There's tension at the heart of an oaked India pale lager. The hops that make an India-anything work are better when fresh, which is why the labels of top-notch IPAs like Russian River's Pliny the Elder, Cigar City's Jai Alai and the Alchemist's Heady Topper carry explicit directions to crack them as quickly as you can. On the other hand, the process of imparting oak flavor to beer through wooden barrels, chips or spirals takes time. So Widmer Brothers deserves more than a little credit for hitting the perfect balance of green and oak with its new Downward Spiral oaked Imperial IPL. Made with new oak spirals and plenty of Cascade hops, it's got all the gummy pine resin of just-plucked cones, an aroma that reminds me of the warm sawdust left from a freshly cut two-by-four and the crisp finish of a cold-fermented lager. But for the fact that it's an Imperial-strength 9 percent ABV, I could drink these 12-ounce bottles all night. It's my favorite Widmer beer of the year and reason enough for this style to exist. Recommended.