When you ask a random person if they drink beer, typically they will answer no, as the majority of the world does not purposely consume beer. But for those that have drank beer, what you do expect they will answer with? Some sort of fizzy yellow beer? Everybody has at least heard of the standard mass-produced beer that costs cheap, lacks flavor, and lacks alcohol content. As a general rule, if you can see through the beer, avoid drinking it. With this said, how can you determine beer worth drinking? One cannot simply look for the alcohol content, as that alone does not govern the preference of a beer. I have tried the (current) world’s strongest beer, and that 41% beer did not taste that good. On the other hand, many beers I have tried from 12% to 27% taste amazing. In order to determine the quality of beer, just like food, you have to look at the entire taste experience, from start to finish. To find a beer that delivers layers of flavor throughout the drink, look no further than Widmer Brothers.
Famously known for their Hefeweizen, Widmer Brothers brews diverse a slew of craft beers out of their Portland brewery. Featuring a beer for every taste imaginable, Widmer clearly shows that they place only one egg in many different baskets. From IPAs to ambers to wheats to stouts, Widmer covers the entire spectrum of ales. Sadly, over 90% of everyone who has heard of Widmer only knows them for their Hefeweizen, which sucks because they make lots of awesome brews. Take their Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout for example. Weighing in at 9.3% abv, this Russian Imperial Stout gets infused with real Raspberries to give it a subtle aftertaste once you get past the strong espresso and chocolate notes expected in most Russian Imperial Stouts. Up front, a blast of dark chocolate and roasted malts hits your taste buds. Moving forward, you being to taste hints of vanilla and a sweet fruit, as the espresso builds up. After the espresso hits you in the nose, the raspberry kicks in as you down your brew. This may surprise many consumers, but this layering of flavors perfectly highlights what craft beers should aim to do with their ingredients. Why drink a beer that always tastes the same? You might as well throw a burger, fries, and a milkshake in a blender. You want to absorb the flavors at intervals, not all at once. Some may criticize the raspberry for only slightly showing up at the end, but think logically about the order of which you receive the flavors. You have may heard of chocolate-covered fruits like raspberries, but do you ever see raspberry-covered chocolates?
I posted a picture of the Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout’s 2012 version above. By now, they have already released a 2013 version on limited release. Luckily they have a beer finder on their website that you can utilize to locate a bottle near you. If you desire a beer with fruit that does not necessarily taste like framboise, seek out a bottle of Widmer Brothers’ Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout while supplies last. Keep the bottle too – it makes a great decorative ornament.