Saturday, January 10, 2009

Widmer Brrr

This was the other (actually, the first) beer that I snagged in Portland over my Christmas vacation. At the time, most of the northern states, including Oregon, were buried under massive amounts of snow; Portland in particular had 15 inches of the white stuff between December 20th and December 24th, when my wife and I landed at PDX. It was amazing that we were even able to fly into the airport at 1 in the morning. We honestly consider it a miracle that we made it.

While stocking up on some supplies at the Safeway in town, I couldn't help but notice that there was a new Widmer brew for sale: Brrr, described on the bottle as a "seasonal ale." What was the most shocking about finding this beer was that there were no 6-packs of Widmer's traditional winter seasonal, Snow Plow Milk Stout. A little research reveals that their website has changed the availability to "Limited Release," whatever that means. I think I need to place an e-mail to the brewery and find out what's what.

As far as Brrr is concerned, this is a new brew, coming out as Widmer's first new winter seasonal in four years. It's possible that this may have been brewed before 2008, but only served in their Gasthaus Pub; I'm checking on that. Speaking of which, Gasthaus says that their beer has "[n]otable hop aroma and flavor" and "[s]tealthly alcohol content." I guess when you clock in at 7.2% ABV, it should be classified as "stealthy." (Widmer Newsletter from Nov 11 2008, Widmer Brrr website, Gasthaus Pub's What's on Tap)

Here come the stats:

Widmer Brrr
BREWERY: Widmer Brother Brewing Co., Portland, OR, USA
STYLE: Seasonal Ale
ABV: 7.2%
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 17° Plato (1070.25)
MALTS: Pale, Caramel 10L & 80L, Munich 10L, Carapils, Dark Chocolate
HOPS: Bittering: Alchemy; Aroma: Simcoe & Cascade
FOODS TO PAIR WITH: "Holiday favorites like turkey and ham"

I got most of this from Widmer's Brrr website. An e-mail to Widmer should net me the rest.

When I originally went to taste this beer, it had been frozen solid by my stupid beer fridge (speaking of "brrr"), so I let it thaw in the fridge for a couple days, drinking and reviewing Hinano Tahiti instead. When it was ready and I finally poured it into the glass, it had a gorgeous dark reddish-brown color with some flecks (probably yeast or remnants of the freezing). The head was a puffy light tannish color. The nose was very hoppy and reminded me a lot of Widmer's own Broken Halo IPA (they use the same or similar malts and hops in each), though not as strong. This beer, however, had a stronger hop flavor than Broken Halo, and was carbonated to boot. Like many IPAs, this beer did leave that hoppy aftertaste in my mouth.

This is the problem I have with reviewing IPA-style beers. One may think that I'm bad-mouthing this beer because I didn't particularly enjoy its flavor, and that is blatantly false. Is Widmer Brrr a good, well-crafted beer? Yes. Did I enjoy its flavor? No, because IPAs aren't my beer style of choice; stouts, porters, and strong ales are. However, anyone who enjoys IPAs will love this beer hands down. It is a well-crafted beer, yet another winner from Widmer, and perfect for hop-heads. Me? I'll be stealing some bottle-conditioned Snow Plow from my father-in-law's fridge. Mmmm.

Widmer says it was only available through the first week of January, but if you hurry, you may still find some on the shelves.


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