I always feel like I’m a little out of the loop on Sam Adams releases. At the beer store today, I noticed not only that there were two barrel-aged limited series beers from them, but that the Long Shot winners were available in a 6-pack, and that there was a new beer in the summer mix pack. They’ve been busy!
The Latitude 48 has some history behind it – apparently this isn’t the first IPA release from Sam Adams, but perhaps the first in recent memory. There’s some old reviews out there in the cobwebs of the internet of an earlier Sam Adams IPA from the 90s, but this one seems to have come at a good time. Named after the 48th paralell (known for having the right conditions to grow the best hops – including in England, German and the pacific Northwest of the US) this beer uses hops from several countries for a taste of the “best of the 48.”
It pours a nice bright orange – which I was happy to see. The smell is not overpowering of any particular hop, and reminds me a little bit of an english IPA in its nose (not a really grassy smell that you get in west-coast IPAs). I was eager to taste it, because the east coast is always fighting for a spot among good IPAs in the craft beer scene.
The taste was actually more well balanced that I expected. The hops were backed up with a subtle sweetness, which made the bitterness not objectionable but pleasant. I wouldn’t say its the most well balanced IPA I’ve ever had – in fact, I like ones that have a bit more malt to balance it out and make the mouthfeel almost “thick” with gooeyness. This might be a good entry-level IPA. You can pick out the hops, but it won’t make people run from bitterness.
Though I know some people are underwhelmed by some Samuel Adams releases, I still think that they do a good job of expressing beer styles, and they are often good beers to start someone getting their feet wet in craft beer. I have a lot of respect for these guys, and I hope that they continue to try new styles and new experiments as they go.