I have to say I really like the Sam Adams Winter Lager! It happens to be one of the treats in the “Winter Classics” variety pack, but you can also find it readily in six-packs and even 12-packs at most beer stores. Much like their Octoberfest in the Fall, I usually find myself buying more of the seasonal beer along with the variety pack. Its just too yummy to resist!
OK, so I’m a Sam Adams seasonal beer fanboy, but I like to think its because the beer is actually very good and not just because I have the matching fancy glass!
According to the Sam Adams website, (and I didn’t know this) the Winter Lager is a Dark Wheat Bock beer. Interesting. I knew Bocks were in the Lager family, but I had no idea this was a Bock, or a wheat beer either! (Learn something new everyday!) Apparently these types of beers were brewed by Monks way back when during fasting seasons which is why they are associated with holidays like Christmas.
The Sam Adams version of the style has ginger, cinnamon and orange peel included to give it something of a holiday ‘pop’ that is nicely done and not over-the-top as I found to be the case with Harpoon’s Winter Warmer. Can you say spice bomb??? Whew!
This 5.6% ABV beauty is an welcome treat alone, or as you can see with a nice burger-centric lunch! It first starts a beautifully clear copper color with a delicately puffy off-white head. Again, when I think wheat beers, I think unfiltered, so the clarity is something else that threw me.
Getting on to the aroma, I’d say that yes, you can pick up on all of the spices mentioned before except not really “oh, there’s cinnamon” and “ahh, some ginger” but rather as a well-blended combination that makes perfect sense once you’ve tried it. I’m also enjoying the bready, malty and even the slight toffee/molasses mellow sweetness too. For a ‘lager’ very complex, yet kinda easy to pick out at the same time.
Taste is spot on with the aroma. Spices are well-blended and complimentary. Not too hoppy in character, this malty and sweetish brew ends each sip with a slight tingle – guessing from the ginger.
Overall, I really like this beer – but you knew that from the beginning! Its something of an odd beer, very unexpected that it was a dark wheat beer. Even odder that its clear! Technical beeriness aside, the beer is a wonderful treat for the cold months. Perhaps one of those under-rated sleeper beers, but on the other hand that might explain the pallate-sized stack of 12 packs in my local shop. Someone is buying this stuff, and I now know why!
What do you think of the Sam Adams Winter Lager? I wonder if it would be even more popular if it was named ‘Winter Bock’ instead? I probably would have tried it sooner than I did! Silly me!