Skip to main content

Beer Review #285 Sam Adams Imperial Stout

04-16-03Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company) released their Imperial Series of beers when I was in college. I tried a few on draft at the time and liked most of them. I’m still not sold on the Double Bock but that’s a review for a different time. I finally got around to buying all four of them again for another round of tasting. In the past I have reviewed their Imperial White, and today I’m going to knock out their Imperial Stout.

Sam Adams Imperial Stout pours a black (real shocked /sarcasm) with a thin, tan head that quickly fades. This beer comes in at 9.2% so head retention is not to be expected. The nose is deeply roasty with a “dark sweetness.” You can tell it is a big, thick beer from the smell. There is a little heat along with a good helping of anise rising out of this one. Finally I got just a hint of some aged hop bitterness at the end.

On the first taste you get a good smash of caramel and toffee. It then moves to a bitter roasty flavor, like a really strong coffee that has been cooled down. The anise is in there as well along with just a bit of heat. I didn’t notice any hops when tasting that one as the roasty flavors took away any ability to taste hops.

This beer is chewy, thick, and wonderful. It is a really nice Imperial Stout. The balance is great and the flavor components match and compliment each other. This would be a great benchmark for what an Imperial Stout (non-hoppy of course) should be. This is a perfect sipper in my house. (more…)

Beer Review #274 New Albion Ale

02-28-02I have a true craft beer for review today. Perhaps THE craft beer, well the first modern one anyway. New Albion Brewing Company opened in 1976 and shutdown in 1982. It was just ahead of it’s time when it came to craft beer in America. Today’s version is brewed by the Boston Beer Company, but it uses the exact recipe from the original brewery. I love seeing things like this happen, it helps carry on a true legacy in our young craft brewing industry.

New Albion Ale pours a pale golden color. There is just a slight hint of some haze in there. A think white head goes along with everything and it eventually fades to just a ring around the edge of the glass. The nose has some slight pine/citrus hops along with a light malt sweetness. You can smell that this beer uses cascade hops. After some quick research I found that this beer only uses cascade hops and American 2-row for the malt. This is referred to as a SMASH beer as it uses a single malt and single hop.

The malt flavor is very light on this one. The cascade hops come in soon after the malt leaves but they are not the same cascade hops that we are used to by today’s standards. They are very mild and do not showcase the bitterness and flavor range that most are used to. They are slightly piney and citrusy but they are not strong at all. They are very muted to my taste and they actually are a bit more grassy then I remember.

This one comes in at 6.0% ABV. It’s a highly drinkable beer and a really cool throwback to what used to be/before I was born. I love seeing how craft beer has evolved over time and this beer really puts things perspective. This isn’t a killer beer by any means and the hopping rate isn’t enough by today’s standards, but its a hommage to the love of craft beer. (more…)

Beer Review #226 Porch Rocker

It seems like no matter when I go to the beer store, Sam Adams (Boston Beer Company), has a new beer on the shelves. I generally find myself picking up their new beers as they are usually pretty solid examples of a style. I like to call the Sam Adams beers, starter beers because they are good examples of a style, but they are generally not full on choosing higher mass appeal over full authenticity. I don’t fault them for this at all, in fact I applaud it. They are one of the few breweries that has beers available nation wide and still hold true to craft beer values.

When I saw Porch Rocker I grabbed it immediately. I love a good name, and Porch Rocker is a fantastic name for a summertime craft beer. Porch Rocker pours a brilliant clear golden color and has a full white head that quickly dissolves back into the beer. The nose is packed with lemon. I have only smelled one beer that has ever had as much lemon as this beer and that beer was undrinkable to my likings. There is a slight malt note in there was well but the lemon dominates. I generally do not read descriptions of beers I buy before I drink them as I don’t want to skew my view, but after smelling this one I look a quick look at the label. The first thing I noticed was that it is a “beer with natural flavors added.” I bet 1,000 to 1 that the natural flavor added to this beer is lemon. Upon investigation of the neck label I found that this beer was inspired by Radlers, a traditional German drink that mixes beer and soda/lemonade. I had a traditional version of this when I was in Germany last summer, but I don’t recall it smelling as strongly of lemon as this beer did.

