There really isn’t much to say about KBS that hasn’t been mentioned before. I’m not even really a fan of stouts, much less American Double Stouts. And yet, the feeding frenzy that goes on every spring when KBS is released is justified. It’s brewed with some coffee and vanilla beans, then aged in oak bourbon barrels for a year. Pitch black (completely opaque), and showing a bit of chocolate flavor as well, it looks the style and walks the style as well. It’s bitter and hopped enough to not be cloying. And yet, I don’t feel the need to personally sample it more than once. Great beer, just not my preference.
Mild Amber at 5.5% ABV, this is a easy-drinking medium bodied beer. It has a nice color and head, but tastes a bit watery. Counteracted by a long herbal finish. Smooth throughout. Has caramel and toffee malt notes. Would classify this as an English style amber (malt-forward). Hops are pushed to the back of the plate. It’s okay, but you’d struggle to remember the name of the beer.
Nugget Nectar from Tröegs Brewing Company is labeled as “Imperial Amber”, but that’s really more like “American Amber” and some people might classify it as an IPA (or red IPA). It weighs in at 7.50% and is hopped with a variety of hops, then further hopped with Nugget hops (obviously, therefore the name). It’s basically a hopped up / stronger Hopback Ale and is a spring seasonal release. It usually gets released near the start of the year (January-March) rather than when you’d think a traditional spring beer would be released. A nice way to start warming up along with the weather. Doesn’t age very well, so drink it fresh. One of my favorites, but I don’t mind skipping it some years.
World-Class IPA from New York. Pineapple-grapefruit aroma and finish. Smooth finish despite being very hoppy (wonderful attribute for an IPA). Honey & caramel malt help balance the hops out. Not carbonated very heavily. All in all, almost a perfect example of what an American IPA should be. Delicious beer, but you will definitely not feel the ABV hit until later.
World-Class IPA from New York. Aroma is of citrus with a flowery/fruity flavor. Ephemeral mouthfeel with superb balance between the malt and hops. Highly drinkable to the point where you’ll tilt the bottle back only to find that you’ve already drank all the beer. Very tasty and sessionable for an IPA. Not ruinous on the palate.
The 2013 Harvest (Autumn) Collection variety pack from Samuel Adams contained the following beers:
- Boston Lager (2)
- Harvest Pumpkin (2)
- Latitude 48 IPA (2)
- Hazel Brown (2)
- Octoberfest (2)
- Ruby Mild (2)
This was a vast improvement over the original 2009 version. It’s probably also the best lineup I’ve seen for the Harvest Collection variety packs over the years since. There isn’t a single undrinkable beer out of this box, and most are solid beers that provide enough variety to keep one drinker happy or for everybody to be happy with their choices out of what’s left in the box.
Rating (for the variety pack): 95
As hard as it is to believe, Samuel Adams had never released a variety pack for fall before (they typically did it for winter) 2009. The very first Harvest Collection by Samuel Adams had the following beers:
- Boston Lager (2)
- Octoberfest (2)
- Irish Red (2)
- Cherry Wheat (2)
- Brown Ale (2)
- Dunkelweizen (2) [First brewing – Harvest Exclusive]
Overall, this was a greatly disappointing pack for me. The only good options were the stalwarts that were to be expected: Boston Lager and Octoberfest. Of the four remaining options, Brown Ale was the best. Dunkelweizen was simply horrible, as was Cherry Wheat.
Rating (for the variety pack): 45.
Lovely light (ABV-wise) porter from Tröegs. Pitch black with a quick-dissolving white head that laces the sides of the glass, this is the way a porter should look. Still a decent amount of hops despite being aged for roughly a year. Still a robust chocolate malt backbone that stands up to the hops. If you like your porters hopped – Reckoning is a good choice. Excellent choice as a sessionable porter as well.
Sampled: 2009 Thanksgiving
Almost seemed infected with the amount of carbonation/head that overflowed out of the bottle when I opened it up. I got excited by the “Ale with Spices” term on the label, but this was akin to a liquid form of Lawry’s seasoning salt mixed with other spices. No head retention after a couple of seconds, mouthfeel was below average. Murky appearance, with a flavor like these horrible shots you’d mix up for your college friends to drink during drinking games with whatever happened to be in the spice rack. Absolutely vile.
Rating: 2 (on a 100 point scale).
*From the Archives – 29 Dec 2008*
Poured as a brown clear liquid with a small amount of white head that disappeared after about a minute. Doesn’t lace. At the edges of the glass, the color lightens up and becomes honey-colored.
Smell is of nutmeg and some alcohol. It’s better than most winter warmers I’ve had in the past, but nutmeg isn’t my favorite of the spices used in this brew. If you like nutmeg though, you’d bump this up a notch.
Taste is of nutmeg with a touch of cinnamon and a hint of ginger. Certainly couldn’t detect the honey that they used. The taste is somewhat boozy as well, but if you’re into that, bump this up a notch. It was almost like a nutmeg-rum-soaked cookie ball flavor, minus the cookie. And minus the rum flavors.
Mouthfeel was average. No creaminess after the head went away. It was crisp and clean though and not cloying or suffocating with spices. Solid 3.
Drinkability suffered a bit as you can taste the alcohol and it shows. I like the alcohol to be well-hidden or for the beer to be easily drunk without worrying about the heat coming from it. Maybe if the booziness goes away with age, then this would be a prime candidate for aging.
Overall, it’s a decent beer but certainly not a replacement for either Great Lakes or Barley’s Christmas Ales. The three are similiar – the thing that makes this one different is the nutmeg and the booziness of the brew. If you’re into either one of those features, then by all means go for this brew. Otherwise, it’s a solid beer but not one that I’d buy year after year.