Hill Farmstead hype

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by black13, Jul 21, 2012.

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  1. black13

    black13 Disciple (306) Apr 11, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Since HF is the talk of the moment and their beers seems to be trading for almost anything people want, would HF be the hyped brewery it is if it were in a town such as Portland or San Diego? I've had a couple beers from HF and felt both were solid "C" beers (Anna and Birth of Tragedy). Not to take anything away from Shaun Hill as he seems to be an extremely talented and dedicated brewer (having servers cover beers to prevent them form being sun-struck), but when you look at the posts, people will go on and on that this place is in the middle of nowhere and you have to drive on gravel roads to get there. How would HF rate if it weren't the only show in town, or the only show for several counties? The problem is, most people will never know as their beers are so limited.
  2. andrewinski1

    andrewinski1 Savant (941) Apr 14, 2009 New Hampshire

    I haven't had Anna but I thought Birth of Tragedy was pretty special. I think his pale ales and DIPA's are really where it's at. Ephraim isn't even the best one. With those types of beers, it's better to have it fresh from the source for sure; maybe that's part of it.
    GrumpyOldTroll and cfrances33 like this.
  3. BOBPINCH666

    BOBPINCH666 Initiate (0) Feb 21, 2011 New York

    Fucking deservedly highly. [/thread]

    ps "only show in town" - you're right Vermont beer blows:confused:
    Chaney, dougfur, silentjay and 5 others like this.
  4. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    adsf;lkjadsf;lkj PRAISE NOT HYPE.

    It would absolutely not be any less regarded. They get praise (NOT HYPE) because their beer is amazing. I've had a number, and they've typically been world-class (and the ones that weren't I chalk up to having traded for them, trading for IPAs is gambling). If anything more exposure might give them more absurdly high numbers just from a higher number of beers making to the BA crowd.

    Honestly, if you think Birth of Tragedy was a "C" beer then I don't trust any review by you of any beer ever. To each their own and everything, but man, our palates are NOT aligned.
  5. black13

    black13 Disciple (306) Apr 11, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    It may have to do with shipping the beer, bottle variation, or maybe the beers my tasting group has access to regularly, but the Birth of Tragedy we had was nothing special.
  6. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    I dunno, I had it out of at least 3 different bottles (it was at a special event in the Bay Area) and each one was magnificent. By far the best BA Porter I've ever had, nothing else was even close. Like I said, to each their own, and you're right, with such a small operation bottle variance is basically inevitable, but your statement is wildly divergent from my experience. (And for the record, lest anyone accuse me of "hyping", I drank my last bottle recently. Wish I had more, I'd drink those too.)
  7. claaark13

    claaark13 Zealot (504) Nov 29, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    BoT has changed a bit since release, fwiw.

    HF beers flew under the radar for a short period of time. It was inevitable that they would get hit by the spotlight. They make great versions of every style they attempt. Porter, RIS, IPA, DIPA, APA, Saison, whatever. They let the barrels guide the base beers, not dominate the base beers. They seem to take pride in every beer they brew, which is something I'm not convinced that a lot of other really good breweries do.

    If Vermont were California, HF would be getting hated on for not meeting the demand of the local market.
  8. larryi86

    larryi86 Poo-Bah (2,558) Apr 4, 2010 Delaware
    Supporter Beer Trader

    I have not had much HF, but I have enjoyed the three beers I have tried, Anna, Arthur and Art, and I would buy them again and again if I could. Anna and Art are two of my favorite Saisons and I wish I had a bottle of each right now.
  9. DavoleBomb

    DavoleBomb Poo-Bah (2,463) Mar 29, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Ephraim is probably the best DIPA I've ever had (except when the recipe was temporarily changed, that sucked ass). Everette is probably the best porter I've ever had. The couple other bottles I've had from them have been nothing short of solid. I have little doubt that HF is one of the best breweries in the country.

    Do I think their beers should command what they are in the trading arena? Absolutely not, but I also feel that way about anything LA's ever made, BA Darklords, all HotD beers, anything with a pedigree that means nothing (such as the Bottleworks beers), and anything else with retardedly low bottle counts and a world reknown hyping crew.
    ZX6Chris and maximum12 like this.
  10. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California


    ZX6Chris likes this.
  11. fargoth

    fargoth Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I don't have an opinion.
    bozodogbreath and tylermains like this.
  12. DavoleBomb

    DavoleBomb Poo-Bah (2,463) Mar 29, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    HF has low bottle counts, but they are a small brewery and probably don't have *fill in the blank* to make tons of whatever beer they are releasing. Stone, on the other hand, is huge by craft standards, but only releases 1,000 bottles of their infected RIS. Thus, HF has low bottle counts, but Stone has retardedly low bottle counts.

