White Birch Barrel Aged Tripel | White Birch Brewing

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White Birch Barrel Aged TripelWhite Birch Barrel Aged Tripel

Brewed by:
White Birch Brewing
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Tripel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.65%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
2009 – Our Tripel aged in a barrel for an extended period of time. Belgian esters and light fruit notes meld with a smooth vanilla and oak to create a rich smooth sipping beer. Our first batch rings in at 11.65%, medium bodied with a smooth finish.

2010 – Aged in Pinot Noir and Merlot barrels. Each of the seven barrels we used are from the same vintage of wine.

Unlike wine makers, we did not blend the contents from each barrel together. Rather choosing to let the subtle and unique differences from each barrel stand on their own.

Each barrel is recognized on the label as batch PN1 through PN6, and M1. Meaning Pinot Noir barrel 1 through Pinot Noir barrel 6. and Merlot barrel 1.

Pinot Noir barrels 1 through 3 have a nice soft fruit note. Barrels 4 through 6 have a softer wine note and more of a sharp oak flavor from the barrel. The Merlot barrel has a rich, sharp Merlot note, soften by our Tripel, with hints of oak.

Added by chinabeergeek on 10-20-2009

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Reviews: 36 | Ratings: 59
Photo of Thorpe429
1.06/5  rDev -68.5%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Thanks to rpstevens for sending this bottle out my way. Opened at a tasting and served in a snifter.

The beer is ridiculously bad looking. One of the most inappropriately-colored beers I have ever seen. It's like a light berliner weisse with a lot of haze. I don't know how something barrel-aged could be this color. Much lighter than straw. After that, the nose comes through with some rotten vegetables. Really not good. Reminds me of fresh basil that has been left out way past its expiration date. The taste does not improve on this. Bigtime fail. The taste is really quite sticky. I was informed that I visibly shuddered after my first sip. The best description I can come up with for the taste is cooked asparagus. No real barrel character.

This was not even worry of a drainpour. The toilet welcomes this one. I can't believe this started out as one of the ugliest beers I've seen and then the appearance ended up being the best aspect of the beer. Very odd indeed. I was looking forward to opening this up and it did not deliver.

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Photo of jlindros
3.69/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had this as part of the infamous White Birch tasting at the Holistic Institute of Dramming, thanks to Tim. Notes will probably be short since there were so many different beers to note, and drink.

Pinot Noir barrel PN2 from Nov. 2010.

Pours a decent fizzy fluffy 1 finger head that fades at a med pace with bubbles streaming, light foamy lacing, crystal clear light tan golden color.

Nose of musty grape skins, oak, light spices, and hints of Belgian malts and fruits, big appley pear esters, hint of booze, mild phenols and spices, mild citrus zest like, hint of banana.

Taste is brings lots of oak and wood, a light red wine flavor, juicy fruits, light citrus, creamy, and very light booze. A bit of vanilla and light orange flavors, mild spices and more fruity esters, little pear and apple, fruity. Finish is dry and bit of bitterness, more citrus peel, mild spices, mild phenolic booze.

Mouth is medium bodied and a little creamy, with lots of carbonation.

Overall it's pretty good, lower booze than expected for the abv, but some light spices and musty, interesting but not great like expected.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.83/5  rDev +43.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A huge thanks to Bill for making sure that I get to try this one. I used this one to cap off my night, and boy what a night it was. Bottle number 5 of the first batch, red wax capped and all. This one was served at cellar temp and consumed on 11/13/2009 in a nice snifter glass.

The pour was perfect. Rich light golden in color with a light tint of reddish to it, though that maybe my eyes. Lots of cloudiness in this one for sure though with a huge billowing head of white that rises up to at least three inches before falling back down to a somewhat reasonable level. Not before dropping tons of lacing all over the sides and the bottom of the glass though.

