White Birch Tavern Ale - White Birch Brewing

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White Birch Tavern AleWhite Birch Tavern Ale

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very good

37 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 37
Hads: 82
Avg: 3.77
pDev: 15.65%
Wants: 6
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
White Birch Brewing visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
Smoked Beer |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: womencantsail on 02-11-2011

Butter’s Tavern was a fixture of Concord, NH in the eighteenth century. Inspired by their loggerhead ale, we’ve created a Smoked Imperial Brown Ale. Hearty malts, with a nuanced smokiness and smooth finish create our interpretation of this historic ale. We hope you enjoy this slice of New Hampshire history.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 37 | Hads: 82
Photo of Arbitrator
2.08/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of ShogoKawada. Thanks, Phil!

A: Dark brown, very small and short-lived head.

S: Immediately out of the cold bottle, this had a nice, smoky roasted grain aroma. A few minutes later, as it warmed up, it brought burnt plastic and cigarettes to the party. You could kind of overlook them, so I can't say it's the worst aroma ever. I get the feeling this would be an ok beer without (I'm guessing) QC issues.

T: Plastic, smoke, and cigarette ash. A little bit of chocolate, earth, and roasted grain are found too; it's almost stout-like, but with enough nuttiness to suggest a brown ale variant. This could be a pretty interesting beer, actually...

M: Medium-bodied, but low carbonation.

O: White Birch has shifted from "trainwreck" to just shy of mediocre. It is actually a positive trend, but I don't understand why they release most of what they have made...

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Photo of rudzud
2.86/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Picked up when this first came out at Julio's Liquors batch 1 bottled in February 2011.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a deep dark muddy brown with a creamy two finger head that fades slowly to leave nice side lacing and good residual head.

S - This has a slightly smokey aroma but somehow drowns out all other scents. There's a light hop note on the back but mostly smoke.

T - Similar to the nose in that there is a smoky note that masks most if what makes a good brown ale. Lacking sweet malts with just a hint of hops. Rather average.

M - Easily the worst part of this beer. Super thin with not much carbonation. Watery and the higher abv really shines through due to that.

O - Overall I find this beer to be quite mediocre. There are so many better brown ales that aren't overpowered by smoke or as thin as a glass of water. Worst White Birch I've had to date by far.

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Photo of bishopdc0
2.94/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

shared a bomber with my wife.
Listed as a Smoked Imperial Brown Ale. Bottled February 2011, batch 2
Bottle count: 1008

Poured dark brown into my goblet. A slight head form and quickly fades the the glasses edge leaving a wisp of bubbles in the center and a tan rim on the edge. The bottle indicates 8% abv which isn't enough to shrink the head so quickly. the bottle, like all White Birch is very very informative which helps the overall look

The aroma on the beer hit you first as you pour it into your glass. At first the aroma is like a bandage almost sterile, the smoke mixed with the alcohol perhaps, after giving a few more deep inhalations I am able to am amber to distinguish the smokey malts. I can also pick up toasted and sweet malts but it takes some work, perhaps a lower abv would make a better aroma.

The taste is much better then the smell. the alcohol is up front, with a mix of sweet malts and carbonation. The sweet malts make a mix of crystal and toasted makes it a brown but the abv is the only hint that it is Imperial. As you swallow this beer this is when the taste of smoke comes in. The sweetness dissipates and the carbonation fades. As your mouth dries a smoky flavor lingers in the mouth.

Overall I feel this it is a good smoke beer but the ABV I think doesn't mesh well with the smoke taste. The mix of smoke and alcohol don't work for me but this is a well crafted beer if you like smoke beer you should try it as it may work for you

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Photo of AgentZero
3.06/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle share by ChrisPro who called this the "second best White Birch beer he's ever had." That could mean anything.

A - Dark brown beer with a khaki head that left some spots and other stuff on the side of the glass.

S - This smells almost exactly like a Tootsie Roll. It has a little smoke in there as well, so I guess it's a smoked Tootsie Roll.

T - Tastes like a Tootsie Roll, with a little more smoke and roast than the nose had. The taste is really heavy and gets fatiguing fast, but unlike a lot of White Birch beers I didn't have to spit it out or supress my gag reflex.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. The big taste makes it seem heavier than it really is.

O - Well it wasn't a complete disaster like I'm used to from White Birch. I didn't really like it as there was just too much Tootsie Roll flavor but it wasn't horrible. Wouldn't likely drink again.

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Photo of davey101
3.16/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber into a pint glass, January 2012, Batch One, Bottle Count 1152.

A - Dark brown/black body that lets no light through. Silky one ginger high light mocha head. Great lacing and retention.

