Saturday, May 30, 2009


here goes my hamsterian take on the three 2008 SAM ADAMS' LONGSHOT WINNERS:

first off, i don't mean to be sexist, but isn't it a bit cool when the ladies win the sam adams' homebrew competition? i'm not sure why that's so exciting to me. maybe it's because, other than ashley brock and e sue young and faith scott, i have not met many female beer geeks. so when carissa sweigart wins with a cranberry wit, of all things, i feel my power - my woman-power - bristle on the edges. 

okay, enough politics: let's get to the beer. this cranberry wit pours unfiltered and cloudy. very light with deep pink hues enlivened by a constant and steady stream of carbonation bubbles, looking like prom night on speed. a thin, fully laid white cap covers the top of the glass, through which no significant aromas pass. i'm sniffing for fruit, tartness, some spices, but i get nothing. the first sip is pure wit beer: light and spiced on the edges. the bottle declares "cinnamon, orange peel, coriander and grains of paradise," all before a "touch of cranberry." the first sip only reveals cinnamon in the background, like a box of red hots accidentally fell into the mash. after a little bottle-swirling, in an effort to agitate all those spices and yeasts in the bottom, the beer looks like a glass of grapefruit juice: dark pink fleshy-juice and thick cloudy yeast haze. more complex flavors shine through now. orange peels and coriander are mostly prevalent. little sign of cranberry, even tartness. however, some small wash of brightness does flow along the sides of the tongue, mellowing out the overt spiciness and making this wit extremely light and more drinkable than most beers in this genre. although i would never buy a sixer of this, i like having these two bottles for the trial. 

NOTE: my second bottle was much better. this is a very exciting beer, an amusement park of spices and fruits all crammed and roller coastering around in one glass. i told my dear friend, sir jason scott, that this beer is like a good m. night shabalabahonda film: too much to take in the first time. bright, spicy, refreshing, cloudy and full-bodied - yes, ma'am, i would definitely buy this beer in sixers and serve it at dinner parties.

so mike from california says he tossed in "over six pounds of hops per barrel" in his double-IPA (9% ABV). i'm not sure if that's a lot or not, but the aroma is as hairy as liquid sasquatch. smells like a walk in the northern woods: lots of pine, lots of earthy pitch, lots of tree-sap and bursting green. this is a transcendental aroma in a beer that wants to jump out of the glass and live as deliberately as thoreau. first sip: whitman whiskers! this thing is mowing me down. thick, thick biscuit bottom under a spicy, piney hopped top. this is a great double IPA: not too much, but definitely earning its 9% alcohol ranking. i would buy sixers and twelvers of this. hound it and hide it in my little cellar closet down here on the first floor. my hat is off to mike in california - this beer is lovely.

unfortunately, i've had my fill of german beers around these parts. and, equally unfortunate for alex drobshoff from california, texas has depleted its ideal cool evenings where such a thick and heavy beer stakes claim. still, i will come with open olfactories and taste buds. pours dark leather brown. very little head or carbonation: nothing's alive on the inside. plus, i'm not getting any aroma here. even sniffed the coffee in the kitchen to double check my sniffer, and it works, but i can't smell anything on this beer. (same as shiner bock). the first sip of drobshoff's traditional bock (6.8% ABV) weighs in syrup heavy. also, it's sweet, sweet, sweet and more sweet. lots of malt, with small gushes of cherry. why anyone would brew (or drink) a bock is beyond me. they are heavy, sticky, chewy beers. the beverage equivalent of creamed corn, without all the lumps. i'll be giving the extra bottle of this to marky-mark pepe-guzman who just loves-loves-loves him some bock. he be german, i suppose.


  1. I don't know...the cranberry wit reminds me of my friend who went to an open bar, asked for something "refreshing", and got hooked on a cranberry concoction that he later found out was called "Seabreeze." I'm suspicious of fruit in my beer.

  2. myles - good point. you shouldn't drink "seabreezes." but there's a difference between drinking refreshing "concoctions" and refreshing "beers." big difference. fruit beers ain't no seabreezes and they ain't no wine coolers neither. try it. you might like it.

  3. I have been waiting to try Mike's Double IPA. I read about it a while back. Bob's licka sto down the street said they would try to get some for me. Nuthin yet. But, I guess that's what you expect from a place called Bob's.

    I agree with Myles, I avoid fruit in my beer. I don't want to snack on fruit while drinking a beer so why would I have it IN my beer?
    Are there any Pretzel Wits?

  4. myles and church key -

    when you guys say stuff like "I'm suspicious of fruit in my beer" and "i avoid fruit in my beer", you both just sound like raging racists, but haters of beer, not necessarily haters of your earthly brothers.

    and it's fine to be a person-racist if you live in an all white community and attend all white churches and have no other races on your cell phone's phonebook, but it's not acceptable to be beer-racist when you consume ale near fruit-ladened tap handles in the various pubs near you.

    hey, i'm just looking out for your souls here.

  5. I appreciate the soul tending but I'm still going avoid any beer with fruit in its name.

  6. Fruit beers rock. There's nothing inherently appalling about it. With some fruits, the sugars are entirely fermentable, so they add ZERO sweetness to the beer, instead adding an unpredictable and often surprisingly good result. I agree with the racist comparison. Y'all just haven't spent enough time around the fruities.
    6 pounds of hops per barrel is just plain excessive. And when it comes to hops, I love excess. I can't WAIT to try it! Hamster, to put it in perspective, the pale ale homebrew you had at our castle on your most recent visit had the equivalent of about 1.5 pounds of hops per barrel. With hops at roughly $5 per OUNCE, would you like to be the one buying 96 ounces of the stuff for a barrel o' brew? Maybe Sam gets them cheaper in bulk.
    A wonderful review, sir. Methinks I'll grab me some on the way home tonight!

  7. No, no cross burning at pubs, they don't allow it. If they did...

    I know what I like. I've tried blackberry and cranberry wheats, fruit slices added post brew and I don't like it therefore I don't buy it.
    It would be one thing if I hated fruity beers just because my grandfather and father hated fruity beers. I have had an open palate and have been burned.

  8. church - i completely agree with nixing the fruit slice from the pint glass. my beer does not need a wedge of lemon or lime or orange, and if it did i would not be drinking it. so, yes, i would burn that cross with you at the blue moon and corona pub.

    what about o'fallons wheach? you like?

    the fruity wheats can be a little heavy. i've had plenty of fruity wheats that i did not like. but the wit is a much lighter ale, and those various peels and spices juxtapose well with blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries and cranberries. i wish i could build you a sixer of GOOD fruit beers. there are some out there.

    sam adams cherry wheat is a scourge upon the face of ale-dom.

  9. Okay, if you REALLY think so. One day I'll give it another go.