Nelson Imperial IPA | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

very good
304 Reviews
Read the review
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 304 | Ratings: 749
Photo of flexabull
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pretty looking beer, pours a bright gold color, slight haze, and a nice off white head.

Aromas are very nice, a nice mix of tropical fruits, mostly mangos, some very nice hints of raspberry sherbert, and subtle resin. Not what I expected from a Nelson hopped beer, but it's certainly a pleasant surprise.

Taste is quite similar to the nose. Thick and chewy, with subtle tropical fruits, once again mangos are present, and that slightly sweet raspberry sherbert flavors. Finish is earthy, somewhat resiny, with a very mild warm white wine flavor. Tasty, more subtle and refined than I thought.

Mouthfeel is very good, nice full body, and very smooth.

Overall, I'm impressed. This is the best Widmer beer I've had in recent memory. Very well done. I think if you handed this beer in the glass blindly, and without any preconceived notions, I think a lot of people would rate this even higher.

 894 characters

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.

 580 characters

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.26/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 22oz bomber to Bruges hybrid glass on 7/2/12
*From notes

-- Bottled April 4 2012 --

A: Clean and charred pumpkin orange in hue. A good pour yields a pretty three finger sticky head. Nice retention and lacing.

S: Bummer. A bit stale. I'll bet that when fresh, this is quite nice. There's a Barleywine-like faded hop quality to it. Candied and a touch of plastic as it warms.

T: Malty with a bitter, candied hop bite. Just stale, like it's been sitting on a warm shelf for too long.

M: Now this is solid. Dense and big. A sipper for sure.

O: It's a disappointment that this isn't fresher, but I can see the potential in this one. I'll return to this when I see a new batch, as I assume this an above average DIPA.

 722 characters

Photo of Aidandad
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I tried this beer because it was on special at a local distributor. I've had some of the Rotator IPA series brews and enjoyed them, but never thought they were much more than above average. It had a great color and pour into the glass. The taste is above average, with a fine aftertaste that was crisp and had me reaching for a second bottle. For the price, it was exceptional!

 377 characters

Photo of jsprain1
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours an apricot/orange color that has the ever so slight bit of haze. Head is offwhite, one finger and retains at a slick. Some lacing.
S- Very fruity on the nose. Grapefruit, a bit of orange peel, and pineapple juice. Just a faint bit of maltyness, but mostly fruit.
T- Tasty but not as vibrant as the nose. There is a grapefruit and citrus flavor. There is noticably less tropical fruit as on the nose. Malt is more noticable with a bit of caramel.
M- Medium body, maybe a bit lighter given the style. Carbonation is smooth. Alcohol presence is somewhat noticable in the finish.
O- A decent IIPA that has a great nose and is otherwise decent and worth a try.

 664 characters

Photo of otispdriftwood
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was traveling when I tried this beer and almost didn't even bother trying it based on the Bros. rating. There was another IPA I wanted to try at the same bar but they were out so I figured why not try this. Just goes to show that everybody's tastes are different. I didn't find this beer to be too different from most other DIPAs in terms of smell, taste or drinkability. It had that hop forward presence, good fruity/citrusy aroma and the alcohol didn't feel like an 8.6% ABV. In fact, once I tried it, I went back to it instead of going to a tried and true selection. All in all, I would have this beer again, in fact, I may seek it out now that I'm home.

 659 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.24/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 22 ouncer marked 09:13-WA-APR0412. Sampled on May 20, 2012. It pours a very clean, very golden yellow with a mountain of off-white fluffy head that lingers on. On the nose the floral, earthy hops are like perfume with a slight grainy malt character tailgating behind. The body falls into the medium to bold range with a reasonably smooth texture. The taste is nasal-passage clearing bitter with overarching hops and a long, tart finish. A Hophead's delight!

 466 characters

Photo of bum732
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

S: Grapefruit with hoppy resin, slight wine notes, slight bready malt

L: Fairly clear amber golden, white creamy head that dissipates.

T: Resiny hoppy blast up front with a slight malt backbone. Medium high, pungent bitterness. Slight winey or phenolics in the middle. Finishes quite dry with residual hoppy resin.

M: Medium high carbonation, almost effervescent. Medium bodied.

Not bad, would love to try this a little fresher. The nelson wine notes were fairly mellow compared to other similar beers with this hop.

 520 characters

Photo of Drinkerofales
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A clear golden amber fills the glass, capped by a light khaki head, that leaves tons of thin lacing, and a nice island of foam.

Smell is a balance of malt, citrus, and pine. Not overjoyed.

