Tag Archive: Samuel Adams


Boston Beer Co Samuel Adams Barrel Aged Collection Tetravis

Boston Beer Co: Samuel Adams: Barrel Aged Collection: Tetravis (USA: Quadrupel: 10.2% ABV)

Visual: Cherry red to brown. Thin brown head. Hazy mid body.

Nose: Figs. Raisins. Brandy cream. Tart cherries. Port. Rum fudge. Light sweet crushed nuts.

Body: Very smooth. Warming. Cinnamon sticks. Raisins. Liquorice. Brandy cream. Sherbety touch as it froths up. Fig rolls. Christmas pudding. Brown sugar. Cherries.

Finish: Liquorice. Figs. Malt chocolate drinks and malt loaf. Vanilla. Slight spice. Brandy cream. Nutty notes. Marzipan. Slight Belgian esters.

Conclusion: Quads really deserve a few years on them before they can be correctly judged I feel. When tried young they tend to have a light fizzy feel to them from the carbonation, when what they really need is that thicker, still, stodgy pudding affair that they become after a year or two.

So, I , of course am having this one young. Leave me alone, I can be a hypocrite if I want. Also, I guess I really should judge a beer on it’s base experience before tinkering with ageing. I guess.

Anyway, Belgian style quads! The Christmas pudding of beers, and this is so very much that. Figs, brandy cream, cherries, port, cinnamon sticks – Let’s face it with all this level of Christmas style it is almost demanding you age one up at least until the 25th of Dec for a real winter warmer.

While it does have some of the smoother character I associate with American interpretations of Belgian ales, this has far more than normal of those lovely rough edged gem characteristics and I heartily approve. These are backed up by some dry spice notes that add a rough underline to the sweet figgy body.

As a standard quad this is towards the higher end of the quality spectrum, not the top, but nicely placed. There doesn’t seem to be a vast amount extra from the oak ageing – a slight sickly sweet vanilla note which seems to be the trend of this collection, but little else. A slight disappointment there, but the ale is already high quality as it is. With the spice, dark fruit, brown sugar and malt drink notes it is already packed enough.

On the downsides? Well there is room for a bit more of the Belgian esters and character, and it could do with a bit thicker body and less fizz, which may come with ageing. However overall it is a very good beer. I would still go with the Rocheforts and Westvleterens of this world as a first choice, but that very well defined Christmas character would earn it a place come tail end of the year.

Background: So, I’ve been enjoying the “Barrel Aged Collection”, so I decided to head back to Independent Spirit to see if they had any left. And walked out with this, the barrel aged quad of the group. I really do dig Quadrupels, so was interested to see how this would play out. This was drunk with friends, which at the abv was probably for the best.

Boston Beer Co Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection New World

Boston Beer Co: Samuel Adams: Barrel Room Collection: New World (USA: Abbey Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Deep overripe banana to gold. Thin white dash for a head.

Nose: Resin. Light aniseed. Caramelised brown sugar. Passion fruit. White pepper. Watermelon jolly ranchers. Golden syrup cake.

Body: White pepper. Frothy lemon sherbet taste and feel. Slightly sour grapes – both red and white. Brown sugar. Peach. Candyfloss. Hop oils. Syrup texture at back. Banoffee and vanilla.

Finish: Red grapes. Madeira cake. Slick hop oils. Blackpool rock. Banana.

Conclusion: Ok, first impressions – this is balanced nicely. It is smooth like a lot of the American takes on the Abbey Tripel, but has just enough genuine rough edges to remind me of my preferred Belgian take on the whole thing.

I think it is partially the raw sugar feel on the sweet side of things, and the pepper character behind it all. The little spark of sugar gives the impression of being a little unrefined, and a little less attenuated than it could be- while the pepper adds a little kick to the end. Both give it the charm it needs to not feel over polished.

I’m not getting a huge amount of obvious elements from the oak, I mean there is sweetness, but it is a Tripel that is expected, that is kind of a no duh. It is smooth, but yeah, it is an American take on Belgian beer, that is also a no duh. I’m sure the oak will have had its influence, but I couldn’t say what without having access to the unaged version to compare.

There is a large chunk of tropical fruitiness, though it feels somewhat more artificial than what you would usually get with the hops – it could be the slightly syrupy backing, it makes it feel like hard sweets rather than the more natural take which would have suited the beer more.

It is an impressive beer, maybe a bit too sweet – the artificial feel hurts it a bit but the mix of tropical fruit, rough edged tripel and spice strikes a rounded and impressive balance.

Not the best, but very solid, and the mix of character means it is not just a clone of what the Belgians do, but neither does it forget its roots. A very bright fruit tripel, rough edged but too sweet. Still well worth a try.

Background: I very much enjoyed my first experience with the Barrel Room Collection, so I decided to grab another one from the range from Independent Spirit. This one is a take on the abbey tripel style, and was shared with friends.

Boston Beer Co Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection Stony Brook Red

Boston Beer Co: Samuel Adams: Barrel Room Collection: Stony Brook Red (USA: Sour Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry red. Browned thin bubbled moderate sized head.

Nose: Acidic apple. Vanilla bourbon notes. Malt chocolate. Dry oak. Port soaked raisins. Figs. Strawberry and red cherries. Shortbread.

Body: Figs. Bitter back. Chocolate syrup. Oak. Spicy mulled wine. Toasted teacakes. Red cherries. Chocolate cake. Brown bread. Sultanas.

