Usually sample beers sent to me by breweries are pretty straightforward: Box, bubble wrap, beer.
Then along came Widmer Bros. and their promotional push for the new Alchemy Ale:
Yes, that would be the beer, a pint glass and four vials containing hops, yeast, grains and water.
Pretty fancy indeed, and it got me thinking, “Boy, this looks like a great effort to distract from what the real issue is here — the beer.” But of course, I’m not easily distracted. Except by sports on TV. And delicious chicken wings. And Words With Friends. Where was I? Oh yes, the beer.
Let’s get to my review of Widmer Bros. Alchemy Ale.
This is an American pale ale that checks in at 5.8 percent ABV and 40 IBUs.
The beer had a golden-orange color and excellent clarity. It had a moderate head that faded quickly. It had a prominent hop aroma.
I noticed a very tangy hop bite up front that mellowed and smoothed out as I progressed through the beer. A hop spiciness lingered slightly on the back of the tongue after sipping.
I felt the beer was hop-forward, but definitely leaned more toward the late- or dry-hopped side of the equation. I didn’t find it to have significant bitterness. I think this allowed it to strike a decent balance between the hop and malt.
The most interesting thing about the beer to me is the character of the hops. Widmer says the beer is hopped with a proprietary blend of Pacific Northwest hops they call the Alchemy blend. I found the hop flavor to be predominantly spicy; it was a change from the largely floral hops that seem to be more popular right now.
I also found that the beer was hopped enough to let the hops clearly show through and assert themselves, but not so much that you weren’t sure if the beer was a pale ale or an IPA. This is definitely a pale ale.
Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable, creative beer. I was pleasantly surprised by its restraint — anymore it seems commercial pale ales almost always push the boundary of becoming an IPA. I would drink it again.
-The pint night at TapWerks tonight is Piraat Belgian IPA.
-Coming soon to local liquor stores: Sam Adams Porch Rocker — a lager blended with lemonade in the tradition of the Bavarian Radler.
-Angry Orchard coming out with some new ciders.