Monday, May 30, 2011

Samuel Adams Rustic Saison


I know I said in my last review I was going to do a week straight of non-American beers, but being that it's Memorial Day how could I not review an American beer? Plus I had to hurry up and finish off this growler before it went completely flat. I explain it in the video.

3.5
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - MAY 30, 2011
As the years go by I continue to have mixed feelings about Samuel Adams. I admire them for experimenting with virtually every style of beer under the sun, but at the same time I resent that they take niche styles and dumb them down for mass audiences. They are a business, though, and they want to reach as many consumers as possible so if sacrificing authenticity for sales is what they have to do, then so be it.

Rustic Saison, their latest attempt at both a summer seasonal and an "Old World" Belgian-style beer, is a perfect example of this. It does bear some resemblance to its European ancestors, and it has a decent taste and is highly drinkable. However, that doesn’t mean that I, someone with a more refined taste in craft beer than the average macro beer drinker, have to jump for joy about everything this brewery makes.

I got a 64oz growler filled at my beer store for $11. I poured some into the official Samuel Adams Boston Lager glass.

Appearance: Exactly like apple juice with a dark golden, very clear body. Quite bubbly and forms a fairly large, bright white, foamy head. Unfortunately, it does fizzle away to nothing and leaves no lacing on the glass.

Smell: The brewer’s website indicates this beer is brewed with real Belgian yeast and the esters are quite prominent in the nose. Apples, oranges, bananas, flowers and a touch of clove create for a pleasant fragrance. No Sam Adams beer has smelled this distinct before.

Taste: True Belgian farmhouse ales tend to be spicy, peppery, and oftentimes bitter. Samuel Adams take on the style goes in the opposite direction with a fruity, sweet, almost juice-like palate. As much as it looked and smelled like fruit juice, the same is true of the palate. It has a clean, mild, slightly floral taste and a quick burst of clove spice - on the second half, that is. The first half is overtly mild with just a bit of red apple, lemon peel and banana.

While the authentic Belgian yeast qualities are noticeable to more experienced drinkers like me, it seems the brewers wanted a palate as drinker-friendly as possible. That’s not to say it’s foul or off-putting in any way, though. I liked what was there, but I want way more flavor than this.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, watery and thin, but not crisp. No peppery or spicy qualities.

Drinkability: What makes this beer so appealing is the sheer drinkability. With a mild palate, watery texture and very light density at only 4.35% ABV this is a fantastic alternative to all those light lagers with the same statistics and even more drinkable. I split a growler with my family on a hot Memorial Day weekend outside in the sweltering heat and we all agreed this was a perfect beer for the situation.

Overall, Samuel Adams Rustic Saison doesn’t quite live up to its name, but it’s still a pleasing, drinkable beer overall.

Grade: 6/10