Sam Adams

A Sunny New Approach to Summer Seasonal Beers

Photos: Courtesy of Boston Beer

Photos: Courtesy of Boston Beer

Breweries have long calibrated their portfolios according to calendars. Core lineups were complemented by quarterly seasonal releases, whose arrivals heralded a change of taste. Nowadays drinkers needn’t wait three months for selections to shift. Each week welcomes new beers, double IPAs, and dessert-like stouts that are divorced from seasonality. We live in an on-demand beer world, with an endless selection streaming onto store shelves and into fridges. Seasonals “used to be where beer drinkers went for variety,” says Jim Koch, the chairman of Boston Beer Company, the maker of Samuel Adams beer. “Now the shelf is laden with variety.”

How are breweries approaching seasonal summer beers? Great question! And one I tackle for SevenFifty Daily, awaiting in the link below.

The Inside Scoop on Why Sam Adams Bought Dogfish Head

Jim Koch (left) and Sam Calagione at Eataly in New York City.

Jim Koch (left) and Sam Calagione at Eataly in New York City.

In early May, news broke big and loud that Sam Adams bought Dogfish Head. The very next day after the announcement, I had the chance to chat with Jim Koch and Sam Calagione about why the sale went down. I turned the interviews into a rapid-fire article for Men’s Journal, making sense of the sale for one and all. Curious? Oh boy, do I have a link for you!

Getting to Know Single Hop Beers

Around 6 p.m., sometimes 7 p.m., the call will arrive: “I’m coming home from work,” my fiancée will say. “Where are you?”

After more than five years together, I know better than to lie. It doesn’t make telling the truth any easier. “At the bar,” I say, taking another nip of a hoppy beer. “Again?” she says, exasperated.

“It’s different,” I tell her. “This time I’m learning.” And that’s the truth. Lately, breweries across the globe have started turning happy hour into study hall with single-hop beers. Allow me to educate: Typically, most beers are made with a grab bag of hops. Some hops are better suited for creating bitterness. Others are more ideal for imparting aroma. By combining hops’ strengths and weakness, brewers’ sudsy creations are often tastier than the sum of their parts.

In brewing, that’s been status quo for centuries. But with so many new, unusual hops being plucked from bines, brewers have begun shining a spotlight on single varieties. To help drinkers understand the effects and flavors of different hops, Danish brewer Mikkeller offers the Single Hop Series. Starting with the same base beer, the brewery doses each beer with just hop variety. Line up selections, and you’ll soon discern the differences among varieties such as earthy, piney Chinook, super-citric Centennial, and white wine–like Nelson Sauvin.

While I love Mikkeller’s project, my quibble is cost. The imported beers typically run $5 or $6 a bottle, making each “class” pretty pricey. That’s why I was pleased as punch when Boston Beer unveiled its brand-new 12-pack, Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed, which retails for about $14. To create its year-round Latitude 48, the brewers rely on five globetrotting varieties of hops: Germany’s Hallertau Mittelfrueh, England’s East Kent Goldings, and Washington state’s Simcoe, Zeus and Ahtanum — all grown on the 48th latitude line.

For the Deconstructed series, each hop gets to flaunt its singular bitterness and aromas. Place the beers side by side, and you’ll notice that Simcoe has plenty of pine and citrus, while Ahtanum is fairly grapefruity and floral, and East Kent Goldings is smooth and somewhat sweet, with a hint of apricot. With each bottle a liquid lesson plan, learning has never been so much fun.