Sam Adams Summer Ale

By on July 16, 2008 @ 9 PM (9 Comments)

Sam Adams Seasonal LabelWe can be a little hard on the Sam Adams beers here at The BeerFathers and we know that. Their regular lineup hits the hops really hard and we’re admittedly not hop heads like some of the Beer Love community. Also their Sam Adams Cherry Wheat is hands down one of the worst beer experiences we’ve been through. Despite all this, we do have a soft spot for their seasonals – which are generally spot on. Starting in the spring the seasonals go: Sam Adams White Ale, Sam Adams Summer Ale, Sam Adams Octoberfest and Sam Adams Winter Lager. Though we haven’t reviewed them officially for the site we’ve enjoyed the OctoberFest, Winter Lager and White Ale several times over. We hope to get those added here in the coming seasons.

For now we’ll focus on the Sam Adams Summer Ale, which is another in our regular Father and Son Thursday night beer reviews. Why Thursday? Why not? Actually it’s because Father Beer Love has Friday off so it’s a good night for us to not worry if we experiment a little too much with the brews. Drink responsibly, that’s what we say. Well, we’ve never actually said it, but I’m sure we think it. Not really consciously think it, but it’s probably back there in the id or the superego or superid or some other part of the brain that works without being told what to do. Anyway, the Sam Adams Summer Ale is an American wheat ale that comes to us from the Boston Beer Company, makers of well, you know. For this scientific review we used an American pint glass and our 12 oz bottle of Summer Ale registered a 5.3% ABV at 41.9 F.

The initial pour generated a large 2 1/2″ fizzy white head the dissipated quickly and left virtually no lacing. The beer itself has a really lively amount of carbonation and the color is a slightly cloudy gold. Good pour and good start. The smell strikes you as fairly hoppy, not surprising since it’s a Sam Adams, but a little surprising since their other seasonals aren’t overly hopped like their main lineup is. It’s not a terribly complex smell but a fairly clean one – hay, citrus (grapefruit and lemon for sure, but maybe some others) and ginger are the main aromas we pick up.

The taste continues with the citrus theme – it’s a lemony taste with grapefruit and ginger notes. There is also a touch of wheat taste to the finish. Though it lacks complexity it goes down quickly. The initial flavor notes are a light sweet and a light tart. The finish moves a little and gives you a light sweet and a moderate bitter and a light to moderate tart. The finish is about average in duration, the mouthfeel is a bit on the dry side and there’s no body lacing to speak of. On our patented malt to hop scale (original patent application circa 1879) it comes in guess what – fairly hoppy. We marked it 2 1/2 clicks to the right of balanced – not the hoppiest thing in the world but it’s right on up there.

Though it’s drinkable, we wouldn’t really want to drink another one. It’s not so good for the rest of our bottom line notes – it’s not quite balanced, doesn’t have much harmony, isn’t particularly memorable and we probably wouldn’t buy it again. Sam Adams can do so much better with their seasonals and all the other ones definitely prove it. The OctoberFest and Winter Lager especially are much better examples of what they can really do with their seasonal lineup.

So then what is the saving grace for the Sam Adams Summer Ale? It’s a great bar beer. Throw in some salty snacks and this thing really hums. What was originally a 2 became a 3 with some mixed nuts or salty chips. We’ve heard many people say they’re disappointed when they try a wheat beer that isn’t a hefeweizen, I guess because they’re expecting that hefe experience. I know we say it. Our take is there’s lot of other good summer beers (including several hefes), so give them a shot and revisit the Sam Adams Seasonals for OctoberFest.

Sam Adams Summer Ale Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)

9 Comments (Add Your Comments)

  1. I tried some of this beer at a Sam Adams beer dinner a couple months ago and really enjoyed it. Perhaps you had a bad sample.
    thx for your comments over on my blog about beer cellaring. I think you’d have to do a little of both (spreadsheet and sharpie marking the bottle), particularly if you bought more than one of the same kind of beer and if you bought some on different dates and you needed to distinguish between bottles. I am personally a big fan of spreadsheets for tracking stuff. I’d want to know the date I bought it and cellared, the planned dates for next sampling, and (if available) the date the beer was bottled. Some breweries put a date on their bottles but most don’t. So perhaps you may need to ask your store owner how long a bottle has been sitting in his cooler. If it has a layer of dust on it then you might expect it’s sat there for a few weeks at least.
    I’m sure there are a ton of other things I’d like to track (like cost) and perhaps the conditions under which it is stored. Lots to think about.

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the comments Dave – I think the key for you tasting this beer is that it was with food. I tried it again recently and it just doesn’t sit well by itself for me. It just needs something with it to help balance it and to me that just doesn’t bode well. It should be able to stand alone like some of their other seasonals do so well.
    Dave is further expounding on some comments I left at his beer blog on Beer Cellar Aging – check his site out in our Beer Links section – Fermentedly Challenged – good stuff.

  3. zxcvb says:

    I absolutely agree that this beer is meant to be taken with food. It’s a *summer* ale — something light (in calories as well) and refreshing while you’re scarfing down burgers and chips.
    For that, it’s perfect. On its own…not so much.

  4. Goose says:

    I think the Sam Adams seasonals and other special SA brews are intended for the occasional sipper. If you alone are going to blast through a sixpack, these beers aren’t for that.
    But the Summer Ale paired well with a nice ribeye, grilled, and topped with a grilled garlic/jalapeno “relish” I make. I’m normally a stout/porter guy, but this beer and the blackberry witbier make me reconsider my summer months default imbibe.

  5. steve petty says:

    I just tried your summerfest and it was very bitter. Not very good. My wife also put her’s aside. Dis you have aprob. with one of your batches?

  6. Paul Sullivan says:

    I find it funny that so called experts whom obviously have a hard on for then Sam Adam’s line are so hard on REAL BEER. Beer is supposed to be very Hopi but yet you still haven’t grasped that concept, pity…

    I’ll keep drinking Real Beer, you all can stick with the O’Doules of the world!!!!

  7. John says:

    Paul – “Beer is supposed to be very Hopi” – well said, just like the American beer marketing machine wants you to believe it. Keep allowing those marketing messages to come on in with no filtering!

  8. Boog says:

    This years (2011) Summer Ale is the best yet. Try it on tap. So much better. Bottle is OK but 3 clicks less than on tap. I drink it with a burger or such and it is an excellent complement to a great burger.

  9. Ajapierce says:

    I do like the Sam Adams Summer Ale. Mostly because of the fact that the ingredients, for a mass produced beer, as still real. You wont find “rice grain” in it like most other sold overseas domestic beers.

    Sam Adam Summer Ale is a pretty good beer on it’s own, mostly when you’re outside and it’s hot out. It really does quench your thrist, it’s an overall well rounder beer, but more enjoyable with a meal. Which in my opinion is actually better for you since you won’t get trashed so much.

    I would like to see a version that has a highly alcohol content. The Sam Adams Brick Red (only availible at the Bostom Brewery and oddly Disney World in FL) is a Red Ale at 9%. That extra alcohol content gives it a great kick for a beer flavor but a really smooth taste at the same time

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