Raised in Massachusetts I can remember a time when Sam Adams (Boston Beer Co.) was a tiny upstart fighting its way into New England bars and restaurants. They were the craft beer David to AB InBev‘s Goliath. A few decades later and you’d be hard pressed to find a bar, restaurant, of beer retailer that doesn’t carry a variety of Sam Adams. They have become the largest “craft” brewery in the world, even having the ceiling raised on the definition of craft brewing as it reached the Brewers Association limits in 2011. The explosion of microbreweries in recent years has all but officially labelled them a “macro” and in an attempt to maintain craft status, they have unleashed limited release, barrel-aged, and small batch brews, from which I have selected Third Voyage Double IPA for review.
Though past summers in New England saw many Sam Mix-packs put to rest by my brother-in-laws and I, since making the move to LA I have been so immersed in the abundance of local craft brews that I had yet to try any of these new small batch offerings from Sam Adams. I chose Third Voyage to see how Sam Adams handles a style Southern California is known for. The selection of this and other styles in the roster is obviously Boston Beer Company’s way of making a statement of craft beer legitimacy.
“This unique double IPA takes the style’s origins of brewing for a long voyage a step further. We were inspired by the indomitable Capt. James Cook whose 3rd voyage made him the first to navigate a treacherous route from England to New Zealand to the Pacific Northwest. Using Cascade hops from each of these regions we created a brew that’s citrusy, earthy, and full of bold character.” – Sam Adams’ Website
The pour is a deep copper, almost amber that produces a thick pillowy head that leaves a good amount of lace for an IPA. The aroma is a bit lighter than I’d expect for a DIPA and consists of sweet fruit, caramel malt and a subtle earthiness.
Third Voyage’s taste follows suit leading to a toasty, slightly dry finish that leaves a lingering aftertaste of hops and bitter rind. Overall the brew is fairly balanced with more malt than I expected. Carbonation and body are medium and though the bitterness of the finish is a bit too prominent, I still find drinkability high.
I’ll say that if their goal was to make me say, “I can’t believe this is Sam Adams!? ” then they’ve hit their mark. With many of these new offerings receiving scores of over 80 on Beer Advocate, it would appear that many are digging these small batch brews. That said, I find it sad that Sam Adams has become so desperate to re-assert themselves as craft that they have resorted to an advertising campaign centered around blind taste tests. Though it’s not the best DIPA I’ve experienced, it is certainly beyond the purview of their larger “macro” competitors. There is no doubt that at some point it will be impossible to call Boston Beer Co. a craft brewery, but maybe that day is still a ways off.
|Brewery||Boston Beer Co.|
|Rating||3 out of 5|