Madness & Civilization #1
Hill Farmstead Brewery

Madness & Civilization #1Madness & Civilization #1
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American Imperial Stout
4.46 | pDev: 6.95%
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Madness & Civilization #1Madness & Civilization #1
Notes: Madness & Civilization is a panorama of our barrel aging program—oak-aged beers that emerge from their individual silences to find structure and voice as a unified composition. This is the result of an unpredictable state of permanent happenstance—a dialogue with our evolving approach to blending that challenges convention and circumstance. Each release will include multiple threads and is likely to approximate the style of an imperial stout.

Release #1 A blend of multiple barrels: Buckwheat Rye Porter (aged 24 months in Elijah Craig 12 year barrels), Imperial Stout brewed with Maple Syrup and Wheat (aged in select barrels for 16 months), and Everett aged in Bourbon Barrels with Cacao Nibs and Vanilla Beans. Anticipated ABV: 12+%
Reviews: 44 | Ratings: 337 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of fmccormi
4.37/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Straight pour from a 500ml pry-off bottle to a 10oz stemmed tasting glass (TH small stemware). This beer is about three (possibly four?) years old. It was sitting in my basement for the past couple of years, but it recently migrated to my fridge, where it’s been for the couple of weeks.

Appearance (4.0): A fairly aggressive pour yields about two fingers of dense, resilient, hot chocolate-colored foam that crackle away slowly at the surface of a dense-looking, pitch black body. Sure looks like a stout, I’ll give it that. The head leaves only a thin coating of lacing that leaves fine collars that dissolve after a few minutes.

Smell (3.75): Bourbon is definitely a prominent note here, not so much in the booze (though it is there, too) as in the simple syrup, vanilla custard, and oak shavings. There's a very subtle maple scent in here, too . . . Underneath that, however, is a subtly mixed body of slightly smoky, lightly charred, French roast coffee-like notes blended with blakstrap molasses. A lighter, very soft cocoa aroma bridges the gap between malt and barrel, though I personally don’t find these characters to be particularly well-blended. Still smells great—it just feels like there’s a divide there. Fortunately, it does smooth out a bit as it warms.

Taste (4.75): In contrast to the nose, the flavors on the palate are much more well-blended but still manage to “pop.” Slightly syrupy, caramel-tinted bourbon with a modest oak character jumps out first, but it’s quickly overtaken first by an almost citrusy bitterness, which turns into an odd combination of dark pit fruits and black currants, a mild dose of anise, and cold brewed coffee. All of this slides into a series of more classic stout notes, starting with a charred, slightly acrid, coffee-driven flavor, followed by strongly earthy, somewhat smoky, peaty notes, and finishing with a dark cocoa flavor in the finish lightened up with just a tiny bit of maple-like sweetness, a modest, tingly booze character, and finally a light roast coffee flavor to cap it all off. This tastes fantastic, but it sure is goddamned busy.

Mouthfeel (4.25): Somehow, this beer manages to feel very full and even syrupy without being too heavy. How, I’m not entirely sure, but it might have to do with the very fine, moderately tingly bubbles that make up the beer’s carbonation. They usher in that dark, creamy body before yielding to its syrupy heft, and then with the levity of this beer’s high-ish booze capacity loosen it all up and let it wash out fairly cleanly.

Overall (4.5): Can somebody explain to me what the fuck is going on here? This beer has so many different things going on in it, and it’s not even a sherry barrel-aged/brewed with grape must/half barleywine-blended/Mexican chocolate stout. That said, I understand that this IS three different beers aged in three different barrels, prior to blending. Either way, it manages to cram in a very diverse set of dark beer characteristics without being distasteful. It’s just very, deliciously, busy. And as I noted wth the 2012 Twilight of the Idols and Birth of Tragedy bottles I reviewed recently, I can’t believe how gracefully this has aged. This is an outstanding beer.

