New Samuel Adams beers come out all the time, but right now a whole bunch of things are hitting at once from the nation’s largest craft brewery. Among the new developments from the Boston Beer Co.:
The brewery is getting more and more daring with its Samuel Adams Single Batch beers. The latest two, which come out this month, are styles less familiar to most beer drinkers, but they’re interesting, well-crafted brews.
Samuel Adams Verloren is a gose, a German ale brewed with both malted barley and wheat. In the case of Verloren (the German word for “lost,” since gose is considered a lost style), the brewers used Munich and two-row pale malts, and both malted and unmalted barley, as well as Saaz hops, coriander, and salt.
Cloudy orange wth a creamy head, Verloren has an aroma that recalls a hefeweizen but incorporates delicate perfumey esters as well. It tastes a bit like a wheat ale too, but it’s more complex — lemony with hints of apple and pear; a bit peppery and spicy; and mildly tart at the end. I’m not quite sure how this style got lost, but it should find its way back. Verloren is 6 percent alcohol. A 22-ounce bottle costs $6.
Norse Legend is a sahti, a Finnish beer traditionally brewed by women, often incorporating juniper berries. This sahti was a project of Sam Adams’s head brewer, Jennifer Glanville. The beer was brewed with juniper berries and then aged on them as well.
Murky brown with a tan head, Norse Legend gives off an earthy, floral, spicy aroma. It tastes woody and slightly smoky, and finishes sweet and floral. Norse Legend is 7 percent alcohol. A 22-ounce bottle costs $6.
I enjoyed both immensely. Despite their moderate alcohol contents, they’re both good sipping beers, so spend some time with them.
This year’s Samuel Adams Summer Styles variety 12-pack contains a real gem: a new light Belgian pale ale called Samuel Adams Belgian Session.
Now, let’s not get all wrapped up in what constitutes the definition of a session beer. Some say a session beer is one whose alcohol content is lower than 4.5 or 5 percent (Sam says 5); others insist it must be below 4 percent.
Of course, using Sam Adams’s definition, several Sam Adams offerings would be considered session beers, including Boston Lager, Black Lager, Cream Stout, and Noble Pils. The general idea is that the alcohol content is low enough that you can put back a few of them in a drinking session without getting drunk.
Sam Adams Belgian Session is certainly low enough – 4.3 percent alcohol – but it doesn’t scrimp on taste. Light amber with a creamy head, the beer has a pleasing aroma with notes of bananas and bubblegum. It’s a clean Belgian pale – light and smooth yet flavorful, with a hint of peach, and it finishes slightly spicy. It goes down fast, and you quickly want another, which is the whole point of a session ale.
The new Belgian Session is so good I’m going to suggest this: Make it a regular part of the Sam lineup, and sell it by the six-pack.
The 2012 LongShot variety six-pack is among the most exciting things Samuel Adams does all year. The result of a home-brewing contest that Sam Adams runs annually, it contains two each of three different beers — two created by amateurs and one by a Sam Adams employee. All were chosen by a panel of beer experts.
Darkness is the theme this year, though that’s presumably unintentional. The winners are A Dark Night in Munich, a dunkel boasting notes of caramel, cherries, and bread (5.9 percent alcohol); Derf’s Secret Alt, a hoppy, nutty altbier that’s quite boozy (9.3 alcohol); and Five Crown Imperial Stout, which has the consistency of used motor oil and a muscular profile brimming with chocolate and coffee accents (8.9 percent).
The next LongShot contest is slated to get underway soon. Entries will be accepted from May 11 to May 25. Winners will be announced Oct. 13 at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. More information is available at www.samueladams.com/longshot.Steve Greenlee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGreenlee.