what: Samuel Adams’ Sam ’76
ABV: 4.7 percent
cost: $9 for a six-pack of 12-ounce cans
where: most retailers
The brewery describes this as “a revolutionary beer,“ and it just might be. Sam ’76 is a combination of an ale and lager. Apparently the brewery combines an ale and a lager that are both partially fermented for the completion of fermentation and final hop additions. The result is a hybrid that offers characteristics of both types of beer. The ale character seems to provide more body than you would expect from a beer of this low alcohol content. The lager character provides smoothness and a crispness on the finish.
The beer’s appearance is hazy, similar to a New England IPA, with a medium gold color and a creamy stand of foam. The aroma is mildly tropical with notes of grapefruit, orange, tangerine and pineapple. The aroma dissipates quickly as is typical of most IPA-type beers. The flavor is the same as the aroma, plus an accent of pine that balances the fruit flavors along with a hint of sweet malt. Bitterness is very low, just enough to balance the underlying malt.
I consider this excellent beer — essentially a “session New England IPA,” though the brewery is not advertising it as such. Sam ’76 should be strong competition for Founders’ All Day IPA — the leading session IPA. Cheers! — Gerald Jowers