Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Landmark: Samuel Adams Belgian Session

I got this sample in the mail yesterday. Samuel Adams Belgian Session, Boston Beer's new summer seasonal, coming in April. Here's the description they sent along:
Samuel Adams Belgian Session is a crisp, bright version of a traditional Belgian beer with fruity, slightly spicy flavors from the Belgian yeast. After many trial batches made from a finicky Belgian yeast, the brewers redefined the typical session beer style, using subtly sweet toffee and caramel notes from a blend of pale and honey malts to harmonize with the yeast's distinct fruity and spicy flavors. By definition, session beers contain no higher than 5% ABV (Belgian Session is 4.3%), allowing the drinker to enjoy multiple beers during a "session."

Okay, I'm not overjoyed about the "By definition" part, but you know, Jim Koch lives too close to BeerAdvocate's Alström brothers, so I'll cut him some slack...because you undoubtedly notice that while they quote the BeerAdvocate definition, the beer actually goes by the SBP definition you see over there to the right. Nicely done.

I'd give you a quick tasting note, but we're cleaning the oven right now, and all I can smell is burnt sugar and meat drippings, so I'll put that off and add it tomorrow. Meanwhile, as I said to Cathy when I pulled this out of the box and caught the name...we've moved the earth. Okay, we've moved American craft brewing. If Boston Beer makes a Samuel Adams label out of a type of beer you've been championing, that's a good day.

Next up: why session beer pisses off beer geeks.


  1. Great! Now, if only that *other* cause you've long been championing would yield a similarly triumphant outcome...

  2. Great, Lew! Now, if only that *other* cause you've long been championing would bear fruit...

  3. Looking forward to why session beer pisses off beer geeks. Should be fun.

  4. Nice to see another session brew hit the market. I'm also looking forward to the next post about "geeks" being pissed off by session beers.

    @Chris: Sure wish I could get some Notch out here in PA. In the meantime, I'll just keep brewing my own session beers :) Keep up the good work bro.

  5. As long as it doesn't taste like banana, I'm excited.

  6. Two questions.

    1. If this is a traditional Belgian beer, which archetypes on the Belgian market does it resemble?

    2. After the USA, is there a beer culture LESS based around session beers than the Belgian?

  7. Same answer to both: the Belgians have a brewing tradition of "tafelbier," or table beer, and there's one in the US: Dupont Avril ( Now, is "session beer" per se a part of the beer culture in Belgium? Apparently it was, but now 'beer culture' in Belgium seems a lot like the US: most people drink light lagers, the beer enthusiasts drink big strong beers.

    If you're asking if Sam Adams Belgian Session is an homage to a current popular Belgian beer style: probably not. Is it a valid homage to an earlier style? Sure, and that's how a lot of American craft beers started.

    Fair enough?


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