Nelson Imperial IPA | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

very good
304 Reviews
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Nelson Imperial IPANelson Imperial IPA

Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly Deadlift Imperial IPA

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

Added by msubulldog25 on 01-08-2010

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Reviews: 304 | Ratings: 749
Photo of afterforever
1.52/5  rDev -60.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I had this beer on tap at the Green Leaf Cafe in New Towne Williamsburg, VA. The Green Leaf has 64 beers on tap and I was looking forward to trying some fine ales. It looked nice in the glass highball glass? however it had what seemed to be a soapy flavor. It was different but in a bad way. Maybe it is the hops. I am a big IPA fan but I left this one on the table.

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Photo of JednoPivoProsim
2.16/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

Poured from a 12 FL. OZ. bottle into a pint glass. Bottle date MAY 08 12. Hope this is bottled on date and not best by date - either way pretty out of date.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy hazy orange body with a relatively thin white head.

Aroma: Strong caramel malt. Smells like a beer that has aged somewhat. Not much on the hop side.

Taste: Probably one of the maltiest DIPAs I have ever tasted. I don't detect any of the Nelson Sauvin hops I came for. It's a bit of a sugary boozy mess.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy. Not a lot of carbonation.

Overall: A huge disappointment. I have been loving a lot of the Nelson Sauvin beers I have tasted recently, but this is not representative. I'm guessing it might be the age, but with no plans to revisit, I may never know. In my experience, 7-8 month old DIPAs do not do too well.

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Photo of SolomonGrundy
2.22/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

SO nice to tip back a brew today...Pours a nice amber color - with a tiny bit of haze, hmmm, ok I guess. Not much of a head to speak of. This is kind of like your first girlfriend or boyfriend - you're not really sure what to make of it but you're certain that there's better out there. Aroma is kind of blank - not much going on. Flavor has something off in it...not sure what it is, but I don't like it. Problem is exacerbated by the fact this aforementioned off flavor (which is a weird bitterness that is part hops and part crap yeast, I think) carries through the long and dry finish. Not good, but well-priced at $6.99/4-pack so it's worth it, even though it's not great.

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Photo of mpensworth
2.24/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Looks good in the glass, nice orange color with a good head and nice lacing. Smells like it's not an IPA, almost no hop aroma, straight malts. The taste is what I would expect from Widmer making an "Imperial" beer, very bland. There is 0 hop flavor from this IPA.

For all the other Imperial IPAs on the market in the same price range this is a snooze. If you like hops, avoid it. Spend your money on some 90 Minute instead.

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Photo of pperrecone
2.26/5  rDev -41.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured nice and bright golden

Smell was not like most nelson ipas not much grapefruit or passion fruit at all. mostly sweet pale 2 row malt.

tase was the same very low hop flavor dominated by the malt bill. Not up to par with the west coast ipa as I know them.

body was noce no problems with that.

Overall I was let down and did not like this one as much as their cirta hoped ipa.

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Photo of 100floods
2.39/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Gotta give a shout out to Tom for providing me with again more beer, especially beers I would never thing to drink, but hey, he's got em. Definitely excited to try this seeing as how Widmer, for me, has never really gone past thinking about their Heff.

Poured into my 12oz stein. Golden pale (almost lager-esque) hue with a single finger head. I'm about a foot away from the glass and I'm already getting subtle wiffs of that hop aroma.

Creamy/medium mouth feel, not too malty, but you know it's there. Very subtle hop notes, really shy. I want to say something with grapefruit, a little pine, it's too hard to tell. The sweetness of the malt is far more apparent than the hops. The carbonation breaks up the maltiness The hops are almost there as a secondary ingredient (!). I can understand why it's 8.6%, but as far as labeling this an Imperial IPA, it misses the mark. This is more like a malty pale ale. I think the malt notes would be more enjoyable if there were more hop flavors present.

