Tag Archives: Hill Farmstead

Hill Farmstead Harvest Festival VIP Session

Well the weekend I have been waiting for since July finally arrived. On Friday I headed out to Vermont with my brother-in-law for Hill Farmstead’s Harvest Festival. I was one of the fortunate few that was able to purchase VIP tickets for this event as it sold out in about 60 seconds. The ticket price was $100 per for the VIP session but what I have learned from prior events is brewers really make sure you get your monies worth and Shaun from Hill Farmstead certainly did that.

We arrived at the brewery around 12:30 on Friday to get bottles and growlers filled before the event. With 500 tickets sold for the Saturday (non-VIP) portion of the event the lines were going to be long so getting most of our beer on Friday was a great idea. I ended up with 2 full sized growlers (Edward and Society & Solitude #5) and brought home another 15 – 750 ml bottles for myself and other beer lovers in Maine. The line was only 2-3 deep when we arrived but most people (including me) were filling 10+ bottles so it did take some time. In addition to the growlers and 750s I purchased 5 bottles of beer – 4 from Hill Farmstead and one from Grassroots Brewing. All will be reviewed here in the coming weeks as they are now at the top of my list of beers to drink.

After getting our fill of bottles we headed South to the Hunger
Mountain Co-op to find some Heady Topper and whatever Lawson’s Finest Liquids we could find.  The Co-op had a two 4-pack limit for Heady and the only Lawson’s was a 40th Anniversary Ale made specifically for the Hunger Mountain Co-op so I grabbed a bottle. We also grabbed some lunch at the Co-op and if you have never been you must go as they have some amazing sandwiches, a salad bar and even do growler fills. I wish there was something similar available in Maine.

After the co-op we headed back to Hill Farmstead and arrived around 4:00 with a few hours to kill before the event  which was scheduled to start at 7:00. After a bit of rest we ended up on a picnic table with a growler of Hill Farmstead Holger Danske and a couple of people from New York / New Jersey. This was their first time visiting Hill Farmstead and they had not tried any beer from Hill Farmstead until then. We ended up finishing the growler before the event even started but it was a great way to start the night.

As 7:00 approached the crowd started to arrive and the food from Mad Taco was cooking. Everything smelled amazing and was being prepared right there with fresh onions being chopped, multiple charcoal grills cooking the meat and lots of great bread. Also the music started and the beer started to flow. There were 2 taps that initially were dedicated to Hill Farmstead beer and at least 2 that were pouring beer from other brewers including a cider from Chicago.

My beer drinking for the night included;

  • Abner without Principle (blend)
  • Ephraim, Society and Solitude (blend)
  • Civil Disobedience 4.5 (blend of this summer’s saisons)
  • Simcoe Single Hop
  • Brasserie Cantillon – Rose de Gambrinus
  • The Alchemist – Heady Topper
  • Cigar City Brewing – Dirac

The beer was amazing and there were no tickets or other limits, basically as fast as you could make it through the line you could get refills. I had very little food but what I had was excellent and the remainder smelled excellent. While the event was going I met some people that follow my blog which is always a lot of fun. Some time after 10:00 they stopped pouring but many people continued to hang out talking beer and enjoying the evening.

Eventually we made our way back to the tent feeling good and full of plenty of great beer. Our plan was to make it out before the masses arrived on Saturday so we woke early, tore down the tent, packed up the car and had some breakfast on one of the picnic tables. They were selling 750s of Ephraim on Saturday which was the one beer we could not get on Friday so we expected to hang around until the bottle filling started at 11:00 for the VIP ticket holders. Around 9:30 the door to the brewery opened and we went in to chat with some of the employees/volunteers that we met the previous evening. Eventually Ephraim made it to the tap and we got our bottles filled around 10:00 just before they kicked everyone out of the fill area.

The ride home should have been about three hours however shortly after getting on Highway 91 in Vermont we had an issue with a tire and had to stop to change over to the spare and eventually found a tire shop in St Johnsbury to get a replacement. This delayed our return home by at least 90 minutes but we still made it home mid-afternoon on Saturday with plenty of great beer in the coolers and a day of rest before heading back to work on Monday.

