Samuel Adams continues to branch out with new Single Batch seriesDec. 12, 2011
By Chris Maza
Reminder Assistant Editor
As someone who’s always up for trying a new beer, I can appreciate those companies that are willing to go outside their comfort zone and experiment with new recipes.
That’s why I was very excited to hear about the Samuel Adams Single Batch collection, which was released in November.
Currently a set of four unique combinations of styles, this is the latest in a series of bold moves made by the beer crafters at Boston Beer Company. I have very much enjoyed their Barrel Room Collection, and therefore was very curious about the Single Batch brews.
“The Vixen” Chocolate Chili Bock
The Vixen was the first of the new beers I tried. Having an affinity for Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock and Double Chocolate Bock and respect for their try at a Cherry Chocolate Bock this new take on a style I enjoy intrigued me.
The beer pours very dark with a light tan head and while there wasn’t much of a nose to it, there were definite hints of chocolate.
Upon drinking the beer, a mixture of sweet and bitter chocolate was the first thing apparent. To my surprise, there was not an overwhelming amount of chilies, but rather, the spice is used as a compliment to the chocolate, adding a pretty subtle complexity to the beer before finishing on a somewhat spicy note.
I would suggest trying this beer a tad warmer than you would normally, as it helps bring out the chocolate taste a bit more.
While not as thick as a stout, The Vixen is certainly a heavier beer and that, coupled with 8.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), makes it a nice sipper while sitting in front of the Christmas tree this year.
“Tasman Red” Red IPA
A friend of mine who has become my go-to authority on new and exciting beers, whether he likes it or not, encouraged me to try the Tasman Red, which claims to be less bitter than most India Pale Ales (IPA), but more so than a standard red ale.
The company did well in striking a tremendous balance with this one, creating a terrific, complex aroma and taste that features sweet notes, roasted flavors and some citrus while having some of that trademark IPA bitterness without it being overwhelming.
Its dark amber color also makes it an appealing beer to look at and it’s a smooth drinker.
It also contains the lowest alcohol content of the four at 6.75 percent ABV.
“Third Voyage” Double IPA
While the first two possessed incredibly complex flavors, the Third Voyage didn’t try to be anything it wasn’t.
Lighter in color and body than The Vixen and the Tasman Red, the Third Voyage lets the hops do the talking for it. Its vibrant carbonation accents the bitterness of the hops. In some respects, it is similar to Samuel Adams’ Latitude 48 IPA another quality beer but had a bit more in the way of taste that probably comes from the types of hops chosen.
It’s also a big jump in alcohol content from the Latitude, but not so much so that it is a dominant feature in the taste of the beer.
“Griffin’s Bow” Oaked Blonde Barley Wine Ale
There’s a black sheep in every family and this is it for the Single Batch collection.
The beer pours a light golden color with very little head and the smell is a somewhat complex assemblage of fruits, including grapefruit and apricot. Unfortunately, when all of those fruits come together, it only makes for a muddled mess of flavor that can only be described as weird.
It also is 11.5 percent ABV and doesn’t hide the boozy, alcohol taste well at all, making it one that a person would probably sip if they could stand the jumbled mess of exotic fruit flavors that make the beer taste like nothing and everything at the same time.
This was the first beer in this series and it clearly was a miss, but as a whole, Samuel Adams did very well in branching out and I hope they decide to do it more often.