UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012
The funny thing about winter-themed beers is they often have a warming
effect. Of course, a beer packed with spices is bound to do that. But
what separates a gimmicky overly-spiced brew for a true craft beer is
the enjoyment and drinkability. Samuel Adams Winter Lager is a great
example of a winter beer done right.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Winter Lager poured smoothly and formed a thick, off-white, foamy head
which lingered for quite a while and never completely dissipated. It
left some lacing on the glass. The complexion was dark brown, clear,
with a lot of noticeable carbonation. The aroma was a potpourri of
spices with just a hint of a citrus.
Trying to find the perfect mixture of spices to create for taste without
making a beer gimmicky or difficult to drink is a difficult task for
the modern brewer. Most play it safe and keep their spicy palates mild,
others go for the throat, but Samuel Adams Winter Lager is pretty much a
The taste is bursting with spice upon the first sip. Cinnamon, ginger
and orange peel are noticeable immediately so that the beer definitely
has a complex, but very well-balanced palate of both spiciness and
sweetness. The overall result is a warm, inviting taste that really
satisfies without requiring the tolerance of a connoisseur.
Since the beer has such a great synthesis of ingredients, it really
comes as no surprise that Winter Lager is extremely smooth. The beer’s
true “bite” comes with the taste, not with the finish, therefore it’s
quite easy to drink.
The caveat with most winter beers is their heavy body and Sam Adams
Winter Lager is a good example of this. At 5.8% ABV and 200 calories per
serving this isn’t exactly a party beer, but it does make a great
after-dinner or any kind of stand-alone brew to enjoy for its
Honestly, I cannot find much of a flaw with Samuel Adams Winter Lager,
but I know a 5-star beer when I have one and this just doesn’t make the
grade. I appreciate its complexity, craftsmanship and consistent taste,
but it didn’t knock my socks off the way a 5-star beer would. Still,
it’s most definitely worth trying and I think can be enjoyed by anyone.