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Oh great. @Hillfarmstead Art, A Beer I Have Not Been Looking Forward to Reviewing At All.

First and foremost huge thanks to the Vicster for donating the bottLOL yeah right, can you imagine that dude doing something selfless not designed to maximize some self-aggrandizing desire, LOL YARITE.

So after many trials and tribulations trapezing around the current state of farmhouse affairs, we have returned to the touchstone of American Saisons: Hill Farmstead.

I want to state at the outset: I don’t generally enjoy reviewing Hill Farmstead beers. Allow me to clarify before your urethra starts spewing out liquid Velveeta. I love DRINKING these Vermont gems. I LIKE making fun of the attendant shitty, capitalistic HF traders. But in practice REVIEWING Hill Farmstead beers isn’t especially fun from the DDB pulpit.

Drank this in a hot tub on a 102 degree day in Portland. What am I even doing with my life.

Drank this in a hot tub on a 102 degree day in Portland. What am I even doing with my life.

The function of reviewing is to leverage and evaluate the shortcomings and merits of a given work. If the verve of DDB is to present these impressions with any modicum of levity, then it’s gonna be a fair amount of hyperbole and understatement to suck the marrow out of the bone.  Hill Farmstead derails all possible jokes. Generally people love the excoriating rhetoric or seeing a car fire of a beer getting eviscerated, Malty Romans ripped to shreds by yeasty lions.

Yeasty lions is the name of my new protopunk group.

The problem with most Hill Farmstead beers is that they generally are either setting the bar to some degree or competing against their own product, so how in the fuck is DDB expected to make a 900 word  handjob entertaining for the nondeviants to witness? It is just a parade of praise with some jRPG and hip hop references, then we call it a day.

This would be the greatest issue that I have with Art: it is too fucking good to extract a legitimate degree of humor. I would much rather just rip on one of the “shittier” Hill Farmstead beers like a sour pumpkin ale or the Jim line, but alas, I guess I finally have to review this masterpiece.  Lamentably.

Here is the wind up to the pitch:

“Art is the wine barrel fermented and aged version of Arthur (1922-2005), our grandfather’s youngest brother as well as the name of our rustic farmstead ale. In honor of Arthur, we mindfully blend his namesake beer from French oak wine barrels that have been aged and conditioned for between 1 and 3 years. This is the standard that reflects, redefines and guides the progressive vision for Hill Farmstead.”

Every word I type further distances myself from trying this beer again.  I am an active antagonist against my own desires, self-preclusion becoming idealized.

Every word I type further distances myself from trying this beer again. I am an active antagonist against my own desires, self-preclusion becoming self-fulfilling.

Just look at this shit. How am I supposed to do my job and maintain the tart ph salinity of my vagina, when it looks flawless. I guess I could bitch that a more diverse grist bill with spelt would combat the acidity and improve the sheeting and lacing. But does anyone think that’s a legitimate complaint? Fuck no, it’s just some domineering korean housewife nagging.

The smell? I don’t have a whole lot to deconstruct on this front either. It makes for a shitty boring review, inverse to the quality of the beer itself. In fact, the smell is the only thing that Ann does better than Art. The average shitwaffle strokes it to pinups of that lottery masterpiece, fully ignoring the fact that Art is better in several aspects if not as a whole.  The nose has waves of cut clementines, nectarines, honeydew, ritz cracker, and ricotta cheese.  It is unendingly refreshing like having cyber sex with a water sprite.

I first opened this beer at Beer Revolution in Oakland in 2012, when American Saisons were still enjoying this nascent blissful anonymity before covetous assholes ruined everything. The comments were like “oh so it’s a sour then? No? Is it like a Russian River then? Hmm. Weird.”  People couldn’t wrap their heads around this because there weren’t many barrel aged saisons, let alone executed in this fashion.  Now everything is in ruins.

