White Birch Barrel Aged Barley Wine | White Birch Brewing

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White Birch Barrel Aged Barley WineWhite Birch Barrel Aged Barley Wine
49 Ratings
White Birch Barrel Aged Barley WineWhite Birch Barrel Aged Barley Wine

Brewed by:
White Birch Brewing
New Hampshire, United States

Style: British Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed in an English style, this beer is rich and malty with notes of toffee vanilla and wonderful oak. Full bodied with a smooth finish. Batch one is a beer that will drink nicely for years.

Added by barleywinebrewer on 12-10-2009

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 49 |  Reviews: 33
Reviews by jlindros:
Photo of jlindros
4.45/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had as part of the Central New England BA Meetup #2. Finally got to have it, I've been saving it just for this event.

A: Fluffy head fades slowly, semi clear dark rosy reddish brown color.

N: Sweet malts and barley, but not too sweet. Some light booze, oak and vanilla, some fruit, a little yeasty aroma and some creaminess.

T: Strange at first, a strange creamy, buttery, and musty taste starts first, but then goes away quickly. Some sweet malts come through, pretty malty, lots of fruit flavors with that. Then a little booze but light, little yeast, some smoke, in fact quite a bit. Some spicy hop flavors and spicy alcohol, quite a bit of vanilla and oak come through as well. Again more smoke. Late on the palate adds some roasty flavors.

M: Creamy semi thick, decent carbonation.

F: Dries well, little sweet malty syrup finish but dried off well. A little bitterness with hints of earthy malts and some slight spicy booze flavors. Lots of lingering smoke as well, with hints of roast and lots more dark malts.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of boatshoes
4.14/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

smells of chocolate, caramel, candied fruits, fruity hops, toffee, tastes very sweet of caramel and toffee with underlying fruitiness from hops, mouthfeel lacking however

Received this from 6daysbottomocean in a monster package in the White Whale BIF 3. I've heard great things about this beer but have had mixed opinions about the White Birch beers I've come across thus far. Eager to try the pinnacle of their brewing as a result.

Appearance- Pours a nice shade of darker, mostly translucent chestnut brown out of the bottle with about a finger of tan head on top. Some mild amounts of lacing left on the side of my glass.

Smell- Wow, this one has quite the nose on it. I get a lot of caramel, toffee, rich chocolate, and candied fruits in particular. The chocolate threw me for a loop but I find it to be quite prominant. Additionally, there are some earthy and fruity hops present as well. A lot going on here, very nice.

Taste- Here, I find the caramel and candied fruit to be particularly evident. A little bit of the chocolate flavors, but no where near as much as in the nose. Some bready malt flavors make an appearance as well. Also, some evident fruity hops showing through still as well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- I hate to say it, but I have to. Once again, I found the low point of this White Birch beer to be the mouthfeel. I just found the body to be too thin an watery for the style. I expect a barleywine to have some substantial heft and slickness in the mouth, and this one just tasted too thin, which too away some from an otherwise very nice flavor profile. Despite this, because of the great nose and very good flavor, drinkability remained quite decent.

Overall, this is my favorite White Birch offering that I've had thus far. I feel that the nose was the high point and the mouthfeel was the lowpoint, with the flavor profile being good and somewhere in between. If they could thicken these heavier beers up a little, I think they would be first rate.

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Photo of nkersten
1.83/5  rDev -48.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

Ugh, where to start on this one. Batch 1 bottle shared by Alex poured into a New Belgium globe. Pours a murky brown that looks like unfiltered apple cider with a tiny off white head.

Smells like wet wood and alcohol with a touch of coconut.

Taste is incredibly boring and watery. There is hardly any malt presence or sweetness that I would want from a barleywine, no hops. There is a touch of mildew laden oak that I would expect a third or fourth use barrel to impart, and a hint of caramel in the finish. This beer has nothing going on in the flavor department besides wet wood and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is one of the worst for the style I have ever had. Thin and watery, medium carbonation, terrible moldy sensation that makes me think i might be allergic to this beer. So watery and bland, this is by far the worst barleywine I have ever had.

Drinkability is obviously on the low side for this one since I couldnt finish my pour. I normally dont like to bash beers, but this is the second bottle of this I have had and both were unfortunately the same and ended up as drain pours. The first one I hoped I had a bad bottle, maybe a low fill that got topped off with remnants of a discarded pale ale from a bad batch. Unfortunately, this one tastes the same. After seeing so many positive reviews, I still cant help but wonder if there were some bad bottles. Hopefully White Birch will give it another go with much better results next time.

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Photo of jh1982
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of nickd717
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber. Big thanks to bring for this rare -bal aged beer.

Pours a deep dark mahogany brown color with a small lasting off-white head.

