Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: Two new releases from Samuel Adams

By JIM BEAUREGARD September 13. 2017 12:13AM

HAVE YOU FELT THAT ever-so-slight chill in the air greeting us in the morning this past week?

School has started, the warm days of summer appear largely past, and it’s time to start looking toward fall. The Boston Brewery, otherwise known as Sam Adams, has two new releases for us for the season, and I wanted to share them with you today.

Samuel Adams Harvest Hefe is 5.4 percent alcohol by volume, 14 IBUs. A weissbier, or weizen, or hefeweizen is a classic Bavarian beer and it is considered one of Germany’s most distinct. It is made with wheat and barley malts and the name itself is a reference to the yellow–white coloring of the beer that results from that malt combination — the wheat in particular.

It’s the term hefeweizen that is perhaps the most accurate; it means yeast wheat.

In Germany and in other places that attempt the style, it is usually bottled unfiltered, though there are some filtered versions. Filtering is always a two-edged sword. It can remove stuff and make the end product clear. On the other hand, to filter is to remove flavor to some extent.

Wheat beers have a very long history, with roots going back about 6000 years. It was first brewed by the Sumerians in the Fertile Crescent, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The oldest-known depiction of beer drinking can be found on a piece of Sumerian pottery, which depicts two women drinking beer through a couple of straws. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

The beer is made with hallertau mittlefreuh and spalt spalter hops of the noble variety, and Sam Adams includes its own brand of yeast. In the glass it is a light golden color, cloudy and looking very much unfiltered, with a pure white head of medium-size.

The nose includes aromas of hops and wheat. The palate, which is very interesting, includes citrus hop notes, along with wheat and some grainy flavors, as well as some hints of the kind of spice you might find in an apple pie. Served cold, it is bright and refreshing.

The recommended food pairings from the brewery itself are for sweet to savory dishes, including things like mushroom risotto and rosemary chicken. It also pairs with Gouda cheese, and can accompany desserts such as spice cake and bread pudding. No argument here. Harvest Hefe is available in six packs with a suggested retail price of $7.99 to $9.99.

Samuel Adams Oktoberfest is back again for the fall.

This is a Märzen-style beer at 5.3 percent alcohol by volume and 16 IBUs.

It was recently named the beer of the year by “Sports Illustrated.” The term Märzen refers to the month of March, so it is literally a “March beer.”

Given the northern German climate, which can include very hot summers, in an age before refrigeration March was the last month in which beer could be held in cold storage — often in the basement of City Hall (the Ratskeller).

It would continue to age over the summer and then be served up in September and October.

My Oxford Companion to Beer informs me that in the year 1553, Bavarian Duke Albrecht V forbade brewing during the summer months in order to improve the overall quality of German beer and reduce risk of spoilage. Legally, that meant no brewing between April 23 and Sept. 29.

In the long history of beer, Oktoberfest is a relatively recent innovation, dating from about 1840.

The beer itself is a beautiful glowing amber color with a just off-white head. The nose is clearly malty, though with a hint of hops.

The palate is well-balanced and well-integrated, reflecting the Tettnang Tettnanger and Hallertau Mittelfreuh noble hops. The flavors include grain, caramel and just a very slight citrus note in the background. The finish is long and pleasant.

This one is also available in cans. If you are having an Oktoberfest party, you will want to invite this one.

The recommended pairings for Oktoberfest include roasted meats, including sausage and pork, and also rich or creamy dessert dishes such as crème brûlée. It’s available in six packs from August through October with the suggested retail price of $7.99 to $9.99.

Contact wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com


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