I’ve always enjoyed a good coffee-flavored beer, and so I was really happy to find Black & Brew in this year’s Sam Adams ‘Winter Classics’ variety pack! This variety pack just gets better and better! Last year, they replaced the repulsive Cranberry Lambic with the awesome Chocolate Bock, and this year they decided to yank the so-so White Ale for the Black & Brew. Good move I think!
So, considering this is a review of the new Black & Brew, I’ll get started!
First off, this beer pours just about black into my glass. Not much light is getting through here but when it does it seems to be a brownish rather than reddish color. Nice head, and I noted some good lacing throughout the ‘experience’.
Have you ever had Manhattan Special soda? Well, its an Espresso Soda made somewhere in NYC and this beer’s aroma, and taste remind me of this stuff! The coffee is strong, but much more like unsweetened espresso than regular coffee. The aroma is like that, and sure enough, so was the taste!
OK, so that’s not bad really. Everything else about the beer is great. Nice body, good mouthfeel, not too carbonated, very smooth actually. So its these espresso flavors that make or break this beer I think. The espresso flavors are not overwhelming, but when you drink it you know its a coffee-type beer. The espresso flavors are even a bit bitter, slightly burnt tasting and that offsets the sweetness of the malt more so than any noticeable hop flavors – which are pretty much not there.
I also thought that the beer became more flavorful as it warmed a bit. Take your time with this one. I’d say it would make a great dessert beer to have with cakes or some kind of chocolate stuff. As for a regular dinker? I don’t think I’ll miss the Black & Brew when the Variety Pack goes away until next year. Its an interesting beer, well executed in my opinion, its just that the coffee (espresso) flavors are a wee bit too bitter for me to wish it were a regular rotation beer.