For the past three years, the Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams products, have held a Longshot contest in which contestants submit their homebrew for judging. The winners have a chance to get their beer brewed and bottled by the Boston Beer Company and distributed in six packs. I finally had a chance to try the Sam Adams Longshot beers, which arrived in stores late last week.
The Longshot six packs contain three different home brews, with two bottles of each included in the six- pack. The first is 2007s winner, a Double IPA created by Mike McDole. Next is 2008s winner, a Traditional Bock created by Alex Drobshoff. Also included is a Cranberry Wit created by Carissa Sweigart, winner of the 2008 homebrew contest for Boston Beer Company employees.
Cranberry Wit, 5% ABV
I drank this one first out of the three for obvious reasons. The Cranberry Wit is light, refreshing, and an all around easy drinking beer. Carissas brew was inspired by hometown ingredients. It is actually one of the better wit beers I have yet to encounter, which admittedly is not my favorite type of beer, yet I do appreciate the style. It is not overly spiced like I think some wit beers are, even though it is spiced with "a blend of cinnamon, orange peel, coriander and grains of paradise, and finished with a touch of cranberry." I definitely picked up on the touch of cranberry, which coincided with a pleasant yet mild tartness. Overall the Cranberry Wit was a very smooth and pleasant experience.
Traditional Bock, 6.8% ABV
I popped open this refreshing German inspired Bock immediately after finishing the Cranberry Wit. The description on the six pack claims "this is a great beer to linger over on a cool evening." I would agree with the part about the beer being great, but there was no lingering on it for me, as it went down rapidly and effortlessly. It is a vibrant copper color, with so called "plum and cherry aromas" which were evident. I would agree with the claim that it is "full- bodied" and "complex," as I picked up on things like caramel, toasted malt, and a nutty flavor to go along with complex fruits. I was drinking this brew with a friend, and we kept talking about how we thought we had tasted this exact beer before, but we couldnt put a finger on which beer we thought that was.
Double IPA, 9.6% ABV
The Longshot Double IPA is long awaited for a number of reasons. First off, it was the winner of the contest in 2007, and was expected to be released last year. It seems that the Boston Beer Company ran into a bit of trouble sourcing the "ingredients needed to provide a true representation of his recipe." This is not surprising considering Mike McDole used seven different varieties of American hops to create this Double IPA, which also encompassed over six pounds of hops per barrel. Rumor also has it that this beer is a Pliny clone, giving us beer lovers who dont live on the west coast a glimpse of the celebrated brew from Russian River Brewing Company.
As far as the beer goes, it was an impressive Double IPA to say the least. I saved it for last because most of the time Double IPAs are pallet killers, and frankly, I would have not gotten as much out of the previous two beers if I had drank them after this one. I was slapped in the face by the hops, but also noted the floral notes on the body and the hints of citrus accompanying the intensely bitter finish. I highly recommend trying this beer with aged cheddar, such as Widmers, which I was eating while consuming this beer. The cheese mellowed out the bitterness, creating a very smooth experience not usually associated with an extremely hoppy Double IPA.
This was an all around satisfying experience for me, and has given me inspiration to get my act together and finally start my next batch of homebrew. I recommend picking up a sixer of this if you are looking for some stimulation to homebrew, or if you just fancy some beers to take pleasure in. Make sure you come in soon though, as supplies are limited and being accounted for rapidly.
Has anyone out there ever submitted bottles to the Longshot contest, or brewed a beer that they thought was esteemed enough to be a champion? Better yet, do you think that the three beers included in the Longshot six- pack are worthy representations of the finest home brews in the world?