Brewery: White Birch Brewing (Hooksett, NH)
Style: Smoked Imperial Brown Ale
Whenever I'm up in New Hampshire, I always try and grab a few local treats that I can't get in CT. Almost every time, this Hampshirian Haul includes a bottle from White Birch Brewing.
There I was back in November, staring at a variety of White Birch brews. Then I noticed a particular style that I've NEVER seen before. White Birch called this beer their Tavern Ale and the style was a Smoked Imperial Brown Ale. What the what?! I've had Brown Ales... I may have even had an Imperial Brown Ale (although I can't recall)... I've even had a few smoked beers... but all at the same time?! On top of my cleared peaked curiosity, it also had the DRAFT Magazine stamp of approval hailing as one of the Top 25 Beers of the Year (in 2011). Congrats White Birch... Hook(sett), line, and sinker.
I'm not going to lie... I couldn't wait until our 12 Beers of Xmas countdown to crack this baby open. So back in November, about a week or so after I came back from New Hampshire, I randomly had this beer over some steak and vegetables. Yes, so much yes. I thought that this beer would have been PERFECT for the countdown! But, alas, I only grabbed one bottle... But wait...
About two weeks ago I found myself down at Amity Wine and Spirits, which has an EXCELLENT selection. And what the... who the... why the... I don't believe it... there it was. Apparently we're now getting White Birch Brewery in CT!! And they had the Tavern Ale!! Bottled purchased, stored away for the countdown, and there you go... at #3 on our Beer411 Holiday List.
SPOILER ALERT... the Tavern Ale in its Smoked Imperial Brown Ale glory, pours.... well, Brown. Dark Brown, so dark that you cannot see through at all. On top, about a 1/2 inch of deliciously inviting khaki head.
There a good amount of smoke on the nose. Very unique. Smells like someone is cooking bacon nearby. Slight hints of coffee, chocolate and some nuttiness as well.
Great medium body on this one that truly stands up to the smokey quality. Sometimes when I have a smoked beer, they can be thin and overpowering. Not so with this one. The sweetness provided by the malts, brown ale, and imperial style are very balanced with the smoke in the Tavern Ale.
Lower carbonation and a nice sweet finish.
Well, unlike a CT only beer or a MA only beer... this is an offering where most of New England wins. If you live in NH, you can probably find this. Chances are, distribution passes through MA so I'd be surprised if it WASN'T available. And now... according to my find about two weeks ago... you can NOW get it in CT!! Dare I say, I think this might be my favorite one on the countdown thus far. Yeah, you know what? I'm gonna say it... This is my favorite beer on the countdown thus far. Boom, I said it.
I shared this beer with Mom and Pop over some honey ham and baked beans. But honestly, you could have this before dinner... with dinner... or after dinner in front of the fire. There's a whole lotta goodness in this bottle.
Coming up next... #2 and #1 on our countdown!! Stay Tuned!!