Last week I received the new beer from Widmer in their new Brothers’ Reserve series, their Cherry Oak Doppelbock. This is the first in this new line, intended as a showcase for Widmer (in particular, Kurt and Rob Widmer, who are the ones coming up with the beers to be brewed) to innovate and flex their brewing chops, rewarding the “high-end craft beer fans”. Cherry Oak Doppelbock was inspired by Kurt, and he additionally signed 50 bottles that are being randomly distributed. (Willa Wonka’s Golden Ticket, anyone?)
Their description of this beer:
Cherry Oak Doppelbock is a rich ale, cold-fermented with dark sweet and red tart cherries, then conditioned on new, heavily toasted American oak. The result is a dark lustrous brew with up-front malty sweetness and cherry fruit notes completed by caramel, dark chocolate, and toasted oak undertones. The complex flavor profile balances the impressive 9% ABV and 40 IBUs.
I opened the bottle up yesterday, and I’ll be honest, I was expecting a good beer, a competent beer, but nothing really “blow your socks off.”
Boy, was I surprised. Stunned, even. I’m declaring right now Widmer’s Cherry Oak Doppelbock is one of the best beers of 2009. Do not miss your chance to buy a bottle or three of this beer.
Appearance: Pours a reddish-dark brown (red copper) with a nice pile of foam that I swear is pink-copper tinged.
Smell: Very mellow nose—hints of rose and fruit and bit of an alcohol aroma, along with something wood-ish. Very surprised at how mild it is.
Taste: Yum—incredibly smooth and creamy with an amazing blend of sweet, dark cherries—not too strong and not too subtle, just right. Aroma bouquet opens up with more cherry as I sip. The Doppelbock base is just perfect as far as I’m concerned—there are hints of chocolate and charcoal wood lurking in there too. The fruit comes into play with every sip and reminds me of a tawny port wine.
Mouthfeel: Medium-to-full-bodied, smooth and creamy and almost wine-like on the tongue.
Overall: Wow, this beer is amazing—the cherry is perfect, the Doppelbock is perfect, there’s nothing harsh or overplayed here—it’s fantastic.
It’s easy to sometimes dismiss Widmer as being “too corporate” (25% of it is owned by Anheuser-Busch), or “too big” (easily in top 10 brewers by volume with their “Craft Brewers Alliance”), or “too bland” (how often does their Hefeweizen get dissed?), and as a result it’s just as easy to forget they brew some stellar beers (Drifter Pale Ale, Snow Plow Milk Stout). And with all the “big” event/reserve/extreme beers coming out these days, who pays attention to them? Well, guess what: almost every other beer I’ve had this year just got schooled by Widmer—and that’s saying something.