Taste is all earthy bitter, which dominates from the back of the mouth. Some underlying malt is there as well.

Texture is smooth, while maintaining a good punch. It is a tad thinner than I am expecting, and is nicely drinkable. ABV pretty well hidden.

The smell needs to be hop forward for me to really enjoy, and the taste is a bit one note of bitterness. No citrus, floral, or pine in the flavor.


 596 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice beer. Good spicy hop tone to it but with a large amount of malts on the base that really do show. I will say that as a double or impy ipa, it doesn't really hold all that much sway. If you had told me it was an ipa, plain and simple, I wouldn't have argued against it. But I guess the higher abv qualifies it for its present status.

 337 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 4 pack of this for $8.99 at the local beer store.

Pours a nice golden color, decent sized head. Strong floral Aroma. Taste is medium to heavy bodied, pretty good mouthfeel. Quite an interesting tasting double IPA, it's extremely well balanced. Get some definite honey and caramel notes, and isn't a straight up hop bomb like most other DIPA's. The ABV is well hidden and it's a surprisingly smooth beer. One of the more unique beers I've had in a while and I was big fan of it.. definitely worth checking out, especially for the price tag.

 549 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.11/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours an illuminated marmalade color. The body of the beer is hazy. Head is medium sized and frothy. Head leaves smooth lacing along the glass.

S-Not an incredibly intense nose, but the overall aroma is unique and attractive. Quite fruity and spicy. I get a bunch of ripe tangerines and also some bubblegum. Unique hop profile.

T-Very tasty. The ripe citrus fruits are prevalent. There is a stressed flavor of bubblegum and even cotton candy. Original flavors. Somewhat light in overall flavor intensity. However, the flavors are very nice.

M-Lighter than I would have expected. Drinks more like a 6% ABV brew. Mellow carbonation. Very smooth.

O/D-Overall, this is a unique and tasty brew. Not intense enough to warrant very high grades, but this beer is damn good nonetheless. A great sip with cool taste components.

 823 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured out as a nice looking golden color with a strong white head on top. The lacing looked good on the glass and the retention was decent too. The smell of the beer had a really nice floral sweetness to it, perhaps some honey on the nose also. The taste of the beer kinda fell short a little on my expectations, just didn't have the flavors I was hoping for. The mouthfeel of the beer was smooth and crisp, good carbonation to it and pretty refreshing too. Overall it's a god IPA, I just wasn't too thrill over some of the flavors that were coming through.

 563 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle from Total Wine Las vegas NV for 1.69

Appearance - Slightly hazy amber/copper colour with an average size frothy white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for 5 minutes.

Smell - Malts, caramel, hops, grapefruit, pineapple

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste hops, malts, and caramel. There is a bit grapefruit, apricot, and pineapple and a touch of strawberry. It ends with a malty sweet aftertaste with some light fruitiness and some mild hops.

Overall - I ran into an out of date bottle so this probably doesn't taste as good as it should. It's not really hoppy and there is a bit of an odd taste to it. I can still see that the beer has promise though. I'll try it again sometime.

 805 characters

Photo of tlazaroff
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is full of fresh tropical fruit like papaya, guava, blood orange, and lime. This beer just smells wonderful!

Appearance is a somewhat but not completely hazy orange with a crisp white head and thin, but alright lacing left on the sides of the glass.

My lord, this beer tastes good! All those aromatics are doubled in the flavor with emphasis on guava and lime. There is a nice richness in depth of flavor to this beer that I just love.

Higher in carbonation than expected, but it doesn't foam instantly when consumed. The moderate body is just right for the complete experience.

Overall I must say that only being familiar (at this point) with Widmer's Hefeweizen, I am very impressed by this beer! It's a beer that I find I would have one of in a session just to keep my taste buds alive, or to even wake them up. It'd be a nice gauge for other beer of the style as well. I am very happy with this!

 909 characters

Photo of Dave1999
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fairly transparent dark orange.

The smell is citrus hops and some alcohol.

Tastes bitter with a fair amount of alcohol. Theres a little lemon citrus fruitiness.

The mouth feel is quite syrupy and sticky with a small/medium amount of carbonation.

Overall the alcohol is fairly well pronounced is this beer, that's not to say it's terrible but it not a great dipa by any stretch of the imagination.

 409 characters

Photo of dpasotti
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice barely-hazy apricot color with 1-finger head that fades slowly to a thick lasting ring. Drops a boatload of quality lace. Smells of candied orange, peach, honey, and a little vanilla. More citrus than I was expecting.