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Photo of SABERG
4.11/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle marked Batch 1 into an HF goblet.
A - Black, capped with a mocha meringue, carbonation works and works in support of this cap.
Lacing clings in cumulus groupings along the glass.
S - Vanilla, toffee, mint, aged blackberry, cocoa from Madagascar. Bourbon thread with vintage port
T - Rich vanilla, maple aged toffee, a fine barrel component all dance together. Spicy notes are smoked
and earthy.
F - A silk glove, stunning in body, gentle dance across the palate, a slipper left at the end of the event
provided the intrigue.
O - This offering with time on it expresses itself with confidence and style. Rich, full experience that provokes only respect and longing for a future rendezvous.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.13/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to TheSevenDuffs for this brew.
Deeply dark and earthy in appearance. The smell is somewhat shy unless encouraged out with a strong swirl. Noticeable hot alcohol esters, with wet barrel, brandy booziness, sweet dark malts and smoothing of vanilla over the top of it all. The flavour leans to the sweet verse hoppy bitters, with burnt toffee, dark honey, vanilla and a full bourbon warmth. The barrel aging assertively adds depth to this brew.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.59/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours a nice solid black with some brownish hues near the edges. a small tannish head forms with good retention and leaving behind a small lacing. leaves behind a brown viscous sludge as it swirls around the glass. dark and opaque.

Smell: lots of dark malt character. strong sweet caramels and toffees, moderate roasted malts. smoky to peaty smell. strong bourbon and alcohol character.

Taste: opens up with a wave of bourbon soaked oak. peat and smoke comes through next before arriving at a strong sweetness, consisting of caramel, toffee and chocolate. some roasted character but not quite espresso like. end is full of a thick molasses to maple syrup.

Mouthfeel: sticky, heavy and strong alcohol warmth.

Overall: This is a seriously good beer. great taste without focusing too much on the barrel. I really like the strength of the smokiness, and the overall balance of the beer.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.29/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Florida9 for cracking this. Pours pitch black with velvety brown head. Nose features heavy roast and tons of licorice. Some cacao and vanilla come through, but in a subtle way. I don't get a ton of spirit character on the nose, but plenty of char and oak and a hint of booziness. Flavor is creamy and smooth. Chocolate and roast make up the better part of the flavor with some supporting notes from vanilla and oak. The oak brings on some earthiness to the flavor and accentuates the licorice at the end. Mouthfeel is heavy and right where it should be for the style. Overall, this brew is well balanced considering its weight. Tons of flavor.

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Photo of Florida9
4.35/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark dark dark. Black in color. Forms a creamy mocha colored head. Some light lacing. Aroma is creamy and dark. Dark fruits, licorice, chocolate. Very sweet. Heavy roasted malts. Taste is similar. Rather sweet. Vanilla, oak, chocolate, boozy. Complex, dark, and sweet. Full bodied. Viscous, almost syrupy. Low bitterness. A very good beer.

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Photo of anteater
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle

A: Dark dark brown, large dark tan head

S: Very upfront sweetness, bourbon

T: Chocolate, bourbon, maple, an interesting layer of spiciness from the rye, vanilla. The overall flavor is pretty strong but well balanced and very smooth

M: Kind of thin. Not as thick as I would have liked it and the carbonation was also a little high.

O: Really delicious stout. I tend to prefer beers like this in the 13% range and I think a really good bourbon barrel aged stout at 9% is difficult to pull off. The mouthfeel wasn't perfect but the smell and complexity of the taste more than made up for it.

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Photo of hillvt4me
4.38/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap and poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black with brown to red undertone. Minimal head and lacing.

Smell - Bourbon, chocolate and vanilla aromas.

Taste - Bourbon, cherry, chocalate and oak on the finish.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation. Slightly boozy. Medium to full body.

Overall - Well balanced and a great treat.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this side by side with M&C2, which edged this one out.

