Nick Carr on August 14, 2016 0 Comments Photo Credit: Boston Beer Company Quick Characteristics Brewery Boston Beer Company Location Boston, MA Style Classic Smoked Beer Style (American Blonde) ABV 5.5% IBU 20 Hops Hallertau Mittelfrueh Malts Samuel Adams 2-row Pale Blend, Beechwood Smoked Malt, Cherrywood Smoked Malt, Acidulated Malt, Rye Malt Shelf Life 6 to 9 months Suggested Glass Mug, Nonic Pint Serving Temp 50°F Availability Limited Food Pairings Grilled Chicken or Bratwurst, Wood Fired Mushroom Pizza, Smoked Monterey Jack Cheese, Apple Pie Well, the autumn brews are hitting the shelves again. Especially noticeable is the early arrival of many a brewery’s Oktoberfest. Including among those is of course Sam Adams. Both their Oktoberfest six-pack and the mixed Fall Pack are early to the season, dressing out the beer shelves in fall colors, and reminding me that my favorite time of year is just around the corner. The fact that they’d expanded their Fall Pack from four beers to six didn’t go unnoticed either. Last year I reviewed their whole Fall Pack. It was fun and I wanted to do it again. Unfortunately, I’d already reviewed three of the six beers. Both the heavy hitters of course are back, Boston Lager and Oktoberfest, with them came Hoppy Red. This was a new beer last year and my favorite of that bunch, so I was happy to see it revived for another Fall season. Shop for Samuel Adams Glassware on Amazon If you want the reviews of any of these three beers they can be found here, along with a review of Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale. But, there were three new ones tucked away in this Fall Pack. They looked intriguing. And when I found that one of those Fall Packs had been broken apart and put in the singles racks… well, fate it seemed wanted me to review some new Sam Adams beers. We start with Bonfire Blonde. A smoked-rye-blonde beer, the brewery admits doesn’t fall in any one of these styles, instead borrowing certain elements from each and ends up falling on some, as they call it “nebulous spectrum.” Actually, Samuel Adams makes another, not oft seen, smoked beer called Bonfire Rauchbier, which is more in line with the classic German style. One thing I’ve always liked about Samuel Adams is their labels. The style often seems to harken back to an older time. This one is no different with a crackling wood fire all orangey-red and friendly against the dark blue starry background of early night. Great label, hopefully the beer follows suit. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Samuel Adams Bonfire Blonde. If you’ve tasted this beer or are reading this review with one in hand, please share your thoughts or tasting notes with everyone down me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Deep golden-yellow in the glass. Clarity is good, giving a view of the streaming carbonation. A two-finger high wall of soapy just-off-of-white bubbles caps the top. Aroma has a firm smokiness to it. Slight tart fruit notes, with a background of sweet dough. Some light spiciness as it warms — I’d imagine a combination of the rye malt and noble hops. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is a surprising and pleasing medium full. Carbonation prickles the palate slightly before smoothing into a smoky velvet blanket. Smoke combines with sweet breadiness at the front. The smoke and malt somehow reminds me of the earthy damp animal smell of manure Maybe not the best sensory picture for anybody but those who grew up around farms. You guys know what I’m talking about, right? To me it’s nostalgic and homey. A little blip of earthy spice finds its voice mid-palate. Light doughy bread-sweetness with just a hint of toast at the back before dropping away to a medium crisp finish. Aftertaste is of sweet smoke, and a trailing tendril of spiciness. FINISHING THOUGHTS Bonfire Blonde is a great first fall beer… at least for me. I love smoked beers though. They are an acquired taste. A taste, it seems, lost on many a beer lover. But, I guess to each their own right? As I mentioned in the tasting notes, there’s something about the smoke that brings back memories and releases old feelings. I’d almost have to say I preferred this one to The Cowboy (smoked pilsner) I reviewed a while back. The lightness of the malt in Bonfire Blonde gives the smoke a larger, more noticeable feel then it might have in the maltier marzën-like character of a classic rauchbier. But the smoke makes it a great opener for those first cooler evenings, giving a warmth built from fireplace memory, not of alcohol, yet still realized in the senses somehow. And the very slight tart element, complements of the acidulated malt, balances the smoke nicely and builds that crisp, slightly dry ending.