Tag Archives: widmer

Ordinary Brews: Widmer Hefe

To start this series off, I wanted to begin with one of the most well known ales one can find in this area: Widmer’s Hefeweisen. I didn’t want to assume that this was their best selling beer so I emailed them to ask but didn’t hear back. I went with it anyway: if someone from Widmer wants to correct me, I’ll drink another beer. Promise.

The nose has a faint stinkiness to it; belgian yeast funky, almost. It went away almost immediately but then it reappeared as I drank further into the glass. I’m told by the guidelines there ought to be wheat notes, with maybe some spice hop character but I’m not picking it up.

The beer doesn’t really provide dominant flavors at any stage of the game, actually. Nose isn’t too strong, the wheat notes exist but I think the wheat malt is there more to provide some body. The finish is fairly clean until the effervescence passes and then there’s something sticking around that just isn’t appealing to me.

I’ve realized what it is: this beer is sweet. You know that sourish note that can come after you have a really sweet piece of chocolate? That’s what I’ve got.

I think that this hefe really isn’t an ‘all season’ brew for me. I can see this working on a hotter day, and I totally get why people serve this beer with lemon; the tart contrasts well with the sweetness of the malt. The lemon also contributes to the ‘summery’ feel of hefeweizen.

I don’t think I’d get more of this beer because I don’t know that I’m in love with this iteration of the style. I don’t hate hefes but I don’t think; Yay, gimme! That’s me, not an issue with the beer. The fact that it’s overly sweet is far more problematic. If I’m only supposed to have this beer with a lemon wedge for contrast, I’m not sure that I can recommend it. I feel like the sweetness that’s probably there to encourage the casual craft beer drinker is actually discouraging me from enjoying it, which is a strange spot to be  in.  I don’t want to suggest that my tastes are better than the average bloke’s but I cannot deny that the imbalance of this beer is off-putting to me.

Fortunately, Widmer makes a ton of other stuff that I do like; it’s just an interesting spot to find myself in.

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Widmer is still doing cool things

Widmer was kind enough to host the OBC again for our July meeting. This is usually a really cool event at its face: we get to talk shop briefly and then brewers from Widmer take interested members on tours of the brewery.

Widmer Specialty ales.This time, however, there was some extra cool stuff in store for us.

First, they let us sample their three specialty beers: An imperial stout, an imperial stout with raspberries and a hibiscus ale (I think.) They were all delicious but unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to get much in the way of details about the beers. I just got to try them (the raspberryberry one was my favorite but all of them were good) and then step aside for the next lucky taster.

I did get a picture!

The other cool thing I got to do was talk to an employee named Jacob who convinced Widmer to purchase a homebrewing system for…Widmer. (I also briefly spoke with Kevin, who, I’m told, built it.) Take a look at this beauty:

Widmer homebrew systemThe obvious question is: Why does a brewery need a system of this scale? Which is what I asked Jacob. He told me that, in addition to this being a way for Widmer to appear at homebrewing events, generating excitement about brewing and by extension, Widmer, it was also a way for employees to brew and have fun.

“There are ideas we have,” he said, “that we don’t want to make ten barrels of, but ten gallons? Totally doable. Then we can try things out, send them to the lab for analysis and maybe decide if a batch should be kicked up to the next level (of production.)”

Which is just such a simple and amazing idea I can’t believe it isn’t being done everywhere. (Which it probably is I just only know about this one.)

Lawnmower Season Has Begun

It’s my opinion the best part of yardwork is the beer you get to have afterward. I probably said that before and I’ll likely said as long as I have to go out and do yardwork.

I was fortunate enough to snag an Omission ale when Rob Widmer kindly brought some by to the Oregon Brew Crew for our meeting last Thursday and I saved it just for today because it looks like the kind of beer to have after mowing.

Gluten free ales seem  to be all the rage, lately. Can’t for the life of me understand why. Is there really that big of a market for gluten-free beers? I suppose so since Widmer seems to be on the track and I’m told many other people will be following suit, not to mention all the smaller breweries mining this particular vein.

Now how they made this beer is unknown: proprietary secrets, I’m told, at least for now but here’s what I can tell you: it tastes like a lager to me man. The Saaz nose hint, a touch of corn chip flavor at the end, it all adds up to a summertime hot day thirst quencher. I wouldn’t always pick this beer but almost hot days certainly wouldn’t refuse one- hell I might even look for it.

Also if I’m having a beer before noon this is definitely on the list of things to have because it isn’t going to throw me off for a big drunken loop that’s always a good thing.

I can’t quite place it but there is something a little off about its taste, a little strange something. Who knows, maybe it’s because everything is so close? It is almost as if they hit this the right end of the uncanny valley for beers where gluten-free brews taste so close to an actual beer that almost there but they’re still something just a hint off, I just can’t place it. I just know it’s a little different.

Nevertheless I approve of this beer I look forward to further refinements but there might make to the Omission.

Revisiting: Widmer Hefeweizen

The first time I ever had Widmer’s hefe was about twenty years ago in a bar in Spokane called Ichabod’s. I couldn’t believe I was having a beer with lemon on the side; That Just Seemed Wrong. The bar has since burned down, the owner convicted of arson, I believe, just as my notions of What Seems Wrong with a beer have also changed.

Though I still oppose a fruit side, I won’t let that prevent me from enjoying a good beer.

With the move and my current supplies of homebrew rapidly dwindling, I am compelled to purchase beer and so instead of wondering why the gods kill, I instead have decided to use this opportunity to go back, check out the beers that I cut my teeth on and helped introduce me (and many others) to the world of microbrewing.

