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Sam Adams Long Shot Six Pack

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craigg:
OK, so after reading for years about the SA Longshot Contest, I really just started paying attention recently. I just found this years mixed six pack in the store yesterday, so I decided to give it a try.  This is what you get:

Lemon Pepper Saison - 6.4% ABV - This was the entry from the SA employee brewer and reminds me of a slightly more spicy version of the Sams Summer Ale. Heavy on the Lemon Zest, and the Grains of Paradise spice that Sams is so fond of. I wasn't terribly impressed at first taste - and had a sort of pallette shock at first. But after a few sips, I could tell there was a bit of complexity to this brew. Even so - it gave me the impression that it was chosen because the brewer used ingredients familar to and appreciated by SA.  OK - but not overly impressed.

Mile High Barley Wine - 9.8% ABV - I have to be honest, I am not the biggest fan of Barley wines, and generally find them overly sweet for my tastes. But this brew was a pleasant surprise. The alcohol was not hot at all, and it was a nicely balanced, malty brew. If Barley Wines were more like this one - I'd be a bigger fan for sure. Very enjoyable.

Old Ben Ale - 9% ABV - An English style Old Ale, this too was a very enjoyable potable.  Remarkably similar though to the overall mouth feel and general malty character of the Barley wine. Sort of made me wonder about SA's selection criteria. Almost like they were in a certain "taste zone" and didn't care to venture from it.  From a purely objective standpoint, the beer was quite good.

From the standpoint of a HB competition and choosing the best in a variety of styles - the mixed sixer sort of left me wondering. And also made me think that what I might consider a good entry for this comp wouldn't stand a chance.  I think I'll keep what's left of my cherry porter to myself :)

The Professor:
Looking forward to this sampler.
I'll probably just give away the bottles of Lemon Pepper Saison but am very anxious to try the Barleywine and Old Ale (and you're right...to me the two are practically the same category...and two of my favorite beer styles lately after years of drinking mondo-hopped ales).

As far as Barleywines being too sweet, that is often the case, and to me (or at least to my personal tastes)  that characteristic is just the mark of a badly made or prematurely consumed one.
 
I don't know what kind of aging  the SA brewed version of the winning entry was given (or for that matter, how much age the actual entry had on it when judged)...perhaps when the recipe was stepped up for commercial sale it was tweaked a bit to reflect and compensate for not being aged as long before bottling.  I wonder...

In any case, while I prefer some age on many of the beers I make myself,   a good amount of age is practically mandatory for my enjoyment of a barleywine, since the aging softens the sweetness somewhat as well as the hotness of the alcohol,  while retaining the malty richness.

I'm sipping on one of my last bottles of a 2 year old barleywine as I write this. 
And I'm kvelling.

euge:
I've never seen any of the long shot releases in my area. Would love to give them a try.

A really young BW can be fairly refreshing but that window closes rapidly. Then try six months. Echh. Nine. Echh? At about a year... mmm not too bad- could do better.

Most commercial I find are too sweet. Want to try a SA brewed BW.

enso:

--- Quote from: The Professor on April 20, 2010, 07:43:41 PM ---
As far as Barleywines being too sweet, that is often the case, and to me (or at least to my personal tastes)  that characteristic is just the mark of a badly made or prematurely consumed one.

In any case, while I prefer some age on many of the beers I make myself,   a good amount of age is practically mandatory for my enjoyment of a barleywine, since the aging softens the sweetness somewhat as well as the hotness of the alcohol,  while retaining the malty richness.


--- End quote ---

Really?  I find age brings out the sweetness more as the hops fade.  The level of sweetness has more to do with how balanced the BU-GU levels are.  Also the amount of dextrins and crystal malt used.  If the hops aren't in balance to begin with it will only get more cloying with age.

An English style barleywine to me is much like an old ale in some respects, but an American barley wine?  Not even close!  More akin to a DIPA than an old ale.

Aging will soften the fusels, but only to a certain extant.  If you ferment that thing hot, it will retain those fusels a lot longer as there will be more of them.

Back to the topic...

Man, I have NEVER seen a longshot sixer anywhere and I live in New England!  Would love to try any of them.

marty:
I thought the Barleywine and the Old Ale were about as different as those 2 styles could be. The Barleywine is def American hopped, and the Old Ale seemed more English. Still, I agree with you, thats not a lot of variety for a variety pack. Sam Adams says they're not doing this to make money, and I believe them - they could pick more approachable beers for a Summer pack (hey this is Summer on their calendar) than a Barleywine and an Old Ale, and end up selling more of it.

I wouldn't mind seeing the Lemon Pepper Saison (very restrained Saisonyness, like they kept the temp too low during fermentation) replace the normal Summer beer. It's basically a bigger, slighty saisony version of the Sam Summer.

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