Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
Sour - Flanders Red Ale
Ranked #8
Ranked #1,346
4.31 | pDev: 8.12%
Dec 24, 2020
Apr 25, 2013
Notes: Prolegomena is our interpretation of the Flanders Red Ale - the Burgundy of Flanders, Belgium. In April 2011, we brewed out version of this classic style with the help of our friend Will Meyers. The beer has aged gracefully in oak barrels for more than two years, all the while slowly developing acidity and various layers of complexity and from the introduction of wild yeast and bacteria.
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
4.4 by edthehead from New York on Dec 24, 2020
4.18 by rjp217 from Massachusetts on Mar 03, 2017
4.33 by 7Sport from Massachusetts on Jul 23, 2016
4 by dfhhead25 from Pennsylvania on Mar 30, 2016
4.25 by BMart from Pennsylvania on Mar 23, 2016
4.46 by yasky from Canada (ON) on Feb 20, 2016
4.31 by Segnem5 from Michigan on Nov 14, 2015
3.66 by Guzzle_McBrew from Connecticut on Oct 20, 2015
4.34 by reebtaerG from Maryland on Sep 24, 2015
4.06 by amano_h from Oregon on Sep 14, 2015
4.59 by Kramerbarthomer from Colorado on Sep 06, 2015
4.75 by mre0683 from Massachusetts on Jun 24, 2015
4.37 by Dicers from Colorado on Jun 17, 2015
4.49 by canadianghetto from Texas on Jun 09, 2015
4.68 by CAcker from California on May 28, 2015
4.7 by Jpepe08 from Vermont on Apr 28, 2015
4.71 by Rihup from Illinois on Apr 26, 2015
4.3 by Respirologist from Massachusetts on Apr 19, 2015
4.27 by clay23 from New York on Apr 18, 2015
Photo of Jugs_McGhee
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4
by Jugs_McGhee from Texas

BOTTLE: Brown glass. Unbranded pry-off pressure cap. Appealing simple label art.

Acquired: Via a trade orchestrated by a friend in my tasting group; thanks, Collins!

Reviewed live at low altitude in Austin, TX. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Vintage: ?
ABV: 8.5%
Style: Flanders red ale (per the label).
Serving temp: Cold. Allowed to warm over the course of consumption.
Serving vessel: Tulip.
Expectations: Sky-high given the style and brewery. I believe this is my first Hill Farmstead sour, and this style might be my favourite type of sour.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: ~1 finger wide. Adequate creaminess. Great thickness. Leaves no lacing as it recedes. Soft-looking.

Retention: Average. ~2 minutes.

BODY: Oddly, it looks like more of a caramel-brown than a deep red to me. No yeasty muck is visible.

It's a nice-looking beer in general, but doesn't nail the flanders red appearance at all.

AROMA: Has a nice tartness, with notes of tart cherry and cherry pie filling. I dig the pie crust. It's not as acetic as say, Rodenbach's best offerings, but it's adequate. Faint cream.

The barrel character is understated, subtly teasing out the mild sourness with hints of oak, and to a lesser extent, red wine.

I think I'm finding some fresh orchard red apple as well. Granny smith apple? It's crisp and inviting. Maybe a kiss of brown sugar in there too?

Aromatic intensity: mild.

The cherry pie crust is seductive, and the tartness right on the money for the style. Seems only modestly sour - maybe 3-4/10 in terms of intensity. In any case, this is mouthwatering and near perfect for the style. Brilliant.

No yeast character, alcohol, or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: The red apple is a nice touch, blending well with the cherry pie filling I love so much about this beer. The pie crust notes are set off beautifully by the hint of brown sugar - another note you don't find in many traditional offerings in the style. Not quite as acetic as I'd like, but it's there.

Contrary to the best traditional offerings in the style, it has a younger more crisp taste instead of an obviously aged expression of flavour - which probably contributes to the understateness of its acetic character as well as the absence of much in terms of vinegary flavour.

Depth of flavour: Very good.
Flavour duration: Good.
Flavour intensity: Apt but modest.
Flavour amplitude: Great.

Sourness is a style-appropriate 3-4/10, but I'd like to see it dialed up a bit along with the tartness.

This build nails the fundamentals, hitting the cherry pie and acetic one-two punch of a great Flanders red beautifully. Its balance is stellar, and there's ample subtlety and here. What's impressive is its unique nuances, particularly in terms of the expressive brown sugar and apple.

Very cohesive. Certainly a gestalt beer, with plenty to offer the discerning drinker.

Constructively, the oak barrel is rather reticent. Still, the red wine lends this a nice subtle undertone of dry blackberry and a kiss of tannins.

TEXTURE: It's a bit thin on the palate, with inadequate body and presence. Needs a fuller body, a softer feel, and more of a refreshing smoothness and wetness. But it's near perfectly carbonated. Perfect acidity, coaxing out those crisp red apple notes and evoking apple skin.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy.

There's not a harmony of texture to taste, but it complements it nicely.

OVERALL: One of the best American-brewed Flanders Red Ales I've had. Its uniqueness will impress the discerning drinker, and it's absolutely worth trying. This is more great work from Hill Farmstead, but it still fails to surpass the traditional paragons of the style (e.g. Rodenbach Caractere Rouge). I could drink this by the growler, and already want more.

High B+ (4.0)

Apr 17, 2015
4.57 by Liquidswordz from Texas on Apr 17, 2015
4.43 by ArtZan from New Jersey on Mar 18, 2015
4.02 by Cynic-ale from Texas on Mar 15, 2015
4.06 by tectactoe from Michigan on Feb 28, 2015
4.88 by jfstilling from South Carolina on Feb 25, 2015
4.42 by NateF90 from Connecticut on Feb 14, 2015
4.39 by Onestophopshop from New Jersey on Feb 12, 2015
Photo of nickfl
4.52/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by nickfl from Florida

Acidic aroma of tart cherry preserves and red wine with a touch of caramel in the background. The flavor is milder, with a rounder acidity than the aroma would imply with the same dark sugar and fruit notes as in the nose. Like that acidity, the sweetness is a bit less pronounced than in some examples of the style and it balances nicely. Complex, balanced, and subtle this is perhaps the first HF beer that I have had that fully lives up to their substantial reputation, and it is one of the best beers I have had in quite a while.

Feb 11, 2015
4.4 by lateralundertow from New Jersey on Jan 31, 2015
4.32 by lonestarstate97 from Texas on Jan 29, 2015
4.2 by EB1 from California on Jan 27, 2015
4.23 by csustar001 from New York on Jan 20, 2015
4.5 by bobv from Vermont on Jan 10, 2015
4.5 by MarkJC1018 from Massachusetts on Jan 08, 2015
4.34 by sfr26 from Pennsylvania on Jan 04, 2015
4.36 by souredonbeer from Washington on Jan 02, 2015
3 by chadwicktorres from District of Columbia on Nov 26, 2014
4.5 by WTKeene from New Mexico on Nov 23, 2014
4.5 by gpblackgt from Pennsylvania on Nov 17, 2014
4.5 by mportnoy from Pennsylvania on Nov 01, 2014
Prolegomena from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 219 ratings