New Releases from Widmer Brothers

On Monday evening, I attended a beer release event hosted by Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. It was a busy evening, as not onebut five beers were introduced. You can read the details about each in the press release below.  Instead, I'll highlight some of the changes.

First, you'll notice Widmer's new branding and graphic design.  I first reported on this back in September. I was never a fan of the cookie cutter design that was launched in March 2011. Anyway, I love the new look!

Second, Widmer is moving back to four seasonal rotations and  Columbia Common is making its debut as the spring seasonal. This beer is unique because it was simultaneously fermented with both ale and lager yeasts. It's a malt-forward brew and I'll post a detailed review on it shortly. You may have noticed that Widmer didn't release W'13 this year. The annual W' release has been eliminated in favor of the spring seasonal. In recent years, the W' series brought us gems such as W'12 Dark Saison and W'11 KGB Russian Imperial Stout. I'm sad to see it go, but it's not really going away.  Huh!?!?  Read on...

Third, the Series 924 Beers have been rechristened as the "W Series." Besides the name, nothing else is changing. Nelson Imperial IPA and Pitch Black IPA will be released year-round. A third beer will be a rotating selection. Expect to see the return of Marionberry Hibiscus Gose later this summer. The last rotating 924 release was Milk Stout. If you haven't tasted Milk Stout yet, get some before it disappears. Anyway, I expect the new W Series will continue to launch the innovative brews that were previously released under the old W' release. If you're confused, don't fretgood beer will still be available.

Finally, the Alchemy Project is gonesort of. The beers released in this series (which include Brrrbon and Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout) will now be part of the Brothers Reserve Series. I loved Alchemy's vertical release concept and am glad it will continue. Expect to see an increase in the number of Brothers Reserve releases, to the tune of 7 beers in 2013.

There are no changes to the popular Rotator IPA Series. O'Ryely IPA will soon make a second appearance

Widmer has launched quite a few different initiatives during the past few years, and these changes will simplify their offerings from a marketing perspective. However, I expect Widmer Brothers will continue to be one of the most innovative CRAFT breweries in the country.

One last thing... Ice cream and Imperial Stout make an AMAZING pairing! More on that tomorrow...

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New Releases Include: Columbia Common Spring Ale, O’Ryely IPA, KGB, Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout ‘13 and Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout ‘13

PORTLAND, Ore. – Jan. 15, 2013 –Widmer Brothers Brewing is celebrating the start of a new year with five new beer releases and some bold new packaging updates. The releases include two brand new Widmer Brothers beers: Columbia Common Spring Ale, the new recurring spring seasonal from the brewery, and Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout ‘13, a version of KGB Russian Imperial Stout brewed with Ecuadorian cocoa nibs. Additionally, three fan favorites will return as part of the brewery’s spring lineup: O’Ryely IPA, KGB Russian Imperial Stout and Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout ‘13. 

“Our team is looking forward to introducing some new beers and bringing back some old favorites to kick off the year,” said Rob Widmer, co-founder of the brewery. “The best part is that each beer has a great story. KGB has been a favorite of ours for almost 15 years; Columbia Common is a great version of the common beer style brewed with Columbia hops, a variety that was recently saved from extinction; O’Ryely IPA was so well-received in our Rotator IPA Series last year that we had to bring it back; then we have the two Brothers’ Reserve Russian Imperial Stouts, Raspberry and Chocolate, which are rich and complex takes on the style.”

Widmer Brothers has also updated its packaging with these new beers to distinguish the seasonal offerings from other beers in the lineup, and to clearly call out the different beers released throughout the year as part of the brewery’s Rotator IPA Series. 

“We are really excited about the new bold, colorful and informative packaging planned for 2013,” said Lorin Gelfand, brand manager. “We’ve received a lot of helpful feedback about our packaging since early 2011, when we made some significant packaging changes, and the new look will help our fans easily identify our seasonal releases and the different Rotator IPAs we’re planning to release throughout the year.”

