Saturday, April 18, 2009

Samuel Adams Boston Lager (2009 original review)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (744) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 4, 2010
I’m an ale man, so whenever I see the word “lager” I tend to roll my eyes. This is a type of beer style associated with mass-produced, watered-down brews that give American beer a bad name. Thankfully, Samuel Adams Boston Lager is nothing like Budweiser or any other those other big-name beers. The Boston Beer Company has actually managed to make a lager complex and give it some real bite – amazing!


In my experience, almost every beer in the Sam Adams line pours smoothly and generates a well-proportioned head. The same is true of the Boston Lager, their flagship label. Most critics commend it for its “long lasting” head, but I find it dissipates rather quickly (although it is quite tasty).


The Boston Lager is one of the most easily recognizable beers from its color alone. For a lager it’s quite dark and resembles ale with its dark amber/copper colors and crystal clarity. It looks a lot like the Boston Ale and shares the same aroma as its sister brew, which is almost no scent at all. The initial aroma is indicative of a strong hop foundation but only a real beer snob would be able to detect this. Its scent is rather weak, overall, but whatever lingers is surprisingly pleasant to the nose.


You might have seen the commercials where Jim Koch brags about how they use a full pound of hops per barrel whereas other companies use only a handful. They definitely weren’t lying, as the Boston Lager has a distinctive kick to it. In fact, it’s so strong it’s often a turn-off to novice beer drinkers and those who just want something smooth and easy to chug. Those drinkers need to grab something made in St. Louis or Milwaukee, because Sam Adams’ Boston Lager isn’t for them. Some might call it harsh, I call it an awakening of the palette.


Mr. Koch, are you sure this is a lager? It looks, tastes and drinks like an ale because it’s in no way a light body. This lager has the weight of a stout or a porter at the least. Its heavy density makes it a bit of a surprise, and not necessarily in a good way. You can easily get filled up after just two bottles or pints of this beer. But at least you’ll do so through some quality brew, eh?


The Boston Lager maintains its taste and complexity from start to finish which is always a good thing. Some say it finishes bitterer than it starts out, but I find this to be only remotely true. It does have a nice bite at the end, which is the only way to a beer with a constant bite throughout could naturally finish. It’s definitely a beer you can down quite a few in a row. However, it’s a high-end brew so doing so could be expensive. I think it’s best enjoyed in a Sam Adams mix pack or one pint at a time on tap.


It took me years to truly appreciate Samuel Adams Boston Lager for the craft that it is. For the longest time I just found it much too harsh to appreciate, but I eventually came around. I think their commercials describe it perfectly, “Don’t be afraid of the taste.”

How true that is.

Grade: 8/10

NOTE: Read and watch my 2015 re-review here:

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