Saturday, December 20, 2008

Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner Review

Brewery: Boston Brewing Co. | Beer: Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner
Style: American Imperial Pilsner | ABV: 8.8%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into Pilsner glass

Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial PilsnerHallertau Imperial Pilsner is part of the Sam Adams "extreme beers" portfolio, along with beers like Chocolate Bock and Utopias. This beer was designed as their hop-centric extreme beer, and was first brewed in 2005. The style is American Imperial Pilsner, basically just a Pilsner with a lot more malt, hops and alcohol. Sam Adams markets the beer as "an intense hop experience" and "one of the hoppiest [beers] in the world, without being overly bitter."

According to their website, Hallertau Imperial Pilsner is hopped exclusively by the Hallertau Mittelfrueh hop variety, from the Hallertau region of Bavaria. The brewery describes the beer as containing "enormous, almost reckless, quantities" of these hops - twelve pounds per barrel in fact (twelve times more than their Boston Lager). The malt backbone is composed of two-row Harrington and Metcalfe malt varieties.

Appearance: A murky amber body with a finger-high, fluffy, off-white head that leaves fantastic lacing. Reminds me of a good Hefeweizen in the glass.

Aroma: Slightly hoppy with bananas, lemons, and a juicy, fruity sweetness like that of gummi bears or wine gums. You can find a little bit of biscuity malt at the end if you focus.

Taste: Hoppy and crisp, but not very bitter, with the juicy sweetness at the start. Soon, biscuty malt comes into sharp focus and then a brilliant bitterness that lingers in the aftertaste for minutes. Unlike the nose, this is actually very well balanced and intense. Alcohol is certainly there, but never ruins the party. As it warms, the focus gently starts to drift away from the hops and more towards the malt and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a healthy amount of carbonation and alcohol warmth in the cheek. While it's a little juicy in the mouth, it drys a bit in the finish.

Drinkability: As the bitter aftertaste here is intense and the 8.8% ABV is on the higher side, this is something best enjoyed at a snail's pace.

Verdict: Sam Adams developed this beer as a showcase for Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops, and they've done a great job showing them off here. Instead of just brewing up another great American IPA for their hoppy "extreme" offering, they went a different direction and came up with something really special. They're not bullshiting with all the marketing, this really is a brilliant hop experience.

Grade: A

1 comment:

Red Icculus said...

The wife is by no means a beer snob, but I have to agree with her when she said this is Miller Lite with good hops.

Regardless, this pairs extremely well with barbecue sauce.