Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oregon, Part 2: The Widmer Brothers Pub / ウィドマー・ブラザーズ

Widmer Brothers Brewery is the largest brewery in Oregon. In fact, as part of the Craft Brew Alliance (w/ Redhook, Kona, et al.), it is the major producer in the 9th largest brewing company in the United States. However, due to Anheuser-Busch InBev’s 32% ownership stake in the Alliance, Widmer is no longer considered a “craft” brewer by the Brewers Association. Nor are their production numbers listed by the Oregon Brewers Guild. A lot of political wrangling … and bad blood in the press, but the Widmer brand just keeps on growing.

I hadn’t visited Widmer for a long time. About five years ago, I went to the Pub on a busy weekend night. After waiting for around 30 minutes, I ended up sharing a table with someone I had met in line. But the service was harried and the waiter got our orders wrong and the beers were just … okay.

Last February, during the state-wide Zwickelmania event, several of us wanted to visit the brewery. But the line was far too long, and -- even though Widmer’s Hefeweizen is the favorite beer of one person in our group, and he really wanted to take the tour -- we gave up.

So, I when I was in Portland recently, I thought I’d give the Pub another try. The space consists of two large high-ceilinged rooms, with lamps dangling from very long cords. Lots of brick, red walls, wood floors, and only one (silenced, thankfully) TV near the bar. 

The atmosphere was very pleasant at lunch time. The place was moderately crowded and a bit noisy. The young server was enthusiastic and eager to talk beer, but he also gave me time to consider the selection before I ordered a tasting set and a hamburger.

The bar offers 24 taps (though not all were on): Four year-round brews; four seasonals; and thirteen small batch brews. Pints go for $5. $12 gets you a tasting set of six 5-oz glasses. $1 off on pints during Happy Hour, which are 2-5pm Mon-Fri.

The food menu is fairly good, a cut above the typical pub fare. Many types of sandwiches, burgers, sausages, along with a selection of gluten-free choices. 

Widmer has been upping its game over the past several years. It seems that they had been resting on their laurels and depending far too much on their flagship Hefeweizen – at one point it accounted for a full 80% of sales. These days the beer is all pretty good to very good. Go there and see -- but go during daylight hours.

 Here are a couple of standouts from the tasting set:

Double M.A.C., (Session IPA)
A nice, mixed fruity hop nose. Medium copper/straw color with good lace. Balanced from the start, with a touch of grain and some smooth plum and darker fruit notes. Slightly thin, with some hop texture. It is dry hopped twice with Mosaic, Amarillo, and Cascade (hence, M. A. C.). Delicious stuff.

Old Embalmer , (Barley Wine) 
This 10.2% heavy hitter has a large caramel nose, with some decided alcohol fumes. Clear copper/brown color, with a filmy head, and good lace. The big caramel initial slowly twists around to balance in mid and then flattens out a bit. The finish brings back the caramel, with a bit of hopping. Heavy body, and quite smooth. Almost a caramel bomb, but not quite. A very pleasant sipper.

The Widmer Brothers Pub
929 N. Russell
Portland, Oregon United States 97227
503 281 2437

Dining Room Hours: 
Sunday - Thursday 11:00am - 10:00pm
Friday - Saturday 11:00am - 11:00pm

Bar Hours:
Sunday - Thursday 11:00am - 10:30pm
Friday - Saturday 11:00am - 11:00pm

Brewery Tours:
Fridays at 2:00pm & 3:00pm
Saturdays at 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm & 3:00pm
Sundays at 1:00pm & 2:00pm

1 comment:

  1. Glad you made it. Like you said Nevitt, Widmer has been stepping up it's game as of late.