October 2009 Archives

Years ago, Widmer Brothers' Hefeweizen was the only microbrew available on tap around here, and I drank a lot of it.  Later on, I realized to my dismay how many drinking-man-hours I'd wasted on my poor tastebuds, and I haven't really forgiven Widmer for that affront.  To this day, I approach all of their brews with skepticism.  After all, this is a "microbrewery" that sold part of its soul to Anheuser-Busch!  As far as craft breweries go, Widmer Brothers is big, big big.

So I wasn't expecting a lot from this beer, and I was wrong.  Wrong to judge it by the label alone, for the Widmer Brothers have done something truly remarkable with this brew.  This beer pours a dark brown that shines with a beautiful deep ruby hue when held up to the light, and is topped with a medium-sized off-white head that doesn't leave much lacing.  On the nose, it presents dark fruit aromas, perhaps some yeasty esthers, and a hint of alcohol.  It weighs in at a hefty 9% ABV, so the latter is not a surprise.

I'm writing this review with a lot of hindsight, so I should say that after looking at the beer and sniffing it, I was still not convinced.  I expected some sort of fruity monster to hammer at my tongue with a maul made of berries and syrup, but what I got was a complex, malty doppelbock.  With a medium body and a pleasantly light effervescence, the dark malts of this beer are complemented by a mellow tartness with fruity undertones.  As the delicious brew departs your palate, it leaves a creamy aftertaste and lingering oaky cherry flavors.

I would highly recommend this beer.  Throw your preconceptions about Widmer Brothers by the wayside, just this once, and let this beer prove to you that a giant brewery can, somehow, make a world-class brew.

I was at the local Wild River pizzaria a couple of weeks ago, and was just in time to get one of the first samples of their new special release, the Wild #1.  This is a very fascinating beer: it's a Belgian-style sour ale made with several berries, a Belgian yeast, and perhaps some kind of brettanomyces culture to spice things up.  It's aged one year in oak, and is a limited release, so you'll have to get to one of their pubs soon if you'd like to try it.  Not always the biggest fan of sour beers, I approached it with a familiar trepidation, but by gum, this brew is damn tasty!

It pours a transparent reddish-gold, perhaps almost a pink color, with a thin white head.  On the nose, the berry notes are rather strong, with a hint of hops, raspberry, and perhaps a bit of blackberry, too.  It's pleasantly effervescent in the mouth, followed by a tart acidity that's nicely balanced by a very fruity yeast flavor and a few hop notes.  This beer proved to be highly complex and certainly worth drinking, and I strongly recommend it.

As seen on Beernews.org and the Mutineer Magazine Blog, Monster Beverage Co., the makers of Monster Energy Drink, are going after Rock Art Brewery, a small Vermont brewer for naming one of their beers "Vermonster." Is this really what a giant corporation should be doing? Watch the video and feel disgusted, folks.

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