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TGIF Craft Beer Salute of the Week

Widmer Brother’s Drifter Pale AleThis week’s vexing question is: is what the heck is pale ale?  I turned to The Oxford Companion to Beer to get my answer. For beer enthusiasts this book is a must-have. Its editor-in-chief is none other than Brookyln Brewery’s Brewmaster, Garrett Oliver and at a little over 900 pages, this almost epic volume of reference has everything you might need to quell your beer curiosity. But I digress. Back to the question at hand: what makes a pale ale a pale ale? I turn to page 638 for my answer. Well friends, it turns out a pale ale doesn’t pertain to a specific style of beer, instead, it serves as an umbrella term that describes a, “copper-colored, hop-forward, bitter beer.”  Without getting too technical, pale ales are basically any beer that isn’t dark nor one that is top-fermented.

This is a perfect way to describe this week’s TGIF Craft Beer Salute: the deliciously subtle and citrusy Widmer Brother’s Drifter Pale Ale. As Oliver’s definition states,  this brew is a hop-forward, copper-colored beer. Add in a hint of grapefruit and you get the idea. Yum. In terms of being bitter, this beer is moderately bitter, at least much less so than an India Pale Ale. The Widmer Brothers, Kurt and Rob Widmer, quit their day jobs in the early ‘80s and began brewing beer in Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District, once an industrial warehouse zone that now boasts art galleries and high-rent homes. Like the story of many brewers begins, the Widmers started making beer because they didn’t like what was out on the market. Containing 5.7% alcohol, this beer is a little higher than the standard 5%, but I argue that its smooth, delicious well-rounded character and drinkability makes it a prime candidate for a good session beer. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Portland area, the brewery offers free tours on Fridays and Saturdays and like most good breweries, hosts a brewpub, The Gasthaus, that’s open for lunch and dinner, rated with 3.5 stars on yelp. Until next week, bottom’s up!

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