Then I reach in to find out whats going on with the character of this one, holy crap we have a winner. Huge notes of vanilla and woody tones, light buttery malts and droves of fig like notes great me. Vanilla tones just dominate though, really just immense aroma. Warming starts to bring out some more lighter notes, peaches, light citrus tones, hints of grape skin. I cannot resist any more though and I must go in for a taste. Blown away now. I get smacked with tons of vanilla and bourbon notes right off the bat. Just melting my palate and making me sink into the chair. Simply amazing the transformation this beer has undergone in the barrel. Subtle notes of fruit coming through now, pears and plums, light tart like grape flavors, but mostly woody and vanilla just overloading your senses. Again I let it warm to bring out more subtle flavors and hints of light citrus now start popping up, drying the plate and leaving just a touch of tart across the tongue. Carbonation is active and lively, giving it a fine, subtle and smooth feel. Now hint of the alcohol that lies within, I am amazed by this. The flavor just wrapped it all together just perfectly. Finish the bottle with ease and was shocked that I almost looked for more.

Overall I have to say this may be my favorite of Bill;s creations to date. It just is done perfectly. The vanilla and wood flavors play off the light fruit in the natural triple flavor soo well I cannot put into words how good of a job he has done on this one. Cannot wait to see what else he pulls out of those barrels. Great job here.

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Photo of womencantsail
1.71/5  rDev -49.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Corked and caged bottle. I got a couple of these. Thanks to those who sent them.

A: The beer pours an incredibly pale yellow color. This is a tripel?

S: The aroma is almost meaty. Quite woody with a definite coriander note. Some light spices, wet cardboard, and lemon are also present. It's also got a definite hot dog water aroma.

T: It's sweet with wet paper and cardboard flavors. A touch of yeast followed by an overwhelming flavor of hot dogs. Just a bit of pale malt and pears. This was pretty awful.

M: Very light bodied for such a big beer. It has medium carbonation.

O: Not a proper color, not supposed to smell and taste like hot dogs. Not sure much was done right on this beer.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.34/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10/6/2009 Batch 1 22oz wax dipped
Pours a clear solid golden color with a good sized white head that quickly dissipates to a ring on top. Smells of bourbon, vanilla and oak mostly. There's a faint aroma of light fruit and spicy yeast deep underneath. Taste is pretty complex actually. I get the barrels contribution first, lots of vanilla, oak, tannins, bourbon up front. That's followed by a sugary malt sweetness as well as some light strawberry and apple flavors. Leaves a long lingering brown sugar and fruit sweetness in the finish as well as a touch of ethanol. Medium to light body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet fruity sugary mouthfeel. Wow that beer has done well with some age on it! Clean smooth complex and flavorful, I wish I had squirreled a few more of those away.

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Photo of MasterSki
1.74/5  rDev -48.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Thanks to Mike for sharing this gem. This one was PN4. Served in a Heady Topper glass.

A - White foam settles to a thin ring, leaving a bit of haze on top and minimal lacework. Pale, slightly hazed white peach flesh body.

S - Buttery oak, watered-down wine, some alcohol.

T - Wow! I thought I'd had some bad beers from White Birch, but this may be a new low. Vitamins, medicinal notes, vomit. This actually made me gag. Sublimely terrible.

M - I couldn't drink enough to tell. I guess I'll be fair and call it "average".

D - Just horrendous. Avoid at all costs.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.47/5  rDev +33%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to jmu500 for this brew.

22oz. Bomber
Red Waxed/Cap
Bottled: October 6, 2009
Batch: One
Bottle: 96 of 228

Poured into a chalice a light dirty looking pinkish color, very nice carbonation, nice one-finger fizzy white head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some nice yeast notes, lots of bourbon notes, with some spice. The taste is sweet, malty/yeast, again very big bourbon notes, and spicy. Medium body, this brew is highly carbonated. Very drinkable, WOW! Very tasty brew, really liking the bourbon notes, Thanks John!

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Photo of BARFLYB
2.88/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Bottle into some snifters eating some cheese with oglmcdgl and sourbatch, bottle 29 out of 252.

WBBAT looked kinda murky from the bottle, not all together clear looking, muddled. Once the cork was popped (it took forever) the triple appeared a golden yellowish color with some hazy look, no floating sediment. A inch of white stuff, no stickies. Smell is weird. A triple of ther beaten path. The pinot does not come out much but is integrated with subtle spice and some fruit. Some basement scents. Taste was good on the first few but after a few more I was scratching my head. I get pear, begian yeast, hay, apple, and faint malt. Not very fruity for a trip. Pinot is non existant but I think the beer grabbed some bugs from the barrel, or the brewery, either or. It may be the yeast throwing this off. This does not taste good, the alcohol does not come out in taste or smell, that's a plus. Not one I will go back for.

