Monday, January 4, 2010

Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic


2.9
   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - JAN 4, 2010
There are so many styles of beer and so many “niche” styles made in certain places that are enjoyed by certain audiences. The lambic is among them since they are brewed and taste very differently from your average beer. Why the Boston Beer Company felt the need to go after this market with their Cranberry Lambic is beyond me. In fact, neither Beer Advocate nor Rate Beer considers this to be a true lambic since it does not use real fruit in the brewing process and is not “spontaneously fermented” like an authentic lambic would be.

That puts a mid-level drinker like me in a tough position. Am I already biased against this beer because I know its fake, or can I drink it and review it as any other beer? I did my best to drink it impartially and I think I gave it a fair review. On one hand it’s commendable because Sam Adams at least succeeds in making a drinkable beer, but on the other hand it’s nothing to write home about.

APPEARANCE AND AROMA

I recently purchased two flute glasses from the local $1 store and decided to try them out with this beer. I was surprised the beer was so overtly pinkish/red in color and was able to form something of a pinkish/white head (which fizzled out quickly and left no lacing on the glass). The body is very cloudy with no sediment present (it’s not bottle-conditioned anyway).

The smell is rather sour with a noticeable cranberry scent not unlike the any cranberry juice we’ve all drank from time to time. It’s slightly inviting from the nose, if nothing more than simple curiosity since no macro American beers look or smell anything like this.

TASTE

Since Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic looks and smells so much like a glass of cranberry juice, it really comes as no surprise to me that its palate follows the trend as well. Upon my first swig I get a slightly sour/slightly tart taste of cranberry. It’s surprisingly sweet on the finish with a bit of a juicy quality to the body. The low carbonation is what keeps this beer from dancing on the palate the way that it should.

It should be noted that the bottle’s description indicates this beer is made with cranberry juice and not the berries themselves. It also mentions “a touch of maple syrup,” but I did not find any flavors approaching this quality even after two bottles. There is, however, a noticeable wheaty taste which makes it much more approachable than your more hoppy, grainy brews. Additionally, there is no bitterness at all (is this beer even made with hops?).

This beer reminds me of a cheap, dry red wine. The taste is enough to notice, but whether its appealing of off-putting I think is up the individual drinker. At first I was mildly pleased, but after my second serving I was struggling to find something to appreciate.

DRINKABILITY

Taste is usually relative, but drinkability is more universal. However, in the case of Cranberry Lambic, I think the opposite is true. How easy or difficult this beer is to drink is entirely up to the individual. Because the sour/tart notes are so strong the ability to slug it down or slowly sip it will vary.

The physical mouthfeel is thin and watery and leaves a cranberry aftertaste, although it does not linger for very long. The beer is so low in carbonation it becomes flat and tepid rather fast.

What perplexes me the most is this beer weighs in at 5.9% ABV. An authentic lambic tends to be less than 4% ABV, and clearly Samuel Adams is targeting a more pedestrian audience – so why the density? I could certainly feel the effects after one bottle, but it’s nothing I nor the average drinker couldn’t handle.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While I wouldn’t say Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic tastes bad, I do think it’s a little too gimmicky for me. Considering this is intended for the more pedestrian drinker I won’t hold it to a higher standard, but I can’t honestly recommend it, either.

Grade: 5/10