Monday, July 18, 2011

Samuel Smith - Organic Best Ale

I have mixed feelings about this bottle before I even open it.  First off, I am pretty impressed by most things that Samuel Smith makes.  In fact, in describing the brewery to many friends, I usually end up spouting forth the following sentence, "Samuel Smith makes beer that defines the style it's made in."  I stand by that statement (despite the dangling participle) and have yet to find a beer that would even have me add a caveat to it.  However, this beer is also an organic beer.  Much in the same vein as vegetarian hot dogs, tofurkey and other similar offerings I generally associate less than savory flavors to things that try to replicate the flavors of the things they are replacing.  I have had very few outstanding organic beers.  Which characterstic will win out?  Solid brewing reputation?  Nasty health food stereotype?  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 11/12
For a simple ale, this smell is heavenly!  Very bready malts come first, but not without a light sweetness.  Just behind this sweet bread (yum), is a dainty yet distinct fruit and citrus aroma.  There is definitely lemon present, but the rest is up to interpretation.  This reviewer found the mellow sweetness of pears, but the sharp acidity (albeit not in overpowering quantities) of canned pineapple.  As the beer warms a floral ester develops as well and only adds to this entrancing scent.

Appearance 3/3
The color is very comparable to many macros, if not a tad darker.  Though I have not known macros to be so dependent on light for their appearance.  This beer is lighter than gold under direct light, but dusty shades of pumpkin when offered even the slightest shadow.  The head is fair in size, has only the most minuscule bubbles, and is as close to white as I have ever seen.  It offers fair retention, little lacing, but remains as a collar through the majority of my pour.

Picture is my own.
Flavor 19/20
The first sips reel of cream and light malts, but soon after things become pretty balanced.  Gradually the hops enter, bringing both their light crisp citrus and an unheralded hop bitter.  As it sits in the mouth, all three blend together perfectly with no one ingredient outshining its counterparts.  It is a perfect balance of nuanced flavors and cannot be overstated.  The technical prowess in creating this beer is uncanny.  The finish continues the hop citrus, but allows a dash of its grassy origins to shine through.  There is a clean feeling immediately after the finish, but it does not take long for the light hop bitter to become present in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel 4/5
This is very creamy for the style and is aided along by its stylistically low level of tiny carbonation.  The pseudo-creaminess lends itself well to the body and overall quality of this beer, but could it be even a more perfect, light, summer drinker with more bubbly in the refreshment?

Overall Impression 9/10
Amazing.  We should come to expect nothing less from Samuel Smith.  This is not the big beer that a lot of enthusiasts are hoping for, but it is a light, nuanced, perfectly balanced ale that should be on everyone's summer refreshment list.  Even macro drinkers can get behind this with its light flavors.  Wow.

Total 46/50
Can I state it any clearer?  This should be on everyone's summer drinking list!  The balance is unmatched and the flavors are more delicate that any other craft beer that comes to mind.  Many organic beers seem like they are overcoming hurdles simply to reach the glass ceiling of "mediocre," but not Samuel Smith.  This beer is so technically excellent, so well-made, and so.. well... just plain tasty that you need to try it.  Do not let its wide availability or relatively cheap price fool you.  Those factors just might make it the best beer you haven't tried. Yet.

Look ma!  It's organic!

No comments:

Post a Comment