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Photo of yourefragile
2.26/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 1 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 mL cork and caged bottle. Date November 2010, Batch PN6, Number who cares out of 252, 10.5 % ABV. From their website describing this bottling and its batches: "Each barrel is recognized on the label as batch PN1 through PN6, and M1. Meaning Pinot Noir barrel 1 through Pinot Noir barrel 6. and Merlot barrel 1." Poured into a tulip.

Color is an unappealing milky and chalky lemon with a wispy thin white head that quickly fades to a ring with thin specks of lacing. The barrel dominates the aroma with sweet grape and apricot fruitiness and light vanilla. I struggle to pick up much from the base tripel as the finish of the aroma is mildly solventy and boozy. Thicker side of medium body with very light carbonation with a slippery, wet texture. Flavor is juicy and vinous, dominated by a musky cherry and black grape fruit, with a slight herbal, grape skin taste and vanilla from the barrel. Typical tripel flavors of spice and yeast, as well the expected body aren't present. Intensity of the flavor dies out near the end of the body and finishes watery. Certainly not an offensive beer, there is much less alcohol presence than the nose suggested and the flavors that are here are in balance, but this was an extravagantly phenomenal waste of $15 and what I assume were some nice barrels. Also sounds like there is some extreme batch variability, so this review probably has a limited scope.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From the 25 fl. oz. corked bottle dated November 2010, Batch PN1, and #93 of 276. Sampled on April 26, 2011. It has been shelved for six months. It pours a cloudy yellow tone with a short-lived fizzy white head and a whole lot of bubbling carbonation almost like champagne. The aroma is full of malts, yeast, sweet sugars, and overripe fruit. I was a bit disappointed about the thin body but the taste was also nicely balanced with malts, yeast, sweet sugar, pepper, and lemon zest. This one seems to have generated a number of bad reviews which is unusual for White Birch. I will admit that some of their beers are better but this one holds its own very well.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.29/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a one finger white head that fades quickly, leaving no lace. Very pale, hazy amber color, yeast left in bottle. Good carbonation and light-medium bodied. Spicy, yeasty nose. Flavor is tart citrus and some yeast, no hints of bourbon, high ABV is totally hidden, the label says 11.7% but it doesn't feel like it. Seems like the Nov batch is quite different from the Oct batch. Way over priced at $16.95 for a 750ml caged & corked bottle from Bert's Better Beers Hooksett, NH. Bottled Nov 2010, bottle 3 of 192.

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Photo of weeare138
3.92/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to josh for this...
Appears a light gold with a little white cap that fades into a mild cap and collar. Scattered spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of vanilla, oak, apple, pineapple, mango, peach, and nectarines.
Taste is of the aromas with smooth vanilla, McIntosh apples, caramel, oak, and smooth, melted sugar.
Mouthfeel is swet, medium full bodied, boozy, hot, evident abv, and smacking of oaky tannins.

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Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A corked and caged 750 mL from Bert's Better Beers over a year ago. Aged out nicely, I hope.

A: The tripel, I'm guessing, didn't spend time in any red wine barrels (despite the 'PN' on the label that I assumed to be Pinot Noir), a golden yellow that is radiantly clear. A wispy white head, a thin webbing, rests in the center of the glass.

S: A medicinal lactic aroma, almost Berlinner-like, leaves off. It's not exactly tripel material but it is that White Birch house aroma. The oak is fast on its heels, bringing a vanilla laiden aroma and plenty of wood to the stage. I'd go so far as to say that the age has done the beer some good.

T: Well-carbonated, the bubbles jump around quite a bit. The house flavor is here, can't really avoid it I suppose, popping up immediately after the bubbles subside and then again in the finish. The middle of the sip is the highlight, where the barrel coalesces against ale. Vanilla and oak are present, not overpowering, and help draw some of the sugary candi flavors out of the tripel. As the tripel settles in to room temperatiure, the flavors mature nicely. The tripel's sweet strength is obvious, a warmth that pairs nicely with the oak barrel. A good tripel by the end; the barrel doing nice work.

