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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:
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Ratings: 41 |  Reviews: 35
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 t0rin0
2.25/5  rDev -37.2%

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 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 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 jrallen34
2.64/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle provided by Chris, poured into a perfect pint glass...A huge whoosh upon popping the cap. A light black with a huge dark tan head, great retention and lacing...The aroma is sweet chocolate, oak, lactic acid, not a good balance, seems infected to me. Reminds me of a more infected Dark Intrigue....The taste is mostly oak, and bitter bakers chocolate. Sour note comes in again.

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Photo of Sean9689
2.67/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to Chris for this. 22oz bomber poured into tulip.

A - Slight gusher. Infected? Pours black, huge tan/mocha head, some nice lacing and retention with a large two finger cap on top.

S - Dark choclate, dark fruits, some oak. There's a slight alcohol booze to it, but no where near the almost 12% this one is.

T - Lots of bitter chocolate, an overpowering oak woody note, and some sour/tart notes that make me think this one is slightly infected. Very bitter finish that don't much care for.

M - Medium body, too much carbonation, semi-dry finish.

D - Not in the highlight reel for the night, but no where near the worst beer of the night. I'm not totally sure, but the huge amount of carbonation and slighty sour notes lead me to believe this one could have been infected.

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Photo of MasterSki
2.78/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to spycow for sharing this one. Served in a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass. Bottled September 1st, 2010, #290/528.

A - We have a gusher. Pours with a giant dark mocha foam that settles to a thick cap, leaving some fingers of lace. Pitch black body. Looks quite nice.

S - Big chocolate cake aroma, some oak, dark roasted malts and heavy rye bread. Some light alcohol peeks through and gets more noticeable as the beer warms up.

T - Yikes! What happened?! Taste is harsh oak, astringent bitterness, some lactic sourness, char, and papery oxidation. Finishes harsh and bitter.

M - Medium-full body, pleasant moderate carbonation, and a perhaps overly dry and tannic oak finish that lingers indefinitely.

D - It's a lot like Dark Intrigue, but unfortunately is suffering from some sort of infection. I poured out most of this after doing due diligence on my mouthfeel and taste notes.

This is a huge disappointment, as it was shaping up to be a very good beer. I hope this was an isolated off bottle and not signs of a batch-wide infection.

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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 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 GRG1313
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of spycow
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
3/5  rDev -16.2%

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 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 zestar
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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 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 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 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 Kelp
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

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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Photo of sisuspeed
3.83/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Dave for the bottle!

Pours a dark dark brown with a big foamy chocolate head that eventually fades to a thin film. Leaves some nice lacing behind.

Peat, oak and chocolate on the nose. A touch of alcohol and vanilla as well. Has some smokey meatiness to it, most likely from the whisky chips. Hint of burnt dark malt. Woody. Somewhat muddled.

Wood staves and whisky with dark chocolate and roasty malt on the tongue. There's a decent amount of bitterness here. The vanilla is faint. I'd like to see that come through a little more. The whisky seems to be a little one-dimensional, but still pretty good.

The body is decent, but a bit thin and over carbonated. Fixing this part of the beer would really boost the overall enjoyment. Some warming alcohol.

Overall, this is a pretty good beer, but somewhat flawed. For an apprentice brewer this is definitely a good first attempt, but compared to other beers in this style, Natasha falls a bit short. Different oak/whisky chips might help as well. Still a decent beer though.

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