Longshot Derf's Secret Alt
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

Longshot Derf's Secret AltLongshot Derf's Secret Alt
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
3.77 | pDev: 12.73%
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Longshot Derf's Secret AltLongshot Derf's Secret Alt
Reviews: 133 | Ratings: 263 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of neenerzig
neenerzig from Ohio

4.34/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I've had a bottle of this sitting in my cellar for a few years now. Finally cracked it open tonight. Poured into a stange glass, this beer pours a very dark, clear amber brown color with some deep ruby highlights when held up tp the light. Tan head is about 2/3 of an inch thick when poured and settles to a solid 1/3 of an inch and stays there, as it has good retention. Good lacing here too. Aromas of toasted, caramel malt sweetness along with fruity notes of raisins and figs and some peppery spice notes. Has a toasted, bready, caramel malt sweetness upfront that gives way to further sweetness from the fig and raisin notes that's all rounded out with a nice peppery spice flavor. At this point, no discernible hop presence. Not surprising for a beer of this style that's about 5 years old at this point. Has a fairly crisp, somewhat chewy and slightly syrupy, also smooth and slightly frothy, medium bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. This one really aged well I feel. Has a clean, slightly dry finish. A very good beer all around. Too bad I'll likely never get to drink this again.


Aug 26, 2017
Photo of ryan1788a5
ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

3.34/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

reviewed from old notes.
12oz bottle poured into a lager glass.

A: Burnt sienna color, good clarity. Creamy tan head retains well. Foamy lacing.

S: Bready and crusty. Toast. Hints of dark caramel and molasses. Soft grassy and floral hopping. Very clean. Simple and muted nose.

T: Crust. Nutty, brown cocoa. Molasses and caramel. Hints of currant and raspberry. Spicy alcohol. Sweet. Dry herbal hops stay in the background. Nutty, cocoa, caramel finish.

M: Large in body. Thick and chewy. Syrupy. Full and very rich. Low carbonation.

O: A very large beer that sits heavily on the palate. Rather one-dimensional and too simplistic.

Oct 05, 2013
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
brewdlyhooked13 from Ohio

4.48/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - caramel brown pour, a sticky light mocha head crests at about a finger. Lots of lacy residue.

Aroma - big, sweet caramel and malt. Reminds me of a barleywine but with more grain presence.

Taste - chewy, robust grains mixed with light citrus and raisiny flavor. A nice twangy syrupy bite, like a tangy orange. Mellow abv warming. Finishes lightly bitter and slowly but increasingly dry. Some delicious Kahlua-like notes as it warms.

Mouthfeel - very smooth for feeling so crisp in the mouth. Big, weighty beer, great fit for this one.

Overall - an ideal fall beer for the fireside, though a few too many will feel like a hammer to the head tomorrow. Too bad there's only two per sixer, I'd by a dozen of these.

Sep 24, 2013
Photo of DrJay
DrJay from Texas

3.76/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, very dark red beer with a dark beige cap. Good head retention, sticky lacing. Aromas of raisins, figs, malt, dried fruit, faint alcohol and grain. Mostly the same in the flavour, but with low bitterness, a caramel/buttery edge, and a dried fruit/alcohol character in the finish. Slightly dry with soft carbonation, a medium/full body and mild alcohol warmth. Although a little on the plain side, it was a pleasant beer and fruitier than expected -- everything came together quite nicely.

Aug 18, 2013
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss from Pennsylvania

3.86/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sam Adams Longshot : Derf's Secret Alt
Boston Beer Co.

This review is my 1924th, and is dedicated to my grandfather who was born in that year. A Longshot to survive his battles in WWII, he still enjoys a good beer now and then.

LOOK: Pours a cloudy orange color, with a good bit of froth that laces a little then recedes to a ring. This looks the part of an imperial strength Altbier, an unfiltered one at that.

SMELL: Notes of caramelized malts, toasty bread, orange marmalade and some warming alcohol.

TASTE: Fully malty, with a small citrus and warming alcohol. Nutty malts, roast, mild licorice and grains are all detectable. Had a subtle fruity yeast note and a slight vinous quality. Hops lend a citrusy, solidly bitter flavor. Alcohol is felt more than tasted, but lingers around

FEEL: Medium bodied, well carbonated, surprisingly light for the alcohol range. Drinks with some heat, and has a hop/alcohol bite to it which dries it out a bit.

