Nick Carr on August 22, 2016 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Boston Beer Company Location Boston, MA Style Irish Red Ale (Export) ABV 6.3% IBU 18 Hops Chinook Malts Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Special B, Naked Oats Other Ingredients Maple Syrup Shelf Life 6 to 9 months Suggested Glass Tulip or Nonic Pint Serving Temp 50°F Availability Limited Food Pairings Shepherd’s Pie, grilled lamb chops w/ grilled root vegetables, Dubliner Cheese, Maple Cheese Cake OK, the second review from Boston Beer Company’s 2016 Fall pack. To Recap: I am reviewing the NEW beers from this year’s variety pack, if the reviews of Boston Lager, Octoberfest, and Hoppy Red can be found in last year’s review. There were three new beers in this year’s Fall Variety Pack — Bonfire Blonde, Caramel Bock, and this one, Maple Ale. Maple syrup flavors are synonymous with Autumn. Maybe it’s the color, those warming shades of brown matching the most vibrantly pure changes in the leaves of this sap’s mother tree, or maybe it’s the warming sugary flavors spread across a stack of hot-to-the-touch pancakes. Whatever the reason maple’s flavors in all their glorious constructs seem to truly find their place in that changing time between Summer and Winter. So, it is of little wonder such flavors find themselves making up a part of the season’s beer experience. Shop for Samuel Adams Glassware on Amazon On the website, the brewery says the model for the Maple Ale recipe came from the red ales of Ireland. Not a bad place to go for a little autumn warming inspiration. Samuel Adam’s has added maple syrup to at least one other beer that I’m aware of, their Maple Pecan Porter. But in the case of this new ale, they’ve paired the maple syrup with an interesting grain bill; their proprietary pale malt blend, naked oats, and special B malt. Special B is a dark crystal malt which is known for imparting a dark caramel flavor along with subtle hints of dark fruit. This was the first I’d ever come across naked oats, so went looking to see what they’re all about. Turns out, Naked Oats is a huskless crystal malt made from oats. It can contribute toasty, nutty flavor with light sweetness and — like other oat additions — can help produce a creamy head and smooth mouthfeel. Humm, sounds very appropriate and delicious; and something I may have to try to use in my own brewing one of these days. Put this all together, and it sounds fantastic. Let’s see how it tastes. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Samuel Adams Maple Ale. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts and tasting notes with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: In the glass, it’s the color of one of the lesser grades of maple syrups, maybe A or B; that is to say the deeper brownish-reds of late Autumn. A nice creamy small bubbled head forms to the height of a couple fingers; no doubt, at least partially built by the addition of the naked oats. Clarity is superb and carbonation rises up the middle in lazy waves. Hearty, complex, sweet malt in the aroma; deep dark caramelized sugars, slight toasting and whispers of vanilla. Low notes of dark fruit. Minimal warming alcohol. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is a happy medium-full. Mouthfeel is smooth, rounded, and shyly warming. Carbonation is light-medium and stays soft helping the perception velvety smoothness. It is all sweet dark caramel with underpinnings of toffee at the front; traces of brown sugar. Some nice nuttiness there too, low vanilla, and whispers of dark dry fruit. All this combines to build a perception of dark “mapleness.” Light brushes of warming alcohol. Hops remain a play behind the scenes, unnoticed for the most part. Finish is semi-sweet and caramelized, lingers long into the aftertaste. FINISHING THOUGHTS By the time I got around to write this review, I’ve enjoyed a couple of the Maple Ales now; one at refrigerator temperature and one at room temperature. I didn’t think too much of the beer at cold temperatures… but warm it up. Now, it’s worth talking about. I highly recommend you forgo the fridge altogether and drink this one at room temperature. At least give one out of the Fall Variety pack a try at this temperature. The maltiness is much more complex and warming this way, much more expansive and expressive. Or do the same experiment and drink one at fridge temps and one at room temp. It is a good exercise in just how much temperature affects the flavors of a beer. See which you like better. I guarantee a bigger “flavor ride” from a Maple Ale at room temperature. I’m impressed with Samuel Adams new Fall beers, so far. Both this one and Bonfire Blonde are both wonderful beers for the season. This is another great beer to accompany those first early whisperings of the fall season. It’s a beer to pair with the porch and old rocker, some cooler deep summer evening. I’ll have another Samuel Adams Fall beer to review next week. Stay tuned. Cheers!