Monday, December 13, 2010

Beereview: Sam Adam's Winter Classics Part 2 of 3

This is a Christmas tradition I can really get used to. Also, get excited, I broke out the pint-lite for this post.

Nick brought up a very good point last week, and something I hadn't noticed. Some of these beers in the pack are labeled "ale brewed with spices," while others are labeled "malt beverage brewed with spices." This does make me a little nervous. What could the difference be? We've got ales, and lagers, but for whatever reason those over at Sam Adam's decided not to use either title. Giving Sam Adam's the benefit of the doubt, it could be a beer brewed with a unique, in house, strain of yeast that would classify it as neither an "ale" or a "lager." Hybrid yeast strains are getting more and more popular these days. Of course not giving Sam Adam's benefit of the doubt is just that they've cut so many corners in brewing this beer that it can no longer be classified beer. You may decide for yourself. I'm an optimistic guy, so I'm continuing on believing that it is in fact beer. Let's rock!

The first beer we have today is one of these malt beverages brewed with spices, Sam Adam's Winter Lager. By the neck label, it's a classic lager with cinnamon, orange peel, and ginger added. The bottle adorns a nice blue label with the warming image of a fireplace reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes warming their butts in front of their own fireplace.The beer pours a darker brown than I expected, definitely darker than your typical lager. The aroma smells of hops, like the Boston lager, but not as potent. The head is thin, and retention short. The rumored cinnamon and ginger isn't apparent in the aroma. The first sip does reveal that the orange peel makes a statement. The cinnamon and ginger really is absent from the taste until I put the beer down. After a number of seconds, the beer leaves a warming feeling on your tongue. Strong of cinnamon and ginger? Not really, but a warm (not necessarily alcoholic) feeling non-the-less. I wouldn't call the beer terribly unique, but not bad. Not very exciting, but very drinkable.

Next we have Sam Adam's Chocolate Bock. This is labeled an "ale with cocoa and natural flavors." Self described on the neck as a beer slowly aged on a bed of cocoa. Mmmm bed of cocoa. I don't think a bed of cocoa would last in my house, with the dogs and all. Now that I think about it the dogs wouldn't last very long either, chocolate being deadly for dogs and all. Anywhoo lets pop this top. This bock pours black. Like licorice jellybean black (does anyone actually eat those jellybeans?). So black, it won't even take the picture right on my pint-lite. Head retention is almost non-existent. Aroma has a strong cocoa smell, almost like hot chocolate (but cold). First sip is... bitter. Definitely chocolaty. And very roasty. Body is pretty thin, almost like a lighter porter. The beer also has a slightly warm alcohol flavor. Good beer. I'm impressed because I've had a few chocolate beers were the chocolate was barely noticeable. A good beer to have to warm up near the fireplace.

1 comment:

  1. I love black jelly beans! It's the buttered popcorn ones I can't stand.

    Did you ever figure out why they had to call it a malt beverage?

    I bought this same mix pack and the entire thing reeked of artificial flavors, rather than brewed in ingrediants. I think the chocolate one tasted like a chocolate flavored hard candy rather than something brewed with (bitter) cocoa beans.

    I suppose I'd just rather have a Raspberry Lambic than a Smirnoff Ice.