Man's Best Friend

Brewery and Country of Origin: Hill Farmstead Brewing Company of 403 Hill Road, Greensboro Bend, Vermont, 05842, USA

Date Reviewed: 11-22-16

Our 1500th Rated Beer
This review is dedicated to all of the furry four-legged sisters and brothers out there.

We came from the doctor's office and everything checked out great. After the immunizations and a clean bill of health, a new member of the family was finally coming home. Awaiting her was a fluffy bed, strange baby gates, stuffed animals, and fun toys to play with. A new world full of mysteries, curiosities, things to discover, and lessons to be learned. Initially, there were some messes to be cleaned up, skittishness, late nights, crying, and having to deal with "potty" training. Then came day care, finding a sitter, bath time, and of course, school. But in no time, little miss Abby was on her feet, exploring all that had to be explored. She wasn't a toddler though. Abby (2000-2015) was our first dog. She was a black greyhound with a little white patch on her chest. A retired racer, Abby's track name was "Hailstorm Hazel" and in her short career, she had raced twice: a first place and a did-not-finish. Clearly she couldn't have been bothered. But she loved running for fun and woof, was she fast. Like all greyhounds, Abby was a born sprinter who would become just a non-stop blur for some minutes in the backyard, and then come back inside just to lay on her bed until dinner was served. For an animal that could run at speeds far exceeding our neighborhood's speed limit, she was a couch potato. Abby was one of three (hopefully more) rescue greyhounds that we've adopted, and all of them, including Shady (2005-2013) and Willow (2012-), loved being with people more than anything, besides maybe each other and doggie treats. All three have been extremely affectionate creatures, constantly being guilty of trying to be lap dogs, even though they were far too big to be normally classified as such. They're big cuddlers who put electric blankets to shame, and if they aren't leaning on you, they're following you around the house. It's fair to say not one of them would have made a great guard dog. And though every loving dog owner says their pooch(es) is the best, they're all wrong, because Abby, Shady, and Willow unquestionably take up the podium (all tied for first, by the way).

Being able to call a puppy your own isn't a right, nor is it always easy. It is entirely a luxury. Pets are expensive, require a ton of attention, medical upkeep, training, grooming, and of course, each and every one should receive as much love as they give out. But it is our humble belief that dogs, and indeed all pets are worth it... except maybe spiders. Gross. Everyone should experience the unconditional affection dogs consistently emanate. In fact, everyone who is properly able to should have a dog of their own at some point in their life or you are incomplete as a human being. Dogs are members of the family. They share memories, holidays, family photos, the furniture, dinner (even if they might not be allowed to) and they are somehow always there for us when things aren't going the way they should be. But as depressing as it sounds, all families must eventually endure loss. This particular bourbon barrel aged double digit stout was crafted in honor of a member of the Hill Farmstead family. Damon was an eleven year old pup with a scruffy grey chin, known for his loyalty and patience during, as the brewery puts it on the bottle "an age of busyness and distraction." Saying goodbye to a pet, a member of the family, is never easy. And having to give your dog that final hug is one of the most heartbreaking things you'll do on this Earth. But the memories you share, the joy your pet brings, and the lessons pet ownership teaches you about life itself are all what makes the heartbreak worth it. And after your wet nosed friend moves on to a better place, just remember the good times that were. If Hill Farmstead's intent was to encapsulate Damon during his time here on Earth, we'd imagine he was a pretty awesome puppy (yes we call every dog puppy, even if they're 15 years old) because this is simply one of the best stouts, or rather, one of the best beer's we've ever rated. This is a spectacular limited run brew and though we were never blessed with the opportunity of meeting this furry fellow, we owe it to Damon for giving us a pretty special brew.
Date Sampled: 11-18-16 At: 39 Claymoss Road, Brighton, Boston, MA 02135, USA
Beer Style: American Double/Imperial (Russian) Stout
Alcohol by Volume: 10.50%
Serving Type: 500 ml Bottle, 16 oz Stange Glass
Rating: 4.29


This beer pours smoothly with a low amount of carbonation action, producing a very thin, sixteenth inch tall foam head with little retention, a dark tan color, and a low density. This Russian Imperial Stout has a pitch black/very dark brown color with almost no glow or shine, even in bright light. Damon's dark, deep color makes it appear opaque. There is no visible sediment and only a minimal effervescent effect is noticeable. This beer shows no settling and there is no foam lacing on the glass, but like wine, this beer has tan colored "legs" that line the inside of the glass once swirled about.


