Tuesday, August 19, 2014

White Birch Small Batch Ale: Sour Brown

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (1156) - Albany, New York, USA - AUG 19, 2014
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 4/17/14 and cost $5 ($0.42 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark blood red/brownish hue. Initially pours to a two-finger, tan, foamy head, but it mostly evaporates and leaves little lacing on the glass.

Smell: Classic sour nose from the bacteria, but with distinct brown ale sweetness.

Taste: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m more impressed when new breweries can make an awesome sour than by their imperial IPA or stout. I’ve tried most of White Birch’s lineup and found it to be pretty good across the board, but their sours have been nothing short of fantastic. I think the Small Batch Sour Brown might be the best of them. It’s a robust brown ale at the core and it really comes through in the taste. It’s a delicious combination of genuine brown ale and the allure of sour.

The sour flavor is, not surprisingly, the first thing I notice about the palette. It’s not quite as intense as some others, though it is far from being described as mildly sour. Slight vinegar notes, though the acidity really comes through. The rich brown ale brew is in no way obscured. I get notes of chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla and maybe a hint of coffee all through the middle. Additional sourness on the backend with a slight berry or fruity-like addition to the palette. Adding black currants to this would make it a masterpiece.

Drinkability: Sours are like a cold swimming pool: abrasive at first but once you get used to it you’re fine. That’s especially true here. White Birch Small Batch Ale Sour Brown starts out as sipper, but halfway through the glass I was able to drink it in bigger gulps. The mouthfeel is calm and smooth, though it finishes almost a little too clean. The 6% ABV is perfect: light enough to keep it tame, but strong enough so as not to slug it down like juice. 
Grade: 10/10

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