Aroma is very nice: sweet caramel, dark fruit, molasses, wood, and vanilla.

Pretty good flavor too. Caramel and toffee, dates, plum, oak, vanilla, and very mild tartness.

Medium-bodied, just a little thin, with subtle carbonation.

Solid -bal aged barleywine overall. White Birch finally impresses! Now maybe I should put up some ISOs for their other beers.

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Photo of hoppymcgee
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.24/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

inflatablechair provided this sought after bottle at a recent tasting... reviewed from good notes... Thanks a ton Sam!!

Batch #1 Bottle 143/280.... 1 finger creamy looking tan head.. deep brown hazy brew.

caramel and and fruity esters... some plum shows before the barrel smacks the fruits around.. vanilla.. bourbon is lighter than expected... some solvent alcohol makes me think of acetone (don't get me wrong, this is not a deal breaker, only what I was thinking :-).

big and woody... earthy cigar wrapper.. caramel/lite toffee and vanilla and a bit vinous.. toasty without any roast presence.. very rich without being cloying... great body and carbonation. Some cherry esters showed in later pours... so does a hint more tannins.

Thanks again Sam.... this was a very nice surprise and will be staying on my wants for a long time... I am digging White Birch for sure.


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Photo of mikesgroove
4.38/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So. Made it to 2100, yet another notch in the belt. I knew this one was coming though and wanted to do something special. I missed being able to honor Bill with 2000, so for now he will have to settle for 2100. Served chilled, poured multiple times into a 6oz snifter while I enjoy my night, playing star wars and listening to the 12/30 Phish show. Batch number one, hell its the bottle in the picture! Its 1/10/10.

The pour comes on slowly, rich caramel in color with a light, off white head on top that comes to about a half an inch in this glass, but has incredible staying power. Caps the top just about right before it settles down into a subtle, yet defined broken crown that clings to the sides of the glass throughout the rest of the session. Classic look here.

Aroma is light, hints of vanilla, light leather and bourbon are the most pronounced. Really rich smelling and the alcohol is coming through clearly. Evidence of the barrel dominates everything, this is a good thing and even an hour into this bottle, that sweet vanilla aroma is mixing with an almost toffee like touch and a hint of plum. Smooth, rich flavor washes across the tongue, with a splash the bourbon comes right up and grabs me, leather, tobacco and dark almost spicy like notes wrapping around the tongue. Splash of alcohol and a flash of a buttery finish and its gone. Mouth is left dry, searching and eager for another sip.

Overall wonderful. I never thought it would be anything but grand, but it truly is a great barrel aged beer. A little young, I would love to see this with a year on it, but it drinks fine now. A great beer from a great brewer.

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Photo of largadeer
3.85/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Viscous crimson-amber, clarity is good for a beer this big, showing only a light haziness. It pours with a finger of head that settles to a solid cap.

Sweet, dessert-like aroma. Malt balls, toffee, toast with fruit preserves. Smells very rich. Dark fruit, hints of tart berries. Pretty nice.

Lot of alcohol on the palate. Toasted whole grain bread, toffee and dark fruits. Medium bodied, a touch thin for the style and overly boozy. Good, but the taste doesn't quite live up to the aroma. Toasty finish with mild alcohol and peppery spiciness. Good stuff, this is the first solid beer I've had from White Birch, but it's still lacking compared to others in this style.

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Photo of airohead2001
2.15/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This one was consumed as a courtesy from glazeman.

Let's be up front - this beer was a complete drainpour. It was clearly infected - didn't get any bourbon in the nose, no hops, no rich malts - just some yeast and bitters. Ewww.

The taste was just as bad - just infected...

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Photo of kirbsicles
5/5  rDev +41.6%

Photo of ChrisPro
3/5  rDev -15%

Photo of GbVDave
4.89/5  rDev +38.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a wax sealed, 22oz bomber into two St. Bernardus goblets. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist! Extra special thanks to Vanillamike for this from our latest trade!

Bottled: Dec. 7, 2009
Batch: One
Bottle: 140/280
Abv: 10.8%

A: Pours a murky tobacco brown with a tiny dark khaki head that left spots and ramdom specs of lace.

S: Friggin' heavenly aromas of cocoa, maple, vanilla, caramel, molassas, damp barrel, coconut, and booze.

T: See above. As it warms, flavors of tobacco, dark fruit, cola, and cherry emerge.

M: Slick and smooth with a tantilizing sweet and peppery finish. Holy crap!

