Beer Review: Sam Adams’ Merry Maker

I’m like 99% sure I had this beer last year when it was called Merry Mischief. And Google says I’m not mistaken. Wonder what prompted the name change? Anyways, I remember really digging this beer last year, so I’m interested in this year’s version.

From Sam Adams:

This rich dark gingerbread stout entices with the aromas of the holidays.  The flavor of gingerbread comes alive, beginning with the smooth sweetness and heartiness of dark roasted malts and a touch of wheat.  But it’s the intensity and spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & ginger that add a wicked kick for a jolly playful brew full of merry mischief

HOP VARIETIES – East Kent Goldings and Fuggles

MALT VARIETIES – Samuel Adams two row pale malt blend, wheat, Special B, Paul’s roasted barley, and flaked oats

YEAST STRAIN – Samuel Adams ale yeast


SPECIAL INGREDIENTS – Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & ginger

ALC. BY VOL/WT – 9.0%ABV – 6.9%ABW

IBUs – 25

BeerAdvocate: 83, 85
RateBeer: 97, 99
Untappd: 3.63
Sam Adams Merry Maker 1

Appearance: Dark brown to black; your standard stout range for color. A dark tan to brownish head that doesn’t really linger or leave much lacing, probably due to the 9% alcohol. It looks like a stout, basically.

Smell: Very potent note of ginger spice here. It smells like raw ginger, not the kind of syrupy-sweet ginger smell you’d associate with gingerbread, but more like ginger root. There’s some underlying cinnamon there too, and some clove character that is probably a combination of the yeast and the cloves used. Very powerful, enticing smell.

Taste: This is lip-tinglingly ginger-forward. Wow. Not quite as potent as a ginger beer but if you told me that someone poured ginger beer into a stout, I’d believe you. Obviously there’s no hop character here, I’m guessing those 25 IBUs were used to balance out the sweetness of the stout. But the ginger does a good job of that as well. In the video I linked above, he talks about last year’s version not being very spicy forward; I agree. I remember last year’s being a more hearty stout with a hint of ginger. This is a ginger spice-beer. I’m not getting a lot of roasty, stout-like characteristics here but there is substantial cinnamon and clove in the taste. As it warms you get more of the traditional stout notes and the ginger becomes more subdued.

Mouthfeel: I said above that I remember last year’s version being heartier. This is still well within in the right body for a stout, but I feel like they dialed down some of the malts and upped the ginger. It’s a little lighter in the body and has a nice dry mouthfeel. The ginger leaves your upper-lip tingling, like I imagine kissing a man (or woman) with a mustache would… but probably more pleasant and less creepy.

Final Verdict: 3.75 out of 5. Try it.

This one sort of teetered between 3.5 and 4.0 for me, and I think a lot of it had to do with the expectations I had going in. If you like ginger, you’ll love this beer. I enjoy ginger; I’ve drank cans of straight ginger beer in earnest. I was just expecting something a bit more chocolatey, more roasty and a bit more viscous. Depending on the price point at your local, I’d pick up a bottle of this because it is a nice beer just not the great beer I remembered. Enjoy it with a penguin!

Sam Adams Merry Maker 2


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