White Birch Apprentice Series Natasha | White Birch Brewing

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White Birch Apprentice Series NatashaWhite Birch Apprentice Series Natasha
41 Ratings
White Birch Apprentice Series NatashaWhite Birch Apprentice Series Natasha

Brewed by:
White Birch Brewing
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Mike Boulerice is our second apprentice brewer. For his professional debut, he’s brewed a Russian Imperial Stout aged on oak chips. Rich, full bodied and nuanced.

We say “До свидания” to Mike as he moves on and hope you enjoy his beer as much as we do.

Added by barleywinebrewer on 10-28-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 41 |  Reviews: 35
Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of spycow
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of Kelp
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of t0rin0
2.25/5  rDev -37.2%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of GRG1313
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of johnnnniee
3.55/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 9/1/2010 Batch 1
The bottle opes with a weird crack and two seconds later foam starts climbing out of the bottle. I caught it in time, but there is definitely a spirited level of carbonation contained within this bottle. Pours a solid black with a huge tan head that takes forever to recede and exhibits great retention. Smells roasty and a bit of chocolate with hints of alcohol dark fruity esters and maybe a hint of Belgian yeast? Taste is again roasty and chocolatey, with hints of smoke, kind of like thick milk chocolate syrup and coffee mixed with seltzer water. There is a huge over carbonation thing going on here and it really screws up the mouthfeel for me. Medium to thick body with a bubbly roasted seltzer water type mouthfeel. Either this bottle was over primed or was under attenuated when bottled. This still drinks pretty good, but I remember it being much better when it was fresh. I wish I had reviewed it then so I could compare.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.54/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Shared by Bobby. Thanks?

A: The beer pours almost black in color with a very big tan head.

S: Rather heavy on the roast with a definite smoke note and perhaps some mild peat. It's also a bit meaty. There is some dark chocolate, a touch of booze, and a light tartness.

T: There is a definite tartness and perceptible acidity to this beer. It's still fairly roasty with a charred flavor and some meat and smoke. Not a very good flavor at all. A weird, sour peach note on the finish.

M: On the light side of medium in body with a high level of carbonation.

O: White Birch strikes again.

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Photo of nhindian
3.56/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz waxed bottle poured into a Cantillon wine glass. Thanks to 603BeerMe for providing this, cheers!

Bottled on September 1, 2010. Batch One, bottle #151/528.

A - Opens forcefully with a pop, but it doesn't gush so I think it's fine. I leave the kitchen to grab my camera, and by the time I get back it's slowly overflowing out of the bottle. Great. I let it sit in the sink for a little and then attempt to pour, leaving me with half a finger of glass and the rest filled with dark foam. I scoop out the foam and wait a little, then pour again. What I'm left with is a midnight black color with about 3 fingers of dark mocha head. Retention is...wait what? The head retention on this beer is negative. When I quit pouring and let it settle, it was about flush with the rim of the glass, but as I watch it, it actually continues to grow rather than fade. I scoop it level again and watch as it grows even more. Interesting, if not a little scary. My first and only other White Birch Beer was infected and the slow gush doesn't have me feeling confident about this one either... Lacing is pretty good though, with a generous coating of lace.

S - Judging by the nose on this beer, it certainly isn't for the faint of heart. It's incredibly roasty and at times smokey, with very bitter chocolate underneath. There is a bit of dark fruit here, with a slightly tart edge, and I don't know whether to attribute it to an infection or not. It's not overpowering though, and it's had a year to age, so I don't think it's a bad one if it in fact is. Some fusel alcohol at the end of the aroma.

T - The taste continues the roastiness featured so prominently in the nose. This makes a strong showing as being one of the roastiest stouts I've ever had. Even though this says it's oak-aged, I can't say I distinguish much wood, vanilla, or any other barrel qualities. Intense baker's chocolate with a lot of bitterness. Definitely not a sweet stout by any stretch. The fruits are still here as well, but are toned down which is a very good thing. Still getting a slightly tart bite in the finish, but it's almost a non-factor. I am, however, still getting a lot of alcohol in the finish, which is a downfall.

M - Mouthfeel is relatively heavy-bodied with medium carbonation. I was expecting a lot of carbonation given the gush and insane head retention, but not so. Full-bodied, but is a tad thin at times.

D/O - Drinkability is moderate. The flavors are there and it's quite bold, but the lingering bitterness and alcohol definitely ding this a bit. As it warms, the tartness does start to make itself known, but it's still drinkable. I still am not completely sold that this beer is all there, but it does leave a better taste in my mouth about the brewery than their Barrel-Aged Barleywine (figuratively and literally.)

