I love mixed packs. I just love them. Take a good, respected brewer, have them pick out a smattering of styles that somehow fit together, and serve em’ up to the general public. What’s not to like? My favorite mixed 12 packs are those that coincide with a certain season and allow a brewer to put a few regular offerings together and maybe a one-off that they’ll do just for that particular season. Say they’ll add in 3 bottles each of their flagship IPA, Brown Ale, and Stout, but for the winter they’ll brew up a special Scotch Ale or for the Fall maybe a Pumpkin beer. You get to see what a brewer is made of without having to buy slew of six packs. Mixed 12 packs are especially great when you’re travelling and want to try something local. You can get a good introduction to a brewery without breaking the bank. Sometimes though, you just want to see what an old stalwart has been up to and grab a 12 pack that appeals to a wide audience. If that’s the case, no one does it better than Sam Adams.
Good ole’ Sammy does a ton of different variety packs. Hell, they’re one of the few breweries to put out a mixed 6-pack for their Long Shot competition (Mixing in 2 bottles each of the 3 unique homebrew recipes). Sometimes you do get a dud mixed in with some classics, as was the case for years with the Winter Classics pack (Old Fezziwig = Good, Cranberry Lambic = Bad). Generally though you’ll get a good sampling of brews with nothing too over the top and nothing that you’ll want to throw back. Sam tends to go a different route than most brewers by adding 2 bottles of 6 different styles where most go the 3×4 way. Here’s what we have with the Summer Styles Variety Pack.
East-West Kölsch -Tasting note below, Cool choice)
Rustic Saison – Tasting note below, Another cool choice
Summer Ale – Tasty little beverage and a Summer staple
Latitude 48 IPA – Not even close to the best IPA, but perfect intro for a newbie
Boston Lager – OK, I guess you can add your flagship.
Light – Wait, if I like Sam Lager, why would I drink the Light? And vice versa?
Overall that’s a nice little selection. You’ve got their two biggest selling beers in the Lager and the Light (Again, not sure why they both have to be there). You’ve got their new baby in the Latitude 48, which I wouldn’t generally buy but it’s certainly a sessionable Summer IPA. The Summer Ale obviously has to be there. Then you’ve got two styles that they’ve brewed up just for this mixed pack. I wouldn’t buy a mixed-12 just because 1/3 of the package is new to me, but it’s a pretty good selling point nonetheless. I think this makes up a decent mix of styles for a long Summer Session.
I’ve put together a couple of tasting notes on the newbies. If you find yourself at a party this Summer, reaching into an icy tub full of random bottle tops, I think you’ll be pleased to pull out either of these brews.
NOTES: 12oz bottle
STYLE: Kölsch (Gotta love when the style is part of the title of the beer)
ABV: 5.01% ABV (You really pick up on that extra hundredth of a percent – Wicked burn)
APPEARANCE: Golden, bubbly goodness. Dammed if it doesn’t look crisp
HEAD: Bit of a creamy head that knocks off quickly
LACING: Tight bubbles up and down the glass
NOSE: Lots of fresh grain, clean, bready. Slightly floral with a crisp hop punch
TASTE: Touch of sweetness up front followed by a spicy middle and end. Fantastic balance. Like biting into a Ritz cracker and chasing it with a Triscuit.
MOUTHFEEL: Just a hair over medium mouthfeel, which works out perfect for me. Good depth.
DRINKABILITY: Kölsch are meant to be consumed in ample quantities in small glasses – At absurdly low temps. I could drink this one all day
RATING: 3.5 Hops
NOTES: 12oz bottle
ABV: 4.35% ABV
APPEARANCE: Golden, similar to the Kölsch, but more on the hazy side
HEAD: Big bubbly head, but could just be my pour. Loose bubbles send up a ton of aroma
LACING: Not much to speak of aside from what remained from the dissipated head
NOSE: Banana hits you first with some spice and grainy, woodsy notes. Not as spicy as I would have liked. Some citrus tones near the end
TASTE: Malty sweetness throughout, fairly balanced with some earthy notes. Lots of cereal graininess poking through. Has some apple/pear notes
MOUTHFEEL: Pretty light, effervesce is fairly subdued
DRINKABILITY: Wouldn’t pass up a couple of these in succession. Not the most complex beer you’ll come across and a little sweet for my tastes but certainly worthy of a try.
RATING: 2.5 Hops