July 29, 2014

Ed the Neighbor Reviews: Sam Adams

Hullo -

The Beer Fairies Came. When I came home from work on Friday, the Beer Fairies left a box from Sam Adams (not the mayor). They brought a Winter Lager,a Cherry Chocolate Bock, a Juniper IPA, and a Merry Maker Ginger bread Stout. My question to you: ship it, store it, or drink it?

Drink up. If we were only gone 6 months I'd ask if there was more than one of those bocks, but I suspect if there's a 2nd bottle you could use it to make a delicious bread pudding or dessert with.

I'd given a brewery--New Belgium--your address to start sending packages to, so not sure why the Sam Adams one showed up there but they send quite a few. I know another sample was just shipped by them but guessing that went to 3754. I should send them a note asking them to hold onto it...it's the beer they release once a year that retails for $200. No, I'm not making a joke.

I am trying to think of what you could do to a beer to make it retail for $200. The only thing that comes to mind is taping $196 to the bottom of the bottle.

The Juniper IPA was incredibly disappointing. It was a fine IPA, but it didn't have a hint of juniper or gin. MAjor bummer.

The Winter Lager was nice. It wasn't as good as their other seasonal brews, and I don't think it was as good as Bridgeport's Ebeneezer, but it was a tasty beer.

And the Cherry Chocolate Bock? I had a wee whiff of the cherry cough syrup. Not gaggingly sweet, but every sip sort of made me tilt my head, a la a confused Dunkel, and ask myself. "Triaminic?" Another disappointment. There may be a bottle left when you return. :)

Reviews first:

Tried the Cold Snap Winter Ale from Sam Adams. I thought I really liked it, but then I read the label: orange? plum? spices? Huh. All I tasted was good beer...The Cold Snap was definitely yummy. I just don't know what the dude who wrote the label was drinking.

New Belgium sent a Snapshot Wheat Beer and a Rewind IPA. It's unanimous: everybody loves the Snapshot Label.

And just when I was getting caught up ... Sam Adams strikes again. Seriously, how do you keep up?

After your last e-mail, I wasn't going to bother you with beer deliveries until I was ready to write my reviews (New Belgium is going to have a tasty spring, that's for sure!), but Sam Adams sent a 22 oz. Double Bock (no fancy name or nothin'). According to their promotional materials, it one of their first "big beers" and has an ABV of 9.5%. Do you want me to hang on to that one until your return? It's a limited edition, so I doubt there will be any professional benefit from hanging on to it, but it might be nice for your palate. 

Ed the Neighbor Previews: Sam Adams Oats McGoats Reduced-gluten Stout

From Brewbound's Facebook page
From the It's a Travesty Files, I'm just now getting around to launching a new series called "Ed the Neighbor Reviews" wherein our neighbor back in Portland...Ed...does me the courtesy of enjoying beer samples that arrive while we're living in Amsterdam (and squirreling away the big bottles that look like they'd benefit from some cellaring or whatever room he's storing them in). I intend to pick up these beer reviews when we're back, but here's the "first" (to be posted, not emailed to me, and I'll start uploading his backlog of reviews). In fact, it's a preview, not a review. Note, when I add editorial comments, they'll be denoted by "ed." who is not to be confused with Ed.

Dear Sam Adams,

Thanks so much for your recent delivery of your Oats McGoats Stout. Despite its silly name (ed.: clearly a reference to the commercial staring James Earl Jones and Malcom McDowell [1] that inspired that bromance flick with Paul Rudd [2] but also it's been done before by The Bruery and Three Notch'd), it's in the fridge right now and I'm looking forward to taking it out for a test drive, if you will. I'm a sucker for stouts and it's a nice break from the steady rain of IPAs that have been inundating the Northwest. Once I've had a sip or two, I'm sure I'll be racing to my computer to post an online review; however, I do have one little question: who the hell is the target audience for "reduced gluten" beer? Are you aiming for the sophisticated connoisseur, who appreciates the earthy, spicy flavors, but might be distracted by the heavy aftertaste of a full gluten beer? Or are you hoping to catch the eye of the gluten intolerant stoutophile who suffers from days of stomach churning diarrhea from a full gluten beer but might enjoy your reduced gluten stout enough to tolerate a few terrible hours alone in a bathroom stall? Please let me know, and I'll adjust my review accordingly.

