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
Photo of GRG1313
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of spycow
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of t0rin0
2.25/5  rDev -37.2%

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 zestar
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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 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 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 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 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 Rochefort10nh
3/5  rDev -16.2%

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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Photo of Kelp
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

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 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 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 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 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 Satchboogie
4.01/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber (bottle 303 of 528) poured into a snifter:

A: Pours pitch black, completely opaque. HUGE 2+ finger, dark brown foamy head. Dissipates in a couple minutes to a thin mocha froth. Couldn't be any better, this is a picture perfect looking stout.

S: Lots of dark roasted malt, burnt coffee, a little dark chocolate, alcohol soaked candied fruit, maybe a little oak/wood. Smells like there's oats in there.

T: Delicious. There are a lot of dark, burnt flavors that blend together, nothing overpowers anything else. A little dark chocolate, burnt coffee, molasses, and alcohol soaked fruit. The oak gives it a nice earthy/woody flavor and smoothness. Fairly robust flavor, yet delicate in a way. The alcohol does tingle a little in the nose during some big sips and warms nicely in the finish, but overall it's pretty well hidden for 11.6%. Finishes dry, warm, bittersweet with dark fruit notes.

M: Medium to full body, medium carbonation that feels "soft". There is always a nice layer of froth on top of the beer from the carbonation. Has a medium to full mouthfeel, very smooth, and dry.

D: Drinks more like 9%ABV than the actual 11.6%. That said, it still starts to hit hard upon pouring out the 2nd half of the bomber, not that it was going to slow me down!

Overall this is a very good Oak Aged Imperial Stout. My only regret is not getting more than one bottle!

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