Bill Herlicka said he was sick of having to change jobs every few years, so he turned to his hobby -- brewing beer -- for a new career and founded the White Birch Brewing Company in Hooksett, N.H., last year.

Bill Herlicka said he was sick of having to change jobs every few years, so he turned to his hobby -- brewing beer -- for a new career and founded the White Birch Brewing Company in Hooksett, N.H., last year.


"I've worked in some very different industries and very different companies, but through it all, I liked homebrewing," said Herlicka, who last worked in the financial department at a Fortune 500 company that decided to downsize.


"My wife said, 'Rather than looking for another job doing the same thing, why don't you go ahead and start a brewery,"' he said.


White Birch is a one-man operation -- Herlicka brews and bottles all of his own beers.


It has also been a prolific brewery, particularly for such a young one. So far, he has released 26 different beers.


"A good portion of the recipes are based on my homebrewing," Herlicka said. "I never suffer for ideas. I suffer for time and fermenter space. I designed the beers around the flexibility that I can do whatever I want.


"I've always had a creative approach to brewing beer. When you sit down and say, 'What do you enjoy? What do you think you're good at?' That's what I based my business on. I'll never be one of those breweries that makes three beers and two seasonals and push them as far as possible. That's just not my style."


Instead, White Birch makes small batches of beer, all individually bottled. The bottle labels list the style of the beer, and each bottle is individually numbered and includes the total number of bottles in each batch.


Herlicka said he brews whatever he wants to brew, based on the time of the year.


"There's a seasonality in beer," he said. "We're making a product out of natural ingredients."


During the warmer weather, Herlicka said, he'll brew a beer such as a saison, because the yeast he uses for that beer prefers higher temperatures.


Some of the beers brewed by White Birch include the Belgian-style Pale Ale, the Dubbel, the Wrigian, Cherry Quad and the Berliner Weiss.


The Berliner Weiss is a tart style of German wheat beer. It is the only one of White Birch's beer bottled in a 16.9-ounce bottle rather than a 22-ounce bottle. It's also my personal favorite of the beers.


It is put in a smaller, sturdier bottle because the Berliner Weiss, once it is bottled, creates more pressure than other beer styles.


Unlike some versions of the American style that add flavorings to get the tartness, White Birch's does not.


"It's authentic to the German style," he said. "I like what it brings to the beer, instead of using artificial flavors to get a similar result."


Many of Herlicka's beers are Belgian-influenced ales, but he said they don't always match the exact style description.


"I typically stray from the style," he said. "I'm influenced heavily by how Belgian brewers use the yeast to get the flavors. I've never been interested in copying someone's example of 'the perfect' in a style. I might tweak it a little bit. I like the subtlety of adding a little chocolate to my dubbel."


Don't expect to see a really low-alcohol beer or an IPA coming from White Birch anytime soon.


"I'm not really good at making small beers," Herlicka said. "I've tried, but I'm never happy with them. I don't really want to do a bottled IPA, or a double IPA. IPAs really have to be fresh. Once you put it in a bottle and put it out in the stores, you don't have control of it and how old it is when someone drinks it."


Right now, Herlicka said the country is in the "golden age of drinking," due to the variety of choices that craft beer fans have, and he's happy to be involved in it.


"They say, if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life," he said, which is much better than looking for another job, he said.


Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail nmiller@cnc.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.