Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale
Winter Ale - 5.9% ABV
This is a very good beer that warms the soul. It is somewhat similar in taste to their winter lager, but a little lighter. At 5.9% alcohol, it packs a pretty decent punch, but you wouldn't know it by drinking it.
I remember having Sam Adams’ Old Fezziwig Ale for the first time on a snow day in college. Before a semester starts you are given the option of receiving announcements from the school via text message or phone call. Without any foresight—and out of sheer carelessness—I signed up for the phone call. At 5 in the morning I was awakened to the impinging rings of my cell phone and to the robotic voice of the pre-recorded message: James Madison University will be shut down today due to weather conditions.
I was up. The text message would have been more calming but this was neither here nor there. Appointments, classes, to-do’s, assignments, potential unwanted stop-and-chats were eliminated at once. I didn’t have to see anybody I didn’t want to see and I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do. It was a snow day, maybe the final thing keeping us latched onto childhood, the snow day in full form—classes missed, icicles forming, the sound of snow falling and plowers plowing, a pause in the ongoing slush of time.
It was time to drink. We began by creating mock-chairs out of the snow—we must have gotten around a foot—and we sat back drinking Country Club Malt Liquor out in the cold like idiots; we drank the Country Club Malt Liquor because that was what we had in the fridge—such a godawful beer it’s completely worth drinking. Luckily we had the Samuel Adams Winter Variety pack as well. And when our asses froze in place we trekked back inside to that wintry warmth, that Dickensian conviviality of being inside around holiday season, the outdoors weather-beaten and pitch white beyond the glass of our human barriers.
Sam Adams wants you to drink Old Fezziwig in a setting as such, with your ugly sweater on and a fireplace ablaze. The name itself comes from a Dickens novella for god’s sake. Pouring the beer out into a pint glass shows a deep amber hue with a thick beige head; the body is nearly dark brown but with that hint of dark candy apple red. The smell is confusing and I couldn’t crack it; cinnamon is in there, somewhere, milling about. This is for certain; but there are other mysterious notes present.
The taste is expected from this specialty grain—cinnamon, caramel, ginger. The chocolate malt emerges in the follow through during a moment of reflection. The citrusy orange note is lost on me, however. It is, essentially, a gingerbread cookie in a bottle the way Sea Dog’s blueberry wheat is a blueberry muffin in a bottle. It comes off sweeter than expected and can use a greater hop presence. It’s unique in that it’s not trying to be stoutish and it’s not trying to be hoppish; it’s somewhere in the middle doing, what I figure, a specialty grain is supposed to do.
Not an ideal choice and certainly not a go-to brew, it’s meant for certain wintry moments. It’s meant for the snow day and nostalgic musings. It is to be paired with cookies, warm sweaters, and the melodic hum of holiday season.
Rob- 4 Shyoh's
Pete - 5 Shyoh's
Sam Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA
IPA - 6.3% ABV
This was my 4th beer of the night, so by no means was I out of it, but somehow I didn't even notice that I drank this. Literally drank the whole thing without even thinking about what it tasted like, and I drank it fast. I'm guessing that means it had a nice balance and wasn't too bitter, but it also means it doesn't have a ton of flavor.
Ratings: Pete - 4 Shyoh's
Sam Adams Slice of Citrus
IPA - 6.5% ABV
This beer was specially brewed for a beer & sweets festival in Boston to be paired with a black pepper and grapefruit donut. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this was, as usually these special beers are bad. This one was good, definitely taste citrus, maybe even a hint of lime.
Ratings: Pete - 4 Shyoh's
Sam Adams Smokey Sour Peach
Smoked Sour - 11.2% ABV
The name/style doesn't really do this justice. This tastes like a good scotch without the alcohol burn. If you like that, get it. If you're expecting a sour beer, you'll be disappointed. I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch.
Ratings: Pete - 6 Shyoh's