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Beer Review #157 Sam Adams Holiday Porter

Another day, another beer from Boston Beer Company. I recently purchased Sam Adam’s Winter Seasonal pack and in addition to the normal Boston Lager and Winter Lager they had a few other fun seasonal beers. I reviewed their Old Fezziweg early last year, but I haven’t had a chance to partake in their other winter beers. I will spend the remainder of the week taking a look at the other three beers in the variety pack.

Today’s beer is Boston Beer’s Holiday Porter. A porter is a perfect beer for this time of year. They generally are not heavy, but provide some solid malt and roasty character that can warm you up on a cold night. The beer pours a deep ruby color and has a light tan head. The nose is packed with smell. I found lots of caramel and toffee, which was then followed by some coffee notes. There are some slight noble hops in there as well. Finally I found some slight chocolate notes that were really nice.

Just as the nose promised, this beer is complex and deep. There is a lot of rich caramel with some solid chocolate. There is a nice interaction between the hops and malt where the malt leads in, is cut a bit by the hops, but still is a big player. As soon as you think that this beer isn’t going to have a hop kick to balance it out, the dry finish comes in and takes care of any sweetness.

I really liked this one. I am generally not super impressed with porters, but I enjoyed this one greatly. I would love to have this on a blustery November night while sitting with a good book. For such a complex beer, this one also comes off as being simple. It really opens up on each sip. (more…)

Beer Review #156 Bonfire Rauchbier

I’ve never really been a big fan of smoked beers. I had one in college from a local unnamed brewery and it tasted like I licked the ashes of a fire pit. My friend who was with me at the time remarked that it tasted like band aids. Since that time I have had a few good smoked beers that fall into the smoked porter world. Boston Beer Company a.k.a Sam Adams released a Rauchbier with their fall pack this year. If you don’t know a Rauchbier is a German style beer where some of the malt has been dried by flame instead of normal heat. The flame imparts a smokey flavor to the grain, which in turn gives a smokey flavor to the beer.

Bonfire Rauchbier pours a nice amber color and is accompanied by a white head. Certainly not what you would expect from something that promises smokey flavors, but that is what a Rauchbier normally looks like. The nose is what I will describe as a “meaty” smoke. There was some real body and depth to the smoke, like it had been put into a butchers smokehouse.

On the first taste I got (you guessed it) some smokey flavor. Behind the smoke was some really nice caramel and toffee notes that added a nice layer of complexity to the beer. Just like a lot of Sam Adams beers I find this one to be an approachable version of the style. There are more aggressively smoked beers out there, but this one is nice. It wasn’t too heavy on the smoke and allowed some other flavors to come through. I enjoyed it and my taste buds are warming up to the idea of exploring more smoked beers.

Beer Review #115 New World Tripel

Boston Beer Company, a.k.a Sam Adams, put out a lot of special beers each year in addition to their typical line-up. I recently reviewed one of those special beers that received a lot of press when it came out. One of my friends brought a bottle of New World Tripel down to my house last month and we drank it while watching the Flyers play. New World Tripel is part of Boston Beer’s Barrel Room Collection (check out that link for an interesting read). At the current time, there are three beers in their collection and a fourth will soon be added. I felt honored to try such a limited beer.

New World Tripel pours an orange color and it is super hazy. It does have a fluffy white head as should be expected in a Tripel. The nose is super yeasty with some Belgian spice in there as well. I did not detect any heat on the nose which is surprising since this beer rocks in at 10% ABV.

The front-end of this beer has a nice sweetness that is quickly balanced by the Belgian spices. For a barrel aged beer, this one was very balanced. I bet if we would have let this sit for a year or so it would be much more sour. At the current time, this beer did not have any sour notes. I didn’t get any heat in the flavor of this beer either, which is wonderful and dangerous. This is one sneaky beer.

I’m a sucker for a good Tripel and this one fits the bill. I also love unique bottles, and this one is a must have. I believe they only sell this at the brewery in Boston, but if you get the chance grab one. There are some other good Tripel’s out there but I think this one sits near the top of the list. (more…)

Beer Review #100 Infinium Ale

I figured with my 100th beer review that I should get something special. Well I did just that and grabbed a bottle of Boston Beer’s Infinium Ale. This beer received a lot of press when it came out and the reaction from the craft beer drinking public was a slightly mixed. Before I go into the review, let’s hear what Boston Beer has to say about their beer.

Our brewers worked for two years with the world’s oldest brewery, Germany’s Weihenstephan, to create this unique new beer style. A groundbreaking brew, made with only the four traditional ingredients: malted barley, hops, water and yeast, Infinium™ is a crisp champagne-like beer with fine bubbles and a fruity, spicy aroma. The crisp clean malt character and delicate fruit notes in this beer are complemented by a slight citrus flavor from dry hopping with Bavarian Noble hops. Bottle conditioning adds another layer of complexity and light spice notes.

Before reviewing this beer I also want to note how cool the bottle and overall packaging for this beer is. It has a great shaped bottle, beautiful screen printing, and a nice cork cover. One I removed aforementioned cork cover I popped the top and pour up a glass (or 4). I choose the only champagne-like glass I had and poured away. This ale came out a nice golden, orange color with a fluffy white head. It was perfectly clear and had tons of bubbles.

The nose was very sweet and reaked of champagne. Overall I thought this beer smelled like it was advertised. There wasn’t a lot of complexity to my nose, but I’m not schooled in the champagne world so the subtle notes were hard to come by. The taste was a good mix of beer and champagne. It was decidedly more on the champagne side of the scale, but it had beer qualities. It had a slight tang to it, but there was a solid bready flavor that represented the beer world well.

I found this beer very drinkable. The 10.3% ABV that it comes in at is very well hidden as well. Almost dangerously so. This is not a typical beer, but I think drinkers of champagne and beer could both appreciate what was done here. The average cost for a bottle of this is around $20, so it hits the wallet hard. It also gives new meaning to the phrase “champagne taste on a beer budget.” If you have some disposable income that you don’t want to give to me, give it to this beer and try it out. (more…)

Beer Review #80 Old Fezziweg

Samuel Adam’s is probably the largest brewery in the World who puts out seasonal beers. They don’t only put out one seasonal beer, but generally several. Winter time usually brings out their Winter Lager, but Old Fezziweg is another seasonal favorite from Boston Beer Company. This beer is a traditional winter warmer and comes in at 5.9% ABV. It is also brewed with several spices including ginger, cinnamon, and orange peel. Those spices and ingredients are typical of a winter warmer style beer, particularly an English version of the beer.

Old Fezziweg pours a dark ruby color with a thin tan head. It is clear, but dark enough to not alert you to the brewer’s skill. The nose is a bit flat, but there is some ginger in there. I also picked up a bit of heat, but it could of been from the spices. Overall there isn’t a lot going on upon first inspection. The taste is malty with some slight roast. The ginger again presents itself but I was unable to really find the other spices. There was a bit of a bite on the end, but I attributed it more to hops than spice.

This ale is pretty drinkable but it isn’t packed with flavor. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really suit my palette. I think this beer is nice for newcomers to craft beer because it is very reserved in terms of flavor. As a “seasoned” craft beer drinker I thought this one was a bit too “mass produced” feeling. It is a good beer, but I wanted more of everything (flavor, aroma, aftertaste, etc..) from it. Pick it up and try for yourself. It is a good starting point for beers of the style but there are other examples out there. (more…)