Posts Tagged ‘lager’

Don’t be afraid Sam Winter Lager haters, there is something different about this (and last years) Winter Lager. I typically like the seasonal beers put out by Sam Adams. I reviewed earlier in year the Summer Ale as well as Latitude 48, and the East West Kolsch. However, I had always avoided the Sam Winter Lager mostly because there are so many winter beers that I typically don’t like, that I didn’t want to take a risk. Winter Lager has disappointed me in the past and I’ve run from it in past holiday seasons. However, when a free one is placed in front of you by a kind bartender, you can’t turn it down.

Winter Lager pours a humble brown with a gold tinge to it. The head arrived two fingers tall, but quickly subsided, leaving a small amount of lacing around the glass. Like many winter beers, there was a traditional spice aroma lifting from the glass accompanied by a mild malt flavor. My first sip was pretty bland, but the flavors eventually collided together and I understand what they were trying to get at. Although ginger is the prevalent spice taste, I believe there are elements of nutmeg or perhaps allspice that linger in the background to remind you that this is not a simple beer. Winter Lager has a mild bitterness that is similar to orange peel and contains a pleasant malt flavor. Simply, there is nothing overwhelming about this beer, yet at the same time, there is nothing underwhelming about it either.

I’m from New England and I love Sam Adams. I’m still questioning their status as a microbrew given their mass distribution and seemingly endless production of barrels, but I can get past that because this is yet another example of the kind of high quality beers that they put out year after year in mass quantity at an affordable price. This beer can be found everywhere in New England and most regional areas. I’ve found it at many of the liquor stores, supermarkets, and yes, even drug stores here in the Chicagoland area. You can pick up a 12 pack of Winter Lager for around $15 or a six pack for around $9. You can also find this buried inside the winter variety back alongside the Boston Lager, Sam Adams Light, and another seasonal beer. This is a solid offering from a solid brewery that serves as a pleasant post Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas lager.

Grade: B

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I don’t know how I feel about a brewery named Chicago Beer Company – especially since it’s located in Elgin, IL. This brewery has only been open since 2010 and I came across a row of their offerings on the bottom shelf in Trader Joe’s. I don’t know if this was intentional, but this definitely sent a message indicating the lack of confidence in sales if a store is placing it on the bottom. They did try to compensate this by placing a sticker that said “New!” near the price tag, hoping to draw the eye. “Well why not,” I told myself, and here I sit with Lake Shore Lager.

The pour receive an extremely thin, pale yellow colored lager. I noticed immediately the near transparency reminding me of champagne more than beer. There was an immediate rush of carbonation forming a thick head, but this broke up quickly. After the initial pour, there was very little carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass. I found myself getting hypnotized by the slow moving bubbles – some moving slower than others. The nose was fairly clean hop aromas. My first taste was relatively unimpressive and my second was more of the same. This is a very thin beer with virtually no complexity or craft. I would compare this beer to a slightly thinner Rolling Rock. I’m pretty sure I could make this exact lager in my basement using a home kit. That said, I did still appreciate this as a lighter beer with more flavor than typically light beers commonly consumed.

I didn’t hate it, I certainly didn’t like it (and I lived on Rolling Rock for a year in college). I just rather nothing Lake Shore Lager – I “meh” it. And at $9 a six pack, I could never see myself investing any more money in this brewery to try their other offerings and couldn’t see myself purchasing Lake Shore Lager again. It was a fine experiment and I will certainly be open in the future to retry their brews after they’ve developed their recipes a bit.

Grade: D

Allagash Dubbel Reserve (Batch 100) is the second bottle from the Allagash challenge – a trio of bottles my best friend purchased to redeem Allagash as a brewery. I allowed this one to sit in the basement for 2 days to allow the temperatures to naturally bring the ale down to around 60 degrees. I still don’t have a tulip glass (as recommended by the Allagash people), so I opted for the globe glass over the pilsner. Perhaps this was merely for ascetics, but I also prefer drinking out of this kind of glass with full flavored beers.

Allagash Dubbel pours a beautiful amber with a sufficient amount of foam forming on top. There is a strong malt aroma wafting from the glass the perhaps would have been stronger had this been poured in a tulip instead. I detected mild hints of black cherry or perhaps figs hidden beneath the hop and malt aroma. Dubbel Belgian ales typically contain very little fruit flavors and I’m wondering if because I intentionally wanted to find fruit, I did, even if there really was nothing to be found. My first sip was very heavy and full of sweet malt with a hop undertone. Although I feel this is a well balanced beer, I felt the malt notes were exceptionally sweet. The mouth feel is very heavy making me think the liquid is thicker than it actually is. As the ale sits if your mouth, the hops flavors develop more and bring out a delightful bitterness. After swallowing, there is a malt flavor explosion before subsiding quickly. The aftertaste resembles something like unsweetened chocolate nibs and roasted walnuts.

Having been my first dubbel style ale, its hard for me to compare this to anything else. I did enjoy the heavier amber as opposed other, thinner red beers. The sweet malt flavor was pleasant if not overwhelming, but I did not find myself wanting to go back for more when the bottle was empty. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this bottle, but I think this is like the Clown Shoes Brown Angel where this is just too big a beer for me. That said, this is still a well crafted beer at a moderate ABV of 7%. Allagash has distribution in 18 states, but I have yet to see much of a selection outside of New England. There definitely needs to be more demand by the consumers to get a bigger selection. This being my first Dubbel Belgian ale experience, I would definitely continue to try more of this style. As for the Allagash Dubbel, I probably would have enjoyed a 10-12oz pour of this and that might have left me thirsting for more.

Grade: B