D: Stunning! So far, this is our favorite beer from White Birch. Unbelievable quality!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice amber color that is a bit darker. Off white head with a tiny bit of lacing. The nose brings forward quite a bit of dark fruit as well as a bit from the barrel. Slight boozy characteristics. Taste brings forward some nice lighter fruits as well as caramel, toffee, and some booze. The barrel character does not come through quite as much in the taste. The body is medium with some nice warming characteristics. Overall, by far the best beer I've had from them.

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Photo of Rifugium
2.05/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2

Whew. How do they sell this stuff? Dark rusty brown color, with a thin cap of off-white head; a little oily streaking on the glass. Looked harmless enough. Gnarly aroma, acetone, fusel alcohol, rotting wood, grease, some caramel malts coming through. Tasted basically like a strong ale aged in Windex barrels, conditioned on French fries; some caramel sweetness in there, lots of barrel notes but not really in a good way, shots of acetone and naphtha, with some lightly discernible bourbon. Body was about light-medium, thin mouthfeel for the style. Really not a pleasant beer at all. The non-BA version was at least somewhat drinkable, perhaps in very small doses. This was not. Infected? Poorly made? Both? You decide.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.03/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Joe for sending this one to me recently.

A: The pour is a surprisingly clear amber color with a cream colored head.

S: A very sweet and sugary aroma. Lots of burnt sugar and caramel, but not too much depth, initially. The vanilla note starts to come out as the beer breathes and warms up.

T: Slightly more complexity on the palate, as things open up with toasted bread followed by burnt sugar and caramel. Some toffee and dark fruit notes in the background, but not much barrel.

M: A bit thin on the body, but still medium and a nice carbonation, especially for the high ABV.

D: Overall, a good but not fantastic beer. Perhaps a little spirit character would be nice, but still a nice effort.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From womencantsail in the tickers BIF, thanks man!

Batch one, bottle 130 of 178.

It looks good for a barleywine, amber-brown and hazy with a pretty good head and heavy sheets of lace.

Dark fruits are the primary smell, along with some nice barley malt aromas. Not much alcohol at first but a little more as it warms.

Taste is strong, lots of barley going ons, with ample caramel malts, notable barrel aged character, obvious spiciness, pepper especially. It's almost a tad hot from the peppery spices and alcohol.

Body is nothing special, a bit light for a barleywine, not thick enough but adequate. Alcohol is notable.

Overall it's interesting and tasty, but not outstanding. An occasional slow sipper.

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Photo of glazeman
1.69/5  rDev -52.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

I haven't had a drain pour in a while...I guess I was due for one. I got 2 of this in separate trades...I guess the word is out...

A: This was easily the best part of this beer. It was a dark brown in color with a 1.5 finger light tan head.

S: There's some bourbon. There's some caramel, and then some strange astringency.

T: Obviously infected. There is a gross chalky taste and a slightly sour aftertaste. I took two sips to make sure and then poured the rest down the drain.

M: the viscosity is ok, the carbonation is slightly high. the aftertaste is terrible.

D: The worst imaginable drinkability. Poured it down the drain after two sips.

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Photo of nhindian
2.36/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

22oz bottle poured into a Southern Tier tulip. Bottle provided by Exiled, thanks Jason!

Bottled on February 17, 2010. Batch #1, bottle #43 of 178. Another beer that has a reputation for being infected, so I decided to open it sooner rather than later...

A - The look of this beer is very pleasant. It's a burnt amber color with tinges of dark cherry to it. The head is large and rocky, culminating in 2.5-fingers worth of foam with good retention. Lacing is inconsistent but where it decides to stick it latches on for good. Relatively clear as well, with slow streams of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass.

S - The smell is interesting, and it's clear there is something a bit off in it. There's a strong alcohol presence, almost to the point where it reminds me of nail polish. Reminds me a bit of vodka rather than bourbon (I believe that's the barrel used in this beer), which isn't very appealing. Besides that overwhelming quality, it's relatively sweet and the malts come through the most. Hard to discern much besides that.

T - Again, the astringency of the alcohol and fusel nail polish tones come through again, combining with the malts to deliver a rather awkward flavor. Strangely it gives a rather fruity characteristic, giving some kind of pineapple note. Besides the heat it's rather bland, and if this is a sign of infection, I'm thankful it didn't impart a sourness to it, as it's still rather palatable, although not very enjoyable.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately light with medium carbonation. Unlike other reviews, I don't perceive a noticeable thinness to the body and it's not overly carbonated. Leaves a thin coating on the mouth.

