Now that it looks like colder weather is actually here to stay, drinking a cold-weather beer is much more appealing. Browns are some of my favorites because of their robust flavor and smooth drinkability. North High offers up a rustic take on the brown by adding Ohio Maple syrup to the batch and naming it Tree Tapper, a great way to stay local and seasonably festive.
On the nose, Tree Tapper is interesting, to say the least. Immediate notes of cocoa powder and chocolate syrup arrive first, followed by a mild nuttiness. Some bread crust and crackers are present as well, but they are pushed away by a sticky wave of brown sugar and vanilla. Notes of coffee bean layer in next, providing some roastiness. But, above all of this, an odd scent of butter hangs over everything, contributing a “buttered popcorn” vibe that doesn’t mix well with the rest of the aroma. In fact, the combination of the butter, chocolate, and sweet notes creates an aroma akin to an artificial vanilla coffee creamer. I wanted this to be a flaw with this one can, but I had another on hand, and it had the same buttery cloud as well. Not the best of starts, but I hoped it would be absent when drinking.
It was not. The flavor begins malty, with crackers and bread crust providing the base. Cocoa powder and chocolate syrup return, as do notes of coffee and sticky brown sugar. But, unfortunately, the butter is just as present in flavor as it is on the nose, more than likely a product of diacetyl (it’s a butter-flavored organic compound that occurs during fermentation). It does fade a bit if you let the beer sit a while in a glass, but it never goes away completely. Additionally, the maple flavor is reduced to a lingering sweetness, without actually coming through as “maple”. If one is familiar with the taste of pure, high-grade maple syrup, you might be able to discern it through the other flavors, but it is not prevalent. All together, it again creates an “artificial coffee creamer” flavor that is too sweet and cloying for me.
I wanted this beer to be awesome, because it seemed the perfect fall beer. And, it could still very well be, and I just happened to get two “not up to par” samples. But, from what I tasted, this beer isn’t for me. The maple was absent, the sweetness too high, and the butter flavor overpowering. If you have tried this from cans (or even on tap somewhere) and found it to be vastly different from what I’ve described here, enjoy! And let me know where you found them, because I’d love to try this as it should be.