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+%
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Reviews: 44 | Ratings: 337
Reviews by fmccormi:
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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More User Reviews:
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 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 RAKeeler
4.4/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of heffnate77
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of cbgoods
3.75/5  rDev -15.9%

Photo of HoldenDurden
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of BeRanger
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of rondufresne
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of Mike
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of thebigredone
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

Photo of CheapBeerBuzz
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of Shilt
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of Bockerdoppel91
4/5  rDev -10.3%

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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Photo of williamjbauer
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of wesley14
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

Photo of EuphonicHops
4.65/5  rDev +4.3%

Photo of Lare453
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of iatethecloudsfor
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

Photo of Scalzo
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of chippo33
3.5/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of ScottP
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of Saltee
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of TheRuss9585
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

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