Widmer Brother's Reserve Cherry Oak Doppelbock

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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.


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