This started as a beer review and turned into a rant about a brewery.
If you commonly avoid Sam Adams beers because brewer Jim Koch is the Tom Shane of beer-makers and hearing his voice on the radio makes you want to pound on your own schwantz with a dictionary, you\’re not alone. The Boston Beer Company is one of those breweries of which I will always be suspicious.
You\’re no doubt familiar with the beer that put them on the map, a little amber ditty called SAM ADAMS BOSTON LAGER. Riding the popularity of their home-grown Heineken (demographically speaking), Boston Beer has grown into a hugely successful corporation since their 1984 inception in Koch\’s kitchen. At this point, their size makes me hesitant to refer to them as a brewery in the conventional sense. I mean, they\’re not quite the size of the big three, but they publish fucking earnings estimates fer chrissake. Corporate shenanigans aside, I\’ve never been much of a fan of the Boston Lager. If I roll into an airport bar and my choices are Bud, Budder, Buddest, and Sams, I\’ll ride with the patriot every time. But if I\’m in a grocery store or gas station where Sam\’s is as good as it gets. I might just save the money and get something in a can. The Boston Lager is just not tasty enough to me to justify giving microbrew-sized dollars to a brewery so huge they\’re subject to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.
But rather than write them off solely on the huge commercial success and hugely mediocre flavor of the Boston Lager, I feel compelled to approach Boston Beer\’s other offerings with a reasonably open mind. It\’s only fair. I\’d like to think that Boston Beer uses their monsterous cash flow from the Boston Lager to fund a full line of trully innovative and passionate beers that fly under the radar by choice, delighting and surprising beer snobs everywhere. It is with this spirit of tolerance and hope that I consume a couple bottles of the Sam Adams Boston Ale.
The Boston Ale pours a medium orange/amber color with good clarity. The head is a little looser than I was expecting/hoping but it did last throughout the serving. The aroma is sweet and malty with little hop presence. The flavor is very simple which was at the same time pleasantly surprising and disappointing. Tons of sweet pale malt on the front end. Almost no hop flavor on the front or in the middle. The malt flavor dies off quickly at the end leaving a lingering sweetness and a mild bitterness on the tongue as the only discernable hop character. It tastes like the short, simple flavor is partly the result of a clean ale yeast that adds little to the beer\’s overall character.
The readership at BeerAdvocate.com love this beer, but those dudes, despite their vast knowledge, tend to swing from the Boston Beer Company\’s nuts. I think the Boston Ale is very drinkable, and under the right circumstances–a pig roast, a stranger\’s wedding, a company outing–I would drink the shit out of it. That said, it\’s probably not in my top fifty favorite beers.
For a publicly traded company, BBC does make solid beers. Unfortunately, the purist in me can\’t justify spending money on their beers when I could be giving my clams to an endeavor with a market cap of less than $324 million.
I should probably shutup and open a brewery.