OVERALL: A solid strong lager that drinks smoothly and provides a good kick. The hops are a good touch, but I would have gone with a more noble variety here. Still a fine brew, made broadly in the vein of a strong German Alt. I thought this was a well made version of an Altbier with an American notion of extreme abv that could not be denied.

May 12, 2013
Photo of rhoadsrage
rhoadsrage from Illinois

3.18/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(Served in a Sam Adams glass)
A- This beer pours a dense glowing garnet body with a light tan head of thick foam that last a good bit.

S- The slight sweet malt aroma has a soft dry hop finish.

T- The toffee note has a slight sweet green nougat hop note in the finish with a fruity hint and sweet malt note lingering. The sweet taste grows cloying as the beer opens.

M- The medium-full mouthfeel is creamy with a tight fizz and a soft alcohol heat warmth.

O- This beer is a bit thick like milk and the melanodin flavor is the strongest malt flavor with not a lot of grain character or hops for the alcohol level.

Apr 30, 2013
Photo of chefhatt
chefhatt from Pennsylvania

3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured this into a tulip glass, it has a dark brown color body with a small tan head that quickly laid down to a thin lace. The smell has a very roasted carmal, raisin aroma to it. The taste has a bread, raisin upfront, and a little malt sweet in the middle and finishes with a little bitterness to it. The mouth feel is good and overall is a ok beer. Not one of my favorite styles but i will try it any way.

Mar 20, 2013
Photo of Jadjunk
Jadjunk from Georgia

4.02/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

"Fred wanted to go big or go home with his homebrew and decided to brew a unique Sticke Alt. This full-bodied ale has a big, malty character balanced by subtle orange and grapefruit notes from the hops. With a light amber color, this brew has a sweet finish." Brewed in the style of an Altbier/Sticke. Available as part of the Samuel Adams Longshot Homebrew competition pack 2012- a one-time brew. Date on bottle is ticked at August 2012. Hopefully the age on this bottle helped settle the flavors out a bit.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a pilsner glass. Served north of 53º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a copper brown cream toned head of a frothy consistency. Lacing is thin but consistent. Body color is a deep reddish-brown with mild carbonation and high clarity. Retention is slightly above average, thickening as it settles to a creamy layer. Decent appearance for the style, but just a notch short of my expectations for head quality. 3.75

(Smell) Aroma is sharp notes of bready roasted caramel malts, toffee notes, hints of licorice and molasses, mild spicy husked grains and a subtle but balancing herbal and fruity hop presence. Alcohol presence is quite strong and the overall aroma is very potent. The aroma is just what I'm looking for in terms of strength, gruff and potency and the diversity and balance of the flavors are also substantial for the style. Despite a general lack of grapefruit and orange notes (as per the label), I have very few issues with the way this beer smells and am anxious to see if the flavor matches aromatic first impressions. 4.25

(Taste) Caramel and sweet raisin bread malt front with a medium graininess is balanced with a sweet molasses and mild spicy and floral hop finish. The balance is a notch sweet, not like the aroma but not disappointing. Yeast profile is very bready but also slick and sticky- some notes of clove is an expected German yeast characteristic. Citrus rind and spicy grain bitterness is most prevalent in the finish, which in general is a touch sweet but clean with a nod to spicy licorice and a nip of soothing alcohol. Sweet candied flavors were most prevalent in the mouth, with raisins, dates, thick molasses and licorice leading the way, it's like a trip to a traditional candy store, yet not so overblown by sugary delight. Despite a slight lack in balance and some sharp flavors which would be potentially off-putting to some, it's personally an enjoyable flavor. 4

(Mouthfeel) Medium+ thickness with a slick, bready texture and a low, mild carbonation. Body is medium+ for the style and high overall. Some minor grainy texture doesn't hamper drinkability much, and alcohol, despite being above medium presence in the beer, isn't overpowering and compliments the heavy body well. Carbonation, while limited, is nearly perfect for the style, although I wouldn't mind a touch more spritely action to damper the sweetness, it isn't far off from ideal. 3.75

