Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Word is in that the 2009 Samuel Adams Winter Classics Mix Pack (always a favorite for SA fans) has hit the streets, and the Boston Beer Company has apparently shit the bed big time with this years edition.

In a nutshell, the pack offers the only chance each year to obtain their most excellent Old Fezziwig Ale, equally impressive Holiday Porter and also the liquid death known as Cranberry Lambic. Two others, their flagship Boston Lager and seasonal Winter Lager, are also always included, and justifiably so: The Boston Lager is Samuel Adams and is a great year round beer, and having the Winter Lager in a Winter themed twelve pack is just a no-brainer. The sixth and final beer (two bottles of each are to be had in each pack, for those not in the know) has been up for grabs over the years. Previously they had tried to fit the Sam Adams Light into the pack and, well, it just didn't work with the rest of the collection. The past few years the BBC has gotten it right and included their Cream Stout in the mix. This year? They made what is arguably their biggest mistake yet, by putting their brand spanking new Coastal Wheat in as the last beer. Yes, you heard me, Coastal Wheat. The slightly above average wheat ale that tastes strikingly similar to their Summer Ale (actually, to me it's sort of a Summer Ale-White Ale hybrid) and is more beaches and palm trees than it is snowballs and Christmas trees.

This really is shameless force-feeding of the beer into the marketplace by the BBC. Yes, I get that they want to push their newest product, but in a Winter Pack? Not a chance. For as horrid as the Lambic is, at least it fits in with the Winter/holiday theme of the pack, and at least in that sense I can't argue with it's inclusion. Make no mistake, the Coastal Wheat isn't a bad beer. It's not that great either, but it is marginally enjoyable in the end. It simply has no place in this collection of beers.

Of their current offerings, there are some obvious choices to fill this beer slot: Black Lager, Scotch Ale, or the aforementioned Cream Stout. I'd say the Honey Porter too but there's already a porter in the mix. Hell, the Irish Red or Brown Ale would even work (although I see them as Spring and Autumn beers, respectively). I'd even accept a price increase on the pack if they threw in a couple Imperial Stouts as the final beer. Now that would be an awesome collection.

I found it to be odd that they released the Coastal in late September and this move is even more bizarre, at least from an overall collection standpoint. Unfortunately the sad part is that in the end this tactic will work for them. People aren't going to shy away from the Winter Classics. The love for for the Fezziwig and Porter is off the charts and you can't get them anywhere else. They're just going to hope that people enjoy the Coastal. I for one was unimpressed overall when I sampled it, but we shall see.

Oh and one final thought for the BBC folks to ponder: you know those bombers of Boston Lager and Octoberfest that have been showing up on the shelves in recent months? Both Old Fezziwig and the Holiday Porter would look great in those. A case of each would easily make it into my stash every holiday season. I know it'll almost certainly never happen, but one can dream...

Hopback, beer, Samuel Adams, Winter Classics, Old Fezziwig, Holiday Porter, Coastal Wheat, Cranberry Lambic

Saturday, October 17, 2009

TTB Find of the Week: BIG Beer from Blue Moon?

This one was actually approved by the TTB back in the summer, so I'm surprised I hadn't heard about it until now, but MillerCoors' faux-craft Blue Moon brand appears ready to test the waters of the big beer market with Grand Cru, an 8.2% ABV behemoth (for them) brewed with coriander and orange peel, and available in 750ml bottles. Wow. Just, well...wow. One things for certain, I can't say that I'm not intrigued.

If you notice, it still has the "Belgian White, Belgian-Style Wheat Ale" tag to it that the standard Blue Moon beer carries, so it would seem that this is just an amped up version of their flagship for the brand, but we shall see...

The label clearly notes a 2009 "vintage," so look for it to hit the shelves sometime in the next couple of months.

Hopback, beer, Blue Moon, MillerCoors, Grand Cru, Belgian White

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Foam Keeps Getting Thicker

Just a quick post to note that Phish announced today via it's website for Festival 8 that Sierra Nevada has brewed a special beer exclusively available at the festival in Indio, California two weeks from now. Word is that it is a pilsner, has been given the name FOAM and will be draft only, no bottles.

They also note that over 50 beers will be available, including "microbrews, ‘beers of the world’, Pabst Blue Ribbon." While I'm guessing beers of the world will be the likes of Bass, Stella Artois, Guinness, etc., this is still great news all around for festival-goers!

2009-10-16 UPDATE: I spoke directly with Sierra Nevada earlier this evening and the girl who answered the phone had no idea what I was talking about regarding this beer. I was put on hold for a minute or two and when she returned, the story was that the beer was simply their "regular pilsner." While SN has brewed a few pilsners over the years, their only real "regular" one is the Summerfest, So I wouldn't be surprised if FOAM is simply that beer renamed, which, while still nice to have on tap, is still a bit of a letdown after the initial news.

2009-10-29 UPDATE #2: Apaprently the girl on the phone @ Sierra Nevada had no idea what she was talking about. From the SN press release:

Sierra Nevada Brewing is pleased to present FOAM, a special beer created especially for the Phish Festival 8 in Indio, California.

FOAM is a German-style pilsner beer that we are brewing specifically for the Phish Festival. Phish have been longtime fans of Sierra Nevada and after talks with the band, event organizers, and management, we agreed to brew this beer for the festival.

A lot of us here at the brewery are Phish-heads, including several of our master brewers, and it only seemed natural to team up with a great band and a great California festival. This is a fun way to offer fans a liquid souvenir and to show our support for the music scene.

For the beer itself, we were looking for a lighter style with a lot of character. Here at the brewery we occasionally brew different Pilsner-style beers throughout the year, and decided a special Pilsner would be just the thing for this festival. We brewed 150 kegs of beer, all of which will be sent to the show. This is a draft-only product and we do not expect the beer to be available outside of the event.

Come out to the Phish: Festival 8 and hear great music and enjoy great beer.

Foam is a German-style Pilsner, light bodied and easy drinking, yet loaded with flavor. Brewed with a mix of European and American malts, balanced by a spicy, and herbal hop kick. Brewed specifically for Phish: Festival 8, Foam is a crisp and refreshing traditional pale gold lager beer. In the words of Phish—“I’m looking through, And it all would be, So crystal clear, If it wasn’t for the foam.” Great music, great beer, and good times.

beer, Hopback, Phish, pilsner, Foam, Sierra Nevada, Indio, California