Tasting Note: White Birch Brewing Belgian Style Pale Ale

So, what do you get when you head to a cheese shop in South Boston, to get what you need for the evening’s pasta? Why, you get New Hampshire beer, of course.

More specifically, during my last trip to see friends in Boston, we went to South End Formaggio, a fantastic cheese and meat shop – and wine and all sorts of great condiments and bread and desserts… And beer, as well, which explains why Bill Herlicka, the founder of White Birch Brewing, who was offering a taste of four of his many, many different beers. Herlicka and brewer Dave Kilgour only make small-batch brews (as small as 15 gallons per batch, up to three or four barrels at most at a time), and they keep trying new recipes, since the brewery opened in June 2009.

The beers were all excellent and full of personality – quite unique, in fact. There was a belgian-style tripel (I think) that had aromas of roses and spice, like a gewurztraminer, a nice IPA with great depth and a wonderful dark beer with smoky, dark caramel, roasted notes that were truly intense.

And then there was the Belgian Style Pale Ale, which was so good that it got me writing my first beer review on The Wine Case, after tasting the bottle I brought back home with dinner, last night.

It is a remarkable brew, one of the best I’ve had in a long, long time. It has the rich caramel, fruity and malty aromas of Belgian beers, giving an overall impression reminiscent of a tarte tatin, along with a freshness that is truly remarkable, thanks to nice, fine bubbles, but mostly something really open and elegant, overall. It clocks in at 8.2% alcohol, yet you could hardly tell, because of the beautiful flavors and balance and clean, and, well, fresh finish.

My only regret? It’s available in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and the Philadelphia area – but not Quebec, where I am. Maybe I should start working on that.

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