When one thinks of Hill Farmstead, they think of their hoppy beers, robust stouts, delicate saisons and wilds, but probably not smoked porters. However, Fear and Trembling proves how versatile Shaun Hill and his team have become.
Fear and Trembling was Hill’s first collaboration, brewed using malts smoked over a “blend of native wood” provided by Anders Kissmeyer, a friend and former colleague.
The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick amber head that slowly dissipates, and then lingers, leaving a soapy layer of amber.
The chocolate malts give the nose a dark chocolate character upfront and, along with the roasted barley, provide coffee-like notes. The smoked malts are definitely present on the nose, however it is much more balanced compared to most smoked beers.
On the first sip, there is a lot of bitterness from the European hops. This is followed by a strong smoked meat mouthfeel, a normal character of most smoked beers. On the back-end you get a rush of cocoa and caramel. As the beer warms, the flavors of the beer change, and that initial bite becomes more subtle. The beer takes on an element of sweetness, almost like a milkshake with vanilla and toffee.
Shaun Hill has done it again; Fear and Trembling is truly a masterpiece of this style. It’s one of the few smoked porters that is perfectly balanced, and the 9% ABV is well hidden beneath the various layers of sweet and bitter. The fact that there isn’t an overpowering amount of smokiness makes it appealing to even those who usually avoid smoked beers. Obviously, like most of Hill Farmstead’s beers, this one is quite limited, but if you have a chance, take it. And if you can’t find this beer, a good alternative to represent the style would be Alaskan Brewery’s Smoked Porter, which hits shelves every November.
Brewery: Hill Farmstead
City: Greensboro, VT
Style: Baltic-style Smoked Porter
ABV: 9% ABV