Samuel Adams Winter Lager
Most breweries play it safe when it comes to producing a winter beer, opting for something dark, robust, and roasty. Boston Beer Company went a different route when it developed Winter Lager, one of its oldest seasonal offerings. Rather than brewing a big imperial stout for the holidays, it chose a spiced wheat bock, brewed with orange peel, cinnamon, and ginger. At 5.6% ABV, it’s not quite sessionable but it’s definitely on the lighter side in terms of an expected winter offering.
You’re probably familiar with Winter Lager’s light blue and pine tree packaging. Pouring a ruby amber color, the beer might easily be mistaken for raspberry iced tea. It has a thin head that dissipates quickly.
The nose is faint at first—almost disjointed—with notes of caramel, roasted malt, and cinnamon. While it doesn’t get any stronger, the aroma will suddenly hit you after a minute or two of reflection: It's a gingerbread house. Close your eyes, and you’ll picture yourself adding gumdrop tiles to the roof. If Boston Beer Company could figure out how to amplify those spices a bit, it’d have something special on its hands.
Go ahead, grab a six-pack—because it’s certainly better than fruitcake or Two-Buck Chuck.”
Following the nose, cinnamon is the first thing you’ll pick up. You’ll also get bran flakes and some light ginger. Searching for that orange peel? You’re probably not going to find it. While Winter Lager starts off on the sweet side, it is bitter at the finish. Add all these things up, and you get something that feels unbalanced, perhaps missing that something that can tie it all together.
Winter Lager may not be an especially impressive beer, but its wide availability means you'll probably find it at your local corner or grocery store if you’ve forgotten to bring something to a holiday party. Go ahead, grab a six-pack—because it’s certainly better than fruitcake or Two-Buck Chuck.