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Photo of C20Percent
2.54/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

*Review taken from notes*

A: Interesting color scheme -- a hazy dark tan at the top that gets lighter near the bottom. Good head on this brew.

S: Pepto Bismal? What is that? I'm getting some earthy hoppiness, but an off-putting smell that's like medicine.

T: Dead for me. Weak flavor for any IPA, and this is supposed to be an Imperial. Dry finish. A bit boozy.

M: Medium body that is easy drinking.

O: Pretty disappointing brew. Would not recommend. Not worth the money. Taste was even soapy. Expected more from Widmer.

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Photo of PatrickSwayze
2.56/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: In a glass, this beer is presented as a tangerine gold and quite clear

S: This bottle is about 5 months old so defintely past its prime. The smell is almost completely gone. Linegering malt profile remains

T: Lemon and crisp biscuit malt is what comes to mind. Decent flavor remains with the amount of age on this. 

M: Somewhat dry with slight full bodied hint of sweetness

O: Like i said i wish i could of had this fresh. Seems as though it would of tasted wonderful then. But reviewing beer as is, it comes in a tad under par

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Photo of bylerteck
2.66/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of biboergosum. Thanks. Bottled April 12 2011.

A - Pours a slightly dark orange sorta colour. Originally a one finger white head but gone to a film pretty quick. Slightly hazy with mild to medium carbonation. No retention or lacing.

S - Not your typical aroma for a IIPA. Bubblegum, bread, mint, grass, and alot of tropical fruit. Not the typical grapefruit tropical stuff but it's pushed towards more exotic stuff with a bit of mango and papaya I think, definately alot of orange.

T - Hmmm. Eggs? Tropical fruit is there again but it's got a harsh note to it I can't quite pin down. Orange is there again. Detergent comes to mind with rotten fruits. Maybe sugar as well. It's really harsh and unpleasant.

M - Good carbonation, light to mediumt body with a gross finish and very little bitterness.

O/D - Wow. I wasn't expecting this to be this bad. I'm hoping it's not the age b/c I've had older, but yikes, something happened here. There is something wrong here or I just really don't like the hop profile here. It's been really harsh and has a rotten compost, garage floor taste. Too bad.

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Photo of SkunkWorks
2.66/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on tap at the Lark in East Northport, NY. Served in a tulip glass.

Look: lightly cloudy, pale golden color, with a decent, two finger head that has good retention and leaves a little bit of lace. Good looking DIPA.

Smell: hoppy with citrus and pine, emphasis on the pine, with a bit of honey sweetness and a bit of malt. Not as pungent in terms of hops as I would like.

Taste: starts citrusy, yields to a heavy hand of pine, but finishes with a big malt flavor of pale malt, biscuit and honey. Not enough hops for me, I'm afraid.

Feel: crisp, fairly smooth, moderate carbonation, medium bodied.

Drink: easy drinking but given the alcohol content and that this isn't an exceptional DIPA, I couldn't see ordering a second glass.

Overall, nothing really too impressive about this DIPA. Not enough hops. I hate to be overly critical of this one but in a world where you have hundreds of different DIPAs to choose from, I can't see why anyone would ever choose this. Sorry, Widmer. Not impressed by this one. Cheers!

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Photo of bastardface
2.69/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The smell is not overwhelming even though there is a sweetness to the aroma which is a bit hoppy. The color is lighter than I thought considering the heavy taste. It's a dark golden color. The taste surprised me considering it tasted so rich and hoppy. It's a strong beer at 8.6%. It's not the best beer but it is one of the most intriguing beer I've had.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.72/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #38 (Mar 2010):

The beer talk about this beer is that it uses the hops of New Zealand, the elusive Nelson Sauvin hop. And there's lots of talk --even AB-InBev uses it. Brassy amber color, clarity is fine, with a healthy head on top. Fruitiness from the hops and alcohol vary from ripe straw- berries to mangos and pineapple ... and a very fruity nose it is. Sure, it's hoppy, nearly soapy with a fruity wrap. Bitterness is there with a slow but light raking of the palate. Malt back- bone is not nearly enough to handle this fruit, hop and alcohol combo. Too clean. Fruitiness is all up front, and the malt drops dry in the end.

