Sam Adams has created so many new Seasonal Variety Packs that I've had to create a new guide just for all of them! This is an awesome "problem" because it just means that Sam Adams is creating more great beers for me to try and enjoy! It has been a true pleasure finding out what new varieties come out each season - it is like Christmas four times a year!
Be sure to check out my Guide to Sam Adams Year-Round Beers for the rest of their great beers!
Note: I started my original guide years ago, when Sam Adams had fewer varieties, and I like to keep the old information in addition to adding the new. When a new Mix-Pack is created, or when they change the lineup (which has happened frequently in the past few years - yay!), I will note this.
Winter Classics Mix Pack Varieties:
Let's start with the best! Start looking for the Winter Classics Pack early and often; they start selling in October, and can disappear quickly! Note: These beers often feature spices and flavors that you usually find in a dessert, rather than in a beer - I recommend that you enjoy these with a rich dessert or just by themselves. While many Sam Adams beers pair perfectly with food, the Winter Classics are in a class by themselves or with desserts - most are not that great with ordinary food...but these are no ordinary beers...
Boston Lager - check out my other guide for information on this great brew!
Winter Lager - This is my favorite Sam Adams brew! Winter Lager is a hearty wheat ale that uses many different flavors including cinnamon, orange, ginger, etc. It has a complex flavor, and so goes well with many dishes, including hearty winter foods and even desserts! I love it with lamb stew or apple pie! But probably the best way to enjoy this awesome brew is by itself so you aren't distracted from pure brewing perfection! You haven't had a beer until you've tried Winter Lager! I don't care how cold it gets, the Winter Lager makes winter worth it.
- Old Fezziwig Ale - many different flavors; imagine combining all your favorite winter spices into one, and you've got an idea of how good this beer is! Rich, hearty, and full of holiday flavors make this one an extremely close second to my favorite beer. The only downside to this beer is that it is only available in the Winter Classics Pack - if it was sold in six or twelve-packs, I might prefer it over even Winter Lager!
- Cranberry Lambic - Note: no longer offered in Winter Classics. Ok, I can't love them all, can I? I really don't like this beer, but the rest of the Holiday sampler makes it well worth it. This one is too fruity for my tastes - it has a distinctive sour cranberry taste, with a lot of sweetness and maple flavor, and wheat. If Sam Adams made Cranberry Lambic more like the Cherry Wheat, with just a hint of cranberry and sweetness, then it could be really good...unfortunately, it is nothing like Cherry Wheat. I give (or throw) all of mine away when I buy the Winter Classics Mix Pack, but you may find out you like it.
- Holiday Porter - porter was the brew favored by the working classes (porters) in Europe. This full-bodied beer is smooth and dark - and oh, so tasty!
- Chocolate Bock (2010) - A new offering for the 2010 Winter Classics Pack has replaced Cranberry Lambic (thank goodness!). This is an interesting brew with a good amount of chocolate flavor along with the traditional sweetness of a bock. Not a bad brew at all, but I think of it as more of a dessert beer, and I prefer it served VERY cold.
- Black and Brew (2011) - I consider two beverages to be the "nectar of the gods," and these are coffee and beer. Sam Adams has blended these two together to make a great new brew! The coffee is more pronounced in this one, as opposed to many other brands, but still perfectly balanced. Another great dessert beer from Sam Adams, but be sure to keep it cold!
Harvest Collection Variety Pack
What's this? Christmas in August? No, but it might as well be...Sam Adams is now releasing a fall variety 12-pack with two each of six great flavors, arriving around the middle of August! This wonderful collection contains two varieties unavailable elsewhere (except for actually at the brewery). The other four familiar favorites are Boston Lager, Black Lager, Irish Red, and Octoberfest - overall, a GREAT selection of beers, and the range of colors and flavors is perfect for fall! My only complaint about this collection is that it is only available in 12 packs that cost up to $17, instead of a 24 pack that I can get for only $5 more at a Sam's Club.
