Beer Review 0078: Samuel Adams Holiday Porter

In my (slightly over) one year of doing beer reviews here on this website, only recently have I featured any beer made by the Boston Beer Company. I feel like I need to explain myself a bit, and I think that my opinion is shared by many drinkers of craft brew.

I respect what the Boston Beer Company has done in terms of creating a market against the big macro guys, and they make some great beers. But my problem with Samuel Adams is that their beers are mostly merely average — take, for instance, why only recently have I reviewed any of them. Their new beer, Black & Brew, is only available in a mixed holiday-themed twelve pack; so, in order for me to sample that new beer, I had to buy the entire twelve pack, which contains six different beers. I decided I would review the new beer, the Winter Lager, and the one up for sample today, Holiday Porter, because those are the best of the bunch.

That being said, this will probably be the last Samuel Adams review you’ll see on this website for a while.

Samuel Adams Holiday Porter is a traditional English style Porter, made in the tradition of providing workers with a robust and nourishing beer. This beer is a seasonal offering, and is only available November-January, and can only be found in specific twelve packs.

This beer pours a very nice average size head, both creamy and frothy in texture, and with a lasting quality. The beer is a very dark amber/red color, clear in body and with a nice contrast against an off-white head. The lacing was of superb quality, leaving behind thick and sticky sheets that coated the glass almost completely. This is a great looking beer.

On the aromatics, what is here is good but basic. There’s heavy caramel malt, along with very faint notes of chocolate. There’s also an underlying bitterness with some citrus, and it’s all rounded out by a graininess.

Taking a taste, you are first greeted with a heavy grain presence, which mellows into caramel notes. On the finish, it turns bitter with a definite citrus note, almost like grapefruit, before shifting to generally roasted and almost sweet, with a light chocolate taste.

Sam Adams Holiday Porter is a pretty good beer. I thought the carbonation was a little high for this style, but I liked it; it’s almost like this one sort of has an IPA “middle” to it. This definitely makes for a good holiday beer, and it’s too bad you have to buy a twelve pack just to get two of these.

Samuel Adams Holiday Porter, 86 points. Price: $14.99 US for Winter Classics variety pack, in which you receive two of this beer.

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