S - Subtle smoked malts, dark fruits, chocolate, cigarette ash.

T - Smokey malts and a layer of chocolate and nutty flavors. Finishes ashy with an acrid red wine like flavor. Mouth feel is smooth and medium bodied.

O - Sub-par beer. This beer is more ashy than smokey with an oddly harsh aftertaste.Its drinkable, but not very tasty.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
3.28/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a mini pint glass, color is dark brown with light tan head that presents bout 1/2 inch thick then laces nicely.

Smell is lightly sweet, some rosted malt and hints of chocolate with a nice light smokiness.

Taste is a sweet malt that smoothes to a roasted flavor followed by a mild smokiness, more beachwood type smoke.

Mouthfeel is a little strong on the tongue, sitting on the tongue strongly, a touch cloying.

Overall, an ok smoked ale, flavors are not too out of sync, but a little sweet and not quite enough smokiness is the right places (nose).

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Photo of MasterSki
3.33/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by ChrisPro - thanks man! This is from Batch 2, but there is no bottle number. Served in a Cantillon tulip.

A - A tan foam settles to a thick collar, leaving spotty lace and wisps on top. Dark brown body.

S - Tootsie roll, caramel, molasses, and chocolate malt mingle with smoke and meat.

T - Taste is smokier, with some char and dark chocolate bitterness. There's some mild astringency and plastic in the finish as well. Otherwise it smells much like it tastes.

M - Moderate carbonation, medium-thin body, and well-hidden alcohol like all White Birch beers. Solid, but unexceptional.

D - A passable smoked beer. It's in the top tier of White Birch beers I've had, which renders it tolerable.

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Photo of Ego
3.35/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Batch 5
Bottle Count 1092

barely any head whatsoever, whatever head there was disappears faster than the plot in the twilight movies, very dark brown, almost opaque save for the bubbles (very few) traveling up the draft. nothing much to look at here...

dark molasses and fruit (prunes), bitter chocolate, the smoke is rather subdued, if it was more forward this would be much better imo. the more it sits the more the smoke does come out though.

taste etc...
is this more of an ash taste or smoke? mixed in are some bitter chocolate notes that really linger. the carbonation is as expected by the pour - very underwhelming. The body is medium and is neither here nor there. after sipping some more of this the smoke is really more of an ash flavor and detracts from the brew.

this beer is OK, it has slightly above average taste points but overall is pretty average. looking at the reviews (especially on the head) it seems this may not be consistent batch to batch.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Doopie's mate Steve brought this over from MA. Thanks a bunch for sharing man!

Described as a Smoked Imperial Brown Ale
Bottled Feb 2011
Batch #1
Bottle count 1032

From a bomber into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a two finger, medium looking, tan head with good retention. Head fades to a decent wisp. Dark brown, bistre perhaps, and minimal carbonation evident. Ring and slight wisp remain leaving dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Milder nose on this one. Roasted malts, mild dark chocolate notes, and some dark fruits, raisins perhaps. A touch of smokiness, but not much at all. More roasted malts and dark fruits in the nose. Milder but quite nice.

TASTE: Roasted malts, dark baker’s chocolate, and a good dose of smoky malt. Some more roasted and smoky malts and a good dose of bitterness after the swallow. Some spiciness in there as well in the milder yet lingering aftertaste. Medium strength but quite interesting. Very enjoyable.

PALATE: Medium body and carbonation, and a little lighter on the palate. Creamy enough, goes down fine with a bit of a surprising burn after the swallow, and finishes somewhat dry. Could be a little heavier and smoother as well.

OVERALL: Quite a tasty and enjoyable brew. The other four categories were nothing to write home about, as the nose could have been bolder for an “imperial” and the palate a little heavier and creamier, but the flavor was wonderful. We all really enjoyed this one. Thanks again Doopie!

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Photo of sethmeister
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Batch 3, bottled March 2011.

Pours very dark brown with a fizzy khaki colored head. Held to the light a glimmer of red at the edges. Minimal lacing, head drops to a ring.

Scent is first caramel and molasses and then woodsmoke and charred, peat like notes underneath

Taste is sweet with dense dark chocolate and molasses. Sweet like bacon drizzled with maple syrup. Dark fruit, plums? The smoke is very subtle and not at all overpowering. (I actually would welcome stronger smoke flavors. See what Islay scotch does to you?) Builds gently in the background. A hint of black licorice.

Mouth is a bit disappointing. Starts a little too fizzy and ends a little too watery. Would like to see this with a creamier fuller body. Mild alcohol warming in the throat.

I love smoked beers so I was intrigued and had to try this. A solid brew.