Boston Lager, Black Lager, Irish Red - Check out my Year-Round Varieties Guide
Octoberfest - a fairly hearty flavor - nice orangy color due to the hops. Has a slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of caramel and toffee. Nothing wrong with this beer at all, and the more I drink it, the more I like it! Octoberfest is tied with Noble pils for my second favorite seasonal beer.
Dunkelweizen - I love this style of beer - so many flavors that are so different from traditional fare! This hazy wheat beer has a wonderful taste of spices and tropical fruits and is very refreshing. I think of this as the perfect beer to have instead of dessert! Great flavor, not too heavy, and often hard to find! (2010 HC)
- Harvest Pumpkin Ale - A very mild pumpkin flavor with plenty of great spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. This rounds out the perfect variety pack to tide you over until the Winter Classics. I don't care for pumpkin pie, so I'll take this for dessert anyday! I prefer Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, but this is a close second, and was available earlier in the year (and Harvest Moon disappears in about 2 weeks around here).
- Bonfire Rauchbier - This 2011 HC beer has a strong roasty/smoky taste. It takes some getting used to, and reminds me of Scotch Ale - both feature smoked malts. Bonfire is the perfect name for it because it imparts the flavors and smells of a campfire. I'm saving up a few bottles of this for when it actually becomes fall weather - I can't wait to try one outside with the smell of the fallen leaves in the crisp air.
Brewers' Choice Collection (Spring 2012)
This great collection of the Brewers' favorites was released in Spring 2012 as a 12 or 24 pack of six beers. While there has been a 6 or 12 pack Brewmasters Collection released year-round in the past, this is a different collection with new beers.
- Boston Lager, Irish Red, Black Lager (Available Year-Round)
- Alpine Spring - bright, citrusy, and refreshing! The lighter color and flavor of this beer is perfect for Spring and Summer - I recommend you try several! You'll notice (and enjoy) the look and mouthfeel of this unfiltered beer; definitely a favorite from this collection, that I hope will continue to be available the entire summer.
- Mighty Oak Ale - The oak-aging is easily identified, and is the reason for the name of this brew. It has a very nice amber color, with a pretty good head and lacing. However, I found that it tastes best a little warmer than I usually drink my beers. I'd recommend you take this one out of the fridge for 10 minutes before opening the bottle to get the great flavors from the very beginning.
- Whitewater IPA - This is a different blend of the hoppiness of a traditional IPA, with the flavor of apricots. IPA and fruits just don't mix in my opinion, but maybe this would go better with food - something to take your mind off the weirdness of the fruity IPA...
Summer Styles Variety Pack
The Summer Styles Variety Pack is a collection of great Sam Adams beers, and starting in 2011, now has two great exclusives to the pack! They've also changed out a couple of varieties for the better! The blend of varieties and new styles make this a superb mix pack, and I applaud Sam Adams for changing the Summer Styles up so much this year! It included Summer Ale, Boston Lager, Light, Latitude 48 IPA, plus the two new varieties below:
Summer Ale - slight lemon flavor in this light ale; it also includes an ancient brewing spice, Grains of Paradise - I prefer heavier fare without the lemon flavor, but it is pretty refreshing.
Boston Lager, Sam Adams Light, Latitude 48 IPA - Year-Round Guide
- Rustic Saison - Complex with great notes of fruits, woods, flowers, and honey. It's a great beer, very refreshing and enjoyable - I could really enjoy it anytime of the year, but I could definitely see it as more of a fall brew instead of one for summer.
- East-West Kolsch - another complex brew with great flavors. Bright, citrusy, and refreshing - another great summertime beer that may just make you think you've moved to Germany.
If you have questions, comments, or anything else, please message me! I'll be happy to hear your opinions! I'm always looking for new brands and varieties to try, so if you have some suggestions, I'd love to hear them!
P.S. If you have a Sam's Club or other type of wholesale club nearby, a membership can pay for itself if you are a Sam Adams lover! A six-pack of Sam Adams is more than $8 in grocery stores in my area, but I can buy a case of 24 for $22 at my local Sam's Club! That's a savings of around $10.00 per case over supermarket or even Walmart prices - if you only buy four cases a year, you've made up the $40.00 or so membership fee! This is a great deal, especially if you love the seasonal variety packs like I do.