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Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: The taste of winter from Sam Adams

As I ended with Sam Adams last week, we can continue with their new releases for winter. All three of these beers are available in November and December as part of the Samuel Adams Winter Favorites Variety 12 pack, suggested retail price $14.99 to $17.99.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager (lager brewed with spices), 5.6% alcohol by volume. The Boston Beer Company is developing a German tradition of heartier beers for the winter. They incorporate a blend of cinnamons from Southeast Asia in this beer made from wheat. Amber beer under a spare head. Malt dominates on the nose with caramel and grain aromas. The palate reflects the nose with flavors of caramel, hints of coffee, toast and nuttiness. It's dry, with medium-plus bitterness, medium acidity, light carbonation, medium and well-integrated alcohol, medium body and texture and good flavor intensity. Long finish. A good solid ongoing production from Sam Adams.

Samuel Adams Juniper IPA, 5.8% ABV. Another beer designed for winter, this one made with juniper berries. Amber with some gold hue this time. It tends to be malt on the nose, though with some hops coming through. The juniper comes through on the palate. Dry with medium to high bitterness, good acidity. The bitterness is carried along all the way through to the finish, so if you are a fan of hops bitterness, this is certainly a beer for you. Medium body, medium to light texture, but the bitterness tends to override any of the malt and juniper flavor.

Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock (lager brewed with cherries with cocoa nibs and natural flavors added), 5.8% ABV. The name certainly promises a lot. This one is brewed specifically for the holidays; let's see if it delivers: Dark tan frothy head over black beer. Maraschino cherry comes through right from the start on the nose. The palate is often dry, with low bitterness, medium acidity. The alcohol is well-integrated. The body is medium-plus, a little lighter than some bocks. The flavor profile has some chocolate background, but it is the cherry that predominates. The kernel character of the chocolate comes through as a light milk chocolate kind of flavor. The makers recommend pairing with braised short ribs or duck, as well as chocolate desserts or crème brûlée.

And here's something new that just arrived from Boston:

Samuel Adams Rebel IPA, 6.5% abv. This one is described as a West Coast style beer. It's brewed with five hops from the Pacific Northwest. Here they are, and here's what they bring to the flavor mix:

• Cascade: citrus and grapefruit flavors with some floral notes;

• Simcoe: grapefruit peel and pine;

• Centennial: citrus and resin;

• Chinook: American pine and spice notes;

• Amarillo: orange, grapefruit and tangerine.

The Boston Beer Company describes this as a product of their nano brewery — a small brewery within the brewery that makes small batches for experimental purposes. This beer was a product of those experiments.

It is golden in the glass, with lots of carbonation, swirling when you first pour, then rising quickly to the white frothy head. The beer itself is amber-gold. It has a very strong nose, with aromas of hops bitterness, pine notes, and a citrus palette including the grapefruit stemming from several of the Pacific Northwest hops.

The nose is reflected on the palate, with flavors of citrus, pine resin and a steady bitterness that continues on through the finish. Good carbonation, good acidity, medium weight, medium-plus intensity flavors. Intense and refreshing for the hops lover.

Sam Adams Rebel IPA is available only on draft and only regionally at present; it goes national on draft next month. It hits the stores in bottles in February; the suggested retail prices are $7.99 to $9.99 for a six pack and $14.99 to $17.99 for a 12 pack.

Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at


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