Drifter Pale Ale | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

very good
965 Ratings
Drifter Pale AleDrifter Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
availability: year-round
bitterness: 32 IBU
alcohol by volume: 5.7%
original gravity: 14.0° PLATO

Pale, Caramel 20L, Caravienne 20L, Caramel 80L, Carapils

Bittering: Alchemy
Aroma: Summit, Nelson Sauvin
Dry Hopped: Summit, Nelson Sauvin

Added by madtappers on 12-23-2008

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Ratings: 965 |  Reviews: 410
Photo of bboelens
3.28/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at the pour house, poured into a pint glass.

A-Dark clouded amber, with a medium white head, that left a small amount of lacing.

S-The nose was rather weak for an APA, malts and caramel are the predominate smell with hop and slight citrus bringing up the rear

T-Essentially the same as the nose with a bit more hop bite to it than expected from such a weak nose, but nothing spectacular, the citrus is identified as orange with perhaps a bit of grapefruit. And there's a certain faint yeast taste to the finish.

M-Smooth and well carbonated

D-Overall a very drinkable beer. Not exactly the best example of an APA but still a good beer nonetheless.

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Photo of flexabull
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright orange color with a nice fluffy white head.

Aromas are of hard candies, pretty floral, and of sweet citrus fruit.

Taste is clean and crisp. Some malty tea, light sweetness, caramel, and light bread dough. Finish has an earthy floral hop note.

Mouthfeel is not bad, a bit thin though.

Drinkability is good. This is an easy drinking and fairly tasty Pale Ale. Seems to be kind of British in taste with hoppy American aromas. I like this one. Nice offering Widmer.

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Photo of jmvecchio1
4.12/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - Appearance is a nice amber/copper color thanks to the Pale and Caramel malts (20L & 80L). Retained a head better than expected off a bottle pour.

Smell - Surprising amount of aroma hops (Summit & Nelson Sauvin) for an American pale mild style. Both give the beer an aroma of citrus. Nelson Sauvin hops are from New Zealand and similar to the fruity smell you get off white wines. Surpisingly the beer only has an IBU level of 32 - but the aroma is stronger from three dry hops (just like Miller Lite....). The smell really is what drew me into the beer.

Taste - Here you're reminded that this is a malty pale ale by design. Simultaneous smelling and tasting yield a beer that is a playful balance of malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness (Alchemy hops). It leaves a very balanced beer, but is complex enough you want to keep sipping it to really "get" the beer.

Drinkability - Another shocker, Drifter nets a 5.7% ABV. Thus leaving it on the higher end of a sessionable beer. But it drinks more like a beer at 5%. Overall, after tasting the beer at our local Beer School I immediately bought a full bottle at the bar. It's well worth trying if you can find it outside of the PacWest or New England area (thanks to the craft beer merger of Red Hook Brew and Widmer Brothers).

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Photo of loren01
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear medium orange color, decent head that dissipates farily quick with good lace down the glass.
S: Lots of citrus, herbal scents....smell is great!!
T: Very citrusy with floral and herbal taste in there as well
M: Light to medium bodied goes down real smooth.
D: This is a great session beer, goes down way easy, smell and taste is very nice.

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Photo of dfillius
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled this at a festival and loved it, let's try out a bottle.
Poured into a water glass
A: Gentle pour yields thin layer of white head dissipates to a thin ring - more please. Hazy reddish amber liquid.
S: Nice citrus hop aroma with bread and caramel underneath. hops are not as vibrant as I remember. Tropical fruit.
T: Light hopping seems a tad stale. Sweet, slight man candy. A bit bland and not excellent.
M: Smooth, an odd feel, not very pleasant.
D: Okay, I would not buy again or order another. Sort of good session beer.

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Photo of BarrelO
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled on 10/19/10.

A: Medium orange, like the color of honey. Even the most vigorous pour hardly draws any head, but it does leave good lacing.

S: Oranges, tropical berries, and vinous notes.

T: Lots of citrus, but again, it's more orange than grapefruit. Some berries and other tropical fruits I can't quite place. Malt is alternately bready and sweet.

M: Light to medium body, a hint of carbonation.

D: Move over, Sierra Nevada. Take a hike, Liberty Pale Ale. There's a new standard for American pale ales. I'm really happy to see Nelson Sauvin hops showcased in a mass-produced beer.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Well this one is a keeper to be sure. It lacked a little on appearance but otherwise was a big hit for me.

