Just when you thought it was over, the shuffling begins anew.  This time biggest of the craft beer guys (since the Brewers Association keeps raising the cap), Samuel Adams is merging with Dogfish Head.

You can read about the dollar amounts and the shares owned by whom on other sites and you can head to Twitter for the semi-comedic hot takes but I want to focus on questions I have for the combined brewing group in the future.

First, the aforementioned cap raising will need to be raised once again, maybe not this year but even with the smaller amount that Dogfish produces they will more than likely be pushing up to the line sooner rather than later.  If the Brewers Association was loathe to kick Boston Beer out of the club, they sure as heck ain’t gonna kick out Boston Beer and beloved icon Sam Calagione in one fell swoop.  Each time Boston Beer is snuck in it seems to raise more consternation amongst the members about what and who the Brewers Association stands for, expect it to be a thorny issue again.  It probably won’t lead to a rival band of brewers in their own group but you might see an internal split with larger members on one side and smaller in their own group.

The next agenda item is what the mixing of the companies will be.  Operated separately just under the same umbrella?  Sharing some resources but brewing kept separate?  Boston Beer is tilted to the non-beer side just a skosh in recent years with ciders and seltzers and hard this and hard that.  How does that affect the brewing philosophy in Rehoboth Beach?  The slightest deviations are going to be analyzed by beer fandom.

How does this affect the future of Jim Koch and the Calagiones and how will that affect the street cred of both?  More interestingly, what happens when both retire off to a remote island, what do the two brands stand for then?  It is not bad to have a CEO from another beverage company in charge but who is the totem for fans to latch onto when the names on the back of jersey change?

I am sure that this merger will be a topic of conversation and re-evaluation for years to come.

A Utopia for Me

I received a very unexpected present for my birthday this year. Utopias from Sam Adams. And not just any Utopias. This is one from the 2002 run of 3,000.

I really don’t know when/if I should open this but I do know that the temptation will be great.

Sam 76

For years, I have heard the calls for a pilsner or lager renaissance and each year a new style of IPA becomes the It Girl/Boy of the moment.

But maybe a nationally distributed brand with a patriotic theme can make PilsLife a reality. Personally, I think that Sam Adams is due for a hit beer.

You may consider Sam Adams a bit passe but they never seem to stop putting new beer out and even better in 2008, they got more involved in the industry with their Brewing the American Dream program. The program provides “microloans, coaching, and other resources to people who are pursuing their unique craft.”

Now they are combining those two aspects with a new variety box AND “all profits from the collaboration pack will be donated to program partner Accion to support future small business loans to food and beverage entrepreneurs across America.”

Here are the beers:
Boston Tea Party Saison
Brewed in collaboration with Jim Woods of Woods Beer Co.
from San Francisco, CA

“Boston Tea Party Saison is a bi-coastal twist on the classic Belgian style, combining Woods’s yerba mate-infused saison with Sam Adams’ wild yeast blend, Kosmic Mother Funk. Mate’s earthy spice plays on the rippling, fruity haze of KMF’s funky bacteria, and gives a signature snap to the amber saison’s traditional dry finish.”

ThreeNinety Bock
Brewed in collaboration with Chris Spinelli of Roc Brewing Co.
from Rochester, NY

“ThreeNinety Bock is a slightly roasted Maibock with a sweet toffee and light caramel flavor, crafted from four hop varieties, combined with rye malt and oak smoked malt. Mosaic and Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops provide the balance that gives this dark golden bock a big, juicy character and slightly sweet and dry finish. ThreeNinety is a nod to the distance in miles between Boston and Rochester.”

Time Hop Porter
Brewed in collaboration with Grant Fraley and Marta Jankowska of ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
from San Diego, CA

“Driven by co-founders Grant Fraley and Marta Jankowska’s mission of creating “Old School Beers for New School Palates,” Time Hop Porter utilizes Zeus, Chinook, Cascade and Goldings hops and is 5.3% ABV. The hop character is balanced by three malt varieties: Sam Adams pale two-row blend, Crisp Brown, and Black malt. This porter has strong notes of citrus and pine that are balanced by a smooth, roasted malt character.”

Oats McGoats
Brewed in collaboration with Rick Abitol of Brewery Rickoli
from Wheat Ridge, CO

“Oats McGoats is an American stout brewed based on founder and brewer Rick Abitbol’s commitment to brewing full-flavored, gluten-reduced beers (if they didn’t say it, you wouldn’t know). At 6.5% ABV, the full-bodied, moderately carbonated beer is accented by earthy, spicy flavors and a hint of roasted coffee notes.”

Desert Kaleidoscope
Brewed in Collaboration with Bosque Brewing
from Albuquerque, NM

“Desert Kaleidoscope, pays homage to the Albuquerque balloon fiesta and features a mixture of flavors including citrus, tangerine, pine and honey malt to create a brew with a bold, hoppy aroma. With a 7.0% ABV, Desert Kaleidoscope is a deep amber, medium-bodied brew that leaves a clean touch of lingering bitterness on the palate.”

…and of course a bottle or two of Sam Adams lager.

Not Throwing Away Their Shot

Here are the 2017 Winners of the 20th Sam Adams Longshot competition:
Graham Johnson’s (Boston Beer employee) – Coffeehead Imperial Stout

“The beer in his own words:
Coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit notes on the nose. Strong, thick mouthfeel – coats your mouth. Finishes slightly sweet but doesn’t overpower the strong coffee essence.”