Dark brown-black pour, with a finger of mocha head, as opposed to its counterpart, which was much more subdued; the head sank to a ringlet and held there, leaving dots of lacing on the glass. Aroma was fairly sweet, scents of dark sugars, toffee, chocolate, cream, bourbon, vanilla, light essence of indistinct dark fruits. In the taste, dark malts, brown sugar, toffee, milk chocolate, bourbon/oak/vanilla, hints of anise and raisin, marshmallow root. Sweeter and not quite as smooth as #2, but still quite good in its own right. Medium body verging on full, slick mouthfeel, with the bourbon being pretty well integrated, and keeping the beer from being too hot. Very good overall.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.23/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours slightly darker than cola with a head that quickly dissipates towards the edges. Nose expresses cocoa, roast and a trace of cherry juice. The barrel really comes out in the flavor profile, as well as roast, char, cocoa, vanilla and tart fruit. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a carbonation that is just a little too lively and some residual acidity. This is a great tasting beer with a fantastic barrel presence - the spirits are really well defined. That said, if the carbonation dropped off a bit more it would be greatly enhanced.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle split two ways with Dustin. Thanks man! Poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 3/3/2014.

App- pitch black motor oil, thick one finger brown head with fantastic retention for a stout. Must be the buckwheat in one of the threads. Lots of thick sticky lacing. Phenomenal as far as stouts go.. really have not seen a stout look this good in a long time.

Smell- strong smoky bourbon and milk chocolate which I attribute to Everett. Lots of dark chocolate, charcoal and more bourbon. Very bourbon-forward stout.

Flavor- fantastic bourbon. Lots of it in such a great mellow presence that is well-integrated into the rest of the beer. It's smooth bourbon that isn't hot at all, with its charcoal sweetness lingering a while in the aftertaste but not for long. Also a lot of milk chocolate that integrates well. Cocoa, dark chocolate comes out as it warms up. No maple notes; however if its there in the sweetness of this beer, it's a subtle contribution. Not super complex but everything integrates very well; it may be the time on this bottle.

Mouthfeel- the best I've had on a HF stout. Thick, creamy, decadent and finishes very smoothly without any harsh bourbon flavors. No heat at all, just full of bourbon flavor.

Overall- it's not quite Black Gold, but this is like it's mellow, sweet cousin. Well done integration of bourbon into a blended stout. Not complex, but very bourbon-forward in such an enjoyable manner.

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Photo of jegross2
3/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Reviewing the Madness & Civilization #1 from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro Bend, Vermont.

Score: 75

Spring 2013 vintage bottle served in a taster glass and enjoyed on 01/12/14.

Appearance: Pours a black color with one to two fingers of dark tan head that settles to a thin layer. Above average lacing, very good retention. 4/5

Smell: Milk chocolate, oak, hint of vanilla. Touch of brown sugar. Hint of booze too. Hot, but nice aroma. 4/5

Taste: Sharp, acidic oak-forward bourbon flavor. Chocolate and alcohol finish. 2.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, more carbonation than necessary for the flavor profile. Bitter and acidic. 2.5/5

Overall: Supremely disappointing, particularly compared to Damon and Bourbon Barrel Aged Genealogy of Morals. This was not one of Shaun's better stouts. If you are going to spend big to acquire a Hill Farmstead beer, I recommend considering alternative possibilities.

Cost: $15 for a 500 ml bottle.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.9/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is jet black with a tight creamy caramel head that sits and stays leaving a thick lace as it slowly dissipates. The nose is sweet with a nice bourbon backbone. A hint dark chocolate, some brown sugar, dark fruits, and and light coffee roast. The body is extremely soft and delicate with a very light carbonation and creamy texture. The taste is a bit sweeter than the nose. There is with brown sugar, caramel, plum, faint chocolate, and a berry malt sweetness. The whiskey and barrel play through the finish and linger in a good way.

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Photo of mverity
4.63/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Picked this bottle up from a great BA trader @lhteacher. Shared at Proof for our little HH. Pours a very thick and viscous black. Good amount of deep tan head that faded into a medium collar. Aroma is of licorice, dark roasted malt, some charred oak, some bourbon. Taste is all of the aroma plus some coffee and vanilla. Maple is also present throughout. Super rich body, nice low carbonation.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.16/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Another wonderful bottle from jbeatty. Thanks for all the stuff man!

From a 50cl bottle into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Black pour, clear, produces a 1+ finger, medium looking, fizzy tan head with pretty good retention. Fades to a foamy half wisp cap. Black body with no real carbonation evident. A ring remains leaving a few dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Oak and bourbon up front, with coconut and vanilla, milk chocolate, pure chocolate, some light coffee and coconut cream. Roasted notes with light toffee and caramel as well. Vanilla and coconut bourbon barrels are nice with the other flavors.

