Produced in a brewery set up on land his family has owned for generations, the Ancestral Series from the Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont is made up of beers named after founder and brewmaster Shaun Hill’s forefathers. Nearly 20 different names identify styles ranging anywhere from those not often brewed, like a grisette and a bière de miel, to those more well-known like a pale ale and an imperial IPA.

Everett is one such beer, a porter created in honor of a great uncle who was one of thirteen siblings that once lived on the land. Brewed with a combination of German and American malts, American hops, yeast and well water, it has been in rotation at the brewery since July 2010. A bourbon barrel-aged version came later, being made available to the public in May 2014.

Hill Farmstead Everett Bottle

Others in the series include:

  • Abner Double Pale Ale — 8 percent ABV — May 2010
  • Anna Bière de Miel — 6 percent ABV — December 2010
  • Arthur Saison — 6 percent ABV — October 2010
  • Clara Grissette — 4 percent ABV — July 2011
  • Earl Coffee Oatmeal Stout — 7.2 percent ABV — September 2010
  • Edith Black Saison — 6 percent ABV — April 2013
  • Edward Pale Ale — 5.2 percent ABV — May 2010
  • Ephraim Imperial Pale Ale — 9.6 percent ABV — October 2010
  • Florence Wheat Saison — 5 percent ABV — August 2010
  • Foster Black IPA — 6.5 percent ABV — February 2011
  • George American Brown Ale — 6 percent ABV — October 2011
  • Harlan IPA — 6 percent ABV — July 2010
  • James Black Ale — 7.2 percent ABV — May 2010
  • Jim Black IPA — 7.5 percent ABV — October 2010
  • Mary German—style Pilsner — 5.7 percent ABV — January 2013
  • Peleg Old Ale — n/a — July 2014
  • Susan IPA — 6.2 percent ABV — November 2012
  • Vera Mae Saison — 6 percent ABV — August 2011

Sampling a batch with a bottling date of March 2014, Everett shows itself to be black in color and virtually opaque, with a foam layer that builds to a slightly more than moderate thickness. Initial sensations on the nose reveal bittersweet chocolate, light roast and bits of burnt malt character.

Hill Farmstead Everett

The taste is the same, though it’s not as rich as the aroma might lead you to believe. Either way, the beer is one that favors chocolate rather than roast. The latter really just loiters as opposed to being the lead dog, which contrasts with what I would expect stylistically. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, just different than a typical porter profile where chocolate tends to be a secondary ingredient.

Gauging the feel, Everett comes across as being extremely light-bodied, which leads to the impression that it drinks almost too easily. It’s slick and not really bitter, with flavors that linger only for a moment in the aftertaste. In the end, quite honestly, what you notice most is not so much how the beer tastes, but that your left with a noticeably dry palate and the wish for something more.

Hill Farmstead Everett
BREWERY: Hill Farmstead Brewery
LOCATION: Greensboro Bend, Vt.
STYLE: Porter
ABV: 7.5 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: n/a
RELEASE DATE: March 2014
AVAILABLE IN: 500ml bottles
Everett is a beer with great bones, but it feels like it needs a little more leg to stand on. It has inviting aromas and a good, but not full flavor. Things might be different if it weren't for the surprisingly thin body, which seems to further enhance that perception. This is surprising, especially considering a density measurement of 21 degrees Plato (or a starting gravity of 1.087). Taking that into account with the stated ABV of 7.5 percent (which translates to a final gravity of 1.030), at least on paper this would equate to an imperial porter. Instead, I'm simply not sure what to make of this beer. It's stronger than most robust porters, but with the body of a sessionable brown. Given that the words thin and light appear almost nowhere with regards to body in other online reviews, I have to wonder if this is just a bad bottle. Perhaps another is needed for further research.
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