Alright, it is time to get down to brass tacks. We’ve been in Seattle for a week (yes, we’re in Seattle—I know it is so hard to keep track of our incessant shenanigans), and have been lollygagging around. Much like another Lolli I know. Anyway. Widmer. And the Nelson Sauvin hop. It is all the rage with the kids now-a-days. Or something. This beer comes from the 924 Series, which when I searched the Widmer site came back with nothing. So it’s like the Rotator series, but more secret. Again, or something. Surprisingly, only our second beer from Widmer—the last one being Drifter Pale Ale, way back in ’09. How far you going back? Way back. As we go a little something like this...
Nelson Imperial IPA pours a hazy copper, much like a bright shiny penny, with an eggshell colored head that sticks around rather well. The nose is a mix of hop spiciness and caramel malt, with the caramel standing in for the more delicate aromas. A small amount of fruitiness does peek out from behind the caramel, however. Elli describes it as “banana-like fruitiness—not the banana-clove, but the starchy sweet banana aroma of fruit.” I get tropical fruit, but have little to offer besides that. Aromas are more perfume-y as the beer opens up, allowing the tropical fruitiness to come out in the beer. Flavors start with the caramel sweetness and hop spiciness of the nose, although it is still soft on the palate. The tropical fruitiness starts to emerge in the middle, along with a gentle bitterness, leading to the bright floral finish—there are touches of apple and pear, and more of the tropical fruit leading into the concluding bitterness. Nelson Imperial also finishes lightly spritzy; while it starts rather heavy on the palate, it finishes lighter and brighter. There is a good amount of lingering bitterness, albeit of a gentler variety—no sharpness or harshness. A decent beer overall, but it does strike us as rather unbalanced—there is an abundance of caramel malt that covers over the more delicate components of the Nelson Sauvin hop. Or, as Jeffrey would describe it, this is something of a caramel bomb. We’d like to see someone make a light, easy-drinking APA with a boatload of Nelson Sauvin so we can experience the nuanced descriptors ascribed to this hop. Because a caramel-heavy Imperial seems the wrong route to nuance—this beer doesn’t earn its size. Maybe that’s just us. But I doubt it.
From the Widmer website: “Take your taste buds on a journey to the far side of the world. New Zealand’s legendary Nelson Sauvin hop gives us a powerful hoppy character, but none of the heaviness you sometimes find in Imperial IPAs. The result is a big brew with a sweet, malty character that perfectly balances the intense hop aroma and flavor.”
Malt: 2-row Pale, Carapils, Caramel 10L
Hops: Alchemy, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Willamette
Bottled: August 29, 2011
Didn’t expect the Cockney rhyming slang angle, did you?