This beer has a very strong aroma full of dark roasted sweet chocolate and caramel malt bursting with sweetness and driven with a substantial alcohol bite that does take unsuspecting drinkers aback. There are indeed hints of bourbon and oaky wood like secondaries to the aroma, a product of the conditions in which this beer was... uh, conditioned. There is a good amount of sweet biscuity and some vanilla and other spices hint noticeable. This is a strong beer whose aroma is so strong that it greatly influences the overall flavor. A small presence of hops helps bring some bitter hop crispness to the aroma. Deeper, more subtle notes include licorice, anise, and clove.


This is a full bodied brew with a high viscosity, a high weight, and a low amount of carbonation, all culminating into a heavy, slow sipping, leviathan of a beer that should be taken seriously, and with plenty of time. Fortunately this beer is good enough that you'll want to savor the moment anyway. This beer is as smooth as it gets, covering the entire palate with an almost creamy, velvety feel that helps subdue this beer's "wet" fully fledged alcoholic finish which does come with some bite. This beer warms you up, making it great for the colder months. Despite this, Damon drinks easier than you'd expect, heading into your mug with a bourbon influenced flavors without the incapacitating effects of drinking a bottle of whiskey.


Damon is a powerful beer, full of chocolate, sweet toffee/caramel roasted malt, oaky/wood, and bourbon flavors with hints of spice, especially vanilla. This beer's hops only come out toward the aftertaste, which is accompanied by a biscuity cookie like flavor, and only a small presence of alcohol taste, despite this beer's elevated alcohol content. This beer is sweet overall with a good amount of licorice, anise, yeast (almost fruity banana), and clove like subtleties included. We're not sure of what kind of bourbon barrels this beer was aged in, but, at the risk of sounding obvious, we can tell you that it was aged in bourbon barrels. This beer showcases a good amount of bourbon trace flavors and aromas to enhance it, complemented with a pleasant earthy wood secondary.

Our Take

Woof. This is a strong beverage. Be prepared to settle down to enjoy this one completely. Certainly, if you're not into Russian Imperial Stouts, dark ales, or strong beers in general, you're not going to be someone who fully appreciates all that this beer has to offer. As far as availability, this beer is about as limited as it gets. Damon is released on a low quantity, one bottle per person basis after a long Blanton's brand bourbon barrel aging process, which usually concludes in the summer. And when they say one bottle per person, they actually mean, one per person, per release. This means that once you've had it, you've had it and you'll either have to get a friend who isn't interested to buy it for you, or you'll have to rely on your memories to enjoy it ever again (IDs are cross checked with credit cards to ensure this). However, if you can get your hands on a bottle be prepared to fork over $22 for a half liter bottle. We say be prepared, because yes, this is more expensive than most, but it's completely worth it. Damon is a powerful beer that is best enjoyed in the colder months of fall and winter, and we'd recommend you enjoy it with plenty of time to spare. You do have to prepare yourself for a sensory onslaught that most fringe craft beer fans probably won't be used to, but persevere, because like many beverages, the more you drink this one, the more you enjoy it. Overall, this is one of the best beers we've ever had. Tons of flavor, a rich and powerful aroma, a warming, comforting presence, and a look as rich and dark as the fur of the dog on which it's based. As this is a sweet oriented stout, we'd recommend pairing this with lighter fare such as leafy salads, white fish, grilled chicken, creamy desserts, and Tagalong Girl Scout Cookies.