Beer and baseball. We aren’t too far removed from the 4th of July and what could be more American than the Home Run Derby and a couple of beers that celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of the common man. That was my poetic way of saying I have nothing to do on a Monday night and I recently picked up two of the three winning beers from Samuel Adams‘ 2011 Longshot American Homebrew Contest.
Samuel Adams has been running a yearly homebrewing competition since 1995. The competition was founded by Jim Koch with the hope that it would “be a springboard for aspiring brewers, bring attention to the quality of homebrewing, and perhaps launch a career or two.” Samuel Adams’ Longshot competition is closely tied to their Brewing the American Dream program that provides small business loans to start-ups. I think both programs are great for beer and business and I think it’s really great the Jim Koch is giving back and recognizing people brewing in their kitchens like he once was.
The three 2011 winners had their beers produced and distributed in six-packs together. The three winners are Derf’s Secret Alt, A Dark Night in Munich, and Five Crown Imperial Stout. Unfortunately I picked these up at a mixed six-pack store and they did not have Five Crown Imperial Stout. I’ve written my tasting notes for both Derf’s Secret Alt and A Dark Night in Munich below. If you see these beers at your local distributor, pick some up to support these homebrewers and this program. If you get a chance to try Five Crown Imperial Stout, let me know how it is!
Derf’s Secret Alt by Fred Hessler (9.3% ABV)- Samuel Adams’ website describes Derf’s Secret Alt as a ”full-bodied ale [with] a big, malty character balanced by subtle orange and grapefruit notes from the hops.” I found it to have a dark amber color with a cream colored fizzy head. It has a malty dark aroma with a strong, potent malt flavor with fruit and alcohol tones in the finish which, at 9.3%, is to be expected. This one packs a punch. To be honest, I didn’t check the ABV before I tried these beers and the alcohol flavors in Derf’s turned me off at first sip. I think when you know what you’re getting into the flavors are much more expected and aren’t as jarring. For a high alcohol content beer, Derf’s really does hold on to some amber ale flavors. It is strong with a distinct sweetness. If you are into high alcohol content, malt infused beers, this one won’t let you down.
A Dark Night in Munich by Corey Martin (5.9% ABV)- Samuel Adams calls A Dark Night in Munich an “amber, medium-bodied brew. With a nice malty backbone, this lager has roasty, slightly spicy notes and a traditional doughy character from the yeast.” I couldn’t agree more with that assessment. Corey Martin’s brew has a dark copper color that is slightly darker than Derf’s. It has a light brown frothy head with raisiny (copper) malt tones in aroma. It has a frothy mouthfeel and a nicely malted flavor. The flavors are actually similar to Derf’s, but with much more subtlety. Its frothy carbonation cleanses the palate quicker and eliminates some of the lingering flavor. A Dark Night in Munich leaves just a nice amber ale finish on the tongue. Martin has made a tasty, drinkable Munich-style Dunkel that I would really reccommend grabbing while you still can.
Tim Meyers (Tim@GoodHopBadHop.com)