Here’s yet another Imperial IPA to hit the market. This one, Nelson Imperial IPA, is from Oregon’s Widmer brewing company. Widmer, of course, is part of a larger company called Craft Brew Alliance along with Redhook and Kona Brewing. They are most famous for their Hefeweizen, which was the first “American” hefeweizen.
Widmer’s Nelson Imperial IPA is named for one of the hop varieties with which it is made, Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand. This isn’t the only hop used, however, as Widmer employs Cascades, Willamettes, and Alchemy hops, too. Widmer used to call this beer Deadlift Imperial IPA, but changed the name apparently to stress the use of the seemingly exotic Nelson Sauvin hop.
Nelson Imperial IPA is also made with Carapils, Caramel 10 Lovibond and two row pale malt. It has 70 IBUs and 8.6% alcohol by volume. I found this statement by Widmer to be curious, especially after I had tasted the beer:
“New Zealand’s Legendary Nelson Sauvin Hop gives us a powerful hoppy character, but none of the heaviness you sometimes find in Imperial IPAs.”
The latter, of course, is a pet peeve of mind. Throw too much malt at an Imperial IPA and you get barleywine, I think. Anyway, let’s have a taste, shall we?
Widmer Nelson Imperial IPA pours to a slightly hazy orange color with a light creamy head formation and a decided caramelly malt nose. Right off the bat this one surprised me, as I was expecting more hop aroma, especially after reading the label description. In the palate, I get a lot of caramel up front, some bready malt and then some aromatic, fragrant, leafy hops. Really, though, not a lot of hop bitterness, and not even as much aroma as I might expect in a double IPA.
Initially the malt here reminded me more of a Barleywine, and I was definitely looking for more hops in an Imperial IPA. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad beer, but it’s just not reminding me of a double IPA, and not a beer that I would pay $8.99 for a four pack for again. I would be much more inclined to buy something hoppy from Lagunitas, or perhaps Pyramid Outburst Imperial IPA from the same region, a much hoppier brew that’s a dollar less for two more bottles.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.