Phenomenology Of Spirit
Hill Farmstead Brewery

Phenomenology Of SpiritPhenomenology Of Spirit
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Belgian Saison
4.34 | pDev: 8.06%
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Phenomenology Of SpiritPhenomenology Of Spirit
Notes: Second release was sent through our coolship and 100% spontaneously fermented with Greensboro/Hill Farmstead airborne yeast.
Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 253 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of cbutova
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014/2016 release.

A- Pour from the 750ml into a chalice with a deep ruby grape hue and a small, foamy light pink head. The cap is a finger high with pretty good retention and lacing forms with plentiful webs.

S- The wine barrel still shines quite a bit and the beer has definitely found some balance and has aged very, very well. Lactic sourness of the top with a ton of different fruits. Dark wine grapes come in big time, grape stems, slightly tannic wine oak, lemon, a bit of funk, sour apple and must.

T- Big time wine grapes again with a massive, massive amount of flavor coming out of the barrel. Juicy and slightly sweet dark wine grapes, sour lemon, pure lactic acid, slight oak tannins, slight apple, grape stems and seeds, pear and musty funk.

MF- Light bodied with a very high level of carbonation even after these years. Texture is both foamy and frothy and it ends sour after half of the glass.

Huge wine barrel and a great sour as always from Hill Farmstead. Just a massive amount of wine that has balanced out after some aging.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Swapped $4$ HF shelfies with a local for this one a while back. Not usually a fan of anything noir, but if anyone is gonna do it right, it's gonna be hill farmstead and this is really well done. Subtle and easy drinking. Dark fruit that almost has a red wine vibe on the taste. Really nice.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This one pours a slightly murky dark brown, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells like chocolate, coca-cola, lemon, white wine, and dark fruit.

This has a pretty cool mix of dark malts and funk. There's slight chocolate, and some roast, with a sweet cola-like flavor, with some lemon and white wine, nuttiness, dark fruits, and that general HF funk.

This is light bodied, slightly creamy, with a good level of carbonation.

This has a lot of really interesting and complex flavors.

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Photo of Resuin
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into an enlarged snifter. This was bottled March 2016 and released at the brewery a couple weeks ago.

A: Pours black with maybe a hint of deep purple. Leaves a light tan head of a couple fingers that hangs around for a while.

S: Green apples, blueberry, blackberry, some hay funk, vanilla, a hint of toffee and caramel. Very nice.

T: Matches the nose. Green apple, oak, some barnyard funk, some black currant/blackberry, finishes smooth with some caramel and vanilla as well as a touch of dryness.

M: Creamy body on the thinner side. Velvety smooth. Low to medium carb.

O: A very interesting and delicious beer. Quite drinkable and with a nice mesh of flavors. Enjoyable.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer is chestnut brown with a quarter inch of khaki head. The aroma offers saison yeast, funk, currants. Similar flavor. Dark fruits, currant, malt, funk, yeast, a touch of lactobacillus. Really tasty. Super easy drinking. Perfect carbonation level. Delicious.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.63/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

375ml bottle into snifter. Thanks again AutumnBeerLove!

A: Pours near black with a couple fingers of very fuzzy and soft looking dark tan head. The head slowly faded into thick and well retained fluffy film. Large patches of spotty lace were left down the glass.
S: Wild yeast funk, slightly cheesy, and oak barrel dominate, with scents of dark fruits, wood, raisins, and faint chocolate.
T: Bright tartness up front, with dark flavors of berries, caramel, raisin, dark roasted malt coming next. The finish is full slightly vinegary acid, tart berry skins, and tannin oak barrel, and the aftertaste has funky flavors of wild yeast, lingering oak, and a hint of toasted marshmallow.
M: Medium-full body, very airy, frothy, ample but soft carbonation that fluffs up on my palate, and an airy, tart and full mouthfeel. The super frothy carbonation is distracting and takes away from the beers drinkability.
O: I like the wild yeast flavors but over all there isn’t a ton going on in this beer. It’s pretty far removed from a saison as well. I enjoyed it, but it’s not that memorable. Thanks again for sending me this, Kevin.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.42/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pour is dark brown, mostly opaque, with a light tan head. Nose is sweet, sugary malt with notes yeast, a touch of roast and a fair bit of leathery brett. Taste is malt sugary, berries and red wine with a light dark roast. Very assertive brett presence, leathery brett with moderate carb, a medium body and a sweetness lingering through the finish.

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Photo of corby112
3.41/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark chestnut/chocolate brown color with mahogany edges and a one finger off-white head that quickly settles into a thin ring. Decent retention with streaks of spotty lacing left behind.