I believe the next Hill Farmstead event is May of 2013 so keep an eye on their website and/or Facebook page for details. Provided I can score some tickets I will certainly be out there again and would love to meet up with more followers of my blog. In the meantime if you have the opportunity to go to Vermont be sure to plan a trip to Hill Farmstead or if you are bored on a Saturday and want to take a day trip it is only 3-4 hours from most of Central / Southern Maine. It is well worth the trip but be sure to bring cash as they do not accept credit/debit cards or checks. And if you go let me know as I may want to place an order.

All the people that I met at the event; Hill Farmstead employees, volunteers, other beer drinkers, etc were great and everyone I encountered was there to have  a good time and enjoy some World class beer. I posted some more photos to my Facebook page if you are interested click here.

285. Hill Farmstead Double Citra

This is the only beer I have had from Hill Farmstead’s single hop series. In this series they bitter, flavor and dry hop the beer with a single type of hop. It would be very interesting to taste the entire series to see how the hop varieties change the aroma and flavor of the beer. The series includes both single and double IPAs.

This is a double IPA which again is my favorite style of beer and the citra hops give it tons of citrus aromas. Taste has a bit of sweet malts in the beginning that quickly give way to loads of citrus and grapefruit or pineapple flavors. Taste is crisp and clean, very easy to drink for a double IPA and very enjoyable. You truly cannot go wrong with Hill Farmstead beer.
Pros: Everything
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: ★★★★
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: An American Imperial Pale Ale bittered, flavored, and dry hopped exclusively with Citra hops from the American Pacific Northwest. 8% abv.

283. Hill Farmstead Society and Solitude #4

Another superb beer from Hill Farmstead. Everything about the beer from this brewery is as close to perfect as I have found. Every beer is different but still has the huge aroma, beautiful color, unfiltered look and amazing taste.
This is a double IPA which happens to be my favorite style of beer and as you can see has a bright orange color, thick white head and just looks amazing in the stem glass that I purchased from the brewery. Lots of citrus and tropical fruits in the aroma and a bit of pine. Flavor follows with loads of hops and a hint of  sweetness. This beer has an excellent feel to it and is very drinkable for an 8% ABV double IPA. Only one more bottle of Hill Farmstead left but I am planning another trip to Vermont in a couple of months. Will be stocking up again and looking forward to anything new from Hill in the coming months.
Pros: Everything
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: ★★★★
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Our experimental Double IPA experience continues. Hybrid Imperial IPA… Think Double Citra Meets Double Galaxy.

281. Hill Farmstead What is Enlightenment?

Another pale ale from Hill Farmstead and this one is special as it was brewed for their second anniversary and uses a different mix of hops than Edward. The beer is lighter in color than the others from Hill but has the same cloudy appearance and white head. Aroma had tons of citrus and tropical fruits, very enticing and certainly draws you into the beer. The taste has more citrus and lemon notes than Edward and is excellent with a hoppy finish that makes you want more.

I really cannot say enough good things about Hill Farmstead’s beers. They are everything I like in a beer; fresh, unfiltered with plenty of hops but not palate wrecking. Have a couple more bottles in the fridge and will get to them very soon.
Pros: Everything
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.4% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: ★★★★
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: American Pale Ale brewed in honor of our Second Anniversary. Simcoe and Amarillo hops.


278. Hill Farmstead Harlan

You might start to see a pattern over the next few weeks with lots of beer from Vermont. After my 3 day trip last week I have tons of Vermont beer to drink and review. Will most likely start with the Hill Farmstead 750 ml bottles. I am sure the bottles would keep just fine but why chance it as they make some of the very best beer available.

This is Harlan which is Hill’s IPA or as they describe it a more aggressive version of Edward. Edward is certainly the best pale ale I have reviewed so it is no surprise that I enjoyed this one just as much. Color is similar a very nice unfiltered orange with solid white head. This beer leaves amazing lacing on the glass too.

