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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 41 |  Reviews: 35
Reviews by puboflyons:
Photo of puboflyons
4.41/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 22 fl. oz. waxed cap bottle dated September 1, 2010. Sampled on December 5, 2010. Batch One no. 225 of 528. The pour is practically black with about two inches of fluffy, silky light brown head. The aroma is full of chocolate and dark malts but I do not immediately notice the oak barrel scent. The body is bold and incredibly smooth. The taste is full of chocolate and cocoa sensations with a balanced hoppiness at the end. It is 11.6% ABV but you would never know it because the alcohol is so well masked. This one is an award winner.

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More User Reviews:
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 Lazerlobe
4.18/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Talking to Mike the brewer, he recommended trying this now when it is more hop forward and revisiting the beer in 6+ months when the hops begin to calm and the malt presence is more tempered. Here is the fresh bottle:

A: Glugs out of the bottle in hearty pulses. Dark black in color, the head approaches tiramisu color and is airy and persistent.

S: Roast, burnt toast, mellow hops, baked brownies.

T: Huge roastiness, a strong dose of bittering hops and hints of chocolate cake take center stage. There aren't too many other players that I can tease out from the roasted malts but a biscotti aftertaste and resiny hops lie on the finish.

M: As thick and viscous as this makes itself out to be, the carbonation hinders the effect. A touch of booze burns a bit but should mellow with time. Oaky dryness more noticeable as it warms.

D: This is still a young stout. I've got another bottle and will give it a go in another six months or so. I'd like to see the heat and carbonation toned down a bit.

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Photo of GRG1313
3/5  rDev -16.2%

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 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 VTBeerLover
4.58/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Nate for this one. 22oz poured into a Gulden Draak tulip.

Bottled: September 1, 2010
Batch: One
Bottle: 111 of 528
ABV: 11.6%

A: Thick black pour with a dense bronze head that lasts for 2-5 minutes

S: A lot of great roast and a little bit of chocolate.

T: Deep roastiness with a respectable burn for 11.6% and some sweet chocolate notes. Delicious and very complex.

M: A little roast burn takes away from the strong carbonation.

D: As delicious as this beer is, I could only have one on occasion due to its high alcohol content and overpowering flavor.

Overall a fantastic Imperial Stout and well worth the money. I wish more White Birch beers were in this price range.

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Photo of injuredreserve
3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Edit for second bottle: gusher, over carbonated, very smokey/charred but still drinkable

A: dark chocolate colored head that fades very slowly.

S: Chocolate malt with boozy undertones...

T: chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla. dark fruits with nice bitter chocolate linger.

M: Full, full bodied with a huge carbonation feel. Great finish.

D: Nice balance. Would love another.

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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 GbVDave
4.53/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a blue wax sealed 22oz bomber into two White Birch flutes. Thanks to HollyAnn for the assist. Extra special thanks to mrclog for this from our trade!

Bottled: September 1, 2010
Batch: One
Bottle: 162 of 528
ABV: 11.6%

A: Friggin' gorgeous pour! Thick, oily black with about four fingers of dense and creamy mocha colored foam. Retention was superb and a nice display of lace was left behind. Shows some legs when swirled. Beautiful.

S: Heavily roasted malt, dark fruit, new oak, espresso, fudge brownies, smoke, and alcohol. smells a bit like flourless chocolate cake baked with bitter bakers chocolate.

T: Wow! Major bitter dark chocolate blended with burnt/smokey malt, dark fruit, fudge, charcoal, and espresso.

M: Starts off with the impression that it's going to pummel my palate with RIS-styled sweetness, but quickly backs down a notch and becomes dry during the middle and finishes with a nice peppery sizzle.

D: We were really suprised by how easy this was to drink, considereing its' heft. I really liked how this wasn't overly sweet and/or syrupy. It was sweet, dry, and spicy...all in the perfect amounts.

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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 ppoitras
4.18/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased as a single from Glen Beverage, Glen, NH. Bottled 9/1/10, Batch 1, Bottle 337 of 528. Maroon waxed cap.

Poured into a DFH snifter, formed a 2" dark brown head over the opaque tar black brew. Super rocky head lasts and lasts and lasts, with thick chunky lacing. Aroma is hearty chocolate malts.

Taste is the same chocolate to start, fruity tinge in the middle, with a sweet yet still somewhat tart close. Alcohol really comes on after the swallow, and lingers. Mouthfeel is pretty smooth, the tartness counteracting a bit of the velvet, and drinkability is good, esp for the abv. Interesting and enjoyable brew.

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Photo of jlindros
4.33/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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

Batch one. After being disappointed by Espresso Imp Stout, and Indulgence, this really came through!

Big dark black head fades slowly over pitch black beer with thick legs.

Nose loaded with roasted barley, coffee, chocolate, nougat, fluffy, caramel, toffee, nutty, very nice.

Taste brings lots of chewy oatmeal, plenty more roasted malts and coffee, toffee, dark chocolate, baker's chocolate, cocoa nibs, earthy hops, rich and smooth and fluffy nougat. A bit of booze, but not a lot. Finish has a long malty finish, some chocolate and coffee late, and more earthy bitterness.

Mouth is pretty thick, luscious and rich, and fluffy, with decent carbonation, and bit a warming booze.

Drink is OK, with some warming booze but drinks better than 11.6%, some sweetness and a little sticky and mouth coating.

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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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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 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 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 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 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 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 spycow
3/5  rDev -16.2%

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 TairyGreene
4.58/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bill himself, and a great tasting of some of his rarer beers.

The appearance is outstanding, massive burnt-ochre head that sticks and sticks. No transparency in the beer at all, a definite requirement for me with imperial stouts.

The roasted and toasted notes in the nose are outstanding. Definitely a "serpent stout style", roasted quality-forward style imp stout. Gobs of carbon-saturated roasted malts.

The flavor however reveals some dark fruit qualities, almost that fake-concord grape flavor I get out of some Belgian Quads. Lots of plum, chocolate and charcoal as well.

Mouthfeel is solid, but not quite at oatmealy-smooth-silky as I'd like, but still, an outstanding beer nonetheless.

This is an exquisite Imperial Stout, and I couldn't be happier. Quite the deceptive concoction, little to no burn from the alcohol.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.76/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

So suprised to see this one at Julios. Grabbed a bottle to try. Bottled September 1, 2010, Batch One, Bottle 128 of 528. 22oz...

A: Amazing motor oil black with a humongous 3 inch duper dark chocolate colored head that fades very slowly. Perfect!

S: Some bitter chocolate upfront with some roasty raisin booziness. Some breadiness hidden on the back. Good.

T: A huge roastiness upfront with a sweet creamy chocolate blended quickly after. Viciously thick! Some caramel in the middle with a dark fruit on the backend. Surprisingly, this is pretty damn good. Good.

M: Full, full bodied with a huge carbonation feel. Super dry finish. Ok.

D: With the super carbonation a thickness on this one, not as good here. Ok.

All in all, this is one of the best I've had from WB. This and the BA Rye Four have been the best from them so far. Try if you like super thick stouts.

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