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Our First Taste of Samuel Adam’s New Ale and Lager Hybrid, Sam ’76

sam 76
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Which do you prefer: ales or lagers?

This is a question many beer drinkers have heard over the years. It’s kind of a silly question, as the terms strictly refer to drink’s fermentation method and not necessarily the beer’s aroma, appearance, or flavor, although there are certain expectations. In a nutshell, lagers utilize bottom-fermenting yeast and ales use top-fermenting strains; lager yeast works best in cooler temperatures while ale yeasts like it comparatively warm.

A brewer’s creativity often pushes a beer beyond its basic, expected properties into something surprising and new. However, there are some aspects to a beer’s profile that are usually determined by the fermentation method. Lagers are routinely described as clean and crisp, where as ales tend to be more varied and flavorful. But in the expanding world of craft beer, you may be hard-pressed to truly tell the difference on taste alone.

Meet Sam '76

Samuel Adams has entered the ale versus lager debate with a novel suggestion: Why not have both? The new Sam ’76 offering is being dubbed a hybrid of sorts, thanks to its unique recipe. After a year of trial and error, the brewery landed on the technique of combining two batches of wort (unfermented beer) — one an ale and the other a lager — early in the fermentation process. That super-wort continues fermenting as a single batch. The yeasts then work together to finish the alcohol conversion and make beer. A late addition of extra hops adds to the product’s final punch.

But the most important question isn’t ale or lager — it’s “how does it taste?” The answer: surprisingly delicious. Sam ’76 pours a bright, clear gold from the can and has a fresh aroma of biscuit, floral, and citrus notes. The hops, including Citra and Mosaic, carry that aroma straight through into a refreshing, quenching beer that pairs perfectly with everything from tailgate hot dogs to lobster tail at your favorite hot spot.

Sam ’76 is available now across the United States in canned six-packs and retails for $9-$10, depending on the market. Find a retailer near you.

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Lee Heidel
Lee Heidel is the managing editor of Brew/Drink/Run, a website and podcast that promotes brewing your own beer, consuming the…
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