Flavor is the same, but the white wine descriptor of Nelson Sauvin definitely comes through more than in the aroma. Despite the honey flavor, the beer remains moderately dry. Finishes nicely on the bitter side. It doesn't seem like Nelson lives up to its namesake though. There's much more traditional Pacific NW citrus here than the NZ character I was expecting.

Mouthfeel is medium an carbonation is just below that. Solid body, but no brick house. This is the first Widmer product I've had that is above mediocre. It's pretty damn good actually, but it lacks inividuality. The flavor and aroma are dominated by C-hop character, which is not a problem in and of itself. But when I'm specifically looking for something different (like a beer that implies it is Nelson-centric), the "Same Old DIPA" just doesn't cut it.

 1,045 characters

Photo of Durge
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this at World of Beers in Fort Myers, Florida. It's a golden brown color with a cream colored head of sturdy foam on top and great lacing. The aroma brings nutty caramel malt and subtle peach/berry fruitiness. Interseting stuff. The flavor is toffee malt with blueberry edges and some citrus pine. It’s medium-plus bodied with a slight tendancy toward a cloying, syrup feel, but it doesn’t go all the way there. Carbonation is delicate with just a peppery touch on the tongue. There’s a bit of a dry finish. Very nice DIPA.

 535 characters

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.33/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clean yellow to orange-ish color with an off white head. In the aroma, a mellow orange citrus hop. In the taste, dry orange juice like citrus to a small mint hop in the end. A small hop bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry orange juice like hop and a small alcohol in the aftertaste. Mellow and a nice hop, a bit boozy for 8.6%

 351 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i very much enjoy the nelson sauvin hop, so this was a treat for me. pours a red/orange color with a 2 inch white head. smells very fruity and pungent, a little sweet, with a bready malt body that stays out of the way enough to let the hops shine. same is true with the taste. the nelson hops are very unique, and they stand out clearly. the alcohol is well hidden and almost not detectable at all. the feel is fairly full on the body, with good carbonation and a very unique bittersweet hoppy aftertaste. this is one of widmer's better beers, and does excellent justice to the complexities of the nelson sauvin hop variety.

 624 characters

Photo of Jimmys
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pretty sure this is an older example by the APR 28 11 date on the bottle. let's see how this beer held up.

A: bright orange. a slight haze to the body. bright white fuzzy head with good retention and reasonable lacing.

S: lemon sorbet. poppy seed bread. fresh cracked black peppercorns. a little bit of ethanol. pears and apples.

T: orange peel. sweet and bitter. vanilla, with a good bit of lightly toasted grain. finish is bubblegum. a little bit of cotton candy and cantaloupe.

M: moderate/low carbonation level on an almost light, full-bodied brew.

D: i havent had too much experience with this hop varietal, however it is certainly unique. fruity, but definitely softer and lighter fruits. the malt body is enough to keep everything in balance. an enjoyable brew.

 779 characters

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.

 525 characters

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

 535 characters

Photo of nofearbeerishere
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had never seen this beer until I went to an ABC. I was a bit skeptical but I'm definitely glad I tried it.

A- Deep golden orange nice, thick head with a sticky lacing.

S- Delicious! Cotton candy, piney, citrus, sweetness, a little floral bouquet

T- Lots of flavor in this one. Hoppy pine, citrus (tangerine, pineapple), quite sweet with no real alcohol bite for 8.6%. Very smooth with lasting flavors

M- A good level of carbonation and a medium level of heaviness. Long lasting flavor.

O- I am very happy with this beer. It's apparently been around for a while but definitely off my radar....could have something to do with the lackluster label. I'm a marketer's dream! Would definitely buy again.

W- If it was a woman, it'd be a new mom wearing baggy, unattractive clothes, concealing her still young and hot body! You are unassuming and not entirely accepting. She is experienced and classy....and she gives you one hell of a ride.

 943 characters

Photo of IPAguy2009
4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

4 pack on sale for 6.79! As was all the other widmer products. I love my store :)

A- clear clear light amber color. I poured this one a bit too aggressive and it foamed over (oops!) but it poured a huge head and the lacing is remarkable!

S- yeasty citrusy hoppy rinds! Slight sweet malty smell in the back.

T- wow. A lot of stuff comes at you at first. Pungent piney tropical bitterness. Then lasting sweetness and bitterness lasts. I feel weird saying this but I almost get a slight bubblegum flavor right in the middle. Very broad flavor!

M- pretty thick even though the clarity might suggest otherwise. Very small carbonation.

O- pretty dam tasty. I've always loved this one. Very intense but very good. Well done yet again widmer bros!!

 746 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.