More from the Sam Adams Winter Variety Pack. The reason for multiple Sam reviews so close together is that I’m writing up some reviews of all six included beers for work for next week’s beer club special, so I’m working my way through them and sharing the good ones with you people.
There will be plenty of cider coming over the next week as well, just as soon as my
blarg cold clears up enough that I can do it justice.
So, onto the Old Fezziwig Ale. I can say absolutely and unabashedly that this is the best thing I’ve ever had from Sam Adams. Keep in mind that there are several dozens of Sam Adams beers I’ve never had, so there remains the distinct possibility of even better beer by them out there. In terms of easily-obtainable Sam Adams, however, this stuff is A+++.
Name: Old Fezziwig Ale
Origin: Boston Beer Company/Sam Adams, Boston, MA
Style: Winter Warmer
IBU: not given
Calories: (because I’m always amused when I find this info) 213 per 12 oz bottle
I drank this: poured from a bottle at home
This beer is pretty much exactly everything a Winter Warmer is supposed to be. Awesome name (thank you, Charles Dickens, for a goofily fun name to say), nice deep auburn color, great sugar and spice smell, happy warming sensation when drinking (good trick with the low ABV, to be honest). This brew is in the same league as the Sam Smith Winter Welcome, my set bar for this style of beer.
This beer begins with a major hit of brown sugar-tasting malts, which are accompanied by caramel, fruity (almost like currants), and molasses notes – kind of like a fruitcake but without the neon green and red bits of cherry (so… like a fruitcake, but good). The different sugared malts are then overlayed with clove and nutmeg and cinnamon and orange peel and ginger and then topped off with a tiny, tiny bit of evergreen.
The thing with a successful Winter Warmer is to take all the notes I just listed and manage to make them balance properly. This is really tricky: some versions don’t throw in much spice, so that the whole thing ends up being fairly bland. Other versions end up overdosing on spices, so that the spice becomes overwhelming and distracting before the pint’s halfway point. Overdoing the spice is easy, I think, because the spice flavors tend to compound after a few sips, so that it can be too much really quickly. The reason I’m so swoony over the Old Fezziwig Ale is because it avoids both pitfalls: the spice is noticeable, but it’s never too much. It’s just there, yummy and warm and tasting of spice cake.
This is one of those beers that I truly and honestly hope you get to enjoy at some point. It’s beautifully done, and a very good example of exactly why Sam Adams has the reputation for awesome that it does.
*I’m giving you people the highlights reel only – AKA I’m not going to bother reviewing the Sam Adams Boston Lager here – EVER – because I assume you’ve already had one. Or several. Because if you haven’t managed to drink a Sam Adams Boston Lager (AKA “what you get when you order a Sam Adams”), I honestly don’t know what you’re doing reading a beer reviewing blog.
Go away until you’ve had one. I mean it.
My sentiment is the same for Guinness. If you haven’t already had a Guinness, get off your lazy behind and go have one. You don’t have to love it, but you need to at least TRY one. Seriously. You can’t pretend to know anything about beer until you’ve at least TRIED a Guinness.