I am a huge fan of the show Top Chef, I have watched every season. When I started grad school and was trying to live in Boston on a small stipend I taught myself to really cook (beyond grilling and a few other simple dishes) and I used food TV as a source of inspiration. There are a few types of contestants that always seem to pop up on a Top Chef season. There is the cocky chef who brags about all of their awards and accolades only to get knocked out of the competition early. There is the chef with poor time management who is always running up to the last second and occasionally leaves ingredients off of the plate. Then there is the clearly talented chef who has problems editing themself, they routinely second-guess and overcomplicate their dishes and it’s usually their downfall. This chef immediately came to mind when I tried Sam Adams Rebel Raw. This beer is an attempt by Sam Adams to compete with the popular DIPAs that result in beer geeks waiting in line for hours or following delivery trucks. Rebel Raw is a hop-bomb and is meant to be consumed extremely fresh, ideally within 35 days of the canning date. Rebel Raw uses 7 different varieties of hops and weighs in at a monstrous 10% ABV. It is available as an occasional release to a limited market in 16 oz. cans (the lovely people at Sam Adams were nice enough to send me a sample).
Sam Adams Rebel Raw pours a hazy orange with a massive off-white head. The scent is a solid burst of hops, citrus fruit and resin. The flavor is very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, guava, pine and cut grass along with a full hop bite. This is balanced by substantial malt flavor, notes of crusty bread, crackers and caramel. You also definitely taste the booze, it isn’t overpowering but it’s present. Rebel Raw is medium bodied and a sipper by necessity at 10% ABV. It finishes with a bitter bite along with some lingering hop flavor and warming alcohol. This is where my Top Chef comparison comes in, there are a number of things to like about this beer but I think it’s a little overdone, more doesn’t always equal better. If they dialed back the hops just a little and brought the booze down to ~8% I think I would have enjoyed it more. As is it’s good beer with the potential to be great with a little tinkering. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Sam Adams Reviews:
Sam Adams Rebel Rouser, Sam Adams Double Bock, Sam Adams Cold Snap, Sam Adams Octoberfest