Saturday, June 12, 2010

What we're drinking tonight: Sam Adams Longshot

Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch began as a homebrewer trying to recreate his great-great-grandfather's recipe. So in 2006, Koch began the Longshot competition to encourage homebrewers to be adventurous. Three winners watch as their recipes are brewed by Sam Adams and appear on store shelves nationwide. For 2010, the winning beers are Old Ben Ale, Mile High Barley Wine Ale and Lemon Pepper Saison. All three are available around Beermingham in a variety pack with two of each style.

Old Ben Ale
Pours a reddish-brown almost cherry-colored. Head is of medium thickness and just slightly off-white. Poured into a glass, it smells strongly of raisins and caramel. The 9% alcohol is also present. It tastes even stronger of raisins and very malty with very little bitterness. The label says it's slightly sweet, but this would put some folks' sweet tea to shame. Overall a good beer that tastes closer to a barley wine than the English-Style Old Ale it claims.

Mile High Barley Wine Ale
Pours a dark red with medium, tan head. Smells more like an IPA than a barley wine. Lots of hop notes. But it tastes initially like you would expect a barley to. However, the sweet alcohol taste quickly changes to  the more bitter end of the spectrum and finishes with an overall bitter taste. Even with 9.8% alcohol, it might be nice to knock a few of these off this summer.

Lemon Pepper Saison
Pours a golden yellow with a healthy, white head. Smells distinctly like a saison: yeasty and sour. The initial taste is less like a saison than we expected. It's initially pilsner in flavor and effervescent. But the finish is certainly right in line with the genré. We sampled this one after the two previously mentioned beers, so we admit our taste buds just might have been obliterated. But we got no hint of either lemon or pepper. This is a good saison, but it's nothing extraordinary.

If Sam Adams was considering adding one of these beers to its permanent lineup, the Lemon Pepper Saison would be more likely to succeed in the general market. The other two, while far better from a craft-brew standpoint, are way beyond what the general beer-drinking population seeks in a beer.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

MCB 2010 in photos: Session Two

Session Two of Magic City Brewfest 2010 seemed busier than the first round. Dark clouds occasionally dropping rain on the crowd didn't dampen the mood for good beer. Instead it turned into a bit of a game to see what brewery's tent you could get caught under the next time the rain begin to fall.

Click through to the second part of this post for more photos from Session Two.

MCB 2010 in photos: Session One

Jason Malone of Good People takes a spin around Sloss
before the Magic City Brewfest's first session begins.
Day one at the Magic City Brewfest was busy. For hours before the gates opened to the public, volunteers, vendors and Free the Hops members rushed around setting up taps, delivering ice and getting ready for beer fans.

Click through to the second part of this post to see more of what we saw at Session One of the Magic City Brewfest.