Beer, Cider, & Sake

Sam Adams Seasonals - How do they do it?


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Beer, Cider, & Sake 28

Sam Adams Seasonals - How do they do it?

Loren3 | Dec 7, 2007 08:06 AM

How does someone who supposedly flies to Germany every year to hand select all the hops used in making all their beers, and who runs a brewery that can crank out 32 (!) different beers, turn out a crop of seasonals that are so devoid of flavor?

My local favorite liquor store had a Sam Adams seasonal tasting recently. I've long been one of the voices against SA, on the premise that a) almost all of the SA on tap is their crappy so-called Boston Lager which is not the British ale that the real Sam Adams would have brewed putting them on the same footing as say, Killian's Irish Red - lager, b) for a long time most of their beers were licensed recipes brewed in a contract megabrewery, putting them on the same footing as say, Killian's, c) their made-up history and advertising hype - to me - undermines their credibility putting them on the same footing as say, Killian's Irish - licensed from the French and "brewed and brewed since 1875", and d) I've been lucky enough to live places where the local craft and small brewers turn out much better stuff without the hype.

But, that's a biased opinion and intrinsically unfair, and I owe it to myself, and to other beerhounds, to make as unbiased a judgement as possible. They make 32 beers. They can't all suck as bad as their so-called Boston Lager.

So, back to the tasting. The local SA rep set up their mixed case of seasonals on ice for free samples. I tasted the White Ale (wit-style), Winter Lager, Old Fezziwig, and Holiday Porter. I steered clear of the Cranberry Lambic.

How can I describe it? It was like being in a movie, where everything looks right, but it's just a facade. There was an initial mild flavor (only a small portion of what was promised in the descriptions on their web site), followed by an emptiness and the sense of waiting for, well, more. More of something. As an example, Old Fezziwig is described as "bursting with spices of the season". Well, it wasn't bursting with anything. I couldn't taste any spices at all. And I was waiting for some sort of ale-like finish, but it didn't actually finish. It just stopped. Same with the Holiday Porter. Described as "complex" and "robust", it just sort of sat there, almost tasting like something, but not quite.

And don't tell me it's because they were "too cold". They were on ice for about five or ten minutes before pouring.

So, how do they get such high ratings on What am I missing that I can't seen to take them seriously? What do other people find to enjoy in Sam Adams that they like, that I can't seem to find? And does it matter, if I have other great beers around to enjoy?

OK. Rant over. Back to my local faves.

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