    As for hyping, I don't think HF needs it as their ratings have done just as fine outside of the nowhere Vermont area.
  13. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    Thanks to trading and eBay!
    ZX6Chris and Auror like this.
  14. tylermains

    tylermains Initiate (0) Apr 6, 2010 Kentucky

    I've had What is Enlightenment?, Double Citra, Everett, Edward, Society and Solitude #4, E., and Harlan. All were beyond amazing. What is Enlightenment and Everett are well worth the praise HF is getting recently.
  15. Caudalie

    Caudalie Disciple (392) Nov 29, 2011 Quebec (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I have tried 4 of their offerings on tap. The 4 of them were really, really good. I could drink the citra pale ale everyday, all day long. IMO it deserves the hype. I prefered HF hoppy ales to double sunshine and HT (which I'm drinking presently)
  16. Jnorton00

    Jnorton00 Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    Birth of Tragedy is an A!
  17. DrinkingIPA

    DrinkingIPA Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2011 Massachusetts

    Ya...it sucks having to drive through the green mountain state. Even more so to drink beer made with well water carefully crafted, in some cases, for over a year. The remote aspect is a part of the allure...it's also they way some of us like it. Your rating seems harsh but if you thought it was truly a C...why even post?
  18. tbadiuk

    tbadiuk Aspirant (268) Feb 9, 2009 Manitoba (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I had a one week old Anna recently- It was mailed to me here in Canada. It was in the top 10 beers I've ever had. I had a growler of Edward at the same time and it was really good, but not quite as good as Anna. Recently we also opened a bottle of "E" from the same shipment and it was only "OK".

    So, there is my HF experience so far. I also have Art and Arthur in the cellar waiting (from the same shipment), as well as CD#4 and Jimmy from the recent release coming in the mail.

    So far, I'm impressed.
  19. n2185

    n2185 Poo-Bah (1,862) Apr 14, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I've only had a few and generally agree that Anna wasn't too impressive. Far from bad, but not great. Everett and S&S 2 were both great, though. Definitely very close to the top of their respective styles. That being said, I don't really seek out their beers because most people want multiple barrel aged brewery-only releases for even their common beers.
  20. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    My guess is they would rate rather well based on the trade demand and the fact a guy from Oregon felt this topic deserved a thread. It does not matter if it is the only brewery in town or one out of one hundred for the people trading for the bottles. Great breweries are great breweries regardless of location. Being the only show in town only really matters in terms of local "hype". If the brewery weren't worth the "hype" it would not warrant conversation. Even starting a conversation questioning the "hype" adds to the hype.
    ripps1 and KAF like this.
  21. tewaris

    tewaris Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2009 Minnesota

    Will agree with most, it's well deserved praise more than hype.

    However, from my limited experience with HF, I am also inclined to say that it's their hoppy beers that score a home run and more. Everett, Arthur, Mimosa do not blow the competition IMO. The Pale Ales and IPAs most certainly do.
    Centennial likes this.
  22. imbrue001

    imbrue001 Aspirant (216) Aug 6, 2010 Pennsylvania

    When I start my own brewery I'm totally not going to sell the beer to anyone. Aw man, so many whales.
  23. LambicKing

    LambicKing Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2011 Germany

    Having had about a dozen different beers (Abner, Edward, George, BoT, Daybreak, Anna, Arthur, Harlan, etc, etc...), there is no way anything ranks a C. Some Bs? Of course. But nothing is average.
    franklinn likes this.
  24. imbibehour

    imbibehour Poo-Bah (6,278) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    The bigger question is why get worked up over people who don't agree with you...
    thebigredone, silentjay and pjeagles like this.
  25. celfan

    celfan Disciple (327) Jul 4, 2004 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    A very fair question.

    I was looking forward to my first Hill Farmstead beer and found a bottle of their saison at the local bottle shop. Disappointed would not begin to describe my initial impression.. I was then told to try a bottle of Dupont Saison (sp?) from Belgium I believe. Just as disappointed. The problem wasn't with the HF offering, I just don't like saison.

    So I can't speak for most of his bottles as they just aren't my thing. The IPA's and DIPA's I can speak for.

    I live in Vermont in a log cabin on a dirt road. Trust me, the HF middle of nowhere, gravel road vibe means nothing to me. I wish the gas mart down the road would sell HF out of the cooler with the Oscar Meyer cold-cuts - I'd be a damn happy man.

