Believe it or not, I have actually been trying to ratchet back my reviews of all these HF gems lately. No, it is not due to the confusion surrounding the Ephraim release, and no it is not due to my latent bitterness being unable to land an Ann (her?) I simply cannot forego reviewing some of these old school (relative to Hill Farmstead lifespan) treats.
Hill Farmstead Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States
Baltic Porter | 9.30% ABV
A: Just like all well-done porters, this has that signature thin bodied nature to it that splashes into the glass without heft or massive sheeting. The carbonation is generous and looks like a Coffee Bean drink with khaki foam and microbubbles smaller than 3J’s role in Family Matters.
S: This is a bit smokier than I would have liked but imparts a nice char, super Charizard if you will. Then again I am not a fan of char in the first place so I guess take that with a grain of char limits. There’s chocolate, a slight red grape aspect that is more of a tannic dryness, and a bitter coffee aspect. I could have used a bit more of the refreshing porter aspects to this instead of toeing the imperial stout line but, you mess with the Baltic, you get the horns.
T: Thankfully this campfire session eschews the roasted wood and goes a ‘smore route with a deep chocolate, cocoa, vanilla and a touch of mallow foam. The dryness from the oak is present but doesn’t put both hands in your malt bowl, just enough to be noticed. There’s some plum and stone fruit aspects and a smoky finish at the verrrrry end that sneaks in like the littlest roast puppy in the litter. There’s a great complexity and it’s tough to knock any of the three variants of this beer.
M: The mouthfeel is slick and light, dead on to porter, but not quite going into an overweight stout territory. The carbonation is fine and feels like 700 thread count sheets, a sateen duvet in your mouth. But you drink beer so you probably have that Walmart all-in-one bedsheet that single moms love to tolerate. I liked this better as it warmed and the barrel characteristics became more pronounced. You want that deep dark fruit, go get it.
D: This is exceptionally drinkable and masks its ABV very well. The light body and huge flavor profile is a haymaker that clears your glass pretty effortlessly. I would say the imperial porters from Hill Farmstead are improving steadily as I would rank them as follows:
Birth of Tragedy > BA Everett > Fear and Trembling
For anyone who gives a shit about bottles that are nearly impossible to obtain. Me recommending a 300 bottle run of something limited beyond belief is kinda like polishing an apple on my shirt and talking about which of my Ornithopters is my favorite.
Narrative: “And go, take your last bottle, first born in your cellar and cast it into the Fedex truck, for a return blessing shall be forthcoming.” The anonymous message seemed suspicious, yet highly credible to Mark Wallerstein. He had been trading beer online for years, but never before had he received such a divine command. “Is this some kind of LIF or someth-” he thought and suddenly a message appeared “NO, this is not a lottery it forward, only when you sacrifice your most precious bottle can you obtain that which is truly worthwhile.” This was a bit creepy but Mark began solemly wrapping his 2007 Cable Car in bubble tape, aware of the intense burden laid at his doorstep. He was to suspend all belief in bartering and give up his most precious to become elevated to a state of fear and trembling. He would exchange rationalism for hope in the ultimate gesture of beer bonhomie. Just as Mark was about to ship his final and only Cable Car, a UPS worker stopped him. “You see Mark, only by knowing that you could give up this sick wale, could you demonstrate your right to receive this:” and on that very site, his bottle was spared and he was given a bottle of Dirty Horse, unblended, 1983. A divine blessing indeed.