Very polished and clean, and wanting to be drinkable. While the body and crispness tell you to take another sip, the somewhat hollow malt base, fruit-focused hops and alcohol take everything over, and it soon becomes a chore to drink. Widmer is a day late and a dollar short for this style; too many brewers have already defined where it should be, and Deadlift misses its mark.

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Photo of kevosbob
2.8/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company capitalizes on brewing well balanced ales, using unfamiliar hops, and producing a lineup of “feel good beers” that everyone can appreciate. Deadlift Imperial IPA is no exception to the Widmer style but, this imperial beer may be a few pounds light of a good workout. With a unique citrus quality, well balanced body, and an 8.6% alcohol by volume, this “deadlift” won’t mess up your back but you may wish you had more than a four pack to show for it.

This beer pours a beautiful butterscotch/orange color into a average pint glass. The head appears a seafoam white that dissipates relatively quickly. The Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand brings a beautiful aroma of citrus fruit and berries to this beer. The slight astringent note gives me the impression that this beer will be big and bold while the citrus notes gets the hops lover in me excited.

Tasting this beer makes me think that it’s not imperial ale, it tastes too smooth and mild. The Nelson Sauvin hops are interesting and I appreciate the new style but I feel they leave a slight chalky taste underneath my tongue. However the the malts leave a wonderful caramel taste blending well with the lemon-grass/citrus notes also found in the hops. “Not too fruity, no too much citrus, a very hoppy balance of flavors and qualities.” The light body lends to a great lingering flavor but sadly dies off quicker than I would like an Imperial IPA to do.

This is a great beer if you are just starting to workout your taste buds for big hoppy beers. Unfortunately, you’ll have to do a lot of ‘deadlifts’ before you’re ready to lift a big imperial ale. This is a drinkable beer because it doesn’t pound your taste buds into submission with alcohol and hops, but that’s also what makes big beers fun. This beer just isn’t exciting enough for me to give a high recommendation, however it is good enough for me to enjoy time after time.

My Beer Rating: 2.8

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Photo of kojevergas
2.87/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into an EKU 28 snifter in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Acquried at a local Ralph's market. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given the brewery. I'm not horribly fond of the style, which I find tends to be brewed incorrectly.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm up over the course of consumption. I like to drink my IPAs cold, though.

Sidepoured with standard vigor; I didn't anticipate carbonation issues.

A: Pours a half finger head of fair thickness, slight cream, and bad retention (~30 seconds). Colour is a clear yellow-copper. Generally appealing. Nothing unique or special catches my eye.

Sm: A hoppy aroma - more floral than bittering, and not at all overwhelming. Clean malts. No yeast or alcohol. Pleasant. A touch of vinegar perhaps. A mild to moderate strength aroma.

T: Hoppy, with floral notes ending in a vinegar-esque near cider note. Almost a bit piney on the climax. No alcohol or yeast comes through. Some light red apple. No layering of flavours; maybe a bit with the hops. It's fresh but I'd refrain from calling it refreshing. A simple example of the style, but a fairly enjoyable one. The balance isn't perfect, but it's decent. Very clean.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Adequately carbonated. Not too thick or too thin in any broad way, but not perfect by any means. It complements the flavours in a general sense, but isn't remarkable. Too slick on the finish.

Dr: It hides its ABV well. The flavours are usual for the style, and will likely satisfy fans of the style, but there's nothing unique or special about the beer that would make me buy it again. "Hopped to perfection" me arse. A very average imperial IPA. There are far more enjoyable beers in the style.


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Photo of popery
2.87/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From notes. Rated to style.

