Madness & Civilization #1 | Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Madness & Civilization #1Madness & Civilization #1

Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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+%

Added by MasterSki on 05-02-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 44 | Ratings: 328
Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a 9oz snifter thick, rich & black. The aroma precedes and leads the nose with its rich chocolate, maple...hints of rye...promises. The taste is full-on luxurious like an initiation into a secret society...decadence (but not in an elitist way) a warmth that reaffirms one's abiding(in this case abiding means something well beyond an addictive attraction) love of beer. Fulfillment in a glass...By this point you've realized that I really LIKED (if liked meant something like sensuously contented) this beer. Clearly something special...keeping in mind that all the adjectives are lacking the definition necessary to convey just how enjoyable this glass of beer was. Thank You HF!!!

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Photo of Kinsman
4.81/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fills the glass with a viscous black body and capped by a creamy and rich looking tan head. Wonderful head retention too... something I often don't find in barrel aged beers.

Lots of vanilla and oaky bourbon notes right up front. Cocoa comes through a bit more as it opens up.

First sip has quite a lot going on and it's hard to wrap my head around it all. Definitely the barrel notes play a significant role with sweet vanilla and boozy bourbon. Add in a nice touch of maple and rich cocoa notes and I'm simply amazed by this beer.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied and oh so rich and creamy. Overall, this is an absolutely excellent barrel aged beer. Deserves to stand right up there with the best of them.

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Photo of amnesia85
4.77/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

500ml bottle purchased at release. Chilled to 45 deg, served around 47deg F in a Hill farmstead stem. The bottle is nice, Im really liking the new labels ive seen on these past few bottles. Plain black and white on this one. Not much info about the contents of the bottle, but interesting back ground info regarding it. Instructions to check website for full details of the contents.

A: the Beer is jet black. No light will pass through. But the head, the head is fruitful. Nice dark molasses, thick with huge frog eyes peaking through. This head truly complements the color of the beer and when swirled in the glass it chokes right up. Watching the beer run through the head as it settles on the bottom you get a good idea of how thick it really is.

A: Bourbon, raw cacao, hints of vanilla, a nice roasty robust smell from the porters. The bourbon smell is really powerful and I can definitely pick up the Elijah Craig barrel.

T: WOW! This beer packs a powerful punch. The alcohol is right out front, and not fooling me. The flavors in this beer are all so strong and there is so much going on here that it takes a long time to get a good idea of what im tasting. Again the Elijah craig is the first thing I can put my finger on. As this beer warms the other flavors take the stage. Next is the cacao. The cacao flavor is fighting with the bourbon flavor and starts to win. There is a slight subtle vanilla flavor and maybe a slight taste of maple syrup. I really had to dig for the maple syrup though. The cacao comes back into play moments after the beer is gone from your mouth. Then you can try and point to brownie, chocolate cake like flavors.

M: soft yet thick. This beer is viscous and moves slowly in your mouth. The carbonation is perfect, and I really love these naturally carbonated beers when they are fruitful. Syrupy, milkshake like.

O: This beer is huge, simply HUGE. First of all to say the alcohol is well hidden is subjective, and quite an understatement here. All of these ingredients are really strong and pungent so even if it was 5% it would still have boozy qualities. I enjoy the flavor of bourbon so I could hang with it. My wife however drank possibly 2-3oz. If you have some hair on your chest im sure youll be fine. I cant say enough how much I enjoyed the treated Everetts. With this blend however The cacao really overpowered the vanilla and battled constantly with the bourbon throughout the entire show. I would not say this beer is sweet what so ever. Not any sweeter than bourbon is on its own anyway. I loved this Complex blend of powerful flavors and wonderful porters. This beer will keep you company, and I would not share if I were you. With the amount that has been released you will have plenty to lay down for years to come and enjoy some over this winter. Whom ever blended this beer was a genius.

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Photo of lovindahops
4.74/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thought the mild weather tonight would be the opportune time to crack open a madness and civilization 1

A- dark as dark can be. A massive darkened mocha foam with a creme brûlée type frosting stocking to the edges. Floating foam is fuzzy and refuses to recide. Essentially perfect look for a double stout

S- bourbon laced marshmallow scent blends with oak, dark chocolate nibs, sugar, and brown sugar. Very sweet with alcohol present at the forefront. A sweet a tasty bold scent profile no doubt dominates. Very luring with the scent of maple towards the end. This is amazing

T- a creamy onslaught of unfermented sugars, lactose, marshmallows, bourbon, and of course oak blasts the palate. Incredible stout that has a desert profile that calls for a sipper, but delivers with a beastly stout taste. The barrels enhance this stout to the extent that its truly up there with the best of the best. Incredible

M- creamy and coating flavor slaps itself all over. Firm a detailed flavor components enrobe the tongue.

