Monday, December 26, 2011


I realized it was almost December 25th, and I'd had all of one holiday/Christmas beer the whole season - my annual Anchor "Our Special Ale", which I haven't missed a one of since at least the 90s. For years I've headed down to San Francisco's Toronado around this time, which they put a pretty 'lil Xmas bow on their beer board next to every seasonal beer they're pouring. Back in the day, that would typically be well over 20 beers; on my recent visit there, it was all of four. 

I have to feel a little for The Toronado - once and for many years the only real game in town for the beer connoisseur, they've been recently leapfrogged and beaten into near-irrelevance by at least five other local establishments who put beer selection and "a good customer experience" at the forefront of their mission. As a result, the place seems to be returning to its early 90s roots, where I first found it, as a place for local drunkards who happen to like good beer and getting sneered at by the staff. And it's obviously not the place for Christmas beer any longer. That said, I was so desperate for something spicy and befitting of the holidays that I actually ordered a WIDMER BROTHERS' "BRRR" - and get this, actually liked it. A lot.

Unfortunately I wasn't in Beer Samizdat mode and decided to socialize with a friend instead - so no notes were taken. I could pretend and make something up; "a malty sweetness followed by a caramel mouthfeel" or somesuch - but that would be lying. I just liked it. So the next day I bought a bottle of a "limited edition", fancily-bottled WIDMER BROTHERS "Barrel-Aged Brrrboun 2011" and drank it that night. It's "Brrr" - but aged in a barrel!! And full 'o alcohol!! What could go wrong?

Well, if this was aged in a barrel I'm not tasting it. It's a thin-bodied, brownish-orange, semi-opaque ale with no head whatsoever. Malts - lots of malts. Yes, caramel. A small alcohol burn was present, and hey, at times this thing approximated that delicious pint I'd had at the Toronado the night before. But at $11.99 or whatever it was I paid for it, I felt a little rooked. It tastes what you'd expect an experimental ale from a "micro/macro" like Widmer to taste like - decent, but not especially well crafted. Pass on it & head for their low-ABV, basic conversation-enhancing holiday ale instead. 6/10.

No comments: