There are few things more authentically Boston than the Patriots Day/Marathon Monday holiday. The holiday is really only celebrated in Boston, most of the city has the day off, the Red Sox have the only 11 AM game of the year and a bunch of overly motivated and/or crazy people run for 26.2 miles while spectators drink beer and cheer them on. The day has taken on even more meaning after the events of 2013, and the galvanizing effect that the attack had on the city. It makes sense that a quintessential brewery like Sam Adams would brew a beer in honor of the Boston marathon. Sam Adams has brewed 26.2, a gose with sea salt and coriander, since 2012, initially as a draft-only local release but now also available in bottles. Proceeds from the beer benefit the Greg Hill Foundation, which works to support survivors of the marathon attacks. The people at Sam Adams were nice enough to send me a few bottles along with a sweet glass.
Sam Adams 26.2 pours a clear light orange with a solid white head. The scent is mild, some bready malts and spice. This is a very refreshing and easy to drink beer without any overpowering flavors. The malts add notes of whole wheat bread, biscuits and grain. The spices are subtle, some salinity in the finish and a hint of coriander. The hops add touches of grass and lemon along with a crisp bite. Gose is traditionally a somewhat sour style (the acidity can very greatly, especially in American versions), but I get almost no tartness here. Sam Adams 26.2 is a solid beer, I could definitely put back a few after running a race (not a marathon, I’m not nearly crazy enough to try that), or even better while I am watching other people run the course from Hopkinton to Boston! Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Sam Adams Reviews:
Sam Adams Hopscape and Fresh As Helles, Sam Adams Rebel Raw, Sam Adams Rebel Rouser, Sam Adams Double Bock, Sam Adams Cold Snap, Sam Adams Octoberfest
Many beer geeks have spent the last couple years frequently pontificating that sour beers are the “next IPA”. I think this is an incredible over-statement, while many sour beer styles have increased in popularity and production they still have a long way to go to catch up to the volume and selection provided by the hop bombs. I still have mixed feelings on sour beer styles (just to clarify “sour” isn’t a style, it’s a flavor that can be found in many different styles of beer). I’ve really enjoyed some complex wild ales and other styles where the tartness complements other flavors, I am still put off by the beers that pucker your tongue without anything to offset the sour flavor. One intriguing, and in no way surprising, newer trend is dry-hopped sour beer styles. The citrus and tropical fruit flavors and aromas from New World hop varieties in particular can provide an interesting counterpoint to the acidity in many sour styles. One example I sampled recently is The Wind from Lost Nation Brewing in Morristown, VT. Lost Nation brews a variety of styles with a focus on less-appreciated European classics. One of their best known beers is their Gose, a traditional tart German style brewed with salt and coriander. The Wind is a version of this gose brewed with grapefruit and dry-hopped with Citra hops.
Lost Nation The Wind pours a hazy bright yellow with a massive white head. The scent is mostly citrus hops and grapefruit. The flavor is more complex. The grapefruit is well represented and the hops add notes of orange, lemon and lime. This complements the mild tart bite from the fermentation along with a subtle salinity that is unique to the gose style. A light malt backbone rounds out the flavor with hints of wheat bread and crackers. The Wind is light, easy to drink and sessionable at 4.5% ABV. The finish is crisp, dry and refreshing, a perfect beer for the last warm days before the cold weather returns. I am still a little wary of mixing hoppy and sour beers, but this beer definitely works. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
I really wish every brewer would put dates on all of their packaged beers. It sucks as a consumer (and as a beer reviewer) when I buy something that tastes a little off or unexpected and I don’t know if it was a flaw in recipe, a quality control issue or the beer is just out of date. This is especially true with hop-forward or dry-hopped beers, the aroma from the hops dissipates quickly so it’s really important to drink the beer very fresh. Good bottle shops will usually do a quality job of rotating their beers to keep fresh beers on the shelves, but even the best can accidentally sell beers that are past peak freshness. I ran into this issue recently with Kent Falls Alternate World, which was advertised as a dry-hopped gose, but I got little or no hop flavor or aroma. I am a fan of Kent Falls and I have enjoyed most of the beers I’ve sampled from the brewery, so I wanted to know if this was a bad batch or just well past it’s peak. Unfortunately, there was no date on the bottle that I could find, so I really have no idea. Alternate world is a gose fermented with Brettanomyces and then dry-hopped with American hops before bottling.
Kent Falls Alternate World pours a clear straw yellow with a massive white head. The scent includes some mild acidity and an extremely subtle aroma of floral hops. The yeast/lacto leads the flavor, notes of lemon, sour apple and barnyard funk along with a little tartness. Again the hops are not as evident as the title would suggest, a touch of cut grass and herbs. The light malts round out the flavor, notes of white bread and cracked grain. Alternate World is light and refreshing, sessionable at 4.6% ABV. The finish is dry with just a little pucker and salinity. I actually really enjoyed Alternate World as a complex and easy to drink gose, but was disappointed by the lack of hop flavor and aroma. Hopefully I’ll get to try another batch at some point. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Kent Falls Reviews:
Kent Falls Equinox, Kent Falls Farmer’s Table, Kent Falls Field Beer Saison #3
For a long time I was hesitant to try gose beers. It took me a little time to warm up to sour beers (I am still working on some of the more aggressively sour styles), and the description of a gose sounded a little strange. Gose is a kettle soured wheat ale that is traditionally brewed with salt, and occasionally other spices. The idea of a salty beer always seemed strange to me, but I’ve given a few versions of this style a shot and I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed them. The salt is usually subtle and provides a nice complement to the sour. Kind of like the mixture of lime juice and salt in a margarita (especially appropriate since it’s Cinco de Mayo). One gose I tried recently was Geyser Gose, a collaboration between Two Roads and Evil Twin. Geyser Gose is brewed with ingredients the brewers sourced on a trip to Iceland including Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr and birch smoked sea salt. It is available on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Two Roads/Evil Twin Geyser Gose pours golden yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a mix of acidity and some herbal aromas from the adjuncts. The beer is light bodied, crisp and very refreshing. There is some tartness from the fermentation but it isn’t a mouth-puckering sour. There is a mild malt backbone, touches of wheat bread and crackers. The salt is evident but subtle, and the herbs add some complexity mithout overwhelming the beer. Geyser Gose is solid summer beer, very easy to drink and not too boozy at 5.5% ABV. The finish is clean with a little acidic bite but minimal aftertaste. Despite some of my initial hesitation at the gose style I enjoyed this beer, I could definitely see myself sipping a few on the porch this summer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Two Roads Reviews:
Two Roads Rye 95, Two Roads Route of All Evil, Two Roads Workers Comp Saison
Previous Evil Twin Reviews:
Evil Twin Ron and The Beast Ryan, Jack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil Brew