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Friday night, September 7th at 6:55PM, I shuffled my arse into the VIP line for the commencement of the two day Widmer Oktoberfest. I was sweating profusely and though I wish I could poetically blame it on anxiety due to this being my first on-duty beer event, it was more likely due to the 97 degree heat and the large crowd waiting to get into see the Sami Rouissi Band followed by the Portland Cello Project—all while enjoying beer and sunset and brats drowned in kraut.

Upon entry, I got my string of carnival ticket tokens and was off the beer tent. Fortunately, most of the early crowd attacked the food line first. I, too hot to eat, was grateful for the non-existent beer line.

I dove straight into the Okto Festival Ale as this had been the carrot that drew me to this event in the first place. It was cold!!! Perhaps a little too cold for optimal serving temperature because it felt more like ice water going down that a solid German style ale. While I got hints of yeast and malt—and other beer-like things—it was mostly just a really fast drink. The difference between the Okto and the Rotator IPA was not as great as I would have liked. Both of them were easy to chug, partially because there wasn’t much to chew on. The Hefeweizen, of course, has always been my go to when Widmer is the offering. It’s not the best and brightest, but it is consistent, easy, and enjoyable.

Widmer Pour

While I was contemplating how a brewery with consistent—but not particularly complex or unique offerings—had made such a huge reputation for themselves it hit me like a building brick to the head: these are the exact, easy to drink, non-pallet challenging beers that the target market wants. If that's the goal, then I’d call all three offerings a success. Every now and then I’m forced to get off my beer snob high horse and remember that not everyone wants the most bitter, most yeasty, most complex or most sour thing they can gargle. Sometimes people just want a cold beer buzz and a danceable groove to go with it.

A few beers in and listening to the Portland Cello Project shamelessly go from C&C Music Factory to Hall & Oats to Pantera, I couldn’t help but get lost in the moment, under the stars, enjoying one of the last summer nights in Portland.

For an end of summer celebration for the masses, Widmer hit their mark.

DISCLAIMER: It is quite possible that the reason that I found the Widmer selections a little too easy on the palette is because I had just come from Apex, enjoying both a Boneyard Hop Venom and a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, while sending a co-worker off to a new job. There is a good chance that these intense, hop heavy tongue pleasers had ruined me for thoroughly enjoying anything less hard-hitting. That said, Widmer has never wowed me with anything particularly unique or intense. Their high marks are for consistency and mass appeal.