Part 3- White Birch Brewing
The final person I spoke with was Bill Herlicka, the founder of White Birch Brewing in Hooksett, New Hampshire. White Birch Brewing was established in June 2009, and its smaller size gives this brewery the ability to put the majority of their effort into perfecting their beer. It is New Hampshire’s first nano-brewery, and although the definition is highly disputed by many beer enthusiasts, the most agreed upon aspect is that a nano-brewery produces approximately three barrels at a time. This means that the process allows a much more artistic approach, and absolutely everything is done by hand.
Herlicka made a point to mention that his company does not use grain elevators or any machinery of that kind. The beer is given a chance to ferment at ambient temperatures and naturally carbonates, a process he referred to as the “old school technique of brewing.” They do not filter their beer, nor do they pasteurize it. As for the types of beers White Birch Brewing specializes in, Herlicka has been testing different strains of Belgian yeast for years, and has found them quite interesting to work with.
White Birch also runs an apprentice program. Herlicka believes that to get into the brewing industry you need experience, and that is just what his program provides. Although it is not uncommon to find apprentices at breweries, the way that White Birch Brewing runs their program is rather unique. It gives hopeful novice brewers a chance to practice brewing beer alongside experts like Herlicka. At the end of the six-month training period, the apprentices produce their final product, and their name is placed on the label. They also leave with new knowledge and confidence.
When it comes to pairing beer with food, Herlicka echoed the notion that beer pairs better with food than wine or hard liquor. For example, he feels that cheddar cheese pairs with beer quite well, because the flavor of beer enhances the taste of the cheddar and vice versa.
White Birch Brewing, being the smallest of the breweries that I interviewed, definitely gives me additional perspective on the craft and shows me the many different paths that can be taken when forming a brewery.
Definitely stop by these breweries if you are in New Hampshire. As you can see, they’ve got their own traditions, methods, and flavors worth guzzling! You’ll be glad you did!