First Sparrow (White Birch Brewing Company)

Style: Grodziskie (Smoked Wheat Ale)

3.8% ABV

Bottle in Spring 2013

From: Hooksett, NH


Brewer’s Note: From the weird and wild world of nearly forgotten beer styles, we bring you First Sparrow, a Grodziskie of mild but notable stature.  The Grodziskie, or Gratzer, was one of those wonderfully peculiar beers that seemed bound for extinction, wacky dodo bird that somehow managed to survive on the borders of brewing imagination.  A contemporary take on the near forgotten Grodziski style, First Sparrow flies from the netherworld of antiquated beer and straight into your heart. Smoked and heavily hopped, our little bird chirps her three note song, and spring is here. Brewed with wheat and Rauchmalts, a neutral German ale strain, and lovely German hops.”


The beer’s label is like all other White Birch labels, which is very informative and interesting, but a little cluttered and bland.  Please see my other White Birch reviews for my thoughts on the label.


The beer pours a murky, caramel orange with a fizzy head on top that sizzles away to nothing but a scrim.  In body the beer is dark and murky, but clean of particles, giving the beer a cloudy amber hue.  On the nose, this beer is all about the smoked malts.  Big, woodsy and sweet with notes of wood smoked bacon and pork.  There is a creaminess to the smell that blends beautifully with the smoke and accentuates it, suggesting light butter and very light caramel malt.  The smell is rich and smoky, and though it is a little one-noted with the smoke, there is ample complexity within the smoke.  On the tongue, the beer tastes richly smoky sweet with a light acidic pop.  Meaty salt notes also swim over the tongue.  In flavor, the beer begins with a huge burst of smoky beechwood, bacon, and smoked pork.  This beer then takes towards bright citrus, almost like lemon juice.  Caramel malts, like what you would find in a malty amber ale, do appear on the tongue in the middle of the sip, but are then blended with spicy hop note and then the smoke returns in the finish, giving lovely woody notes alongside the richer, meaty notes.  The end of the finish is a little weak and watery, finally showing the beer’s 3.8%, but up until that point I could not have guessed the beer’s weak ABV.  The aftertaste is slightly chary, and metallic, but is mostly the nice smoked malt.  In the mouth, the beer feels light in body, yet slightly chewy in mouthfeel.  Carbonation is fierce and scrubbing, which makes it easy to drink lots of the beer, but is a little too fierce for my taste.  Overall, this is a weird and unique beer.  The smoked malts are rich and tasty, and pack a ton of flavor into this little beer, and the caramel malt provides a light secondary flavor.  The finish is watery, however, which might be due to the style, and definitely makes this beer drinkable in large quantities, but leaves me wanting a little more weight in my mouth.  This is a great beer and I am excited to see the style revived.


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