When it was
first introduced, I have to admit I had mixed feelings about Samuel Adams
Cherry Wheat. Don't get me wrong, I love the beer. I fondly recall
sipping my first pint sitting in Brian Boru, an Irish bar in Portland Maine,
back in the summer of 1995. I loved it from the first sip. So why the mixed
feelings? Well, this is the beer that replaced Sam Adams Wheat, which was an
excellent kristall weizen (they had a Dark Wheat that was also superb). Just
recently, Boston Beer, makers of the Sam Adams line, introduced a
Bavarian-style hefeweizen, so maybe the time has come for me to forgive.
Cherry Wheat its past transgressions.
As a fruit beer, Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat is lacking the clove and banana notes the old Sam Adams Wheat had. It's brewed with whole Michigan cherries and cherry extract, as well as a bit of honey. The beer started as a summer seasonal but now is available year round, and has become one of the more popular beers in the Sam Adams line. This is a great cooking beer, too. I enjoyed a delicious chicken dish prepared using this beer at a beer dinner/tasting sponsored by Boston Beer a several years back in Rhode Island.
Boston Beer claims they have modeled this beer against Belgian fruit beer. The Belgians produce Kriek (cherry) beer, and usually base it on a wheat lambic or perhaps a brown ale. As a wheat beer, Cherry Wheat is top-fermented with ale yeast. It has an alcohol content of about 5.2% by volume. In addition to wheat malt, Harrington, caramel, and Munich malts are used. Tettnang and Hallertau hops are employed but you will not notice them as you would in a lager. Hop character is not generally stressed in wheat beers.
About a year and a half ago, I wrote the following tasting notes on Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat:
The beer has a pinkish-yellow color with medium head formation and a cough-syrupy cherry nose. The palate is crisp and refreshing from the wheat, with lots of candyish cherry flavor. If you melted a cherry lifesaver and added it to a filtered American wheat ale, you would probably end up to something akin to Cherry Wheat. The finish blends a bit of bitterness with the cherry to help balance it.
Since beers do change over time, of course, I like to periodically revisit my reviews. My latest sampling of Cherry Wheat indicates that the candyish aspect of the beer is much less pronounced, though still present. Now I’m getting much more of a natural cherry flavor that blends nicely with the crisp wheat body, making the beer more refreshing than ever.
This is a refreshing warm weather sipping brew, but it is also delicious with pork dishes as well as chicken. I have actually reduced it and served it over pork roast, the results were impressive. A cold glass of Cherry Wheat also served as the perfect accompaniment for the dish.
For a special treat, I enjoy mixing Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat with a fine stout. I have achieved excellent results with stouts like Guinness or Paper City Riley’s Irish Stout. The cherry character works well against the roasty, chocolaty notes in the stout to make a liquid version of a cherry cordial.
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.
Enjoying a mug of Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat at Taco Mac, May of 2012.