Craft Beer Review: Samuel Adams Sam ‘76

Craft Beer Review: Samuel Adams Sam ‘76
A new ale/lager hybrid from Boston beer Co. Photo by Mark McDermott.

Last week, I ran my interview with Boston Beer Co. CEO Jim Koch about their new beer, Samuel Adams Sam ‘76. So here, in a second article, I’m posting my own thoughts on the beer. After all, two articles means more clicks, and that’;s this blogging thing is about, ehh?

So while the Sam Adams folks contacted me with the chance to talk to Jim Koch, I went out on my own and got the beer to try while talking to him. So this is a beer purchased with my own allowance, instead of a free sample.

What’s new about this beer is that they claim it to be a hybrid of a lager and ale style. It starts with separate fermentation’s of what’s likely the same light malt bill, then the two batches are combined and the majority of hops is added in the secondary. According to Koch, that process does something different to the hops, using their flavor without adding bitterness that usually comes in the boil. The result they’re shooting for is a light beer that combines the citrusy taste of American hoppy ales with the clean finish of a lager.

Pouring and Tasting:

The beer is a pale lager color, a little bit hazy, with a sudsy, rapidly dwindling head. The smell is a bit different, strong on tropical fruit and bit of pine. There’s twinge of the soft water smell of a Pilsener, though only briefly. When I tilt the glass, I get the whiff of a session IPA, heavy on the Cascade and Citra and Simcoe hops. Then we get a solid light lager taste, without any yeasty off taste. It does play out like a light session beer with low bitterness (just 12 IBUs, with 4.7% abv), just a hop fruitiness.

Hopheaded beer geeks may prefer the burn of a high-alpha hop bomb. Look at this as the gateway for lawnmower beer drinkers to get into the possibilities of hops.

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