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Photo of vtblackdog
3.56/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I am becoming a fan of this brewery so let us see how this one goes. Bottled in Feb 2011, batch one.

Appearance is a dark brown with just a little light around the edges of the pint. An ok head forms but disappears quickly.

Smell is a weak slightly cheesy (the cheese you eat) with a little alcohol aroma in the back. I do not get any smokiness.

Taste is much better than smell. I get the smoke up front, which is why I picked this style up and a nice malt finish.

Mouthfeel is average for me. Nothing really noteworthy.

Overall this is a very drinkable beer. I was expecting more from the smoked part.

This one seems a bit expensive ($9) for what I got out of it.

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Photo of ToasterChef
3.57/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Like the other reviews, this is an unnumbered bottle from batch 2, a total of which 1008 bottled were produced. The cellar temperature beer was poured into a pint glass.

A dark brown liquid with a brownish bubbly head fills my glass. The beer is dark and no light penetrates. Some lace is left behind.

There is certainly a smokey bacon scent emanating from this beer. I also get some sweet malts and a touch of alcohol. It is interesting and makes me excited to take a sip.

The flavor is certainly that of a smoke beer; don't let the label's claim of "Imperial Brown Ale" fool you. Charcoal smokiness is prevalent, and some alcohol and bitterness come about in the finish. Possibly English hops are used here, as it certainly isn't a big American hop presence and reminds me of ales form across the pond. Malts are not too sweet and work well as a base for the smoke.

The body is on the fuller side and carbonation is average. There is a good sized coat but it is just of average quality; there isn't anything wrong with it, but it doesn't impress me.

I have yet to come across a smoke beer that I would drink regularly, and this one is no exception. It is an interesting experiment and worth picking up if you want to drink something different, but not as exciting as some of the other beers White Birch makes.

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Photo of JAFoley
3.72/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark opaque body with foamy tan head. Nice retention and lacing.

S - Citrus, caramel, and yeasty bread.

T - Slight citrus hop. Dark chocolate, caramel, and coffee.

M - Full body, with fine carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

O - Not bad. Good flavors, and nice creamy mouth feel.

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Photo of metter98
3.74/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is very dark brown in color (black when viewed from afar) and has red visible near the bottom of the glass when it is held up to a bright light. It poured with a two finger high dark beige colored head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of smoky malts are present in the nose along with some faint hints of licorice.
T: Like the smell, the taste is pretty much dominated by flavors of smoked malts, although these aren't too strong or overpower the beer. Slight hints of chocolate malts are also perceptible. While no bitterness is perceptible, there are just enough hops to prevent the malts from having any sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I thought that this beer had a good balance and wasn't overly smoky. This could be a nice beer to try if you want some smoke but aren't looking for the intensity of a rauchbier.

Note: Batch #4 (December 2011)

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Photo of jneiswender
3.81/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a pint and a half bottle into a medium sized tasting glass. Very dark garnet color with a dark tan head. Chocolate and faint campfire smoke. First sip is a bit coarse. Second sip reveals an elusive smoke flavor here. Just when you want to say "there it is", it leaves you. Its kind of like a smoke and chocolate punching match. One hits you and before you can realize it, the other flavor hits you. After awhile of drinking you taste pizza crust and some alcohol. Slick and full mouthfeel. Very different take on the old Rauchbier. If you like smoked beer you should give this a try. Nice.

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Photo of mactrail
3.87/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Smoked Imperial Brown Ale is perfectly descriptive. Nearly opaque dark brown with a decent head. A pleasant fizzy mouthfeel. Just a bit of the sticky, but rather dry on the whole.

Woody flavor sets the teeth on edge. Fairly assertive hops. Smoke is quite nice, provides a sensual richness to the dark fruit and roasted malt. Nice smokey nose as you sip, but not overly bitter. Seems to have a buttery component. Some sweetness follows through until that dry finish.

Over a year old (Feb 2011) but flavors seem clean. Apparently just the one batch #1 (Bottle count 1032). From the 22 oz bottle bought at

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Photo of gford217
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, batch 2, bottled Feb 2011 from Ben.

Pours a murky dark brown with a hefty tan head that recedes slowly to thick collar and a collection of bubbles in the middle.

Aroma is sweet dark chocolate and lightly smoked malts. There is a bit of a band-aid aroma to things, bit of alcohol maybe.

The taste has the smoke character up front with some chocolate malts underneath. It's definitely better than the aroma and sweeter up front with the smoke coming in more subtly in the finish. I don't get the band-aid that I got in the nose.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with lots of carbonation and certainly falls short of what I would normally consider "imperial".

I like this beer and think it's one of the better beers I've had from White Birch. Solid smoked beer if not an imperial brown.

