Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red review

Samuel Adams Stony Brook RedJust when I thought the Boston Beer Company couldn't do much more they came out with three new Barrel Room Collection beers in specially made bottles. One of these three brews is called Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red, a big 750ml corked wire-cage bottle with an attached information tag. Stony Brook Red is classified as an American Wild Ale (on BeerAdvocate) but brewed in the Belgian style and weighs in at a respectable 9% ABV.

Appearance: Stony Brook Red poured mostly red with a touch of orange. It opened up with a loud POP and appeared to be well carbonated. The brew left a decent 2-finger light tan head in the glass. The brew appeared to be very see through and was almost wine-like in appearance if it were not for the head. The head retention was excellent as it stuck around for several minutes after pouring.

Aroma: Here is where it got interesting. Stony Brook Red's aroma was instantly full of tartness and fruits. The Belgian yeast strain smell was very apparent. It had a light malty nose with a hint of spice. Initially when cold, I had a hard time picking up on the toasted oak but that may have accounted for some of the sourness in the air.

After the 2nd or 3rd pouring from this bottle, there was a tiny amount of sediment that crept into the glass from this bottle conditioned beer. The design of the bottle most likely kept out much of the sediment from getting into the glass.

Mouthfeel: Stony Brook Red was very crisp, full bodied and a bit mouth puckering. My tongue tingled a bit from the carbonation. The beer seemed to attack the back of the tongue with bubbles and the front of the tongue with sourness. There was also a bit of a drying effect on the finish.

Taste: Here is where I was won over. Stony Brook Red, while a bit sour, gave off flavors of raspberry, cherry, dark fruits and complex amber malts. The toasted oak characteristics were hard to pick up on initially. The brew becomes a bit more bitter as it warms up but in a nice way.

The beer had a bit of light funkiness but pleasant. It wasn't a Brettanomyces type of funk rather a bit more Belgian. I can assume the sourness was a partial result of being aged in the barrels.

Overall: Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red was mildly strong yet easy drinking for me as this kind of tart was right up my alley. It reminded me slightly of an oak aged apple cider I had once. Not because it tasted like apples but rather the dryness and taste from the oak that finally came through later on.

This was the type of beer that I really "dug" right from the start. It wasn't as sour as many sour beers I've tried but just sour enough to notice. The alcohol was there but was not overpowering.

I had no trouble polishing off this entire bottle. I was sorry to see this bottle end. Some of my Twitter friends said they didn't care for this beer as it was too sour for them. I politely disagree. Sour it may have been but this was a subdued sour. I hope they consider trying this beer again.

I'd rank this beer fairly well - between a B+ and an A- if I had to rank it. But please, judge this beer for yourself. If you're already a fan of wild ales then this one should be very pleasing. If you're just starting out on sour beers then I think you could easily begin training your palate on this beer.

Nice job Samuel Adams, Stony Brook Red gets a thumbs up from me.

Related articles:
- Samuel Adams Imperial White review.
- Samuel Adams Imperial Stout review.
- Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock review.
- Samuel Adams Winter Classics review.
- Samuel Adams Cream Stout review.

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