Widmer Brothers Drifter

Widmer Brothers, located in Portland, OR, is best known for their popular, if unspectacular hefeweizen. Their ads actually encourage people to put a lemon in their beer! What the ….?!?! And they call themselves a craft brewery!

Actually, though the hefe is their flagship brew, they have brewed what seems like a hundred beers in the last few years alone, although most of them aren’t readily available in Upstate New York.

A few months ago, however, we did get get access to Widmer’s Drifter, an American Pale, a 2006 Silver Medal winner at the Great American Beer festival. Since the hefeweizen is the only exposure I’d ever had to the Widmer Bros., I can’t say I was all that amped up about this beer. However, I must say that it’s an excellent example of style. And it proves that the West Coast just gets it.

It pours a smooth golden/honey color, with about two fingers of pure white foamy head. It leaves a collar of icy lace at the top.

The first sniff is beautiful sweet citrus in the hops, mostly tangerine and blood oranges. Some grapefruit comes in a little later. There is a pale malt presence in the nose, but it doesn’t come across as too “pale” or prickly. The aroma is top-notch.

The first sip is a heavy tangerine flavor in the hop, indicative of Summit hops. The other citrus flavors pale (no pun intended) in comparison. The malt is a key to this beer’s excellence: it’s a darker, roasted variety, reminiscent of caramel and a dark rye bread. A hint of black pepper adds a zing at the end. Add this to a smooth, buttery consistency and you have a beer that is nothing weak (5.7%) but gone before you know it.

It’s one of the better balancsed beers I’ve had in a while. It’s got a strong hop flavor and a crucial dark malt balance. It’s available year-round now, so let’s reward the Brothers Widmer by picking up a sixer.

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~ by William H on August 23, 2009.

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