What happens when a small craft brewery officially tips over into the mid-sized brewery world? At Widmer Brothers, which merged with Redhook a few years ago, a reserve series is born. According to a press release, the third (and new) release in the series is “a showcase of the innovative skills and creative passions for craft brewing that founders and brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer share.” In plain English, that just-released Brrrbon barrel-aged ale was a pet project. Sort of.
It's the Catch-22 of the American craft beer dream. Entrepreneurial home brewers anxiously await the day they too may own the next local craft brewery turned national grocery store “craft-like” beer brand. Or as local new-to-professional-brewing Eagle Rock Brewery owners Jeremy and Steve Raub like to say, it's impossible to remain a microbrewery and be that American vision of commercial success at the same time. “The first generation of home brewers who went professional, like Anchor, just sold,” says Steve. “These guys that started years ago are now at the point that they are very successful, and retiring. Really, it's what we all hope to do.” Opportunity-knocks point taken.
But we were talking about those special release reserve beers that hark back to an earlier pre-Industrial Revolution Widmer Bros. era. The first in the series was the Cherry Oak Doppelbock, followed by the Prickly Pear Braggot, and the third, that Brrrbon ale, is out this month. Not half bad. Quite good, actually, in that “creative passions”-turned-corporate sort of way.