Samuel Adams Boston Lager: A Decent Ubiquitous Standard

Supposedly, British writer H. Allen Smith tasted his first American beer and exclaimed, “Put it back in the horse!” If you have tasted mass-produced American beers like Coors, Miller, and Budweiser, then perhaps you can relate to his sentiments. But that is the old way. These days, American craft brewers, both microbrewers and otherwise, have come a long way, and in fact, some of the best craft beer in the world today comes from the States.

Like Sierra Nevada, the Samuel Adams brewery is one of the pioneers in the US craft beer movement. The company was founded in 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts, and named after American revolutionary, Samuel Adams. This company has a very interesting history: Boston Lager was its first beer, but the company did not invent the recipe. It came from an 1860 recipe by brewer Louis Koch of St. Louis, Missouri. His descendent, Jim Koch, tried it again in 1984 and loved it. By the way, Jim Koch was a Harvard graduate with an MBA and a JD, so he formed the company with friends from Harvard business school. Looking back at the company’s success, it seems Harvard may have something worth teaching after all! Their first brew, Boston Lager (4.9% ABV), is brewed from Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger Noble hops, and pale malt. As a lager, it is cold-fermented. Boston Lager was introduced for sale in 1985 (has it been that long?).

Bottle: Another iconic bottle in American beer culture, the Boston Lager brown glass bottle sports a blue label with white lettering, a red banned, and a drawing of old Sam Adams himself. The shape is a standard American lager shape: tall and thin, with a long neck.

Pour: This is a thick, sensual beer. The color is dark amber with a touch of gold. The head is very thick — three fingers — and white with a hint of yellow. This thick head dissipates relatively quickly, but not too quickly, and leaves heavy lacing.

Aroma: For an American lager (traditionally watery and weak), this beer really stands out. Although the aroma is a bit light, still, you can detect malted grains and noble hops on the nose, with carbonation.

Flavor: The flavor is mild but balanced. There are elements of bread and malt present. The noble hops provide grassy and floral elements, but only as undertones. There is the slightest pleasant bitterness because of the hops, but the overall flavor profile leans toward malted grains. There is a hint of sweetness that cannot be ignored. While the flavor balance and complexity are good, still, the overall flavor strength is a bit too mild: I would like more flavor. The finish is about 75% malty sweet, and 25% bitter, medium dry.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is thin to medium and carbonated. But compared to traditional, mass-produced American lagers, the mouthfeel is delightful. It has a certain stickiness due to the malt, and it is certainly fizzy, but not to the exclusion of body. For a lager, this is very nice.

Structure: You do not expect a lager to have a firm, full, complex structure, and this does not. However, for a traditional-style lager, the structure is present, which is more than you can say for most American lagers. You can taste and feel a certain solidity that is just not present in others.

Food Pairing: Samuel Adams Boston Lager seems to have been made just for a really thick, juicy, delicious burger, or some really nice barbecue. If I were having a barbecue party on a warm, summer night, I would definitely choose this beer to serve. You could down several without falling down and passing out.

Overall Rating Out of 5 Possible Beer Mugs:

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Tags: American Lager Food Ergo Love Hops Lager Malt Matt Miller Noble Hops Samuel Adams Samuel Adams Boston Lager

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