Recently I criticized Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat for being too gimmicky, but in the case of their Summer Ale I’d criticize it for not being gimmicky enough. Usually the word “summer” in the name of any beer implies a fruity, sweet, easy-to-drink beer, but in the case of this Sam Adams brew that’s only partially true.
The Boston Beer Company says this product is made with “lemon zest” and “grains of paradise.” Huh? What exactly is lemon zest? Their Cherry Wheat isn’t made with cherry zest, it’s made with real cherries, so what’s going on here? They also say it’s made with very rare African grains, which is fine, by why describe them in such a fantastical way? Is “Lord Of The Rings: The Beer”?
(UPDATE: Now I know lemon zest and grains of paradise are REAL seasonings, but I think there should be an explanation of this on the bottle or box to make it sound less like a marketing ploy)
THE POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Sam Adams Summer Ale pours quickly and smoothly, as most beers lighter in body do. It forms a nice layer of head but that dissolves almost immediately. Once poured, there are almost no signs of carbonation and the beer looks like a glass of Five Alive. The content of the beer itself is a dark, cloudy golden color. Is this ale or hefeweizen? There is a slight citrus scent, which is nice, but it is a little weak.
I was expecting Summer Ale to be very sweet and fruity, maybe along the lines of an Indian Pale Ale or Corona. Although there is something of a citrus taste to the beer, it is just as weak as the aroma. You really have to been “looking” for it to taste it. Otherwise, this beer just tastes like a watered-down hefeweizen. The beer is easy to drink because it’s fairly bland and certainly smooth, but those expecting a treat for their palette will be disappointed.
This beer is surprisingly light in body. This is complimentary to the fact it’s so smooth and low in carbonation which makes it very easy to drink quickly.
The finish to this beer is rather uneventful. There’s definitely no bite to it like their Boston Lager or Ale, but at least it’s as smooth to drink at the end as it is at the beginning. You could easily go through a few of bottles of this beer on a hot summer afternoon or evening without filling up, so why not, right?
Maybe I just didn’t get the best representations of this beer in my Sam Adams mix pack, but I remember drinking Summer Ale each season for the last few years and not being impressed. It’s totally inaccurate to label this particular brew as bad, but it’s certainly not very good, either. I wish Jim Koch and company would just skip the gimmick and produce an IPA instead.