You love the blog, so subscribe to the Beervana Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud today!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Widmer '06 Hoppy Red Ale

Before we address Widmer's Spring seasonal, let's note this at the outset: there are no red ales. Okay, that's not entirely true. There are Belgian reds like Rodenbach, but they are uniquely Belgian (sour and tart; funky). There are also Irish ales, which are reddish in hue and which Coors hyped into a pseudo-style with Killian's. But red ales as such are a modern phenomenon, and seem to have been invented along with ambers to fill the spectrum between pale ales (which in Britain might have been anything from straw to scarlet) and browns. There's no real style though--some reds are like their Irish forebears, mild and malty. Others, like the Widmers', are huge and hoppy.

Tasting notes
Hoppy Red Ale is well-named. It is, indeed, red--richly so. The white head burned off fairly quickly, owing to the high alcohol content, but laced nicely down the glass. I got almost no aroma--just a fresh, aley note with a tiny bit of hop bitterness. As the beer warmed, the hops came out a little more, but not much.

I'd love to hear someone else's opinion about this beer, because I distrust my own. I found the beer to be the ale equivalent of Starbucks--a strong, I'd call it harsh bitterness, but thin and out of balance. The flavors are all strong: a clear hop bitterness (no funky NW hopping); a strong alcohol bite; a soapy maltiness; and a resinous finish that coats the mouth.

The beer resisted me, despite qualities I'd normally appreciate. Could be worth revisiting.

Hops: Alchemy (bittering), Simcoe, Cascade
Alcohol By Volume: 7.1%
Original Gravity: 17
BUs: 50



  1. so, was it too green? would a year in the basement blend and mellow the flavors a bit?

  2. Yeah, could be. It would definitely help the flavors meld more. But I think there's also just something about the flavor profile of Widmer that strikes my palate strangely--which is why I don't really trust my own review. How's that for transparency?

  3. i almost picked up a 6'er of this last night, but (as per your earlier article) the label scared me about bad marketing decisions.

  4. We were having a conversation at work (a non-Widmer brewery) and the topic of bottled vs. kegged Widmer beer came up. Apparently (and I'm not talking smack as I am only at liberty to pass on what was said) there is an opinion among Widmer employees that the beer in glass isn't as good as the beer in steel. So, if you have to choose between having a pint at the pub or picking up a sixer at the store, you might pay more, but the tap's the way to go.

  5. I think that's generally the case (possible exceptions for bigg beers and cask-conditioned ales). That said, I can't imagine Hoppy Red making such a huge leap in taste that I'd call it good. But you never know.