Jan Norris: Food and Florida

Food, Restaurants, Recipes and Pre-Disney Florida

Jan Norris: Food and Florida header image 1

Dan the Beer Man: Sam Adams Imperial ‘Darn Good’

March 2nd, 2009 · 1 Comment

Dan the Beer Man Oliver

By Dan Oliver

JanNorris.com columnist
This just in… Samuel Adams has just released its Imperial series of beers and they were nice enough to send me some to sample. The Imperials are a trio of big beers including Imperial White, Imperial Stout and Double Bock. The Double Bock has been around for 20 years, but until recently has only been available seasonally.

We like it!

coriander seeds

coriander seeds

I conducted an informal taste test at the home of a home-brewing friend and we agreed these beers are pretty darn big and pretty darn good as well. The Imperial White was probably our least favorite, although I do prefer it to Sam’s smaller White Ale. The Imperial is not just a bigger version of the White, it’s a different recipe altogether and I think it works a little better than it’s little brother, which is a Sammy-fied version of the Belgian Wit Bier style. It contains 10 different spices including coriander and orange peel.

From Russian royalty

Catherine the Great

The Imperial Stout is just that, an Imperial (very strong) Stout in the tradition of English brewers who invented it for the Russian Imperial Court of Catherine the Great (but you knew that!) Imperial Stouts have become almost exclusively the province of American brewers, with Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewery in California as perhaps the gold standard of the style here. Sammy’s Stout is no slouch though, rich, roasty, with flavors of dark chocolate and coffee, and 9.2 percent alcohol.

Malt, not hops wins

Our favorite was the Double Bock, which is not really surprising, considering it has been around so long, but has been “amped up” in alcohol to join the Imperial series. It is 9.5 percent alcohol, extremely malty, well balanced and in my opinion, regal in character. With so many “hopped-up” beers lining the shelves these days, it’s refreshing to try a beer that really concentrates on malt flavor, and with half a pound of malt per bottle, it does just that. The Double Bock also sports 320 calories per 12 ounces, so watch it —  cause it really is a meal in a bottle.

Be patient — they’ll arrive. These beers are just becoming available in our area. Total Wine in Palm Beach Gardens tells me they don’t have it yet, but will within a week or two. The suggested retail price is $9.99 per four-pack of 12 ounce bottles.

Other newbies…

Old Guardian Barley Wine from Stone Brewing Company is in the midst of its first limited release. I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to. It’s a big, big beer, 11.3 percent alcohol and 95 IBU’s (International bittering units) and meant to be savored slowly. At $6.99-$7.99 per 22-ounce bottle, it’s not too hard on the beer coupons (dollars) either for such a strong, aged ale.

Battle of Mobile Bay, by Louis Prang

Battle of Mobile Bay by Louis Prang

“Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.” This historic if not entirely accurate phrase attributed to Union Navy Rear Admiral David Farragut was not the inspiration for Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA. But some would say the Chico, Calif., brewery has been like a ship navigating a mine field, taking nearly 30 years to come up with its first IPA. The reason? Sierra Nevada brews with only whole-cone hops, and didn’t want to mess with hop pellets or extracts to up the IBU’s in this ale. So they invented what they call a “hop torpedo” to dry-hop (this means adding hops after the boil) their IPA. This is another newbie I haven’t sampled yet, but plan to in oh, a couple two, three hours from now.

Tryst has the brews but go quick!

Speaking of Sierra Nevada, their new Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale is currently on tap at Tryst, at 4 E. Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. This is one of Sierra Nevada’s new series of ales using extremely fresh hops in the recipe. This one uses Pacific Halertau and New Zealand Motueka and Southern Cross hops as well. I tried it, and I loved it. Lots of fresh hop flavor and a malt body to back it up. Bar manager Jason Forrestall tells me it should last another ten days and will be replaced with Sierra’s Bigfoot Barleywine. Oh daddy! Tryst has the afore-mentioned Old Guardian Barley Wine on tap as well, and a killer happy hour from 4 to 7pm Monday through Friday with half-priced beers and appetizers.

What’s on tap?

It has been a long time brewing, but Monk in the Trunk Organic Belgian Ale will likely be available in bottles in the next month or two. Inlet Brewing Company of Jupiter just has to pass an organic certification process in the coming week and the final hurdle will be cleared. The locally brewed amber beer has thus far only been available on tap at area restaurants and watering holes. While I prefer almost any draft version of a beer, bottling will help Monk introduce itself to a larger segment of the craft beer consuming population. . .
Narragansett beer, which I’ve talked about in previous blogs, should be available in our area starting in mid-march. If you just can’t wait, take a drive up to Fort Pierce and head to Roy’s Liquors. Ok, you may want to call first: 772-461-3019. . .

Michelob is “turning up the wheat” with the release of a Wheat sampler pack on March 2, which will include Michelob Honey Wheat, Shock Top Belgian White, Michelob Dunkel Weisse and spring seasonal Hop Hound Amber Wheat. Wheat beers and me don’t always agree, but if you’re a fan, and there are plenty of em’ in this area, try ’em and blog me back to let me know what you think. . .
There is also a potentially BIG announcement coming from a major beer distributor in our area about bringing in a very popular but as yet unavailable beer into the South Florida market. That’s all I can say for now but I promise to spill the beer when I get more solid information.

Tags: Dan the Beer Man

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jan Norris // Mar 3, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    My partner Jimmy picked up some Sierra S Hemisphere Harvest Ale the other day and we liked it a lot – then again, we’re long-time Sierra fans.

    And I tried the Sprecher at Grease Burger Bar –kudos for calling it on a previous column. Both my son and I liked it a great deal.

Leave a Comment