Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Sam I Am

As the waitress approached I contemplated a large fresh glass of the finest on-tap-offering of the house. After she slid through the ho hum stuff I waited for something interesting. I almost missed “Sam Adams” in the screed of watery near beer names. “Oh, which Sam is it?” A blank look came back. “Just regular Sam, you know.” Well, I didn’t know, and plainly she didn’t either because what was regular to her might have been very unregular to me. As I pressed her on the matter she recalled that it was the regular “Summer Sam” as contrasted by the regular everyday Sam by which I further pursued and found to be as I expected the lager. As she did indeed have the lager on tap I gave her the order and felt glad to escape with at least something dependable. Nevertheless I ruminated on this branding of Sam, sort of the Scotch tape syndrome (Scotch makes lots of things sticky but we all know it means cellophane tape)

By chance, as the season of summer wrapped up and the guests and rentals went home I was offered some beer remnants of a bit of a last get together at the theatre for staff and actors. There was Sam Adams it was declared. Well sure enough along with a few heineken cans (bad idea for them)was a collection of Sam. However, it was Sam Adams Boston Stock Ale. Now that was a pleasant surprise!

As usual, Boston Beer Co. has a first rate stock ale, robust, smooth less hoppy than other ales but with a suitable dryness. Well done. I would take it everyday over their trademark lager as a standard drink.

You know the Sam Adams label is dependable in that whatever the variety it is on is truly brewed at the high end of that particular recipe. Count on it, Scotch Ale – perfect (and lamented that it seems to have faded from the scene) Stout, fine, lager indeed. And now yesterday as I scrambled to fill the void left in the fridge with the end of the huge stock of Pabst cans, I grabbed a six of Octoberfest on a last minute impulse. I generally will steer away from Octoberfest brew for some reason, but here again the Sam label came through. The drink gave me a complex taste of fall, some heaviness and sweetness, multiple flavors that stay with you in the mouth. Another one is almost automatic – the desire to get that roundness of taste swimming along on the palate. Just as fall caries a hint of the coming winter so the octoberfest carried a hint of the Winter Lager that will be coming along soon enough!
HaveAnother

btl_DBThe summer has been a wash out. Today with the rain pounding down and a damp chill descending on the house I thought about the whimsical 4 pack of Sam Adams Imperial Series Double Bock lager I purchased the other day while stocking up on my summer volume beer, Pabst. (See other posts for the story)
I packed some venison sausage, whole grain macaroni and a fresh egg from under one of our hens into a bowl, popped the mix into the microwave and grabbed a Double Bock from the fridge. As the turntable hummed around, I drew in a long sip of the mahogany lager. Wow! this beer is ultimately smooth! On the label Jim Koch tells us that this “lager reveals a deep mahogany color and velvety smooth flavor.” Well I wouldn’t use the words velvet but I get the image. This double bock is silky smooth. 9.5% ABV is hidden inside this superb brew. Not a hint of harshness; the malt is huge. Drink this for dessert period.
EC_Stamp
With the Sam Adams Imperial Series and Harpoon’s Leviathan we have a bundle of the finest kind right here. More to come, Sam has an Imperial Stout, also.
<img HaveAnother
<img

Tour de France Finis

Ah! A cold Pabst can to finish as le Grand Boucle draws to a close in Paris. It has been a long three weeks of the world’s longest and toughest bicycle race. Pabst was my mainstay with a few Harpoon and Smuttynose IPAs thrown in.

Today I discovered an exceptional brew, Lobster Ale by Belfast Maine Brewery. This red ale was served up on tap at the local Lobster Trap Restaurant on West Side Road in North Conway. This ale had deep taste with a gentle hop zing, smooth on the way down, easy aftertaste. A classy surprise.
When I read the fine print on the brewery’s website it turns out that it is brewed now by Shipyard in Portland which was at one time partly owned by Miller. The original owners bought back from Miller that share and now continue as an independent. That is a twist I wasn’t expecting.
The Lobster Ale is still first rate and it has a cousin, McGovern Oatmeal Stout, which may be worth investigating.
HaveAnother

Blue Ribbon

Summer has arrived finally. The warm, somewhat humid, sunny day brought me to the beer store or, more correctly for the Live Free or Die state, the regular old grocery store, Hannaford. I rolled past the cooler windows looking for the just right brew for this bright summer day. I slid past all the IPA’s: Harpoon, Smuttynose, Red Hook, etc. I even passed up the thin little slot where the Harpoon Leviathan brew Imperial IPA sat. I went past the Guinness Extra Stout and even past the Sam Adams summer ales – summer this, summer that – wimp beer I say.

