EBT: Sam Adam’s Winter Classics

Considering the weather outside is colder than a witch’s tit, I’m trapped indoors succumbing to cabin fever. I’ve done everything I can to not be bored: put garish makeup on all over my face (“De-gorgeous dahling.”), dressed my cats up in baby clothes (“Stop meowing! It’ll be over in a second.”), pieced together over 45 puzzles and still the pictures on the walls are talking to me. I’ve decided to medicate myself with the contents of a Sam Adam’s Winter Classics box. This magical box contains 12 bottles of 6 different varieties of beer (two of which are only available in this pack: Cranberry Lambic and Old Fezziwig).

Beer 1: Cranberry Lambic

I have no idea what ‘lambic’ means but this beer is mildly gross. It tastes like someone mixed a glass of red wine into a glass of lager, shook it up, let it set (to get most of the fizz out) and bottled it. Yech. The only redeeming factor is that when you belch, you get a fruity taste in your mouth (as opposed to the usual shitty regurgitated hops flavor).

Around the neck of the bottle, it says, “Our version of a traditional Belgian lambic is brewed with native American cranberries, a unique top-fermenting yeast, and a touch of maple syrup. This is a special brew for the holidays. Cheers!” Maple syrup? What marketing genus was sitting around thinking, “Yo, we should brew a beer with cranberries and maple syrup in it.” I realize that since this is The Boston Brew Company and since Samuel Adams is an American patriot, they want to brew a New England beer, but c’mon man. Next they’re going to brew a Lobster Lager and Clam Chowder Cream Ale.

So what is a ‘lambic’ exactly? According to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Wine, Beer, Spirits and Liqueurs: The Definitive Reference Guide to Alcohol-Based Drinks (Walton & Glover), “Lambic brewers use at least 30% unmalted wheat in order to produce a milky wort from the mash.” A milky what from the who? “The wheat brew used to produce lambic beer is left exposed to the air to allow spontaneous fermentation to happen from the wild yeasts in the atmosphere.” Wild yeasts in the atmosphere? Do they mean ‘the bacteria floating all around us’? That’s what it sounds like. “This beer is only produced in the cooler months, as the wild yeasts-“ Bacteria. “-would be too unpredictable in the summer. The result us a unique, tart, sour beer,-“ Got that right. “-probably similar to the ales made in ancient times. The taste is almost like a flat, acidic cider, which attacks the tongue and sucks in the cheeks.” Yes, I’d say my tongue was under siege and I swallowed my cheeks about 5 sips ago. Simply put: “The term lambic indicates a Belgian wheat beer that is spontaneously fermented by wild, airborne yeast.”

EBT Rating: *****-----. It’s put me in a good mood. It’s either the cabin fever or the beer but I’ve got “The Humpty Dance” running through my head now. The humpty dance- is your chance- to do the hump-

Beer 2: Cream Stout

Silly me, thinking this Cream Stout might taste like Cream Soda. I don’t particularly like the dark Porters and Stouts because they taste like burnt toast scrapings mixed with seltzer water. This Cream Stout (which is described as a “Special Stout” on the label) is no different. “Smooth and rich, Samuel Adams Cream Stout is brewed with extra portions of roasted chocolate malt, unmalted barley, and hand-selected English hops. Tradition has it that ale drinkers of Samuel Adams’ day considered all other stouts to be merely milk. This was the cream. Cheers!” I don’t know. It has such a grainy taste, I feel like there should be something to chew on each time I take a sip.

In the book, under ‘Stout, it says, “this dry black brew is made with a proportion of dark roasted barley in the mash and is heavily hopped to give it’s distinctive taste. Draught stout tends to be much creamier and smoother than the more distinctive bottled beer, because it uses nitrogen gas in its dispenser.” And get this, the beer I’m drinking right at this very moment is actually mentioned in the book under ‘Milk or Sweet Stout’: “This is a much weaker and smoother bottled English stout, originally called Milk Stout because of the use of lactose… The Boston Beer Company in America produces a Samuel Adams Cream Stout.” How ‘bout that? I guess it can’t be too bad if it’s mentioned in a book, right?

The label on the bottle is nice. It’s Sammy holding up his tankard in salute in front of an old-tyme illustration of a bar scene. I like this label better than the lambic one, which showed Sam up to his waist in a basket of wheat fronds and cranberries the size of his head.

Blech, I can’t even image someone who would actually enjoy drinking stout. I doubt even a chronic alcoholic would want to get wasted on this because it’s (a) so heavy and (b) extremely hard to get down. And what’s up with what I read earlier about the chocolate malt? I don’t taste no kind of chocolate goodness in this.

A lot of the guys from work like drinking dark, dark beer like this and they’re all of those mountain biking, kayaking, crunchy types of hippies. So maybe this is a hippie beer… but I don’t think so.

EBT Rating: **--------. Dude, I just don’t like these wicked dark beers. And it only got two stars because it was in a book.

Beer 3: Sam Adams Light

Just like regular Samuel Adams, only lighter. “Sam Adams Light has a taste unlike any other light beer. It’s the only light beer made from two-row malt and 100% noble hops.” I like reading things like that, where they say “it’s the only…” because you know it won’t be for long. I just want to go out and make light beer from two-row malt and 100% noble hops just so they can’t say they’re the “only” anymore. I mean, ‘cause how are they going to market the beer then? “It’s unlike any other light beer. Uh, except for that other light beer just like one BUT STILL, it’s unlike all the other ones… Cheers.”

