Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: Samuel Adams makes its can debutBY JIM BEAUREGARD May 21. 2013 4:49PM
Get up off the floor, brush off the coffee you just spilled on yourself and sit back in your chair. Two years of research, ergonomic and sensory, they report, have going into the creation of a new type of can that purports to be "closer" to drinking Sam from a glass. They call it the "Sam Can."
Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, acknowledged the cans-versus-bottles see-saw on the Sam Adams website: "The debate over bottles vs. cans has been a sticking point for brewers in the craft beer community for years In the past, I had my doubts about putting Sam Adams in a can because I wasn't convinced that Boston Lager would taste as good as it does from a bottle. But cans have changed. And I believe we've designed a can that provides a slight but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beer can."
So what did Koch do? He worked with the Ball Corporation to learn about can design and technology, and with Roy Desrochers, the beer sensory expert for the Master Brewer's Association of America (nice job, huh?). Together they looked at cans, how they might impact the taste of Sam Adam's Boston Lager, and how the beer flows from the container to your mouth, tongue and the sensory receptors in your nose, which make up the lion's share of one's ability to taste.
The result is a can designed a bit differently – at the top. Desrochers noted "The flared lip and wider top of the new Sam Can work in concert to deliver the beer in a way that makes the flavor closer to drinking out of a glass. Although subtle, this can delivers a more pronounced, more balanced flavor experience – something that was very important to the brewers. The extended lip of the can also creates a smoother, more comfortable overall drinking experience."
So, does it work? I took a few sips from one of their new cans. It's cold, it's Boston Lager. You don't get much of a flavor profile if you sniff the opening on the can itself, which is a little wider than a standard beer can. The can certainly keeps the beer colder compared to what's in a glass. The beer tastes a little sharper coming from the can, and not just because of the difference in temperature.
It is still recognizable as Sam Adams Boston Lager, with its predominantly malt lager nose, some hops on the palate, and a malt-dominant finish. Overall, I have to say the flavor profiles, can versus glass, are very much in the same ballpark. At the same time, if your goal is the coldest beer possible, the can is a good way to go — colder than any insulation you might put on a bottle because it covers all of the beer.
Who knows, this could be a great leap in summer night beer. In any case, you can add it to the Sam Adams pantheon without fears of drinking tin.
Wines for the week
Let's wrap up with a few wines, from white to red:
Chateau St. Jean 2010 Chardonnay, Sonoma County, Calif., 13.4%abv, suggested retail about $13. Rich and weighty, lemon gold in color, with a nose of white fruit and some tropical hints emerging. Low acidity, as to be expected, dry, with balanced alcohol, medium-plus body, and flavors of peach, hints if apple, and tropical fruit, some citrus. Pleasing finish. 86 points.
J. Lohr 2010 "Wildflower," Valdiguie Monteray County, Calif., 12.5% abv, about $9. It's in a Pinot Noir bottle, and the grape is Valdiguie, which, if you're not familiar with it, is also known as Napa Gamay, of Gros Auxerrois, although Auxerrois is itself a French white grape. The classic profile of Valdiguie is soft, fruity, with berries. It's rare in France now and is grown mostly in California. As for Gamay, typically it's cherries and raspberries, some black pepper. So we remain in the French ballpark, transplanted to California, which we known has had episodes of wild success. Its color in the glass is that of Pinot Noir and Gamay, the nose is light, with raspberry predominating, the palate is very dry, some good tannin, medium acidity, medium body, and red fruit, much of it ripe, with background vegetal notes, and a medium-length finish. A very good food wine, especially if you can't afford that $40 bottle of Pinot tonight. 88 points.
Lapostelle Cuvee Alexander 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Apalta vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.1% abv, $20. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape has made the transition to South America, though with mixed results. It's hot on the ground, so the tendency is to grow it in the mountains, where things are cooler. South American Cabs, at least in the mid range of price, often tend more toward the vegetal than the fruity, which can attract some but repel others. Purple with a dark, opaque core, the nose is of medium intensity, predominantly berry fruit. the palate greets you with tannin, which modulates with some air, it's on the very dry end of the spectrum, with medium acidity, medium body, and a combination of berry flavors and some vegetal background. One does not find the classic blackcurrant flavor here, rather lighter black berry, of medium intensity flavor, good balance and a medium-length finish. 87 points.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at firstname.lastname@example.org.