After being a third of the way to through their 30 Beers of 30 Years Series, Widmer Brothers’ announces the next three releases in their 30 Beers for 30 Years Series. The mid-90s are being represented in this latest bunch of releases that will include Widberry, Blackbier, and Big Ben Porter. If you want to try these three beers all three will be on tap for the first time at Bailey’s Taproom on Wednesday, July 30th beginning at 5:00pm.
These limited release beers, brewed to commemorate the brewery’s 30th anniversary, will be available in the Portland area beginning this week. Widberry, Blackbier, and Big Ben Porter will be available for the next few weeks in the Portland area in 22-ounce bottles and on draught. As with the previous 10 releases, only 30 cases of each beer will be available in the Portland market and each release has a unique bottle label designed by a local Portland artist.
“Widberry has a similar status to Altbier in our history,” said Kurt Widmer, co-founder of Widmer Brothers Brewing. “It has a huge, cult-like following among the beer folks here in Portland. There was a bit of a fruit beer boom in the mid-nineties, and Widberry took off during that time with no marketing whatsoever. It was one of the more popular beers from our past, and we still get asked to bring it back to this day. We hope everyone enjoys the re-release of Widberry, which was also our Oregon Brewers Festival beer this year as well.”
Blackbier is a great example of the brewery’s longstanding tradition of putting its unique spin on classic German styles. Blackbier is a German Schwarzbier, but instead of following the German tradition and fermenting it as a lager, the brothers fermented this version as an ale, as they did with many of their interpretations of German styles, with Widmer Brothers’ house Alt yeast. It is also higher in alcohol by volume than most traditional Schwarzbiers.
In 1996, Widmer Brothers went through the process of beer and label approval for Big Ben Porter – a London-style porter brewed with molasses and licorice. Widmer Brothers was told that it could not be referred to as a “traditional” London-style porter. The brewing team strongly disagreed and gathered evidence that proved Big Ben was brewed in traditional fashion. It was the first dispute with a positive outcome for the brewery, but certainly would not be the last. Big Ben Porter is also known as one of the most difficult beers to brew in Widmer Brothers’ history. Longtime Widmer Brothers Brewer Angel Marquez once risked life and limb for this beer, climbing into a kettle of boiling wort to dislodge a sticky sack of licorice.
Like all beers in the 30 Beers for 30 Years Series, an extremely limited quantity of each beer was brewed and packaged with unique label art from 30 different local artists and designers. Kate Bingaman-Burt designed the Widberry label, Orion Landau brought his style to the Blackbier label, and Bethany Ng created the Big Ben Porter label. To see the labels and learn more about the artists and the project, please visit www.30beersfor30years.com.
About the Beers
Widberry – 1994
Widberry is a “beer with berries, not the other way around.” Fruit beers were on the rise in 1994, so we brewed this beer using ingredients we love from our neck of the woods: black raspberries. With no resources put behind it, this beer was extremely well received and became one of our most popular. It’s a beer that we still get requests for 20 years later. 4.6% ABV
Blackbier – 1995
Blackbier is our version of a German Schwarzbier, which literally translates to, you guessed it, black beer. What set our version apart was that it was stronger in alcohol, and the fact that we used our house Alt/Hefe yeast and brewed it as an ale, which is contrary to the traditional method of lagering Schwarzbiers. 6.5% ABV
Big Ben Porter – 1996
The government didn’t want to let us call this London-style Porter a traditional beer, but our brewers did their homework and proved it was brewed in a traditional fashion with the addition of licorice and molasses. One of the hardest beers to brew in our history, one brewer, Angel Marquez, once climbed in the kettle full of boiling soon-to-be-beer and fetched a sack of licorice chunks that had gotten stuck. Prost to having brass ones. 5.5% ABV