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Review: Widmer Brothers SXNW

Posted by Gary Dzen, Staff  November 8, 2012 07:54 AM

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One of the best parts of my job is the ability to try rare, limited-edition beers I might otherwise not be able to enjoy. It may seem like there are a million of these beers out there, but I do my best to curate the list and review the beers I think are most interesting for readers. It's impossible to get to everything, and I always welcome suggestions and stories about great beers you've had.

One brewery I don't focus enough on is Portland, Oregon's Widmer Brothers, one of the industry's pioneers. Widmer Bros. puts out a lot of beer, but like many other big breweries they have a reserve series that showcases exceptional small-batch brews.

widmerSXNW.jpgLimited edition No. 7, bottled on Aug. 8, 2012, is Widmer's South by Northwest (SXNW), a beer "at the crossroads somewhere between the blazing sun of New Mexico and the steel grey clouds of Oregon." The southern ingredients in the beer are green chilis and toasted pecans, while chocolate references the warming coffee culture of the Pacific Northwest. SXNW is classified as an American Strong Ale, but this is one of those beers that defies classification. If you said it was a porter or a stout you wouldn't be wrong.

The beer pours a dark chestnut with very little head. It smells of chocolate and cinnamon. It looks like a beer to take your time with.

The first sip is velvety smooth. Roasty and sweet, this is one of the more chocolatey beers I have ever tasted. I can't help but think of Cocoa Puffs. The beer actually gets better as it warms up.

Like with many good beers that use peppers, the green chilis hit the back of your throat well after you've swallowed the beer down. Have no fear, the heat is subtle. Warming alcohol (9.3 percent ABV) rounds out the brew. This is a really interesting beer, worth seeking out. It's sold in 22-ounce bottles, and once this batch is gone it's gone.

Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

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