The taste is as expected, lemon. It’s not lemonade lemon, but  a beer lemon, by that I mean that it is a bready lemon thanks to the malt. There are no real hops to speak of or other flavors for that matter.

This really wasn’t my style of beer. It reminds me of a toned down version of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, which is the previously mentioned undrinkable lemon beer (in my eyes). There just isn’t enough brought to the table with this beer, it just tastes like carbonated lemon. I think I’ll skip this one if it is offered next year. (more…)

Beer Review #193 Whitewater IPA

I was excited to try my last beer reviewed, but it left me wanted. Perhaps the most interesting beer in the Sam Adams Variety Pack is Whitewater IPA. The bottle says a “wheat ale brewed with apricots and spices.” According to Sam Adam’s website the idea behind this beer was to combine an IPA with a Belgian-style White Ale. Before I dive into this review I want to share a few quick thoughts on the Boston Beer Company with you. For such a big brewery they really seem to embrace the “homebrewer mentality.” They do not seem to be afraid to try something different and out there. While they don’t get the acclaim of a Dogfish Head I really feel like they do a great job of making different beers. They are also 100% American owned, have a beer buyback program, and encourage homebrewers to try new things, which, with all things considered, makes them pretty badass. Maybe I am alone in that feeling as they have grown out of the microbrewery category, but I really respect what they do. Your regularly scheduled beer review continues below.

Whitewater IPA pours a hazy yellow-orange color and have a fluffy white head. The nose is very much that of an IPA. The hops are on the citrus side of the hop world with lots of grapefruit coming through as well. I didn’t get any Belgian odors nor did I find any apricots in there either.

The first sip lead to some very solid hops. This IPA has a fruity character to it. The hop flavor really enhances some of the fruit vibes in this beer. I did get a slight bit of apricot mixed in before the hops hit, but it wasn’t very strong. There is a strange flavor about halfway through a gulp that made my tongue feel slightly numb. I’m not sure if it was the Belgian component to the beer, but it was noticeable enough to make note of. The hops come in right after the strange flavor and do a good job or cleaning up the beer. They are full of citrus with some piney notes at the very end.

This IPA is one of the creamiest IPAs that I have had in awhile. I’m assuming that it comes from the use of wheat malt which can help contribute to mouthfeel. I really liked the balance on this one. The apricots didn’t add anything to the beer, but we can let that slide. I liked this much more than Might Oak Ale, too bad it is only in the variety pack right now. (more…)

Beer Review #192 Mighty Oak Ale

In my last beer review I took a look at Sam Adam’s new spring seasonal. In this review and the next I will look at the other two new beers in their Variety Pack. Boston Beer Company, a.k.a Sam Adams, seemingly puts new beers out all of the time. Might Oak Ale is a new one for them. It was the winner of this year’s Beer Lover’s Choice contest. There are some really good past winners from the contest, most notably Revolutionary Rye Ale and Noble Pils. I’m over the whole “oaking” thing, but I was interested to see what Sam Adams did with this one.

Mighty Oak pours a nice amber color and comes with a thin white head. The nose is very malty with a healthy dose of caramel. I got some slight vanilla in there as well. I didn’t find any hop odors to make note of. I was expected something a bit more earthy smelling, but this one was more of a malt bomb than anything.

The nose carries through to the taste as there is lots of caramel and some vanilla upfront. I again didn’t get any hops to make note of in the flavor world. There was some distant oak flavor, but nothing to write home about. I think they went a little too understated with the oak on this one. This beer is a mainly malt with some hints of complexity, but this isn’t one of my favorite. I’m not sure if this one will stay in a normal rotation for very long. Unlike the two previously mentioned winners, I wouldn’t get this one again. (more…)