Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
Flanders Red Ale
Ranked #8
Ranked #1,236
4.32 | pDev: 8.1%
Feb 26, 2023
Apr 25, 2013
Notes: First envisioned and created over a decade ago in partnership with longtime friend Will Meyers of Cambridge Brewing Co., Prolegomena is our interpretation of the Flanders red ale—the Burgundy of Belgium. The base of this, only the second edition, was brewed on December 24th, 2013, and May 8, 2014. This beer conditioned, slowly, in wood for between 32 months and three years, slowly developing acidity and harmonized layers of complexity from the introduction of wild yeast. With an extended bottle-conditioning of more than five years prior to release, this beer has seen a journey of more than 8 years from brew day to release.

During the 2017 season, we selected a number of beers, observing certain characteristics amongst them that indicated significant benefit from extended conditioning in bottle. Prolegomena was one of those chosen and now makes its debut. Significantly, this represents and highlights our unwavering commitment to shepherding each beer along its appropriate journey towards achievement—regardless of the time frame necessitated by the whim and whimsy of the natural process.
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Rated: 4.35 by npolachek from New York

Feb 26, 2023
Rated: 4.5 by paulish from New York

Nov 04, 2022
Rated: 4.5 by Gkruszewski from New York

Sep 30, 2022
Rated: 4.67 by Chuckdiesel24 from Illinois

Sep 26, 2022
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Reviewed by GreesyFizeek from New York

4.72/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
Batch 2, 2017 vintage.

This one pours a reddish brown color, with a small white head, and lots of lacing.

This smells of toasted oak, pear, caramel apple, clove, red wine, and toasted breadiness.

This batch of beer was a long time in the making, and it shows – it’s one of the best Hill Farmstead beers I’ve had in a while now. It was aged for nearly 3 years in wood, and bottle conditioned for over five years – more than 8 years from brew date to this beer getting poured into my glass. There’s such a soft and velvety malt character, with breadiness, some bittersweet caramel, and spice, along with some pear skin, a bit of red juicy apple, spicy oak, and some clove.

This is medium bodied, creamy, and very softly sour, pleasant and refreshing almost, with a tremendous drinkability.

This is perhaps the best Flanders Red that I’ve ever had. It’s just so wonderful, and one of the best Hill Farmstead beers I’ve had in a while now recently, up there with Sankt and Samuel B3.
Jul 05, 2022
Rated: 4.65 by MJSFS from Florida

Jun 26, 2022
Rated: 4.4 by edthehead from Maryland

Dec 24, 2020
Rated: 4.18 by rjp217 from Massachusetts

Mar 03, 2017
Rated: 4.33 by 7Sport from Massachusetts

Jul 23, 2016
Rated: 4 by dfhhead25 from Pennsylvania

Mar 30, 2016
Rated: 4.25 by BMart from Pennsylvania

Mar 23, 2016
Rated: 4.46 by yasky from Canada (ON)

Feb 20, 2016
Rated: 4.31 by Segnem5 from Michigan

Nov 14, 2015
Rated: 3.66 by Guzzle_McBrew from Connecticut

Oct 20, 2015
Rated: 4.34 by reebtaerG from Maryland

Sep 24, 2015
Rated: 4.06 by amano_h from Oregon

Sep 14, 2015
Rated: 4.59 by Kramerbarthomer from Colorado

Sep 06, 2015
Rated: 4.75 by mre0683 from Massachusetts

Jun 24, 2015
Rated: 4.37 by Dicers from California

Jun 17, 2015
Rated: 4.49 by canadianghetto from Texas

Jun 09, 2015
Rated: 4.68 by CAcker from California

May 28, 2015
Rated: 4.7 by Jpepe08 from Vermont

Apr 28, 2015
Rated: 4.71 by Rihup from Illinois

Apr 26, 2015
Rated: 4.3 by Respirologist from Massachusetts

Apr 19, 2015
Rated: 4.27 by clay23 from New York

Apr 18, 2015
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Reviewed by Jugs_McGhee from Colorado

4/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4
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
Rated: 4.57 by Liquidswordz from Texas

Apr 17, 2015
Rated: 4.43 by ArtZan from New Jersey

Mar 18, 2015
Rated: 4.02 by Cynic-ale from Texas

Mar 15, 2015
Rated: 4.06 by tectactoe from Michigan

Feb 28, 2015
Rated: 4.88 by jfstilling from South Carolina

Feb 25, 2015
Rated: 4.42 by NateF90 from Connecticut

Feb 14, 2015
Rated: 4.39 by Onestophopshop from New Jersey

Feb 12, 2015
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Reviewed by nickfl from Florida

4.52/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
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
Rated: 4.4 by lateralundertow from New Jersey

Jan 31, 2015
Rated: 4.32 by lonestarstate97 from Texas

Jan 29, 2015
Rated: 4.2 by EB1 from California

Jan 27, 2015
Rated: 4.23 by csustar001 from New York

Jan 20, 2015
Rated: 4.5 by bobv from Vermont

Jan 10, 2015
Rated: 4.5 by MarkJC1018 from Massachusetts

Jan 08, 2015
Prolegomena from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 225 ratings