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Photo of RandomBattle
2.99/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle number something of something...Blue wax...blah...

This beer was a bit of an accidental drain pour, opens with a loud pop and then procedes to overflow everywhere. Whoa carbonation. I hate beers that do this.

Appearance - Probably this beers strongest asset. Pours a beautiful jet black body, and a huge, envitable, mocha head. Wonderful lacing throughout the drinking experience. This is the type of stout you would take a picture of for a textbook visual. Very nice. That being said, lets head downstairs...

Smell - Very roasty, little bit of oak, some coffee and bakers chocolate notes. The main component of this your going to smell is some hardcore roasted malts, almost a burnt smell but not in a repulsive way.

Taste - The weakest link with this beer, which is quite unfortunate. Heavy, heavy burnt malt taste, some coffee, and some very bitter bakers chocolate. Leaves a very burnt and bitter taste in the mouth. Note: This was consumed at room temperature.

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel was actually a slightly redeeming quality about this beer. It was quite smooth and once the carbonation settles and calms down it works wonderfully with the beer, given the style.

Overall - I probably could have gone my entire life never having this beer and that does not upset me in the slightest. Really wish I didn't trade for it...

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.19/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: This is a gusher. With a rushed pour to prevent it from spilling everywhere, a huge mocha head nearly overflows my tulip, leaving my glass 1/3 Natasha and 2/3 foam. The beer itself is nearly jet black.

Smell: Coffee, dark chocolate, deep roasted malts, some oak, and a little bit of ethyl alcohol.

Taste: A strong taste of oak up front, with dark roasted malt, some anise, coffee and chocolate flavors as well. An astringent bitterness grows and combines with some alcohol to give the taste a harsh unpleasantness toward the end.

Mouthfeel: The biggest disappointment is how overcarbonated this is. It has a nearly crisp, full carbonation that really detracts from the flavors and seems to thin and dry the body out, while at the same time maintaining some chewiness.

Overall: It is never good when an imperial stout has this kind of mouthfeel. I would wager a guess that this bottle has some kind of infection.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

another newbie from bill that i could not wait to try, he had told me that it was really a good beer and i could not wait so into the white birch glass!

The pour was fantastic. Rich dark brown, and completely opaque. Huge head of tan rises up and over the top, only gradually settling down as the session gets going. Rich looking is an understatement here as this one presented exactly as it should have. Lots of chocolate in the aroma right away, hints of vanilla and molasses start to pop up as it comes up near room temperature along with a notable cookie dough like presence, very sweet. Smooth, creamy body here really let the flavor sit in well, and the sweet, dessert like profile just continued right along as it progressed. Light coffee notes, lots of cocoa and a hint of molasses. Definite night cap here. Not much in the way of ABV issues for the style made it somewhat session able if dare I mention it.

Overall not bad at all. Nothing going to blow your mind here, but I have to say this was a more then solid effort on their part

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Photo of stakem
2.99/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to BA Bring for the trade on this one. Batch 1: September 1, 2010 bottle number 67/528. This particular bottle is dipped in a blue wax that matches the label...cute.

Poured into a snifter this brew appears black in color with no light penetrating even when held to the light. There is nearly 4 fingers worth of dark fluffy head that is nearly dark brown in color that swells and forms across the top of the brew. The cap slowly fades and maintains a retention of about a finger that leaves leggy lacework on the glass with spots in-between.

The smell of this brew is very dark and roasted like grain that has been charred. Some tannic quality mixes with woodsy oak scents and a bold incorporation of citrus hops. The hop characteristics blend into some mineral inclusion that is mildly distracting. Initially this brew showed promise in the aroma department bit as it warmed up it started to fall apart and not be so enjoyable.

The taste is boldly bitter with a kick of roasty charred grains, oak, minerals, citrus and a bold solvent burning warmth and flavor of alcohol. Dry roasted bitterness imparts a flavor of unsweetened cocoa. A woodsy flavor ramps up as this brew warms and lingers with a pleasant combination of the dark grains and citrus hops. There is an aftertaste somewhat reminiscent of stale coffee.

This is a very light bodied brew that is just too thin and lacking that robust feel to be a quality RIS. It has an excessive amount of carbonation that degrades the experience as well. Every bit of that alcohol is felt in the brew, it's solvent attribute is not masked at all which hinders the drinkability. In a way it would be interesting to revisit this brew with some age on it but that excessive carbonation and thin body isn't going away. I didn't feel like I was drinking an infected beer but the excessive carbonation is concerning. If you have one of these, you should probably drink it now. I really was excited to try this brew and I really wanted to like it, unfortunately it missed the mark.