Coppery colored with a slight haze, nice lacing and half finger head, even with somewhat rough pour into a laser etched beer glass.

A wonderful smelling brew, fruity and hoppy with smooth caramel malt background.

It's got a great flavor, bold fruits, mandarin oranges, plentiful hops, floral and herbal flavors, an overall terrific tasting beer.

Body is medium and slightly slick, decent carbonation, very nice aftertaste.

Drinks great in every way. Definitely looking to buy this one on a regular basis. A fine tasting beer that I definitely recommend.

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Photo of Hoopster4hire
4.52/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured out of a bottle into a pint glass

Burnt orange/dark gold appearance with minimal lacing

Strong aroma of pine, grapefruit and hawaiian sweet bread

EXCEPTIONAL! Nice blend of hops, citrus and malt intertwined into a highly drinkable beer. Hop flavor is present, but notoverpowering. Citrus and fruit flavor is what shines here. Pineapple, papaya, guava and grapefruit at the forefront. Just enough malt to balance everything out

Great carbonation that lead to a crazily drinkable beer.

Not your typical pale ale but a great change of pace or fun and sunshine beer

Highly recommend

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Photo of EtOHMD
4.18/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Globe in Boston on XMas Eve procrastinating from shopping. This beer is a good diversion. Clear burnt orange color with reddish tints and thin white head. Decent lacing. Smells mainly pine. First sip was bad for some reason but rest was really good and kept getting better. Mild hops, resin, pine up front followed by refreshing mildly spicy (clove) citrus and apple. Excellent taste. Crisp smooth feel. Could go for a few but alas last minute shopping calls.

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Photo of kwjd
3.23/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at some dive bar in Vancouver, Washington. This was only craft on tap that I hadn't had, so figured I should try it out. This poured an amber-orange colour with thin white head, not too much lacing. Smells very mildly of hops, with some bread and caramel malt. Flavour is a bit bland for a pale ale, but there is nothing off about this. Medium-bodied carbonation. I could see drinking this if it was cheap, but I wouldn't seek this out again.

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Photo of welldigger888
2.89/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass, clear orange copper color.Nice white head that receded quickly with minor lacing down glass.
Fruit is what I pick up first, light toasty quality with minor biscuity nutty aromas.Little grapefruity hop aromas for me.
Bready toasty flavors with minumal hop goodness.
This beer seems to have a nice mouth feel for me. the carbonation is spot on.
If I could get over the fruit on the nose this would be sessionable.

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Photo of Willibomb
2.71/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

It's a little weak looking for a pale ale, it did not have the great copper hue that I look for, and it did not have the dried malt smell interlaced with the hop aroma.

The head was decent, but then again, a pale ale normally can froth up quite a bit, and it tends to release a great deal of aroma, which I did not see.

The taste was pretty lame, it was weakly hopped, and it tasted like a dry-hopped domestic, which might have a style someday, but currently, it is just a miss at a pale ale.

At 5.7% it is not bad to drink, but the taste is a show stopper

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Photo of Andrew644
3.06/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- light amber in color with a very light tan head that lingers and leaves lacing on the glass.

S- very little malt smell with most of the aroma being from the hops which give off a nice fruity/floral aroma.

T- almost no malt flavor with a woody/fruity hop flavor. It doesn't seemed to be balanced quite as well as it could be.

M- mostly ok but could use a little more carbonation.

D- nothing to run out to buy but if someone handed me one I would drink it.

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Photo of Messiahbolical
3.82/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Got this at a local gas station, $7.99 a sixer. The selection there was horrible, like most gas stations, so this caught my eye and I decided to try it.

Appearance: Just about as good as a beer can get. Dark golden amber color, almost brown... looks gorgeous. Moderate amount of carbonation bubbles rising and sticking to the sides of the glass. Head is creamy light tan with lacing down the glass. Looks great.

Smell: Not much to say here. A slight hoppy smell, pine and citrus alike. Smells a lot like marijuana to be quite honest. I like the smell a lot, but I just wish there was more of it. The smell is a bit too faint for my tastes.

