The Long Shot Review

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Went to part-time Around the Keg contributor Greg's house this past Monday for some dinner. Every meal we don't have to cook is one more day of dishes that doesn't pile up around here. He grilled a mean burger that includes a 3:1 ratio of ground beef to Jimmy Dean's ground sausage. Nice.

Beside for minor condiments, I brought a 6-er of the Sam Adams Long Shot winners along with me so we could try them. This year, there were two: a Grape Pale Ale and a Weizenbock. Actually, the two winners were the Weizenbock and a DIPA, but Sam Adams can't brew the DIPA until the hops it needs are back in stock (damn shortage), which is expected in 2009. The second brew is actually the winner of the Sam Adams employee homebrew competition. Thus, given that there are 2 reviews, I will shorten them a bit.

Sammy A employee Lili Hess's Grape Pale Ale was chosen at the Great American Beer Fest last Fall. It poured a lovely bright copper color, picking up some golden straw when held up to light, and yielding a moderately thick eggshell-white head. It left a slight bit of lacing down the glass as I quaffed.

The aroma was so light it was hard to detect. I got some buscuity and caramel aromas, some grassy notes and "fruit" without being able to pin it specifically to grapes. The taste was much better than the aroma connoted. Great Pale Ale maltiness was backed up by floral hops...and grapes. Really pleasant, actually. The grapes came forward as the beer warmed but never over powered the beer like that awful, nearly unspeakable AB attempt at a blueberry lager. This was simply a hint of grape in the background that blended well with a solid if not great Pale Ale.

At the end of the day, I could drink a few of these, but wasn't blown away by it by any means. It is a basic, very good pale ale with an interesting twist that didn't get out of hand. That said, I liked it better than Dogfish Head's Red and White (witbier with red wine in it). It was, however, popular with the wives.

Rodney Kibzey's winning Weizenbock was a beer for the ages. This was an outstanding weizenbock. Mr. Kibzey hails from Illinois, but for some reason, Warren, MI was claiming him as a native son.

His beer poured a solid, cloudy brown with copper highlights. Beautiful, cloudy wheat beer with a nice, thick creamy head to it. Big spicy notes on the nose, with copious clove, cinnamon and a hint of banana.

The taste was everything that the aroma held and more. Along with the big spices, there was a hint of bubblegum but most astonishingly a gingerbread taste that really sent this beer over the top. It was full-bodied without being chewey (wheat beers are like that), deep but refreshing.

A special bonus: I drank it along with Mrs. Greg's apple pie. Ask Greg: I wept openly at the combo. This beer is a real pleasure and comes highly recommended. Especially with a good, cinnamon and sugar apple pie.


Sopor 10:39 AM  

I'm glad you liked the Grape! Personally, I didn't like it as much. It was decent, quaffable, and original, but I thought the grape was actually a little too much, somewhat like doing a mix of 2/3 Pale Ale, and 1/3 Welch's White Grape Juice... Too juicy for my preference. Still, I happily drank all three of them!

The Weizenbock though... Oh my GOD. You are so right. This is everything that a traditional Weizenbock should be, and so much more at the same time! I was totally feeling the gingerbread notes too, I was mildly reminded of ginger snaps. My only complaint here is that it was just slightly too heavy to be easilly drinkable, but it is a bock so while that's not my preference, I couldn't actually mark it down for that!

Have you guys heard that Sam Adams makes ALL new employees learn to homebrew? I think that's a spectacular idea, and one that appears to pay off!

the infamous roger 4:30 PM  

The first few sips of the grape ale were pretty good. I couldn't get to the bottom of my 8oz taster glass, though. I felt that the grape flavor gradually built up on the palette and became off-putting.

The weizenbock was quite delicious, though. I can imagine it pairing with apple pie!

I met the guy who brewed the Pliny clone (double IPA) that won longshot. Very nice fellow. Apparently the brew is on for 2009.

Are any of you guys going to GABF?

Smitty 10:14 AM  

I am abut 99% sure I can't make it to the GABF this year. I know for a fact I can't make the June Craft Beer Fest in Boston this year either. :( Big sadness.

Regarding the grape pale ale: I am actually not that big of a fan...fruit beers normally get on my nerves a bit as the fruit gets too...fruity. I was trying to be objective with my review, but admittedly my own bias against this kind of beer made me not like it as much as I objectively should have...

the infamous roger 6:56 PM  

I will 100% be at GABF this year. I will hopefully be brewing a beer for the event, too!

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