Coinciding with the new releases, Widmer Brothers is changing the name of Series 924 to the W Series. The W Series includes Pitch Black IPA and Nelson Imperial IPA as year-round offerings and three limited releases throughout the year, beginning with this month’s release of KGB Russian Imperial Stout. The brewery is also retiring the Alchemy Project and will release beers previously included in the Project (Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout, Old Embalmer Barleywine and Barrel Aged Brrrbon) as part of the Brothers’ Reserve Series beginning in 2013.

Columbia Common Spring Ale
The Columbia hop was near extinction when we brought it back to create this crisp, easy drinking common beer.  With a rich amber hue, Columbia Common, the new spring seasonal release, has mild grassy and spicy hop notes that are complemented by a subtle fruity character and clean finish brought on by the use of Hefeweizen and lager yeasts.  It’s the perfect beer for spring.

Malts: 2-Row Pale, Munich 20L, Caramel 40L, Chocolate Malt
Hops: Alchemy, Columbia, Willamette
Original Gravity: 11.75 Plato
IBU: 32
ABV: 4.7%

O’Ryely IPA
O’Ryely IPA is a big, punchy IPA with notable hoppiness and just a touch of caramel malty sweetness. Brewed with rye and Nelson Sauvin hops imported from New Zealand’s South Island, the beer features subtle rye spiciness and fruity, berry-like aroma and flavor.

Malts: Pale, Carapils, Caramel 10, Rye, Caramel Rye
Hops: Alchemy, Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy
Original Gravity: 15 Plato
IBU: 50
ABV: 6.4%

Using roasted barley, chocolate malt and Midnight Wheat, KGB has a color that is as dark as a torrid past, a body as full as a well-kept dossier, and a taste as complex as a conspiracy theory.  First brewed in 1998 and a longtime favorite in the Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub, KGB was bottled and released as the W’11 release, the brewery’s spring seasonal in 2011. KGB is the first of three limited releases in the Widmer Brothers W Series in 2013.

Malts: Pale, Roast Malt, Caramel 60L, Midnight Wheat, Chocolate Malt
Hops: Alchemy, Willamette, Zeus, Cascade
Original Gravity: 21.5 Plato
IBU: 70
ABV: 9.3%

Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout ‘13
Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout was first brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in 2008 for the Portland Holiday Ale Festival.  In the summer of 2011, our brewers discovered a barrel of the initial batch, which was known as Babushka’s Secret, in the brewery’s cellar.  After tasting the beer and realizing how well the beer aged with time, the brewing team decided to brew and release the beer once a year, beginning in 2012. The addition of raspberries during fermentation results in an almost purplish opaque color with a beautiful brown head on Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout and warm chocolate and roasty notes offer the perfect complement to the hop bitterness.

Malts: Pale, Roast Malt, Caramel 60L, Midnight Wheat, Chocolate Malt
Hops: Alchemy, Willamette, Zeus, Cascade
Original Gravity: 21.5 Plato
IBU: 70
ABV: 9.3%

Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout ‘13
We took our delicious KGB Russian Imperial Stout and put another new twist on it. Our brewers threw Ecuadorian cocoa nibs into the brew to create a decadent and complex beer that is sure to hit your sweet spot. Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout ’13 offers flavors of cocoa, roasted barley and coffee, balanced out by a unique hop profile. 

Malts: Pale, Roast Malt, Caramel 60L, Midnight Wheat, Chocolate Malt
Hops: Alchemy, Willamette, Zeus, Cascade
Original Gravity: 21.5 Plato
IBU: 70
ABV: 9.3%

About Widmer Brothers Brewing
What started as a dream for two ordinary brothers who just loved beer has now become a reality for two ordinary brothers who still just love beer. Kurt and Rob Widmer helped lead the Pacific Northwest craft beer movement in 1984 when, in their 20s, they dreamed of brewing unique interpretations of traditional beer styles. In 1986, Widmer Brothers Brewing introduced the first American-style Hefeweizen; today, the unfiltered cloudy beer is the company’s signature brew and one of the best-selling wheat beers in the country. Based in Portland, Ore., the brewery currently brews a variety of beers including its Rotator IPA Series, Drifter Pale Ale, Pitch Black IPA, Nelson Imperial IPA, a high-end Brothers’ Reserve Series and a full four seasonal lineup. For more information about Widmer Brothers Brewing, visit

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