I thought I'd start recording my thoughts about different beers as I drink them. I never drank beer growing up--my first drink of any type of alcohol was well after my 21st birthday. Even then, girlie drinks like wine coolers and rum and vodka diluted with sodas were the flavors of the day--what can I say, I was uncultured.
I didn't like beer at all, but that had a lot more to do with the fact that I was just drinking bad beer--think ice brews... A summer working for the US Forest Service with evenings spent in hole in the wall bars in nostalgic little towns like Mancos, Rico, Telluride, and Dolores at 9 and 10 thousand feet above sea level in the mighty Colorado Rockies cultured my palate. I am by no means an expert, and would never claim to be one, but I've tasted enough to know what I like, and why.
Which brings me to the beer for today, Sam Adams Summer Ale. For a long time I have tried to like Sam Adams--I mean what's not to like? The company gives of that micro-brew homey feeling with many different seasonal ales. I tried the original Sam Adams Boston Lager several times early in my drinking career. And I just didn't like it. For me it has a thick raspy aftertaste. It just didn't go down smoothly.
Fast forward 5 or 6 years, and you'll find me standing in front of the beer cooler at Kroger looking for something not as light as a hefeweisen, but definitely lighter than a lager. I saw the Summer Ale, and I thought, why not?
Pop the top on a bottle and the bouquet smells of the tang of citrus and the warmth of pepper and summer wheat intermingle. My guess is the peppery scent comes from the grains of paradise used during spicing. The ale pours smoothly into a glass, and the color is warmly golden--darker than I expected from a 'summer' ale.
At first sip I'm struck by the crispness of this ale. The citrus zest bites quickly announcing the arrival to the tongue, followed quickly by the warmth of pepper. Only then does the smoothness of the wheat follow, and it makes for a great finish. And most importantly, none of the thick raspy aftertaste I have previously found with Sam Adams.
The beer pairs well with lighter fare. Over the course of the six pack I paired it with salads and grilled fish. I particularly enjoyed this ale with fresh rosemary bread straight out of the oven. The face of this particular beer is easily overwhelmed by strong tomato-y Italian dishes however.
Over all I'd have to say I was greatly impressed. This is a lively ale that I enjoyed very much. I'll definitely be back, and may even venture into other Sam Adams selections.
I give it a solid B.