(Overall) As far as Altbiers and Sticke beers go, this is a solid take on the style. A touch sweet and husky, but the flavors are deep and there's a great amount of yeast character to balance and make this a filling, complex and enjoyable beer. The reviews seem divided, but some age on this bottle didn't hurt a thing. Many thanks to Fred Hessler for crafting this not-so-commonly-available German beer style. It's unfortunate that the citrusy fruits didn't make much of an appearance, but the malt character and yeast did a fine job. I wouldn't suggest that it's necessarily smooth; it's perhaps a touch more abrasive and stocky in alcohol and flavor, but if you like the bold and flavorful German ales, it's certainly worth a try! 4

Boston Beer Company's
Longshot Derf's Secret Alt

Feb 12, 2013
Photo of Pencible
Pencible from Virginia

4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured a clear dark mahogany with moderate thick tan head.
S: It smelled like honey wheat bread and nutty malt, with some creamy yeast.
T: It tasted like bitter copper hops and sweet honey wheat bread, with some creamy yeast and nutty malt. It had a surprisingly bitter aftertaste.
M: It was thick and creamy with some carbonation. Very full body.
D: This was a nice clean brew with an enjoyable scent and taste. It had huge body with a fairly smooth finish and well hidden alcohol, so it was pretty easy to drink. Good beer with a unique and strong interpretation of a classic style. Worth a try.

Feb 03, 2013
Photo of Beejay
Beejay from Virginia

3.12/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: A lacquered cherry wood color in body. Clear, with 2 fingers of tan head.

S: Sweet caramel, and molasses. Some raisins and burnt bread, along with some alcohol. Something in the background that I can't quite put my finger on. Something a little heavy, almost metallic, but. .. not.

T: Brown sugar, and molasses. Very sweet. There is a nice earthy hop flavor right at the front. But the finish is all sweet, almost cloyingly so. Brown sugar, and cooked caramel, with perhaps a touch of licorice.

M: Fairly heavy and thick feel, the carbonation is plentiful, and lightens the body a touch. Definitely leaves a residue after the sip.

O: Overall good, and the alcohol isn't as present int he taste as it is in the aroma. Still, nothing fantastic. Good, just not great, and the sweetness is almost overbearing.

Jan 31, 2013
Photo of FlatRabbitRed
FlatRabbitRed from Arizona

5/5  rDev +32.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the very best beer I have ever had, I bought four cases of this years longshot winners just to enjoy this delightfull little fluid!

Now you may be saying that is fine but what level of beer drinker am I anyway, well I have been drinking beer for fourty years, and I started trying to drink different styles thirty five years ago. I have had somewhere over a thousand different beers over my lifetime, and this one is my all time favorite!

Rich, bold, malty sweet, caramel coffee, tangy toasty delight!

Jan 26, 2013
Photo of Dodt
Dodt from Pennsylvania

3.28/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

picked up the long shot case thought i would give the alt , the first review of the three. nice cola color with a tan head. smell is a blend of sugar and a muted citrus. taste wise the high octane alcohol is part of the charm the other flavors of toffee and coca. glad sam adams is open to letting the little guy have there brew hit the nations shelves , can't wait to try the other two in this case.

Nov 05, 2012
Photo of dfillius
dfillius from Iowa

3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass
A: Moderate pour yields 1/3 finger of tan head with good retention. Chill hazy brown with slight red.
S: Caramel, some citrus - orange julius.
T: Sweet with slightly hoppy finish. Delicious. A bit too hot/alcoholly for it to achieve greatness. Finish is bready.
M: Bright up front. Chewy center, pleasantly warm finish but a tad breathy on the ethanol.
O: Drinkable despite the strength. I'd order a second. I'm glad I drank it, but I won't bu again.

Oct 27, 2012
Photo of falloutsnow
falloutsnow from Illinois

3.32/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From: Friar Tuck's in Savoy, IL
Date: Best by August 2012
Glass: Standard US pint glass

Derf's Secret Alt is a homebrew take on the altbier style, with Sam Adams producing this homebrew with higher than necessary ethanol and a slightly cloying sweetness that starts to become a bit tiresome after a while. The flavors are substantial brown sugar, caramel, and date, with a bit of banana, some cough syrup, and plenty of ethanol. In general, this came out a fairly average version of the style, relative to the Uerige version that has deeper depth of flavor and less alcohol.

