Infinium and Beyond!

Posted: January 10, 2011 in Beer School
by Eric Griffith and Mimi Griffith

Have you ever gone to your local beer shop and reserved a bottle of beer in advance of the release date?  Have you ever toasted the New Year with a champagne flute full of beer?  Have you ever brought a $20 bottle of beer to a party and opened someone’s eyes to the possibilities?  Well, if you haven’t, you should.  And tonight we found the perfect beer to help you answer all of these questions with a “yes.”

The Brewery

The Boston Beer Company has been around for 26 years and produces nearly 2 million barrels of beer each year under the Samuel Adams label.   As the largest craft brewer in America they represent nearly 23% of the total U.S. craft volume.  But that does not mean they are sitting on their hands brewing the same line-up of beers every year.  While everyone has a favorite Sam Adams stand-by, there is always something new to discover and explore.

Tonight Brian Brubaker, Region Manager from Denver, shared his knowledge and passion for Sam Adams with the class at Cicero’s Beer School.  From the Brewmaster’s Collection to the seasonal brews to the just-released collaboration beer, Samuel Adams has something for every palette and Brian definitely delivered the good stuff.

Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat- (bottles at Cicero’s)

From the Sam Adams Brewmaster’s Collection, the Cherry Wheat is brewed with Michigan cherries and heather honey to balance the tartness.  Cherry Wheat is hazy and light in color.  This brew is now available year-round and checks in at 5.3% ABV.  Suggested pairings include chocolate cake.  Drinkers of this beer will be divided over the cherry flavor based on their preference to cherries.

He saysThe nose is cherry juice and as a cherry fan I am happy about that.  I also notice other fruits such as pineapple.  Normally a wheat beer hits me with a lemon flavor, but not this time.  The tartness from the cherries becomes more prominent as the beer warms and it tightens my tongue.  Dry on the finish.  I like cherries so this beer is drinkable for me, but I wouldn’t want too many.  If you don’t like cherries then stay away.

She says- At first whiff my nose told me cough syrup.  You definitely pick up the cherry scent.  It smelled sweet, and I also got a little coconut and pineapple.   If you like cherry this beer won’t disappoint!  As I was sampling this beer I couldn’t help think it would work well in a baste for a ham.  Later I found that the Sam Adams website has several recipes using Cherry Wheat.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager- (bottles at Cicero’s)

For 21 years Winter Lager has been a staple in the Sam Adams family of beers.  A wheat bock brewed with cinnamon, orange peel and ginger, it appears medium brown with a red tinge around the edges.  The hops are hidden by Caramel 60, Copeland ale and 5 other varieties of malts.

He says- If you like to drink a darker colored beer for winter without the heaviness of a stout or porter then this is the beer for you.  Extremely drinkable with just a hint of spice.  The flavor is weaker than I remember in past years, but maybe the Cherry Wheat is still on my palette.  Not a Christmas beer, but great session beer for the cold months.

She says- I was excited to sample this one as it was my favorite seasonal last winter and I haven’t tried it yet this year.  I really enjoy Winter Lager as a session beer.  It has enough of a flavor profile to be interesting but it’s not so overpowering that you won’t want more than one at a time.  The mild spices are well balanced with the sweetness of the malts.  I think it pairs well with a variety of foods too.  Winter Lager will again have a presence in my fridge for the next few months!

Samuel Adams Latitude 48

This summer I was happy to find Latitude 48 in the Sam Adams sample pack and wished there were more than 2 in each 12-pack.  Fear not, Boston Beer Company has delivered by bringing their IPA back in six-packs.  The recipe was tweaked from the summer samples by upping the IBUs to 60 and bringing the ABV to 6%, but overall it is the same profile with Bavarian, English and American hops all working together to create a distinct yet familiar taste.  All the hops are from areas within the 48th latitude which is also known as the “Hop Belt.”

He says- Wonderful pine and resin aroma as the hops take the lead.  Good malt backbone, but still has a nice hop linger after each sip.  Interesting combination of hops.  I think I like the sample pack taste better as this may be a little too astringent for me, but this is a very serviceable IPA. 

She says- The scent of hops got me excited to try this one.   If you enjoy hops then this is a good beer to add to your list.   I was so glad to see Sam Adams offering an IPA, and this one didn’t disappoint!  I did my homework this week and put a six pack in my fridge.  The only problem, it was a little hard to find.

Infinium (collaboration with Weihenstephaner)

Samuel Adams worked with Weihenstephaner (the world’s oldest brewery) over the past 2 years to create a masterpiece.  Together they have created the real “champagne of beers.”  Bottled and racked in champagne bottles, this beer actually pops when you release the cork.  It is an extremely limited release with only 40 cases expected in St. Louis.  And I don’t mean to boast, but evidently we were some of the first people in the country to try this special beer.  I told you not to miss a class.  I would suggest you grab a bottle or two of Infinium if you can find it…drink one now and save one for a special occasion.  Thank you to Brian and the Samuel Adams crew for allowing us to sample this exceptional creation.  Introduce your friends to this beer and they will thank you for helping them discover the diversity of beer.

He says- Outstanding nose that reminds me of a barleywine, but the appearance is clearer and much more carbonated.  The taste is on the sweet side, but still light in the mouth.  This is a difficult beer to describe because it is so different.  It reminds me of an imperial Oktoberfest with the flavors, but feels more like champagne on the finish with a fruity note.  The 10% ABV is well hidden.  For me this was crazy good, but you have to try it for yourself to get the full experience.  It left me wanting more and excited to find a bottle to share with friends.

She says- Brian was definitely building us up for the best!  It was light in color, but not in flavor.  It had a lovely mouth feel and was very smooth to drink.  It was very effervescent and had some tropical fruit notes, but well balanced with some earthy spice.  It almost reminded me of a milder version of some barley wines I’ve enjoyed before. There was a buzz in the room as people sampled this one and before he started to describe how it’s “champagne-like” I could hear people saying “Good New Year’s Eve” beer!!   You could tell right away that this was a special occasion beer.

Here is a link to the four videos discussing the collaboration: http://www.samueladams.com/collaboration/

Only three of them are available on Youtube.  You will have to go to the Sam Adams website to watch the final video. Here they are:

The Last Sip

By the time you read this Infinium might be sold out, but I want to issue a 2011 Beer Resolution to you all.  Take the time this year to seek out a “special release” beer.  Talk with your local bottle shop and find out if you can reserve a bottle.  Then gather a few friends and share the experience, you won’t regret it.  Buzz Lightyear’s mantra is “To infinity and beyond!”  And in that vein, Sam Adams has brewed Infinium and I can’t wait to see what is beyond.  Cheers!

About the Authors – Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about a year now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for five years and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, just realized beer actually has flavor about a year ago. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!

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