Samuel Adams Utopias 10th Anniversary

posted on November 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

Utopias 10th Anniversary

Utopias 10th Anniversary

This past weekend, I had a unique opportunity.  A friend of mine had the chance to buy a bottle of the 10th Anniversary Samuel Adams Utopias.  Before the beer is complete, it undergoes quite a bit of a process; in addition to the standard beer ingredients there are also several sugars added (i.e. maple syrup).  There is then a long fermentation time, utilizing several yeast strains, finishing with champagne yeast since it can handle the higher alcohol content.  After it is done fermenting, it clocks in at a whopping 29% ABV.  It is then aged in casks that previously held bourbon, rum, tawny port and ruby port.

All of this equals a very complex beer.  There were three of us who tried it, and each of us has different experiences.  One tasted a smoky maple flavor, another tasted a sweet vanilla and maple flavor.  For some reason, I tasted a bit of banana flavor, with a lot of strong vanilla hints.  It was very alcoholic, reminded me of a whiskey, and burned all the way into the stomach.  It was definitely not for the faint of heart, but for a beer lover like myself, it was great.

Have you tried Utopias?  What did you think?

Samuel Adams Spring Brewers’ Choice Mix Pack 2012

posted on March 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

Samuel Adams Spring Brewers' Choice Mix Pack

Samuel Adams Spring Brewers' Choice Mix Pack

For spring, Samuel Adams this year decided to go back to the Brewers’ Choice mix pack instead of again releasing the “American Originals” spring pack. The beers in this year’s spring mix pack show a few big changes, most notably Noble Pils is now a full-time beer, and no longer the spring seasonal.

In the pack, there are 2 bottles each of:

  • Boston Lager (Chosen by Jim Koch)
  • Irish Red (Chosen by Bob Cannon)
  • Black Lager (Chosen by Grant Wood)
  • Alpine Spring (Chosen by David Grinnell)
  • Mighty Oak Ale (Chosen by Andrew Lamont)
  • Whitewater IPA (Chosen by Dean Gianocostas)

It is a large change in a seasonal pack, where the only overlap is the Boston Lager and Irish Red.  New to the pack is the new spring seasonal, Alpine Spring, which is a light, crisp lemon-like brew.  Also in the pack, which is available in six-packs is the Whitewater IPA, which is a cross between a witbier and an IPA, similar to Boulevard’s Collaboration #2, the White IPA.  Finally, the pack is rounded out by the Mighty Oak Ale, which is a carmel-flavored amber ale with vanilla and oak notes.

Have you tried the Brewers’ Choice Spring Variety Pack? What did you think? Which ones did you like? Which ones didn’t you like?

Samuel Adams Winter Classics Variety Pack 2011

posted on November 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

Samuel Adams Winter Classics Variety Pack

Samuel Adams Winter Classics Variety Pack

Samuel Adams has once again announced the arrival of winter with the release of this year’s Winter Classics Variety Pack.

In the pack, there are 2 bottles each of:

  • Boston Lager
  • Holiday Porter
  • Black and Brew Coffee Stout
  • Chocolate Bock
  • Winter Lager
  • Old Fezziwig Ale

Again this year, Samuel Adams has kept the spices low to ensure drinkable, non-cloying beers. Chocolate Bock is back, and I hope it’s only a matter of time before they make it available in 6/12-packs.  This year’s addition to the mix pack is the Black and Brew Coffee Stout, which replaces White Ale in the pack.  I had my first experience with Samuel Adams’ coffee stout several years ago (2008) when it went up against the Blackberry Witbier in the Beer Lover’s Choice where, sadly, it lost, even though it received my vote.

Have you tried the Winter Classics Variety Pack for 2011? Which ones in the pack do you like? Which ones don’t you like?

New Belgium Clutch

posted on November 11, 2011 at 11:11 am by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

New Belgium Clutch

New Belgium Clutch

New Belgium has introduced several new beers to the Lips of Faith series.  One you may remember I mentioned tasting at the Iowa City Brewfest was a sour brown ale, Clutch.  I had the chance to try it in a more controlled environment over the weekend.

With the first taste, Clutch has a nice roasted chocolate and coffee flavor, and leaves a slightly sour, not over-the-top, taste in the back of your tongue.  The finish also has a slight coffee flavor.  I thought it was a great beer that’s very drinkable, and reminds me of New Belgium’s 1554 with slight sourness.

Have you tried Clutch?  What was your experience?

Boulevard Smokestack Collaboration #2 – White IPA

posted on September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

Boulevard Collaboration #2

Boulevard Collaboration #2

I had a chance to sample the Boulevard Smokestack Collaboration #2 – White IPA, a collaboration with the Deschutes Brewery in Oregon, over the weekend and I found it to be a great beer.  Imagine a Belgian style wit beer with more hop bitterness.

At first sip, it definitely tasted like a witbier, with nice spicy fruitiness.  As the beer hits the back of your tongue, it goes into more of the piney, herbal, stronger American hop flavor.  The hop-forward flavor wasn’t overpowering, and balanced out nicely with the witbier spice and citrus notes.

Overall, I loved how the White IPA started like a wit but then finished with a nice and firm, but not overpowering, hop bitterness. It was a very good beer, and I hope this collaboration sticks around or happens again.  It’s great to see breweries pushing styles out of the way to make a great beer.

Did you try the Collaboration #2?  What did you think?

New Belgium Grand Cru Abbey Ale

posted on August 5, 2011 at 10:25 am by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

New Belgium Grand Cru Abbey Ale

New Belgium Grand Cru Abbey Ale

After sampling New Belgium’s Super Cru, I decided to try New Belgium‘s ode to another one of their original beers, the Abbey Ale, in the form of a Grand Cru Abbey Ale.  This tribute has more malt, to increase the strength, but the additional sugars keep the body low.

The beer had a nice sweet aroma.  In the taste, there were some plum and fig flavors with the aftertaste having hints of plums and raisins.  There was a little bit of alcohol warming in the finish, but overall was a nice light finish.  It was a nice strong abbey ale, and a good tribute to the Abbey Ale.

Have you tried the Grand Cru Abbey Ale?  What was your take?

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