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Nelson Imperial IPA - Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

Nelson Imperial IPANelson Imperial IPA

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

522 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 522
Reviews: 180
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 11.39%

Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  8.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
70 IBU
Original Gravity : 21 Plato
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Carapils, Caramel 10-L
Hops: Alchemy, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Willamette

(Beer added by: olmatty on 04-06-2011)
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Ratings: 522 | Reviews: 180 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Hoppsbabo

United Kingdom (England)

3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Dull amber with a frothy off-white head.

S: Loads of tropical fruit.

T: Big, welcoming tropical fruit and orange peel. Very sharp. Let's allow it to warm up. A suggestion of tea-leaves. Lovely level of sweetness, which is why it's a bit sticky. It's got that strong alcoholic syrupy quality, like a barley wine. Has a nice bitter backbone and while there's enough malt to carry the hops there's no particular malt character.

M: Right amount of carbonation.

O: A very generic tasting American IPA and certainly not the best example I've had. With these fruit bombs I tend to be blown away by the first few glugs and desperately bored by the last few. Overall, a little bit two dimensional but I enjoyed drinking it none the less.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2014 11:07:52 | More by Hoppsbabo
Photo of hoegaardenhero


3.55/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: the beer pours a nice clear copper/amber but has almost no head, just ring of white bubbles; there is some light, lazy movement in the glass.

s: light fruity, citrusy hop in the front of the nose but the dominant smell is that sort of thick sweet hoppy smell;

t: no surprise that the taste has hops some earthy/spicy hops, but the main taste for me is that sort of muddled syrupy hops/malt blend that too many IPAs have; the beer is not bad for me, but i really dislike it when IPAs favor this sort of muddled thick hop taste over a crisp refreshing one -- common for the style, but not required.

m: medium mouthfeel that is slick and a little oily, and a bit mouthcoating - moderate-faint carb, but tight tiny bubbles.

d: to me this beer gets lost as another sort of OK IPA that s too sweet and does not make the best of its substantial ABV and hops. missed opportunity.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2014 09:56:19 | More by hoegaardenhero
Photo of metter98

New York

3.91/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very hazy golden orange in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high beige colored head that quickly died down, leaving a collar of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Nelson Sauvin hops impart light to moderate aromas of gooseberries and tropical fruits to the nose; hints of grapefruit from the Cascade hops are also noticeable.
T: The taste mostly follows the smell and is dominated by flavors of gooseberries along with notes of passionfruit and grapefruit. While only a light amount of bitterness is perceptible, only hints of the underlying malts are perceptible.
M: It feels medium-bodied and somewhat crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite drinkable because the taste masks any traces of alcohol. There's a very good balance between the malts and bitterness, but there's hardly much of any of them in the taste to make you believe that this beer is an Imperial IPA. The variety of different hops used in this beer result in an interesting flavor profile.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2014 03:09:02 | More by metter98
Photo of delta490


3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- poured a cloudy orange gold with a big creamy tan head. Slight retention and some lacing

S-aroma is strongly robust caramel and citrus hops in the background

T-mirrors the aroma. Big malt backbone and more subtle hops than most imperials

M- full with a slight resinous slickness

O-not a real hop bomb but well crafted and tasty

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2013 03:04:39 | More by delta490
Photo of anarchia


4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Transparent orange/gold beer with a thin head with good retention. Citrus & floral hops in the nose, thick on the tongue, maybe a tad too "syrupy" for my tastes. Sweet but not quite too sweet. Hops don't kick in immediately, they're much more noticeable in the finish. Individual hop flavors stand out, hitting the tongue one after the other: super fruity, almost like jolly ranchers! Intense orange/grapefruit and other citrusy flavors, slightly bitter finish, fairly dry. I think I would like this beer more if it weren't so "big". There is a lot of amazing flavor squeezed out of the hops without any heavy bitterness.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2013 03:56:50 | More by anarchia
Photo of joeworrall


4.11/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

poured from a bottle into a wine glass, comparing it head to head with Green Flash Green Bullet Triple IPA and New Belgium Imperial IPA.

I've heard of Widmer Brothers, but didn't think of them as a "craft" beer brewer until today. I read about this IPA and was anxious to try it. It did not disappoint...

Lovely dark amber color, and subtle hop aroma and flavor. Subtle... nice, but not overwhelming. You can taste the malted barley with the hop flavor balancing it.

this is a beer I will come back to again... not a bargain, but a well crafted IPA that I will look forward to enjoying again

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2013 02:59:39 | More by joeworrall
Photo of Birdmarg741


3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours with a solid head but low retention. Melts away quickly into a clumpy layer of mid sized bubbles. A nice golden yellow-orange color

S: Incredible. One of the best smells I have encountered in a while. Such a unique IPA. The traditional spicy smell of "hops" is there, but quite subtle. Smells of grapes, peaches, floral grass, honey - but amazingly not all that sweet. Clean

T: A bit muted in comparison to the smell. Not so bright, but full and rich. Tastes like heavy wine; dried raisins and spice add to the heaviness. Interesting how the hop spice tastes like wine pairing spices.

