Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Wee Heavy" Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company)

This is one of my favourite beers at the moment. I realize it's a little uncool to like a beer from what essentially is a "Macro-Micro-Brewery" from a behometh company like the Boston Beer Company but I prefer to let my taste buds judge for themselves and they like this beer. A lot. My view on Sam Adam's is that if it wasn't for the likes of them or Sierra Nevada or closer to home, Summit Brewing, I'd still be drinking Carling Black Label or even worse, Pig's Eye! Hats off to them for starting the brewing revolution that has turned what was a bleak beer landscape when I first came to the States into the most invigorating craft beer scene in the world.

Sam Adam's "Wee Heavy"

About the beer:

This is the fourth offering by Sam Adam's in their Imperial Series, comes in a 4 pack of 12oz bottles, that retails for anywhere from $7.99-$9.99. I picked mine up at Blue Max Liquors in Burnsville for the bargain price of $7.99, on sale. Other beers in the series include an Imperial White, Stout and Double Bock. From the label :

"Inspired by the traditional Scotch ales, has a deep, intense flavor from it's dark rasted malts. The addition of peat smoked malt adds a unique flavor of the Highlands to this complex brew".

Tasting notes:

Poured into a Jolly Pumpkin goblet.(Apparently it is recommended to use a "thistle" glass when pouring Scotch Ales or  a Wee Heavy but I have no idea what that is)*.
Black with a thin tan collar. Faint whiff of sour fruit. Thick and decadent, toasty with hints of caramel and chocolate and perhaps raison. Slight peaty taste but not oppressive (unlike "Three Feet Deep" by Furthermore" - holy sh*t)! Sweet, with a warming alcohol burn from the substantial 10% ABV. Intense and chewy, a perfect warming beer for a dreary winter day.


Perhaps closer in style to a RIS than a wee heavy but who cares? I think this is an excepional beer, despite some of the lower ratings I see other user's have posted on some beer sites, I highly recommend it.

About the style:

A "wee heavy" is a stronger, sweeter version of a Scottish Ale, known as 160/ Shillings in 19th Century Scotland. Sweeter and fuller bodied and higher in alcohol than regular Scotch Ales with a more pronounced malty caramel and roasted malt flavour. Low bitterness.

For beer geeks only :

Flavor: Intense and full bodied with a deep roasted flavor, subtle sweetness, and earthy smokiness from the peat smoked malt.
Color: Deep reddish-walnut, 50 SRM 
Original Gravity: 24.5° Plato
Alcohol by Vol/Wt: 10.0%ABV – 7.7%ABW
Calories/12 oz.: 348
IBUs: 30
Malt Variety: Two-row Harrington, Metcalfe, and Copeland pale malts, Caramel 60, Roasted malt, Peated malt
Hop Variety: Zeus Hops
Yeast Strain: Samuel Adams ale yeast
Availability: Year round
First Brewed: 2011

About the brewery:
30 Germania Street
Boston MA 02130
'PH: 617-522-9080

* Thistle Glass

A somewhat obscure glass, used by the Belgians for scotch ales. It is a footed glass, with a short stem. The glass starts very bulbous, as though it were a snifter, but then the upper half has straight sides that angle outwards. The mouth is basically the same radius at the bulb at the bottom. While it has a funky look to it, it is unsure what benefits it brings to the table otherwise - the funny shape makes drinking almost awkward, while the mouth is not wide enough to provide ample aroma. 
Above info from


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sour Apple Saison, Epic Brewing

This is really my first exposure to any Epic Brewing beers (Salt Lake City, Utah) apart from a few samples when they first arrived on the Minnesota beer scene, not enough to make an educated judgement. I was intrigued to try this - I like apple and I like saisons so what if it seems like an unlikely pairing for a beer? Worthy of further exploration, I think.

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a "Blanche De Chambly" glass. Label description : "Sour Apple Saison, Belgian-Style Ale, Malt beverage brewed with natural flavors". Bottle conditioned, this is from the top of the line (and thus most expensive) range that they call the "Exponential Series" (Epic uses a somewhat unique three tier sytem for it's beer releases, "Classic", "Elevated" and "Exponential"). Bottle also proclaims that I am holding something "special" - one of only 1,800 bottle released and numbered. While I couldn't find a number I did find it stamped "Release #3". 8.1% ABV.

Upon pouring I was surprised at how light in colour the beer was - lighter than a pilsener or lager even,  a light straw yellow, with a bright white head, that dies quickly. Cascading bubbles, champange-like, racing from the bottom of the glass. Smell was hard to pinpoint, musty but nothing too discernable. Taste was another thing - a rather unpleasant funky, tartness with a hint of spice (cinnamon, coriander)? Light mouthfeel with a very acidic aftertaste. This was not what I expected. I found it barely drinkable.

Rating : D

Perhaps a bit harsh but I really did not like this beer and found it hard to finish, normally not a problem for me. I've heard great things about their "Brainless on Peaches" in the same series but I'd be wary to try it after this experience.

Upon further research I found that Series #3 of this beer has the following notes on the Epic website :

Sour Apple Saison-Style Ale Release #3

Brewed on October 28, 2010.

This is a gorgeous saison, it has a nice mild sourness with a slight kick of apple and cinnamon.  It has a very dry finish from the classic sainson yeast that gives it a little earthy, pepery and spiciness.  This beer is fantastic for aging in a climate controlled temperature.

The Malts

Weyermann Pilsner is the base malt on this beer followed by Briess Flaked Oats and Muntons Wheat Malt.

The Hops/Spices

Saaz, Tettnang, ground Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Anise Seed, Grains of Paradise, and Coriander.

ABV 8.0% (my bottle said 8.1%ABV)

More info :
Epic Brewing Company
825 S. State Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
'PH: 801-906-0123