Ah, the holidays, when one's hopes tend to be shattered by the inability of others to give worthy gifts. Fortunately, my fam hooked me up with some lovely stuff; I fulfilled a years-old dream to go to a Christmas Day Lakers game, and I got a kickass new coffee maker, a stainless steel monster by Cuisinart that should keep me in a jittery state for years to come. The flip side: Sam Adams failed on most counts.
As the 23rd drew to a close, Beth and I decided to uncap a bottle of the Sam Adams Cream Stout and Holiday Porter. The Cream Stout was awful; the "cream" taste was there, but it was overpowered by a horrific twist on the coffee flavor touted on the bottle's label. Yes, it tasted like coffee - coffee that's been sitting in the pot for a day. The finish was sour and stale. The Holiday Porter fared a little better; much more drinkable than the Cream Stout, it was decent, with a mellow chocolate scent and taste, and a slight hint of honey at the finish. Still, nothing about the Holiday Porter was special - one expects a little bit of holiday magic from a holiday release, and the Holiday Porter was good, but not great.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were a blur, thanks in no small part to the drinking. I was lucky enough to score a bottle of Samichlaus for Christmas Eve. Wow. Too good. It's like Beer Crack. It's a good argument against the "I wish everyday was Christmas" sentiment, in that we'd a have a ton of Samichlaus addicts on our hands. When we got home on the 26th, Beth and I split a bottle of Adams' Limited Edition Chocolate Bock. This was a winner. Made with Swiss chocolate, it delivered on the taste; lightly hopped, with a rich, malty flavor. It was like Yoohoo for grownups.
Finally, I should mention Adams' Winter Lager. Eh, actually, it's not worth a mention. It's surprisingly lifeless, failing to deliver on the spiciness promised on the bottle. The flavors in general were underwhelming; I'd have liked to have tasted a bit more citrus, or cinnamon, or anything, really. Again, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't memorable, and the Winter Lager is further proof that Samuel Adams is no longer a "microbrewery"; there's something artificial and manufactured about this particular beer.
So while we're still in holiday mode - there's a couple more days left in The Season - I'm gonna venture out and see what other festive beers I can find. Have a safe and happy New Year! Prost!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
It's possible that I could have come up with a more awkward title for this, my first The Whinery post. Give it time, folks. Anyway, hi, glad to be here. A few things about me, alcoholically speaking: I love good beer. I am, in fact, a Beer Snob. So my focus here will be on beer. Hooray beer! (Boo Red Stripe!)
For Beer People, there really is no better time of the year than Christmastime. For starters, we now have an excuse (as if we need one) to drink beer! And Christmastime is that magical time of year when brewmasters around the world release their seasonal offerings. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he loves him some caramel and chocolate malts and festive spices. This year, my wife Beth and I hit up the BevMo - hooray BevMo! - in search of yuletide brew. The selection was somewhat daunting, so I grabbed the Samuel Adams Winter Sampler box (containing 2 of the following: Cranberry Lambic, Old Fezziwig Ale, Cream Stout, Winter Lager, Holiday Porter, and their boring old Boston Lager) and a 750 ml bottle (1 pint, 9.4 ozs - close enough) of Sam's Chocolate Bock. I'm a highly efficient holiday shopper, I am. But you don't care about that part. You wanna know how the stuff tastes. Alrighty then.
Tonight I started with the Cranberry Lambic. I will tell you that along with my love of stouts, porters, amber ales and lagers - the heavy stuff - I do like a good fruity beer. The Germans and Belgians excel at these, and the Cranberry Lambic was heavy on the cranberry. As in, it tastes like an Ocean Spray Shandy. This was a bit off-putting - I like my beers to taste like beer, not Fanta - and the Cranberry Lambic suffers from the same overpowering fruit flavor that marks Sam Adams' Cherry Wheat. Sweet with a very tart finish, light despite the deep reddish and amber hue, it didn't strike me as a winter brew - this would be ideal on a hot summer day.
Next up: the Old Fezziwig Ale. Now this is a Christmas ale! Very complex, with strong caramel notes, and the flavor of mulled cider - orange, cinnamon, and ginger. I didn't get the bitter hoppiness that I found with the much less interesting Winter Lager. The dark brown color and relatively low carbonation scream "heavy", and indeed it was. Highly recommend this one; serve it before or after Christmas dinner, as the spices might be a bit much for the meal itself. I will say that a beer like this almost demands a higher alcohol content; both the Cranberry Lambic and the Old Fezziwig Ale have a 5.9%.
On tap for tomorrow: the Cream Stout and the Holiday Porter.