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Photo of greenmonstah
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottled Feb 2011. Poured into large snifter

A - Pours a very dark brown with a finger of light tan head.

S - Smokey, but subtley so. Surprising amount of chocolate. A bit sweet. Some dark fruit.

T - Smokier in the flavor, for sure. Smoked meat and malt flavors come in, along with a roast characteristic and a bit of chocolate. Finish is a strong char flavor. No alcohol flavor

M - Medium body with average carbonation and a slightly dry flavor. A bit shapeless in feel, it is somewhat hard to place.

O - Overall I enjoy how the smoked flavor isn't too overwhelming. I think it does a great job of complementing the other flavors without drowning them out. The smoke goes well with the roast, chocolate, and sweet malt flavors, making for a real treat. I couldn't justify higher category scores, but overall I really enjoy this beer. I'd love to have it on a cold night in late Autumn by a camp fire, or perhaps in a ski lodge next to a roaring fireplace.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.94/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, Winter 2014 vintage (Batch One, bottle count of 6000, 8.0% ABV). Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours dark brown with about a half inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. The brew smells like smoked malt, caramel, chocolate, and roasted malt. I think the taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some nuttiness noticeable. The smoke seems stronger in the flavor in comparision to the amount of smoke in the aroma, and the smokiness lingers in the finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's smooth and a bit coating with moderate carbonation. I thought this was good, definitely worth picking up! $6.99 a bomber.

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Photo of Gavage
3.94/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a dark brown color with a wispy head that disappears immediately.

Smell: roasted malt, a bit of chocolate , and a soft smokiness creates a pleasant aroma.

Taste: roasted malt, dark chocolate, prunes, and mellow smoked flavor creates a well balanced beer. Bitterness is mild.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Lightly crisp at the start, smoother and a bit dry at the finish. The smokey tones linger in the mouth a long time.

Overall: a nice flavored brown ale with just enough smoke to make it tasty alongside some BBQ.

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Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Winooski. Could be the best WB I have had. Significant smoke and not overpowering, with great malt base, chocolate,Dry hopped. It works. Very Good drinkability. Middling mouthfeel. BBQ aroma. Dark brown bodied with some retained head and lace.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled February 2011
Batch Two
Bottle Count 1008
This beer poured a very dark brown with a thick cafe au lait head. The head dissipated fairly rapidly, and left a tiny bit of lace.
Smoky, roasted malt aroma. Sweet.
Sweet chocolate taste, coffee/roasted malt. I thought the smoky taste showed up late.
Nice smooth, rich beer.
I'm reminded more of a porter with this beer.
Enjoyed it.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled February 2011
Batch 2
Bottle Count 1008
ABV 8.0%

Pours a dark brown color with a fizzy light brown head, sticks around longer than I though but doesn't leave any lacing on the glass, bubbles form a small cap that sticks around for awhile.

Smell has just the right amount of smoke in my opinion, I've had other smoked beers where it smells like cigarettes and is off-putting, whereas this beer has a nice balance of roasted malt, smokiness, a bit of dark cocoa in the nose, as well as a charcoal aspect.

Taste is roasted malt up front, the smokiness is blended in with the malt so as not to be overwhelming although it does linger a tad too long, a decent burnt bitterness follows in the aftertaste, carbonation is spot-on and the body is thick enough to be creamy but not cloying.

I'm not a huge fan of smoked beers (or rauchbier's either) but this one treads a fine line and makes it work, it's certainly better than I expect it to be.

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Photo of larryi86
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you Cstromberg57 for this
22 oz bomber, 12/2011 batch 4, poured into a tulip

A- Dark brown, almost black, with a small dark brown head that fades quickly.

S- Roasted malts, caramel, cocoa, smokey.

T- Richer than the nose, getting more smoke, chocolate malts, caramel malts, roasted malts. Good, not overpowering.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- A nice smoked beer that I enjoyed, definitely a nice extra. I feel this would be worth trading for again.

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Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Creamy 1 finger head fades semi slowly, dark brown molasses color.

Nose dark malts, light smoked malt, light syrup, light brown sugar, light earthy hops, touch of caramel and toasted malts.

Taste is a bit rich and creamy, very malty, dark crystal malts, brown sugar, some smoked malts, touch of brine, touch of cocoa, semi sweet, touch of earthy hops, drier finish with a bit of briney taste late and bit if smoke.

Mouth is a bit rich and slightly heavier bodied, decent carb.

Overall good, not too heavy on the smoke, bit of brine is not the best, but nice malts and rich body.

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White Birch Tavern Ale from White Birch Brewing
85 out of 100 based on 37 ratings.