M: Lighter in the mouthfeel than in the whole sip experience.

O: A very interesting and lovely beer. A different experience from your typical IPA. Absolutely worth trying. I would certainly drink more.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2013 23:48:12 | More by Birdmarg741
Photo of 1sophrosyne1


3.66/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed in an IPA glass over 25 minutes.
The base has a soft orange glow, as the density if haze is just sufficiently permissive of light. Streams of carbonation are visible through the haze. A generous french-vanilla head holds on rather well, leaving creamy lumps that feed lacing for much of the time one spends with a serving.
The smell is bracing, bright, and bitter. Grapefruit coated in ginger leaps up and seems to grab taste buds through the nose even before a sip. Accompanying must increases with standing, and it morphs into fungal cheese warmth. Sweetness tracks with the funk and brings along other subtle fruit scents like cherry, mango, and a little apricot. It's a marvelous blend, but the fungus begins to overwhelm an earlier grassiness with time.
Right from the first sip, much of the taste profile represents contrast. It's surprisingly sweet. Hops are prominent through their oils and esters that are cut lightly by a squeeze of lime. It's fairly metallic and boozy through the middle. The bitterness that characterized the early nose finally enters the back end of the taste profile along with an aftertaste of earth and pine. Malt holds the center with a touch of allspice all the way through to keep together an otherwise haphazard collection of flavors.
It's nice and slick over the teeth, and could use more carbonation to cut the heavy layering effect over the tongue The beer continues to be chewy long after a swallow, hanging onto the back of the tongue with piney hop-oils.
I think my expectations interfered with the possibility of enjoying this brew more. They were enhanced by the initial sights and smells, but the flavor just doesn't have me reaching for more. Although, my bottle had been sitting too long, and even though I kept it cold, I don't think I had the as good and balanced an experience as I might have, based on what I read in others' fresher reviews.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2013 23:46:11 | More by 1sophrosyne1
Photo of ISmith87


4.26/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got a 4 pack of this for 7.50 at BevMo here in Phoenix. Figured I'd try it since it was relatively cheap for an IIPA.

A - Nice clear orange color to it, a little paler than other iIPAs, big frothy white head, still a thick ring when it dies down. Leaves perfect rings of lacing on the glass.

S - Rich maltiness with a citrusy/piney hop background. Definitely some grapefruit, lemon/lime, and orange in there too. Nice smell to it.

T - Hop forward. A lot of citrusy hop flavors up front, grapefruit/orange/lemon/lime/mango with a bitterness and pine flavor in the background. Leaves a piney aftertaste that's nice. From the smell I was expecting the malt backbone to be more intense but it's actually really well balanced and good for the style of beer.

M - Nice, light mouthfeel. ABV well hidden at 8.6%. It's an alternative to Hoptimum, which is a little bit more alcohol forward (but also over 10% alc). This beer is really well balanced.

O - Well balanced, good IIPA option. Doesn't live up to Ruination or Hop Stoopid but comes close to Stone IPA and Firestone Walker Union Jack. However, I would definitely say the price played into it.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2013 05:49:24 | More by ISmith87
Photo of Hendry


4.39/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pale copper color,clear as a bell,fluffy two finger bone white head sticks around well before leaving some sticky lacing in the glass, well carbonated.

Aroma is nicely hoppy, but moderately so, malt is barely noticeable.The Nelson hops have a pleasant nose in this IIPA.

Taste is grapefruit/orange rind & pine, slight lingering bitterness on the swallow.The malt has a slight introduction in the initial taste,but not in an overpowering way.

Mouthfeel is very nice, light medium,crisp and dry finish.

Always a good thing when you are pleasantly surprised by a purchase made on a hunch. I was on vacation in Maine and decided to grab this one on a whim, and it turned out to be a solid selection.If you like hops over malt, and a smooth drinker, pick this one up!

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2013 04:22:37 | More by Hendry
Photo of BeerLover99


3.25/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: amber body, finger khaki head, fine lacing

S: ripe fruit, sweet biscuit malt, lemon peel

T: same as the nose, but solid malt with bitter finish

M: med body, decent oily mouth

O: Fine Imp IPA for newbies, has plenty of balanced
hops and malt. Enjoyed this reasonably priced 750ml.


Serving type: bottle

06-24-2013 20:19:34 | More by BeerLover99
Photo of Andrew041180


3.4/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Note: this review is primarily for myself. I received a four-pack as a gift and unfortunately it was a good 8-months old. Given the other reviews on this site I would like to try the fresh version.

