Glassware: German style beers are brewed to be malt forward, emanating wonderfully sweet aromas. The addition of spices makes Sam Adams’ Winter Lager more aromatic with a wonderfully sticky sweet malt quality. The perfect glass for this beer is Sam Adams own glassware with the perfect shape to capture the aroma and allow the beer to warm slowly, however if that is not an option a nonic pint glass will also work well.
Description: Winter Lager pours a clear dark ruby brown with frothy khaki head that leaves behind a thick web lacing on the glass. The aroma has sticky sweet caramel malt notes up front with roasted malts and hints of cinnamon and citrus in the background. The taste follows the nose with a wonderful smooth and sweet caramel malt flavor hitting the palate first followed by hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and citrus that coat the palate before leaving a long semi-dry finish. There is a sweetness, but it is far from cloying and is a decadently smooth and easy drinking bock anyone could enjoy. The medium-full mouthfeel and moderate carbonation aid in this beer’s smooth easy drinking qualities. Winter Lager is one of Sam Adams’ first seasonal beers and is still one of its best, if not the best, seasonal offering that is eagerly awaited each year.
Food Pairing: As winter chills close in, warm, hearty foods find their place on our tables. Winter Lager makes the perfect accompaniment. Try pairing Winter Lager with roasted chicken or duck; the natural caramelization of the meat will melt into the delicious malt bill while the spices sink their teeth into the fresh juices of the meat. If you are a bit more adventurous, try Winter Lager with wild boar sausage, venison medallions or elk. Any gamey flavors from the meat will be dissipated by the wonderfully sweet malt bill. The beer has enough body and carbonation to scrub the palate clean between bite. Winter Lager makes a great pairing with leftover sweet treats. Gingerbread cookies are undoubtedly the ruler of all the holiday cookies and they make the perfect counterpart with Winter Lager.
The Final Word: Sam Adams has brewed its delicious Winter Lager since 1989, far before the current craft beer craze took hold. The wonderfully smooth body and subtle spicing make Winter Lager the perfect seasonal beer that has enough heft to help keep you warm on a cold winter night, but not too much that it causes you to pass out on the couch. This beer is one of its most popular beers with craft beer aficionados, newbies, and even non craft beer devotees all showing their love for this delicious brew. While the craft beer industry has grown in leaps and bounds since this beer was first brewed, it is still just as delicious today and remains a great way to celebrate the winter season.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewer: Boston Brewing Company (Sam Adams)
Beer: Winter Lager
ABV: 5.6 %