Musty aroma wih funky bugs and a prominent charred oak/barrel character. Some dark roast along with musty bugs, dry oak and subtle malt sweetness. The funky yeast and strong oak notes dominate the nose. Not too complex but pretty inviting.

Tart and puckering with sour acidity, dry oak/toothpick and sweet vinous fruit. Kind of one dimensional but has a decent amount of sourness, funky yeast and a decent enough malt presence that prevents it's from becoming boring. Saison notes are overpowered by the yeast and barrel flavors.

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Photo of mtomlins
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 375ml bottle into a stemmed Teku glass.
Bottle date 6/2013; Poured 3/2014

A: Pours a very dark brown with almost red hues, becoming transparent on the edges with 1 to 2 fingers of creamy tan head that settles to a persitant collar and leaves excellent lacing.

S: The nose is tart with nice fruit notes (cherries), oaky, toasted malt and maybe a touch of coffee.

T: The flavor is complex starting tart, lots of cherries, oak but smoothes out a bit and toasted malts a hints of toffee come through. There is a dry spiciness like black pepper come through on the finish (from the bittering hops?).

M: It has a medium body and nice carbonation making it light, refreshing and round.

O: Overall, a very complex yet drinkable beer whose flavors evolve with every sip. A truly remarkable and interesting beer.

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Photo of MDDMD
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-brown red color with a nice light tan head and some lacing

S-tart cherries, oak, little toffee, slight vinous, toasted malt

T-tart cherries, hints of chocolate and toffee, toasted malt, oak, light red wine vinegar

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, crisp and tart

O-complex flavors, very enjoyable and unique

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

375ml, 06/2013
HF stem

***Review 1,150 so sort of a mild stone. Haha.***

A: Pours a dark brownish red color. Some light gets through especially at the edges. Loose bubbled light tan head. Some lacing bits.

S: Tannic oak notes. Chalk. Funk. Dark berries. Tart black cherries. Dryness. Some pepper.

T: Nice sharp pepper spice on the tip of the tongue. Funkiness. Dark cherry. Some leather. Oak tannic dryness. Finish is dry. Lingering dark berries.

M: Medium bodied.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

aptly named after the great hegel, this beer is a real privilege, courtesy, as is common with my great rare beers, of the legendary drlovemd87. he gets some epic beers and makes a point to share them, i really admire that and am forever grateful. i described this as the illegitimate love child of chocolate milk, cherry cola, and mr. pibb in some perverted childrens beverage incestuous gallivanting tryst, only in a good way, if that doesnt already sound good to you. dark brown but not black, thinner and not particularly heady. aromatics of dried red fruit, milk chocolate, coca cola, dried roasted chilies, coffee, and good sturdy red wine. the taste is an orgasmic complex combination of all of this, with sourness and acid pervading, and some lactose sugar, before the saison yeast and wine barrel effect set in. complex is an understatement, this is highly refined, delicate, earthy, and what so many beers wish they were. a black saison meets a flemish red meets an oud bruin meets pinot noir. a truly dynamic and memorable brew, only medium bodied and carbonated adequately. nothing out there like this at all.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle of the 2013 batch. Poured into a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass today, 11/2/2013.

Pours a dark black body, not quite super opaque but rather dark. Not super viscous. Comes with a effervescent tan head that has very good retention and leaves a ton of lacing all over the glass that remains as I drink it.

Smells really, really sour actually. Acidic as heck with a lot of funk. Oaky and tart. Its quite saison-ish and on the level of sour with the other Hill Farmstead saisons that I've had (particularly Satsuma). There are hints of a caramel and toffee roast malt character, but its really dominated by the acidity here. It was surprising how acidic it was for a saison, but as a sour head, I'm not going to complain at all.

Tastes so unique- it tastes like an acidic sour with a bunch of dark chocolates tossed in. I don't know if its because of the color, but I definitely get a touch of smooth, milk chocolate on the back end. Throughout, there is a delicious oaky funk that ramps up in terms of acidity. This is really a fantastic saison that I'm really enjoying.

Medium bodied, really well carbonated with a great creaminess that actually complements this black saison well. Some white vinous qualities to this beer that makes it so drinkable yet interesting. No hint of ABV here at all of course.

Such an interesting take on a saison. Its a mix between a sour and a great porter. Shaun Hill is working some great magic up in the Northeast Kingdom and I'm glad to have drank this one. Highly recommend if you like saisons and sours.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.77/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle pour at Woodshop 8 held at The Hermosillo in Los Angeles, CA.

