Tag Archives: Hill Farmstead

745. Hill Farmstead Flora

Hill Farmstead FloraFlora has been on my list of wants for a long time. I have tried it at some of the Hill Farmstead events but never been able to score a bottle. Flora was one of the bottle being released on the 9/26/13 bottle release that I wrote about here. Fortunately they released it again this year with a three bottle limit, I opened one to do this review and have the other two in my cellar for later.

I love the deep yellow glow and thick white head on this beer. It took several partial pours to get this photo as initially the head was much bigger. The aroma has so much going on; some wine, some wheat, oak and a slight funk. Flavor has the same level of complexity and may be even better than the aroma. You get the wine and oak from the barrel, a slight funk from the “microflora” and a little tart. This is truly one of the most complex and flavorful beers I have ever tried and expect the two bottles aging to be even more so.

Flora is one of my favorite beers and I still have the Satsuma and Blueberry varieties to drink and review. I expect those will be as good or better than the original. Truly exceptional, unique and a beer that I could drink every week and not tire of.
Pros:
Complex and wonderful
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 4.8% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Wine barrel aged Wheat Saison fermented with resident microflora.

738. Hill Farmstead Arthur

Hill Farmstead ArthurI have enjoyed Arthur several times but never took a photo and actually wrote up a review. When talking with people about Hill Farmstead the conversation often starts out with their hoppy offerings; Abner, Edward, the Society & Solitude series and the many other excellent beers but people may overlook the fact that some of the World’s best saisons are also coming out of Greensboro. In fact Beeradvocate’s list of top saisons 11 of the top 20 are from Hill Farmstead / Grassroots Brewing.

Arthur is Hill’s straight up saison, no honey (Anna), no dandelions (Vera Mae) and no barrel aging just a straight up farmhouse saison. Arthur pours a really hazy orange with a huge bright white head. Aroma is an amazing mix of green apple, lemon and light funk. Taste is even more enjoyable than the aroma as you get the same green apple, lemon but you also get a small amount of peppery spice. There is just the right amount of sour funk and a dry refreshing finish that makes this beer incredibly drinkable.

The saison style varies widely but this is just what I like from a farmhouse saison. In the recent months the limits on Hill Farmstead’s saisons has increased significantly so you can typically come home with one to three cases. Next time Arthur is available I may purchase my limit as it is that good. 
Pros:
Complex and refreshing
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 6.0% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Arthur (1922-2005) was our grandfather’s youngest brother; Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his 13 siblings. In his honor, this Saison is crafted from American malted barley, American and European hops, our distinctive farmhouse yeast and water from our well. Unfiltered and naturally carbonated, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Arthur.

Bottle Releases & Craft Beer Pricing

There is no question I buy a lot of beer and attend a lot of bottle releases. Just take a look at the list of beer currently waiting to be consumed (link here) and you will get an idea of the depth of my beer buying problem.

AnnThis morning I awoke and checked in with Facebook and Twitter as I do most mornings. There were several posts with lots of comments about the lottery style release of Ann a barrel aged saison from Hill Farmstead. I have been waiting for months to learn the details of this release as it is one of the few Hill Farmstead beers I have never tried. I believe the first and only release of Ann was in 2012 and somewhere around 180 bottles were released making this more rare than even Double Barrel Damon.

The details of the release can be found on Hill Farmstead’s website (link here) basically you register in a lottery, if your name is drawn you get to purchase a bottle for that given day. You can register once for each day of the release and the total cost is around $55 between the bottle, tax and fee for the lottery site. If you do not win you pay nothing, the small fee for entering is returned to you.

If you have ever been to Hill Farmstead, especially one of their bottle releases like the release of Damon, Double Barrel Damon, Flora and Flora Satsuma on 9/26/2013 you know how crowded it can get and the crazy lines that form. My post of that release can be seen here. In an effort not to replicate the crazy lines of that day Shaun decided to do the lottery style release for Ann which I think is great even at $50+ per bottle and here is why.

My time is worth something. I have a very busy job, three kids, a wife and all the duties that come with homeownership. If I can enter into a lottery style event, be chosen for a bottle and know that on February 4th I can show up at 11:00, grab my bottle and leave that is a much better solution than driving to Vermont to arrive at 9:00 or earlier and stand in line for many hours for the chance of getting a bottle. I am sure there were many in September that waited for many hours to have the final bottles sold to the people in front of them.

