White Birch Apprentice Series Svetlana | White Birch Brewing

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White Birch Apprentice Series SvetlanaWhite Birch Apprentice Series Svetlana
21 Ratings
White Birch Apprentice Series SvetlanaWhite Birch Apprentice Series Svetlana

Brewed by:
White Birch Brewing
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.60%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rudzud on 11-17-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 21 |  Reviews: 9
Reviews by puboflyons:
Photo of puboflyons
4.01/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From Batch One, Bottle no. 168 of 312, Bottled August 2011. Cellared for a year and sampled on August 19, 2012.

It is a beautiful looking beer with a very dark brown to nearly black color and a shot lasting, burnt umber foamy head.

On the nose there is a wide array of characters including dark malts, chocolate malts, wild yeast, cherry, and burnt ash but little in the way of a wooden barrel.

The body is about medium and tends to lean acidic.

The taste is a living organism like the wild yeast used to brew it. It begins with a slightly sweet dark malt character then slowly evolves into a tart, cherry-influenced sour character. Both mellow and sharp.

Too bad this was brewed only once.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of DWolf
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of jondeelee
3.48/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pouring a mostly-opaque black, thinning only near the edges, Svetlana opens with a nose that smells of chocolate malts, ash, and tobacco, but also bears a marked sour aroma, somewhat Flemish, as if fermented white grape juice, or fermented apple cider had been added to the mix. Touches of port and raisins add a third dimension to the aromas, as well as a good earthiness, as of loam. The effect is strange--especially because of the sour notes--but intriguing.

On the tongue, the beer is immediately both stout and sour, the former bringing tobacco, chocolate malt, and ash to the mix, and the latter once again resembling a Flemish, or an addition of fermented apple cider, or dry Merlot. So strange is this sourness in a stout that I had to detour temporarily from writing this review to read other contributors' impressions of this beer to make sure my bottle hadn't gone bad (it apparently hadn't). The sourness is intriguing here, but unfortunately takes too much attention away from the stout flavors, overwhelming the flavor profile. There is a good sense of woodiness to the beer, the result of the extensive oak aging, and late in the mouthful, after the sour flavors die off, an excellent ash-and-tobacco base is revealed, which comes to dominate the aftertaste, leaving the final flavors on the tongue entirely free of sourness. Mouthfeel is medium-light to medium, and carbonation is medium-high (my bottle foamed over upon opening).

Overall, while the stout flavors in here are great, especially as they are present in the last fits of the mouthful, the sourness is a strange addition, and I'm not sure it brings anything useful to the flavor profile. Perhaps if they were lighter in presentation, these sour flavors would mingle better, but for the moment they simply take too much away from the opening seconds of the mouthful, and actually make the beer seem like it had gone bad in the bottle.

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Photo of Patrickbrusil
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%

Photo of ChrisPro
3/5  rDev -17.4%

Photo of cbutova
3.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Fully reviewed last night during our annual Sours tasting. Been sitting on this one for a few years now.

White Birch Svetlana 2011 Bottle #298/312

A- Pitch black pour from the corked 750ml to four pint glasses to share. Light mocha tan head rises to about a finger with a frothy and somewhat creamy texture. Head retention is decent as it falls to a small ring. Lacing is hard to come by.

S- Upon opening the bottle, a huge blast of fresh roast grain aromas fill the air. The first few whiffs are pretty much purely roast malts, cocoa and slightly burnt grains but the tartness and fruit eventually comes out here.

T- As in the nose, most of what I get is a dark and decadent roasty base stout. Notes of dark burnt grains fill the palate with cocoa, nutty, toffee, coffee and caramel coming to mind. After the sip finished a somewhat tart, vinous fruitiness comes out which must be from bacteria as there isn't any funk or similar.

MF- Medium bodied overall with a fizzy and creamy texture. Carbonation is still at a fairly high level even after several years in the cellar. Finishes with slight tartness and a fair amount of roasty bitters.

Malty and roasty base with a slight tart fruit feel. It has certainly held up for the three years or so that it has been in the bottle and still drinks like a decent RIS.

 1,318 characters

Photo of BostonHops
3.9/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a deep, dark brown / borderline black tone while building just shy of a finger's worth of dark tan head. low retention and a bit of lacing... the nose introduces some traditional imperial stout qualities - roasted malt with some bitter chocolate - which are coupled with tart cherry notes and a touch of oak. interesting.

flavor follows the aroma with more of the same: roasted malt, bitter chocoalte, a hint of a leathery character and an oaky / sour / cherry presence. unique. if you didn't know better your first thought might be that it was infected, yet oddly it works. medium-plus bodied mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

in the final analysis, while it's not the kind of beer i ordinarily look for, in a sea of imperial stouts it certainly differentiates itself. doesn't blow my hair back but i'd be up for an encore in the future.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.03/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 1 8/2011 bottle 2 of 312
Svetlana you elusive little tramp. I was out of town when this was released and wasn't able to buy one, thanks for hooking me up Bill!
Pours a solid black with a nice sized tan head that persists forever. The aroma is quite fruity, with sweet and tart fairly well represented. There's a solid hit of chocolate caramel and roast underneath with a bit of herb and earth rounding things out. The flavor hold lots of stout qualities as well as some wildness going on. Chocolate and roast lead into tart cherries and currants before being enveloped into a caramel and sugary sweetness. Long lingering roasty tartness long into the end of every sip. Medium to thick body with a light to moderate level of carbonation and a sweet tart fruity mouthfeel. This one defies style guidance. It's a big stout first and foremost but it's got a fruity tartness that reminiscent of a wild ale. It's a mash up of styles to be sure but it really worked for me.

