This is another Thursday night review starring your favorite two people named John and Dad. We originally reviewed this on 11/20/2008 after each receiving some free bottles from Widmer Brothers’ PR firm to try out. Once we tried it and realized we didn’t really care for it we were somewhat loath to post it on the web site. You don’t want to bite the hand that sends you free beer – that’s pretty much our life mantra. But our journalistic integrity got the better of us and we felt obligated to finally post the review because that’s what we do – good or bad. You like how we mentioned journalistic integrity there? We’re pretty sure Widmer will never send us another free beer.
Technically, the bottle reads Widmer Brothers Brrr Seasonal Ale. It obviously comes to us from Widmer Brothers Brewing, which is located up in Portland, Oregon – one of the two most highly regarded craft beer states in the U.S. (along with Colorado). We used a pint glass for our review of this 12 oz bottle of free beery goodness. The IBU comes in at 50, the ABV comes in at 7.2% and our starting beer temperature was 55.4 F.
Our pour yielded a good sized 2″ frothy off-white head that left a good amount of lacing as it dissipated slowly. A really good start! There is a soft amount of carbonation in the sparkling clear perfectly amber colored body. It looks well crafted.
Giving the beer the old sniffy sniff test got us a good amount of citrus, including grapefruit and pine. We also got a note of spices and a possible aroma of toasted malts. That’s it. It almost smells like a cleaner you’d find under your sink to mop the floor (some people are into that!). The lack of aroma complexity follows suit in the taste – grapefruit, pine and orange are the predominant tastes we pulled out. A little disappointing to be honest – our heart was set on a good spicy, caramely winter warmer of a beer and it didn’t really deliver on that front.
The initial flavor notes are a light sweet and heavy bitter that stay the course through the finish but add a slight metallic taste. The finish hangs in there for a good amount of time and the mouthfeel is dry. The tongue hit is in the back, where all your bittererers are. There’s a fair amount of body lacing and on the patented BeerFathers malt to hop scale it comes in 3 clicks to the right of balanced on the hoppy side. One click away from as hoppy as you can get.
For our bottom line notes we got a no to drinkable, no to repeatable, no to harmony, no to memorable, no to wow factor and no to buy again. The only thing we could say was there was “some” balance in the taste with the elements, but not much. We even put a no to “receive for free again.”
Of course you know The BeerFathers are not hopheads – we love the malts. This beer comes in almost IPA-like, but not in a good way for us. We can get into some hoppy beers and have rated some IPAs as high as a 7/10 on this very site (see Dogfish Head, 90). But even those highly rated beers had some good malt backbone to balance out the hop shock. This one just doesn’t do that. The press release states that it “embodies the notable ‘Pacific Northwest style’ citrus hop aromas and flavor.” Makes us somewhat glad we don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, though we’d love to visit someday. As long as our hotel isn’t on a cascade hop farm, we should be in good shape.
If you’re a hophead get it and try it – you’ll probably love it. Don’t expect complexity though because it’s just not there. It does have a good alcohol content at 7.2% – what we’d call the low side of high, so there’s that going for it. The press release also states that “caramel and chocolate malts provide flavor complexity” but we just couldn’t find them. If they had ramped those up a good bit it could have balanced it out and made an ultimately much more interesting and enjoyable beer for us.
It would probably be much better with food, perhaps some holiday meals with lots of ham and various other accoutrement. By itself, which is how we rate all our beers, it’s just too hoppy for The BeerFathers. We think maybe a beer needs vowels to be good and the Brrr falls just a little short there.
Widmer Brrr Rating: 1 out of 10 (?)
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