Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Samuel Adams Winter Variety Pack Review Part II
Today's entry will examine the final (and best) three beers of the Samuel Adams Winter Classics collection.
SAMUEL ADAMS OLD FEZZIWIG ALE
I had the privilege of enjoying the Old Fezziwig Ale on tap at the brewery when I went late in 2010; it was a beer revelation for me. From the bottle, Old Fezziwig comes across as a high quality version of your standard Winter Warmer: rich and malty with strong spice notes (particularly ginger and orange peel). On draft, though, it tastes like the liquid form of a beer Christmas cookie. The sweetness of the toffee and caramel notes intermingle with the deeper chocolate undertones, which are, in turn, complemented by the spice profile.
While the intensity of the flavors might be muted in bottle form, it's easy to draw them out simply by pairing the Old Fezziwig with entrees and desserts that will bring out the shared underlying flavors of both. The Samuel Adams page for Old Fezziwig recommends pairing it with carrot cake, which is a great idea but I think there are many winter treats that would do including freshly baked oatmeal cookies or warm pumpernickel bread. Either way, this beer is incredible no matter how you enjoy it.
My Grade: A
SAMUEL ADAMS BLACK & BREW COFFEE STOUT
The newcomer to this pack, the Samuel Adams Black & Brew Coffee Stout is a wonderful example of the style. Rich, deep coffee aromas permeate the pour and dark chocolate and coffee wash through the mouth upon first swallow. Though there are admittedly other better Coffee Stouts to be had, the Black & Brew fits perfectly into the family of beers that comprise this variety pack. Plus, the fact that it is available nationally makes it even better (many of the finer coffee stouts have limited distribution, which naturally makes it more difficult to enjoy them).
I enjoy my stouts most when they are big bodied and big flavored; the Black & Brew is just a touch light in both arenas. The flavors are delicious but not bold and demanding as I personally enjoy; the mouthfeel is a bit thin albeit creamy, almost like a skinnier-bodied Guinness from a nitro bottle. Regardless, fans of coffee-infused beers will love this brew; it's not to be missed! (Try it with some vanilla ice cream or make a beer float with some premium vanilla bean ice cream!)
My Grade: A-
SAMUEL ADAMS CHOCOLATE BOCK
And so I save the best for last. The Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock is not only one of my top three all-time favorite chocolate beers, it is a steal. In my opinion, the fact that this beer is included in the variety pack is a godsend. It could easily be bottled in a bomber size or larger and sold at premium cost to the consumer and marketed as a special release winter beer. Hands down, one of if not the best beer I've had from the Boston Beer Company.
Flavor-wise, the Chocolate Bock is just what you'd expect: a deep, dark beauty with complex chocolate overtones and aromas. The chocolate, itself, serves only to enhance the roasted maltiness and sweet caramel that comes through. The beer is so rich that to pair it with some sort of chocolate dessert would be to engage in overstimulation of the sweet sectors of the tastebuds. Instead, enjoy it with dinner and some sort of rich red meat or ribs. A nicely caramelized roast would work perfectly with it but, no matter what you pair it with, just make sure that you savor every drop of this remarkable brew.
My Grade: A+
--Beer Whisperer Matt
Coming on Thursday, March 1st: The Samuel Adams Brewer's Choice Variety Pack Review