Looking For It To Be Steamy!
Beer Reviewed: Spring Thaw Variety Pack
Style: Various Lager and Ale Selections
Brewery: The Boston Beer Company
I'm still working my way through the Samuel Adams Variety Pack and next up is the Double Agent IPL.
This made me think of an article I read about the Historic steam beer style from California. Anchor Steam Brewery took up the mantle, but there is a considerable history to the brewing style and while Anchor Steam brews a quality product, the historic version apparently was considered a cheap, low-quality beer.
The quick version is that Historic steam beer was fermented using lager yeast at warmer Ale temperatures. This Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL uses a lager yeast, which gives beers a cleaner, smoother taste with a crisp finish. I’m assuming the idea and goal here is to brew a lager beer in the traditional manner, but adding the bright, hoppy flavor of an IPA. This isn’t some type of new brewing method, like the historic steam beer, but more likely an attempt at a marriage of two great worlds.
Interestingly, many of the beers I’ve been reviewing have been around for years, and part of me feels like I’m last to show up at the party. The Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL has been first brewed in 2013, and if that isn’t obvious, that’s this year. I feel like a real trailblazer and I’m very excited about the opportunity to try something fairly new and original.
This is not the first time I’ve had an IPL. I had an opportunity to try one on draught at my favorite (somewhat) local bar. It was from a small, local craft brewery I believe, but in my alcoholic haze, I forgot to record the name of the brewery. I remember enjoying it, but now that I know the Samuel Adams version is new this year, I wonder if this smaller local brewery was trying to walk in the footsteps of the giant that The Boston Beer Company is in comparison. I’m not sure if this is in the craft beer spirit, but I’m considering this too deeply and need to stop, relax and have a beer, to paraphrase Charlie Papazian.
Quantitative parameters of beer character
- The non-standard IBU rating is a 43, but The Hitchens Taste Scale puts this around a +2. It’s got a ever present hoppy flavor, but it isn’t very bitter.
- Alcohol content is 5.0% alc/vol, which is a little higher than I was expecting, so we’ll see how it’s balanced.
- The color is a bright amber and very clear. Referring to the SRM, this would be a little lighter than an English Bitter at a 10 on Lovibond.
Qualitative parameters of beer character
- The aroma is a mix of the bright hops of an IPA and citrus flavors. For the citrus, I’m getting orange specifically.
- The flavor is a rapid expansion of the arome. I did an airy sip you normally see with wine, and it really brought out the citrus and hops.
- The aftertaste is the residual hoppy flavor. I don’t pretend to be an expert in the hops varietals, but this flavor is consistent with other IPAs I’ve enjoyed that use Cascade hops, which this does as well. I’ll be trying to keep track on future beers to see if my pattern recognition is working. The brewery mentions a piney character that I feel drifts up to your nose as the flavors in the mouth fades.
- The mouthfeel exits very quickly, much like the head did in the glass.
- The carbonation is pretty light with only a single slow stream in the glass. The head died off pretty quickly as well.
- The temperature of this beer, like most Lagers should be very cold.
This beer is a great effort by Sam Adams to try something pretty new. I like the bright hoppy flavor, but I don’t really get the lager aspect of the beer. Unless the lager yeast flavor is something I’m not able to differentiate, which is entirely possible, this isn’t as new as I was expecting. I would recommend trying this beer if you (like me) are looking to try something new, but it isn’t earth shattering. If you can describe the uniqueness of this beer, please let me know!