I just realized that those are both the nicknames of pro sports teams I support, in addition to coming together to form the Sam Adams slogan.
In celebration of having a little pocket money again -- I finally got what Ashdown owed me for renting Zipcars and for working the front desk -- I bought some Sam Irish Red. Hadn't had it. It's...ok. But it's one more check mark on my mission to sample of every kind of Sam Adams beer. Support your local brewery.
Here's an up-to-date personal ranking of the styles:
1. Cream Stout. There's no way to tell you the true brilliance of this beer. Sometimes a person feels like Sam is churning out new styles just to add to their resume. Then you buy a six of cream stout, pour it slowly into a glass and say, "Oh fuck yes."
2. Hefeweizen. The smoothness of this blend would convert even the staunchest non-beery.
3. Boston Lager. It lulls you to sleep sometimes -- most of the time, default beer is not good. If you want fancy, you look for fancy. Leinenkugel's, the pride of Chippewa Falls, WI, churns out a handful of different brews, but their original in indistinguishable from any other American lager. Budweiser, despite what they try to tell you through billions of dollars in advertising, is swill.
Seriously -- have you seen their new ads with the guy from the Daily Show? The worst one is where he says that in an American lager you can't hide flaws, where as in an "import" you can. Import is just a stand-in for anything besides Miller, Coors and Bud in their world. Clearly, Budweiser knows their audience -- people who don't actually know anything about beer. The Miller Brewery tour was similarly dreadful. Like Elissa said, "You know what else is crisp and clean? Water."
But Sam's basic brew, the Boston Lager, is a surprising delight. There's nothing special about it, except that it's exceptional. I should trademark that and sell it to them.
4. Black Lager. I hadn't really had a beer quite like this before -- it's just as black as a stout or porter, but not nearly as thick. Almost a sweet taste behind the darkness. Sort of like me.
5. Winter Lager. Nicely spiced, a hearty brew. It's no Uff-Da, but what is?
6. Boston Ale. A nice derivative of Boston Lager. Good, but not great. I remember that Boston Ale was one of the few American beers available in System Bolaget, the Swedish state-owned liquor store, and it tasted fucking fantastic compared to Swedish beer, which was strong but all tasted exactly the same. So bonus points for that.
7. Honey Porter. Pretty good. Same mix of sweet and dark as Black Lager, but with a little twist.
8. Oktoberfest. OK. Berghoff's is better.
9. Irish Red. I'm a little disappointed; the redness, in both color and taste, is muted. It's a niche taste, but that's no excuse.
10. Brown Ale. A perfectly drinkable beer, well balanced. But brown ales are my absolute favorite beers, so Sam's gets docked because it could be so much more. It's no Fat Squirrel, I can tell you that.
11. Cherry Wheat. Unlike some, I have no problem with fruited beers. I like many. I like this one. But it's a little to rich and sharp to leapfrog its cousins.
*Beers I have not tried, or have not tried in a long time:
Sam Adams Light. What's the point, really?
Pale Ale. Same question. If you're spending nearly twice as much to buy Sam instead of Pabst, why would you buy pale ale?
White Ale. Could be good. But really, same question.
Scotch Ale. One of my favorite kinds of beer, so I'd love to try Sam's.
More ratings to come!