D - Drinkability is low. I was able to drink a little over half of this before it just became a bit much. Unfortunately the experiment to trade for this beer, which I didn't hear much of before doing the trade, was a failure. Still, it seems White Birch is doing interesting things, so as long as their beers aren't notorious for being infected (ala Short's..), I'd like to try some other stuff by them.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.84/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 1 2009
Pours a deep clear dark brown color with a solid two finger off white head that shows moderate retention and lace. Smells of oak, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, light dark fruits, hints of sherry and alcohol. Taste is sweet with caramel and brown sugar up front with hints of dark fruit midway. Light hints of vanilla and oak. Lots of warming almost burning alcohol midway and into the finish. Medium to thick body, low to moderate level of carbonation, sweet almost sticky mouthfeel. Its been a while since I had one of these, but I don't remember as big an alcohol presence as I see here today. This beer smells fantastic, and tastes pretty good if not a bit hot.

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Photo of joshuaseresse
3.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank with brian23456. Thanks for sharing Brian. Bottle 192 of 280. Poured into Dogfish Head snifter:

A - dark brown, mahogany. Light foam cap of whitish/tan head. Dissipates quite quickly. Pretty carbonated looking.

S - Slightly boozy, smells of dark fruits, no really strong hints of barrel while it is still cold. The smell kind of reminds me a bit of an AKA and just slightly like (sourish...) in that it has some funk to it; not infected like, just a bit of funk. The more it warms it smells of booze.

T - good flavoring, although it does remind me of the BA AKA. Slightly caramely. But it has quite a bit of funkness to it. Bits of dark fruit, as in figs, although the slight sourness reminds of pears.

M - Slightly thin, carbonation is quite high for a Barleywine. As it warms, you can feel the heat from the booze.

D - Reminds me more of a strong ale than a barleywine. Interesting take on a BW, but not the taste, smell of feel like I look for in my barleywines. The booze takes over and dominates the palate. The feeling of a sour flavor just destracts me from appreciating it as a BW.


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Photo of WesWes
4.47/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a nice dark red color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is awesome! It has a damn good oak barrel aroma. It really stands out and offers up a killer vanilla character that really works with what appears to be a world class barleywine. It's rich and warming with a lovely burnt toffee aroma. There are hints of dark fruit and bitter hops , but that barrel character really blows my mind; very good. The taste is much the same. It has a thick burnt toffee flavor that goes down slow and warming with a very aggressive oak character. The vanilla flavor adds a bit of creamy sweetness to a beer that's already sweet with caramel flavor. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is one of the best barleywines I've ever sampled. I've never had any White Birch beers before this one. I'll be on the lookout for more. Cheers!

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Photo of waiting4lunch
3/5  rDev -15%

Photo of cpetrone84
3.35/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

"Big thanks to Jeremy for sharing this one!

A-pours a clear ruby red with a very light tan colored head.

S-notes of sweet malts up front, light bourbon notes, no wood comes through, carmelized brown sugar and light buttery notes with some roasted aromas and hint of smokey flavors in the back.

T-very roasty with notes of smoke. up front has roasted malts with notes of bourbon. the wood is light, notes of sour cherries with lots of charred peat moss notes with buttery oil notes. slightly off but not offensive.

M-medium to full body, soft and creamy on the palate with a fair bit of carbonation and slighlty prickly on the back of the throat. pretty wet finish but crisp and clean.

D-this has some different flavors and may have a slight infection. lots of roasted peat flavors, very earthy but still sweet. the malts are slightly messy and overly sugary

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Photo of afausser
4.09/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a muddy, reddish chocolate brown, with the slightest ring of head. The ABV is high enough to somewhat excuse this. The lacing slinks down the edge of the edge of the glass to the point where it's about nonexistent. All that said, it looks very nice. Crisp tiny carbonation bubbles move up to the top of the glass.

Smell: The nose on this one is great. It's got a ton of flavors, all blended very nicely together. From an initial sniff, I get a note of infection--but my fears were assuaged, and this one's good. Heavy cherries and sour green apples blend with toffee, biscuits, heavy coffee and dark chocolate, toast, and sweet maple syrup, producing a scent that is sort of...well, in a strange way, breakfasty, if your breakfast includes bourbon and boozy notes. Blends beautifully and impressively.

Taste: The taste also has hints of sour notes, though is predominantly very sweet raisins and apples. I also get cherry and a slight alcohol note but not in a way that burns in the slightest. There's a bit of pancake syrup and a hint of coffee here, but the coffee note is slightly faded and pushed into the background. Slight earth and wood notes, very nice.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel on this is very nice...crisp, and low enough as to not be overpowering, with extremely tiny and nice bubbles. Hardly any aftertaste, and what is present is sweet and light. I wonder what slightly higher carbonation would do for it though...there's a slight alcohol heat, but isn't abrasive. Improves as it warms.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable for the ABV, but I really just want to smell this one. It's great, and a quite unique and nicely blended barleywine. Very nice.

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White Birch Barrel Aged Barley Wine from White Birch Brewing
Beer rating: 3.53 out of 5 with 49 ratings