Hill Farmstead has two main themes for their beer. Their “Ancestral” line is a foundational series of standard offerings that follow a loose rotation of release. Each name comes from Shaun Hill’s family tree. There is the familiar Edward, named for Hill’s grandfather who lived in the house that still stands on the brewery property. All told Edward had 13 siblings and you’ll recognize them through Hill’s series of tribute.
The other series of beer is known as the “Philosophical” line. Not surprising as Hill was a philosophy major in college. Where else would Friedrich Nietzche’s birthday (October 15th) be celebrated with cellared rarities like Beyond Good and Evil (named for a book by Nietzche)? More on that stout later.
I’m not one for really deep philosophical thought. In my mind, it always leads back to depressing thoughts of our own insignificance. However, I was taken by the name of this beer and its connection to Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau once said that he had three chairs in his house, one for solitude, two for friendship and three for society. Is it that Society & Solitude leaves out friendship or that friendship is found between Society & Solitude? Hmmm.
Society & Solitude #4
Tasting: October 11, 2017 Style: American Imperial IPA ABV: 8.0% Beer #: 1,109
I read a description of Society & Solitude #4 and it said to think Double Citra and Double Galaxy 97 points Uh, yes please!
Can I just say wow? Amazingly complex with guava, pineapple, orange flesh and some robust citrus rind. A bit more assertive than I was expecting and that’s just fine by me. 97 points.
Beyond Good and Evil (Maple Bourbon-Barrel Aged)
Tasting: October 11, 2017 Style: Stout with Maple Syrup aged in used bourbon-barrels used to age maple syrup ABV: Unknown Beer #: 1,110
Beyond Good and Evil deserves more than just a mention at the end of another beer’s entry but I didn’t get any photos. While having lunch at the brewery, my friend was sipping on a stout. He said that it could be the best stout he’s ever had in his life. I respect his opinion and dashed off for my own pour before we hit the road for home. The tap room line was about 15 people deep. I couldn’t stand the wait.
Incredible balance, cherries, mellow chocolate, earthy moss, syrup influence is entirely complimentary as is the polished roasted bitterness. Beyond Good and Evil has muscled its way into the upper end of my list, solid 98 points. I think my friend was right on the mark. This could be the best stout I’ve ever had.
Every beer geek dreams of traveling to Vermont to participate in the hunt for the craft beer triumvirate – at least it was on my bucket list. This past week, a family vacation to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe provided me with the opportunity to participate in my own pilgrimage…
There is the Alchemist’s Heady Topper – 97 points – long held as the best beer in the world but only available at a specific time window at a small number of places in a very small area in northern Vermont (specifically around Burlington and Stowe). It disappears quick and has strict limits. I think the pressure from craft beer fans can really test the friendly attitudes of store clerks in typically laid-back Vermont. There are currently only four places where you can buy it by the case. While my wife and kids slept, I waited an hour at the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier for a case and found another case in bits and pieces by stopping in a number of places in Stowe and Waitsfield.
Lawson’s Finest Liquids and their Sip of Sunshine – 97 points have the same evasiveness. I was lucky to have showed up at a place in Waitsfield just minutes after their delivery. I was somewhat disappointed to see that the canning date on this “fresh” delivery was July 21st for something purchased about three week later on August 11th. However, I was thrilled to find two fresh Hopzillas at the East Warren Community Market on Thursday afternoon.
Last, but certainly not least is probably the most difficult jewel in the triple crown. Located an hour plus northeast of Stowe in Greensboro Bend is Hill Farmstead. I swear on the drive up we drove through areas without seeing a home or person for 20 miles. I certainly doubted my GPS until we made the last turn onto the dirt road. Seeing the familiar wooden sign and the crowd of my fellow zealots – I realized we were in the right place.
It was a little confusing at first. There were multiple lines but we figured it out. On one line on the left (by the wooden framed doorway) you fill out your order for bottles and growlers on a slip and you can also prepay for your glass for drinks or for a flight of four smaller servings. Another line (on the far right) is strictly for bottle sales and the third line (center) was for people refilling their drink glasses while they waited for their orders to be filled.
We turned in our slip on the far left of the counter and asked for an approximate wait time. According to an employee, it takes about three minutes to fill each order. We were number 108 and they were currently fulfilling number 50. We were prepared to wait about three hours but it turned out to be a little over two hours. We hung around sipping beer on a mostly beautiful 75 degree summer day.
I came home with a number of beer and I’ll try to group them together. This segment is dedicated to the growler fills. You’ll pay $10 for the two liter glass bottle above and beyond the cost of the beer and you’ll pay $3 for the 750 ml glass bottle. There is a five container limit per person.
Nelson Sauvin Tasting: August 15, 2015 Style: Pale Ale Beer #: 784 ABV: 5.2%
From one of two 750 ML growler filled two days ago at Hill Farmstead. This is part of a series of single hop ales and this offering features New Zealand’s native Nelson Sauvin hop. Pours a cloudy straw yellow. Overall, very crisp beer. Has a refreshing grassy, lemon flavor. It is somewhat mellow but very drinkable. A very solid 95 points.
On our balcony at the Trapp Family Lodge, I poured from one of the two-liter growlers just hours after it was filled. I was totally blown away. This is simply the best porter I’ve ever had and the one every one else should aspire to make. Distinctively different from a stout, Everett’s flavors come in distinct waves, rich chocolate, roasted coffee and well-balanced sweetness and bitterness. Decadent and rich – an easy 97 points. Wow.
Edward August 11, 2015 Style: Pale Ale Beer # 786 ABV: 5.2%
While we waited the two hours for our order to be filled, we passed the the time by enjoying a few beers by the glass. They take your driver’s license as the glass deposit as I’m sure a few people have tried to walk away with the souvenir. You can either pay for a small sampling of four or a single larger tasting. We opted for the full-size servings and one of the beers we had was Edward. This was really nice. Well-balanced and very drinkable. What struck me at first was the potentcy from a pale ale as compared to my experiences with an IPA. Smooth with bright citrus. Edward is a standard offering for Hill Farmstead and completely worth seeking out. 94 points
Society & Solitude # 5 August 11, 2015 Style: Pale Ale Beer # 787 ABV: 8.1%
One of the other glasses I had while waiting was Society & Solitude # 5. It certainly has that distinct Hill Farmstead saison yeast flavor of clove, pepper tucked under bright citrus and grassy notes. Wonderfully chewy and full flavored. I enjoyed sipping this one while watching my kids play with a bunch of other kids at the farm. I think the bliss might have influenced my score but I’m comfortable with 96 points.