Pabst-1I know what was really on my mind – summer quantity – the volume pack – in cans – cold – budget priced, but… had to have the taste that came through in an ice cold can. Well it could have been Bud, which certainly fits that bill pretty much, except my summer brew secret is Pabst Blue Ribbon!

I’m not going to tell you that I would pour it into a pint glass and watch the head form, or remark on the grand color, or describe the array of tastes it releases. No, it is a thirst quencher first and foremost. It is crisp and clean, a touch of hops, a dry after taste but nothing to write home about. Pabst is durable and, unlike Bud, the last ounce in a slightly warmed up can doesn’t get skunked. None of that bad Bud aftertaste from the dregs.

One might wonder where Pabst has been over the years. They proudly write of the America’s Best award from 1893 on the cans. However as the Best Big Brewery they garnered awards in 2006 and 2007. Pabst serves as the brewery behind many old brands including Ballantine, Schlitz, Shaeffer, Olympia, Blatz and on and on.ourPortfolio-1

HaveAnother
Pabst six

If “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” is the new way of saying “I am having an affair with a hottie from Argentina“, after today stepping up to the bar and saying “I’ll have a Guinness” might pique the interest of some adventurous bar patrons and possibly give you a story to tell for years to come…

*** WARNING!!!  VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED ***

 

HaveAnother

Grey Lady Ale by Cisco Brewers in Nantucket MA pours a pale cloudy, yellow/grey and finishes in the glass with a thin head.  The aroma is thickGreyLady and yeasty, almost like sniffing a waterlogged loaf of Wonder Bread, with the distinct smell of banana.

The first sip starts smooth but has minimal effervescence and is quickly bogged down in the middle of your mouth feeling more like a thin fruit smoothie than a beer.  From that point forward I struggled to choke the beer down.  Grey Lady Ale is thick and creamy.  In my opinion even an American version of a Belgian Wit Ale should be relatively light and refreshing, only slightly creamy, with a crisp finish.

In full disclosure I must admit that I don’t like bananas.  In fact if they became extinct tomorrow I would not mourn the loss of diversity in the fruit world.  Likewise I would not be sad if Grey Lady Ale suffered the same apocalyptic demise.  Others may feel differently, but please keep your bananas away from my beer!

KeepAway

Brown Shugga’ Sweet Release is listed on the Lagunitas Brewing Company’s website with an approximate release date of October 2009.  So how BrownShuggadid we get a bottle in July?  We could say “Ancient Chinese secret” or “Membership has its privileges” but honestly it was dumb luck for us and that is GOLD FOR YOU!!!

The first thing I noticed after popping the cap was the deliciously sweet and woody molasses/caramel aroma.  Pouring this brew into a pint glass only enhanced that aroma and made my mouth water.  The ale maintained a great head (see image to the left).  The sweet aroma is tempered by a hoppy bitter flavor that gives this ale a  gentle grittiness that is appealing to the nose and puts your other senses on high alert. 

The firs taste of this beer does not disappoint.  Sweet molasses and the woody hops blend perfectly and do not conflict or separate in your mouth.  The lingering aftertaste of brown sugar and caramel sticks to the roof of your mouth long after the glass is empty and with an ABV of 9.5% you will be reaching for a second bottle before you even finish the first.

This beer is definitely worth it!

HaveAnother

Wedding List

This past weekend a wedding happened in the family. All was perfect: the conversation, the reconnecting to seldom seen relatives, the accommodations, the food, and the drink. Well, the beer was fine and there was plenty and there were a few varieties. Nothing more could be asked for… except… what if the beer guys created the beer list for the wedding?!

