Once a year, the Boston Beer Company, makers of the Samuel Adams line of
beers, does a really neat thing. They travel to major cities across America
and let beer enthusiasts sample two tasty and innovative brews in their
Beer Lover's Choice Program. Votes are tallied, and the winning recipe
becomes commercially available the following year as part of the Samuel
Adams Brewmaster's Collection.
In 2008, beer drinkers were able to select between two very worthy brews.
The runner up was a spicy coffee stout brewed with Rwandan coffee beans, and
it almost seems a shame that such an interesting sounding brew came in
second. The winner, though, was Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier, a
Belgian-styled wheat brew made with Oregon Blackberries just hitting store
shelves as I type.
Years ago, Boston Beer introduced a second line of beers in addition to
their Samuel Adams brews. The beers were sold under the Oregon Originals
brand, and one of the most interesting was a fruity, chocolaty
Blackberry porter. In a way, the use of Oregon blackberries in Samuel Adams
Blackberry Witbier makes it a direct descendant of that tasty libation.
If you're wondering about the Witbier part of the brew, you should know that
witbiers are a Belgian style of wheat beer that are spiced with orange peel
and coriander (Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier is too). Wit is Flemish for
white, and beers of this style usually do have a cloudy white hue. That's
not the case here, though, since the addition of berries adds a bit of rosy
Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier pours to a golden straw color tinged
with a trace of pink. The liquid is capped with a thick head of foam and the
aroma of juicy sweet berries wafts to the nose from my glass. Taking a sip,
I taste the fruity berry flavor immediately; indeed, it seems to overpower
the malt here, though a hint of biscuity light malt and wheat tartness do
But mostly, this is a fruity beer. The orange peel imparts a hint of citric
dryness, but is pretty much drowned out by the dark, sweet berry notes for
the most part. If you allow your beer to warm slightly, you should notice a
distinct creaminess that makes this beer particularly appetizing. The
coriander spice only comes through in the finish, adding a bit of peppery
flavor. The wheat tartness helps balance the beer and prevents it from being
overly sweet and cloying.
Still, this isn't really akin to a Belgian Wit for me, being more like a
tangy berry fruit beer. I think it would be better suited to the hot muggy
days of July than the biting cold weather of January, and mayhap Boston Beer
will take heed and re-release in the summer some day. It is certainly a
refreshing beer. That said, this is growing on me, and I'll likely buy a
full six-pack of it when I see one (I've only seen it in a sampler with two
other beers so far, but it will be available in dedicated six-packs, too).
I think this is worthy of three and a half stars, since it avoids the pitfall of thick and cloying, overly
sweet fruit beers.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For
reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.