OK, OK, I'm late to the party again it would seem. Here it is April of 2010, this year's batch of Samuel Adams Longshot beers are just hitting the shelves and I'm just getting around to posting my thoughts on the last of last year's winners. But that's OK, my friends, for reasons we'll see shortly.
If you're not familiar with the Longshot competition, here's a little background. Each year, the Boston Beer Company, makers of the Samuel Adams line of beers, holds a homebrewing contest. Three winners are selected from the countless entries submitted, and those beers are brewed up commercially by Boston Beer for sale in special six-pack samplers the following spring.
The 2009 Longshot sampler was a particularly good one, and I would be hard pressed to decide which of the three beers included I liked best. A tasty Cranberry Wit, a truly authentic German-style bock, and the beer I'm currently considering, Samuel Adams Longshot Double IPA, were all worthy contenders indeed.
The Double IPA was concocted by California's Mike Doyle, and he got his picture on the label for his efforts (as you can see). It's a hefty and quite potent concoction at 9% alcohol by volume. Since there were two bottles of each of these beers in the sampler, I drank one soon after purchasing and laid one down to see how it would age out. Here's what I thought when the beer was released:
Samuel Adams Longshot Double IPA pours to a cloudy orange amber color with a very light head formation and a sweet caramel and piny hop nose. The palate is big and rich with very thick and chewy caramel, it's almost thick enough to chew. But the hops quickly overpower it, they're piney and resiny at first but become citric and amazingly grapefruity in the finish. Indeed, the finish is a bit harsh, almost like chewing on a grapefruit seed. Be forewarned: if bitter is not your forte, this beer is not for you.
Why? Because the finish is intensely bitter, in many ways one of the most bitter I've ever tasted. I do love the intense and complex hoppiness here, and although I think this beer falls to a degree into the trap most double IPAs do of being in truth barleywine, I will say this one does definitely stress the hops enough to resemble "double IPA". Whatever you call it, it's fantastic, with a huge warm alcohol finish complementing the hops nicely.
OK, you say, all well and good, but how has the beer aged since then? Just for posterity, since one can't buy Longshot Double IPA anymore, it's mellowed only slightly. After a year's aging, my bottle of Samuel Adams Longshot Double IPA is still incredibly hoppy, though I think it has mellowed ever so slightly and the chewy caramel malt just a bit more evident.
It's still a very hoppy brew, though, and full of those resiny, grapefruity notes when it was young. So heads up, Boston Beer: if you decide to make a Samuel Adams Double IPA, this is he recipe you should use.
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.