Samuel Adams Releases Sam ’76

photo by Kevin Gibson

photo by Kevin Gibson

Here comes another “session” beer – but it’s a bit different than we’ve seen before.

With Sam ’76, Samuel Adams has created a brew that utilizes both lager and ale yeast in an experimental type of fermentation process completed in Sam Adams experimental nanobrewery in Boston (where 2017 NY International Beer Competition gold medal winner Utopia is produced). Basically, brewers began with two active fermentations, one a base lager and the other an ale, and each with their own yeast strains. The base beers were then combined for a final maturation process for what an announcement by the brewery called “a tag-team fermentation.” The hybrid was then dry-hopped in late fermentation to arrive at the finished product – which, incidentally, took about a year of experimenting to finally achieve.

The result is something that drinks a bit like a cross between a session IPA and a Northeast IPA. Sam ’76 sits at 4.6 percent alcohol by volume, much like a lager. But the addition of American Cascade, Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic hops give it a tropical aroma that will have you thinking it’s an IPA.

The slightly hazy beer looks the part of the lager, and the crispness and drinkability surely scream lager as well, but the floral aromas give way to a surprisingly full, tropical flavor. Sort of like an IPA light, if you will. And much like a Northeast version of the IPA, there is no hop bitterness on the back end of the palate. It’s all flavor, no bitterness. (The IBUs on this beer number 12, if you still pay attention to that sort of thing.)

That said, the aroma does outpace the hop flavor. I was sent a pair of 12-ounce cans of Sam ’76, and both went into 12-ounce beer glasses. By the time I got halfway through the first one, the novelty (if you will) had worn off, and it was just me and the beer. I could sense the lager yeast in the product, and found my palate searching in vain for the bitterness that normally comes with these hops.

As I got farther into the beer, I sensed even a slight tartness, and a slight astringency appeared. Interesting and drinkable, and certainly a fine lawn mower beer. This is one of those beers you can drink with your pals while watching the game or spending time on the boat without worrying about falling in. And for those who crave the hop flavors, you get a dose of those too – particularly the bright Mosaics.

(Incidentally, I loved that one of the food pairing suggestions for this beer is pigs in a blanket – that tells you all you need to know.)

“It took many iterations to get it right,” said Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch in a press release, “but with one sip, you’ll understand why this beer is so unique.”

Available in early 2018, Sam ’76 will be available in six-pack and 12-pack cans, as well as in 16-ounce singles. Prices will vary by market.