|Sherman on the Mount|
By Rick Sherman
Craft Brew, Micobrew, Brewpub. Terminology in any subject can be tricky. Any given profession or hobby has its own insider language that can be somewhat intimidating to the novice. Beer is no exception. First of all there is the distinction between Ale and Lager. What's the dif? (Basically, it's in the yeast. Yeast used in lagers do their wondrous work at lower temperatures. Beyond that, ales tend to be more flavorful and fuller bodied than lagers. But not always.)
Then we have the various styles of beer: IPA's, Pale Ales, Stouts, Porters, Pilsners, Kolsch, Belgians, Wheat, Altbier, Oktoberfest, Brown Ale, Old Ale, Strong Ale, Imperials. Then within each style are various sub-categories: Smoked Porter, Chocolate Stouts, Black IPA's, Cherry Wheat and so on. One can also delve into the merits of German vs. Belgian vs. English vs. American beers (we are not talking about the mega-brewed American beers here.)
Then there are the abbreviations: ABV (Alcohol By Volume), IBU (International Bittering Units), SRM (Standard Reference Method - referring to the color of beer), OG (Original Gravity), FG (Final Gravity).
|SRM Chart which designates a beer's color.|
It all can be somewhat confusing and a bit intimidating. I have a brother-in-law who drinks nothing but meg brew light lagers who lumps everything else under the blanket heading of "weird beers." ("I don't know how you can drink that shit, it's like drinking tar!")
So what constitutes a craft beer? For that matter, is there a difference between craft brewery and microbrewery? The American Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as "small, independent and traditional." It cannot be more than 24% owned by another alcoholic beverage company which itself is not a craft brewery. "Small" is defined further as not producing more than 6,000,000 barrels per year. A sub-category of Craft Brewing is the Microbrew. To be considered a microbrewery, the brewery can produce no more than 15,000 barrels per year. A brewpub is one which both brews and sells the majority of its beer on the premises.
But perhaps the most important requirement for inclusion in the craft brew club has to do with the ingredients which go into making the beer. The mega-breweries use corn and rice as adjuncts in place of barley-malt. This allows them to make a much cheaper product, but it also makes for a much less flavorful beer. To be considered a regional craft brewery the brewery must produce and all-malt flagship beer or have at least 50% of it's production all-malt beers or "beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor."
This month we take a look at some beers brewed by the Boston Beer Company - more familiarly known as Sam Adams. The Boston Beer Company is the largest craft brewer in America. As far as their standing with all American brewers, they are the fifth largest. The top five are: 1.Anheuser-Busch, 2.MillerCoors, 3.Pabst, 4. Yuengling, 5. Boston Beer.
Sam Adams produces an amazing array of styles. Their flagship Sam Adams Boston Lager is one of the better straight-up lagers you'll find and they make a light that is actually drinkable. While these are probably their best selling beers, they are by no means their best beers. Today we'll take a look at what we are calling the "lighter side" of Sam Adams. Next month we delve into what I have deemed "Best Mixed 12 Pack EVER!" as we check out their IPA Hop-ology.
We met this month at the Clarks' place, where the Salmon River meets Lake Ontario. Herb, ever the gracious host, served some Old Marcus fresh from the tap while we awaited the arrival of the rest of the crew. Old Marcus, brewed locally by Middle Ages Brewing in Syracuse, NY, is a favorite of ours, so it was an excellent beer to enjoy before we got down to business.
The selection from Sam Adams gave us a chance to do something we wouldn't normally do if left to our own devices: drink summer seasonals and lighter (but not lite!) style beers. Actually, these beers resulted in some lively debate.
|Sherman off the Mount|
POUR: Moderate head with not much residual lacing
AROMA: Sweet with a definite cherry aroma
TASTE: Sweet, with strong notes of cherries
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Most felt they would "leave it on the shelf"
COMMENTS: "It tastes like Saratoga Cherry Soda; My wife would drink this; I'd drink this over the Summer Ale; It's too sweet; Reminds me of the Maraschino cherry on the top of a sundae; Tastes to me of Smith Brothers Cough Drops."
SAMUEL ADAMS NOBLE PILS
POUR: Decent head that dissipates rather quickly, leaving a good lace
TASTE: Fairly balanced with a nice bitter finish. Tehre are notes of primarily floral and pin from the noble hops in the batch.
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: "I Could Drink This!"
COMMENTS: "I could drink that in the summertime; Lights up the mouth; A decent beer; I see it as a lawnmower or boat beer, especially at 4.9%; It has a nice bitter finish; If I weren't a hop head and hops freak, I'd really like it; It's the best pilsner I've ever had; Has a clean finish."