Widmer hefeThe nose is faintly skunky, a little like a lager might be. The middle isn’t thin; the wheat presence holds it together for certain and the finish is actually fairly dry, a bit like white wine. I can totally see how this may have been designed to have a lemon added, as the citrus could play off the wheat balance and then mesh with the dry finish.

Still, I can’t quite enjoy this beer. I feel like it ought to be bolder, stand firmer. I shouldn’t think: wow, I get putting a lemon in this beer!

Beer isn’t ice cream-better with additives. Beer is steak: you do it right, you can have it on its own. I guess that hasn’t really changed for me.

Verdict: not something I’ll go back to very often.

Whatever You Say #27

Continuing my sudden theme of dive bars, I went to Lucky’s tonight because I always wanted to. It’s always seemed foreboding and crusty and what reason could I possibly have to walk in there, right? Fortunately for me, this blog is a great excuse.

I have a choice; ask the man what he’s drinking or the woman with the fuschia drink and a wedge of lime in it. I don’t want to be afraid to ask women what they’re drinking but I know that socially, it’s a little bit more loaded to approach women so I’m a bit more cautious about doing so. Plus; fuschia drink with lime wedge. I’m just not up for it tonight. I ask the man, distracted by three television’s worth of basketball (playing the same game) what he’s having and it’s Widmer’s Drop Top.

drop top at Lucky's

Whew.

Lucky’s is astrange place. There’s a stylized painting on the wall; everything in straight lines and the men and women portrayed in black and white, underneath the caption reads ‘Seating for the Jammin’ Club’. There are no seats there though, just a coatrack. The wall-o-hol is topped with cages for the glasses and bottles inside but those bottles and glasses are empty. There are two wrought iron wine racks mounted on the wall, one of which is topped by a Oakland Raiders baseball helmet.

Yes, I know.

There’s a black man in a herringbone trenchcoat with a more salt than pepper beard talking to a dreadlocked white guy in a baseball cap, insisting that Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace dominate the paint.

Neither of those men are playing on TV so…

The bartender is a superhip woman in a hoodie (hood up) with a black dress and pink polka-dots on under that, glasses with big white rims and tattoos. It’s pretty clear that she knows everyone in the joint and at one point disappears for an indeterminate length of time to talk to someone outside. Nobody there seems surprised and it’s not the kind of thing that feels rude. I’m not sure how to explain that so I won’t. Nobody wants to talk to me; they are either watching basketball or playing the Rolling Stones pinball machine or somehow trying to make the most awkwardly placed pool table work for a game. Like the Reel M Inn, I think I’d have to come here multiple times to be accepted in some manner.

I suppose I’ve lost something in my continual travels; even those these joints have an adequate selection, there is still a community here that every so often, I feel I’m missing out on.

As I slide off my chair to leave, the bartender asks if I’m leaving already, as though she’s sorry to see a new face leave so soon. I give her a wan smile and say ‘It’s time’ but I think I’ll stop in again.

The Local: Vertigo Pub

vertigo pub painting The Vertigo feels a little weird, like someone’s vanity project; a pub where a guy can say he’s working but actually watches sports on a big screen TV all day.

Oh sure, there’s trivia nights (with the tagline ‘Great Prizes, Good Food, Graphic Nudity’), there’s a dartboard and pinball table with a crappy theme (World Poker Tour), an arcade machine with a collection of 80’s videogames and a jukebox. The booths are very strange; high backs to provide a sense of isolation, no padding on them so patrons are inclined to lean in towards each other, all atmospherically romantic, and the incredibly dim lighting supports this. The décor involves paintings, knick-knacks, tiny guitars, oversized glasses, the neon clichés (Anchor Steam, PBR).

But what there really is, is a gigantic projection screen TV, a tiny TV located behind the bar, and another one above the dartboard, but I don’t know why it’s there or which section of patrons it’s meant to serve, since the pub is small enough that the projection TV is viewable from almost anywhere. The three TVs have sports on, all the time, every time I come in here. There might be different games being played, but when I’ve been here each TV shows the same game.

So I have to ask; does the Vertigo know what it is?

It’s practically empty on a Monday, despite it being the high point of the college Product bowl season, brought to you by Product. I think the other men at the bar-both the bartender and the guy on the rail, work here and it is just the three of us.

And it’s expensive. My pint of Widmer Drop Top cost me $4. During Happy Hour. Oh sure, I could’ve gotten a PBR with a shot of Jager for $6 (which is something else that tells me about the kind of influences on this bar) but…why? The food is similarly expensive; $8 for nachos, or $6 for a salad. (That’s the high and low end for appetizers.) Again; that’s pricey for a happy hour.

Now I don’t want to give an entirely terrible impression of the Vertigo; my beer is good and the bartender served me a tall pint of it. In no way is this unfriendly.

But it doesn’t make a statement either. It’s feels geared for someone else-built to serve all the little bits of interest of one individual. Sports fanatics won’t see all the hero-memories of sports surrounding them. Romance is intruded upon by televisions, the lane for the dartboard is right in front of the bar. The beer selections are easily matched or bested elsewhere. Who comes here? Who calls this bar home?

I don’t know. Maybe that’s why I don’t come here very often.

And this will be the last ApfD post for two weeks. I’m heading out on vacation and have no idea what kind of internet access I will have. If all goes badly, I’ll be trapped like these people were, and have bleary but good stories.