Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 29, Samuel Adams Winter Lager

I'm kinda anal about my glassware being clean.  I worked in a lab starting out as a glassware cleaner and I kind of take pride in the fact that I'm not tainting my beverages with soap scum.  I read a bunch of articles on beer critiquing when I do this blog.  Not always, but when I am curious about a beer like I am tonight, I read and try not to plagiarize. 

Tonight I read up on Samuel Adams because I drank their "seasonal" tonight at dinner with my family at Famous Dave's (although a chain, the quality never varies) and swore it was their Octoberfest.  So, when I got home from dinner, I unexpectedly grabbed the Winter Lager from Scoats's 24 beers of Christmas case and figured it was a good idea.  

To melt those two paragraphs together, I will get to the point.  I was astounded at the similarity.  Although the waitress didn't know what "seasonal" this was, I assumed it was the Octoberfest as it is common in NE Philly and rather tasty and my fall go to when at a place that doesn't offer other craft beer.  In reading about this beer, I stumble across an article that says they just change the label!  LOL  I know this seems on the verge of stupid, it does hold some merit with me, but I am not sure what I was actually drinking beforehand.  Either way, it's weird.  But I digress much past the point of your interest and gotta get to the point before you think that I am inebriated.  I'm reading a lot of people losing their heads much like Marie Antoinette did all of a sudden and kind of in a hurry like.  That and they don't get much smell out of their beer, this one in particular and I kind of became aware of a trend.  People are serving their beer too cold (not as much aroma at cold temps) and that the head is going flatter than what I observe probably because they don't rinse their glasses well enough.  It's just an assumption, but on almost a dozen cases I have come across critiques that have said the head was lame and there was no lacing when in my glass it was brilliant.  Just a guess.

Dayum this beer screams RED!  This picture is awesome and captures the beauty of this beer perfectly!  It is truly rediculously red not to be rediculed.

So she pours one of the crispiest clear reds that I have ever seen with a rosy white to tan head that lingers throughout most of the drink and fades to a halo by the end.  As you tilt your glass a solid wall of lacing eventually breaks up into tiny little diamonds that look like the most intricate of lace.  Truly beautiful to see.

Most of the articles that I read said that they had a hard time smelling any aroma for the beer so I decided to try and warm it up:

When it was fresh out of the fridge and about 40 degrees, there weren't many aromas.  I could smell some light bready malt and that was it.  This beer is supposed to have some ginger citrus, and cinnamon in it so I wanted to warm it up and see if it came out.  It became more apparent of the bready malt nose and only the tiniest hint of the spices, but they were more apparent after warming and some swirling.

Like bocks, the taste is strongly malty and sweet with some spiciness along the way, but hardly noticeable.  The finish is very slightly dry and sweet at the same time.  Dryness from the hops which struggle to negate all the sweet of the beer.

Some people say the mouthfeel is watery.  I don't get that at all, but it is refreshingly lighter than medium.  It's also sweet bodied with a small dry bitter aftertaste from the hops which while during the drink they are mellowing the sweetness unnoticed become evident at the end in the aftertaste.  Medium to high carbonation with excellent head retention.

Beer Advocate has this as their highest rated bock beer.  I can see why!  Even though it's a truly superb beer, I give it only a 9.  why?  Well, I don't know really.  It should have a 10, but if you are expecting the spice to come out, you'd give it only a 9.  In reality, a bock doesn't require those winter warmer or belgian style spices so it may just be a perfect 10.

OK.  9.5  Happy?

Thanks everyone!  Have a great day tomorrow!


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