Aroma is very pleasant – strong but not overwhelming with lots of fresh hop and tropical and grapefruits. The best way to describe the taste on this one is fresh. All types of hop flavor here with some pine, tropical, grapefruit and citrus. Just enough of a malt character to balance it out but the beer still finishes with a slight bitterness. Overall another excellent beer from Hill Farmstead.
Pros: Not over the top like many of today’s IPAs, very drinkable
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 6% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: ★★★★
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Harlan is Edward’s slightly more aggressive alter-ego. Dry Hopped exclusively with Columbus hops.

Vermont Beercation 7/4/2012

Last week I headed to Vermont for a 3-day trip with my wife, her sister and her husband. I spent a couple of days looking at reviews of places to visit and getting input from my Twitter and FB followers on places not to miss. After spending 3 days visiting 6 breweries and eating tons of great food I have to say the trip was as good as I have had.

We left Maine shortly after noon on July 4th and hit a micro burst just west of St Johnsbury. This was some of the worst weather I have ever driven in with huge amounts of rain, street flooding and multiple trees down. We had to detour several times and ended up many miles north before finally making our way back through Stowe to Waterbury. See photos and notes about the storm here.

After making it to Waterbury we were ready for supper and stopped at The Reservoir for dinner and drinks. At this point I had been driving for 4+ hours and needed a beer. Fortunately they had a great tap list as well as some great burgers. I had a Hill Farmstead Edward, then an Abner and ended with a Celia Saison from The Alchemist.

My brother in law opted for a sampler including; Lawson’s Knockout Blonde, Fiddlehead IPA, Harpoon Ginger Wheat and Hill Farmstead’s Abner. I tried each of these in addition to my 3 beers and enjoyed them all. I have reviewed Edward previously and will be reviewing Lawson’s Knockout Blonde in the near future. The others will have to wait for a future trip to Vermont as I did not take good pics or notes while drinking them. I can say the Celia Saison was different than anything I have had before. It is a Gluten free beer which may appeal to some people but for me the taste was a little too funky. The food was amazing with great chicken wings, sweet potato fries and burgers. After this stop we made our way to our hotel in Burlington for the night. It was a long drive and we needed our rest for the next three days.

On Thursday our first stop was The Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, VT just north or Burlington. They had a huge selection of beer, wine, glassware and pretty much anything else you would need. We ended up with 3 cases of Heady Topper, bottles from Dogfish Head, Founders (Double Trouble) and much more that we cannot get in Maine as well as some Lawson’s Finest Liquids glasses. They did not have a limit on the amount of Heady Topper which was great as I needed to bring home a bunch for my Maine beer drinking friends. After this we made our way back to Burlington and spent some time on Church Street for some shopping. This is a great little marketplace that has something for everyone. We came back to Church Street on Friday and I will post some info on the restaurant we went to shortly.

For lunch we made our way to American Flatbread which is within walking distance of Church Street and they have their own brewery. The food there was amazing with my wife and her sister getting a very nice salad and then splitting a couple of pizzas. The small pizza was enough for two people to share even though the waitstaff encouraged us to get a large. We also had several beers from their tap list and since they serve halfs we were able to enjoy a bunch of different styles without drinking too much at lunch. We also ended up taking home a growler from Zero Gravity (their in house brewery) which I will review soon. (Read more after the break)

After American Flatbread we did a little more shopping before heading to Magic Hat for a tour, tasting and the experience of visiting “The Artifactory”. The brewery had a great setup with a nice retail/tasting area however it was a little too touristy for me. I prefer the small breweries where you actually get to go out on the brewery floor and see the process. Magic Hat has a video for the history of the company (lame) and a loft that you can look down on brewery floor but you get no where near the actual process. Tastings were nice and I got to try a Honey Wheat IPA which is only available at the brewery. Not terribly impressed with this beer so don’t feel like you are missing something by not trying it. Also tried their Imperial Pilsner which was not too exciting. Of course I do not like pilsners so that should not be a surprise.

If you like brewery tours I have to say that Allagash in Portland probably has the best tour of all the breweries I have visited.