M: Easily one of the best that I've had from White Birch, the oak and tripel taking their time to emerge. When they do, the candi sugars, strength and oak come together nicely.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: hazy reddish amber, 2” head quickly dissipates into a thick film. S: Has some apple brandy on the nose. T: Very creamy sweet apple brandy palate joined by large pitted fruit, vanilla, and a hop finish that provides bitterness into the after taste. F: Medium to medium light body and medium low carbonation. O: With its lower carbonation this drinks like a cross between a wine and a beer. More carbonation would give it more of a beer character. It is also a little on the sweet side which additional carbonation might also tone down.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.16/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle purchased around, maybe Formaggio Kitchen, Cambridge, MA? Batch PN1, Bottled 10/2010, Bottle 32 of 276. Corked & caged.

Poured into a Harpoon tulip, formed a pillowy 1 1/2" white head over the slightly cloudy golden brew. Head lasts very nicely, with plentiful chunky lacing. Aroma is sour funk and meaty depth. Taste begins sweet, lightly citrus in the middle, smooth alcohol to the close, with maybe a bit of fusels in the aftertaste, with some numbness to boot. Mouthfeel is velvety, and drinkability is nice. Get by the nose sour, and you're in for a enjoyable ride.

12/16/09 - 4.5/4/4.5/4/4.5

22oz bottle received in trade from VanillaMike. Thanks for the opportunity. Batch 1, Bottled 10/6/09, Bottle 26 of 228. Red waxed cap.

Poured into a Harpoon tulip, formed a fizzy 1/2" off-white head over the cloudy amber brew. Head is gone in a flash, with heavy legs and minimal to average amounts of lace. Aroma is sweet, with dominant vanilla and alcohol character. Taste starts sweet, exhibits a peek of fruitiness in the middle, then eases into the vanilla and barrel notes, and closes with ample warmth. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is way too easy for the abv. Very good and interesting brew.

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Photo of glid02
3.97/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Joe - thanks!

Pours a muddy golden color with a one-finger white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of grainy light malts with good amounts of pear and lighter amount of alcohol. Also present are mild amounts of vanilla and hints of earthy oak aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Light malt flavors with good amounts of ripe pears kick things off. Midway through the sip the malt flavors turn grainy and hints of vanilla make an appearance. The ending is slightly muddled and a light alcohol burn hits the back of the throat after the sip, although at over 11.5% it's fairly well hidden.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with active carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall this is one of the better beers I've had from WB. Even so, I feel as though the base beer wasn't well-refined however the barrel smoothed it out quite a bit. Worth a shot to see for yourself.

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Photo of AgentZero
1.44/5  rDev -57.1%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

A - Oddly light looking beer for something that is barrel aged. Hazy yellow color, confusing more than anything else.

S - Smells like rotten vegetables, vitamins, and fusal alcohol. There's some faint wine notes also, but none of this is good.

T - This beer is bad. It's not just bad for beer, it's bad for pretty much anything. Tastes like medicinal alcohol, vitamins, rotted vegetable matter. I have no idea how this gets into a bottle, either the brewer didn't taste it, has no taste buds, or hates us.

M - Lighter bodied with some moderate carbonation and a dry finish.

O - I swear you have to be trying to make a beer this bad. Avoid.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.15/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a crown capped, oxblood colored wax sealed, 22oz bottle into two St. Bernardus goblets. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist! Extra special thanks to Vanillamike for this from our recent trade!

Bottled October 6, 2009
Batch One
Bottle 17 of 228

A: Pours a murky pear nectar color. A one finger thin layer of cream coats the top and leaves a small amount of lace behind.

S: Aromas of peaches, pear, vanilla, coconut, and damp/oaky barrel.

T: See above. Heather thought that this had a vaguely winey quality to it. Lots of big wet oak!

M: Smooth with fresh oaky dryness. Very sticky!

D: We found ourselves racing through this beer and then we noticed that this is sporting 11.65% abv. No way is this almost 12%!