The smell has a much imitated balance of tropical fruity zest with acidity that strays far from the edge of tolerability.  It is incredible and a beer that uproots itself due to how good it is.  The consumption is an event and in itself is destruction.  The experience is a discrete event that actually makes your net life experience worse having had something this well done.  For that reason it is hard to recommend seeking this out with a clear conscience.  You can’t go back to watching Tyler Perry movies after you have seen Michael Haneke’s best films.

I guess the most we can hope for is either increased HF production on this level or some janky readily available shasta version in the future.

I guess the most we can hope for is either increased HF production on this level or some janky readily available shasta version in the future.

The taste is dry, not nearly as dry as E. but not nearly as honey sweet as Ann.  The Aristotelian mean that is better than both of those beers simply due to this swiss army knife profile that delives depth, cleanliness, complexity, and refreshment.  Usually the acidity would work against drinkability, or the dryness of the barrel treatment would be oppositional to any malty sweetness.  Somehow all divergent horses and reigned in by Helios on this golden farmhouse chariot. There’s lemon zest and wheatgrass, gruyere and croissant, with a lighly herbal fernet branca grassiness to the closer.  What am I seriously supposed to say about this shit?

As a caveat to undermine all of the foregoing: regular ass Arthur is like 85% as good and about 2000% easier to obtain.  Unless you are a completionist asshole who needs 100% trophies in the beer game, or some Minnesota Dentist who wants to buy a palace on top of HUGE PRICK MOUNTAIN, there’s no reason for you to seek out this beer.  Arthur is already so damn good and the improvements on this are akin to those absurd R TYPE models of already fast enough cars where they gut the AC and roll cage it and supercharge it to absurd heights.

Drink Arthur, or seek this out after you finally patent that dual sided Hitachi/Fleshlight marriage saving apparatus you have been working on.

Narrative:

Scanning the channels of a HAM radio was a tedious task usually relegated to the loneliest of shut-ins.  RF frequencies rarely led to any juicy pearls of wisdom and further served to alienate the participants frittering away their lives in leaky garages around the nation.  Nathan Spaulding sipped on a cup of assiduously prepared Earl Grey and listened to the white noise cascading through time and space.  Each clipped frequency was an extension for contact, a passing analog glance from a stranger. In a world replete with bodies, Nathan sipped his herbal embrace and never felt more alone. “PPSSHSHS- can anyone, please, PLEASE!” the radio hissed, echoing against the wall of the garage door. Nathan frantically gripped the receiver “Yes, this is Phantom Tangelo!” the UHF/VHF transmitter shaking in his palm. “I don’t have time to explain PSSHSHHH I am Warren Dupont, I am a produce shipping magnate who was overseeing a tangerine GMO operation to increase- JESUS JUST LISTEN, the strain is…its…are you there?” “”YES!” Nathan stammered sipping his tea, “PHANTOM TANGELO here, please continue!”

That evening Warren gave the coordinates of the most potent strain of farm grown tangerines ever designed, dizzying in yields and fruit latency. It would take weeks of scouring, but Nathan would ultimately find the ultimate treasure, the pinnacle of farm-based desires.  Months later, hunched over the Platonic ideal of citrus, gripping the flawless rind delicately, he would contemplate whether science had gone too far.

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PLUM WATCH 2015: @hillfarmstead Flora Plum, Cleaning Up Harmful Free Radicals with Beer

Been getting that Vermont trim on the reg lately, keeping the farmhouse flows going. I recently dropped that Flora B/B review and I think people were needlessly harsh on what was a pretty legit, if not earth shattering, offering in the pristine Flora lineup.  Then, Flora cherry dropped this week and the things VT traders are demanding has me posted in the LOLNOPE cut with unflinching repose. But what about this rarity, Flora with them juicy plums? Let’s prune the fuck out in today’s review

Get Ticks or Dyin Tryin

Get Ticks or Dyin Tryin

Hill Farmstead, ArizonaLOLPSYCHE Vermont
Barrel aged saison with plum, 6.5% abv

If you went into this shit with expectations of seeing some frothy violet extravaganza, I urge you to actually look at what color a plum is after you bite into it. I get this same stupid fucking complaint from those cicerone assholes who judge how much fruit was used based on the srm. “You can tell kiwi herman was barely fruited BC it wasn’t even green like at all.”  This looks almost identical to regular Flora with a slightly darker orange hue to the center and a more refined carbonation. They used a weird Duchessic style flange on the underside of the cap that felt like a .38 special round popping that bad bitch open in the club.