Pours a 2cm head of dark tan foam, composed of medium to small-sized bubbles, which eventually settles to a thin ring of foam around the glass and a few wispy islands atop the body. Lacing is minimal to nonexistent. The body is a very dark amber brown, nearly black out of light, with luminescence bringing out burnt orange, red, and brown hues. Carbonation is visible through the transparent body, but it is slow and sluggish.

Aromas are rich with minerals, some brown sugar, overripe bananas, caramel, dates, figs, and ethanol. In short, brown sugar sweet with some dried, brown fruit and alcohol.

Front of the palate is of brown sugar, caramel, date sweetness, and a bit of cough syrup. Mid-palate features banana and brown sugar flavors, with plenty of ethanol vying for space. Back of palate is more deep brown sugar sweetness, a bit of dates, some cough syrup, and slightly harsh ethanol. Lingering finish of brown sugar, cough syrup, and ethanol; rather cloying at times.

Beer is heavy to medium-heavy bodied, with fairly low carbonation levels. This results in the beer sitting too long on the palate, resulting in a slightly placid, but smooth, mouthfeel. Ethanol is readily noticeable in burning on the palate, on the back of the throat, and in the nostrils. At times, it can be distracting. Finish is dry, with residual stickiness across the lips from the residual sugars.

Oct 04, 2012
Photo of tdm168
tdm168 from Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - dark brown with a very large, thick, brown head that has great retention

S - light caramel, doughy, citrusy

T - malty, doughy, caramel, bitter some faint citrus, very faint pine; spicy alcohol finish when the beer warms

M - medium bodied, well carbonated, warming alcohol

This is an enjoyable, malty offering. Just a tad more balance from the hops would make this a really good beer. I enjoyed it. If it were slightly more hoppy and the alcohol was more subtle, I would buy a few more bottles.

Sep 24, 2012
Photo of Bung
Bung from Michigan

3.61/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. Best by August, but it's a big beer so no problem. Fairly dark amber pour, thin layer of off white.

Aroma, some caramel and citrus. A bit too much orange liqueur. It's a bit boozy.

Taste, not as boozy. Some citrus, caramel, grape at first. Much stronger biscuity-bread, toast and some nice chocolate and molasses.

Medium bodied, nice and creamy. Maybe just a little warm, a sipper.

Actually pretty nice, an "amateur" version of the Uerige brews.

Sep 20, 2012
Photo of RichardMNixon
RichardMNixon from Pennsylvania

2.96/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into a seidel.

A: Beautiful ruby-red body with thin brownish head.

S: Sweet malt and honey with a touch of alcohol. Not a very strong scent.

T: The orange flavor they mention is there but accompanied by a strong medicinal flavor that's hard to get past.

M: Strong point of the beer. Smooth and thick leaving a tart aftertaste.

O: Not something I'd buy a 6-pack of. The Dunkel that came with this one in the Longshot pack was better but I don't have notes for it.

Sep 07, 2012
Photo of BucBasil
BucBasil from Rwanda

3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into an extra large pilsner glass.

Appearance is dark reddish cola brown with some light coming in at the bottom. Somewhat hazy. Head was amazing looking, light tan and sticks around a while.

Smell is much lighter than I imagined. Light bready sweetness with a citrusy twang in the the back. Some caramel.

Taste/Feel: Creamy and velvety smooth. Slight cocoa in the back somehow, bready, with a hint of sweetness. Toffee? This is really interesting.

Great beer, but a little much.

Sep 07, 2012
Photo of JackieTH
JackieTH from Minnesota

3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes.

Amber pour with a medium creamy head, not much lacing. Smell had a rather juicy sweentess much like a watermelon jolly rancher, caramelly malt and some orange hop elements as well. Taste was caramel and chocolates, dried dark fruits..plums and cherries, and molasses. Medium body that holds together well. Decently carbonated, somewhat creamy. Somewhat sweeet, but enough bitterness so the finish is clean. Enjoyed it.

