Review: Downward Spiral, Widmer Brothers

Downward Spiral
Widmer Brothers Brewing — Portland, OR

  • Style:  Imperial India Pale Lager
  • Bitterness:  84 IBU
  • ABV:  9%
  • Malts:  2 Row Pale, Munich, Caramel 80L, Dextrapils
  • Hops:  Alchemy, Cascade
  • Sampled:  12 oz bottle

Description:  Downward Spiral is an imperial version of our Hopside Down india style pale lager that was aged on new oak spirals. This bold wood-aged beer is an aggressively hopped, cold-fermented brew that brings together the clean, crisp finish of a lager with the hop character of Anipa, balanced by distinct oak flavors and aromas. Wood is good. Prost! — Widmer Brothers Brewing

Random thoughts:  Downward Spiral is the latest installment in Widmer Brothers W Series. I’ve tasted and enjoyed a few oak-aged Imperial IPAs. The oak adds an extra dimension which can work well with the style—especially imperial versions. This beer was not aged in oak barrels. Instead oak sprials were added to beer (in fermentation tanks) for the final 10-14 days of fermentation.

The tasting:  Deep golden in color, clear, with a white head that dissipates fairly slowly. The aroma is full of citrus and tropical fruit. Grapefruit, mandarin orange, mango, as well as a bit of alcohol are present in the nose. The taste starts with grapefruit bitterness. In the middle, biscuit and light caramel malt flavors emerge along with some boozy alcohol. Hop bitterness is moderate to high, but the malt backbone helps to keeps the bitterness in check. Downward Spiral is medium bodied, has a creamy mouth feel, and finishes with grapefruit and toasted oak. 

4 star. Really Good! I want this again!  When it comes to oak, less can be more. It usually adds a unique complexity, but too much can overwhelm. Downward Spiral has a great balance of oaky, hoppy, and malty flavors. Downward Spiral should be available until early 2014.

Have you tasted Downward Spiral? 

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