Review: New Sam Adams Longshot Series

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Samuel Adams, America’s largest craft brewer, is on a roll lately. The company is putting up big numbers while founder Jim Koch is making news with his drinking pro-tips. This got me thinking that one of the brewery’s finest outputs, the annual Longshot Series, deserves some love. I recently received bottles of the three 2013 Longshot beers and found them to be the most worthwhile purchase from Sam Adams I have had in a long time.

Originally started as an in-company homebrew competition, Sam Adams opened it up to homebrewers nationwide in 1996. Each year the brewery selects three home brewers’ beers to be scaled up and released in a mixed six-pack. In each round of the competition–judged first by certified beer judges and then by founder Jim Koch and his panel of experts–one employee beer is chosen and two are selected from outside home brewers. Selecting homebrewers’ beers to be brewed on pro systems is nothing new, but for Sam Adams it has been a chance to release some really creative and more risky beers for such a big brewery. For example, see the eclectic three beers chosen in the latest Longshot six-pack: American Stout (admittedly safe), Pineapple IPA (experimental), and Gratzer (obscure).

American Stout
Created by Created by Russ Brunner, FL

Russ has been brewing for three years, but this was his first venture into creating a recipe from scratch. The result of his hard work is a big malty stout with notes of chocolate and coffee that carry through to a velvety finish with hints of roasted cocoa. The richness is balanced by subtle citrus and pine notes from the American hops that add a touch of bitterness to this deep and satisfying brew. 7.2% ABV

My Review:
This is a real pitch black pour, with a dense, one finger burnt head that doesn’t quickly fade. Chocolate malt balls and hints of chicory and cream on the nose. This brew has a full but not heavy mouthfeel that leaves a light dry roasted barley bitterness on the finish. This is a really delicious stout that proves this style can be packed full of flavor without being 8 or 9 percent alcohol and full of adjuncts. The swirling notes of soft cocoa and vanilla that end in the bittersweet burnt malt flavors leave you satisfied.
Score: 4.5

Created by Created by Cesar Marron, IL

After reading about the history of this unusual yet traditional Polish smoked wheat beer, Cesar was drawn to the idea of brewing a Grätzer. This unique & flavorful beer comes alive with its combination of smoky sweetness from the heirloom smoked malt and the spicy and herbal notes from Saaz hops. 4.4% ABV

My Review:
Deep, hazy yellow body, big white rocky head, aroma of soft white wheat and clean smooth smoke. Smells not much like the more common rauch malts that remind one of foods like smoked fish and BBQ; it has a much cleaner and ethereal soft and smooth smokiness. It’s a very light, almost unsubstantial body and mouthfeel, though it does have the trademark wheat creaminess. It finishes very light with a slightly tart fruity finish and a cold light woody smokiness. A terrific intro starter beer that is quite tasty, though I wish it was a little bit more bold it makes for a terrific summer front porch drinking beer, lawnmower ale, or food pairing refreshment. Score: 4 out of 5

Pineapple IPA
Created by Created by Samuel Adams Employee Teresa Bury, PA

Teresa made it a personal challenge to create a beer with a strong hop flavor that was balanced with her favorite fruit, pineapple. Brewed with four different American hops for a burst of grapefruit character that’s mellowed and complemented by the tropical fruit notes from the pineapple. 6.0% ABV

My Review:
Possibly the most intriguing of the three, it’s also the biggest disappointment. While not bad by any stretch of the term, it just lives up to the first part of its name and fails on the second. Pouring a light yellow the color of clarified pineapple juice with a sweet pineapple syrup nose, it starts out on the right track. Actually, if you’re mainly just looking for that distinct pineapple flavor, you may be really pleased with this beer. Where it let me down is in the IPA department; it has only a very mild bitterness and not much hop flavor, either. The hops are completely taken over by the pineapple, which is also a bit sweet. I like that this beer is not malty, and thus stays just enough on the good side of becoming too cloying, so it will please sweet beer lovers. I, however, prefer my IPAs light, dry, and crisp, with a bouquet of hop flavor, and this does not have that. Now the pineapple, on the other hand…
Score: 3.5 out of 5

The Samuel Adams Longshot Series is available now in mixed 12oz six-packs with two bottles of each of the previously mentioned beers. Definitely worth seeking out.

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

1 Comment

  1. Aaron

    May 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Any recommendations on which stores are likely to carry this?

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