For the past few years, Boston Beer Co., brewers of Samuel Adams beer, have been holding a Beer Lover’s Choice promotion. They brew 2 beers they’ve never brewed before and hold tasting events at bars, restaurants, and liquor stores throughout the country. At the event, the customers get to try the 2 beers and then vote on which one they liked best. This is how they chose to brew their Irish Red Ale, Brown Ale, and Honey Porter. The current 2 couldn’t be more different. There’s a Blackberry Witbier and a Coffee Stout, covering both ends of the spectrum. I went to the event at Nikki’s on Thursday and got to try them both for myself. The Coffee Stout is hands down the better of the 2 beers. However, after hanging out for a while, it became obvious to me that people who don’t like beer make up the majority of people voting. What is that supposed to mean, you ask? Well, that means that the Blackberry Witbier will be the next Sam Adams beer to hit the shelves. Unfortunately, a light fruity beer that doesn’t realy taste like beer is what most people want.
Now, I like a light, easy drinking fruity beer every now and then, but there are just too many on the shelves. There aren’t enough coffee stouts. In fact, there is only one stout in the Sam Adams lineup, their Cream Stout, which is pretty good. They could use another dark beer. This one was a great introductory coffee stout. It had a medium body, which was a little on the thin side, with a nice coffee/espresso/chocolate flavor to it that was really nice. Unfortunately, beer geeks like myself are in the minority. I can just sit back and hope for the best now. Maybe they’ll brew both. Unfortunately for Long Trail, if the Blackberry Witbier wins (which it will, I have no doubts about that), there will be some serious competition from another New England brewery for the blackberry wheat beer position. Long Trail’s Blackberry Wheat isn’t as good as this one (I’m not a huge fan of wheat beers or fruit beers, though I do enjoy both from time to time).
There’s also another part to this story. Sam Adams comes under fire from many beer geeks for not being a “craft” brewery. Sure, they might be too big to be considered craft, and many of their beers are designed to be more for the beer newbie. However, they do a lot for the industry and most of their beers are still extremely solid examples of their styles (with a couple that aren’t quite that good). Brewing the Blackberry Witbier will just be another notch against them for most beer geeks. If they brewed the Coffee Stout, I’m sure we’d see more geeks praising them. Anyway, it’s neither here nor there. I still have a lot of respect for Sam Adams beers and Jim Koch. I love the idea of this competition and I do enjoy a lot of their beers quite a bit.