Tuesday, September 9, 2014

White Birch Belgian Pale Ale

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1171) - Albany, New York, USA - SEP 9, 2014
Judging by the description on the brewery’s website, White Birch Belgian Pale Ale is a Belgian pale ale in name only. I can see that, since there isn’t anything about this beer that makes it stand out a Belgian-y. It does work as a pale ale in and of itself, which is commendable. A good balance of a solid malt base and hops that give it some spice, but don’t go overboard.

I poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled in July, 2014 and cost $6 ($0.27).

Appearance: Despite the brewery’s description, it’s actually more of a pure orange color over a very hazy body. Some carbonation is visible. Pours to an average-sized, white, frothy head which laces and retains quite well.

Smell: Fruity aroma of tangerine, apple and a hint of something herbal. Mild overall, though.

Taste: Since this beer may not be as Belgian-ish as its name implies, I can cut it some slack. There’s a pretty strong presence of American-style hop character going on here. West Coast-style citrus notes in the form on orange and maybe guava or papaya are present right away. But there’s also a slight peppery note, maybe basil or coriander or clove (though the beer is not actually brewed with any of these herbs as far as I can tell). An interesting flavor and spice combination; I’d be interested to see the hop schedule. As for the malty base, it’s definitely solid. Nothing in particular stands out, but at least there’s enough body here to keep this balanced. I really don’t get much Belgian character (e.g. banana, clove, etc.) though there is a bit of saison-like dryness here, but it’s not a dry beer per se. Overall, it’s plenty flavorful and interesting and that’s what makes for a good beer.

Drinkability: Though a tad “big” at 6.5% ABV, White Birch Belgian Pale Ale works well as summer brew. There’s an inherently refreshing quality to this palette – juicy notes while in the mouth, but nothing cloying or lingering in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel itself is perfectly medium-bodied; plenty of carbonation to keep it interesting, but not to the point of being difficult to drink. It’s remarkably smooth, actually. I had no trouble drinking the entire bomber myself. 
Grade: 7/10

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