My first go at college was at Louisiana State University (LSU). I will not dare tell you the year, lest I date myself. At that time, I was just an ignorant boy from Lafayette. To me, a mug of cold Bud Light and a cheeseburger was livin’ large. Then one night at a local Baton Rouge bar, one of my friends handed me a bottle of a strange, unknown beer called Samuel Adams Boston Lager. “Why, this isn’t Bud Light,” I thought. But I tasted it anyway, and my mind was instantly opened to a new world of cervesiacal possibilities. Even though I now consider Sam Adams Boston Lager to be a decent, but not a world-class, brew, I will always respect it for teaching me, at that tender young age, that beer could actually taste good.
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!
Even to this day, I consider most Samuel Adams beers to be good, solid stand-by beers, those beers that you know you can find almost anywhere, for a decent price, and that you know will offer you a very pleasant drinking experience. They are not necessarily the world’s most amazing craft beers, but they are galaxies better than American mass-produced crap beer. That being said, I decided to write a review for one of Sam Adams’ other more popular beers, Samuel Adams Summer Ale (5.3% ABV).
Summer Ale, as the name suggests, is a seasonal beer, and is available from March to July of each year. It is brewed from the company’s proprietary malted barley and wheat (wheat worth noting), as well as Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Saaz Noble hops. As an ale, it is thus top-fermented and warm-fermented. It also includes two extra ingredients in the brewing process: lemon peel and Grains of Paradise. These peppercorns, native to West Africa and a member of the ginger family of spices, impart a delightful peppery and floral aroma and flavor. So how do these ingredients all work together in an ale?
Everything On Tap Review – Samuel Adams Summer Ale:
Bottle: The Sam Adams Boston Lager bottle is so easily-recognizable, that it is hard to imagine that any other of the company’s bottles could live up to it. This one make a decent effort. The bottle is made of light-brown glass. Because sunlight damages beer, I personally do not understand why all brewers do not use dark brown glass. The label has a background of a blue sea and a golden, sunlight sky. The standard blue logo with the illustration of Mr. Sam Adams himself is on top, the on the bottom, the name of the beer appears is light blue lettering. While I would not call it the most beautiful or innovative label that I have ever seen, still I must admit that its colors do evoke Summer.
Pour: The color is pure golden-orange, with a hint of haziness, like a Summer sunset. The head is a thin half-finger thick, sparkly rather than foamy, and it dissipates moderately quickly, leaving — surprisingly — heavy lacing and rings.
Aroma: The attack is a bouquet of amber waves of grain. The main aroma is that of grains, citrus (especially lemon), peppery spice, and wheat. It is interesting to say the least, and very summery. But will the flavor live up to the bouquet?
Flavor: The attack is hoppy and bitter, which melts into a certain lemon-peel fruitiness and tartness. Cutting through this citrus hoppiness, the Grains of Paradise impart a peppery, floral element, that fades into a floral, hoppy finish. It is a very interesting combination of flavors, and I believe that it really does suit the Summer well.
Mouthfeel: The body is light, to be sure, but not in a watery or weak way. The carbonation is light to medium. On the finish, the ale seems to sparkle on the tongue. Again, this is an ale specifically targeted for Summer, and in that one sense, it fits the bill. If I were rating this ale only generally, as a year-round beverage, I would say that the mouthfeel is too light, but for a Summer ale, it is great.
Structure: This is not a broad, structured beer. As an ale, you would expect more structure. But even though it is billed for the Summer, still, with the lemon peel, Grains of Paradise, and high quality hops, I expected more from the structure. While Summer implies hot days, cool beer, and whimsical fun, still, it does not justify a one-or-two dimensional ale, and if I have one complaint about this ale, it is this.
Food Pairing: This ale is perfect for all of your traditional Aestarial foods.It would be excellent with grilled shrimp, or chicken breasts. It would also well-suit grilled oysters with lemon juice, or even pork tenderloin lightly barbecued with a white wine sauce.
Overall Rating Out of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: