Samuel Adams Brewer Patriot Collection

by: BeerAdvocate on 07-12-2006
In mid-June, Boston Beer Company released the Samuel Adams Brewer Patriot Collection. This tribute to America’s founding fathers (several of which were also brewers) comes in a classy four-pack ($10), and attempts to take us back to the Colonial era, with classic recipes that employ traditional ingredients. In the pack: Traditional Ginger Honey Ale, George Washington Porter, James Madison Dark Wheat Ale and 1790 Root Beer Brew.

Since its release, quite a few beer geeks have shared their disappointment with the collection. Regardless, we decided to give them a try for ourselves.

Samuel Adams Brewer Patriot CollectionTraditional Ginger Honey Ale
Extremely pale straw yellow beer, a touch hazy, with a soda-like appearance. Candied ginger aroma, spicy and herbal, with suggestions of cardamom and lilacs. Thin and crisp in the mouth, with some unpleasant tannins up front. Compared to the aroma, the ginger character is very tame in the flavor, while a lemony bitterness puckers things up just a bit. Light pale malt sweetness, while the wildflower honey used is well-attenuated, leaving behind a pleasing floral note and slight remnants of raw honey. Hints of cardamom, with a lingering raw and semi-astringent pith, husky and wheat-like character in the finish. The tannins throughout the beer, especially in the finish, took a lot away from allowing the subtleties of the brew to shine. Interesting, but not refreshing or overly drinkable.

George Washington Porter
Brewed with licorice; a proprietary, hand-smoked malt; and almost a pound of East Kent Goldings hops per barrel. Opaque brown in color, with muddy brown edges and a cola-colored head that drops quickly to a ringed lace. Strong and dominating licorice aroma with an underlying robust molasses-ness and highly roasted malts. Thick-ish, deep blackstrap molasses character (sweet, tangy nectar), quite robust. Licorice is assertive and smacks of herbal flavors. As the beer warms, both flavors become very intense, overpowering the palate a bit with some cloying action. Hop presence is masked; however, there is some and it peaks with a tannin feel and semi-citric sharpness. Rough and long-lingering finish with molasses, and soft anise residuals sticking to the palate. A tough one to drink. The use of molasses and licorice is simply overwhelming and without balance.

James Madison Dark Wheat Ale
Brewed with hand-smoked malt from red and white oak from a forest in Orange County, VA, on land once owned by James Madison. Hazy, slightly muddy brown with orange and copper hues around the edges. Beige head with some initial foam, but it quickly settles to a thin wisp. Raw and wheaty aroma with a hint of smoked malts and a faint suggestion of cocoa powder. Otherwise, pretty clean in the nose. Watery and very light in the mouth. Thin caramel and toasty malt character, with a bread crust linger and soft chocolaty edge. Carbonation livens the palate up with a zest that pulls with it a slight citric bitterness and banana-like pithiness that sits among the wheat and rye flavors. Tangy rye with some spice and smoky malt character rounds off the brew, with a lingering, bittersweet, toasty bread finish in tote. Mouth is left dry and a bit sour. Wasn’t working for us at first, but once the beer warmed, the flavors began to emerge. We can imagine that this is as close as one could probably get using modern-day brewing equipment and methods. Most appealing brew of the pack.

1790 Root Beer Brew
Named after the year when hard root beers soared in popularity with Colonial drinkers, the brew features ingredients such as blackstrap molasses, sassafras root bark, dried wintergreen and licorice. Cloudy, reddish colored brew with coppery amber hues around the edges. Massive, minty nose, with soft sassafras, vanilla, a wet and earthy root character and gingery suggestions. Medium-bodied, smooth and even. Very spicy with cracked black pepper all over the place, almost gingery at times. Rich and robust molasses tanginess and deep sweetness blends well with delicious notes of licorice and subtle vanilla, while a raw and intensely herbal sassafras dominates. Wet root or green twig notes. Touch of sourness and some lemon-like character blends with the sweetness—an Asian sweet-and-sour sauce comes to mind. Suggestions of fresh wet tobacco, with a big, fresh, minty, leafy character sticks into the finish and lingers long. Raw, floral honey notes pull through as the beer warms. Finish is a bit rough and raw. The experience is intense and complex and truly brings your sense and mind back to another era of elixir enjoyment. However, it’s not an easy brew to get down your neck.

So, overall, the lot isn’t as bad as many beer geeks would have you think. As we guessed, they do all suffer from a lack of drinkability, but regardless, Boston Beer Company should be applauded for their passionate attempt to bring our palates back in time.

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