Sunday, July 24, 2011

King of the Case: Samuel Adams

Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.

Samuel Adams

Sam Adams Light
I'm just not a fan of light beer. I understand that you have to make something like this when you are a high-profile beer brand with commercials on TV and stuff. You need to appeal to the people who like Budweiser because they think the Clydesdales are kick-arse! This being said, I don't think this had any business in a variety pack. It's low on flavor and a must-skip for beer sophisticates.

East-West Kolsch
Another beer that isn't very flavorful. Even more of a crime on this one, as it says on the bottle that is made up of southeast Asian Jasmine Sambac flowers. I really have no idea what that is and what it should do to bolster the beer, but you can't really tell in the taste, and even the scent, which you would expect to be pleasing, underwhelms.

Latitude 48 IPA
This isn't a transcendent IPA, but at least it has that signature IPA bite. Being that I am a major IPA fan, they would probably really have to mess this up for me to not find it passable. Although there is a bit of a funky aftertaste to it.

Boston Lager
Their signature beer, it is solid and it goes down easy, although it isn't incredibly distinctive. Again, lager is not my favorite beer genre, but this is good enough and I could definitely see myself sitting at the bar enjoying a couple of these without working up too much of a debilitating buzz.

Rustic Saison
An uncomplicated Belgian style beer. Seemed a little light for a Saison. Nothing in it blows me away.

Summer Ale
This was an interesting one. After the first couple sips, I didn't detect anything to write home about. But it seemed to rally in the stretch run. It had a flowery taste and a very fragrant bouquet (did I just write that?).

The Labels
Like any beer that is trying to market to a mass audience, Samuel Adams isn't really going for an incredibly artistic label so much as they are something that brings about instant name recognition. The art for the Light, the Summer Ale, and the IPA are very plain. The Saison and the Kolsch are a little more conceptual, but completely unthreatening. So the winner is the signature Boston Lager with its photo of Revolutionary warrior Samuel Adams hoisting up a pint to the success of the colonies. It's pretty simple this go-round. This is the only label that really jumps out at the consumer at all. It even has American flags on it for ultimate kissazz potential to the "love it or leave it" crowd.

King of the Case
Truth is I bought this case for a bachelor party. My choices were Samuel Adams and a pack by Louisiana beermaker Abita. I wanted to make sure the selection was not incredibly challenging so that it would appeal to beer conneisseurs of any stripe. That is why I went with Samuel Adams. Because it is plain. Of course, my fellow revelers had a case of Miller Genuine Draft so I didn't need the Samuel Adams anyway. Next time I will get the Abita. However, to the matter at hand. The winner is Latitude 48 IPA. It gets the nod over the fast-charging Summer Ale. In fact, I think the victory is simply due to my inherent preference for IPAs. The bottom line about this case is Samuel Adams doesn't really have a standout beer. It's cool that, in the commercials, the dude who runs Samuel Adams allows the employees to taste the beer and determine if the brewers are doing a good job or whatever. But a better suggestion might be to let them head down to the factory floor where they could spell the guys who are mixing the hops and the barley. Maybe then they would be able to come up with a beer that is better than average.

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