Monday, January 10, 2011

Widmer Brothers Barrel Aged Brrrbon

Oregon is home to a lot of craft breweries.  And I mean, a lot.  Like the most craft breweries per capita of any state in the nation.  One of the more well known Oregonian craft brewers is Widmer Brothers.  The Widmer Brothers -- Kurt and Rob Widmer -- have been brewing beer since 1984.  Their claim to fame is that they pioneered the American-style Hefeweizen.  That beer is quite successful, because you can find it at a lot of restaurants and bars across the country, not to mention in six packs in beer and wine stores.

Yet, Widmer Brothers Brewing is about more than a Hefeweizen.  The two brothers have what they call their Brothers' Reserve, which is a series of one-time beers.  The first two beers were Cherry Oak Dopplebock and the Prickley Pear Braggot.  But, as the days get shorter and colder, fruity beers are no longer "in season."  Instead, winter brews are in, and the third Brothers Reserve is a winter brew called Barrel Aged Brrrbon.

As the name suggests, this beer is aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. But before one gets to aging the beer, the brewery starts with 2-Row Pale, Carapils, Caramel 10-L, Caramel 80-L, and Dark Chocolate malts, as well as Alchemy Hops for bittering, along with Simcoe and Cascade hops for aroma.  Once the brewing is completed, the beer is aged for four months in the bourbon barrels.

According to Widmer, when you drink this beer, you should be able to smell caramel and vanilla and taste the soft oak flavors with a sweet but subtly dry finish.  When one takes a sniff of this beer, they are greeted with a subtle, boozy whiff of bourbon, with the vanilla aroma.  As you stare into the dark brown beer before you, the beer looks like it has been aged.  The brown color has a look that suggests something more like a hard liquor than a beer.  Despite the aroma and the look, the beer does not overwhelm you with a bourbon taste (unlike some other bourbon-barrel aged beers that I've tried).  The bourbon flavor is smooth and complements the flavors that are typically found in a beer.  I have to say this is one of the better barrel aged beers that I've ever had and I would recommend it to someone who has not tried this style of beer before. 

As one would expect, the Barrel Aged Brrrbon has an ABV of 9.4%.  It comes in a 22 ounce bottle for about $12.99.  I found this beer at Whole Foods Market.  Given it is a limited, one-time production, it will become harder to find as time goes by. 

For more information about this beer, check out Widmer Brothers.


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