Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Guy’s Adventures through the Pint Glass, Part 3

Day 3: “All I want out of life is when I walk down the street people say ‘There goes the greatest beer that ever lived.’”

The third selection from the Mystery Beer Case is our second from the Boston Beer Company—whose drinks had for a while been produced (strangely enough) by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, and are now brewed primarily in Cincinnati, Ohio. Geographical oddities aside, I'm pleased to announce that rather than throwing another weirdo lemon-rind hefeweizen out of left field, the Case has delivered the brewery’s flagship brand,

Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Boston/Cincinnati/Pittsburgh, Massachusetts/Ohio/Pennsylvania.

A Boston Lager is a peculiar brand of beer that, despite being an exasperating and sometimes embarrassing failure for more than eight decades, remained inexplicably popular throughout the twentieth century not only in the Massachusetts area but also, to a somewhat lesser degree, nationwide.

Considered one of the top beers in the world until 1918, the Boston Lager went into a devastating eighty-six year drought in which it absolutely, undeniably sucked—sometimes failing quietly and subtly, at other times imploding tragically on the world's biggest stage—year after fruitless year, leaving behind a trail of increasingly frustrated and embittered supporters.

Rather than placing the blame fairly on a long history of substandard ingredients, poor recipes, and incompetent management, these poor demented fans of the Boston Lager spent most of their time venting their frustrations on more popular and successful beers from the New York City area, or conjuring up wild theories about a mystical Curse supposedly laid upon their hapless drink.

The Boston Lager finally regained some respect after the turn of the century when, in September 2004, it swept a slumping Coors Extra Gold in a four-game series, ending its long drought and once again holding sway as the World Champion of Beer. After the Boston Lager recaptured the championship in 2007, it effectively reestablished itself as a decent drink—one its fans could be proud of—instead of little more than an expensive punch line.

On a side note, its resurgence has revealed an unfortunate side effect: countless fans of the Boston Lager—for the most part an almost-pathetic and sympathetically muted, fatalistic bunch during their team’s drink’s long slump—have, thanks to their beer’s achieving a long-awaited modicum of success, revealed a tendency to be cocky, loudmouthed, insufferable pricks. Contrary to what folks might have wanted to believe, Boston fans weren’t lovable losers, but merely tolerable losers—and once they could shed the “loser” tag, the “tolerable” tag was quick to follow.

Given its history, it’s not surprising to find the Samuel Adams Boston Lager to be a touch on the dark side, more than a little bitter, and even a bit off-putting. It has an alcohol content of 4.75%—which, by an unusual coincidence, was also Babe Ruth’s alcohol content in 1918, his last season in Boston—and to be honest, it’s a bit too hoppy for my tastes. Drinkers who prefer a strong flavor and aroma, however, would do well to give this beer a chance.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager is a beer to be sipped, not hurried through—unless, of course, you find out you hate it and want to move on to the next drink as quickly as possible. It’s dark and robust enough to be a good winter beer, best served slightly warm, when the night outside is as cold as Ted Williams’ head. While the Boston Beer Company definitely hasn’t made my favorite beer, they know what they’re trying to do with  Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and they do it well. Some Guy’s rating for Samuel Adams Boston Lager: one (1) 1978 Game 163 home run by Bucky F. Dent.

For more of Some Guy’s Adventures through the Pint Glass, check here: Day 1  Day 2  Day 3  Day 4  Day 5  Day 6

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