Sneak Preview: Widmer Brrr!

Here's an interesting question to which I do not know the answer: has any beer ever been released without vowels in its name? I ask because over the weekend I got a chance to try Widmer's '08 winter seasonal, the vowelless Brrr.

The Widmers unveiled the beer at a private event that served as a thank you to the Widmer extended family (a big family--500?) to celebrate the opening of their new expansion. (I have pictures that I'll post later today--John has some, too.) That expansion includes a new "52,000-square-foot, three-level brewery addition that features new fermentation facilities," (explains Foyston from his recap), "the relocation of keg washing and filling, new cold keg and bottle storage, an additional shipping dock and expanded lab and office space." The keg-washing line includes two impressive robot arms to tote kegs. The new facilities bump up capacity to over a half-million barrels. (Widmer's the 11th-largest brewery in the country and Oregon's biggest.)

The Brrr is actually not a new beer, but a repackaged version of their W '06 Hoppy Red Ale. You may recall this as one of the first NW Big Reds, a variant of strong ales that has emerged as a recognizeable style. Here's what I wrote about it two years ago, a critique I'd level at this very green version of Brrr:
I found the beer to be the ale equivalent of Starbucks--a strong, I'd call it harsh bitterness, but thin and out of balance. The flavors are all strong: a clear hop bitterness (no funky NW hopping); a strong alcohol bite; a soapy maltiness; and a resinous finish that coats the mouth.
This is characteristic of the style--short on malt, long on hops. The style is a tip of the hat to those who have a distilled sense of what they like in beer: green, glorious, bitter hopping. I am hopeful that Brrr will transcend the style a bit, or perhaps inform it. The sense of being out of balance might be mitigated somewhat by a little age. I'm hoping the Widmers will be using some of their expanded capacity to put the beer aside for six months so that when winter rolls around, it will