Appearance is fine. Mildly cloudy, bright orange. A dissipating head that stuck around for awhile as a thin film of bubbles. The aroma is grassy with tropical fruits - more kiwi/papaya than pineapple, like some hops. A bit grapey, too. Not quite strong enough for my taste but pretty good. On the palate, it starts out with some hop resin flavor with an alright crystal malt backbone, but the finish mars things with a big booze note that goes particularly poorly with the grassy bitterness. Mouthfeel is, well, hot. Plus, the beer is a bit sticky. Didn't much like this one, despite the hop choice.

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Photo of HopHead84
2.9/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5


On tap at URGE

A: Transparent gold with a creamy white cap.

S: Aromatic floral notes blend with orange and grapefruit. Nice citrus profile. I get some white grape as well. Malt is redolent of bread. Alcohol is well hidden.

T: Strong bread notes with some caramel. Citrus is sweet orange flesh. Alcohol is pretty strong. Bitterness is at a moderate level. The hops were pretty vibrant in the aroma but they're dull in the taste.

M: Medium body with moderate carbonation.

Overall: A solid aroma, but the flavor is malty, muted, and boozy.

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Photo of Jwaks
2.93/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Translucent light copper with thin off-white head, little to no lacing, several columns of small bubbles make their way to the top of the beer.

A - I had to strain with this one, muted with sweetish caramel malt, some white grape, grapefruit with winey notes, peppery spice, hints of tropical fruit like kiwi and mango and perfumy alcohol notes.

T - mirrors the aroma with sweet carmelly, bready malt dominating, winey, fruity and spicy hop flavor throughout with pronounced, slightly hot alcohol in the finish. A light green vegital flavor comes through late in the finish. Pleasant hop bitterness lingers well after the finish.

M - moderate to full bodied with slightly overbearing alcohol, overdone malt with moderate bitterness make it dificult to drink.

O - Malt and hop flavor is awesome, just lacking intensity and follow-through. The reticent nose, distractingly hot alcohol and overdone malt are a dissapoinment. I think this would be better as an IPA with lower alcohol and malt presence than a DIPA.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.14/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a clear light orange with a minimal fizzy head. Good head retention, real light lacing, not good to style.

S: Grass, kiwi fruit (New Zealand influence perhaps?), cantaloupe. Big amount of malt as well.

T: Grassy and piney hop character with a clear malt presence. Just is too boozy; the underlying character is nice, but is covered up by the heat.

M: Full-bodied, oily, resiny, fairly smooth.

O: Pretty much an average East Coast style DIPA. Worth a shot at its inexpensive price.

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Photo of CBlack85
3.15/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Duckworths, served in a pint glass.

Pours a light amber color with copper highlights. The smallish white head recedes quickly, leaving behind a moderate amount of lacing, a little less lacing than I would expect. Appearance is fairly typical for the style.

Lots of fruity notes in the nose; Pineapple, grapefruit, mango, and maybe a little orange zest. Some piney and floral hop notes as well, a slightly soapy aroma is present as well. I get just the faintest hint of caramel malts, but not nearly enough to even attempt to balance this beer out.

The flavor is very similar to the nose; lots of sweet fruity and hoppy notes up front and a bit of bitterness and grainy malts in the end. Fortunately the soapy aroma does not translate to the taste. Unfortunately the small malt presence is not enough to stand up to the hoppy and fruity notes that dominate this beer. Medium bodied and appropriately carbonated. Drinkability suffers from the lack of malt presence to help balance this beer out, this is not a beer that I could drink several of in a sitting.

Overall, this is not a bad beer but it seems to fall short of what it could be.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.18/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Callahan's, San Diego.

Pours a slightly hazy copper color. White head with decent retention. Very minimal aroma... a hint of hop spices and some malt. The taste is rather indistinct at start, but turns to some malts and is eventually a bit bitter with some hop spicyness. Slightly lingering aftertaste of malts and bitterness. Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. A decent DIPA, but not the most interesting where the flavor is concerned.

