Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Tasting three Sam Adams experimental beers in Boston

By William Brand
Tuesday, June 24th, 2008 at 7:43 pm in Uncategorized.

There is no time…I get items for this blog, mean to write them and get caught up in the relentless crush of time. Enough complaining. On with the news…

I got to help judge the Sam Adams Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston last week at the Sam Adams/Boston Beer Co. brewery. When we finished the judging, Boston Beer CEO Jim Koch and brewery manager Jennifer Glanville brought out some samples of their barrel-aged beer.

I should say “barrel aging beers,” because two came straight out of the barrel. Names are the unofficial ones Jennifer and the other brewers gave the beers. The star (or rather ‘asterisk’) ratings are mine. Basically:
* – don’t toss it, demand a refund.
** acceptable beer, no obvious flaws.
*** Excellent beer.
**** Superior. Stands out. One not to miss.
***** World classic, take it with you to that desert island.

The beers:

— Blonde***1/2. 11 percent. Jennifer said it was a traditional Belgian-style blond. It was spiced in the brew kettle with cardamom, a spice from India, popular in the Middle East. (They use it in coffee.) To add to the spicy hit, the beer was also “dry-spiced.” More spice was added in the fermenter. I don’t believe this beer was barrel-aged, but I’m not sure.

It was a dark copper color with a slightly acidic nose, more like a Belgian Lambic. The taste was mild, slightly sweet with a wonderful dry, spicy finish.

I guessed the spice was coriander. Wrong. Cardamom also provides a drier finish. Any homebrewers or brewers reading this? Let me know the difference.

–Kriek***. 10.5 percent. Aged on black cherries. It had a mile, cherry noes. The taste was mellow, not sweet, rather dry not sour. It had been on wood since January.

— Cosmic Motherfunk ***, 10.5 percent, 6-12 months in barrels, mostly wine barrels. Fermented with brettanomyces (wild yeast) and various bacteria. The nose was slightly sweet and malty. There wasa hint of sourness in the taste, but it wasn’t overpowering. I found it delicious.

Don’t know what the future holds for these beers. Perhaps, they’ll be components in the next Utopias, Sam Adams $100-plus, strong beer. I’d buy all three individually without blinking.

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