Original Gravity: 14.3° Plato
Calories/12 oz.: 193
Malt Varieties: Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Caramel 60, malted wheat, Carafa, and Munich 10
Hop Variety: Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops
Special Ingredients: Orange peel, ginger, and cinnamon
Yeast Strain: Samuel Adams lager yeast
The label of this beer is, unfortunately, another mass produced Samuel Adams beer label. While it does have some nice background scenes, the overall feel of the label is boring and simple. The fonts are kind of ugly, and the overall text is cluttered and confusing for the bottle. I just continuously find myself not attracted to the Samuel Adams’ label style. The specialty releases from the Boston Beer Company all are interesting and pleasant on the eye, but their more mass-produced beers all suffer from horribly cluttered labels with very boring fonts and background, and very little difference between the different beer labels. This bottle is not worthy of the shelf or scrapbooking.
The beer pours a candied brown, bordering on amber, with a huge fluffy cream head with yellowing notes. The beers body is lager clean, completely free of any haze, and quite translucent, though the beer’s darkness does fight this a little bit. The lacing is fat and sticky, leaving webbing behind on my mug. On the nose, the beer smells spicy, with a little too much cinnamon burn and a note of ginger. Slight citrus notes are found when the glass is swirled, and underlying all the smells is a caramelly smell that is tinged with wheat. The beer tastes abrasively spicy with a clear cinnamon burn that seems to hurt the other flavors. The beer begins with light caramel malts and slight cinnamon before opening into a slightly biscuity malt that is immediately torn out of the mouth by the cinnamon spice which drowns out most other notes and lingers in the mouth. Slight hints of the ginger and orange peel can be felt at the fringes of the palate, and perhaps a touch of grassy hops can be tasted, but this is all below the cinnamon, which is rocking around on the palate like an unwanted elephant. This flavor is much spicier than I recall it being in years past, and is really hurt by the overwhelming cinnamon. Now, when I say it tastes like cinnamon, I don’t mean the nice cinnamon flavors of a baked good, but the burn with a slight bitter flavor that you get from putting too much cinnamon in your mouth… In case anyone was thinking I was just complaining about the taste of cinnamon… On the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied with a slight chew to it. Carbonation gives a little bite in the beginning, and then mellows over the tongue to provide a clean drink, though the spices punch nasty burns on my tongue. The mouth is left dry with a spice burn after the beer has left, with saliva only on the very edges of my tongue. Overall, this is a very heavy handed beer. I’ve had a couple of this year’s batch, and I have to say that the Boston Beer Company really overdid the spice this year. On their site they claim they searched far and wide this year to bring the best cinnamon sticks all the way from Vietnam, and while I applaud them on finding cool foreign ingredients, I wish they would stop playing with a recipe that tasted perfectly fine last year. This beer needs to tone down its spice so that other flavors can be enjoyed.