TASTE: Bourbon and oak with some alcohol up front. Caramel sweetness with lots of coconut and vanilla cream as well, then a big and lingering finish of more bourbon, oak, coconut, milk chocolate and bitter, pure chocolate as well. Caramel sweetness with a hint of roast as well. Very nice, flavorful and complex without a doubt. Lovely.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. A touch light and prickly perhaps, goes down fine and finishes sticky on the palate. A bit of a burn at the swallow and some heat lingers. Needs to be fuller for top marks, but smooth enough.

OVERALL: This one is quite tasty. The barrel flavor is a bit more forthcoming and overpowering than a lot of other HF barrel aged offerings, but the base beer still makes an appearance. Very flavorful and wonderful aroma as well. The feel needs to be fuller and the heat could mellow, but this is a treat non-the-less. Worth checking out if you can. Thanks again jbeatty. Recommended.

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Photo of Pahn
4.49/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle split with Morningthief. Served in pint glasses.

Appearance: Black with a frothy tan head. Good lacing.

Smell: Oak aged chocolate chip cookie dough. Powerfully strong. Come on; this is too good.

Taste: Tastes red wine barrel aged. Deeply integrated oak. Nice cookie dough malt flavor. Pretty deep, but could go further (other HF BBA stouts do).

That's about my only complaint; other 1-off amazing beers by this same genius brewery are MORE amazing than this.

...well, and it's not deep enough relative to the best BBA stouts. Really great, but could benefit from some more complexity.

Mouthfeel: Smooth. A touch overcarbonated (more than a touch). Full side of medium bodied and creamy. Beautiful dry finish. Most elements are maximally good, with one flaw (bit overcarbonated).

Overall: I'd drink this all day every day, but it's not *the best*. If that's a flaw, there you go.

To put it in perspective, the mouthfeel and overall balance are better than Bourbon County Stout, and the aroma is equal or better, but flavorwise, BCBS (garish and unbalanced as it may be) delivers a lot more.

Trifling complaint.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.18/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

500 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Pours with a decent khaki head. Nice collar. Islands of bubbles.

Smell - Bourbon and vanilla. More blended into the flavor than #2. Oak and vanilla blend well. Chocolate, but not fudgy.

Taste - Bourbon is very sharp and not as well integrated. Chocolate. Vanilla. Oak comes through in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation. Slightly boozy. Medium body, not very thick.

Overall - Doesn't seem as rich as Madness #2. Just as good though.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.55/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A-Deep black when pouring and practically motor oil. One finger deep tan head.

S-Moderate amount of bourbon, some dark fruits, chocolate, tad bit of coffee, roasted malt and vanilla.

T-Amazing balance. Starts with a moderate amount of bourbon. Then comes dark fruits and chocolate. Finally there is some coffee, roasted malt and best of all vanilla.

M-Heavy, slight carbonation, velvety feel.

O-Another knock out from HF. An absolutely wonderful beer, glad I could share it other.

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Photo of langchops
4.54/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into snifter

A- Pours a very dark brown with one finger tan head

S- Right off the bat, vanilla hits you, really nice. Subtle notes of chocolate and dark fruit, Vanilla and oak really dominate the nose.

T- Follows the nose, but with more subtle notes of chocolate, dark fruits and roasted tones. Well balanced, not too boozey.

M- A little thin, but does the trick for this style. A touch more carbonation than I was expecting, but being picky here.

O - A very well made beer. No one flavor takes over the show, just a joy to drink. It's so nice now.

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Photo of koopa
4.31/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle received in a trade with a generous BA thanks!

Appearance: Pours black and opaque with a 2 finger dark brown crown that some retention and little lace. About what you'd expect for barrel aged imperial stout.

Smell: Oh man the nose is truly the highlight of this beer. Oak, bourbon, cocoa, vanilla, and almost a fruit wood like characteristic. Hints of maple over lush malt.

Taste: Even more nuanced than the nose, although not as appealing imho. Bourbon and a hint of vanilla up front, malt and "powdery" cocoa in the middle, with an alcohol tinged finish that is aided by a touch of rye. Neither the oak nor the maple is as prevalent in the taste as it is in the aroma for me.