GashDon’t get me wrong I have waited in line for beer and I will again. Each brewery has its own style and bottle/can releases are no different. Allagash has an event coming up that I will go to, wait in line to get in and then wait again to grab a couple bottles of their new release Emotional Honey and bottles of some older beers that are making another appearance; Old HLT, FV13 and Tiarna.

Allagash does a tremendous job with their bottle releases with lots of games, food and samples. Combine this with lots of friendly craft beer drinkers and you have the makings of a nice Saturday morning. The difference is Allagash has the space to accommodate hundreds of people and while parking is not the best between the parking lot and on road parking everyone will have a safe place to park. Allagash also has many more employees to handle the crowds and make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Hill Farmstead does not have the space or parking for such an event and  when they do have an event they rely heavily on volunteers. Coordinating all of this for a weekday bottle release would be nearly impossible.

AlchemistThen there is The Alchemist and their truck load sales. Similar to Hill Farmstead they do not have a space to accommodate a large scale release so they do it in a public space in Waterbury. I have only been to one but it was lots of fun and you can read more about the trip here. I was in line at 6:40 for a sale that started at 9:00. There was a food truck, a band and again lots of great craft beer drinkers to chat with and pass the time.

There is no perfect way to release a beer. You have the retail version with the Bourbon County craziness on Black Friday, the draft only version with Pliny the Younger at Russian River and select bars, the brewfest version that almost ended in a riot at Cigar City’s Hunahpu Day in Florda and countless other beer events across the country with demand that far outweighs the availability of the beer.

In the end breweries have to do what works best for them. For Hill Farmstead, at least with Ann, that is a lottery system and for others it means lines of craft beer fans waiting and hoping the beer lasts long enough for them to score a bottle.

If the beer is good than I want to try it. If the beer has taken years to craft; brewed, aged, blended, bottled, aged again than I will pay more for it. I have yet to be disappointed by a beer from Hill Farmstead or Allagash or The Alchemist and when you have a reputation of creating exceptional beer the beer buying public will pay. I don’t think any of these breweries are pricing their beer artificially high or limiting production to increase profits. Space and time are expensive which causes beer to be expensive. Yes there are plenty of great craft beverages out there that are less expensive but you are not going to be drinking $50 bottles of Ann or $15 – 375 ml bottles of Allagash’s Coolship beers everyday. It is a luxury item, a special treat and one that I am happy to pay for.

Is the beer worth $50+, I don’t know but I hope to find out. I will be submitting a lottery pick for each day, if I am chosen for a bottle then I will gladly pay the $50+ drive to Vermont and pick up my bottle of Ann. If the planets, stars and cosmos align and I am lucky enough to have my name drawn for more than one day than I will make multiple trips and tuck one away in the cellar for a special occasion. I will also be at the Allagash Wild Beer Round Up waiting in line on a cold January morning in Maine and if my schedule and time allows I will attend future truck load sales at The Alchemist. Chances are better that you will find me at one of the many other breweries that are making exceptional beer in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont or Massachusetts.

Cheers to all and feel free to share your comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

722. Hill Farmstead Dorothy

Hill Farmstead DorothyDorothy was first brewed in 2010 and brought back in 2014 with a new recipe which will become a regular part of Hill Farmstead’s lineup. This is an interesting mix of styles; a hoppy farmhouse pale ale.

Appearance is an unfiltered orange with a huge fluffy white head, it took several pours to get the glass full enough for this photo. Aroma has more farmhouse funk than hops but both are present. Some grass/hay a bit of funk with some lemon. Taste has a lot going on with juicy hops, followed quickly by the saison yeast and finishes with a nice funk. So much going on it is hard to catch all the different flavors.

Overall Dorothy makes the mix of styles of work. I have a couple more bottles of this and it will be very interesting to see how things change. 
Pros:
Complex
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 7.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: We haven’t brewed this beer since October 2010. In it’s new reincarnation, Dorothy will become a regular ancestral release: A pale, very hoppy American Farmstead ale. Dry hopped in the Foudres and bottle conditioned.

699. Hill Farmstead Earl

Hill Farmstead EarlI do not like coffee. Never have and I can assume at this point that I never will. I should know better than to try coffee beers as I just cannot get beyond the coffee flavor but in my effort to try some beers from Hill Farmstead that I have not tried before I decided to grab a 750 of Earl their coffee oatmeal stout.

