Beer Review 0191: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Well, we couldn’t go too much longer without reviewing the flagship of The Boston Beer Company: Boston Lager.

The original recipe for Boston Lager was developed in 1860 by Louis Koch. In 1984, Jim Koch, by this time five generations removed but the first to follow in his family’s brewing footsteps, brewed the beer according to recipe in his kitchen. Jim Koch, a Harvard graduate, then left his job at Boston Consulting Group and started a brewery.

Samuel Adams — the beer brand — was named in honor of the American patriot famous for his role in the Boston Tea Party and American Revolution. In 1985, the Louis Koch Lager became Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and the brew was voted as the best beer in America at the Great American Beer Festival.

At the time, Koch had trouble finding the hop varieties he needed for the updated Boston Lager — Noble and Hallertau hops were near extinction in the United States. But after the initial success of Boston Lager, Koch convinced hopsters to begin growing those varieties again. Today, Samuel Adams is such a big buyer of hops, they sell them to small craft breweries that often can’t get their hands on particular varieties.

This is an important review because Boston Lager is a transition beer for many craft drinkers, meaning this particular brew is often the first non-macro lager to be experimented with. While Boston Lager wasn’t my “transitional” beer, I think I’ve drank enough of these to make a small fort. At just 4.9% ABV (alcohol by volume), this may be the quintessential American session beer which many call their “go-to” drink.

Pouring made an average size head, frothy and rocky, with a lasting quality. The beer was exceptionally clear, practically sparkling, with a firework-like display of carbonation bubbles zipping to the surface. The beer’s color was deep gold, almost verging toward amber, and the lacing was good, leaving behind some nice thick patches.

The aromatics featured grains up front, backed by floral hops that had slight citrus (orange) scents. It’s somewhat grassy and has a touch of biscuit malt, and there was a nice combination of crispy spice and caramel sweetness going on.

On the palate, there is a reward of balance to be found. There was sweet caramel at the top, balanced by a nice floral and herbal hop. This continues until the beer finishes with a touch of spice and bitter hops, cleansing the palate and refreshing the taste buds. The texture of the beer was thin and slick.

Perhaps this is the perfect transition beer? The reward for the starter craft beer drinker with Boston Lager is a beverage that is full-flavored, but not full-bodied. This drink will please novice and seasoned crafties alike; this is just a nice, classic beer, and one I would never turn down if offered. While I generally like more of a fuller body, you can’t deny this beer for what it is: a solid offering that has stood the test of time.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager, 84 points. Price: $8.99 US for a six pack.


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  1. Beer Review 0598: Samuel Adams Rebel IPA | All The Same Beer - April 14, 2014

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