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Photo of maximum12
2.08/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Thanks to a good BA for sending me a bottle of this brew. 22 oz. bomber dated September 2010, batch one, bottle 364 of 528.

Pour is dark, delicate black with snarling, aggressive carbonation kicking out of the bottle - after our experience with the White Birch Cherry Quad, this makes me nervous. Smeller makes me nervouser. Roast, sweet malt, & a distinctly non-stoutish-funk.

Natasha is a study in a stout that didn't quite make it out of a bad neighborhood. Harsh, ashy roast slugs the palate amid a flippy bubbling of overcarbonation. An undercurrent of musty leaves contaminates the taste & coats the mouth, leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. Light breath of dark fruits haunts the bottle. Not a good combination. Thin, reedy, burbling. I don't think this is what the brewer intended.

At this point I'm not going to be seeking out any more bottles of White Birch, & if I did, I'd drink them ASAP. I'm not sure if this is infected, but it has the hallmarks of early bugginess, & it's not good. Disappointed, again, I really wanted to like this little brewery.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Sam Adams sensory pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

Batch 1, Bottle 304/528, bottled on 9/1/10. I do love how White Birch brings the stats. This guy (well, gal, I guess) pours a straight dahkness (no typo...trust me...) topped by over a finger of dark tan foam. The nose comprises coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malts, wood, and an odd alcoholic menthol/mentholated alcohol kinda thing hovering around in the background. The taste brings in generally more of the same, focusing on those trademark stout qualities, along with some molasses and mild anise. This time, instead of that menthol/alcohol stuff, a very light hint of black cherry-menthol lurks in the back. I'm not sure where these things are coming from, but they don't really help things all that much. The body is a lightly hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a gummy feel (not quite chewy, but not quite not-chewy either). Overall, despite the slightly off bits, this is a pretty enjoyable stout.

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Photo of Vdubb86
3.98/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter

Thanks to injuredreserve for this bad boy

Bottled 9/1/2010, Batch 1, Bottle #304

I've never had a beer from White Birch before, and have heard mixed reviews. This beer pours a gorgeous blackness topped by a deep brown foam that was rather thick. The smell was interesting to say the least. I detected a combo nose of both hickory smoke and roasted malts. The smoke almost gave the aroma a bbq sauce style smell to it. I thought it smelled good. The taste was rather similar to the nose, the mix of sweet and smokey with the dark roast to tie it all together into tastiness. It wasn't the best thing I've ever tasted, but it was good and I did enjoy it. I felt that with all of these strong flavors and aromas that it was thin on the mouthfeel too much. Overall I found this to be surprisingly enjoyable as far as my first beer from this brewery.

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Photo of Mess
3.98/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice at cellar temp.

A- Pitch black with not a ray of light breaking through. Healthy, thick, rich brown cocoa head.

S- Bitter dark chocolate and malted coffee milkshake in nose. Oak not obvious.

T - Dark chocolate again. Toasty coffee, licorice, malty goodness with a kiss of alcohol.

M - Lively carbonation on tongue. Medium mouthfeel, not perfectly smooth but tasty.

D - Tasty. Not overwhelmingly complex but a straightforward roasty sipper. Worthy of giving a shot.

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Photo of DIM
4.08/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: This was inky black with a very dark tan head.

s: Lots of roasty bakers chocolate, mild oak, and light booze. Very enticing.

t: Dry, roasty, and very light on the sweet elements, I like it. Bitter bakers chocolate starts things off and never fades away. There is a woody flavor towards the finish and a mild booze note.

m: Very big bodied, perfect on an arctic evening.

d: Extremely well done and a joy to drink. Thanks Bill for the chance to try this one.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.66/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dank black, with a rich mocha colored head of about 3 fingers. Carbonation looks a bit untamed.

Chocolate, oak, smoke, coffee, roasted malts, burnt molasses. The aroma is amazing, I must admit.

The taste, while good, was not as complex as the aroma. More burnt coffee, slight sweetness, less chocolate, and roasted malts.

The feel is definitely most disappointing. While it looked nice and thick and chewy, it wasn't quite as this as expected. The carbonated look was not a deception, it's kinda stinging.

This thing smells amazing, and tastes good too, but the feel is a bit rough around the edges, and adds some unfortunate difficulty to the drink-ability.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.15/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a five+ finger brown head that fades slowly, leaving some lace. Black color, no highlights ton of yeast left in bottle. Good carbonation and very heavy bodied. Toasted chocolate nose. Flavor is toasted chocolate, some sweetness, high ABV is totally hidden, the label says 11.6% but it doesn't feel like it. Good imp stout but over priced at $11.95 for a 22oz wax sealed bottle from Bert's Better Beers Hooksett, NH. Bottled Sep 2010, batch one, bottle 230 of 528.