Appearance is a very nice dark brown with a thin tan head. Aroma has a lot of coffee and some roasted malts and chocolate, pleasant as I actual like the smell of coffee just not the taste. Taste is where this one loses me as the coffee takes over. Not only do I get the coffee flavor but also the coffee bitterness. Finishes with a bit of chocolate which is nice.

If you like coffee give it a shot as everything about the beer; appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, etc was good just the most important part; taste didn’t work for me. 
Pros:

Cons: Coffee
Alcohol Content: 7.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 

Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Earl (1911-1985) was our grandfather’s brother; Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his 13 siblings. In his honor, this Stout is crafted from American malted barley, Flaked Oats, English roasted malts, American hops, Organic Guatemalan Coffee, our ale yeast, and water from our well. It is unfiltered and naturally carbonated. A silhouette of coffee and malt – an embodiment of complexity and drinkability, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Earl.

Pale, Caramel, and Chocolate Malt, Roasted Barley, Columbus hops; Ale Yeast, and our Well Water.

698. Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #7

Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #7This is the seventh installment of Hill Farmstead’s Society & Solitude series. All are Imperial IPAs (#2 was a black IPA) with different hop profiles. I have tried all but #1 and not sure if they will bring it back in the future or not. #7 uses a mix of Simcoe and Amarillo hops.

Everything about this beer is typical Hill Farmstead. Appearance is the bright unfiltered orange with a nice white head. Aroma has huge juicy citrus fruits; mango, grapefruit and a hint of pine. Taste is a very bright orange, grapefruit, melon and a slight sweetness. Slightly bitter finish and the alcohol is non-existent while cold. As the beer warms the alcohol starts to come through but it is not overpowering.

Another truly excellent beer.
Pros: Very juicy
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 

Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Imperial Pale Ale brewed exclusively with Simcoe and Amarillo hops from the Pacific Northwest.

689. Siren Craft Brew Lemon Cello IPA

Siren Craft Lemon CelloPicked this bottle up at Hill Farmstead as they had a hand in brewing this one. Not sure the entire back story but apparently Mikkeller was also involved.

Lemon Cello pours a cloudy orange color with a nice white head. From there it is all lemon, aroma is lemon zest/juice. Taste is very much the same with a tart sour lemon that lingers long after you swallow. Alcohol is well hidden.

Overall a decent beer that is worth trying but it pales by comparison with the IPAs being brewed at Hill Farmstead.
Pros: Unique
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 9.1% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness):
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Siren Craft Brew
Brewers Description: This is a truly different beer. The concept was to develop the flavour and mouthfeel of Limoncello and fuse with the carbonation and lemony hop hit of an IPA. Using pale and wheat malts, the base beer goes through a 24 hour sour process to add to the tartness of the beer. Tons of lemon zest and juice are added to the boil along with all the citrusy lemony hops available.

Vermont Trip August 15-16 2014

When Hill Farmstead announced Festival of Farmhouse Ales (FoFA) was going to be held at the brewery on August 16th I started making plans. Fortunately I got tickets through the lottery and we finalized the plans for a short overnight trip to Vermont with my wife, her sister and my brother in law. The week prior to FoFA The Alchemist announced a tent sales for that Saturday morning. Every time they have had a tent sale I had other plans so this was my first chance to experience the craziness of an Alchemist tent sale.

IMG_20140815_124455We left on Friday the 15th and made our way to Vermont via Littleton, NH so we could have lunch at Schilling Beer. We sat on their deck that overlooks the Ammonoosuc River and enjoyed a couple flights of beer and some great brick oven pizza. The favorite beer was Clervaux although they were all very good and the pizzas were both excellent. My brother in law bought one of their double walled stainless steel growlers full of Clervaux for the first beer purchase of the weekend.

After lunch we finished the trip to Vermont and arrived in Montpelier just as Hunger Mountain Coop was releasing Heady Topper and bottles of Double Sunshine from Lawson’s Finest Liquids. We knew the weekend was going to involve standing in many long lines so we decided to skip the lines at the Coop and just headed to the hotel. Capitol Plaza Hotel is located right in the heart of Montpelier and is walking distance to most shops including Three Penny Taproom. Rooms were affordable, up to date and it worked well for our overnight stay.

That evening we walked the streets of Montpelier visiting the local shops and eventually made our way to Three Penny Taproom for drinks and dinner. The food there was great and my brother in law and I enjoyed several beers including; Hill Farmstead Abner and Edward, Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine, Otter Creek Overgrown Pale Ale, Zero Gravity Sim City, while our wives enjoyed some cocktails. All around a great time was had by all and Three Penny should be on your list of places to visit if you ever find yourself in Montpelier.

