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Sam Adams delivers with Deconstructed; Wachusett’s white is too pale

Date: 7/26/2011

July 25, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

The Belgian white ale is a kind of beer that over the past few years I have found a high level of appreciation for. It’s not only because of what can be a terrific complex taste, but in how it appears to be a very difficult style of beer to brew well.

White ales, or witbiers, are pale beers with a cloudiness to them because of the fact they possess a lot of wheat and are unfiltered. While the actual process of brewing the beer is usually the same, the spices that are used to give the beer its flavor can make or break it.

While imports generally have dominated this market in the past with some great beers, such as Hoegaarden or Blanche de Bruxelles, American companies have been coming out with some very enjoyable beer takes on the style as well.

Ommegang (Cooperstown, N.Y.) Witte, Alagashe (Portland, Maine) White and Victory (Downingtown, Penn.) and Wirlwind Witbier are some of the very strong witbiers brewed here in the U.S.

Of course, for every good beer, there is an Anheuser-Busch product that falls short, such as Shock Top or Bud Light Golden Wheat.

So I was very interested when I saw the Wachusett Belgian Style White. Wachusett, which is brewed in Westminster, Mass., has some beers I have enjoyed in the past, including the Green Monsta IPA and Nut Brown Ale, so I had decent expectations for this one.

It poured as you would expect a witbier to pour with the cloudy look, but a fizzier head than perhaps some other white ales would have. It had the classic spicy and fruity scent that accompanies a white ale and really had me eager for my first sip.

Unfortunately, that’s when the let-down began. While it possessed all the characteristics of a witbier by definition, something just seemed to be lacking in this one. There were some hints of spice and fruit that were quite enjoyable, but more than anything it was just enough to tease you and leave you wanting more. It almost seemed like it lacked “personality” for lack of a better term.

With its crisp finish, however, it is a good summertime beer for those looking for something “refreshing” and it most likely would be well received by someone who does not drink many white ales. But when put into comparison with others in its family, it just doesn’t quite seem to measure up.

Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed

Samuel Adams had released in May a 12-pack that, to my knowledge, was unlike any other the popular label has ever put out.

In response to the strong support given to its Latitude 48 IPA (India Pale Ale), which is brewed with five different types of hops from around the world, the company released the Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed pack.

In simplest terms, Samuel Adams brewed a different IPA with each of the five hops to show drinkers the differences between each of the hops used in the making of Latitude 48. The hops are very important in the making of an IPA, as they dictate, to a large extent, the flavor of the beer, as well as the style’s trademark bitterness.

This very cool take on the 12-pack variety pack features Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops from Germany, East Kent Goldings hops from England, as well as Ahtanum, Simcoe and Zeus hopes, which all come from the Yakima Valley in Washington State.

The differences in bitterness, piney qualities and fruitiness, while sometimes very subtle, are there and can make for a fun — and educational — drinking experience. If you’re a fan of IPAs or simply are looking for a unique variety pack, give this one a look.

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