Thursday, November 01, 2007
Samuel Adams Sampler Pack
I picked up a sampler pack of Sam Adams the other day that included two each of the Boston Lager, Boston Ale, Brown Ale, Black Lager and Honey Porter and Scotch Ale. I hadn't tasted the Scotch Ale and Honey Porter in years; the inclusion of these two beers in the pack is what really got me interested in it.
Despite my interest in the Scotch Ale and Honey Porter, the Brown Ale was probably my favorite and is pictured. The Scotch Ale seemed to fizzy and thin-bodied with a slight banana-like phenolic character that seemed out of place. I suppose this character came from the use of peated malt, which I've read can add some phenolics. The Honey Porter came across much more like I remembered it. The honey sweetness is an interesting, contrasted with the dark malt flavors of chocolate and roasted coffee. The Black Lager seemed to have more of the roasted coffee character, but was smoother than the porter and less sweet (no honey), so I liked it a touch more than the porter. I certainly wouldn't turn down the porter if it was offered to me. Of course, the Boston Lager had the most hoppy character of all the beers and was very sessionable and very tasty. The Boston Ale wasn't quite as hoppy at first, but the second bottle (served a bit warmer I think) had more of a recognizable English hop character. Nothing outlandish mind you, but a solid enough hop character to balance out the sweetness of the malt and add a woody, slighty resiny hop taste.
Getting back to the beginning and the brown ale: this was the most suprisingly good beer of the pack. Not necessarily the best, but most the surprisingly good. First, it poured beautifully, with a huge rocky head. Next, it delivered a wonderfully complex flavor of pure malt, nuts, chocolate, figs and spicy hops with a creamy mouthfeel. A very sessionable ale that also stimulates the tastebuds. The only caveat attached to tasting this beer is that, to me, it is strictly an autumn brew. I don't really drink brown ales other than in autumn. The flavors that most brown ales offer just seem to suggest autumn - don't know why - but maybe it's because it was the time of year my grandmother would put out bowls of nuts to snack on; filberts, Brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts which are precisely the flavors one can find in a good nutty brown ale.