Beer Review: Sam Adams’ Belgian Session


Apparently it’s Sam Adams weekend here at the Disco. To be honest I’m not even sure where this beer came from, but house rules: my fridge, my beer. Sam Adams Belgian Session, is exactly what it sounds like: a sessionable Belgian style ale. But how good is it? Let’s find out…

Sam Adams Belgian Session 3From Sam Adams:

A crisp, refreshing version of a traditional Belgian beer.  Fruity, slightly spicy flavors from the Belgian yeast are balanced by toffee and caramel notes from our blend of malts while the hops provide a citrus character that rounds out this enjoyable brew.
Malts: Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, and Gambrinus honey malt
Hops:Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Ahtanum, Strisselspalt
Yeast: Belgian Ale yeast
Color:Golden, SRM: 10
ABV: 4.3%
IBU: 16

Gentlemen, your scorecards…

BeerAdvocate: 77, 76
RateBeer: 61, 65
Untappd: 3.21

I’m not the world’s biggest Belgian beer fan, so while I’m sure there are a lot of people who would question the authenticity of this brew, I’m not one of them. But what do I think?

Appearance: This looks a LOT like Sam Adams’ Boston Lager. The only difference – and it could’ve been my pour – was the huge frothy white head. The head takes off pretty quickly but leaves a lot of lacing. Golden amber, almost orange. Very clear and clean.

Smell: Your typical Belgian smells of spice, banana bread, and bubblegum but turned down a notch or two. I’m not getting much, if anything from the hops. There are hints of malty sweetness, but the Belgian yeast is the star here.

Taste: Some toffee and some caramel. A liberal amount of spice. Creamy. Maybe a little bit of citrus or apple?

Mouthfeel: This feels like a solid quaffable beer. It’s crisp and clean, while also creamy.Light, but substantial.

Final Verdict: 3.5 out of 5. Taste it, buy it if it’s on sale.

I struggled a little bit for what so say about a 3.5. This is a good, not great beer. There are better examples of the style out there, but you’d be hard-pressed to find them at a decent price (except maybe Leffe, but I think this is better). This is by no means a bad beer, and is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at, but I can’t help but feel that it was brewed solely to capitalize on the popularity of Belgian style beers. The reason the other Belgian Pale Ales are better is the reason they cost more: they are lovingly crafted by people dedicate to creating that particular style of beer. While I’d never say any beer wasn’t lovingly craft, this style just isn’t in Sam Adams’ wheelhouse. This beer was brewed for mass appeal and if it serves as a gateway for people into other Belgian beers, specifically Trappist beers, then it has done a great service to the beer drinking world.

Sam Adams Belgian Session 1

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3 Comments

  1. The real problem here is that Samuel Adams beers are ALL just good, not great. They are all drinkable, but none of them are great. So, even though from time to time I will have a Sam Adams offering, I would not be inclined to actually purchase one just for the sake of trying a different style. There will always be someone who does it better…. which is basically what you have just spelled out.

    Reply

    1. I think there are some Sam offerings that are top notch, but they tend to be more in their small batch series. I think “Verloren” is one of the better gose beers I’ve had. I enjoy “Dark Depths” as far as Baltic IPAs go. I’m more inclined to buy Sam’s one-off’s than I am to buy their variety packs. There are some good beers in those packs (Whitewater IPA, Grumpy Monk) but there’s also some duds (“Bonfire” is possibly the worst beer I’ve ever tasted). With few exceptions there’s always going to be a brewery out there that does something better than whatever brewery you’re looking at (with the exception of say someone doing a better porter than Founders or a better IPA than the Alchemist or Russian River). Because of that – and because of the low price point – I’m inclined to try Sam’s one-offs.

      Oh, and the Utopia I mentioned? Wow. Amazing.

      Reply

  2. I haven’t seen this one though that’s partially because I rarely pay attention to what’s in the SA section of the craft beer fridge wall. I tend to agree with both of the comments above. I truly believe Jim Koch deserves a huge amount of credit for being such an aggressive supporter of independent craft breweries but, honestly, none of the SA brews are close to world class (none of the ales anyway). Practically every one of their beers is a “light” version of the style in terms of flavor profile – some of which are way off – and texture. I find the small batch one-offs to be annoying more than anything else.

    As for the Belgian Session – I think I’ll pass.

    Cheers!

    Reply

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