Lacking inspiration for the usual over-opinionated nonsense, I accepted an invitation from Widmer to attend the media release of two new beers: the W12 Dark Saison, and the new Rotator IPA: Spiced IPA. Alt, Saison, and Rotator flowed freely, accompanied by tasty finger foods and good bloggin’ company. Even Fred Eckhardt made an appearance, cementing the importance of this particular event. I’m sure you don’t want the details on my conversation with Angelo about his new apartment, so on to the important stuff: beer.
W12 Dark Saison
I am quite conflicted about this beer. On one hand, it’s clean and drinkable. It’s a true session saison, leaning toward the French table beers like Thiriez and Grisette. But it’s not what I want in a dark saison. When I think of the style, beers like Fantome Black Ghost come to mind. This is not that, and your expectations need to be filtered through your inner Francophile in order to maximize enjoyment of this particular ale. With initial expectations altering my judgement, initial reaction to this beer was to everything un-saisony about it. The banana-like esters and mild roast brought to mind a dunkelweizen. I got confused looks from the Widmer crew upon sharing this opinion with them. Hearing Rob Widmer refer to this series as “Brewers gone wild”, I was hoping for something more, well, wild. I spoke also with brewer Joe Casey, who told me that if they had the chance to make this beer again, they would try to capture more sourness and spice, which would bring things together for me, personally. Not a bad beer, just not what I had dreamed it could be.
Rotator IPA Series: Spiced IPA
When I first heard about this beer, I imagined it to be a mess of spices. After all, aren’t hops the spice of beer, making IPAs the spiciest adult beverages around? The restraint that held back the Saison made the spiced IPA concept a giant success for me. The aroma of this beer is straight-up California IPA(the beer is a collaboration with CA homebrew club QUAFF) and in the flavor, the spices are present but in harmony with the sweeter hop profile. The beer features Malty Assam Black Tea from the Tao of Tea, ginger, clove, black pepper, cardamom, and star anise. Close to chai, this beer’s spiciness echoes tea and hops more than curry and heat. At 7%, it approaches Imperial IPA status, but maintains a level of drinkability for those who dig on bold pale ales. Also noteworthy here is the use of the 0% alpha acid Teamaker hop, which provides no bitterness but a complementary tea-like flavor. QUAFF seems to have given Widmer the kick in the ass they needed to add some real excitement to this Rotator series.
Finally, as any respectable journalist* should, I did my best to pry loose some exclusive information. Sounds like we’ll be seeing a bottle release of Babushka’s Secret in March (KGB with black raspberries) to launch a new, as-of-yet-unnamed bottle series. I was also told that the Prickly Pear mead, cousin of last year’s Prickly Pear Braggot, was an especially interesting draft currently pouring at the Gasthaus. Moral of this story: get thee some Spiced IPA and right quick. Terrific beer!
*despite opinions to the contrary, I am indeed one of these