First of all, a confession. I don't drink Samuel Adams that much. I tend to support smaller craft breweries and local beers, but that doesn't mean I don't respect what they do. They sometimes get a bad rap for being too commercial, but I think that they should be applauded for both their history and their support of the craft brewing industry. Their television commercials are educational and emphasize ingredients and quality over misogynistic themes that accentuate the lowest common denominator. And it doesn't stop there. Recently, Sam Adams offered a very generous sale of hops to smaller brewers to help them out in the current hop shortage, and they offered the hops at cost, with no profit for themselves. I have to tip my hat to them, and the Longshot beer releases are just another way that Sam Adams supports brewers.
The Longshot contest occurs every year as a homebrewing competition, where the winners are announced at the Great American Beer Festival and Sam Adams promises to brew their beers to be released in a special six pack. Typically there are three beers in the six pack, two from the open competition between homebrewers and one beer for the best homebrew from a Sam Adams employee. This year was a little different, as only two beers are in the six pack. One of the winners this year was Mike McDole's Double IPA, but due to the unavailability of certain hops (there were seven in the recipe), it was not able to be included with this year's beer, but should be included in next year's batch.
Let's talk about the beer. First up is the Grape Pale Ale, a recipe created by Sam Adams employee Lili Hess. As the name suggests, this is a pale ale brewed with grapes and a surprising addition of maple syrup. The syrup lends a bit of sweetness to the beer, and of course there is a grape fruitiness as well, but overall the flavors are fairly mild and it makes for a pretty easy drinking pale ale that would be nice on a warm summer day.
The star of the six pack is the Weizenbock, brewed by Illinois homebrewer Rodney Kibzey. Weizenbocks are a fairly rare style of beer, sort of an amalgamation of a Hefeweizen and a Dopplebock, basically a strong dark wheat beer. Probably the best known beer of this style is Aventinus, a beer I love, so it's no surprise that I really liked this beer. It is dark, fruity, with a wonderful spicy finish. I would love to see more commercial representations of this style.
So the next time you walk into a grocery store and see a six pack of Sam Adams, just try to remember all the good things they have done and are doing for craft beer.