobacco and pumpernickel. Dark grains and semi-sweet cocoa.
F - Incredibly soft on the palate, to start. A drying happens in great haste. The tongues side roll down in acquiescence, A short period of sweetness and then a finish as dry as cocoa powder leaves the calling card for another sip.
O - A Baltic Porter to be reckoned with, the alcohol is so well hidden in this complex and delightful offering. Worth every effort to be had. A brewers skill on display.

Oct 09, 2016
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TheDoctor from Canada (QC)

4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Service: Bottle
Bottled on: Oct-28-2015

Pours a ruby-tinged jet black, impenetrable. Three big fingers of tan foam-mattress that slowly eases to a healthy film. Good retention; lots of droopy lacing. (4.25)

Rich, toasty coffee and cream, brown sugar, toasted wood, dark fruits, toffee, coffee grounds caramelized wood (?). As it warms the light campfire smell becomes more robust—not to sausage proportions, though, and a slight roast astringency tweaks your nose. (4.25)

Soft sweet beer with a malty wave at the end. Dark berries, baker's chocolate, roasty malts, smoky body—almost peaty, slight char in the finish. (4.25)

Smooth, full-bodied, light carbonation, a bit astringent, lingering peaty finish. (4.25)

Tasty, interesting, well-made beer. It is different, but not in a weird way.
The smoke and the sweet roastiness seem like a really natural fit. Neither takes over completely, but it is definitely a big, flavorful beer. The sweetness is well balanced by the smoke, and it really opens up as it warms. Taste was not as complex as the nose lets on, but very good nonetheless. Would have again; worth trying. (4.25)

Sep 11, 2016
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Zaximus from Colorado

4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark. Small foamy head with really nice lacing.

The smell on this is off the charts. It's so smokey. Smells like smoked almonds. It's fairly overwhelming.

The taste doesn't quite follow. I don't get much of the smoke but a lot of roasted malt. It's sweet too. Almost too much so. Still, the flavors are vivid. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy.

I've really been impressed with HF's porters. Maybe more so than even their IPAs.

This is pretty delicious and easily drinkable.

Jun 01, 2016
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Ciocanelu from Romania

4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle. Dark brown color with creamy tan head. Dark malt, caramel, some boozy sweetness. Taste has also dark malt, roasty and a bit astringent, even a bit ashy on the aftertaste. Full bodied, soft carbonation. Quite good for the style.

On tap. Dark brown color with brownish head. Aroma has sweet coffee and roasted malts. Taste follows with the same flavors plus some earthy hops. Medium body and carbonation. Well made beer but it's not a style I enjoy very much. Rating: 3.75/5

May 17, 2016
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JohnGalt1 from Idaho

3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle tonight at the tasting at SteveOJ's.. Pours dark mahogany brown with red highlights when held to a light.. meaty smoky notes on the nose translate perfectly to the palate... beef jerky and peat smoky notes.. umami is the name of the game here.... Painfully average, nothing new here.

All 3.5

Feb 21, 2016
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dar482 from New York

4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The beer comes in a black color with a creamy mocha brown color.

The aroma offers licorice, spice, big caramel and toffee sweetness, milk chocolate, wood, nuttiness, coffee.

The flavor smacks of the sweetness of burnt caramel, brown sugar, onto dark chocolate, roasted coffee, hints of underlying dried dark fig and date, hints of licorice and acrid woodiness linger on the finish. The beer shines with its clean lager finish.

Jan 23, 2016
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Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep black color porter with a nice dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt with light coffee notes is quite nice. Taste is a nice mxi between some roasted malt, light lactose notes with some nice dry floral coffee notes with light smoky undertones. Body is light with good carbonation. Great beer and nice balance to avoid the smoke notes form overshadowing the other flavours.

Jan 17, 2016
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Gatch from Rhode Island

4.54/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Massive frothy brown head. Smoked and charred wood, deeply roasted malt, and some bittersweet dark chocolate. Smooth and easy drinking with massive flavor. And not at all boozy. A killer smoked beer and Baltic porter, distinguishing itself from a traditional porter. HF does it again. Every style, every time. Thank you Samuel T. Judkins for the thoughtful birthday gift!

Jan 16, 2016
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jcoleMA66 from Massachusetts

4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Getting back to reviewing this beer after first trying it last Fall. I opened another bottle I've been cellaring for a 6-7 months for a bottle share this weekend, and still really love this beer. Pours black with 1/2 finger mocha head and it doesn't show any red tints at the edge of the glass. Roasted coffee jumps out of the glass and there's an underlying smokiness, which I'm glad isn't overpowering the aroma. Taste is bitter, unsweetened dark chocolate, some caramel, dark roasted coffee and very nice smoke undertone and finish. Mouth feel is velvety smooth. Still love this beer!

Dec 12, 2015
Fear & Trembling from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 462 ratings