Ah yes, why not start off the new year with a new post on my new blog about a new beer that – though only brewed once and in limited(?) quantities – everyone and their mother is reviewing at the same time? Fine by me. I’m still working on a good place in my house to take photos, so forgive the christmas tree and colorful lights in the background; I personally think it looks festive, but I know some people are all excited about getting that stuff down the second their family leaves, heaven forbid holiday cheer be spread any longer. (Obviously my snark factor is still pretty high from having to deal with my own for a week, but damn it all if I’m not going to hold onto my holiday cheer!). Oh, yeah, so Christmas, I had a great one. My whole family came down from Wisconsin – but didn’t check a bag so I didn’t get any New Glarus…sigh. My fiance and I hosted a wonderful holiday for my family in our new house and they in turn helped us get our place more lived in, as well as buy us about a grand’s worth of home improvement supplies (from ceiling fan/light fixtures to an electric drill to a flashlight), which was amazing and completely unexpected. To celebrate on Christmas, I opened one of my two bottles of Infinium for my family to try, as they are big macro beer drinkers, and they came away really quite surprised, as did I.
I know I shouldn’t have been surprised with all of the hype going on months before it was even released, but I was. Before I get to my tasting notes, however, a little background information that you already know from the ridiculous amount of exposure thus far. Apparently, Infinium is the result of a two-year collaboration between Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) and Germany’s Weihenstephan, “The World’s Oldest Brewery.” The idea was to create a new revolutionary style of beer in accordance with the laws of Reinheitsgebot, or “the German Purity Law,” which dates back to 1560 and states that the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley, and hops; and yeast is a constant in brewing, so by default, yeast is included. Now, there’s really only so much one can do with these four basic ingredients, and attempting to create something that isn’t similar to the hundreds, if not thousands, of other beers that try to follow by the same rules sounds like an impossible feat.
Now for some quick stats from the Sam Adams website and then my notes:
Flavor: Light and dry with a crisp clean malt character, and delicate fruit and spice notes Color: Pale golden with a sparkling effervescence Original Gravity: 20.5° Plato Alcohol by Vol/Wt: 10.3%ABV – 8.1%ABW Calories/12 oz.: 257 Malt Varieties: Custom blend of two-row malted barley, malted spring white wheat, and malted oats Hop Varieties: Hallertau Mittlefrueh, Spalt Spalter, Tettnang Tettnanger and Hersbrucker Noble Hops Yeast Strain: Samuel Adams ale yeast, Belgian yeast Availability: Limited Release Holiday 2010 First Brewed: 2010
I really wanted to get a good picture of the beer all up close and personal-like, but because of my lack of planning for a good shooting location and because my camera was running on zero battery while my charger has decided to go AWOL, I could only snap a few quick ones before the camera coughed and sputtered away pitifully. I’ll be buying a new charger tomorrow I guess.
The Infinium poured a crystal clear amber with bright golden highlights shining wherever the light caught it. It was obvious from the very beginning that this beer was going to have more champagne characteristics, especially when I poured it and a huge 4-finger thick head of large, clean bubbles built up effortlessly, threatening to spill over the sides. Unfortunately, the head didn’t last long and quickly fell into a few carbonation-fueled islands of small rapidly popping bubbles. Throughout the duration of the drink, there were lots of champagne bubble lines constantly flowing from the bottom and sides of the glass that transferred over into the mouthfeel quite a bit.
I was surprised when I initially smelled mashed bananas in the light aroma, but they were well balanced by snippets of cloves, sweet malts, light sprinklings of brown sugar and slight hints of apple cider that came through as it warmed. There were some very quiet hints of light wheat and a yeast (which I’ve seen referred to as a Belgian yeast) seemed to pop out once in a while with the bubbles, while something bready – almost doughy – hid in the background. It was a nice clean smell with very little discernible alcohol in the nose, and was a nice combination of beer and champagne, neither really overwhelming the other.
As soon as it hit my tongue, there was a distinct sharp green apple tartness that really surprised me as it was very reminiscent of a bright cider, but with nice full carbonation, which was more of a champagne quality. Despite the initial shock of sour apple, it easily transformed into softer sweet, chewy, bready malts and the belgian yeast with a touch of spice swirling around golden delicious apples. The mouthfeel was very smooth, creamy and refreshing and I found it very difficult to detect the 10% alcohol in the taste – that presented itself in a nice warming sensation that built gradually. Overall, I think I’ve decided that this beer is more like a heavy champagne than any kind of beer, even though it nicely holds qualities from both categories. I do not think many beverages, regardless of what they are made of or where/how they are made, are worth $20+, but that is no reason for me to go and rip apart how this beer let me down, was a disappointment, or didn’t live up to my expectations. If I were to go into every beer (or any experience for that matter) expecting to encounter every good rumor and all the built-up hype I had heard about it, I would be severely disappointed with a lot of things in life. How could I be happy? Instead, I went into this beer ignoring what everyone else had said and had my own wonderful experience with it. I really enjoyed all of the different components that brought it together and would gladly buy it again for a special occasion if it were continued. As for right now, I’m content with the two bottles I tried and for having been able to share it with my family over the holidays. I’d rather have beer-champagne than just champagne any day.