For many years I was adamantly opposed to fruit-flavored beers. Part of my hesitancy was definitely due to a belief that beers brewed or infused with fruit were for people who didn’t really like the flavor of beer. Many of the readily available fruit beers supported this assumption, they were light ales with heavy additions of cloying fruit flavors. For many years I refused to even try a beer that was flavored with fruit, with the possible exception of citrus peels that are traditional in a few beer styles. I have started to loosen that stance, and the fruit flavored versions of the Berliner weisse style are a big reason why. The sour acidity from the Berliner mash is a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness added by fruit, and the addition of fruit syrup is actually a very traditional accompaniment to the style. White Birch Brewing Company in New Hampshire brews a few different versions of their popular Berliner Weisse, including one fermented with raspberry puree. Raspberries are my absolute favorite fruit. If I buy a pint it will usually be gone before it makes it into the fridge, so sampling this beer was a no-brainer. White Birch Raspberry Berliner Weisse is available year round on draft, in 22 oz. bombers and in 12 oz. cans.
White Birch Raspberry Berliner Weisse pours a clear red-tinted yellow with a mild white head. The scent is a mixture of tart acidity and a little raspberry. The taste starts with the sourness, distinct and present without being overpowering. The raspberry comes in after, fruity and a little tart perfectly complementing the acidity from the mash without overwhelming the beer. Some wheat malts round out the flavor and add some body. The beer is light and very drinkable at 5.5% ABV. The finish is crisp and tart with just a touch of raspberry flavor. While I am still wary of some fruit beers I think Berliner weisse is an ideal style to mix with fruit flavors, and White Birch demonstrates that point here. The fruit flavor here is a perfect complement to the beer, the final result is complex and flavorful but still light and refreshing. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous White Birch Reviews:
White Birch Hop Session, White Birch Belgian Style Pale Ale, White Birch Nyx American Black Ale
My wife and I are home from the hospital with our first child and getting into the swing of things. It is definitely a huge life change, everything revolves around the little guy’s schedule. While being responsible for the life of another human being is a little terrifying, it is also a fun and exciting experience and we are enjoying every minute. With the hours devoted to helping with changings/feedings/cleanings/household chores etc., I haven’t had much time to drink beer let alone write about it. I’m actually writing this post with my son napping on my chest. The other issue I’ve noticed is that even a small amount of alcohol exacerbates how tired I am from the frequent nightly interruptions. I drank a beer while I was making dinner last night and by 7:30 I could hardly keep my eyes open. I know this will get better as I find my groove, plenty of fellow beer enthusiasts and writers are also parents. For the short term I think I’ll focus a good portion of my limited beer consumption on session beers, which allow me to enjoy the full beer flavor without the yawn-inducing booze. One session beer I recently enjoyed was Hop Session, the flagship session IPA from White Birch Brewing Company out of Hooksett, New Hampshire. Hop Session is brewed with a variety of West Coast hops and is available year round on draft and now in 12 oz. cans!
White Birch Hop Session pours a slightly cloudy orange with a moderate off-white head. The scent is solidly hoppy, floral and fruity. The taste features the distinct flavor of New World hops with notes of lemon, grapefruit, mango and pine. The hops also add noticeable but not overwhelming bitterness. Some session IPAs are too one note, omitting any malt flavor, but that is not an issue here, with noticeable touches of biscuits, bread and a hint of caramel. The beer is light bodied and goes down very easy, at 5% ABV it fits into many definitions of a “session beer”. The finish is dry and crisp with just a touch of floral hops in the aftertaste. This is a very tasty session IPA, well balanced with plenty of delicious and aromatic hops. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous White Birch Reviews:
White Birch Belgian Style Pale Ale, White Birch Nyx American Black Ale
The crisp and hop-forward flavors of American Pale Ales make them great spring beers. The full body and complexity of pale Belgian styles also complements the season. American craft brewers have experimented with the pale Belgian styles, noting how the spicy and fruity esters created by the Belgian yeast can nicely accompany a wide variety of malt and hop profiles. Belgian Pale Ales, like many Belgian styles, don’t have very well defined style guidelines, allowing for a lot of creativity. One of the flagship beers of White Birch Brewing Company in Hooksett, NH is a Belgian Style Pale Ale. This beer pairs traditional Belgian style yeast with noble hops and pale malts.
White Birch Belgian Style Pale Ale pours a deep orange, slightly cloudy with a large but quickly dissipating cream-colored head. The smell starts with the Belgian yeast, some fruity esters and a little spice. The hops are also present, with some mild scents of flowers and the forest. The taste starts with the Belgian style yeast too, which contributes notes of apple, pepper and a little bubblegum. The malts are present so you get hints of whole-grain bread, crackers and a little caramel. The hops are noticeable but relatively mild in the flavor, contributing touches of pine and freshly cut grass. Overall the beer is easy to drink and pretty balanced. It weighs in at 6.5% ABV. The finish is a combination of a little malt flavor and some spiciness. White Birch Belgian Style Pale Ale is a good beer for Spring. It’s easy to drink but still full flavored and complex. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous White Birch reviews:
White Birch Nyx American Black Ale
White Birch Brewing has been making a variety of British, Belgian and American style ales out of their brewery in Hookset, NH since 2009. In addition to their flagship beers they offer a series of seasonal, small batch and barrel aged ales. One of the great things about supporting local breweries, aside from the delicious fresh beer, is their involvement in the community. White Birch is one of many breweries that is actively involved in charity work, aiding a number of New Hampshire based causes. White Birch also runs a unique apprenticeship program. In this program someone interested in learning about brewing and the craft beer industry can apprentice at White Birch, 1 day a week for 6 months. At the end each apprenticeship, the individual designs and brews their own beer, which the brewery bottles and sells. Due to the expansion of the brewery this apprenticeship program is currently on hiatus, but they hope to have it return in the summer of 2014. One of the beers to come out of the White Birch apprenticeship program is Nyx, an American Black Ale/Black IPA. Originally brewed by apprentice Adam in 2011, Nyx was so popular that it is now part of White Birch’s regular fall seasonal lineup. Nyx is named after the Greek goddess of night, and marries dark malts with bitter American hops.
White Birch Brewery Nyx pours a very dark brown with a small tan head. The malts come through strongly in the smell, with significant chocolate and coffee scents. This is followed by some light hop aromas which contribute some pine and earthy smells. The taste is initially malt forward too, espresso, dark chocolate, and some brown sugar. This maltiness is balanced by intense hop bitterness, with resin and citrus flavors that cut through the sweetness of the malts. The beer has a solidly bitter finish and medium body. It is easy to drink for a dark and bitter beer. Overall White Birch Nyx is a very solid take on the Black IPA style. I could have used a little more hoppiness on the nose, but there is great balance in flavor. I will definitely be checking out some of White Birch’s other offerings in the near future. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.