Picture me writing lines knowing Draft Magazine will quote it, when I die they gone read DDB an say a genius wrote it

Picture me writing lines knowing Draft Magazine will quote it, when I die they gone read DDB an say a genius wrote it

The nose is far more acidic and tart than I was expecting and the pendulum swings away from gentle approachable Flora and more into the Fou/Emptiness series from Tired Hands. You get lemon, lime, wheatgrass, cut nectarines, pluot and kumquat. Oddly it finishes with this pithy Glade smell that reminds me of the persimmon beers we have all had. It is very pleasant and feels like a liquid sun-drenched hammock in intensity.

The taste delivers on the acidic threats to the point that is almost unnatural for those HF boys, but somehow pulls it off. In the mutton busting world of wrangling lacto strains, it is easy for shit to get out of pocket but this is more creamy and tart like lemon meringue and pineapple juice. It has a wheat grist to the mouthfeel that allows the acidity room to breath and contributed a frothy aspect that embraces the plum tannins lovingly. If you have ever ate a shitload of Rainier cherries you will know that sweet dryness that the skins will impart. It is intensely crushable but jockeys for your reflection, you’re getting mixed messages because Flora is wearing a low cut shirt and telling you not to focus on them plums but they are like right there come on now.

You go to the bottleshop but you never cop nothing, all your untappd reviews are shared ticks and you need to stop frontin

You go to the bottleshop but you never cop nothing, all your untappd reviews are shared ticks and you need to stop frontin

The Emptiness series from Tired Hands comes to mind when approaching this beer in the distinctively AWA character, fruity juicy interplay and all around intensely drinkable character.  While I enjoyed Satsuma Flora more due to its stripped down simplicity and fresh squeezed pith, I can see most people who love ramped up acidity to say that this is the best fruited beer that Shaun has produced to date. At a certain point it becomes a Mountain Dew Baja Blast versus Code Red preference debate. Both are exceptional at 6th grade slumber parties.

such beer knowledge, wow, comparisons, many tastes

such beer knowledge, wow, comparisons, many tastes

All available analogues will be equally hellish to acquire, 500-800 bottle count 1-2 per person nightmare trades so, have fun on those boards and do your anal kegel exercises.  Be prepared for the Vicster to officiously show up and tell you that you need to add a Zomer or some shit.

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@hillfarmstead Biere de Norma BATCH 3: Garde’ing That Northern France Swagger By Way of Vermont

You might remember waaaayyyyy back in 2012, I reviewed the first batch of norma, that 180 bottle pre-Ann baller

AND THEN

I opened a batch 2 Normaa and was all pussy hurt because it wasn’t as lactic or tasty as b1. It toed the traditional BdG style guidelines and that isn’t necessarily my go to stroke material for that realm of beers.

BUT THEN FUCKING BATCH THREE CAME OUT

That top-down lighting makes everything look turbid.

That top-down lighting makes everything look turbid.

So what the fuck is happening with old Norma these days? Well it is much of a Goldilocks approach, more tart than b2, but more akin to traditional Biere de Gardes than that puckering b1. If b1 is cuddling up close to the AWA section and b2 was laying in bed with Northern French BdG’s, then b3 is somewhere in between, hanging down from the top bunk breathing hard and making both feel uncomfortable.

I still prefer batch 1, but this is a vast improvement over b2, and one of the most unique entries in the HF catalog of top tier saisons. It is not quite the acidic american wild that most bitch tickers favor these days, but it isn’t the earthy metallic biere de garde you might be expecting. Awesome cherry, red grape and merlot oak interplay with a beer that is highly drinkable without fucking your gumline like a Flanders Red. One of the best examples in the underserved BdG realm, certainly.

