Review: W'12 Dark Saison, Widmer Brothers Brewing

W'12 Dark Saison
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. — Portland, OR

  • Style:  Saison
  • Bitterness:  25 IBU
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • Malts:  2-Row Pale, White Wheat, Caramel 120L, Vienna, Dark Chocolate
  • Hops:  Alchemy (bittering) and Saaz (aroma)
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle  (Full Disclosure: sample provided by brewery)

Description: "Inspired by the classic French farmhouse ale, this interpretation of the Saison style gets its dark color and deep ruby hue from a hint of caramel and dark chocolate malts. While the beer is darker than many traditional examples of the style, the citrus spice of Saaz hops provides a perfect balance of complex fruity esters with earthy and spicy notes. Widmer Brothers Dark Saison finishes slightly tart with a drying, clean, and pepper-like finish." — Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:  I was a fan of W'11 KGB Russian Imperial Stout, last year's installment of the W' Series. So I've been anxiously awaiting to hear the details about W'12. Yesterday, I learned it's a Dark Saison. I was hoping for their Foggy Bog Cranberry Ale. I tasted it at Oregon Brewers' Festival and loved it. Maybe next year...

The tasting:  Brownish red, clear, with a tan head that dissipates slowly. When held up to the light, it sports a bright garnet color. Very nice looking! The aroma is full of spice—pepper, coriander, and clove along with some fruity plum. The same aroma elements carry forward and dominate the flavor. The caramel and chocolate malt flavors are subtle and take a backseat to the spices. The hop flavors are relatively mild and don't stand out. Some light alcohol is present in the middle and melds nicely with the spices. W'12 is light to medium bodied. moderately carbonated, and has smooth mouth feel. It finishes dry with spicy pepper and clove.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  I enjoyed Widmer's interpretation of the Saison. W'12 has the spicy aroma and flavor that you'd expect of the style, but their dark malt "twist" makes it unique.

I love what Widmer has been doing with their Brewmasters' W' Series. Each year, they take a style that's likely familiar to just beer geeks, and make it approachable and available to a broader audience. I expect W'12 will be the first Saison that many beer drinkers will enjoy. So if you've never tasted a Saison, it's time to give it a try. W'12 is a seasonal release, so don't wait. Prost to the Widmer Brothers crew!

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  1. Nice review! I received a bottle as well and plan on a review as well. Looks like I will really enjoy it! Like you said, I am sure it will be a first Saison for many!

  2. Thanks Perry! I'll look forward to reading about your experience with W'12 .

  3. thanks for the review! i've been quite impressed by the W'10 (actually it took me quite by surprise) and the W'11, so i've been looking forward to seeing what they'd do with the W'12. looks like i'll be picking some up!

  4. I've been checking the store for a month, almost everyday. This and the final Rotator. Thanks for the review.

  5. I've been waiting for the Winter release and, well, had to buy a half-rack since they didn't have anything smaller. It's good. It reminds me of a few barley wines i've tried but lack a bit of the roughness... character i guess would be a better word.


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