Line 640Our initial plan was to arrive at the tent sale in Waterbury at 7:00 however we were up and ready to go earlier so we arrived around 6:40. The line was only about 35 people when we arrived, there was plenty of parking and everyone was just hanging out in the parking lot. By 7:00 the line was close to 100 and by the time they moved us to the area the sale takes place at 7:40 there were easily 200 people in line. We grabbed some crepes from the Skinny Pancake food truck and waited as the line grew. There was a band to keep people entertained and lots of talking with the others in line. Around 8:40 John Kimmich thanked everyone for coming and explained that all money from the sale of merchandise was being donated to a school in Rwanda. He also announced they would start selling beer a bit early.

CoolerFortunately we were near the front of the line and we had our beer and were heading out by 9:00. The sale was very well organized and I would recommend anyone interested in The Alchemist beers make the trip to Waterbury to experience the event and buy some great beer.

Due to the early exit from Waterbury we had some extra time between the truck load sale and leaving for FoFA so we hit the farmer’s market in Montpelier, made another trip to the Coop for some snacks and then eventually made our way to Greensboro for the start of FoFA.

Upon arrival at Hill Farmstead we found another extremely well run Fieldevent. A tent was setup to check in with your required designated driver and grab your Hill Farmstead branded tasting glass. The lines had already formed for Flora from Hill Farmstead and Paraguesia2 from Tired Hands. I opted for the Flora line and that was the last line I waited in all day. The remainder of the festival was walk up, grab a beer and drink. There were a couple of times when Hill Farmstead started pouring La Sarrasin and a couple of others that the lines swelled to 20+ people but it went quickly and plenty of great beer was consumed.

FoFAI got to talk to Shaun, Phil, Bob as well as Dan Suarez formerly of Hill Farmstead and currently working towards opening Suarez Family Brewery in New York. The weather could have been better but it did not take away from a great day for a great event.

Based on the success of both the tent sale and the new setup for events at Hill Farmstead; no camping, required designated driver, etc I hope both breweries continue to hold these events as I will certainly be back.

The final haul from the weekend included;

– 2 mixed cases from The Alchemist; four 4-packs of Focal Banger and a 4-pack of Rapture and Crusher
– four 4-packs of Heady Topper
– 8 bottles of Vera Mae and 4 bottles of Florence

Unfortunately we missed out on Lawson’s as we did not want to wait in line at the Coop on Friday but we still came home with plenty of beer.

670. Grassroots Brewing Brother Soigné

Grassroots Brother SoigneNot sure if you have noticed but Hill Farmstead has really started to increase the amount of bottled saisons available. I assume the new foudres have a lot to do with this. With the added capacity the bottle limits have increased from a six or less to multiple cases for many of the saisons.

As I write this Brother Soigne is the #1 saison on Ratebeer.com and for good reason. This beer pours a beautiful golden color with a single finger white head. Aroma has some lime, citrus and a light funk. Taste is incredible with a crisp tart fruit including lime, orange and green apple. I didn’t get any hibiscuus but with everything else that is going on I didn’t miss it.

Only a small amount of funk which makes this beer approachable for almost any beer drinker.  Another amazing beer from Shaun Hill. 
Pros:
 Fruity, slightly funky
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: A tart, refreshing saison brewed with our dear friend Luc Bim Lafontaine, formerly of Dieu du Ciel! Lime, hibiscus and blood orange in a mixed fermentation.

666. Grassroots Brewing Wheat is the New Hops

Grassroots Brewing Wheat is the new HopsThis beer was brewed with Mikkeller in Denmark and released under the Mikkeller name and then brewed again in Vermont and released under the Grassroots Brewing label as it was originally intended. I had no idea what this beer was when I purchased it but before opening I did some investigating online and found it was an IPA fermented with brettanomyces.

Even after reading the description of the beer I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found was a very interesting beer.  Unfiltered yellow appearance with a fluffy white head. Aroma is strong with lots of wheat, citrus hops and very little funk.

Taste has lots of citrus and lemon and a little more funk than the nose but still very subtle. I have another bottle of this so it will be interesting to see how it changes over time, the hops will fade but will the brett continue to do its thing?
Pros: A nice change from your typical IPA
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: ??% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: