Dionysus is the ancient Greek god of wine and beer and it’s no mystery that Shaun Hill is his reincarnation. Hill Farmstead is the culmination of craft due to but not limited to great recipes, great brewing techniques, some water straight out of the well and through extensive study and reflection. Shaun Hill has crafted some of the best beer on this planet and Hill Farmstead was recently rated #1 brewery in the whole world at the RateBeer Festival and for good reason. Their many offerings have stood the test of time in terms of the flavour, quality and consistency. After my first tasting I can confidently say this is not just a hype, this is not a test, this is Hill Farmstead. To make things more interesting the beers are split into four categories.
One of the many things that I admire about Hill Farmstead is their focus on family. The brewery stands on the grounds which housed many generations of Shawn Hill’s family, which we are all reminded of in the description of every beer and I absolutely love that! In their honour he has named the beers after his forefathers / foremothers. I also see family as very important and for Shawn Hill to pay homage to his family in this original manner is worth acknowledging. On top of which after reading about said ancestor, drinking the beer adds a certain sense of history. You are taking part in experiencing history in two ways, buy drinking some of the best beer in the world, which will go down in the books and will be remembered, as well as experiencing a little bit of the Hill family’s history.
The ancestral line of beers are Hill Farmstead’s main line of beers, but Shaun Hill managed to grasp my attention again by implementing his love for philosophy to name his other beers. Hill Farmstead is also famously known for these very thought provoking beers (get what I did there). Amongst the many notable ones Civil Disobedience and Madness & Civilization are two that have captivated me. These two beers take various beers from the roster, blend them and then age them in various barrels for certain amounts of time. Each version is a different blend, ageing duration, and ageing type. Another notable is the Excursions series, which focuses on experimental hops to brew some very experimental IPAs. But these three are not the only thought provoking beers from this line (I did it again). The likes of Birth of Tragedy, Conduct of Life and many more are also available under this moniker.
The Singluar series are their one off line of beers, which includes the extremely sought after and highly rated Juicy.
Single Hop Series:
The single hop series, as the name suggests, is their line of single hopped beers. And don’t let the boring name scare you away. This series includes the likes of Double Galaxy and Citra single hop pale ale, both a must have and both very fantastic beers.
Their beers are only available for purchase at the brewery and for that reason I avoided going there due to the two and a half hour drive, but quickly realized I was lucky to have moved from San Francisco to Montreal because the move fell at a time when the likes of Vermont and Massachusetts craft beer took off like a speeding bullet. And after finally getting a taste of Hill Farmstead, one trip wasn’t enough.
Another tip you can use to your advantage is to show up at around 10:40-10:45am during the winter. There aren’t many visitors and almost always they open up the brewery by 11am! On my second visit to the brewery I was standing in the pouring rain for about 10 or 15 minutes, but when the door finally opened at 11am I was greeted by their very friendly staff with a nice taster of their Everett, a wonderful porter they brew. After purchasing my bottles on my way out the door I saw a glimpse of a man sitting near the entrance on his laptop and after a second glance, I realized it was Shaun Hill, the master himself. Of course I had to say hi and shake his hand but it was strange, almost like meeting a rock star. He’s a true legend as are his amazing contraptions!
Growler Fill: Jan 22, 2016
Drank: Jan 23, 2016
Double Citra meets Double Galaxy, two of my favourite hop varieties mashed together. Got to praise Hill Farmstead. It has an Intense smell of hops and that famous Hill Farmstead yeasty well water smell, a sign of great times ahead. And it did not disappoint! Loaded with hops, it has an intense tropical hop explosion which is followed by a very light crisp bitterness that does not linger. It is a very smooth and well balanced Imperial IPA. Very refreshing and oh so fresh, I would go back any day for this one.
Bottled: Nov 18, 2015
Drank: Jan 22, 2016
Farmhouse Ale / Saison
Growler Fill: Jan 22, 2016
Drank: Jan 22, 2016
Edward’s aroma is similar to Susan which I had recently as well. The taste boasts a nice hoppy profile with that farmy/yeastiness taste that is very light and mellow with the Edward. Their beers are not entirely aligning with their aromas as much, but that’s not to say that their flavour doesn’t have an aggressive impact. Their aromas seem to be just a little bit stronger. As you continue on with it, a very nice Pale Ale but not super hoppy, like a hop explosion that I admire. You could say their IPAs are more like Farmhouse IPAs, and I say that in a good way.
Bottled: October 23, 2015
Drank: Feb 15, 2016
Blended Barrel Age
This beer comes under their barrel aged blend series, and it’s a bold one. It’s a blend of Kevin, George, Convival Suarez, Sank Hans, and probably some others which Hill Farmstead is keeping a secret. It is then aged in oak barrels between 8 to 30 months. At first I was a bit held at bay about blends, expecting them to taste a bit strange but I am truly enjoying Breweries doing blends and ageing them. Because once you try one it opens your eyes to how interesting beer can really be.
The Civil Disobedience is a dark beer but very tart like an incredible saison. It is very flavourful with a very subtle hints of roasted malts. And this one has really slammed the hammer down like MC Hammer. Cant touch this, but you sure as hell can drink it.
Bottled: Dec 2, 2015
Drank: Feb 12, 2016
Probably one of my top Porters thus far. I have only very recently been getting into porters and it’s a style I am beginning to fall head over heels with, just like Freddie Prince Jr. in that god awful chick flick. Sorry, I grew up with an elder sister and you can’t understand my knowledge in the matter of chick flicks. It’s embarrassing. This beer gives off a rustic aroma and taste like a sexual orgasm of colliding roasted malts, coffee flavours and coco flavours. It can be hard to nail down all the flavours because they all explode in your mouth, that seems kinda nasty after my last comment, but really it’s good. Absolutely, unequivocally delicious.
Bottled Jan 16, 2016
Consumed Feb 24, 2016
A very nice tart saison. It’s a little bit more dry when compared to Dorothy and even a little bit more funky. It’s a fairly carbonated beer but the carbonation doesn’t seem difficult to handle. Whereas with several beers the over carbonation made the beer a bit difficult to consume. It has a very nice lemony sourness which adds a great dimension to the beer and it compliments well with the minor funk it has got going on and overall aids the dryness to feel less overpowering. It’s not one of my all time favourite saison, but it does a great job at exploding my senses.
For Double Galaxy refer to Double Galaxy: Double Rainbow
Hill Farmstead’s beers truly define the culture of craft beer and are a perfect example of why us beer geeks do what we do to get some and why we continue to drink the beers we love and call craft.