Oatmeal Porter from Widmer Brothers Brewing
The newest addition to the Widmer Brothers 924 Series is the Oatmeal Porter. The 924 Series sits between the brewery's regular releases and their Brothers' Reserve Series. The regular 6 pack releases include the year round and widely known Hefeweizen as well as the Drop Top Amber, Drifter Pale Ale, and the Rotator IPA Series. These beers are the bulk of their portfolio and are seen all across the US. On the high end, Widmer releases their experimental quarterly Brothers' Reserve Series like the Lemongrass Wheat Ale and Brrrbon, sitting at about $10-$12 per 22 ounce bottle.
The casual customer will get a good porter, but for those patient few who know how to work their beer, this is a great pour.
The 924 Series is released in 4 packs and geared more toward the local beer geek crowd. It's no secret that I love the Neslon Imperial IPA. It's strong, bold, and based on the New Zealand Nelson hops which are sweet and lush, with huge pineapple, strawberry, and mango flavors. While there is some citrus in the flavor profile, it does differentiate itself from the rest of the IPAs in Portland with it's tendencies towards tropical fruit. This is a beer that knows its roots but still goes out on a limb.
The Oatmeal Porter on the other hand has very subtle values. The grain bill involves a custom oatmeal roast made especially for this beer. The addition of oatmeal to the beer is mostly to enhance the mouthfeel of the beer. The oats create an oily, silky mouthfeel, which is retained all the way through the brewing process and into to the final beer. Roasted oats can also contribute to the flavor profile, adding a toasted, bready, and sometimes a light coffee character, depending on the amount of roasting.
While these ingredients can have a big impact on the final beer, the result in the Widmer Brothers' Oatmeal Porter is not striking with a cold pour. The mouthfeel and flavors from the oatmeal are there, but it takes some patience to pull these flavors out. A pour directly from the refrigerator will yield a very good porter, but not an exceptional one. Immediately, there is a nice roasty flavor, some malt sweetness, and a slightly more viscous mouthfeel in the body than your ordinary porter. It's not until the stifling coldness departs that the true nature of this beer is revealed. You'll get closer to an optimal temperature if you take the bottle out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before opening it. This beer shows its details when served closer to 55° rather than the usual 35° fridge temperature.
The light roast expands a bit after a warmer pour, but it's the chocolate and caramel that really come out after being brought up to a higher serving temperature. The larger sweetness compliments the oatmeal mouthfeel and finishes with dark chocolate, tempered by the slight bitterness of the hop additions. There are also some nice earthy midtones, but those aren't attributed to a single factor, but rather the interplay of the oatmeal, dark chocolate malts, and some of the hop spice contributions.
I'm a confessed beer geek and I don't mind playing with my beer. That was a weird sentence to write, but there it is. The casual customer will get a good porter, but for those patient few who know how to work their beer, this is a great pour.
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