There’s a recent television commercial, set to a song by the Dropkick Murphys, in which inquisitive drinkers are asked how many beers Samuel Adams brews, and are then surprised when the number turns out to be more than 60.
“I had no idea Sam Adams made this many,” says one guy, seemingly stoked at the news. Says another, “This definitely changes my perspective on Sam Adams.”
It’s marketing, obviously, but the ad’s general point is also spot-on. Most drinkers know Boston Beer Company beers are everywhere, but not all of them know just how prolific and varied Jim Koch’s Jamaica Plain behemoth really is.
In practice, these 60-some brews consist of a few obvious ones like Summer Ale and Octoberfest, and a lot of beers many will never get the chance to try. A series of Sam Adams brews you may not have tried but should is the Barrel Room Collection. That series consists of five main brews — American Kriek, New World, Stony Brook Red, Thirteenth Hour, and Tetravis — that come in funny pyramid-shaped, 750-ml bottles. They’re the bottles that sit on the shelf of fancy or imported beers in your local liquor store, the ones you might have overlooked in favor of something more familiar in the cooler.
The common thread to Sam’s Barrel Room Collection is something called Kosmic Mother Funk, a Belgian ale aged in Hungarian oak barrels and fermented with multiple microorganisms found in the brewery. In addition to this wild yeast, the bacteria brettanomyces and lactobacillus also affect the brew. The result is a sour liquid that, when imparted into styles like stouts (Thirteenth Hour) and Belgian tripels (New World), adds levity and brightness to something that would otherwise be heavy.
Once, during a tour of the brewery, Koch poured me a sample of Kosmic Mother Funk directly from the barrel. I recall it being sour but lacking depth, the perfect component to add to another beer.
So I was particularly intrigued to see the release of Samuel Adams Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru. It’s the beer I tried from the barrel, aged for two years with the addition of Belgian candi sugar. I wondered how the beer would taste by itself, and whether my memory of that illicit swig would hold up.
“Although KMF Grand Cru may not be for everyone — it’s certainly not your average beer — I believe it is a truly delicious brew that will open many palates and minds to the world of funky beers,” Koch said in a statement accompanying the release of this beer.
KMF Grand Cru will be available on tap only, but I received a sample bottle for review. The beer appears black, with flashes of ruby red, in the glass. I get tons of chocolate in the nose, but also cherry and fig.
The first sip of this is nutty and delicious. It’s also quite tart. My wife took a sip of this and said, “Ohh, sour,” and she isn’t wrong. That element of the brew stands as a potential turnoff, but the beer eventually opens up, especially as it warms. I love dark, sour beers, the way the cocoa and date-y, caky elements interplay with tartness. This version of the KMF is a vast improvement of the one in my memory, more substantial and satisfying, a likely result of the added sugar and aging. It’s a worthy first dip into sour beers if you haven’t ventured down that road.
The Sam Adams brewery will send KMF Grand Cru on a 12-city tour to stops like New York, Denver, and Cleveland. You can try the beer in Boston starting Wednesday, at Ned Devine’s in Government Center and other bars around the city.
Harpoon teams up with Boston brands
Harpoon Brewery has teamed up with retailer Ball & Buck for a beer collaboration and pop-up event.
The first event will be held Thursday at Ball & Buck’s Newbury Street location, where the collaborative All-American Double IPA will be unveiled. The beer was brewed at Harpoon’s waterfront brewery on Aug. 8.
The collaboration with Ball & Buck, the Boston-based menswear provider, is not the only one in the series. Harpoon plans pop-ups with other local brands on a quarterly basis.
Connecticut River Brewfest
If you’re in Western Mass. this weekend and are looking to make last-minute plans, the Connecticut River Brewfest is taking place at Holyoke Canoe Club.
The festival features 50-plus breweries, including Amherst’s High Horse Brewing and Easthampton’s Abandoned Building Brewery. The Saturday session runs from noon to 10 p.m.
Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.