Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
Available: WA, OR, WY, MT, CA, ID, CO, AZ, NM
Alcohol (vol.): 5.5
Original Gravity: 13.5
Final gravity: 3.6
Malts used: Pale, Caramel Munich 60 L, Extra Special and Carapils Malt
Hops used: Alchemy (bittering); Mt. Hood and Tettnanger (aroma)
Lovely depth of color in orange hues capped with a deeply colored thick, creamy head. It is a soft beer, not too aggressive, but very well crafted. The nose has subtle hints of bread and honey and the aftertaste is clean and refreshing. At home at the table with everything from a cold heirloom tomato gazpacho, to spit-roasted chicken paprika or a grilled organic sausage on an artisan roll with sauerkraut, homemade mustard and pickled relish.
This beer has a distinctive chestnut color, a fruity-malty aroma, a firm palate, and a nutty malt character. Some suggestions of roasted malt. Toasty. Very faint smokiness. Despite the Okto allusion, it is an ale. I am reminded of the wonderful examples of altbier I have tasted from Widmer in the past, the style that inspired the Widmer brothers to become brewers. The beer I am tasting now is in that vein, the work of a craftsman, but one whose heart is closer to Düsseldorf than to Munich. The teasing dryness, the long flavor development, the firm roundness have me drinking by the Rhine, not the Neckar or the Danube. A more typical festbier would be dominated by clean, aromatic maltiness.
The label illustrates the importance of expectations. It reads Oktoberfest, which implies a lager in the Märzen style, but it also reads Festival Ale. This beer is the latter, a fine one with which to celebrate the season, but disappointing if you are looking for tradition. Slightly fruity aroma, with caramel sweetness. Flavor is much the same, with some toasted character emerging as it warms—although without the smoothness and richness of traditional, lagered versions. A touch of hop spiciness lingers through the finish.