Sep 04, 2012
Photo of HalfFull
HalfFull from California

3.72/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a globe glass, showing a clear crimson with a light cap of foam. Retention is a bit brief but not too far afield.

Aroma is quite malt forward with caramel apple and some brown sugar notes. Bit of chocolate spice and a light hop profile initially, expanding with warming. More of a complex German lager at times.

Flavor is complex yet balanced with warming. Caramel and brown sugar arise again, clean on the finish and with a pleasant carbonation level. Aroma grows on you while the sweetness beats you down a bit. But at 9.3% that's not unexpected.

In the end a solid yet unusual take on the style. Sweet and strong, malty and hoppy. A bit tiring by the bottom of the glass.

Aug 29, 2012
Photo of YouSkeete
YouSkeete from Massachusetts

3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown with an orange hue. one finger pale white head with weak retention. Roasted toffee, caramel, coriander, orange and grapefruit are big in the aroma. Lots of thick malt and and yeast character. Wild mash of dark plum-like sugared fruits, roasted toffee, dark chocolate and orange peel with some hints of coffee and molases on the first sip. Quite boozy with a rich, hearty overall body. Mildly sour, fruity and sugary finish.

Aug 27, 2012
Photo of fank2788
fank2788 from Connecticut

3.18/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle served in a pint glass
Dark slightly murky brown with a very sticky off white head in the glass. Sweet bread and brown sugar smell with a touch of citrus hops and a bit of a boozy character. The taste is very sweet upfront. Molasses, dark bready malt, brown sugar and alcohol are all evident in the taste. The alcohol definitely carries throughout this one and leaves a hot finish. Carbonation is lively but there is just too much unrestrained alcohol in this one, the whole second half of the sip is dominated by drying, stinging booze character that is a bit over the top. Overall I cant rate this very high it's just a bit too unbalanced. It would be ok for this beer to be so strong if only it was better masked by some real malt or hop character. Not one of my favorites but cheers to Fred on his Longshot win.

Aug 25, 2012
Photo of TTAmod
TTAmod from Illinois

3.77/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle with Aug best by date poured into pint.

A: Dark, but clear, brown with a one finger tan head that keeps up most awhile.

S: Nose is mostly dark esters and caramel.

T: It's big...it's sweet...and it's alcoholic. It's a huge malt bomb that onslaughts the taste buds with caramel, plum, and pineapple nut bread. There is the slightest hint of hops on the back end to help battle the almost cloying sweetness.

M: Appropriately thick and creamy. Goes down easy enough, though. There is a hint of alcohol in the taste, but not bad for over 9%.

O: For a homebrewer, this is a highly complex and intricate brew. It's big, but not TOO unbalanced. I think a bit more of a hop bite would do wonders here. I don't know whether or not this guy will ever read this, but I think a nice dose of Saaz would be sublime.

Still very, very good, though. Kudos.

Aug 21, 2012
Photo of ToddT
ToddT from Pennsylvania

3.37/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Clear deep amber with some ruby highlights and a good sized off white head. Head fades slowly and leaves some spotty lace on the glass.

S- Roasted malts, caramel, toffee, and hints of candied plums.

T- Bready notes of roasted malt, caramel sweetness, candied sugar, and a slightly medicinal aftertast at the finish. The finish is dry with some alcohol heat.

M- More that medium but not quite full bodied, carbonation is medium. Some sugars begin to build up on the palate as it warms and the medicinal notes at the finish become slightly off putting.

O- Could use a few tweaks here and there, a little too sweet and there are some out of balance hop notes in it, but it is a good attempt and a not often represented style. The 9.3% ABV shows up at the finish too, some barrel aging or just cellaring this for a short time might tame some of this.

Aug 19, 2012
Photo of brokensail
brokensail from California

3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The pour is dark amber in color with an off-white head. Toasted malt with a surprising hoppiness, mostly citrus peel. There’s a nice sweetness to the nose and quite a bit of white grape, which I seem to get in most alts. Some caramel and toffee maltiness, maybe a bit of chocolate, too. The flavor is a bit boozy, unfortunately. Some citrus hop flavor, a lot of toasted malt, white grape, and toffee sweetness are also present. The booze really lasts throughout the entire sip.

Aug 07, 2012
Longshot Derf's Secret Alt from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 263 ratings