White Birch Tavern Ale
For those not familiar with White Birch Brewing, they are a nano-brewery based in Hooksett, NH. They are also one of a few local breweries that resonate with my tastes, and in the case of the Tavern Ale, my wife's tastes as well.
Margot and I were on hand when Tavern Ale was first debuted, and the story that went with it, which can be found at the WB Tavern Ale page, is interesting; connecting the beer to the history of tavern's in New Hampshire.
I am not in general a fan of smoky beers, I find the overt smokiness in many of them to be too much for me. The Tavern Ale presents a more subtle and restrained smokiness, one that doesn't keep building as you continue to drink the beer. With the addition of rich malty accents, hoppy notes and a pronounced chocolate flavor, this beer comes off very balanced and smooth. Margot and I killed two growlers of this BEFORE Christmas!
Bellwether No. 4 Cider
Nose is subtly of tart, cider apples. Slightly sweet with a funky apple flavor that comes in mid-way and lingers through the finish. Very polished and clean. This cider is made with Northern Spy apples and if you know that apple variety you will pick up the flavors straight away. An example of a mellow, understated cider. This is not the best from Bellwether (Trumansburg, NY) that I've had, and if you've never enjoyed their ciders I recommend a visit! When I last tasted at Bellwether I most enjoyed the Cherry Street and King Baldwin. I know I took the Cherry Street cider to a bachelor party in the fall, but no tasting notes survived the night!
One more note. This cider is a perfect stand-in for sparkling wine for a drinker who isn't a wine person. It has the sparkle needed, but presents all-together different flavors and might appeal to beer drinkers that you might be hosting.