I like this. It’s light colored, light tasting, low in calories. The book says that for light beers, more of the sugar is turned to alcohol in the brewing process to produce a lower-calorie beer. This beer is pretty bland, though. They should make a light fruity favored beer so that there aren’t that many calories but still a lot of flavors.

I wonder about those new Low-Carb beers for those people on the Atkin’s diet but still want to get tanked. I wonder what those beers taste like. If you think about it, beer is made with malt and hops. There really is no way of getting around the carbs. And speaking of ruining the whole idea of beer; what’s with NON-alcoholic beer? Who, specifically, is that beer meant to be consumed by? Recovering alcoholics? No, I think they should stay away from anything having to do with beer. Children? Yeah, if you want to train them to be the future boozers of America. Women? Please. That’s just a slap in the face. People who simply “enjoy the taste of beer” but don’t want to get wasted? Those people should just drink water. They’re missing the whole point.

[Buuuuurp] This beer is kind of like water. Not much flavor going on. It’s the kind of beer you’d use for Beer Pong. Whoa, on the label is says that this beer should be consumed by February 2004. That’s, like, next month. I thought beer was supposed to last longer than that. What happens when beer goes bad? Does the alcohol go away? Is it undrinkable? Does it [gasp] explode? Oh hey, the nutritional facts are on the bottle here as well. Calories: 124 (Good, I can burn that off just playing with my cats.) Carbohydrates: 9.7g (Is that a lot or a little? I honestly don’t know.) Protein: 1.4g (Maybe I’ll start making shakes with beer and silken tofu to get more protein. I love protein. Dude, I love steaks but with the whole mad cow thing, I don’t know. I’ve actually gone vegetarian since I heard about it and started reading more. I mean, I’m not vegetarian vegetarian. I’m getting my meat from this place around here that raises its own beef. I’m not buying any more grocery store meats. I only want farm fresh, local meats. Uh… but I digress…) Fat: 0.0g. Yeah baby, that’s what I like to see. Fat-free beer. All right. You can drink as much as you want and not get fat. Except for the beer-gut but that’s from carbs. All the more reason to stick with watery light beer.

EBT Rating: *****-----. Half the calories, half the rating. Sorry, that’s the way it goes. … I’m getting so buzzed.

Beer 4: Old Fezziwig Ale

Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear, fuzzy wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy wuzzy. Was he fuzzy? Ha ha ha, you remember that? I haven’t heard that in ages. This beer makes me think of it for some reason. Oh, maybe because it’s called Fuzzy-wig. Or Fezzi-wig. Hey, I knew someone in college with the last name Fezzi. I think it was spelled Fezzi. Or Fezy. Last I heard, he opened up a cyber-café down in western Massachusetts. I wonder how he’s doing…

“Old Fezziwig Ale is in the tradition of special seasoned beers for the winter holidays, and takes its name from the festive character in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. This is a hearty, rich, brownish-red ale that gets its character from large amounts of specialty malts. These roasted caramel and chocolate malts give it a very full body and a smooth taste that’s them spiced with a touch on cinnamon, ginger and orange. Happy Holidays!” Whoa, did they get Dickens to write that description? It’s like the description that would never end.

It’s good to know that the name is taken from A Christmas Carol. I was looking at the picture on the label, like “What the-? Who’s that old-timer? Samuel Adams’ grandfather?” It must be Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s a bunch of 18th century people dancing and standing around laughing (probably because they’re had too much spiked nog). The guys have those horrific sideburns that come all the way down to their mouths. [Shudder] The only female in the image is wearing a big cream-colored dress. One of those big old-fashioned dresses. She looks like she’s totally hot. I don’t know why she’s dancing with that old guy. [Belch] The label is framed by sticks with holly leaves and berries entwined around them. It’s all very nice but I can’t help thinking, ‘Where the hell was this beer four weeks ago, when it really was the holiday season? I didn’t see this case until this afternoon.” Now I realize my holiday season was just a sham this year.

I can taste all the different flavors and spices in this. It’s pretty good. Maybe a little too complex. I think they should have not used the caramel and chocolate malts or the cinnamon. A ginger and orange beer would have rocked. How good would that have been? Seriously. Wait a minute. You remember how I complained a little while ago about not being able to taste any chocolate from the chocolate malt? Maybe “chocolate” only refers to the color. I think chocolate and caramel refer to the dark and medium-light color of the malt itself. I feel so stupid now.

I seriously need to get something to eat or else I’m going to vomit. Or, I need to go to a dance club and shake my moneymaker. I suddenly feel like getting buck wild.

EBT Rating: ******----. It’s getting a higher rating than I’d like to give specifically for its rarity index. You can’t by this stuff in a six-pack. Even if I could, I probably wouldn’t. (And I’d only have given it 3 stars.)

Beer 5: Samuel Adams

For real, I’m going to die if I don’t get something to eat. Barbara’s cooking Catfish Gumbo tonight and she’s just standing at the stove, stirring it, like, “La la la la la, I’m just going to stir this and let you smell it just to tease you. It still needs about 400 hours to cook.” Duuuuude, I’ll be dead by then. I mean it.

So this beer is the original. What can I tell you about it? I bet it’ll go good with Catfish Gumbo.

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Update: Amy quietly passed out shortly after finishing her gumbo. She only took two sips of the Samuel Adams before gagging and pouring it down the kitchen sink. She didn’t get to the Winter Brew (Beer 6) at all. She’s had that beer before, anyway. It wasn’t anything special. In fact, she thought it was kind of crappy. Good night.
-xoxo Griffith the Cat

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