Mouthfeel: Thick borderline syrup like body with low carbonation. The bourbon helps wash it off of the palate at the end of each sip though.

Overall: An interesting blend I wouldn't mind having another bottle of.

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Photo of Rutager
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A huge thank you to hoppypocket for this and many other awesome brews!

Appearance. Pours a very deep chestnut brown, close to black. Topped with a finger and a half of thick and creamy tan head. Very impressive.

Smell. Dark chocolate and bourbon barrels, earthy and spicy scents as well (maybe the hops, maybe not...) and some smooth darker malts. Unique and nice.

Taste. Sweet dark malts with a good hit of milk chocolate, smooth bourbon and plenty of barrel, vanilla, dark cherry, and some interesting malty flavours.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body, medium (maybe slightly less) smooth and creamy carbonation.

Overall. Very interesting stuff. Sweet, lots of barrel, good stuff.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by yourefragile. Thank you Michael!

The beer is dark brown with a thin cap. Aromas of oak, vanilla, whiskey, bread, sweet booze, chocolate. Smells great. Fantastic flavor. Smooth and easy on the palate. Complex and beautifully blended. Sweet whiskey notes, almost like a brandy. Low carbonation, although the bottle had been sitting out for a while by the time I arrived at the tasting. Another stellar beer from Hill Farmstead.

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Photo of Holland
3.97/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

A: deep black and viscous looking, along with some of the best head retention I have ever seen.

S: chocolate, roast, slight cherry, and lightly sweet

T: a bit sweet, full of oak, dark fruits, and a bit too much cherry-like flavor for my liking. Still delicious, but it's not like Genealogy of Morals. Definitely has the wheat and dark fruit though.

M: thick and well carbonated, just fine for an imperial stout

O: pretty meh beer for Hill Farmstead standards, but excellent by other standards. Not sure if I'd buy it again at $15 per 500 ml bottle.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.56/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass from a 500ml bottle.

Pours a gorgeous velvety dark black ink liquid. Pours not as slow as molasses but still seems viscous and inviting. There is a delicious half-inch head that forms like a nice foamy espresso. The head is dense and a light tan. The head is sticky.

Aroma is perfect. Just perfect. There are notes of fresh fudgey chocolate. Mild notes of coffee and some nuttiness. Then there is some nice slight dark bitter cocoa notes as well. There is also a nice molasses and caramel sweetness that is present. However, the sweetness is not overwhelming. Nice woody barrel notes are also present.

Now for the taste. Wow. Fudgey but balanced. Starts off with some mild milk chocolate sweetness also mixed in with bourbon barrel notes. Woody notes with molasses are present and give the brew a bourbon hint to the brew. Notes of oat and also some dark fruits. Slight maple syrup notes and a mild vanilla finish. Mouthfeel is slick and oily. Smooth and yummy.

Great yummy fudge notes beautifully intermingled with more caramel and straight up candy sweetness that is balanced out by some oat and barrel heat. Well done.

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Photo of jaasen64
4.33/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle poured into HF stemmed glass. Thanks Don for sharing this!

A- Pours a dark brown that appears an opaque jet black in the glass, a thin creamy mocha brown head forms that recedes fairly fast to a flat top, leaves some sparse spotty lacing.

S- Sweet bourbon, integrated creamy chocolate, hints of oak, slight fairly hidden booze, very subtle dark fruits hiding in the back.

T- Creamy chocolate, hints of fudge, dark fruits, maple syrup, some vanilla on the backend, a tiny bit of wheat, finishes with fudge, creamy chocolate, and dark fruits with a nice lingering aftertaste. Nice complexities that balance nicely.

M- Smooth, lightly creamy, abv very well hidden, fairly low carbonation but fits the style nicely.

O- This was a nice, complex barrel aged stout blend that did not disappoint from HF. The cocoa nibs, vanilla, dark fruit tastes, and bourbon all came out very nicely. I feel like MC2 might have had a slightly better taste, but MC2 definitely wins in aroma.

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Madness & Civilization #1 from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 98 out of 100 with 337 ratings