Nick Carr on March 11, 2018 16 Comments Photo Credit: Boston Beer Company Quick Characteristics Brewery Boston Beer Company Location Boston, MA Style “Union of Lager and Ale” ABV 4.7% IBU 12 Hops Cascade, Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe Malts Samuel Adams two-row pale, White Wheat, Carafoam Shelf Life Enjoy within 4 to 5 months Suggested Glass Pilsner Glass Serving Temp 48-50°F Availability Year Round Food Pairings Pigs in a Blanket, Bacon Cheese Burger, Mild Cheddar & Monterey Jack Cheese, Strawberry Shortcake (Brewer Suggestions) The Boston Beer Company regularly fiddles with their lineup. They come out with new stuff often and seeing a new beer with the Sam Adams label isn’t uncommon. But most of the time the new stuff is seasonals or limited edition offerings, rarely does The Boston Beer Company mess with its year rounds line. So, when I saw they’d added an all-new beer that was going to be available year around right from the get-go…. I took notice. The Boston Beer Company has been struggling a bit in the last couple years with their flagship Samuel Adams brand. Other parts of their portfolio are fairing somewhat better, Twisted Tea and, their new, Truly Spiked & Sparkling lines have bolstered flagging sales somewhat. But the mother ship, the beer line that started the company, has seen better days. Part of the problem, I think, is how big the company has gotten. Many beer geeks out there just don’t see Samuel Adams as craft beer anymore. And with the ever-growing selection of craft beer dressing our bottle shop shelves… Samuel Adams can feel a bit old hat. Who wants to sit with their stuffy old uncle when all the new cool kids want to play? Shop for Samuel Adams Glassware on Amazon ….Although, I have to say I still visit the stuffy old uncle sometimes. Especially, by way of their variety packs; buying their winter/holiday variety pack is still a holiday tradition for me. There’s always one or two new things in there, along with some of the old favorites. I love it. Anyway, in hopes of revitalizing their core brand a bit, Boston Beer Company has released SAM ’76. It is a hybrid between a lager and an ale. Sounds a bit like a Cream Ale, doesn’t it? Well, there are some differences. The beer, according to this interview, is started in two separate fermentation vessels; one with lager yeast and one with ale yeast. Then at some point, the two fermentations are combined and allowed to co-ferment to completion. Also, at some point in the process, dry hopping is added to the active co-fermentation. Interestingly, Jim Koch says the combined fermentation tends to pull some unique flavors from the hops. The company says it spent over a year running test batches, looking for the best point to combine the fermentations and add the hops. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Sam ’76. If you tasted this beer or have one in front of you as you’re reading this review, please share your thoughts with everyone down in the comments below. The Pour: Sam ’76 pours a pale straw-golden tinged with a slight haze. Two fingers of big-bubbled soapy foam stack up forming a stark white two-finger head. Head settles in at about a finger and remains. Medium carbonation lazily climbs from the bottom. The Aroma: Light aromas of citrus in the form of sweet-orange and hints of lemon brush the senses. There are also soft whispers of stone fruit; mango and peach along with some floral notes. Behind it all is a running hint of doughy bread. The Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is more than I expected. Body is a solid, round and smooth, yet light; breezily quick-stepping across the palate. It’s got a slight chewy side to it that really augments the palate experience. The Taste: Malt is first on the palate; with nice sweet grainy-dough, lightly-bread flavors. At the front, the hops display a light citrus. There’s also hints of that stone fruit, so prominent in the aroma. Bittering is low, but you know the hops are there all the way through… showing their flavoring side more than their bittering. End is crisp, clean. A low astringency hangs on into the aftertaste along with hints of graininess and light fruitiness. FINISHING THOUGHTS I enjoyed this beer. It has a very nice hop aroma, which translates, at somewhat a subtler level, into the flavor. The ale fermentation allows some nice fruity esters to develop, while the lager yeast brings its signature smooth creaminess, and a crisp finish. I was surprised by the developed light, but grainy/doughy mouthfeel, too. Sam ’76 would be a great beer for any kind of event where you’re likely to be drinking more than one or two beers; ABV is appropriately low for a session, but the flavors, cleaniness, body, and crispness keeps it interesting. I’d even bet your macro-drinking friends might enjoy this one. Bitterness is minimal, yet slightly higher than most macro beer and the floral and fruity flavors may change some false perceptions about hops. One thing worth noting, if you drink Sam ’76 when it’s “ice” cold, you’re going to be missing a lot of what makes this beer so good. To fully appreciate it, you should try to drink this one around 48° to unlock its true potential. Cheers!