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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Beer Co’

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!
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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.
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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.
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ballentine2

As I was saying in the previous post: Ballantine XXX Ale became the standard setter for my beer drinking evaluations. I must admit though, the bulk of beer drinking in those early years consisted of cans of Bud, Schlitz, Pabst or local favorites Carling Black Label (“Hey, Mabel! Black Label!”) and Narragansett (“Hi neighbor! Have a ‘Gansett!”). However, when I felt the need to remember my beer drinking roots I sought out a six of XXX Ale.

As time went on I discovered Guinness Extra Stout. For those who equate Guinness to the draft version available now in tall cans or bottles there is a distinctly different brew found there. No, the Extra Stout was a strong, full-bodied, earthy ale. It was sold in four packs of  11oz bottles, later in 12 oz six packs. I stumble upon it every so often now and grab some.

This Guinness perfectly matched my expectations of earthy bitterness that Ballantiine  first awakened in me. The combination of the two makes a great Black and Tan by the way. In fact I got to the point of keeping a case of both on hand, drinking either one straight or mixing the two for variety.

In the early seventies up in Stillwater, Maine, I came across my first Narragansett Porter. Now here was a quiet sleeper! A great earthy porter for the low price of common ‘Gansett. The shopkeeper said he kept a supply on hand for some of the old timers – sort of a remnant of the stronger American brews that the lighter lagers of Budweiser and others had replaced. 

Well, conveniently, my wife worked for a local store and the owner agreed to order in cases of ‘Gansett Porter and Ballantine XXX just for me. They came in the returnable and reusable “bar” bottles and heavy returnable cases. This was way before bottle bills and recycling had surfaced. So now for a low cost I had as good a selection of brews as the later micro and craft breweries produced at premium prices.

Well, meanwhile in the background, the New England brewing industry was slipping away. Fallstaff had purchased both Ballantine and Narragansett, Carling had started its collapse, eventually closing  the Natick brewery. With A-B opening its Budweiser brewery in Merrimack, NH local beers slipped away. Now brewed by a Miller plant under license from Pabst, Ballantine and some of the other old labels still exist.

So after Budweiser ran all the old time brews out, the tables now turn again and Harpoon and Boston Beer (Sam Adams) are buying up other breweries and turning out high quality brews in New England. (Not that Budweiser is threatened, what with A-B and a few other national powerhouses holding 90% of the US beer market.)

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