While I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, beer advertising, while not perfect now, showcased a pretty narrow perspective. The beer was best served ice cold. There were football-playing beer bottles and good-looking models straight out of central casting. On another spectrum was advertising featuring darkened barrooms with stoic men drinking a working man’s beer. Beer, it seemed, catered to all individuals, but especially those that worked hard on the ranch or owned a cigarette boat.
I remember Samuel Adams commercials hitting the airwaves that told a similar story. Beer is fun and this was emphasized by Boston Beer Co. owner Jim Koch falling into a dunk tank filled with his Boston Lager. The difference, we were told, was that this beer was actually good. It was an award-winner. It was a century-old recipe. If beer drinkers wanted a beer that was handcrafted, rather than mass-produced, we were instructed to reach for a Sam Adams. This type of option was a commodity in those days.
Since then, over 6,000 breweries have been erected across the United States. This has put Samuel Adams in a tight spot. It’s no longer seen as the only option, and, having been around since 1984, it’s ubiquity has caused some beer drinkers to pass over it completely. “Sure, Sam’s great,” they seem to be saying, “But I only drink it if there’s no better option.”
In my opinion, Sam ’76 is the very best beer that Samuel Adams has ever produced.”
In 2018, Sam Adams hopes to change that. They became the official beer of the Boston Red Sox. They also debuted two new beers: A New England-style IPA that has earned acclaim both for its flavor and price point and Sam ’76, a lager and ale hybrid.The latter should bring new fans as well as make older fans of the brand return.
In my opinion, Sam ’76 is the very best beer that Samuel Adams has ever produced. The beer combines two active fermentations —one lager and one ale—then blends them together to produce a 4.7% union of the two styles of beer. The beer features a subtle grain character in the body, typical of a Sam ale, and two of the more popular hops amongst beer drinkers: Citra and mosaic, in addition to centennial and cascade. The lager yeast doesn’t allow any of the hop characters to linger very long in its crisp, dry finish.
It’s a beer Samuel Adams thinks will be a perfect accompaniment to a day at Fenway Park or at home manning the grill. To some, Sam got left behind in the craft beer movement, as a result of maybe staying in its lane too long. If there’s a beer that’s going to let the brewery catch up, it’s Sam ’76.