Thanks to Chris F. for sharing this one.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is sour and tart with malt, fruit, wood, and acidic aromas. Taste is much the same with sour and tart cherry and fruit flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty but has a slightly better aroma in my opinion.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-Black in the glass, one finger off white head with some lacing.

S-Oak, grapes, funk, grass, some darker malts.

T-More tart than sour. Sweet as well. Oak, grapes, cherries, god balance that only improves as the beer warms up.

M-Medium bodied, nicely carbonated.

O-Another amazing beer from HF, it seems like Shaun can do wrong when it comes to his sours and well any beer.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 375 mL bottle from the second release chilled and poured into a Hill Farmstead tulip glass. I had the first release on tap at the brewery last year and enjoyed it a lot.

Appearance: Dark brown in color. Pours a one finger beige head that holds in a thin lacing. Light bodied.

Aroma: Tart cherries, green apple and a touch of oak. There is definitely a red wine character as well. The wild yeast adds a nice barnyard character and complexity.

Taste: Really nice tart character stands out. Definitely more tart than the average HF saison and blurs the line to wild ale. Lots of cherry and green apple notes as well. After the initial sour tones wear off, some nice roasted malt and caramel starts to come to the forefront. The wild yeast notes add some nice complexity and a really nice funk. Incredibly refreshing.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with a really nice amount of carbonation. Really smooth and easy to drink.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beer as a cross between a sour ale and a dark saison. It manages to be bright and refreshing while also complex. Easy to drink as well. This batch was definitely more complex than the last and I think it would be interesting to see how the tartness and funk develops over time.

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Photo of Lordquackingstic
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle split two ways into mini snifters.

A: Almost jet black, tinged with brown along the edges. A slightly mocha-ish head dissipates quickly.

S: Red wine, grapes, earthy malts, lemons, tart aromas.

T: Instantly hit with sour red wine, lots and lots of barrel on this one. Sour grape juice mix with slight oak and tart berries. After the wine punch in the tongue fades the dark aspects of the saison come through with a lingering malty aftertaste. After it warms up slight notes of coffee and chocolate comes through.

M: Very tart, lots of barrel on this one. Medium-light mouthfeel for a saison. Low on carbonation.

O: This is pretty stellar, but I would have liked to have seen the dark aspect of the saison play a bigger role in this. Definitely worth a try if you can get your hands on it.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Batch 2, bottled 6/2013.

Appearance - Deep brown. Khaki head. Settled to a few wisps.

Smell - Dark malts. Chocolate and some coffee. Lactic and lemony acidity. Slightly fruity, wine character.

Taste - Really lactic. Tart more than sour. Lemony and grainy. Dark malt is masked here. White wine-like bright fruity flavor. Roastiness comes back in the finish a little bit.

Mouthfeel - Bright tartness. Medium carbonation. Medium light body.

Overall - Surprising lack of complexity from the yeast. There's a bit of the malt complexity left, but the sourness is a bit one dimensional.

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Photo of AdamF625
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- dark brown with reddish tones with a thin khaki head and lacing.
S- sour aromas, wood, oak, dark fruits, green apple
T- tart cherries, sour, raspberries, wood, red grapes, plums, sour apple
M- well carbonated, thin body, semi dry.
O-This beer is very tart and almost puckering. A lot of nice flavors. Well done especially considering the different treatments this beer went through.

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Photo of Skrip
4.54/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

batch 2, 375ml bottle poured into a Hill Farmstead oversized wine glass.

A~ coffee like dark brown with a tan head and a little bit of lacing that follows the head as it flows down the glass.

S~ tart cherry, fig, and dates up front followed by roasted malts, and tons of oak characteristics.

T~ a lot more cherries here, even some raspberry comes out at first. next the roasted malts come into play, all followed by the oak which is so complex you could literally taste the wood. also leaves a nice lemony tartness on your pallet. reminds me of Edith with a lot more fruit and a cleaner yeast which is ironic considering its airborne.

M~ amazing carbonation, very smooth and refreshing! also a nice dry finish from the tartness

O~ incredible dark saison! one of the many styles HF always seem to nail! their saisons and wilds always top it for me and this is the best of both worlds. i wonder how this compares to batch 1, i might have to try to get my hands on one!

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.34/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

reviewed from notes taken 8/23. actual review was on 8/23 on the 2010 Phenomenology Of Spirit transfered to correct year that I drank (2013 the coolship version of Phenomenology Of Spirit).

thanks to egrace84 for the awesome surprise on my b-day!

