Style: Dark American Wild Ale Blend ???% ABV Brewery Notes: “Keeping with the theme of black beers landing on 4 in the series, this single French Oak barrel blend of black beers from the last 3 years includes Daybreak, Buckwheat Rye Porter, Everett, George and other minute, fragmented components. Inoculated in the barrel with various strains of yeast and souring bacteria.”
The beer pours a deep, dark, chocolatey black; impenetrable to the eye, yet with a chocolatey hue. The beer forms a small head of creamy, slightly tan bubbles that doesn’t really last. This beer is obviously opaque and impenetrable to the eye; it hides secrets in its folds. When splashed against the sides of the glass, it leaves a thin strand of lacing running around inner wall, and a quick set of legs that run away from the eyes as soon as they are visible. On the nose, the beer smells of red wine and cherry pie blended with a smooth, light roasted coffee, chocolate, and orange peels, with notes of orange juice, and perhaps a touch of honey and acetic vinegar. The nose only fully develops as it warms, however, and all of these scents act as ghosts until then. Let this beer open up for the full effect. As it warms, a certain barrel-oxidized character creeps in with a whiff of booze, lending the beer a distinctly American-stout-like scent, but with a citric and dark fruit twist. On the tongue, the beer tastes dark fruit tart, with a chocolatey sweetness that moves towards cherry liquor, blending in some booziness while the finish brings in fresh, oaky tannin and a touch of herbal bitterness predominantly from orange peels. Citric acidity ghosts and then builds on the close, but the beer remains representative of predominantly a cherry/dark fruit acidity. Roasted dry bitters do build as you sip, too. In flavor, it is a bizarre blend of rich, smooth coffee, a touch of dark chocolate, a touch of milk chocolate, and rich cherry pie. As I sip, the beer develops a rich, citric finish, which I do like, and is reminiscent of a lighter beer (i.e. more classic farmhouse). There are hints of orange liquor and orange peel (the Daymark), as well as a strong sense of George in the beer in the subtle roast that permeates the mouth. Perhaps a touch of spice at the beginning of the sip is reminiscent of the buckwheat rye porter? It is a bit muddled until you really stop and pick it apart. Obviously Hill Farmstead knows how to blend a beer, and it shows, but this isn’t quite the beer I had hoped for, which I guess is my own fault… In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied, yet fairly well attenuated, with just a slight weight on the sip reminiscent of the heavier malt-load of the beers. The carb is softer, with just a touch of scrub, while the acidity bites lightly at the tongue and finishes with a nice nip. There is even a little booze on the finish. It feels citric on the close, with a light pucker/bite. Overall, the beer develops as it sits. While the booze is subtle at first, it builds as you drink, and develops a nice heat towards its end. I like this more as I sip, and definitely find its odd complexity more fascinating with every sip. This is not an easy beer, and demands your thought and engagement as you slowly sip. It is a chocolatey sour stout with a citric kick, a touch of acetic notes, some coffee, and some barrel. It’s interesting and fun to drink, but not HF’s finest for me. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to find this, but I’m happy to have tried it, and happy to have another to sip in a little while to see how it’s doing.