O- BCBS and KBS.... You have been out done. Madness and Civilization #1 is a delicious treat

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Photo of cfrances33
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a Hill Farmstead stem.

Pour: Pours a semi splashy black with two and half fingers of deep khaki head. Head hangs around for a decent while, and leaves some nice lacing throughout.

Smell: Burnt toffee and rich milk chocolate up front. Some sticky vanilla bean, rye whiskey, and caramel. A touch of oak. Awesome.

Taste: Rich, roasted marshmallow and creamy milk chocolate up front. Some toffee and coffee, with a touch of spicy oak through the middle and end. Definite mellow rye whiskey presence. Simply amazing.

Mouthfeel: On the lighter side for a imperial stout - akin to Birth of Tragedy b2. Fantastic coating throughout however... like milk chocolate melting in your mouth. Lightly boozey, but not real burn. A great sipper.

Overall: Fantastic. Ready to drink now. Can't wait to try #2.

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Photo of eatonale1
4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Would like to give this 5's across the board, but there is always room for improvement. Pours a very dark brown (almost black) with a thin head. Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, etc. notes come together perfectly - no aroma overpowers the others. Very glad that the purchase limit was increased to 6 per person at the bottle release. Very curious to see how this ages.

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Photo of vonnegut21
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a HF wine glass.

A: Pours a deep black with a billowing tan head that persists for quite a long time.

S: Bourbon, caramel, toffee, vanilla up front. Roasted notes, oak and baker's chocolate follow.

T: Chocolate, caramel and vanilla sweetness dominate. Light bourbon notes. Some light spiciness that I can't quite pick out. Very subdued.

M: Soft, smooth and creamy. It has that perfectly smooth mouthfeel that so many HF beers share.

O: This is a really excellent beer. But it's also very subdued. The bourbon and barrel notes are very resigned and it's a bit sweeter than I'd have liked. Overall, a very good beer, but not on the level of some of their other barrel-aged offerings.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A - Black with one finger of cocoa brown head.

S - A huge sweet bourbon aroma up front with a vanilla notes. Chocolate fudge, toasted oak and a touch of coconut.

T - Big barrel notes initially - bourbon, vanilla and charred oak with a big sweetness. Chocolate fudge mid-palate with some roast and vanilla in the finish.

M - Full body. Chewy. Light carbonation.

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Photo of Caleb
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured from the bottle to a hill farmstead tulip glass.

Aroma: It has a nice musty and roasted malt smell. It isn't an overly strong aroma but easily detectable and adds nicely to the overall enjoyment of the beer. There is an oak presence up front and a bourbon/booze background. It also has strong notes of vanilla, maple, and a hint of black cherry or fig. As the beer warmed the aroma grew stronger and the maple, vanilla, and bourbon grew stronger.

Taste: It is a very rich, dark drink. It immediately tastes of dark chocolate, a bit of dark roasted coffee, booze (growing stronger as it warms and hiding the maple), creamy vanilla, maple, and undertones of figs or other dark dried fruits.

Mouthful: It is nicely carbonated with just enough to open the beer up to carmalized flavors.

Overall: The richness give a feeling of indulgence and luxury. It doesn't lack for a full range of complex flavors from start to finish. Recommended.

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Photo of mverity
4.63/5  rDev +5.7%
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 SportsandJorts
4.59/5  rDev +4.8%
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 unclejazz
4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had on draft at the 3rd Anniversary snow-event. I think I had 3 samples if this before it kicked. Excellent carbonation level, great crisp flavor from that amazing well water. Vanilla takes the lead and them some great oak bourbon notes. Head to head against Damon, this just edged it out. World class blend, this could hold its own against any of the big boys. I wonder if BCBVS is as good?

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
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 rlee1390
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
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 +3.7%
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 Huhzubendah
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
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 Pahn
4.49/5  rDev +2.5%
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 anteater
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
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 Stevedore
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
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 ehammond1
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2013)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, AdamJackson!

