The very first release of Samuel Adams’ Oktoberfest in cans came in August of 2013. That’s probably the best shelf spotting I’ve ever made for my particular interests. I love Samuel Adams’ Oktoberfest and love cans. It’s about time that Sam Adams finally transitioned to canning some of their beers, especially after having some issues with their glass bottles in 2008 that forced a recall and issuing of rebates.
Spotted in August 2013 – the Samuel Adams “Small Batch Collection”. Four bombers in a cardboard box – suggested retail was about $19.99. At $5 a bomber – that’s an economical way to sample some of their special batches. The four beers included are:
- Merry Mischief – Gingerbread Stout
- The Vixen – Chocolate Chili Bock
- Norse Legend – Sahti
- Griffin’s Bow – Oaked Blonde Barleywine
All are intended for immediate consumption or to be aged. I didn’t pick up the set, as none of those styles typically interest me, but if I was offered any of those beers to sample first, I’d go with The Vixen.
A double IPA in a can, brewed during the hops shortage a few years back. Aged on oak spirals, it lends a woodsy and smoky character to the beer. Blend of Columbus, Centennial, and Cascade hops – nothing special, just a typical pine-citrus flavor blend. Medium bodied, but drinks rich. Head is excellent but doesn’t lace well. Mainly malt-forward. Good attempt at a DIPA, even better when you consider you can get it in a can.
In Columbus, we’ve got a soccer supporters club on Hudson Street (with its own private establishment as well) that supports the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. Elevator Brewery has a long list of brews, but they renamed their Xtra Lager to Hudson Street Hooligans Lager and began serving it exclusively as a contract-brewed beer for Hooligans and at Crew Stadium. This beer has since been retired, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wax somewhat poetic about it. It was an easy drinking Helles Lager with more flavor than your standard macro lagers. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was much else to recommend besides it being a superior option to macros.
Great Lakes Brewing Co introduced Rye of the Tiger as a pub exclusive beer quite a few years ago, but only began bottling it recently. A Rye IPA is rare enough, much less a world-class one. Rye of the Tiger combines the spicy bite of the rye with the citrusy bouquet of the hops. Finishes dry with a nice bittering kick. Has a mainly grapefruit flavor and is highly drinkable despite its 7.5% ABV. Moderately carbonated and has a nice light to medium body. Definitely one of my favorite spring beers by far (it’s been released in the spring in both 2014 and 2015).
This is a review of the original Hop Head by Green Flash (2009 version). This version was 55 IBU and only 6.4% ABV (it’s currently 70 IBU and 8.1% ABV). When it was at the original version, it was a nice hoppy American Amber that showcased how Green Flash could hold off on all the hops for once. The new version is more of a Red IPA, whereas the original was teetering on the brink of being one. The hops mixed with the deep roasted malt led to a surprisingly long finish for a nice bodied ale.
Palo Santo Marron is an American Brown Ale from Dogfish Head, weighing in right at 12% ABV (which happens to also be Ohio’s maximum ABV cap). Unfiltered and aged in handmade Palo Santo wood vessels that lend a vanilla flavor to the ale itself, it’s a wonderfully complex aged ale. A backbone of caramel malt lends flavor and strength to this beer, making a wonderfully rich and layered beer. Also tastes somewhat of raisins.
Amber Ale from Dark Horse Brewing out of Michigan is an American Amber weighing in at 5.5% ABV. It’s a pretty decent beer, but doesn’t taste like a normal amber beer should. Somewhat toasted malt flavors lurk in the background, and there’s no hops to speak of. Spicy like a Witbier – definitely would classify this more as a red Wit, because we have black IPAs. Definitely touches of banana esters and isn’t carbonated very well. Overall – would drink again, but wouldn’t seek this out either.
High Country Ale is a somewhat decent American Pale Ale (APA). Weighing in at 5.4% ABV, it tastes much like an American Adjunct Lager-Ale. That being said – it’s decent, if overly heavy on the biscuity malt flavors that still manage to be corn-like and light-tasting. Mainly malt-based, with almost no hops to speak of. Easy-drinking, but almost devoid of any other flavors besides the biscuity malt that’s light on the palate.
All of these pumpkin beers got released in August 2009. A bit too early for pumpkin, but well-loved by those that wanted to get a early start on the season. Out of all of these options seen here, New Holland’s Ichabod was probably the best pumpkin beer.