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Photo of DIM
4.51/5  rDev +34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle #35 of 228 shared with Eric.

a: This was a clear, pale golden color. It poured with a short lived fizzy white head.

s: I think this is the third BA tripel I've tried and I have some reservations about this styles compatibility with the barrel. I just haven't been a fan so far. Smelling this helped change my mind. The affect of the barrel is obvious of course, plenty of bourbon, some oaky tannins, and a little vanilla. The Belgian character managed to come through in a surprisingly big way however. The candied sugar melded well with the sweet booze and vanilla, plus I found some distinctive Belgian yeastiness.

t: Happy again to be wrong about barrels and tripels, this is great! The sweetness of the bourbon and vanilla compliment the already sweet triple. They almost seem to keep one another in check. There is plenty of booze in the finish, but this doesn't come across as hot. This is a beer approaching 12% abv and it isn't ashamed to show it. Warming but not fiery.

m: Viscous, chewy body with gently fizzy carbonation.

d: WB knows there way around a bourbon barrel, no doubt. I might prefer the oak aged tripel by a slim margin, but this was a great beer. Bill's commercial offerings continue to impress, no surprise there.

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Photo of nickd717
3.45/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared at the after-Bruery tasting. Wow, for all the hype surrounding this brewery as of late, this one fell a bit flat.

Pours cloudy golden with a white head and decent lacing.

Aroma is sweet with pale malt, Belgian yeast, honey, fruity esters, and spice.

Flavor is really sweet with not terribly much to it. Pale malt, banana, honeydew melon, spice, and oak.

Medium body with lasting sweetness on the palate.

Drinkability is pretty good. Overall, this was only ok. Will give these White Birch guys another shot, although I'm thinking their hype may be a little unwarranted.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.32/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, Batch #1, bottle # 11 of 72, which was the same batch that was served at the Belgian Fest. A Triple aged in a Bourbon barrel.

Pours pale, hazy gold with a one inch head of semi-dense white. A reluctant retreat revealed some rippid lacing and a ring of bubbles around a mostly placid surface.

Aromatics lead off with a blast of vanilla, bourbon, and honey-drizzeled biscuits. Bannana skins and bubblegum follow through along with oakey tannins and a hint of cut grass.

Light bodied with a crisp, sharpish mouthfeel.

Light malt and toast crumbs start the palate but are quickly overrun with bourbon and a peppery bite. Vanilla, honey, and warming spice follow through. Plenty of bubblegum, hoopy bitterness, and an earthy, tannic bite flow underneath.

Finishes with a building bourbon heat, peppercorn spicyness, and layers of blossom honey, lively hops, and melon rind.

The biggest, most adventurous WB brew to date. Carbonation a bit low for the style, but theres always variation on these nano-bathes. A real cellar candidate if you can wait. Heavy on the hops and Bourbon. Nice.. Thanks Bill.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
2.96/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A bottles split with onix1agr and sourbatchkid.

A- two fingers of bright white head that settles rather quickly leaving a few spots on top and a thin ring around the glass. Hazy light straw yellow in color that leans towards white when held to the light.

S- opens up musty and bretty with a dry grassy touch. A small hint of lemon zest.

T- bretty and funky with lots of herbal grass note and a light spice. a bit of tartness as it warms that brings some citrus zest with it.

M- light body with a light creeper carb that builds towards the finish. Bone dry. no hint of the abv on the palate.

D- tasty and interesting but not my favorite tripel. It goes its own direction and ill give it credit for that but ill have to try the non barrel aged version and see how this beer started.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
1.26/5  rDev -62.5%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Pours a light and hazy yellow hue, with a sparse cap of thin white filmy froth; poor showing for a Tripel. Smells like fermented horse’s urine (or worse.) The flavor is not directly suggestive of urine or feces, as the nose is, but nonetheless it is generally very poor, like a nightmarish 'Herbed/Spiced Beer' and nothing like a Tripel, also nothing like something that has seen Pinot Noir barrels (though it allegedly has.) The smell of this beer is beyond disgusting, and far worse than anything I could’ve possibly expected. This is likely the worst beer I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, this tasting has featured two straight-up ‘F‘ beers, with the other one being Brasserie Des Rocs Grand Cru, which was just as bad, but for different reasons. Oh yeah, this was batch PN1.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
1.91/5  rDev -43.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Batch PN3, bottle 123 of 252

Appearance was most unimpressive. Hazy tannish yellow with no head, despite a rough pour, and no lacing at all.

