I am really enjoying the Imperial Series from Samuel Adams. While some of their mainstay beers don’t quite do it for me, their forays into big time flavors and styles have been quite good. I sometimes get put off by huge alcohol contents because of their flavor, so I was a little wary of their Wee Heavy, but decided to pick it up and see if it could warm me up during the winter. It’s been sitting in my fridge for a while since I didn’t really know when I had the time to enjoy a 10% ABV beer, but the time came, so here it is.
Samuel Adams Wee Heavy,
Strong Scottish Ale, 10.0 % ABV
Aroma: Intense sweet malt aromas, hints of honey and roasted malt with whiskey scents.
Appearance: Dark brown, nice tan head of foam, pours thick, decent lacing.
Flavor: You can definitely taste the alcohol in this, but there is a nice caramel malt profile, very slight hop bitterness on the finish, some aspects of roasted grains.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, nice carbonation, alcohol astringency.
Overall: This is a very nice example of a strong scotch ale. Very nice malt complexity in both flavor and aromas. Not a session beer by any means but a good beer of intense flavor and high alcohol content.
Before I dive into this post, let me just say a few things. Beer geeks/fan/snobs can be real jerks and are among the most pretentious people in the world. I include myself in that group, so I will admit to being snobby on occasion. I have my preferences, they influence the beer I taste and the beers that I review here. However, what I will not admit to ever doing is buying into the fad of viewing breweries as “overrated” simply because of their size. A bit of a feud has erupted in the beer community over what craft breweries are “overrated” and whether Samuel Adams is an overrated beer company. You can read a response by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head here, and you can read Jim Koch’s take here. My last post of Samuel Adams lager may have made it sound like I was one of the crowd that thought Samuel Adams is an overrated brewery. Let me just state for the record that I have tremendous respect for the Boston Beer Company and my views on their beer are not related to their size, just my preferences. Sure, I think Boston Beer has played it safer in terms of beer for a while, but they are delving back into different series and types of beer, and that’s great because a lot of them are really good. So before I review this beer, let me just say that although I may sound snobby, my views on Samuel Adams or any beer I drink are based only on style and my preferences, not on size, or what anyone on Beer Advocate thinks.
That said, here’s a review of another Boston Beer Brewmaster’s Collection staple, the Black Lager. I’ll say up front that I really enjoy this type of beer because of its malt character and I think it’s a perfect style for winter drinking.
Aroma: Some coffee malt scents with some sweet chocolate lingering.
Appearance: Nice head, thick pour, dark brown/black.
Flavor: Great balance of semi-sweet malt and subtle toasty coffee bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, very nice carbonation.
Overall: A pretty good dark lager. I was hoping for more aromatics but it has a nice balanced flavor and good mouthfeel. A very nice example of the style, quality beer here, great for cold weather.
So I first saw the Sam Adams commercials before I really got into beer. They were actually made pretty famous by the Samuel Jackon parodies made by Dave Chappelle. It took my a while to try them actually (which maybe says that their marketing campaign didn’t work as well as they would’ve liked) and I’ll admit that they aren’t my favorite brewery out there. That’s not to say that they are bad, but until recently, their beers were pretty safe, meaning, they made a lot of session beers that had wide appeal. In no way is this a bad thing overall, since they really helped put craft brewing on the map in the United States (although they of course were not the only ones that had a hand in this). But recently, I feel like Sam Adams has felt the pressure from other craft brewers who are now pushing the envelope in terms of flavors, styles, and alcohol content. In what seems to me like an effort to reclaim a place among the craft brews, they are releasing their Imperial Series, Barrel Room Collection, and other series. Some of these are quite impressive and I think it’s a good move by the company. But today, I’m reviewing an oldie, but goodie, the original Boston Lager.
Aroma: Nice malt sweetness, hint of hops, sort of piney.
Appearance: Amber color, small head, nice carbonation. Some nice lacing on the glass.
Flavor: Malts up from with quite a bit of hops actually on the finish.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium, present carbonation gives it a nice crispness.
Overall: I respect the brewery and what they have done for brewing in America, but after having other lagers, this one isn’t near the top of my list. It’s a little light and lacks the complexity of other lagers I’ve had. Better than the mass-market lagers, but I feel it could offer more. However, for its style of a Vienna Lager, it’s a pretty decent example. My lager preference is for more malts and complexity.