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Photo of ms11781
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of zeledonia
2.44/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

Batch one, bottled August 2011, bottle 203 of 312. Tasted 19 March 2014.

Pours black, with 2 fingers of thick dark brown head. Looks rich and chocolatey. Head fizzes away, perhaps due to the wild influence.

Smell is unique - I don't think I've ever encountered a sour stout that was THIS sour. It's like 3/4 acidic and tart, mostly cherries and other stone fruit, with only a little of the stout character shining through. The stout brings mostly richness and cocoa.

Taste... is a bad combination. The acidic sour and the bitterness of the dark roasts just really do not go well together. It's a one-two punch of the bad sides of each, without the refreshment or subtlety of a sour, and without the depth or fullness of a stout. It's like they cancel each other out in almost the worst way possible. Which is sad, because I think each of those elements on its own would be quite good. The finish is an odd sour-bitter combo, both lasting beyond when I want them gone.

Feel is good, but again it's a strange mix. The lightness and fizzy buzz of a sour, with a little of the thickness of a stout. Works okay, I guess.

I can only guess that this beer has gotten more sour as it's aged. I normally wouldn't review it, but as it's a one-off... I've not yet had a sour stout that I've really liked, though I could definitely see how it would work. In this case, it does not work.

 1,378 characters

Photo of kaelingirl
4.5/5  rDev +24%

Photo of spycow
2.5/5  rDev -31.1%

Photo of Gushue3
4/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of IsaacHarris
5/5  rDev +37.7%

Photo of rudzud
4.07/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased this at Julio's. This is an "oak aged wild stout". In actuality is is Natasha that was barrel aged in oak for a whole year.

Bottled: August 2011
Batch: One
Bottle: 294 of 312

A - Poured into a Duvel tulip a deep oil black pour with a super dark brown (close to black as a head can get) two finger head that faded quickly to leave a fizzy halo.

S - Lots of dark, roasted malts resulting in nice chocolate aromas. Behind that, nice and strong, are those typical white birch wild aromas. Funky and fruity (cherries maybe?).

T - Starts off with the nice sour funk (again, sour cherries?) that transitions over to rich, deep roasted malts, nice chocolate and light coffee. Maybe some smoke too. The nice rich chocolate of a good RIS is taken over by more sour funk (again, cherries?) and some light oak notes ending with a good subtle tartness. Alot going on here.

M - The feel is a bit thin, and nice and tart throughout. Kinda weird stuff here. Not really creamy, kinda tart.

O - Its sour, no its chocolate, no its a stout, no its sour chocolate cherries?? Not sure what to make of this beer. I like the sourness, and the chocolate, but its a bit odd. Kinda like a sour black forest cake. Think this is what that Stone Chocolate Cherry should have been.

 1,281 characters

Photo of perrymarcus
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle served in a snifter.
bottled: August 2011 (batch 1, bottle 76/312)

pours your typical imperial stout deep mahogany / borderline black tone - sits an impenetrable black in the glass - while yielding a 3/4" mocha toned head that lapses fairly quickly into a collar.

nose offers an interesting bouquet of roasted malt and a touch of dark chocolate with mildly tart characters. there's distinct notes of cherry and oak.

flavor follows the aroma pretty closely with RIS elements (chocolate, roasted malt) playing against qualities of a wild ale (oak, slight cherry, sour / tartness - though very mild on the latter count). medium bodied on the palate with average carbonation.

overall, undeniably unique. at first i wasn't overly enthused about it, but i'm definitely warming to it. actually a nice change of pace.

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Photo of Kelp
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of bbrochu
4/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of FrankLloydMike
4/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of MasterSki
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to AshleyMiller for this one. Batch 1, August 2011, #253 of 312. Served in a Hill Farmstead glass.

A - A dark tan foam settles to a thin collar and wispy patches, leaving behind minimal lace. Very dark brown body with lighter patches at the edges of the glass.

S - Dark chocolate, light funk, some cherry and vinegar sourness, hint of savory meats, a bit of iodine and other medicinal flavors. The combination of smoke and vinegar suggests barbecue. It's actually mildly appealing in a strange sort of way.

T - Taste takes a U-turn in the wrong direction unfortunately. Soda water, gauze and dusty brettanomyces flavors, a hint of sourness, and an extremely dry and roasty malt bill with notes of oak and leather. The brett has really over-attenuated this beer.

M - Zesty, sharp, harsh carbonation, dry cocoa powder texture, and a hefty full body. Alcohol is well-hidden, and the finish is extremely dry and tannic. Dial down the bubbles a bit at this would be decent.

D - While White Birch seems to have dialed down the aggressive oak that plagued earlier beers, I think the wild yeast has taken over a bit too much in this beer - particularly in the flavor. It's still drinkable, but it's not particularly enjoyable. Still, it tasted fantastic in comparison to Idiot's Drool.

 1,289 characters

Photo of kscaldef
2/5  rDev -44.9%

White Birch Apprentice Series Svetlana from White Birch Brewing
Beer rating: 3.63 out of 5 with 21 ratings