Oct 28, 2013

Widmer Brothers Downward Spiral

Back in July of this year, I received a sample of Hopside Down, Widmer Brothers newly released India Pale Lager. The IPL is an interesting mashup of styles — one of which I’ve had a few examples of — but the Oregon brewery delivered one hell of a tasty beer with their interpretation. So what is a company to do with a beer that’s gotten some solid reviews and jump in demand for it. Well, if you’re Widmer Brothers you imperialize it, toss some oak spirals into the mix for good measure and name it Downward Spiral.

This 9% ABV (and 84 IBU) Imperial India Pale Lager (IIPL?) isn’t just an amped up version of it’s smaller sibling. The two beers may share the same base recipe, but Downward Spiral is a completely different beer, and not just because of the oak influence (which is actually quite minimal in my sample).

The hop profile of this big beer isn’t shy. Had I not known that this was actually a lager, I wouldn’t have had any complaints with simply calling this a Double IPA — it’s got one hell of a hop-forward character that would cause any hop-head to drool at the first sniff.


Downward Spiral pours a bright amber in color with a dense crown of off-white foam that fell slowly leaving behind excellent lacing on the glass.

Widmer Brothers Downward Spiral photo


Floral, herbal hops lead the way with hints of lemongrass, soft pine and distant wood. For such a big beer it only hints at the alcohol content.


A wash of citrusy, herbal hops arrive immediately before smoothly giving way to grain, light caramel and soft oak. The hop presence doesn’t completely disappear with the arrival of the lightly sweet malt and lager yeast. There’s a solid amount of bitterness that lasts well beyond the warming glow of alcohol in the finish. The brew is medium bodied, slightly viscous on the tongue and incredibly well balanced.


The lager aspect of this beer is what really makes it. Yes the hop profile is tantalizing and citrusy and lovingly biting, but it’s the lager in this big beer that makes it so well balanced and deceptively drinkable. Big hop flavor with an appropriate malt backbone with just the right levels of bitterness and sweetness? Yes please!

Rating: 4.25/5

This is a review of a promotional sample from the brewery.

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