    I can get Heady Topper anytime I want since it's available 24/7 where I do my local grocery shopping - I often do
    buy it because it's fantastic. I consider myself blessed. But I make the 90 minute ride to HF a lot because no one works Magic with hops like they do. I've been running up gas bills and pissing off the wife for leaving her alone on Saturdays because their stuff is really special. The hype that many consider charming means nothing to me. Gravel roads in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service is pretty much my everyday experience - a pain in the a$$ actually.

    Many of these small brewers aren't making their products to sit around or bump and bake in the back of UPS trucks. Pretty sure that's not in the quality control section of their business plan. I've had many legendary beers shipped to me from the midwest and west coast that left me feeling like "huh?" I'm sure they'd be better if I got them locally.

    Different strokes for different folks. I lived in the midwest for 25 years and had great stuff. Now I'm lucky to live near three fantastic breweries, and HF IPAs are the best I've ever had.
    dsigmon, Prost76, eawolff99 and 9 others like this.
  26. SpeedwayJim

    SpeedwayJim Poo-Bah (2,292) Jun 19, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I haven't really chased after any Hill Farmstead stuff personally but from what I've come across during tastings or festivals, or just randomly on tap, everything Shaun makes has been incredible. His pale ales like SS, Ephraim, and Enlightenment compete for some of the best I've ever had and his darker beers like BA Everett, Damon, and Birth of Tragedy have also been top notch.

    I can't speak for the sours/saisons like Mimosa and Ann (which, from the looks of it, are the main focus of hype these days), but if its anything like other offerings, I can't imagine that they're below average.

    Shaun, despite his sometimes awkward/polarizing personality, is just a very talented brewer that's putting out beer that's of very high quality. I don't think that his middle-of-nowhere location has anything to do with the hype his beers have received.
    Centennial likes this.
  27. PatBrad

    PatBrad Initiate (0) Jan 18, 2009 Massachusetts

    It seems to me that your question is concerned more with location and distribution than quality, and I'm not sure that necessarily matters. True, Hill Farmstead does not get a wide distribution. But for that matter neither do a lot of great breweries in California, Colorado, and every place else. What makes HF stand out then? I would say that it's the quality their beers!

    I've been up to the farm once, and believe me -- this place makes beer and that's about it. With the exception of a few small shindigs to celebrate new releases, there seems to be almost no marketing involved. They make a great product and they sell it. If people praise/hype it online, than so be it. "Word of mouth" is still one of the best forms of advertisement.

    Returning to your post, I think that if HF was suddenly uplifted and placed in the middle of one of the markets you mention, they would still function the exact same way. Except if anything, their reputation would be worse. Given his dedication to quality, I don't foresee Shaun Hill changing his brewing techniques to suit a "macro craft" style of production. In consequence, with a greater nearby population and immediate demand, HF either have to raise prices or sell out of each batch in only a few days' time (thus infuriating BAs across the country who never get to try their brews). Neither prospect is potentially endearing.

    So, yeah. As much as I would love to see Hill Farmstead placed alongside Magic Hat and Rock Art on the shelves of my local beer store, I cannot fault them for succeeding in their own way.
    duchessedubourg likes this.
  28. DefenCorps

    DefenCorps Poo-Bah (3,535) Jan 18, 2007 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Could you maybe explain why you thought they were poor representations of the style? I haven't had BoT, but to my palate, Anna has all the characteristics a saison should have. Is it the best clean saison ever? Obviously not. Is it an excellent representation of the style? I think you could argue in the affirmative.
  29. yankeefan287

    yankeefan287 Aspirant (235) Feb 23, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Only tried Edward, but among the 40 or so pale ales that I have recorded within last 6 months, it was ranked #1. I haven't tried zombie dust, but have tried some other highly ranked ones, and it was far and away the best pale ale I've had to date.
  30. Sean9689

    Sean9689 Poo-Bah (2,115) Mar 17, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I've rated a large majority of HF beers, and I would have to say a "bad beer" from them is 3.5 or so. I've never had a "C" beer from them, and Anna is one of my favorite American Saison's I've ever had. Birth of Tragedy was a really nice beer, but I preferred the base beer (still gave it a 4.08). That's why beer is fun, we can all agree to disagree.

    If HF was in Chicago, I would still rate their beer the way I do. Location and demand has nothing to do with how I rate a beer. I simply think HF makes some of the best beers in the country...and I've had a lot of highly rated beer in just about every style.

