Widmer Brothers "Brrr"
I think it’s safe to say, the Weatherman doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s been cold, really cold. This is by far the coldest winter I’ve witnessed in Birmingham. A few weeks ago, I spent two nights away from home, all because of a beer run. At the time, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. I got off work early and thought that a trip to Hop City seemed like the perfect idea. During this story, I want you to know that on an average day, I live less than 30 minutes away from the adult version of a candy store. Half way up I-65, it started to snow, but the meteorologist in our area said all we would get was “a light dusting, with little-to-no accumulation” so I continued on. Did my eyes tell me otherwise? Maybe. Should I have gone straight home? Probably. Was it worth it? YES! After nine hours of creeping from Hop City to the Lakeshore exit on 65, I realized that it was time to jump ship. I left my car on the side of the freeway, gathered up my brews, and hiked uphill in the snow to find shelter. Thanks to the hospitality of some really awesome people, I enjoyed the fruits of my labor that evening.
Here we are, two weeks later, and that damn snow is taunting us again. This time, out of respect for my wife, when I got off work early, I didn’t go to Hop City. Instead I double checked the forecast, remembered that the Weatherman was an idiot, and stopped somewhere on my way home. The Country Grocery AKA the Citgo gas station on the corner of Hwy 52 and Hwy 31 in Pelham was a much safer bet. His selection is the best on that side of Shelby County, it’s a great place to shop. Anyway, while I was there, I picked up a sixer of “Brrr” from Widmer Brothers Brewing out of Portland, Oregon. The name alone was a sign that I needed to buy it. I also purchased another beer you may have heard of, Rammer Jammer. It was a waste of my money!
This time, I got home without a hiccup. The label says that it is a Winter Red Ale and RateBeer calls it an American Strong Ale, whatever you want to call it, I couldn’t wait try it. Immediately, I fished my bottle opener out of the drawer, and opened up this bad boy. It looked fantastic pouring into my favorite snifter. The copper color with a red hue was exactly what I was expecting. The light tan almost white head dissipated quickly, leaving behind a thin layer of bubbles that stuck to the side of my glass. At first when I smelled the brew, I didn’t get a whole lot. Sweet malts were very pronounced, but as the beer sat there, it really started to open up. In addition to the malty notes, I started to get a lot of grapefruit aroma. I can tell you, snorting beer is not recommended. Once I got the beer out of my nose, it was time to drink. The beer began sweet like a Strong Ale. Toffee, caramel, and very light cinnamon were the first things I noticed, but then the citrusy hop notes of an IPA jumped out at me. Very well balanced, no one flavor overpowered the other. The more I drank, the more I started to notice the alcohol. Never was it too strong, but just enough to keep you warm. Technically this is a High Gravity beer, weighing in at 7.2% abv, however this is starting to be on the low side of the spectrum compared to all the 10% plus beers that are out there. This brew drinks very well, a sweet and smooth body mixed with just the right amount of booziness makes it a great winter time session beer. Of course by saying it is a session beer, I’m assuming you are stuck at home for a couple of days and don’t have to go anywhere for a while. I liked this beer a lot, and even though I found it to be a little weak to be called a Strong Ale, the hoppy Winter Red Ale gets an 8 out of 10 in my book.
Next time it snows, make sure you’ve got a good stockpile of beer. Forget the bread, and screw the milk, when it’s cold outside you need something that’s going to warm you up. A quality, high abv craft beer will do the trick.