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: black bodied beer with 2 fingers of tan head, slowly drops down to a thick cap. Better than spotty lacing.

Smell: mild tartness right away; full of lemons and lactic notes. Mild dark malts. Light generic funk and fruity yeast.

Taste: Moderately tart lactic and lemons notes. Really surprised how tart this beer is...way more tart than the nose leads onto. bready and yeasty like most saisons and the perfect amount of dark malts to balance everything out nicely. The tartness still remains during the entire taste and on into the aftertaste will just the right amount of tartness. Balanced and complex!

Mouthfeel: almost a medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Spot on carbonation as always with Hills Farmstead. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Very pleasant with a mouthfeel that is complimentary to the aromas and flavors of this beer.

Overall: very comparable to Serge by Saint Somewhere. It was immediately a beer I thought of when I tasted and smelled this Hills Farmstead beer. I really like this beer! As always Hill Farmstead delivers a fantastic beer experience!

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Photo of weonfire
4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark brown/burgundy, light lacing which dissipates quickly.

S - Oak, wood, tart cherry/grape/raspberry

T - similar to nose. Tart oaky tart cherry/grape/raspberry. lots of funk

M - Great carbonation, medium body, gives my tongue and throat a tingle on the way down

O - Very different 'Saison' I've ever had- much more of Wild Ale. Excellent funky tart flavors. Very wild. Loved it tho.

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Photo of kevanb
4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

375ml bottle, poured into a Hill Farmstead Festival wine glass.

The beer pours a rich burgundy color, cola brown hues with a billowing, khaki head that rises about 2 fingers high and has nice retention and leaves some blotchy lace behind. The aroma is of tart cherry, plum, dark red grape, light musty funk with some nice oakiness, a bit of leatheriness and some balsamic vinegar aromas. Tart cherry and tangy red grape hit the tongue, a bit of citric acid is notable, delicate funk and oak character slide in behind and bring out some graininess and interesting spice qualities with some brown sugary sweetness towards the back end. The mouthfeel is very good, lots of lively carbonation, coats the mouth well, induces a nice puckery feeling and finishes with a creamy touch that leaves a lightly dry feeling behind.

Verdict: A very nice dark saison/wild ale from Hill Farmstead. It lacks a lot of saison qualities, but the coolship adds a nice level of complexity and interesting sour character. I can't wait to try more things from the coolship in the future.

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Photo of JReites
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle to a 16oz 7venth sun tulip glass

Appearance: Black/dark bodied beer with a nice 1-2 finger tan head

Smell: Right away there is a wonderful tart, sour smell.

Taste: Nice tart, citrusy taste. Overall this seems to be very well balance, not too tart but it is definitely more tart than the smell leads on. A nice saison profile comes through with the tartness, leading to a very smooth, balanced flavor. The moderate tartness lingers with the aftertaste. This is possibly one of the best farmhouse/saison style beers I have had.

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation and mouthfeel. This seems to have a moderate heaviness to the feel which complements the overall beer very well.

Overall: Overall this is an outstanding beer. Very smooth and flavorful, and well balanced. There is a perfect amount of tartness without being overwhelming. I wish I had many more bottle of this beer as it is the best saison I have tried to date.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of jaasen64
4.29/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle picked up at the brewery a couple days ago. This is the coolship version that spent 18 months in barrels and was bottled 6/13, consumed 7/28 (moving my review from since it was incorrectly under the older non-coolship version).

A- Pours a dark brown that appears an almost opaque black in e glass, a slight head forms that is off-white with a slightly yeasty look to it and fades to a thin layer, leaves some light lacing, nice consistent carbonation.

S- Aromas of light dark fruits, tart cherries, typical Hill Farmstead yeast, balanced malts, faint figs. Not overly aromatic but a nice balance with a decent complexity.

T- Dark fruits that are a little bit more pronounced then in the aroma, tart cherries, some raspberries, a bit of yeast, finishes with a nice yeasty cleaness with more tart cherries and some figs that linger as an aftertaste. Nice complexity, tasty, decent level of tartness, well balanced saison.

M- Medium bodied to just a tiny bit on the light side, carbonation a bit on the low side but fits the style nicely, very drinkable.

O- This was another winner from Hill Farmstead and a fantastic representation of a spontaneously fermented dark saison. It was slightly similar to Edith only more balanced in my opinion. If you are a fan of Hill Farmstead saisons I definitely recommend checking this out.

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Phenomenology Of Spirit from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 253 ratings