    You only have 24 ratings, but you rate all your locals at A+ and gave the Smoke from the Oak variants 1's. While I don't think SftO variants are A+ beers, I wouldn't say they're 1's. Going by your 24 ratings, I'd have to say I would probably look elsewhere for opinions on beers I'm interested in trying.
  31. Thorpe429

    Thorpe429 Poo-Bah (5,387) Aug 18, 2008 Illinois
    Industry Beer Trader

    In my opInion, Hill Farmstead is the best brewery in America, and no other breweries are even that close. I've had every beer on the top 100 and most on all the other top lists, so I think I have a pretty firm basis for making that judgment. Aside from that, Shaun makes extraordinary beers across a wide range of styles, which is something only a handful of breweries do.
  32. Thorpe429

    Thorpe429 Poo-Bah (5,387) Aug 18, 2008 Illinois
    Industry Beer Trader

    The first paragraph is spot on. Our group has a joke about Shaun's beers being "Hill Farmstead Fs" if they're "only" a 4.0.
    LambicKing likes this.
  33. biglobo8971

    biglobo8971 Devotee (480) May 6, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    2 words. Double Galaxy, absolutely one of the best beers brewed.
    oldp0rt, Retail1LO and ColForbinBC like this.
  34. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (381) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    I assume these are great beers, but I'd assume the overall impression made by a beer will not be wholly independent of what you've gone through to get it. If I were to travel way out to some remote, verdant, beautiful setting to get a great beer, I'm guessing the setting would have some positive influence on my reaction to the beer, however small. If halfway through my first glass I were attacked by a bear, perhaps my reaction wouldn't be quite so positive.
    evilc and imbrue001 like this.
  35. Rochefort10nh

    Rochefort10nh Champion (864) Sep 30, 2005 New Hampshire
    Beer Trader

    As the phrase " I've had a couple beers from HF and felt both were solid "C" beers" contains an opinion, I'll offer you mine - you are out of you're f'n mind!:slight_smile:
  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Permit me to tell a Shaun Hill story. I have never been to the brewery but I got a chance to meet Shaun Hill at Teresa’s Next Door (Wayne, PA) as part of Philly Beer Week. My wife and I had a chance to talk to Shaun for 10-15 minutes. He is a very pleasant guy and very open in communicating. I am a homebrewer so I asked a number of technical brewing questions which Shaun patiently and cordially answered. I then made an honest statement to Shaun: “I have had a large number of your beers and every one of your beers has been very, very good.” Shaun replied: “That’s because we never let a ‘bad’ batch out of our brewery.” I replied: “You never had to dump a batch, did you? He responded” “Yes, and that is tough to do when you only have $5,000.00 in the bank.” So, apparently Shaun did experience a few ‘hiccups’ during his startup but he had the integrity to not sell what he considered to be subpar beer. Yup, Shaun Hill is an excellent brewer on many levels.

    silentjay, KAF, FeDUBBELFIST and 5 others like this.
  37. commis

    commis Initiate (0) Jul 21, 2009 Massachusetts

    The people that don't live close to Greensboro that have tried Shauns beers have, for the most part, also had the best of the best from all over the country and it's recieving the same praise from all of them. Plenty of folks in Portland, SD, and many other top tier beer cities are singing the praises of HF... enough so that I think it's safe to say that's a good indication that it wouldn't matter where HF was located, it would still be one of the very best breweries in the States. Hype is hype, but underneath the hype are a huge number of experienced and trustworthy beergeeks from all over the world asserting that Shaun is a genius. Myself included. The hype and praise isn't coming from a bunch of Vermonters with no other claim to greatness or something... Shaun has plenty of competition right in his own tiny little state, but furthermore, there aren't really enough VT beergeeks that are regularly vocal in the media and online forums to create the type of talk we're exleriencing with HF. Not that some of them don't try, but it's not like there are a shitload of them out there constantly buzzing about this... This buzz is coming from fans everywhere.
    With beer trading reaching the levels we're seeing now, there is no "only show in town". The "town" has essentially become the entire country and beyond.
  38. JustBill

    JustBill Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2010 Vermont

    The place. The purpose. The story. The people (all of them). The principles and standards by which they operate...

    While I do believe the liquid HFB creates is always fantastic, it's the aforementioned things that, for me, make the HFB experience simply sublime.

    If you don't get it, you just don't get it.
    FeDUBBELFIST likes this.
  39. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,431) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    And for the simple reason of geography, a vast majority of us just don't get it. Literally.
  40. Etan

    Etan Initiate (0) Jul 11, 2011 Wisconsin

    To be honest, I haven't been keen on trading for HF beers because of the ridiculous stuff/amount of stuff I would have to put up to get anything done. I've had Everett, and it was probably the best porter I've ever had, FWIW.
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