Summertime! :: Touring Sam Adams Summer Sampler

by David Daugherty on July 15, 2012

As I write this, today will not only be one of the hottest days of the year here in NE Ohio but we may break a record.  I just passed a bank, while running some errands and the thermometer on the side read 99 degrees! With 51% humidity, I’m ready to go back to the desert.  In the meantime, the best thing to cure these hot days of summer is a nice cold beer…and some water! Stay hydrated in this heat, people!

Samuel Adams has been a favorite craft brewer for some time now, so I picked up a 12 pack of the Summer Sampler which has 6 different styles, Summer Ale, Cherry Wheat, Noble Pils, Belgian Session, East-West Kolsch, plus they threw in their sturdy go-to Boston Lager, I guess for good measure

Let’s start off with the East-West Kӧlsch.  Poured into a pint glass, this beer was light yellow in color, showed a small and quickly dissipating head with thin, constant lacing.  Very spicy, floral and malty to the nose, I could tell this would go down fast and it did. Given the strength of the nose, I was surprised at how light this beer was. The taste was somewhat citrusy with lemon, but the malt packed with caramel gave it a very bready flavor, like a sweet biscuit.  Malts used here are Samuel Adams’ two-row pale malt blend, wheat, and Bohemian pils malt.  The hops, Spalt Spalter and Strisselspalt hops.  The special ingredient used in this Kӧlsch is jasmine sambac which is a part of the olive family.  In any case, at 5.0% ABV, this is one great summertime session brew!

Next I had the Summer Ale.  I was expecting a little more from this American Pale Wheat Ale.  Since becoming a big fan of the barley wines, lower ABV wheat beers pale (pun intended) in comparison to most beers for me now.  At 5.3% ABV, it quenched my thirst and left a little lemon zest aftertaste behind.  Using Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend and malted wheat malts and Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops, the aroma comes across citrusy to the nose.  If you like carbonated beers, this one is for you.

Moving on with Noble Pils.  This was my favorite of the group.  A very refreshing beer with a nice crisp finish.  Poured a hazy yellow color with a decent head which dissipated quickly but left behind constant lacing.  Nicely carbonated to give those taste buds a refreshing finish.  I like the aroma, citrus and herbs.  This could be from the hops, 5 Noble hops to be exact.  Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Tettnang Tettnanger, Spalt Spalter, Saaz, and Hersbrucker Noble hops.  Now you would think that this is a very hoppy or bitter beer?  Wrong!  This is a wonderful Czech style pilsner!  The flavor is citrusy, sweet & piney thanks to a honeyed malt character where the Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend and Czech pilsner malt is used to enhance the flavor.  Because I like this one so much, I need to provide the description of the brewing process of this brew:
Samuel Adams Noble Pils is brewed according to the Bohemian tradition.  We start with a special Bohemian spring barley that has been crafted using old world, labor intensive techniques, called floor malting.  This traditional malt adds a rich malt character and a distinct pilsner flavor to the beer.  The beer is also brewed with all five Noble hop varieties to deliver a fresh and citrusy hop aroma and flavor.  Noble hops are grown in the world’s oldest growing regions in Bavaria and the Czech Republic and are prized for their delicate aroma and flavor.  Each of the five Noble hop varieties adds a slightly different aroma and flavor to the beer, from citrus and spice to pine and floral.  The result is a beer that is crisp, complex and refreshing.  Its bright flavor and lively, citrus hop character remind us that the warm days of spring are just a few weeks away.”
At 4.9% ABV, this is one to be enjoyed over and over.  An interesting note about Noble Pils, according to Sam Adams: “The winner of our 2009 Beer Lover’s Choice® election, this beer was chosen by over 67,000 drinkers for its crisp complexity and refreshing taste.”  Don’t think I need to say much more, except…It’s available year round!  YAY!

Should have saved Noble Pils for last, but I felt it needed to be right there in the middle, and could have certainly followed it wwith something far less satisfying than their  Cherry Wheat.  An ale brewed with cherries, this beer is unique in the sense that it takes a traditional wheat beer and gives it a bold flavor.  It pours like a normal wheat ale; orange in color with a moderate head that lasts throughout the session.  You definitely get a sweet and fruity aroma straight from the pour and that aroma lingers in the taste as well.  Using Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Munich 10, and malted wheat with Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops, honey and cherries…take this ale as it comes.  Fruity and refreshing and yes: CHERRY.  Another session beer if you want the fruit flavor ale experience all night.  Why not? With an ABV of 5.3%, drink up.  I like the boldness of this beer and have been drinking it for the last 17 years.

The Belgian Session was interesting.  As expected, it poured a bright gold color with a thick white head and crazy fast lacing.  Aroma was balanced between the hops and malts so instead of getting an intense hoppy citrusy character,  you get a combination of sweet, spicy, citrus and floral scents.  Even though this is brewed in the traditional Belgian ale style, it is unexpectedly light.  Fruity to the tongue but for the finish, at least for me, I got a spicy and sweet malt driven aftertaste, Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Gambrinus honey malt.  A notable hop grouping of Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops, Hersbrucker, and Strisselspalt yielded, in this mix, a spicy, citrusy flavor and not that intense bitter taste.  A very nice addition to the Summer Sampler.  This is also a really good session beer with the ABV coming in at 4.3%.

Last but not least is (Ed: fanfare please) Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  The others in this fine collection are the kids of the group compared to Boston Lager which I like to call the trailblazer of the bunch.  This is the history behind this revolutionary beer from Samuel Adams: “Samuel Adams Boston Lager helped lead the American beer revolution, reviving a passion for full-bodied brews that are robust and rich with character.  When it was introduced in 1984, Samuel Adams Boston Lager was unusual in a world of thin, light-bodied beers that were being churned out for mass market consumption. Following his great-great grandfather’s recipe, Jim Koch used only traditional brewing processes as well as the finest ingredients to brew his Samuel Adams Boston Lager. ‘My great-great grandfather named his beer after himself: Louis Koch Lager,’ said Jim Koch.  ‘I renamed my beer after the patriot Samuel Adams, who helped lead the Revolution and was a brewer by trade. I thought the name was assertively American.’  Just six weeks after its introduction, Samuel Adams Boston Lager turned the beer industry on its ear when it was named ‘The Best Beer in America’ in the Consumer Preference Poll at the Great American Beer Festival.  At less than two months old, Samuel Adams had secured a place in the history of American brewing.”

For me, what make this lager great are the malts: Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend and Caramel 60 giving this beer its sweet aroma. Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger Noble hops give Boston Lager a balanced hop character; a piney, citrusy aftertaste that goes down smooth.  An ABV of 4.9% makes this lager a decent session beer.   No other American Lager with this much flavor was available when I started  drinking Sam Adams and I would go out on a limb to say that Sam Adams started the craft beer craze in America almost 30 years ago.  Now, go out and grab yourself a 12 pack of this Summer Sampler by Samuel Adams, you deserve it, especially now during one of the hottest summers in history.

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