Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sam Adams Beers!

I know what you're thinking: "Ok, jackass, it's been almost two weeks with no entries. How am I supposed to find out about tasty new beers if you're not writing about them???" Well, hopefully that's not exactly what you're thinking, but I'll admit it's been a while since my last entry. Rest assured that I haven't been spending my time off doing nothing, though. I've spent it drinking beer! In Boston! And I've got quite a few reviews lined up as a result of the trip! So let us start by taking a look at the first brewery most people think of when they think of Boston beer: Sam Adams.

During our trip to Boston, my sister (who lives there) took us to the Sam Adams Brewery, which is located in a strange little area in the south of the city called Jamaica Plains. When we got into the brewery, I was amazed by how small it was. Then we took the tour and I found out why. Here's an interesting fact: Samuel Adams Boston Lager isn't brewed in Boston. It's not even brewed in Massachusetts! The original brewery in Massachusetts was much to small to keep up with demand for the beer, so production was moved to larger breweries in Cincinnati, Ohio and Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. Crazy sauce! Even though most of the beer that Sam Adams makes isn't brewed in Boston, the original brewery is being used to some pretty interesting stuff; mainly for test batches for new recipes and for their barrel aging system. One of the first things we came across during the tour was a rack of barrels containing Sam Adams most notorious brew, Utopias. I don't know if I'll ever get to try this beer (it runs for anywhere from $175-$250+ a bottle), but I popped a huge beer geek boner just laying eyes on the barrels.

A few other beers were in the works in the barrel room, but seeing Utopias in the barrels had to be the coolest part of the tour. Someday, Utopias, someday. Anyways, let's move on to the important part: the beer!

At the end of the tour, we were given samples of three of Sam Adams beers: Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams Summer Ale, and 26.2 (a beer brewed exclusively for bars in Boston during the Boston Marathon). Let's start with the original: Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Samuel Adams Boston Lager pours a clear copper color with a foamy cream colored head and leaves some nice lacing down the glass. The smell is clean, with some citrus hop notes and caramel malts.

The taste is a bit sweet, with a lot of caramel malt, tempered by a dash of citrus hops. A faint breadiness creeps in on the finish. With the beers out today, Samuel Adams Boston Lager isn't the groundbreaking beer that it was when it was first released in 1985, but it's still a solid and very drinkable beer. Next up was Samuel Adams Summer Ale.

Samuel Adams Summer Ale

Samuel Adams Summer Ale pours a golden, honey color with a very thin, off-white head. The smell was a bit faint, but I picked up some faint wheat and citrus zest. To me, it seemed a bit like a mix of lemon and lime.

The taste is about what you'd expect from a summer ale: refreshing, grainy and lemony. This isn't a beer you're going to have to spend hours breaking down. It's simple and well suited for a hot summer's day. Now let's move on to a more interesting beer: 26.2.


26.2 is a Gose style beer, which means that it's an unfiltered wheat beer that is brewed with coriander and...wait for it...salt. I had heard of the style and seen one before, but 26.2 was the first Gose I'd ever actually tried.

26.2 (named after the number of miles in a marathon) pours a hazy, pale yellow color with a thin, off-white head. The scent was faint, but I picked up a good amount of the coriander and a bit of wheat and citrus.

The taste is predominantly grain and wheat with a touch of citrus bitterness. The finish brings a hint of salt at the back of the throat with lingers until you take the next sip. The result is a beer that is insanely drinkable and pretty approachable for just about anyone.

Lastly, I want to review a beer that I picked up in the Sam Adams gift shop. It's one of the beers that they brew as part of their Barrel Room Collection: Samuel Adams American Kriek. This beer is made with Balaton cherries from Michigan and aged in oak barrels at the brewery in Boston.

Samuel Adams American Kriek

Samuel Adams American Kriek pours a copper and reddish color with an off-white head that has hints of pink in it. The smell is full of black cherries, but doesn't present much else. Still, I was excited to try this one.

The taste is full of tart, unripe black cherry flavor with just a touch of funk. The finish brings some red delicious apple sweetness. I'll admit, I was hoping for a bit more from this. After about two sips, you had figured out every dimension of this beer. It didn't have the complexities of a true Belgian kriek. Still, it was a good attempt and maybe the best American kriek I've had to date.

That just about wraps up the review of the Sam Adams beers I was fortunate enough to try while I was in Boston. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for a lot more great beer from this trip.

Final Grades:

Samuel Adams Boston Lager: B+

Samuel Adams Summer Ale: B-

26.2: A-

Samuel Adams American Kriek: B

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 37

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