BRANDING IS IMPORTANT. For most consumer products the most important thing is branding. If you don’t believe it, consider how long the macrobrewers have dominated their market with cans filled with nothing but yellow fail. Brands can live and die by public perception alone. I can prove this assertion with a simple test. How many of these brands can you identify without a single word of text?
- 0 to 2 Recognized: Either you’re a member of some communist collective that does all of their shopping at the state-sponsored Gulagmart or you’re blind. If the latter, please message me so I can direct you to TSJ’s braille-smut section.
- 3 to 4 Recognized: You are average. Congratulations.
- 5 Recognized: You are a true blue capitalist and, apparently, a filthy masturbator as well.
Any company that grows prodigiously and manages not to torpedo their own brand through some scandal should count itself fortunate, which is why Sam Adam’s “Batch No. 1” series is so confusing to me. Sam Adams, the ubiquitous star of all Boston Beer Company labels (above), is nowhere to be found on them. I understand the need to let consumers know you are casting business as usual to the wind with a bold and experimental series, but that’s no reason to remove Mr. Adams from the bottle entirely.
Third Voyage (8.0% ABV)
Sam Adams’ answer to the double IPA clearly means business. The mound of parchment-colored head charging out of the copper ale is as robust as the aroma. It has a floral, minty smell that runs as thick as the angst in a junior high school’s locker room. It really does smell like freshly macerated hops.
The first taste has a similar blast of hops, featuring citrus rinds and floral notes. There’s a bit of red pepper in the mix and a mild, fleeting honey sweetness beneath it all. It’s not quite as abrasive as the west coast DIPA, but doesn’t quite strike the balance of the east coast style.
It’s surprisingly watery in the finish, leaving a thin, oily residue of hops behind. Some would probably welcome the respite, which is precisely the kind of backward thinking that allowed this world to create the Appletini. Me? I find it anti-climatic. Still, you have to credit it for keeping the 8% alcohol under wraps so nicely.
Griffin’s Bow (11.5% ABV)
This oak-aged barley wine ale also produces a stunningly thick taupe head, but compared to the predecessor it’s an aromatic wasteland. It has some mild hop notes with a bit of malt beneath it, but ultimately it smells like disappointment. The flavor is nectary, almost reminiscent of honeysuckle, with bits of pear as well. There is a mild caramel note offset by a warming alcohol flavor in the finish. I also catch fleeting hints of flowery notes as well, but not with real prominence.
It’s tasty, but lacks punch.