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Photo of beertunes
3.18/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 10oz glass. poured a fairly typical, but still attractive, medium golden amber with about a quarter-inch of white head that quickly settled into a ring and had very light lacing.

The aroma was mostly piney hops, with just a bit of grain in the background. The flavors were similar, mostly hops with just traces of malts, and a slight citrusy, dry finish.

The body was typical for the the style, perhaps just a bit on the thin side. Drinkability was OK, my 12oz bottle disappeared fairly quickly, and if I saw it on tap I'd give it another shot. Overall, a solid, decent brew. Try it when you see it.

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Photo of keith712
3.21/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a nonic tumbler....

Appearance: Medium amber and fairly clear. Head goes thick but fades a bit, leaves a nice spider web on the glass.

Nose: Some pine, floral hops, kind of sweet. Malty for sure on the back end. Not real exciting and a bit lackluster, I want/expected more of a hops presence.

Taste: Hops start out, but a malty presence comes on and kills the bitter really fast. Not sweet, but certainly less hops character than I expected. For an imperial IPA, this seems a bit...plain? Not enough hops to balance out the back end maltiness. As it warms, the malts become more pronounced and over ride the hops completely.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness, not a lot of carbonation and a bit flat. Not much hops bitterness sticks to the inner cheeks. OK, nothing special.

Overall: Well, for an imperial, I expected more. In this class of craft beer, this is not a standout. I give it a 3.5 and given a choice of several other IPA's (Stone, Sierra Nevada, Avery), I would not drink this one again. Far better than cheap pissy beer but weak in the category it claims to exist in.

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Photo of hopstradamus
3.22/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A. Pours a hazy, bright copper color. Very little pure white head that dissipates almost immediately. This looks like a good beer at first glance. It would look like a great beer if it had more head and less haze.

S. Wow! The resiny, pine-like hop smell makes my nose pucker. Sweet caramel malt lurks in the background, but hops are the star of the show.

T. The taste is an utter letdown after the smell. The intense, resiny, pine-like smell is in reality very bitter with a muted hop flavor. The sweet caramel malt is weak at best, and the beer has an overall dishwater- like quality. It is not undrinkable, just disappointing.

M. Thin and under carbonated, the mouthfeel is average in every way. The 8.6% alcohol is not overwhelming.

D. What started out great turned out to be just average. Not a favorite, but not the worst beer ever.

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Photo of vacax
3.23/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an orange-copper color with half a finger or so of white head, decent retention and lacing. The aroma is peachy with some tropical fruit to it such as pineapple or passion fruit, and a plentiful dosing of caramel malts. The flavor begins with a nice floral sweetness, lots of caramel on the midpalate and some resin and pine in the peak of the full bitterness that comes. The finish has bitter geranium hoppiness and an excess of cookielike sweetness.

I am happy to see such a large brewer putting an Imperial IPA out there, but this could tone down the sweetness and up the level of aromatic hops for some easy improvement. Appropriately medium-thick body for a DIPA with a moderated carbonation, maybe could use a bit more prickly carbonation to help with the bitterness. Overall this is a decent attempt at a DIPA, especially from a larger brewery, but falls terribly short from the high mark.

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Photo of jifigz
3.23/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass

Beer is a slightly hazy burnt orange color with a small head. It dead leave some decent lacing on the glass as it was being drank. The aroma is slight hop floral/citrus with alcohol present in the nose. The flavor is malty up front which gives way to some honey like sweetness and a touch of hop flavor. The ending is some hoppy bitterness and alcohol. The MF is pretty light and wet in the mouth. The beer doesn't finish all that dry.

This is a pretty average Double/Imperial IPA. It leaves a lot to be desired and I will never buy a case of it again.

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Nelson Imperial IPA from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 749 ratings.
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