Yesterday I took a tour of Widmer Brothers Innovation Brewhouse, and wanted to share how much of a dork I looked like wearing a hard hat while we were walking around 😂.
They use a 10bbl, 4 vessel system that’s fully automated. Pretty slick! They did this for consistency in their final product, mainly. The idea behind the smaller setup is to experiment with ingredients from all over Oregon and to have fun doing it. They produce one-off beers in order to perfect a certain style, and crank them out pretty quickly. Last year they made over 140 different beers, keeping only 20 for repeat brews. Another thing they find important is collaborations, aiming to do between two to four a month.
Head Brewer Thomas Bleigh was kind enough to let me try Mr. Sparkle off the zwickel, a dry helles lager that’s set to be released next week. I was impressed by the range of styles that they’re producing in smaller batches for Widmer, allowing the pub to carry new offerings on a regular basis.
The barrel room is still under construction, but when completed these babies will live there. They’ll be working on a sour program as well, hiding all of their goodies in a speakeasy-style room just off the main taproom. According to Bleigh, you’ll have to be in the know to enter. More details on that as construction progresses.
Many were sad to hear of the restaurant closing last November. The brewpub has since been remodeled, with the focus being more on the Innovation Brewhouse beers. You can bring in your own food or order from a food truck nearby. I’m not completely sold on the atmosphere, honestly. It feels more like a pit stop than a destination. Very few women were around, and the bar games attracted groups of beer bros.
I tried a few beers while I was there, and all were solid offerings.
- 🍺 Freckle Juice 🌟🌟🌟 (3.5) Gose with pickle brine, collab with Spring Valley Brewing
- 🍺 Hospitality 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4) IPA with pineapple/tropical flavored hops + a little pineapple puree
- 🍺 Holz Helles 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4) Collab with Ancestry Brewing
- 🍺 Holz Helles (Barrel-aged) 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4) Oak barrel-aged. Nice floral and wood characteristics.
- 🍺 Thing #6 🌟🌟🌟 (3.75) Hazy IPA, Bitter with a nice hoppy nose
- 🍺 Glazed and Confused 🌟🌟🌟 (3.75) Stout made with Blue Star Donuts
Widmer Summer Beer Garden
As part of the tour, I got an early look at the summer Beer Garden that’s located across the street from the pub. It’s open to families and well behaved pets, with 12 taps of beer and a rotating food truck.
The garden opens today to aide in celebrating Hefe Day, now the 32nd anniversary of the day the first keg of Hefe was delivered in 1986.