Review Date 11/25/2012 Last Updated 11/27/2015
I should have known better. Just when I thought I had completed the full run of Samuel Adams Beers (collect them all), they come out with a new one. Then too, I should add, this one caught me almost completely by surprise. Certainly I had expected a new brew in the perennial Winter Classics collection, this year being the White Christmas Ale.
Yet, what was this? An e-mail announcing yet another holiday brew from Boston Beer: Merry Mischief Gingerbread Stout. This one, of course, being an entry in their limited edition 22-ounce bottling series. And as I was about to discover, this beer was very much in demand, at least in the metro Atlanta area.
I found this out when I headed to Total Wine on Barrett parkway in Kennesaw, Georgia on the day after Thanksgiving. As I am generally wont to do, I perused the shelves in the beer aisles, placing various goodies in my cart. Yet, Samuel Adams Merry Mischief was nowhere to be found.
I asked an employee, and he in turn asked another. “We have that,” came back the consensus, “But it’s up front. Limit of two per customer.” Interesting, thought I. A limit of two per customer? I had only planned to buy a bottle, but now I certainly would need two.
When I got up front, I looked around, and had to ask again. “Ah, the Merry Mischief. Yes, it’s behind the customer service desk. Two bottle limit.” I thanked the gentleman, and headed off to customer service, where I asked once again for the beer. “How many do you want?” the smiling clerk asked, “Two…” and before he could get the rest out, I finished for him. “Two bottle limit. Yes, I’ve heard. I’ll take two.”
At least the price was fair at $6.99 each. I was pretty excited to score these, reminded of the days when Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig came in wax topped 750s. Anyway, I got my treasures home and popped a bottle the very same evening.
From the label:
This rich dark brew entices with the aromas of the holidays, hinting at the merriment and spices within. The flavor of gingerbread comes alive beginning with the smooth sweetness and heartiness of dark roasted malts and a touch of wheat. But it’s the intensity and spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & ginger that add a wicked kick for a jolly playful brew full of merry mischief.
Samuel Adams Merry Mischief pours to an inky black color with a thick and creamy tan head formation and a wonderfully potent ginger nose. At first, I get pungent fresh ground ginger aroma as I sniff, but a little more poking with the nose reveals some cookie-like maltiness, too, reminiscent of gingerbread. Taking a sip, the usual licorice and roastiness of an imperial stout come through only sparingly, but that’s a good thing. It allows the spice that this beer is all about to come through all the more. The ginger, as in the nose, is very apparent in the palate as well. The cinnamon follows, with the clove and nutmeg being more apparent in the finish.
Boston Beer is doing some amazing things these days, and this wonderful holiday treat is proof to the pudding. It really does call to mind a mental image of a gingerbread cookie, albeit in a bit different fashion as a stout. It does not come quite so close to that theme as say, Twain’s Gingerbread Brown Ale, as I think the soft cookie like maltiness of that beer combined with the fresh ginger are a perfect pairing indeed. At least for a gingerbread concept. Still, the added spices in merry Mischief and dark decadent malts make this an amazing brew, too.
Not to be missed, so best get out and get some today. Two bottle limit, please.
Update 12/20/2013: Samuel Adams Merry Mischief is back for 2013-or is it? This year, the beer has been renamed to Samuel Adams Merry Maker-but rest assured, the same roasty ginger-laden liquid goodness is still inside. The beer seemed more plentiful this year, and I got a bottle for the same $6.99 I paid last year. As with last year, the ginger is so robust, and the dark roasty malt as well. It's wonderful, and it really does It really does remind me of gingerbread. Not so much as say, Twain's Gingerbread Brown as i mentioned last year, but in a different way, as the darker malts work their own magic. The pungent ginger really shines through.
Not to be missed, Samuel Adams Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout has fast become one of my very favorite holiday beers.
Update 11/27/2015: Here's a first: Samuel Adams Merry Maker on tap at Taco Mac! This beer is wonderful in the bottle, but the draft beer is bolder and of course fresher. At $7.00 for an 11-ounce draft it's perhaps the most expensive Sam Adams draft I've had, but the bartender accidentally (wink wink, nudge nudge) gave me a full 20-ounces.
Very thick mouthfeel, boozy mid palate, big ginger notes and subtle cinnamon, smooth and oily, roasty, this is a truly delicious beer. Having had the Hardywood Park Gingerbread Stout (said to be the original) this year, I have to say that I prefer the Samuel Adams Merry Maker. It's more like a spicy gingerbread cookie while the Hardywood is more like a soft warm piece of gingerbread. The beers are different, and your mileage may vary, but I prefer the robust spiciness in the Sam Adams beer.
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.