Unfortunately we missed Switchback Brewery as they close at 5:00 but that evening we went to Vermont Pub & Brewery for dinner. After a short wait we were seated outside on a beautiful evening and enjoyed some great food. I had the pulled pork sandwich, wife had a steak sandwich and we also got sweet potato fries and wings. You might start to see a pattern regarding the fries and wings by the end of this post. The beer was good but not excellent and again they had samples, halfs and full pints available so we sampled many beers. A few that stood out are the Green Tea Beer and Forbidden Fruit. Both were excellent and different than most other beers out there. I like it when brewers test the limits of beer and both of these certainly do.

Overall this was a great place for dinner and drinks and if you find yourself in Burlington you should definitely go there for lunch or dinner.

On Friday we started the day by visiting the Warren Store in Warren, VT in search of Lawson’s Double Sunshine. They had 2 bottles left so I bought both as well as a couple of bottles of Knockout Blonde, reviews on each coming soon. We also had lunch there which was great, homemade bread and top quality turkey. The store is certainly out of the way but worth a visit. They also have lots of clothing which is very expensive but great quality.

After the Warren Store we headed back to Waterbury with the intention of taking a tour at Ben & Jerry’s. We arrived at a very busy Ben & Jerry’s facility with more people than any of us could stand. Also the tours that were supposed to start every 30 minutes were not going to start for 45 minutes. We quickly left Ben & Jerry’s and headed just down the road to The Alchemist Brewery. The retail store was small but offered samples, t-shirts, stickers and glassware. There really was not a tour but you can enter a small viewing area near the fermentation tanks to look around. Not a lot going on the day we were there other than some bubbles in buckets from happy yeast. Unlike Ben & Jerry’s the brewery was almost empty which was a nice change after the mob scene down the road.

At this point it was Friday afternoon and our short vacation was more than half over.

We needed a place for supper so I polled my FB and Twitter friends and received many suggestions. We opted to head back to Church Street and see what we could find. Ended up at Sweetwaters which was excellent. Enjoyed a Switchback Ale and a Mountain Ale by Shed Brewing. Both were excellent and went well the wings, sandwiches and sweet potato fries. More great food and beer. After supper the wives went off to do some shopping and my brother in law and I headed back to American Flatbread for another beer. Tried their London Calling which is a very low ABV session beer. The place was packed and we never actually made it to the bar or table before finishing our beer, meeting up with our wives and heading home for the night.

Saturday morning we went to the Burlington Farmer’s Market which was excellent. Lots of vendors with fresh fruit and produce and several places selling wine and spirits. We found lots of stuff to buy and then headed out to Montpelier to visit the Hunger Mountain Co-op in search of more Lawson’s Double Sunshine. We arrived shortly before lunch and found a great selection of beer including all the Double Sunshine we could buy as there was a 2 bottle per person limit. We also ended up buying lunch and a few other things from the co-op. This is a great place and I wish there was something similar in my area. At this point the car was overloaded with luggage, purchases and lots and lots of beer but we headed north to Hill Farmstead.

This was a bit of a drive but so worth it. The brewery is about 3 miles down a dirt road in the middle of no where Vermont. However since I live in the middle of no where Maine we found it quite easily. The brewery was quite busy with cars from New York, Mass, Maine and other states. They had a small tasting area setup outside – any of the beers on tap – tasting for $1 and 2 of them you could buy a cup for $5. I went right into the brewery as I knew I was buying a bit of everything. Line was about 4 deep when we entered and remained at least that busy the entire time we were there. I ended up with 8 – 750 ml bottles and 3 stem glasses. Shaun (owner/brewer) and another employee were filling bottles as fast as the taps would allow. Everyone agreed that Hill Farmstead was the best beer of the trip and the total haul was 12 – 750 ml and a 2 liter growler.

You would think at this point we would be done as this was brewery #5 in 3 days and huge amounts of beer purchased and consumed but I had a gift card from Woodstock Inn & Brewery in Woodstock NH so off we went for one last stop. Again we ordered pub appetizers; wings, nachos, onion rings and some stuffed mushroom thing. We also had a sampler of beer and some pints but after our stop at Hill Farmstead the beer here seemed a bit of a let down. After our time at the bar we purchased a couple of growlers of beer, bombers of their 4000’er IPA and a couple of growlers of root beer for the kids. This was a neat little addition that I had never seen before and something fun to bring home for the kids we left behind with grandma.

