I'm no stranger to Widmer Brothers beers as I have had them many times in the US, mostly the wheat beer though. In the past year, Widmer Brothers beers have been appearing all over Ireland and this latest wave is well worth mentioning.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Farrington's for a "meet the brewer" night. I wasn't there taking notes. I was there for the beer and the food. You can read an excellent write up on The Dublin Diary. Anyway the brewer we met was Matt Licklider who is essentially the head brewer for the three breweries of the Craft Brew Alliance. Matt was also at The Secret Beer Garden the next day and myself and Andrew had a good chat about beer in Ireland. He was quite interested to hear about Beoir. Anyway I brought home some bottles of beer with me so I could properly take notes. Well I say that but really I took them home because these were my favourite beers of the night and I wanted more.
Starting with Hopside Down, we have an interesting beer because it's described as an IPA style lager or India Pale Lager if you will. It's a rather interesting concept, thought certainly not unique. The real difference between this and other lagers is that it's 6.7% so a fair bit stronger than most others. The result is exactly as you might hope. The chewy body with fresh resinous hop oils of a good IPA but the crisp clean taste of a lager. There's a real lemon curd and orange marmalade thing going on here. Hopside Down is very refreshing, Interestingly there is not much carbonation for a lager. It's absolutely lovely though. Towards the end, it Leaves a lovely hop oil coating on tongue and throat. Biting fizz on the finish. It's a beer that keeps giving. This is a beer I want on tap, and lots of it.
Keeping with style misnomers, Pitch Black IPA is one of those rare examples of how the style should really be. We don't just want a hoppy stout here, we want a beer that in a blindfolded taste test, you can't instantly tell that it's black rather than a regular pale ale. You do, however want a little of that roasted malt to come through or else what's the point? The result here is one of fresh grassy hops, a little milk chocolate, citrus in the form of grapefruit and a little prune. There is the slightest hint of coffee but it doesn't get in the way. It is a very lovely beer and also a firm favourite of many attendees to the Farrington's shindig.
Citra Blonde is is a summer beer through and through. Notes of lemon, fresh cut grass, fresh cut hay and orange pith on the nose. On tasting, you note that while the body is quite thin, it's also slightly oily with a real fresh hop quality. The citra hops ring out their ammonia cattiness but in a not unpleasant kind of way. Citra is a hop that I find is brilliant when combined with others, but on their own they can overpower you with a cat's litter box aroma. In this case, it just about works and the result is a seriously refreshing beer. And here's the best part, it's only 4.4% so it's immensely sessionable.
I saved the best till last because we are in to Imperial IPA territory now. Nelson Sauvin Imperial IPA is the name over here, though I believe it's also called Deadlift Imperial IPA. It's 8.6% so deserving of a little respect. On the nose we have fruity tropical bubblegum, pine needles and grapefruit.
The taste is contains everything from the aroma in a thick, oily body that's almost chewy. A perfect carbonation level with a huge hop hit. There's a slightly spicy finish with an oily slick down the throat. Alcohol is there but not obvious making it very drinkable. I am very biased here because Nelson Sauvin is my favourite hop. I love what it does to a beer.