Thursday, December 1, 2011

Samuel Adams Black & Brew

I know I said I was going to try to cut back if not eliminate the "ho hum" type beer reviews, and even though I'm not a huge fan of Sam Adams, when I saw they made a new coffee stout I absolutely had to review it.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (579) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 1, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into a stout glass.

Appearance: Opaque black body with hint of red on edge. Forms a large, dark tan, creamy head which laces and retains surprisingly well.

Smell: Generic stout aroma with slight dairy scent and extremely subtle iced coffee aroma.

Taste: I hate it when a beer purports to be something and then fails to live up that but is still a decent beer anyway (because it makes it difficult to review without sounding contradictory). Samuel Adams Black & Brew is a perfect example. It says "coffee stout" in plain English right on the label, but the palate fails to deliver on that promise.

This is a by-the-book pub stout: light sweetness up front with a milky/creamy taste and texture to match. It finishes with roasted malts and a swift, subtle coffee flavor and bitterness to match. The label brags about it using real Sumatran coffee (a whopping 1.5lbs per barrel), but the taste doesn’t seem to match. The coffee flavor is more like an overly-sweetened, borderline artificial iced coffee flavoring rather than any gourmet coffee. It doesn’t even linger on the tongue that long - mild bitterness and dryness, but otherwise is quite clean.

But despite these criticisms, the fact remains Black & Brew is a decent beer. Had it been labeled just "stout" it would be a lot more satisfying. It does have a well-balanced, mostly delectable palate with no off notes at all. It’s a session stout with a little extra in the end.

Mouthfeel: Milky/creamy texture and full body weight to match. Extremely soft, smooth, and comfortable.

Drinkability: At only 5.8% ABV, Samuel Adams Black & Brew is hardly an imperial. Perhaps that’s why it fails as a coffee stout since the great ones I’ve had have been quite dense. Much like the taste, this is a very sessionable stout, but considering you only get two bottles in a mix pack it’s probably meant to be a dessert beer. I don’t think it’s quite sweet enough to play that role, but I think the mild palate makes it a perfect introduction to the style for newcomers (then again, that describes pretty much the entire Sam Adams line).
Grade: 7/10

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