Continuing the trend of winter beers, next up is this brew:
Sam Adams knows a thing or two about craft beer, starting in 1984 with the now famous Boston Lager. Being one of the craft pioneers, they continue to make beers a little outside of the box, but not too far out of the norm. That is where this beer comes in.
The Winter Lager is Sam’s winter seasonal(obviously). This beer is smooth, with a nice flavor overall, but something is missing to me. It seems like a weak version of their Boston Lager, with a tiny bit of spice. The taste is very dulled down compared to other winter beers, which is quite the surprise here. I would venture to call it a Boston Lager without the bite. It is good, and it goes down smooth, but nothing spectacular. Sam puts out some good, different style beers, and I feel that this one misses the mark.
Sam Adams is a great company, with a long history in making great beers. I would almost consider them a “gateway” beer. Basically meaning that this beer, and others from them, could be a great entry into the craft beer market when just learning about your own palate. Sam Adams is also my go to bar beer in non urban areas, which usually has a horrible beer selection. It doesn’t matter how far away from civilization that you travel, even the smallest, podunk country bar usually has a bottle or two of Sam Adams for the “city folk.” I am okay with that, and I am sure that Jim Koch is too.
As I have stated before, I love winter beer season. It is the time of year where beers get darker, a little spice comes out to play, and the beers just warm the soul. I usually feel a little disappointment when the season is over, but how many of us would drink these darker specialties if they were available year round? I can’t imagine drinking a winter ale in the heat of July. But that’s me. This is a special time of year, so drink it up while it’s still here!
That said, enter Mt. Carmel’s Winter Ale:
This is, by far, my favorite winter/seasonal brew on the planet. Sure there are some tasty ones out there that I enjoy, but this beer is different.
For starters, just look at the label. While the mass majority of beers that hit the market have a plain label (ex. Bud, Miller, Yuengling, etc.) this beer has a beautiful winter scene gracing the bottle. It is simple, yet elegant. A nice winter scene depicting the brewery in the colder months. Their labels stand out nicely amongst the other random bottles. If you are familiar with their other seasonals, the brewery in the picture changes with the time of year. This is the only true way of telling time in my household. That’s a lie, but you get the idea…
Next up, the flavor. This beer is what a winter beer should be. Best described from the label, “…Scents of Spruce and Ginger mingling with flavors of Orange Spiced bread…” You cannot argue with that description. The beer though pours nice and dark, the head has a stickiness to it, which in turn gives a creamy mouth feel. Reading that, it sounds a little dirty. But dirty this beer is not. The flavors do “mingle” nicely, giving you a taste of spice, a little hint of fruits, and the sweet malt taste that winter beers are known for. It is balanced so perfectly, you do not realize that the ABV is 8%. A true winter warmer.
Lastly, this beer is local. I really enjoy that fact. I know that the beer I am drinking is fresher than some of the others that are on the shelf/tap. This is also cutting down on my carbon footprint, just by supporting this local business. One of their shirt designs sums up this point quite nicely, “Keep your beer local, and make your conversations exotic.” I like that.
If you have not checked out their site, click here to check it out.
Well done Mt. Carmel, this beer is a classic!