A - a nice clear amber with about an inch of head. The head faded, but never disappeared, and left a really nice amount of lacing on the glass all the way down.

S - Maltiness, the hops have faded on this 8-month old beer.

T - actually tasted something like the Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale, which I found both too malty and too boozy. I don't think the level of alcohol is the problem with this one, so I'm chalking it up to old age.

M - Classic DIPA feel. Soft, medium-full body.

O - I argued with myself over whether or not to review it, but ultimately I'd rather have the record, and a reminder to give this one a fair shot.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2013 00:11:49 | More by Andrew041180
Photo of Spikester


3.71/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Clear amber with one finger of off white head. Head fades in 5 minutes leaving a curtain of lace behind.
Smell is quite bold, hop oil and some grains.
Taste is grapefruit zest, resin, leather, pineapple, and some homemade short cake.
Mouthfeel is thick and chewy with just enough carbonation to steer it clear of wine territory.
Overall a nice beer from Widmer. Finish is a piney lingering slightly wet bitterness. Alcohol was noticed but in the effects rather than the taste.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2013 06:53:02 | More by Spikester
Photo of dheacck11


4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pour is a glowing golden amber orange with a half finger of dense white head. Modest amount of lacing.

Nose is mighty strong, with lots of ripe, floral hops, and bright citrus character.

Taste follows the nose, with big fresh juicy fruits, passion fruit, a little grape fruit. Luscious throughout. Finishes with nice pine resin hop, with just a softest bitters too it.

Mouth feel is on the thicker side of medium. Works well with the flavors.

Really a fantastic DIPA. Love all the fruit and flavors. Could have used just a touch more hop on the finish for me, but really phenomenal overall.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2013 00:03:38 | More by dheacck11
Photo of RuEXP1


4.26/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Poured from Bomber into standard pint. Has a hazy golden/yellow color to it. Low amount of bubbles from carbonation, and a thin layer of white head on top. Good amount of lacing.

S - The smell is just plain awesome. I get hints of caramel malt, earthy, and citrus tones. Hops come through but not overwhelming.

T - Caramel is still there, but the hos come through for me more on taste than they do on smell. The citrus from the hops offers a really nice balance to the sweetness from the malt. Bitterness lingers after each sip. For being 8.6% it does not have an 'alcoholic' taste to it.

M - This drink is on the thicker side, but the carbonation comes out well when it is sipped. This helps it dissipate over the tongue quite nicely.

O - I was very pleased with this beer, not knowing much about it when I purchased it. The aroma is really my favorite part. The entire experience was enjoyable and I would buy this again (It's a good price for the quality!).

Serving type: bottle

05-13-2013 03:01:17 | More by RuEXP1
Photo of jjboesen


4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Having visited the Widmer Brothers Gasthaus during my many trips to Portland, Oregon (See Review), I was delighted to find their beers here in the Washington, DC area.

Nelson Imperial begins with a moderate head nestled atop a translucent copper body, which is home to a small, but determined, school of carbonation bubbles racing one another to the surface. The rim bears minor lacing that eventually slips away to leaves a resinous film stubbornly stuck to the glass.

The initial whiff is a plentiful bouquet of pine, apple and grass, which would be appropriate for taking a horse to the senior prom. Ha Ha – Charlie Babbitt told a joke. But enough of Rain Man references; the palate is immediately wrapped with a heavy blanket threaded with large spools of malt. At the end of the quaff, there is a subtle buttery texture making for a substantial mouthfeel.

As a Hop Head, I can attest to this exemplary version of our most popular style (IMHO). The Nelson Imperial proves that you can have hoppiness without the usual explosion of bitterness. But after all, it is brewed in Beervana - nuff said.

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2013 00:04:26 | More by jjboesen
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

3.45/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

L - dulled brass color with a white head that thinned to a ring.

S - tangerine and earthiness.

T - mix of sweet and tart orange/tangerine flavor with a twist of lemon.

F - medium bodied with mild carbonation.

O - tart and tasty.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2013 20:55:23 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of TheSixthRing


3.79/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on date of October 12, 2012

Appearance - Pours a hazy golden copper with an off-white finger width head and fair retention. Lacing clumps in spots, and is spotty in others. Nice stick.

Smell - I can smell the caramel malts from a mile away. Hops are secondary, coming across as floral with touches of citrus.

Taste - Caramel malts are predominant to start, with lesser notes of orange popping through cleanly by mid-taste. Lightly floral. Mild grapefruit pith bitterness comes across in the aftertaste, which builds after each sip.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body with fair carbonation. Dry finish.