This is an old style but Vermont is keepin it sexy.

This is an old style but Vermont is keepin it sexy.

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Hill Farmstead Galaxy Single Hop IPA, A Double IPA with a SINGLE HOP. Hoparadoxes abound.

You knew it was coming. Don’t act surprised when one of these HF bruisers ended up on IPA week, it was just a question of WHICH ONE. Abner? A solid choice. Harlan? Maybe next time. Double Citra? We shall see. I figure with all of the consternations and bemoaning surrounding the Ephraim news (DONG only, joining the ranks of Pliny the Younger and Exponential Hoppiness) it should be underscored how amazing EVERY OTHER Hill Farmstead beer is. Today’s review is on plenty of top 100 lists and we might as well address this amazing hoppy citrus warhead in today’s review since these Vermont bombs seem primed to blow.

For those times when the world isn’t enough, YOU NEED AN ENTIRE GALAXY.

Galaxy Single Hop IPA

Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
American Double / Imperial IPA | 8.00% ABV

A: Just look at that beer, it looks like the golden reactor inside of a platinum unicorn melted into a radiant mess of radioactive hoppy lupus materials. The golden radiance pulls light in and magnifies it tenfold. I enjoy the turbid cloudy look to this beer, it flexes a haziness to it in a way that would make most saisons blush. That’s just how Galaxy aka the “G DIPPA” rolls in the trap.

It is getting harder and harder to land Hill Farmstead growlers. Pic related: it is that hard.

S: If you have ever smelled galaxy hops, take that platonic idea and magnify it 350 times with some Humean/Lockean/empiricist sense impressions. This may be one of the best smelling beer that I have ever smelled in my life, it reeks of citrus, pineapple, tangelo, grapefruit rind, and a very faint hint of conifer on the backend. It is like a jambajuice gangbang that a park ranger stood idly by to watch, and I love it.

T: This carries on the citrus tradition in a manner that is almost just straight up juice in execution. The fruits drive hard to the hole and impart the aforementioned fruits and start flirting with those listed usually on tropical starburst. You get orange and clementine, mandarin, and the elusive naartjie pokes its head in there for a moment. I can’t underscore this enough, this is citrus with hop oils instead of that annoying Vitamin C all up in the mix.

This is not the most balanced DIPA in the world. Fucks given: 0.

M: This is incredibly light on the palate with the grave exception of the huge hop AR-15 oil rifle that it fires wildly. It is like the little guy who is a demolitions expert in movies, you know shit is gonna get wrecked real quick. There’s a light creaminess that balances out the intense fruit flavor, but it doesn’t toss an albatross around the neck of this raging hopbull.

D: This growler disappeared instantly. I don’t know how else to qualify that statement but, it’s like when you do rails of bath salts and all you want is the loving caress of your Pier 1 Imports dealer. You pour yourself a glass and it is instantly gone. The ABV slides in like so many Greek phalanx into Troy. This is the beer that launched a thousand ships, and then smashed them all. It reminds me of this kid I knew 10 years ago when the WRX first came out and he upped the boost to something like 22 psi on the stock block BOOM hop destruction, but entirely bad ass in the interim.

When my growler was gone, I was super sad.

Narrative: “Hank, he bought more equipment, will you say something to Taylor? This is really getting out of hand.” Mr. Davidoff walked into the garage and saw a mash cooling unit and what was clearly a lauter tun. “Hey, Taylor, sorry didn’t mean to startle you there-” he walked forward and kicked a bag of grapefruits. “HEY! Uh, just science in here, science fair project, that orange battery that I was uh-” Taylor mumbled as he kicked a book titled “Sparging for Dummies” underneath an indoor hydroponics hop growing system. “Listen son, it’s pretty clear you are trying to make beer in here, but son, you are 14. There are far easier ways to land booze than this, and I don’t know if I approve of you drinking.” Taylor’s hands began to sweat “wha? BEER? I don’t even know how, do they even sell strains of cultured yeasts for wild saisons? No, didn’t think so, just science fair and testing that hypothesis that I was er telling you about.” A bolivian man arrived with a wheel barrel full of malted barley sacks and sleepily began unloading them on the Davidoff’s lawn. “You know what, if you want to try and make high-end saisons instead of scoring 4Loko down by the train station…I guess I am ok with that.” Mr. Davidoff threw an arm around his son and spied a freshly emptied 15 gal rum barrel. “THAT’S MY BOY!” high fives were dispersed pell mell.