Now a wedding brings all ages together; it brings all tastes together. There are always surprises, folks from far away, different cultures, different languages, heritage, traditions. And that was just what made this wedding great. So what would the beer list be?

Must have an American light, maybe Coors – a crisp clean drink. The quintessential pedestrian brew, Budweiser. Corona for those favoring south of the border? Maybe Dos Equis too. Heineken, no one in western Europe would fault that pick (remember this is a wedding not a bachelor party). Now, specialty brews – for the smart set – the young professionals – should have micro brew status but be familiar (this is not a beer tasting – beer complements the evening not commands it). New England should be featured, especially for those from afar who are sight-seeing in the area. Harpoon or Smuttynose IPA, there! two NE states and lots of character.  Samuel Adams Boston Ale… yes, good pick and a Long Trail Ale, there is Vermont, maybe Tuckermans, that is a well known landmark but a quiet brew fresh from the White Mountains. Now the old timers need attention, well certainly the IPA should fit but how about a stout…

An American stout, Sierra Nevada? if we can find a supply, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout? but a New England stout??? Ah, two birds with one beer, 6288 Stout from Tuckermans. A great label, a solid regional brew, a reasonable stout and of course the title refers to the altitude of Mount Washington, site of the worst weather in North America.

This brings me to the second half of the title, Harpoon. I have mentioned Harpoon IPA in other posts, “the standard setter for IPA’s” I said. What we have in Harpoon’s IPA is a brew for the long haul. We don’t buy it in four-packs; we purchase 12 bottle boxes which disappear from the fridge at an alarming rate. This is a substantially different drink than the Lion. It is steady, refreshing, and holds its attraction over time, day after day.

LabelHarpoon wasn’t always that way. When I first tasted the original Harpoon Ale I was sadly disappointed. Maybe it was the earliest days of Sam Adams and Geary’s Ale, before the craft brewing renewal caught fire. I found the brew unimaginative. after a few attempts to come to grips with Harpoon I gave up and stayed away for some time.

Eventually though with a revamped label and an IPA to offer I gave the brewery another chance. I have never looked back. They found the key to an ultra-fine brew. As Alex says in his comment to my Leviathan post where I say that Harpoon IPA is the standard setter,  “Could not agree more. It may even be the standard setter for beer in general.”

ipa_b_g_200x367(1)The real dividing line of beer is the brew that becomes a standard drink vs. the brew that is a novelty, a “seasonal”, an occasional, a “yeah, that wasn’t bad!” Harpoon IPA is the standard, much like Sam Adams is a standard. Lion Imperial is an occasional.

I popped a twelve pack of Harpoon IPA into the fridge recently and have reached in nightly with delight and poured a glass full. Ah, after a day of work, the hops bring out the crisp flavor with a fullness, a drinkability, a refreshing zing. Ah!

HaveAnotherEC_Stamp

After working my way through the Lion Stout described in my May 28th post, I kept bypassing its step sister the Lion Imperial: Premium Malt Pilsner. All these terms seemed oxymoronic, like a mixed up scrabble game. Eventually though as I arrived home late one evening after an event at my daughter’s high school, with a mounting thirst, I reached into the fridge and dragged out the Imperial Lion. After a quick pour and a large gulp I thought that this feline missed the boat that Lion Stout sailed on. “Nuff said,” I went to bed.

The story continues the next evening when I set my mind on plumbing the depth of this 8.8%ABV. I knew there must be a tail… or tale actually, on this Lion. This time I poured down the center of the glass. The head rose thick and full, crowning the amber brew. With expectations ready for a complex brew I tipped the fluid into my mouth and followed it in my mind down into the depths. The distinct lager taste, like a Budweiser in its finest condition out of a fresh tapped keg, coming through clean-as-a-whistle piping, into a sparkling clean mug, arose and then multiplied in dimension. The alcohol rode up to the surface and put in the kick at the end. This was a complex yet relatively light lager.

As a second round followed I appreciated the character of this beer even more. Certainly a lesson learned once again. One must come to a brew with expectations to appreciate what it can offer. This is a quality brew. Would I drink it regularly? No, probably not, but the Imperial Lion turned into a nice refreshing surprise. Glad I had the chance to try a few.