Your sincere(ly confused) friend,



July 5, 2014

Your last beer

From when I had Nicole Erny, Adam Lamoreaux, Dan del Grande and Fraggle on my SFoodie blind pale ale tasting panel. Includes proof Fraggle drank Budweiser.
The beer community. That’s my favorite phrase. It juxtaposes the two greatest concepts: beer and community. Beer lovers love beer, sure, but a beer enjoyed alone isn’t nearly as good as one shared among friends new and old, basically extended family. Cities across the country and around the world grow their own beer communities comprised of brewers, publicans, beertenders, bloggers, quaffers—anyone who wants in. The family is ever-expanding as more people discover the world of better beer and of course as more people raise children as part of the industry and/or scene. The first story I had published in a beer magazine was all about second generation craft breweries featuring the likes of Sierra Nevada, Bell’s, and New Glarus. As a fairly new father myself, I’m pleased this is a culture I get to raise my toddler in. But like all families and communities, sometimes we lose people.

Sadly, Fraggle—the name absolutely everybody knew him as and the crusty punk certainly rocked—suffered a stroke last week and did not recover. A passionate beer geek (and vegan and punk and socialite), he and his former partner opened Beer Revolution in Oakland, injecting a huge dose of awesome into the San Francisco East Bay community. It was and remains a place to explore new beers and congregate, really delve into, discussion about beer (and other important life matters).

I never got to be very close with Fraggle—I lived in The City and then we moved away from The City—but every time I saw him his larger-than-life personality commanded the room even if we were at an outdoor beer festival.

As time marches, people age, accidents occur, and other tragedies strike the community, we will lose more family members. I’m fondly remembering the great Bill Brand, the legendary Don Younger, and recently departed Jack Joyce. Little-known fact: the first beer item I had published in print was the obituary for Karl Strauss. Even more tragic are the recent, untimely deaths of brewers’ kids like Dick Cantwell’s son (Nap, 18), and Brendan Moylan’s son (Sean, 27). I didn’t even know those boys but as a father and member of the beer community, I cried for their losses.
Comrade Barley's final Facebook profile
People often ask what’s your favorite beer, or if you can only have one beer on a desert island, what would it be? It’s a silly question because beer lovers have hundreds of favorite beers and none of us ever sign up for a three hour tour at sea. But just like one of my truly favorite beers, Moonlight Brewing’s Death & Taxes, those are things none of us escape. How many of us have a wicked awesome beer cellar going? Mine has case upon case. I always say I plan on enjoying every single beer before I go. But I can’t help wondering if Fraggle had a stellar stash of his own. That dude loved sours and big, strong ales—stuff that woulda been amazing long down the line. It’s macabre, but I wish he could’ve known, just an hour before he started to slip, so he could’ve selected what his very last beer would be. Like I said, it’s a really dark thought, but perhaps one worth thinking the next time we stare into our beer cellars or fridges or closets. “What do I want my last beer on Earth to be?” I think many folks have something uber special we hold onto for that mythical special occasion. Weddings come and go. Landmark birthdays arrive in rocket time and streak behind us in life’s rearview mirror.  And those magical bottles persist on shelves.

I wish to God I could go back one week (and supernaturally travel back to my Beeradise in Portland then bank south to Oakland) and uncork that bottle of Cantillon Fou’ Foune, or Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend, or probably that 2010 Cascade Vlad the Imp Aler to share with Fraggle. But I do know that when I go home, the first bottle I’m going to crack open is that 2007 The Abyss and polish it off with my wife (and let my son dip his finger in it). We’ve all heard to live each moment as if it’s your last but I think that’s a terrible idea for the very reason that it might be true. Having said that, I can get down with enjoying each beer as if it’s your last. Just pray we all have a million more last-beers and a million more moments to enjoy them with friends and family.