The Boston Beer Company has been expanding its Rebel IPA line of hoppy west coast style IPAs, and the latest addition is this grapefruit infused version. While I love the concept, this one doesn’t quite hit home for me. There’s definitely grapefruit in the form of citrus oils in the nose. The middle is more grapefruit rind giving it a characteristic bitterness. Hops come to the fore in the finish, floral and piney. All the right ingredients are here for a a smash hit, but to me, it turned out a bit one-dimensional, and weakly, not authoritatively so. The grapefruit was mainly there to add bitterness, which it does well, but there’s so much more to extracted if one were to reach a bit deeper. The body is medium, and the alcohol is an agreeable 6.3% ABV. I really like the original Rebel IPA, and the concept here is great, but in execution, it could have been so much more than it is.
I give it a 3.2 out of 5.
For the third and last review of my short series on the Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection I have a Belgian Quad called Tetravis. The nose has honey and figs, and promises a distinctly Belgian brew. The middle is more of the same, with raisins and currants, mostly sweet, but just a little bit of tartness and some spiciness towards the finish. The finish itself is mellow with smooth vanilla and banana coming to the fore. Right at the end is a distinct note of raspberry. Again this is a big beer (10.2% ABV) that hides the alcohol very, very well. Another really nice beer, making this a fine collection from the Boston Beer Company.
I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
For the second beer in my Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection series, I’m trying out Thirteenth Hour. It’s called “A Dark Belgian-Style Stout with Notes of Spice, Coffee, Chocolate, & Oak.” So, what does that actually mean? There’s a bit of oak in the nose, with some traditional Belgian fruit. The middle is mostly Belgian strong dark ale, with cherries, plums, prunes, and a bit of brown sugar, but then some stout flavors start to come through in the finish…Chocolate and coffee, and a big kick of vanilla from the oak. There’s still tart fruit all the way to the very end so you never forget this is predominately a Belgian, but the malty notes of a big English stout are a fun twist and they blend well; this is a nicely executed beer. The 9.0% ABV is more typical of a Belgian Strong Dark ale than a stout, and it hides nicely and is never boozy. This is another very nice beer.
I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
To start a short series on Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection, tonight we have New World, a barrel aged, bottle conditioned golden Belgian Tripel. To give it additional earthiness, some Samuel Adams Kosmic Mother Funk is blended in during finishing. This is not a Belgian beer in name only, or some far out interpretation of the style. Belgian yeast and traditional Belgian barrel aging processes have been used to turn out an authentic and well executed beer. The nose is yeasty with sweet and sour fruit. The middle is packed with apricot, mango, pineapple with a spicy backdrop. It fades to a rich buttery finish, with some of the vanilla from the oak starting to come forward. The promised sourness never really takes the stage. It isn’t entirely absent, but the sweetness and spice definitely dominate this ale. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a robust 10% ABV, which is to be expected from an aged ale. I love the Belgian styles and while this isn’t one of my all time favorites, it’s a very nice beer.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
Last weekend we hosted an engagement party for friends, and so not personally knowing most of the attendees, I had quite a variety of beer on hand to cater to various tastes. Sorting through the leftovers I found I still had a number of bottles of Samuel Adams Light, my offering for those wanting a low-calorie option. I haven’t yet reviewed this beer, and as the Boston Beer Company is, by most measures a craft brewery, it’s time to fix that. So, there’s nothing wrong with this beer, per se. It is a light beer. It isn’t brewed with adjuncts, so you get a reasonable caramel malt nose and flavor, but it is as light as the beer. The finish is more mineral water than anything else. It’s certainly palatable, and would be a fine refreshing beverage, but there’s really nothing to set it above any of its macro-brewed counterparts.
I give it a 2.5 out of 5.
Tonight I’m trying another of this year’s winter seasonals from the Boston Beer Company, and it’s like their Chocolate Bock, only this year it has been infused with cherry. Now, this isn’t the first bottle I’ve had. I picked up their winter variety pack which came with three of these babies, and I have to say this is the first time I’ve been dreading a review because of the fact that I would rather throw the beer away than drink it. I’ve reviewed the chocolate bock before, and to be frank, it wasn’t very good. For this beer, they’ve apparently added large quantities of cherry cough syrup to it in order to turn it into something truly awful. It pours a nice dark brown with a reasonably pleasant head that reminds one of root beer float. The nose is of cough syrup. The body is thin and watery. The middle is an unsubstantial chocolate that reminds one of a chocolate-flavored sucker, drowned liberally in, again, cherry cough syrup, which is quite overwhelming. The finish is cherry and a bit metallic. The alcohol level is quite moderate at 5.8% ABV. There are no discernible hop flavors at all. Regardless of your taste, I can unequivocally recommend that you give this beer a pass. Personally, if it came down to a choice between this and Bud Light, I’d take the Bud every time.
I give it a 1.4 out of 5.
A new winter seasonal for this year, Juniper IPA is exactly as it sounds: An American IPA with the addition of Juniper berries to give some additional flavor. I like IPAs, and I like juniper, (well, I like gin anyway, which is the same thing as liking juniper) so what could go wrong? Not much, it turns out. This is a nice, classic IPA, and juniper gives it a bit of a west-coast piney twist and a bit of pepper. It’s pretty highly carbonated, which comes off as refreshing. The tasting notes on the bottle claim that the juniper adds “a slightly sweet, piney character” but I really don’t find any sweetness here at all, just pine and spice. To me, that’s not a bad thing, but this is definitely a hop forward beer, so it’s going to be closer to the wheelhouse for IPA fans than for those looking for a sweeter winter treat. There’s also a bit of citrus in the middle, some lemon and some oraange, as you’d expect from an IPA. It has a medium to heavy body, but it’s pretty light on the alcohol at 5.8% ABV, so it’s an easy drinker. I’m really quite impressed with this brew. I think the folks at the Boston Beer Company have a hit with this one.
I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
Another from this year’s Sam Adams summer variety pack is Belgian Session, a Belgian-style pale ale. The head is nice and creamy, and doesn’t fade too quickly. The nose is malty, with toffee and a hint of Belgian yeast in the background. The middle has banana esters and some traditional Belgian spices, particularly coriander. The finish has some caramel and orange, and a little lemon zest. All in all, a very decent Belgian Pale Ale.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
Porch Rocker is another of the styles in this year’s Beer of Summer variety pack from Samuel Adams. It’s a shandie, which is a mix of beer and lemonade which is a nice refreshing combo but a style that seems to generally lack a bit when pre-blended before bottling. The flavors just don’t seem to mesh well, and there’s a bit of a back and forth tussle between the sweet lemonade and the malty lager. I’ll give this one a pass in future.
I give it a 1.8 out of 5.