Taste: Similar to the smell, however the citrus seem to be the most dominant here by far hop-wise. Not a whole lot of malts going on here that I can tell... there IS a sweet malty backbone that's especially present in the aftertaste, but nothing jumps out at you. The aftertaste is actually one of the best parts of this beer. Makes you want to drink slowly, since it leaves your mouth with a really good taste that lasts for a little while and slowly disappears. All in all, tastes good. Not nearly as bitter as I was expecting(hardly any bitterness at all actually) but really pleasant altogether. I'd label the tastes as somewhat "complex" but not "strong". My only problem with the taste is that at times I wished it was a bit more powerful. It's good, but not great.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light to somewhat medium body with the carbonation bubbles leaving a crisp, clean finish in your mouth. At times the beer can feel TOO light, especially for a pale ale, leaving you craving something with a bit more substance. The good amount of carbonation helps save this beer a bit from it's otherwise weak mouthful.

Drinkability: Couldn't get much higher. The light body does help here, and the alcohol(5.7%) isn't all too high compared to a lot of beers but can catch up to you after drinking enough of it. I'd say this is a damn sessional beer especially for someone like me with a bit of a tolerance. I also have to note that this beer isn't filling at all. It wouldn't be hard to put down a 6 pack of these in one sitting.

All in all, I'd recommend this. It's a pretty good beer. Nothing that'll blow you away or anything, but a great looking, good tasting pale ale with mild biterness and high drinkability.

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Clear, radiant pumpkin color with a slightly smaller than average, foamy, bubbly, white head. Decent retention leaving only a thin ring of lace.

S - Sweet orange and grapefruit citrus hops and caramel malt is strongest. Some tea like hops as well. Pretty hoppy aroma for a pale ale, but smells like it will be more sweet than bitter.

T - Follows the nose. Plenty of sweet orange and grapefruit (some tropical fruit as well). This mixes with a pretty strong showing of caramel malt. Some tea like hops and some light biscuit/bready malt in the background. The hops don't provide much bitterness though.

M - Lighter body with average carbonation. A little thin, but really pretty much a typical body for a pale ale.

D - Pretty easy to drink pale ale. Nothing overly special, but I enjoyed drinking it, and wouldn't turn down another one.

Notes: A good level of hops, but not really bitter, much more sweet. Orange, grapefruit, and some tropical fruit along with caramel provide most of the flavor. I enjoyed it, but I don't know if I would search it out.

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Photo of TheKingofWichita
4.6/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First of all, I want to get this out of the way. I am not really a hop head and tend not to like beer on the high end of the bitterness spectrum. I know this style is usually bitter (for me) and I tend not to love pale ales in general. But this beer was fantastic!
Poured into a Widmer Brothers pint glass at a local bar not known for their craft beer selection.
Pours a dark amber color with a thick luxurious off white yellowish head and mountains of lacing left on the glass after each and every sip. When held to the light it shone ruby hues on the table at the bar. Smells of pineapple, grapefruit, other citrus peel/zest, hop aroma, and a faint sweetness. Tastes of subtle bitterness from the hops, strong grapefruit notes throughout, with a well blended balance of malts to round out the flavors. I also noticed pineapple and pine and a little grass in there. A very dry finish with biscuit notes dominated the ending of the brew. Mouthfeel was medium and somewhat creamy with a mild carbonation that gave the beer good life. Drinkability is very high. I really enjoyed the beer.

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Photo of AdamBear
2.9/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A-dark amber, impressive cream colored head

S-creamy citrusy hops. medium strength. smells quite pleasant!

T-well first of all i must say there's a unique bitterness throughout the entire experience. its not a completely welcomed bitterness. it hits with a quick shot of citrus. it hardly lasts long enough to get a hold on the taste. the hoppiness is minimal. it then goes in to a tangy creaminess that's very undesirable. the after-taste is of barley...this is probably the best aspect to the taste. I guess you could say its a complex beer...it just doesn't have a good complexity.

M-medium to heavy carbonation with a watery finish

D-it goes down easily due to the lightness but the tastes just are not something you want a lot of.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I find it odd that they would label this "THE ORIGINAL DRIFTER PALE ALE". It's good, but I don't think anyone is going to try to take the name 'Drifter' from them.

Poured a coppery orange in the glass with only a half finger of off white foam that dissipated quickly to a mere ring and a tiny bit of lace.

Aroma is slightly malty with that distinctive Pacific North-west hop citrus...a bit of pine...a bit of grapefruit....fresh and clean.