That was our final stop of our beercation and we headed back to Maine via the scenic Kancamagus Highway. The car was so loaded down at this point the hills were rather difficult to climb. Total beer haul for the trip;

  • The Alchemist – Heady Topper – 72 (3 cases) / 16 oz cans
  • Hill Farmstead – Various – 12 / 750 ml bottles & 1 / 2 liter growler
  • Lawson’s Finest – 10 bottles of Double Sunshine & 2 bottles of Knockout Blonde
  • Magic Hat – 2 growlers
  • Zero Gravity – 2 growlers
  • Vermont Pub & Brewery – 2 growlers
  • Woodstock Inn & Brewery – 2 growlers and 2 bombers (plus 2 growlers of root beer)
  • Founders – 2 / 4 packs of Double Trouble
  • 5 other bombers and about a few 12 oz bottles

This was an amazing 3-day voyage hitting 6 breweries/brew pubs as well as a few restaurants with amazing tap lists. We had some great food and spent lots of quality time with my wife. Will certainly be heading to Vermont again soon. If you are planning a trip to Vermont you may be able to find a few places we did not hit in our three days but if you follow our path you will not be disappointed.

 

226. Hill Farmstead Everett

This is the second beer from Hill Farmstead and another excellent choice. Pour is black with a solid tan head that leaves huge amounts of lacing on the glass, a beautiful beer. Lots of aroma including plenty of coffee, cocoa and roasted malts. Exactly what you would expect from a quality porter.

Taste has everything and just does not stop. Robust coffee, chocolate, vanilla, flavors and mild amount of alcohol in a full bodied beer. Smooth going down and one of my favorite porters.

Anyone interested in a road trip to Vermont some Saturday?
Pros: Aroma, tons of flavor
Cons: Only available in Vermont
Alcohol Content: 7.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating:  ★★★★☆
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Everett (1908-1939) 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 Porter is crafted from American malted barley, English and German roasted malts, American hops, our ale yeast, and water from our well. It is unfiltered and naturally carbonated. Decadent in its depth, with a complex backbone of chocolate, coffee, and malty sweetness, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Everett.

Ingredients: Pale, Caramel, and Chocolate Malt, Roasted Barley, Columbus hops; Ale Yeast, and our Well Water. 21º P

211. Hill Farmstead Edward

(Updated 7/10/2012) – Last week I took a 3-day trip to Vermont and the mini-vacation was mostly about beer. We ended up visiting 6 breweries including Hill Farmstead on the way home. I bought 4 – 750 ml bottles of Edward and it is just as good as I remember it. This is a great beer from a great brewer just too bad we cannot get it in Maine.

(Original Post 4/7/2012) After months of reading about Hill Farmstead and Alchemist Heady Topper I finally received a package of beer from Vermont. One of the insurance brokerages I work with is based in Vermont and some of their employees came to a conference in Portland Maine on Tuesday and we were able to work out an exchange of some beer only distributed in Maine for some local Vermont beers including this one from Hill Farmstead. This is a smaller growler than those sold by Oxbow and others I have reviewed but it is fresh beer poured from a tap, just the way I like it.

Color is a very nice orange with a very small white head. The aromas are plentiful with lots of citrus and pine hops, one of the best smelling beers I have had. At 85 IBUs this one is probably closer to an IPA than a pale ale but it really does not matter what style it is as this is a great beer.
Pros: Easy to drink, well balanced, hoppy
Cons: Hard to get outside Vermont
Alcohol Content: 5.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 85
Rating:  ★★★★
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Edward (1917-2002) is our grandfather; Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his five children. In his honor, this American Pale Ale is dutifully crafted from American malted barley, a plethora of American hops, our ale yeast and water from Edward’s well. It is unfiltered, naturally carbonated, and dry hopped. Aromatic and flowery, with impressions of citrus and pine, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Edward.

Ingredients: Pale and Caramel malt; Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Columbus, Simcoe, and Warrior hops; Ale Yeast, and our Well Water. 13ºP