Samuel Adams was one of the first craft brewers to offer rotating beers that capture the essence of each season, and now, from January through April, the brewers are introducing drinkers to two new seasonal beers: Samuel Adams Hopscape and Fresh as Helles. It may be unconventional to have two seasonals at one time of year, but Sam Adams has never been known to follow the rules. The brewers felt that these two brews capture the essence of the ever-changing season across the country from January through April.
Available January and February, citrus and piney hop flavors with a nice lingering bitter finish make Hopscape best enjoyed during cold, brisk temperatures. While the honey malt aroma and orange blossom notes of Fresh as Helles make it a perfect pairing to welcome late spring weather during March and April.
“At the start of 1988 we introduced our first-ever seasonal beer, Samuel Adams Double Bock, a traditional spring beer originally brewed by German monks,” said Jim Koch, Samuel Adams founder and brewer. “While we pioneered rotating beers for the season, this season’s beers have changed more times than we can count. The variety in the weather during this time of year begs brewers and drinkers to explore flavors that match the ever-changing season. It might seem crazy, but after we brewed a few test batches of Hopscape and Fresh as Helles in our Nano Brewery, we knew we had two seasonal beers that captured the essence of the schizophrenic weather around this time of year.”
Brewer Megan Parisi continued, “With Hopscape, we knew we wanted to brew a hop-forward beer to match the bitterness of the cold. Our Sam Adams Nano Brewery gave us the chance to experiment with a variety of hop trials until we nailed the citrusy and piney flavor profile we were going for. On the flip side, for the more fickle side of this season, we knew we wanted to brew a more delicate beer. We found that our helles recipe created the perfect base for balancing the flavor of tangy Mandarina hops and floral orange blossom petals. As brewers, half the fun is brewing multiple trials until we get just the right flavor – or in our case flavors – that we’re looking for.”
Hopscape, the first new brew for 2017, is brewed with four varieties of West Coast hops that add bold pine and grapefruit notes to the deep golden wheat ale. Chinook, Citra, Centennial, and Zeus hops impart citrusy, dank resin and grapefruit rind aromas that lead into a balanced flavor of bright citrus and piney hop character. White wheat and a two-row pale malt blend add a crisp, light sweetness, and the beer finishes with a slightly lingering bitterness.
Fresh as Helles is a refreshing light amber, medium-bodied helles brewed with Mandarina hops and orange blossom petals. The beer’s lively, citrus flavors pair perfectly with the changing season. Soft citrus notes of orange blossom add a bright accent to the slightly sweet honey malt notes, leading to a round, smooth finish.
Flavor: Dry wheat, with a simple hop profile to round it out from other wheat ales.
Aroma: Distinct wheat and balanced low acid hops give it a warm aroma.
Hop: Mellow, but lemongrass is forward in the aroma.
Malt: Low malt, more dryness with a slight caramel note.
Carbonation: Well carbonated. Some bite without being too bubbly.
Mouthfeel: Dry and creamy.
Color: Hazy yellow/tan
Head/Lacing: Rich foamy head with scattered lacing.
Fresh as Helles
Flavor: Slight sweetness with noticeable orange blossom that ties in well with the subtle hops.
Aroma: Light and flowery, with a bit of butterscotch.
Hop: Light bitterness. Very subtle.
Malt: No malt presence to hinder the subtle floral nuances.
Carbonation: Under carbonated for a helles. Not quite as crisp as most others.
Mouthfeel: Bright and smooth
Color: Light amber
Head/Lacing: Creamy head with light lacing
Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew