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Jim Koch, founder and owner of Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams brands), comes from a long history of brewers. He has supported the home brew community for many years by hosting the Sam Adams American Home Brew Competition. Jim encourage every home brewer, even his own employees, to enter the  competition. Through a series of local, regional and national competition, the last one at Boston Beer Company, five beers are selected and brought to the Great American Beer Festival. The winners are announced at a brunch hosted by Boston Beer Company. But it doesn’t end there. The top rated beers from the competition goes through yet another set of judgings and 3 beers are selected. The three winners are brought to Boston Beer Company where the original recipes are converted for large scale production. One batch of each beers is brewed and put together in a mixed six pack sold as Long Shot. I had the opportunity to sample the three winners in the 2009 competition.The three winners are an Old Ale, a Barley Wine and a Saison. The Old Ale is a full bodied beer with notes of dried fruit and nuts. It’s not as robust as I expect from and old ale. That is also the case with the Barley wine. It’s not as robust as I would like in a barley wine. The overtone of hoppyness takes over the malty plum flavors that I usually like in a barley wine. Could this be a IBW, India Barley Wine? Never heard of it but this is maybe how it tastes. A fare better beer is the Saison brewed by Jeremy White who works at Sam Adams IT department. This is a refreshing beer with notes of citrus and vanilla. The pepper added to the beer is only there in the background as a slight hint. This is a great beer for a warm summer day.

Samuel Adams always has something new and exiting going on. In October 2009 they launched a new limited collection called Barrel Room Collection. Sam Adams have been brewing barrel aged beer before. They started already in 1993 with the Tripel Bock and the five batch limited Utopia in 2001. The Barrel Room Collection beers have been aged in East European oak barrels originally used for aging Italian brandy. The collection includes three beers, New World Triple, Stony Brook Red and American Kriek.

The American Kriek (7% ABV) is an interesting beer. The cherry stone flavor hit me almost immediately both in the smell and flavor. The malty character goes well with the cherry flavors. I have rarely tasted a good kriek

Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection

outside of Belgium. I am a hard core lambic enthusiast and like my cherries in a lambic. Maybe with the exception of Rodenbach Alexander. It was a tragical day when they stopped brewing that beer. The American Kriek is maybe the best out-of Belgium kriek I have tried so fare. I was lucky again to have the opportunity to sample these three beers.

The Stony Brook Red (9% ABV) has a tart fruity flavor. The finish is oily which stays in the mouth for a long time.

The New World Tripel (10%ABV) is the best out of the three. The spicy notes and tropical fruit flavors makes this a complex and flavorful beer. This is a traditional Belgian Blond with an American touch.