Finish: Red wine. Raisins. Mulled spice and spiced orange. Acidic apple. Vanilla. Oats. Chocolate drops and chocolate cake.

Conclusion: I like to describe those shifting odd flavours found in tart and acidic beers as “almost holographic flavours” – talking about the fact that they seem like an illusion caused by the tongue’s response to the mix of the acidity and the base beer.

Oddly this has those flavours despite the fact that the beer isn’t that tart or acidic. Well it is a little, but generally whatever harshness it had has been mellowed by the barrel ageing – yet still it somehow has a magnificent range of those holographic feeling flavours.

Initially acidic apple seems the main course to this beer, but after a while you realise a slightly bitter chocolate cake is the solid core that has been marked by drying oak ageing. Then from that core the fruit and tartness seep out into the outer edges.

What seeps out is brilliant dark fruit, full of figs, vinous red wine and raisins – that dark fruits mix gives the beer a real depth. The acidic apple that seemed so prominent early on floats above it all adding acidic freshness to what would otherwise be a heavy beer.

The oak ageing works here nigh perfectly, adding toasted teacake flavours, vanilla notes and smoothing everything together. It gives a cask ale style feel with the intermingling flavours, which makes it wonderful to dissect and examine.

So a very mellow sour red ale, but still with a lot of life that would come with the sharper and more challenging elements that make the style stand out. It walks a thin line between accessibility and quality and marks well in both. A lovely toasted texture, just enough sharpness and a rock solid core. Very much worth getting.

Background: Samuel Adams rarities are getting easier to find in the UK, though not hugely so. Thus Independent Spirit brought through a few cases of their Barrel Aged selection and I grabbed this one, what seems to be a Flemish style red that has been aged in Bourbon barrels. Drunk with friends, this has a surprisingly easy to get out cork. Which I appreciate. Oh, also how cool is the bottle shape? – kind of like a telescope – I may be easily pleased but that is just fun.

Boston Beer Company: Samuel Adams: Oktoberfest (USA: Oktoberfest Marzen: 5.3% ABV)

Visual: Slightly bronzed amber, the glass filled to the brim leaving but a thin dash of head around the edges.

Nose: Dry malt and rye. Light glacier cherries underneath.

Body: Dry and crisp. Light cherries and fruitcake. Toffee sweetness and good malt. Some very light dry liquorice. Light pineapple hops.

Finish: Harvest wheat. Almonds. Dry liquorice. Slight shrimps and thousand island dressing (That last one could be environmental, see background)

Conclusion: How should I review this beer, as an Oktoberfest, or as a beer in itself? Lets go with as a beer in itself, but note that this varies quite heavily from the usual German take. It is much more fruity while still keeping the dry refreshing elements of the style.

Ignoring the most unusual element of the tasting, mainly because I believe it was introduced from the environment rather than the beer itself (Shrimp?), then we find a beer that is quite close to what I would expect of the darker lager style I normally associate with Samuel Adams. It does work well, a touch overly fizzy but not heavily so. The fruitcake flavours combined with Oktoberfest crispness cuts a nice balance between refreshing and flavour.

As I found with a lot of beers this trip, the beer was initially over chilled resulted in muted flavours, but the USA heat meant that it didn’t take long to reach only nicely chilled.  When taken at that point it is quite a pleasant beer that mixes the better elements from the darker and lighter lager styles.

I like this one as a refreshing pint that doesn’t bore you.

Background: Drunk during the road trip of awesome. Samuel Adams is a beer that got me through many visits to America before craft beer became easily available so a chance to drink their Oktoberfest seemed one not to miss. This was drunk near the beech, which I think may account for a few extra flavours which may not entirely have originated in the beer.

Boston Beer: Samuel Adams: Triple Bock (USA: Barley Wine: 17.5/18% ABV (sources vary on exact number)

Visual: Pours thick like baileys, black, no head. More of a liquor than a beer in texture.

Nose: Brandy, thick chocolate, ice cream and raisins. Cloying thick. Dried fruit, figs. More chocolate. Powerful and sweet. Prunes. Cherry chocolate and coconut.

Body: Very sweet cherries and bitter chocolate. Strawberries. Malt chocolate on the back. Syrup, glazed apricots. Evident alcohol. Oily texture – fish oil? Slight peanuts.

Finish: Fiery. Bitter cocoa. Figs again. Port. Dry cocoa powder.

Conclusion: Powerful. A chocolate fruit liquor. The nose, oh the nose – it is wonderful and expressive – almost reminds me of Good King Henry Special Reserve.

The body however is distinctly less subtle and smooth. It’s very fiery initially which overpowers the flavour, after a while smooth chocolate is expressed, but then the beer becomes sickly and overpowering. In works best in spirit like measures, as anything more becomes slightly unpleasant.

It’s still decent, chocolaty and rich with fruit, in flavour it faces Tokyo* head to head and is found wanting.

As an early experiment in extreme beer this was the forbearer of things to come, and is still decent in small doses – it’s now a bit of an old granddad of a beer, watching its descendent surpassing it due to the ground it lay.

Not the best, but still has a nose to fight with the best. This granddad still has heart, if a bit rough around the edges.

(Note: This beer was shared between two drinkers due to its immense weight, and small servings are recommended if you find this beer. Ratebeer alleges this is a retired beer now – if anyone knows different if they could let me know)

%d bloggers like this: