2013 Biere De Norma (Hill Farmstead Brewery)

Style: Biére de Garde brewed with Honey and aged on Oak Barrels/ March Farmhouse Saison

7.0% ABV

14° Plato

Ingredients: Pale Malt, Caramel Malt, American and European Hops, Vermont Honey, Ale Yeast, and our well water

From: Greensboro, VT

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Brewer’s Note: “Norma (1939-2011) was my maternal Grandmother, my Guardian Angel, and the woman that nourished the laughter and innocence of my youth. In her honor, we craft this Biere de Mars each February and condition it in oak barrels with our resident microflora, allowing it to develop indefinitely until it is ready for release. We realize the influence of those closest to us on after having left their presence. At Hill Farmstead, our spirit is forever defined by Norma and the memory of our loved ones.”

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The beer pours out a dark copper-amber color with a tiny scrim of caramel-white bubbles that mellow into a nice ring around the glass. In body, the beer is nearly a uniform color throughout with a rich opacity. On the nose, this beer reeks of beautiful funk; lemon-lime and horse blanket tango on the nostrils alongside nuances of pineapple, leather, cherry pie, and deep barnyard scents. What a beautiful nose on this beer. On the tongue, the beer tastes of a wonderfully balanced tartness alongside a smooth malt sweetness and just a kiss of herbal and spicy hop bitters at the back and finish. As the beer warms, a smooth and syrupy sweetness also starts to blanket the tongue throughout the sip, further pressing a nice balance throughout the beer. In flavor, the beer begins as pineapple juice and light caramel, slowly working its way to sweet barnyard and horse blanket. The finish blends horse blanket, caramel malt, pineapple juice, herbal hay, and grass notes onto the tongue. Soft touches of pine and this delicious yet unplaceable sweetness splash over the back of the palate. The aftertaste is a delicious blend of caramel and funk, almost like a softly candied funk. My notes don’t even mention the oak that must have been there, but I think that just speaks to how well it was integrated into the flavor of the beer. In the mouth, the beer is on the light side of medium, with a soft carbonation and a mouthfeel that is smooth and slightly syrupy. Overall, this is delicious and a perfect candidate for aging. The funk will only get better. Sometimes I want to dislike Hill Farmstead’s beer, but I never can. I do wish it formed more of a head, but it is a barrel aged beer so its lack of a head was understandable. This beer is great.

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4.3/5

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