I do, in fact, live in a small town, and running to the local Big M to pick up a six of something good is, shall we say, problematic. The Big M has a nice, big walk-in beer cooler, so you would think that there would be plenty of room for a few good beers. But, once they have set aside room for Bud in: 30 packs, 24 packs, 12 packs, 6 packs, 12 ounce bottles, 12 ounce cans, 22 ounce bottles, various light versions with and without lime, not to mention various sizes, shapes and styles of Michelob (pricey Bud) and Busch (cheapo Bud), there is barely enough room left to squeeze in the mandatory Miller, Coors, Pabst varieties. There's usually a brief nod to foreign beers (Guinness, Becks). But craft beers? Well, there's Sam Adams Lager and usually Magic Hat No. 9 Not Quite Pale Ale.
Now, none of this is new. I've bitched about it before ad infinitum as any reader of this blog knows. But I got thinking of the concept of "flagship" brews. Most breweries have what they consider their bread-and-butter beer. It's usually the one that got them on the map. Or it's their best seller. But is it their best beer? Below, strictly for the sake of debate, I've listed a number of breweries, their flagship beer, and then what I humbly consider a superior brew produced by them. This is strictly 100% subjective. The breweries chosen are fairly random ones which had a flagship brew that sort of jumped out at you. You are welcome to jump into the fray with your own examples or refute those I have selected. Of course, my preferences will lean heavily toward the hoppy.
Better Adams: Latitude 48 IPA
|So who had the Clydsdales first?|
WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Pleasantly plump and satisfied. This rich and luscious brew indulges in flavor with over 28 lbs. of pumpkin per barrel, for a full bodied sweetness and deep russet color."
POUR: Beautiful, foamy effervescent head the color of creamed coffee
COLOR: Antique walnut
BODY: Medium to full
TASTE: Sweet, with notes of spices, smoke, toffee, and coffee
OVERALL IMPRESSION: "I Could Drink This!" (Though opinions - as noted below - varied greatly.)
COMMENTS: "Nice color and nice, creamy head; This could rewrite pumpkin beers; I kind of like it; They didn't disguise it enough - it still tastes like pumpkin beer; I would rather they used the pumpkins in pies; If this was the last beer served at my friends house, I would drink it; Dark porter taste with pumpkin; There seems to be little or no cloves or coriander taste, which is good in my opinion; It is more like a malty porter; It is a lot less sweet than last year's pumpkins; It is more beer-like than any other pumpkin beer I've ever had; If you put enough alcohol in it, you can even drink pumpkin beers."
WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Samuel Adams Octoberfest has a rich, deep reddish amber hue which itself is reflective of the season. ...Octoberfest masterfully blends together five roasts of malt to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavors including caramel and toffee."
POUR: A better than decent head, slightly off color ecru
BODY: A bit less than medium
TASTE: More toward sweet than balanced, with strong notes of malt
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: A somewhat indifferent "I could drink this."
COMMENTS: "Nice label' It's on tap at the Hot Spot in Sackett's Harbor and at Ruby Tuesday's; It really isn't much; Hey, it's refreshing; It's a malty marzen; It's pretty weak; Not a bad Oktoberfest; It's very drinkable; The Tasman Red would have been a much better and braver choice; It's a good example of the style; It's a little better than most Oktoberfests."
WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "In honor of the fall hazelnut harvest, we brew this flavorful nut brown ale. Its distinct hazelnut aroma and taste are accentuated by slightly sweet caramel and toffee malt notes. Medium in body, it finishes smooth with an underlying spiciness, making it a great choice for the fall."
POUR: Less than a decent head, not as pronounced as the others
COLOR: A nice looking brown
BODY: Despite the claim by SA that it was medium, we felt it was pretty full, filling the mouth.
TASTE: Sweet with notes of toffee, a little caramel, and definitely hazelnuts.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: It fell somewhere between "leave it on the shelf" and "I could drink this." Opinions varied according to one's tolerance for the taste of hazelnuts in beer.
COMMENTS: "It tastes like hazelnut coffee; It looks better than it tastes; Drink this before the Octoberfest; It has a bitter, clean finish; It's very different for a brown; If you're not fond of the hazelnut taste, you might not like it."
The BOTB Guys