Widmer Brothers, Brewers Reserve Prickly Pear Braggot

Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
Grade: C+

My God, what a hiatus!

Life got in the way, as life often does. But no more. No my friends, I have filled the fridge with a selection of new and fresh off the truck releases, and it's back to the grind. I figured that with such a long wait between reviews, I had better make this a good one. So I tried to find the weirdest beer I could find, and ended up with Widmer Brothers Prickly Pear Braggot. What the hell is a braggot? Essentially it's a beer made with a large amount of honey, sometimes up to half of the ingredients, with malted barley making up the rest. It results in a very unique and interesting beer, one that few commercial brewers do well.

A thin white head drops to practically nothing after a semi-vigorous pour. The beer is crystal clear, like, I can read the newspaper through this, clear. The color is a beautiful orange gold. Actually it reminds me of honey. The aroma has very obvious sweet elements, toffee and sweet caramel. There's some fruit in there as well, tending more towards the stone fruit rather than a citrus. Some bread mixes in with the sweet, sugar nose, giving it a nice complexity.

The mouthfeel trends towards medium, but not coating or syrupy. Given the aroma I expected to be able to pour this on my pancakes, but the reality is that the body is nicely balanced. The flavor gives me more of that light-colored caramel sweetness, almost candy-like. I don't know what prickly pear smells or tastes like, but I would say that there is a slight hint of fruit in here, but not much. I have to say that honey is the main flavor component here. There are some floral notes mixed in with everything else, but the sweetness is covering up some of these nuances. Surprisingly enough, there is some bitterness. It comes in a little late, but it does work to strike a balance between the sweetness of the honey. While sweeter than I normally like my beers, the finish leaves my palate relatively dry, and ready for another sip.

I don't think I would reach for this on a regular basis, but I can't say it's a bad beer. In fact it's very clean, pretty well balanced (for a honey-beer), and in general tastes pretty good. In fact, it tastes like a beer, which I sometimes find lacking in the (rare) commercial examples of this style. I think Widmer is one of those beer companies that kind of fell off the map when the craft beer boom hit. But with these very assertive and bold Brewers Reserve beers, I think that Widmer is going to find themselves in the limelight again.