Overall - I should have checked the date before buying the bottle. At nearly 5 months old, I'm sure the hop bite in this beer has taken a substantial hit. I still enjoyed it, but a definite candidate for re-review with a fresher sample. I'm guessing I didn't get the Full Nelson experience (yes, pun intended).

UPDATE: Had this fresh on tap the other night, and there wasn't much of a difference. The hops were maybe a smidgeon stronger. Maybe.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2013 05:40:39 | More by TheSixthRing
Photo of arizcards


4.04/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber at the Foodland Grocery Store in Kapaa, Kauai last week for around $6. Bottled on 12-9-12.

Beer poured golden orange with a nice white head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is very pungent with floral and citrus hops.

Taste is hop forward, tropical notes were first noticed but grapefruit and pine are asserting dominance. Malt backbone is strong but not sweet.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with some carbonation that makes it lighter than most in this style.

Overall i like this brew, good flavors and solid aroma are nice. Widmer bros have been stepping in up over time which is really appreciated!

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2013 01:34:54 | More by arizcards
Photo of Florida9


3.71/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Clear orange-amber in color. Forms a moderate sized off-white head. Good retention and lacing.

S: Aroma is characteristically Nelson Sauvin, with a strong grapey, vinous, white wine quality.

T: Taste is weak and watery for a DIPA. Mild caramel malts, white grapes, mandarin orange, and peaches. Rather fruity for a DIPA. Moderately sweet. Foxy white wine on the finish.

M: On the lighter side of medium. Thin for the style. Mild bitterness. Lower-medium carbonation.

O: This is a weak DIPA and at 8.6% I'd say its barely pushing the DIPA boundary. However, I suspect that with a hop like Nelson Sauvin, the goal was to make a lighter styled beer to showcase the hop. In that sense they succeeded, but they did not succeed in making a beer that is overly memorable or special.

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2013 23:40:13 | More by Florida9
Photo of tdm168

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - orangish amber with a big, white head that fades to a thin lacing

S - huge floral aroma with some underlying citrus and sweet malts

T - floral, citrus, faintly spicy, faintly herbal, some orange, orange rind, sugary sweetness, mildly bitter finish

M - dry, well carbonated, a bit warm, well carbonated

This is a nice IPA, but it doesn't have the intense hop character that I would have liked. I do like the orange, citrusy notes that come through and the faint herbal notes. Ultimately, however, for a DIPA this is underwhelming. It's a solid, drinkable IPA, but not a great DIPA. I definitely will never turn this down, but I won't seek it out.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2013 01:37:23 | More by tdm168
Photo of Damian74Shensky

South Carolina

3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz from a 4 pack poured into a snifter.

A- nice orange with a finger of white foam, a touch of haze.

S- malt aroma with hops and some citrus notes.

T- malts with floral hop flavor, which goes well with the citrus aroma. Bitterness is pretty mild for a DIPA.

M- medium rich body with medium carbonation.

O-Good beer, but with better DIPA's out there, don't know if I'll get again.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2013 14:48:27 | More by Damian74Shensky
Photo of augustgarage


3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish Head oversized snifter. Bottled in December, 2012.

Clear, deep carrot orange liquid with brighter highlights and a thin rim of beige up top. Average retention at best, vague lacing.

Spruce, orange, candied ginger, and menthol in the nose...faint caramel as well.

Sweet moderately bitter flavor profile - syrupy, earthy, peppery, with cherries and mint throughout. An odd collection of tastes, like a kiwi making the most of a rainy PDX winter. Aftertaste of overcooked apricot and herbs. Would go well with a number of Moroccoan dishes actually...

Oily, medium-bodied mouth-feel with light carbonation with a bit of a bite from the alcohol.

A decent example of the style, though not my favorite.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2013 02:01:29 | More by augustgarage
Photo of StJamesGate

New York

3.71/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Amber edging towards nut brown and clingy taupe froth that speckles.
Wood spice, gooseberry jam, passionfruit and tangerine skin – yummy.
Caramel and orange juice up front then lots of cinnamon, spruce, and sandalwood hops.
Spiced grape and Orange Swedish fish finish and tingly peppermint linger.
Medium, chewy, round, oily, slight burn.

A fair whack of caramel; too much malt for the hops. And it somehow buries the NS (which only comes through at the end) under what tastes to me like a lot of Willamette pepper and blackberry. Interesting, but not really as advertised.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2013 18:00:12 | More by StJamesGate
Photo of Fatehunter


3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured a finger and half of head on a cloudy, copper colored body.
The aroma is a nice grapefruit, lemon and a touch of caramel.
The taste is loaded with malt, which is well balanced by the moderate bitterness.
The texture is crisp with moderate carbonation and medium body.
It's a tasty and drinkable DIPA.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2013 04:21:42 | More by Fatehunter
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Nelson Imperial IPA from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 522 ratings.