Very yeasty smelling, along with coriander and earthy funk. OK at best.

Not too impressed with the taste. Coriander, lemon, yeast, cardboard, funk.

Feel is very poor for a tripel. Watery as hell, little carbonation, thin, watered down yeast aftertaste.

Overall it's in desperate need of some work. I see the reviews are all over the place, some stellar, some terrible, but there aren't enough of each individual batch/barrel type listed to spot an obvious trend. I suspect there's a large variation in batches. This batch wasn't good at all.

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Photo of CrellMoset
4.05/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, red waxed and capped, #11/228. Poured in to a snifter on New Years Eve, 2010.

Appearance: Pours a hazed, fulvous goldenrod, opaque at the center even to direct light, though definitely transparent enough around the periphery to reveal the occasional spontaneous eruption of effervescence. The head - initially one finger, proud, creamy, a little foamy, and absolutely virginally white - fades relatively quickly, though perhaps not as quickly as one would imagine a barrel aged 11.7% beer would. The remnants are pleasant - some speckled dusting and a thin, creamy collar. Lacing is runny, glittery, but has a soupcon of stick to it.

Aroma: Boozy barrel notes and graham cracker pilsen notes mingle with white pepper, coriander, cloves, and tropical fruits. Very bright, slightly spicy in both the alcohol department and elsewhere, the aroma of this beer is a pretty fair teaser of the taste - sweet, spicy, green, with a handful of chalky, oaky barrel notes.

Taste: Oak ahoy! Like a vanilla/butterscotch/coconut/oak bomb, this one. First, the base beer. It's a sweet, golden, spicy tripel, very authentic tasting, on the sweet end, but with a good amount of Belgian-y nuances. Sweet, simple, crisp golden malts, mildly biscuity - but with a huge amount of Candi sugar-like notes that suggest honey (especially when mingling with yeasty, spicy phenols) - dominate, but there are also a few light tropical fruit notes, mango predominantly, but also peach and nectarine with a dash of more traditional citrus. A few green fruit notes - nondescript in origin - mingle with Belgian yeasty phenols, cloves, coriander, and even a dash of star anise.

Now, take all that - in summary, a sweet, spicy, mildly fruity Belgian tripel - and throw it in (what tastes like) an untoasted American oak barrel. Bold move, I say. Tons of vanilla and butterscotch notes mingle with coconut and green oak with varying degrees of success. On the one hand, the coconut and oak notes mingle well with the fruity notes and spicy nuances of the base beer. On the other hand, the vanilla is a little out place, sort of running roughshod over the base malts of the Tripel, and the buttery barrel sugar notes are a little quirky too. Not really bad, but not really a masterful combination. It's interesting, at the very least.

Mouthfeel: This beer's best aspect. Very nice process control here, with a soft, smooth body that still has plenty of free sugars but has plenty of lift to it such that the end result is fluffy, relatively even, and pretty complimentary to the flavor profile (especially after it's been sitting out for about 45 minutes).

Drinkability: Not everything I was hoping, but not bad. First, the bad. This isn't the first barrel aged tripel I've had (that would be Allagash's Curieux), but this one was obviously a little different (no bourbon notes, for one), and a little lacking. One, it was a little sweeter than perhaps it should have been, so: 1) if you have this beer, hold on to it for a while longer; and 2) if it's going to be brewed again, I'd brew it either a little or dryer, or leave it in the primary a little longer. I think a dryer beer would mingle better with the barrel flavors. Additionally, and unfortunately more fundamentally, I'm pondering the wisdom of a tripel aged in American oak barrels. The flavors are good, don't get me wrong - but they're not fantastically complimentary, amazing, or groundbreaking.

So, is there a good beer here? Absolutely. Is there a great beer here? Maybe - if it's tweaked slightly. Is there a world class beer here? I unfortunately don't think it's possible. But I'd love to be proved wrong. Here's to Bill for pushing boundaries on this, New Years Eve 2010 - cheers!

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White Birch Barrel Aged Tripel from White Birch Brewing
3.36 out of 5 based on 59 ratings.
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