Monday, December 22, 2008

Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale (2008 original review)


4.3
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (736) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 4, 2010
Perhaps the only thing more satisfying than a great beer is when said beer succeeds where others have not. In my quest to find the best winter seasonal beer I’ve only been satisfied. But with Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale I’ve finally found a beer that truly impressed me on all accounts: a great, rich, complex but balanced palate that finishes smooth and doesn’t overwhelm.

POUR, COLOR AND AROMA

Old Fezziwig is named after a “festive” character in the classic novel “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Surprisingly, this beer does not have a festive physical appearance. It pours very smoothly without the slightest kickback and forms a small, off-white, soapy head which mostly dissipates and does leave some lacing on the glass.

The beer has a dark ruby red color and is clear with a little bit of carbonation apparent. The aroma is strong and spicy, but also conveys a sweeter side.

TASTE

To truly appreciate the flavor of Old Fezziwig I recommend allowing the beer to warm a little to unlock its complex palate of flavors. This is one of the few beers to have such a variety of flavors and a true balance of sweetness and spice.

The label describes cinnamon, ginger and orange as the dominant ingredients, but I found the chocolate and caramel malts to have the most noticeable taste. This is the flavor most “chocolate beers” should have – rich, sweet, and almost creamy without coming across as out-and-out sugary. Every ingredient mentioned on the bottle is distinguishable and yet they all add up to a very delicious taste.

Clearly, the beer’s sweetness wins out over its spiciness, and while this could seem to flatten out the taste, I found the balance to be a work of art. This is a beer to appease the lightweight and the connoisseur equally.

FINISH

A smooth finish is always an attribute to any beer as far as I’m concerned. The only problem with an easy finish is you might drink the beer too quickly and not really savor it. However, in the case of Old Fezziwig, this is a “problem” I can live with.

BODY

As tasty and easy as Old Fezziwig is to drink, I have a feeling some might find it a bit too heavy at 5.9% ABV and 210 calories per serving. I could definitely feel my first serving before I was finished with it, but after two within an hour I did not feel overwhelmed. In fact, I wanted more because the taste was so good. A full body is a price the average drinker will likely be willing to pay to drink this beer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m a huge fan of the Samuel Adams line of beers, but until now I’ve never found a beer in their lineup I could truly consider outstanding. It’s a little ironic that an obscure, seasonal with a funny name like “Old Fezziwig Ale” would earn my highest acclaim. But that just goes to show how good this beer really is.