DRINK IT DOWN: Sam ’76 Ale/Lager by Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company)
Beer: Sam ’76
Brewery: Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Style: American Pale Lager
Description: Sam ’76 pours a slightly hazy star yellow with a rocky white head that leaves a thick lacing on the glass. The aroma has notes of bready malts, fruity esters, and wonderfully bright citrus hops. The taste follows the nose with semi-sweet bready malts washing over the palate first, followed by a subtle citrus hop bite that is very refreshing. The fruity esters have a strong hit of lemon, but leaning more towards sweet than bitter due to the perfect balance with the malts. The medium body and moderate carbonation are perfect and impart a smooth quality that makes this beer highly drinkable.
This ale and lager hybrid truly has the best of both worlds. That combined with the low ABV makes for a brew that could quickly become your new go-to beer.
Food pairing: The combination of an ale and lager in one beer makes it phenomenal for a wide variety of dishes. As football season winds down, parties are ramping up, so snacks and junk foods are abound. If you are having a “fancier” get together with pigs in a blanket, Sam ’76 makes the perfect partner. The sweet malts will sink their teeth into the breading, while the fruity notes will highlight the natural sweetness of the meat.
While outdoor cookouts may not be occurring this time of year, burgers are still a standard meal. Pair this with a cheeseburger piled high with bacon, jalapenos, mushrooms, and anything else you desire. Fear not, vegans – this is also a great beer to enjoy with your veggie burger piled high with all the fixings. As with nearly all beers, Sam ’76 is a great match with pizza, but the ale/lager combination makes this a standout beer with any pizza and any toppings.
Where this beer is a true standout, though, is with desserts, as most beers in a similar category make a tough pairing with many desserts. Sam ’76 packs a semi-sweet and smooth punch that is great with something sweet. The best matchup is with strawberry shortcake or a vanilla bean cupcake; the sweetness is kept in check, and the smooth body cleanses the palate perfectly with every bite.
The final word: Sam Adams is sadly viewed as an “old hack” by many craft beer “aficionados,” but this is a sad mistake. The brewery has long been at the forefront of the brewing industry and has been craft before the term became part of the popular lexicon. They have served as the brewery that introduced many of us old timers to better beer, and they are still brewing some of the best beers in the market today. Not only do they have a stable of incredible beers that are staples for the brewery, but they are not content to simply rest upon these accomplishments. Sam Adams still pushes the boundaries for beer and is constantly experimenting, and this is shown with their newest beer, Sam ’76.
The cross between an ale and a lager is something many breweries have experimented with, with mixed results. Sam ’76 took years to perfect and utilizes both an ale strain of yeast along with a lager, fermented in a manner that allows both to shine through. The resulting beer has the light touches of an ale with the smooth, creamy body of a lager. This is a perfect beer for the remainder of the football season while watching the game with friends.
Where can I get it? Currently available in 12 oz. cans at: Beer Boys (176 N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre), Sabatini’s Bottleshop & Bar (1925 Wyoming Ave., Exeter), Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer (720 Wilkes-Barre Twp. Blvd., Wilkes-Barre), Brews Brothers (1705 River Rd., Pittston), and Beer Express (931 Main St., Simpson).
Also available on draft at: The Tomato Bar & Bistro (7 Tomato Festival Dr., Pittston).