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Lawson’s Finest Liquids Double Sunshine,

IPA WEEK kicks off with a bang, this old hoppy gem from Vermont. I know what your worries are “WILL THIS ENTIRE WEEK BE FOCUSED ON VERMONT AND CALIFORNIA?” I can assuage your concerns, we will jump around the map, never you fear. This beer is sold at a Farmer’s Market and in 2 other stores in Vermont and…that’s about it. Hopheads near and far blast their oils when they get their hands on this one, so let’s see if it rustles any cones in today’s review.

I am two stepping on double sunshine, wooo ohhhh.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids
Vermont, United States
American Double / Imperial IPA | 8.00% ABV

A: This has a nice radiant glow and the malts have been assembled with loving care. I would imagine this is a step with Beatrice up through the rings into hop heaven. The lacing is as generous as Good Will and hands out sticky dank doilies to all the 7th graders. It is indeed a very pretty beer and alluring to even the most adverse to hop character.

Dear God, please don’t let Vermont gems become unattainable due to hypetrain ticket holders. Also, more abalone. Amen.

S: The nose is vindicating for the old stigma of “balanced” East coast IPAs as it is more unbalanced than an Arizona State fashion student. There’s a huge tangelo, tangerine, grapefruit and deep citrus rind. You get a nice pine needle on the back end, but it stays in its place and lets the adults talk in peace.

T: The citrus character is sadly more tame than the nose would suggest, bait and switch harder than Piranha 3DD. There’s a bit of orange zest and sticky hop oils but it turns and kicks your aserose and starts grinding your pine cones like a high school prom. I love the pineapple but the whole maple leaf and grassy resolution leaves something to be desired in the third act.

At first I wasn’t sure what was going on with this one, but then it all became abundantly clear.

M: The mouthfeel is watery and light, exactly as it should be. There’s a bit of a filling and drying from the aggressive hops, but this isn’t my first alpha acid rodeo and I can ultimately mutton bust this lil hop wrangler pretty easily.

D: This is exceptionally drinkable, amazing for the style but ultimately falls short of the crowded “best of” list. To be fair, any double IPA offering will be hard pressed to shoulder the ranks with Citra, Ephraim, etc. I really like it, I really dislike trading for it since there is so little of it. Again, it’s scaled economies so if you live in VT and have ready access to this, grease up your hop hole and slide this one in.

After I tasted that pine profile, the consequences were never the same.

Narrative: The traveling apothecary show was going poorly for the Brackensons. Stop after stop they would set up their charlatan charade and plant members of the family to be cured in the audience, per usual. In the year 2012, this kind of snake oil salesmanship took a certain panache and aplomb to trick the discerning customers of backwoods Vermont. The Econolinevan idled as Chauncy packed a bunch of tiny green cones into a medicinal bottle and scrawled some high handed panacea aspects upon it. “Come one come on all, try here and only here, the cure of SPAM in your inbox, cure for mortgage refinance woes, GOUT, and other afflictions!” Father Briggs called into his megaphone and brought up his planted cousin from the crowd. She took a deep pull of the sticky resinous liquid and was instantly cured of all afflictions, imagined or otherwise. Those chicanerous old Brackensons went and accidentally stumbled upon a vinuous grassy potation that could solve all kinds of dilemmas. Now if they could only find a hop pun that was not already used by a ton of other mediocre companies, they would be set.