Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer Drinkin'!

Beer: Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Brewery: Boston Brewing Company
Type: wheat ale
ABV: 5.5%

Well, it's the May long weekend, and thankfully, it's brilliant outside. After a morning of picking up new summer plants and vegetables for the garden, I decided to take a break and drink something seasonally appropriate. My seasonal drinking approach has been going well so far - when I'm outside, I tend stick with summer fare like wheat ales, pale ales, pilsners and kolsch - and it's definitely the day to keep this system rolling! I managed to snag a few left over bottles of Sam Adams Summer Ale from the LCBO (some thoughtful individual had taken exactly half of the six pack), and I figured today is as good a day as any to give it a go. According to the bottle, this is a wheat ale, seasoned with lemon zest and "Grains of Paradise", which sounds impressive, but is really just a glorified peppercorn.

For those who aren't familiar with this American brewing institution, Samuel Adams (aka, the Boston Brewing Company) is one of the largest brewers in the United States. Founded in 1984 by Jim Koch (himself a 5th generation brewer), the company was named for American revolutionary Samuel Adams, who was one of the chief architects of the American republican tradition. He also was a brewer, or at the very least, liked malting stuff. Whatever he actually did, his face is nevertheless featured prominently on each bottle, holding aloft a stein of ale from beyond the grave... Sam Adams has a pretty large selection of brews, including porters, hefeweizens, Oktoberfest maerzen, and perhaps the most delightfully-named winter brew of all time - "Old Fezziwig Ale." I happen to be a pretty big fan of Sam Adams Boston Lager, their flagship brand - it's a tasty little brew that's easy to drink, yet colourful and flavorful. Definitely something I like to pick up every once in a while. Hopefully their credentials will contribute to a tasty summer brew.

Poured into a lager glass. Pure golden, slightly opaque. A splendid 1/2 inch head with solid retention and lacing. Visible tornadoes of carbonation. Not a bad looking brew at all.

Unfortunately, the nose isn't really doing it for me. The lemon dominates to the point where I can't detect anything else. There's probably wheat malt and a bit of hops in there, but I can't find it. Moreover, the lemon scent isn't that good: it's artificial, coming across more like lemon Pledge or Sunlight than anything else.
The taste is a bit more nuanced, and actually is pretty decent. The lemon is a little less overpowering, and doesn't taste quite so fake. Dry, puckery finish, with a bit of hop character. Refreshing. Slick, fine, mild carbonation. Slightly creamy.
If I could get over the smell, I'd enjoy this brew a lot more. It certainly is refreshing, but I'm not really digging 'lemon beer' - I rarely add citrus to my brews anyhow, but I'd rather squeeze in a fresh slice than taste anything fake. Kind of my attitude towards all these 'added lime' brews - get yourself a fresh lime: they aren't that expensive, and they taste much better. Not a bad beer, certainly worth a try, and refreshing as holy hell. It just...smells like soap... To get over the nose, I'll probably drink the rest of the six-pack straight from the bottle. Not Sam Adam's best, but it could be worse.
(Grade C+ in the glass, B- straight out of the bottle)

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