Very close to black in color with a somewhat persistant, slightly creamy, small-bubbled dark brown head. Gorgeous lacing left down the glass. A simply gorgeous stout. Hill Farmstead always makes beautiful beer.

Layered, complex, and delightful aroma. Coffee, chocolates, marshmallow, and integrated, fine bourbon integrate into something truly special. Some dark fruit emerges as the beer warms some along with a toasted, nearly burnt, fresh out of the oven pie crust character. Exceptional.

The flavor is similar to the aroma, though the bourbon takes a touch more of a firm presence upfront--but not in a stinging, harsh way. The bourbon is flavorful, integrated, and complementary to the chocolate, vanilla, and pie crust flavors. Incredibly drinkable.

Medium to nearing full in body with moderate carbonation. Not an overly heavy or viscous stout.

Fantastic. So much better than Damon, and I had to beg, borrow, and steal to taste that one. This one just showed up unexpectedly. Thanks again, Adam!

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

thanks to pjl44 for this fantastic extra!
poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: black bodied beer with 2 fingers of medium tan colored head. Good head retention that drops slowly. Thick and sticky lacing on the glass.

Smell: Lots of milk chocolate, vanilla, and rye notes. Mellow oak, earthy and roasty grain. Everything has a nice balance in the nose. Fairly sweet smell nose on this beer.

Taste: A quick blast of chocolate and cocoa sweetness that is quickly interupted by huge rye notes. Middle of the beer is roasty and oaky. Mild roasty flavor that trancends through out the entire flavor profile of the beer. Then the sweetness returns and takes of vanilla and a hint of marshmellows. More rye notes in the finish with a touch of warming booze and a slightly bitter cocoa flavor that make the beer have a slight dryness. Great balance and complexity. As the beer warms the rye intensifies considerably and some smokiness emerges as well.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is silky, slick, smooth, slightly oily, and creamy. All the flavor just coats your mouth in richness. Just a touch boozey for a 9% beer, but its nothing that is distracting.

Overall: This is the first stout that I have tried from Hills Farmstead. It is a wonderful blend beer, but its biggest crutch is that it has just a little to much rye for my personal taste. It is very complex and rich beer. It has a very nice mouthfeel as well. I have only dabbeled in a few Hills Farmstead beers, but every beer I have tried so far from Hills Farmstead tells me that they flat out brew fantastic beer!

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Photo of jeonseh
4.42/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had as part of a tasting with the NWIBDU. Thanks for sharing!

S - Bourbon, vanilla, caramel, light astringency from the alcohol and oak

T - Caramel, chocolate, good amount of vanilla sweetness. Light booze and alcohol comes through as well as oak to give it a slight heat. Well balanced and delicious stout.

M - Medium smooth body with light astringency from the oak and the bourbon

O - Really a great stout that is right up my alley with the great balance between the sweet chocolate, vanilla and caramel flavors balanced with the slight heat from the booze and astringency from the oak. Another great HF beer.

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Photo of justforrazors
4.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed live 7-30-13

Poured from bottle into HF glass.

A- Pours a thick black with a long lasting mocha head with high carbonation visible. Over the 5 or so minutes I left it to sit before drinking, the head has not dropped at all, and you can clearly see bubbles rising from the bottom to the top. A nice thick half-finger head made it all the way down to the point where I finished with the review.

S- Bourbon, chocolate, some subtle roast and vanilla along with a caramel sweetness.

T- The taste follows the smell. Bourbon followed by vanilla, chocolate, and caramel. The vanilla really stands out and provides a nice marshmallow sweetness to the beer. On the back end, alcohol is evident as well as some oak. There is also a bitter note that lingers for a while after the other flavors disappear.

M- Definitely a bit over carbonated for a RIS in my opinion. Maybe this was an attempt to make sure this one didn't end up like BoT? I could literally hear the carbonation when I went to take a drink, although it didn't feel as overly carbonated as it appeared. The beer has a full body, although it is very smooth and easy to drink. There is a lingering bitter note, as well as some drying qualities on the finish, most likely from the oak.

O- Interesting beer for sure. This isn't the greatest Barrel-Aged stout I have had, but very good either way. The alcohol was still a bit too upfront for me, although hopefully it will mellow a bit with time.

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Photo of hillvt4me
4.38/5  rDev 0%
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 fmccormi
4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
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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Madness & Civilization #1 from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.38 out of 5 based on 328 ratings.
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