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Photo of Jayli
4.1/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Batch 1, blue wax
Bottle 84/528
Bottled September 1, 2010
Poured in to my Portsmouth snifter

A: This beer pours a thick jet black with a three finger of rocky, medium brown head. Head recedes at a moderate pace leaving ringlets of sticky lacing on the glass.

S: Nose has a nice smokiness to it - didn't see that one coming! Charred malts, bitter dark chocolate, and a hint of coffee.

T: Taste starts with with the smokiness before moving in to the charred malts. A lot of smoked burn at the front though not overpowering. Taste starts to lighten in the middle with bitter dark chocolate, hint of coffee and a hint of milder roasted flavoring. Finish is a nice blast of hoppiness that leaves a bitter aftertaste.

M: Lighter side of medium body, high carbonation, very thin body.

D: Goes down easily, quite tasty, not filling, well hidden kick, and decent representation of style. The flavors and aroma on this are really nicely done, the only down fall is the mouthfeel - overly carbonated and very light. That being said - I'd have it again in a heartbeat.

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Photo of levifunk
4.18/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle given to me by KungFuMike (the maker of this beer).

a - pours with a HUGE head. very very dark beer with a dark brown head.

s - very hoppy and burnt. the sweetness on the nose reminds me of barbeque sauce.

t - Hops bitterness is very strong. Reminds me a lot of darkness. I see this is oak aged, so maybe imagine a oak aged darkness. Bittersweet chocolate, tobacco smokey.. I usually prefer RIS on the other side of the spectrum....sweet/chewy, but this is damn good.

m - medium body due to the high hops/bitterness leaves a dry finish.

overall - fantastic beer. very happy to have tried this, and glad i didn't get an infected bottle.

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Photo of nkersten
2.48/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Shared by Chris on NYE, reviewed from notes. Poured from bottle into LA tumbler, black body with a thin mocha head, very thick and hazy. Smell is smokey and dark roasted malts, burnt coffee, chocolate, and some alcohol that gives overshadows some of the more positive aromas. Taste is bitter heavily roasted malts, overpowering alcohol, slightly tinny and metallic, a bit acidic and tart, charred oak bitter finish. The flavors dont really mesh well together and is actually a bit offensive. Heavy mouthfeel with a rather heavy carbonation for the style. The amount of carbonation and the lactic flavors have me wondering if this one might be infected, but I think it is too early to tell. The off flavors and heavy carbonation kept me from finishing my pour. I did not enjoy this beer at all, not the worst of the night but definitley another bummer of a white birch beer.

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Photo of BearsOnAcid
3.21/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Black body with a billowing mocha head. Smoked malt aroma with charred oak and ash. Bitter chocolate with a hint of caramelized dark fruits. Almost reminds me of Blackbeerd in a way

The taste starts off with bitter cocoa and smoked malt mid palate. Bitter roasted malt/charred oak flavor lingers for a while. A bit of soft dark fruit in there as well. Black cherry and plums. Aftertaste is a bit oaky with some vanillin.

The mouth feel is very thin for a stout this big and has almost no sweetness. There's so much good here and without the sweetness I'd expect in a %12 Imperial Stout, it's a little bit of a let down. The alcohol is amazingly well hidden though.

This bottle is definitely over carbonated but I don't believe it is from a contamination. The lack of sweetness makes me think that the beer wasn't done fermenting before bottling. That's like Brewing 101.

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Photo of AgentZero
2.4/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Provided by Chris aka spycow at our New Year's Eve get together.

A - We have a bit of a gusher here, bubbled up in the bottle a bit and started to flow over, so we quickly poured it into glasses. A pretty good looking black beer with a brown head that left being a decent amount of lace.

S - Chocolate cake, roasted malts, smells quite nice. There is a nice bit of char and wood in this one. Good stuff.

T - Taste is not as good as it smells. Lactic acid, oxidation, strangly burnt and bitter wood, all makes this really gross actually. With the gushing, I am wondering if this is infected, because it's pretty horrible to try to get it down.

M - Mouthfeel is a little gritty, full bodied, healthy dose of carbonation.

D - Really can't get this one down, taste is too horrible. The ABV isn't really felt on it, not that I could possibly choke enough down to get drunk. I hope this is just a bad bottle, it very well could be infected, and some of the other (good) reviews make me think this as well. I wouldn't mind revisiting this and re-reviewing as a couple of A+ reviews make me think I might be missing out.

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White Birch Apprentice Series Natasha from White Birch Brewing
Beer rating: 3.58 out of 5 with 41 ratings