Review Date 4/30/2010 Last Updated 7/10/2014
So the other day I'm grocery shopping at my local Kroger, and decided to head down the beer aisle to see what I could see. I was actually hoping to pick up a six-pack of this year's Sam Adams Longshot beers, but these were not to be found in Georgia, at least not yet. But that was OK, because I did end up with Samuel Adams beers when all was said and done: a 12-Pack "Summer Styles" Sampler.
The 12-pack included two bottles each of six different styles:
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Sam Adams Light
Samuel Adams Pale Ale
Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier
Samuel Adams Latitude 48
The latter is a new brew that so far appears to be available only in the 12-pack. But since Samuel Adams is always a good decision, picking up the sampler seemed a no-brainer, and I was happy to enjoy the other brews in the collection, too.
The name "Latitude 48", of course, refers to the latitude on the globe that is often called the "hop belt" because it's so conducive to growing hops. With such a name, it's a given this beer would be a hop lovers delight, and it is, though it's certainly not a hop blast by any stretch of the imagination.
Boston beer admits as much:
"The combination of hops in this beer creates a distinctive but not overpowering hop character."
They also mention the hops used to dry-hop the brew:
"The beer is dry hopped with Ahtanum, Simcoe®, and East Kent Goldings hops for a powerful citrus and earthy aroma."
Dry hopping, of course, is the art of aging beer on whole flower hops. It imparts hop aroma and flavor, though not bitterness.
Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA pours to a dark amber, almost tea-like color with a minimal, lightly creamy head formation. The nose is all hops though not as vigorous as I had expected; still, there's definitely an herbal, grassy aroma here. Taking a sip, I immediately notice the body is a bit thinner than I like for the style, though there is just a faint-hint of caramel, some toasted malt, and a hint of butteriness.
The hops, however, are abundant: herbal, flowery and distinctly tea-like, then becoming a bit grassy as they move towards the finish. They leave a long, dry, grassy herbal bitter buzz on the tongue in the finish.
The beer may be made with American, German, and British hops, but I'm reminded most of earthy German and English ones, perhaps Fuggles or Goldings and Hallertaus. The American hops do make an appearance with a note of citrus in the finish, but they do seem to take a back seat in my opinion.
Overall, a refreshing, drinkable IPA that paired nicely with barbecued chicken smoked with hickory and slathered in spicy sauce.
Update September 30th, 2010: If you're fond of Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA, I have great news! The beer is now available in six-packs for the first time.
Update, July 15th 2011: This summer, Samuel Adams did something pretty darned nifty be releasing the Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed 12-pack. This consisted of 2 bottles each of 6 different beers. The classic Latitude 48 IPA as well as 5 variants, each singled hopped with one of the varieties used for the original.
Samuel Adams Latitude Deconstructed 48 East Kent Goldings pours to the same bright coppery color as the original with a very thick creamy head formation and an herbal, grassy nose. There’s a good dose of chewy caramel malt up front, if not and exceptional one, and the hops slowly take over. Very herbal and grassy, aromatic in a tea-like fashion. The hops work well with the malt, and in the finish a bit of a lingering bitterness appears. A very English IPA, I really like the way these hops work with the malt. It’s clear to see these are EKGs.
Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA Zeus has much more of a resiny pine hop nose. The palate has a bit of chewy caramel up front but the hops quickly steal the show: piney and resiny as in the nose, herbal, spicy, and green. The beer tastes much like a handful of fresh hops smell. In the finish very, very bitter, the hops linger for quite some time on the palate after sipping. This beer certainly leans to the hop side almost to the point of falling over. But it’s supposed to: this is intended as a showcase for the Zeus hop.
Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA Hallertau Mittelfrueh features an herbal, grassy hop nose not all that dissimilar to the EKG variant. That shouldn't surprise: both English and German hops are know for these traits. German Hops are not so common in an IPA, however, making this an interesting brew indeed. There's that chewy caramel body here once again, and then the tea like aroma and very herbal, again very grassy hop flavor. The finish is long and very bitter, and I think that is where this one separates from the EKG. The bitterness is far bolder and lingers longer, making for a very dry and altogether unique IPA experience.
Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA Simcoe is big on the chewy caramel up front, but the citrusy resiny notes this variety is know for soon take over, and in a big way. They're a bit herbal too, but in the finish, mega bitter, and why not? Simcoes are a great early addition bittering hop.
Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA Atahnum is far more grassy. Herbal, sharp and grassy in the nose, the beer has a decided minty grassiness in the palate as well, a perfect foil against the chewy caramel malt.
Update 1/4/2014: As usual, I am late to the party, but here I am with notes from the latest Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA from the Spring 2012 Sampler. I have kept this last bottle on ice since I bought it, and the difference here (Mosaic hops) really shines through, adding a distinctive tropical fruitiness in the nose and palate. Otherwise, the usual Sam Adams penchant for grassy hops still shines through. Delicious, and yet another wonderful version of this beer.
Update 7/10/2014: Samuel Adams beers are the featured beers for July, of 2014, and what's more fitting for the Fourth? Tonight's featured glass is the Latitude 48 IPA glass, so I ordered the same beer to match it. This is my first time enjoying this one on draft, and I do enjoy its grassy, gentle bitterness. Definitely an English style IPA but it has good caramel malt up front and plenty of grassy hop aroma and bitterness in the finish. Not as hoppy as the newly launched Samuel Adams Rebel IPA, but it still has its place in the beer world and stood up nicely to my hot wings.
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.