Duane Wilson’s (with co-brewer Mike Edwards) – Wild Child

“The beer in his own words:
I first get an aroma of fresh apricots. As you taste the beer you taste sour with a nice dryness. This morphs into the tartness of kumquats with a subtle apricot background followed by a lingering tartness on your tongue.”

David Cousino’s – Barnstorm Saison

“The beer in his own words:
A nice farmhouse ale with soft malt character, delicate floral notes, and a hint of pepper.”

I am glad that the hops were left out this year, though I wish that the Lichtenhainer that was in final consideration had made it to the final three.

The Longshot’s are In

One of the annual rites of GABF is the announcement of the Sam Adams Longshot winners. This year the chosen (2) homebrewers and (1) Sam Adams employee who will see their beers brewed on a super larger scale are:

David Cousino of Avon, OH, Saison – “Cousino began homebrewing 25 years ago in college and after a long break started brewing in earnest four years ago. He is a pharmacist and now the attention to detail in his profession shows in his homebrews. Koch says Cousino’s Saison has a soft malt character, delicate floral notes and a hint of pepper.”

Duane Wilson of Horseheads, NY, American Wild Ale – “Wilson and his co-brewer Mike Edwards have been brewing together for eight years and strive to improve on the styles they create. Wilson’s mixed-fermentation American wild ale is fruit forward with apricots and kumquats and finishes with a dry tartness.”

Graham Johnson of Marblehead, MA, Imperial Stout – “Johnson is the Samuel Adams employee home brew winner. The company opened up the competition to its employees because they are so passionate about beer and many of them brew at home. Johnson’s Imperial Stout uses whole coffee beans and chocolate and has decadent flavors of cocoa, espresso and hints of brandy and raisin. The taste finishes with touch of sweetness.”

It will be quite the task for a Wild Ale to be added to a mixed pack.

Now the waiting begins, the six-pack won’t arrive until spring of next year.

Taste Showdown Nitro IPA vs Nitro Wit from Sam Adams

Sam Adams and their Nitro Project has finally started to show up in L.A. (though BevMo seems to hide it strategically through their Burbank store).

I purchased four packs of both the IPA and a White Ale to see which would win taste-wise and which best showcased the Nitrogenation process.

I started with the Creamy & Smooth White Ale.  The sound of the can popping is like starting up an engine.  The head is big and creamy.  There is near milkshake quality to this.  Almost like a horchata shake.  Pie spice nutmeg-gy ness.  It seems to me that the essential subtle shades of Wit Bier (AKA White Ale) are overwhelmed by the creamy nitro.  As it warms, the navel orange notes really start to pick up which adds a missing dimension.

Next on to the Bright & Citrusy,  the hops certainly do combat the nitro more.  There is a pungent, piney hop kick to this beer that seeps through the foamy head.  Lots of wood notes to this hop blend.  As it stays cold the nitro half stays in effect.  I sampled the beer straight from the ‘fridge and also after sitting at room temp and found it to initially be more citrus focused before settling into the woods.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.50.25 PM

Overall, I would take the White Ale since it held a little more nuance.  The IPA fought through the Nitro and unleveled that playing field too much.  Now I might have to try the third offering, the coffee stout/

Time to Vote


Have you ever wanted to determine the outcome of what gets brewed and what doesn’t?  Well, Sam Adams is letting the world choose from 16 different beers.  Place your vote for your top 4 and then come later this summer the top four will be voted on at festivals and at the Sam Adams brewery. Two will win and be back in rotation in a variety pack come next year.

You have until the 25th to raise your voice.


The Next Longshot

Each year at the Great American Beer Festival, the new winners of the Sam Adams Longshot competition are unveiled. Below are the three beers that we will see and taste in 2015.

Greg Rasmussen’s Robust Porter: “This traditional robust porter is full of complex malt flavors. The variety of malts in this beer contribute flavors of cocoa, coffee, toffee, and slight vanilla to create a wonderful roasted yet balanced beer. This gorgeous mahogany porter has a roasty and chocolate aroma. The beer is complemented by slight citrus and earthy notes from the US and UK hops.”

Matthew Knott’s Classic Rauchbier: “This deep copper colored Rauchbier has all of the flavors you would expect in this traditional style: smoky, slightly savory with a malty sweetness and roastiness. The smoky flavors are balanced by a light toffee malt character and slight citrus from the hops. The brew finishes with a lingering smokiness, sweetness and subtle hop character.

John Marra’s Dunkelweiss: This beer is brewed with a traditional Bavarian yeast that contributes to the variety of aromas and flavors. The aroma is characterized with notes of tropical fruits and clove. The malted wheat contributes a bright clean cereal note, which complements the spicy flavors of clove, nutmeg, banana and a slight sweetness.”

The Dunkelweiss is the one of the three that I am most looking forward to but kudos for selecting a Rauchbier.

Review – Longshot 2013

Three reviews in One!   from the Sam Adams / Boston Beer Co.  Here are my thoughts from the latest Longshot…..
Beerflower Wheat
Pours a medium orange color. Has a spicy and herbal taste. Somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Pepper. The hibiscus is tame here which is good because it can take over a beer. Not bad but two of three of this year’s longshots remind me more of soda than beer.
Strawberry Lager
Pop the cap and a blast of strawberry hits the air. It has a big strawberry taste that is pretty close to jolly rancher / candy flavor. It pours a medium yellow color and has a nice fizz to it. Just to sweeet to me and not much else there.
Magnificent 7 IPA
Probably the most disappointing of the group.  Pours a golden orange color.  Aroma is fine, just doesn’t knock my socks off.  Too much caramel here for my taste.  The hop bitterness is good but this group of 7 don’t coalesce on my palate.