Mouthfeel is clean and comfortable with a bit more body than I am used to in a pale ale due to the increase of malt to put a balance on the hops. Carbonation is nice and tingly...not too much...just right. Often with a mediocre pale ale that is trying to be bigger than it really is I find an over abundance of carbonation trying to make up for what they lack in hops. Not with Drifter. Just right.

Taste is lightly toasted sweet malt followed immediately with a burst of piney grapefruit hops that taste very fresh. There is a tiny bit of a metallic tang to the aftertaste, however that might be from the yeast or possible the age of the bottle (90 days old).

Aftertaste remains clean and fresh. Wonderful session type brew for a hot afternoon, albiet a bit strong in ABV to really session more than a couple.

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Photo of PDX2LA
4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has a nice amber color, but not a whole lot of head. When I initially smelled it I got a ton of fruit. The second time I smelled it, I got a nice bouquet of flowers. As fas as taste, I got a a lot of fruit up front and a nice subtle bitterness on the back end. It had a nice clean finish and no lingering after taste.

Overall, this is a good beer. It is refreshing, easy to drink, and tasty. If it wasn't for the alcohol in this beer, it would be a great replacement for water and soft drinks.

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Photo of epicness
4.06/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours an orange-amber color with a frothy white cap. There was pretty good head retention throughout the tasting with decent lacing from a nice ring and cloud that stayed on the top of the beer.

S - Huge aroma of hoppiness and light caramel malts with traces of some pine.

T - A different taste based on the scent. Surpising. Citrus hops are present in the taste which I didn't find at all in the scent, even after I was tasting the beer. The finish is made up totally of bready and caramel malts. It's a great tasting beer, very flavorful, something I wasn't expecting at all.

M - Low bodied and slightly thin. Low carbonation also. Interesting how there's barely any aftertaste, it just rolls right off the tongue.

D - It's refreshing and sessionable. It's crisp and smooth to drink. Although it's a pale ale, it really has no true bitterness substance to it.

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Photo of keeganfrank
4.34/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Galvin's in Georgetown, KY. Didn't see it being poured, but arrived with little head. Much of the glass was covered with lacing as I drank it, though. Beer is a transparent copper, way more transparent than ale usually is. Smells just like sweet grapefruit. Tastes just like sweet grapefruit. So much so that I can't even bring myself to find other flavors or scents. Drifter is very crisp and satisfying to drink, I could have had two or three more pints.

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Photo of gkunkle
3.3/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a transparent copper color with very little head, I tried to pour aggressively, but couldn't get much more than a quarter inch that quickly dissipated. I can smell some fruit as well as a little malt. The taste was where this one fell short for me. Its a little stronger on the malt side, and I am getting a fruity taste I don't like. (I usually enjoy a little fruityness in the background of a beer, but this was odd) The aftertaste wasn't very pleasing either. Mouthfeel was fine, just how a pale ale should be. Meduim/light body with medium carbonation. Overall, I love Widmer, but there are other Pale Ales that I have access to that I enjoy more, this one was only average to me.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours copper colored with a light white head and some sticky lacing. The nose is surprisingly quite bright with some fairly heavy citrus notes and a bit of caramel. The taste is similar with some hoppy citrus flavors coming through as well as a bit of pine. Some caramel and bread in the background. Not much bitterness in the mouthfeel; the hops are definitely more there in the flavor and aroma departments. Drinks fairly well and while not nearly my favorite, it's something that more and more is becoming the best option at a lot of places.

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Photo of thecarster1
3/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a- one finger of head fades quick to a spotty layer of lace, orange amber coloring.

s- all malt here, some sweetness, maybe a touch of vanilla and a hint of hops.

t- malt heavy pale ale, some slight citric hops kick in on the back end.

m- medium body.

d- this is an average pale ale, nothing sticks out as being really great, i wouldn't seek this one out.

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Photo of B967ierhunter177
2.67/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is an interesting beer. It pours a dynamic, clear copper color with no head. It's aroma is an odd mix of vanilla, pine, biscuits, and some other stuff. It's very strange. The flavor again is odd with molasses, licorice, and metallic notes. This beer has a light mouthfeel with a light alcohol warmth. Original Drifter Pale Ale could be a session beer for some. It was just ok with Mexican food. Slightly recommended.

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Drifter Pale Ale from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
3.78 out of 5 based on 965 ratings.
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