Review #44 – Samuel Adams Rebel IPA 69/100
We don’t see much of a variety from Samuel Adams in the UK so I was quite happy to come across this in the supermarket and give it a go. Samuel Adams is a brewery that has done more for the craft beer movement than a lot of people might think, during the international hop crisis of 2008 when the world saw record lows in crop harvests, Samuel Adams provided relief to over 100 craft breweries in the form of 20,000 pounds of hops. For that act alone I think the people at Samuel Adams deserve a lot of credit and it’s something that should not be forgotten as it may have saved a number of craft breweries from dying.
Most breweries that produce IPAs will almost always use at least one strain of the ‘C hops’, they are Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, Cascade, Centennial and Citra; all of which are high alpha acid hops. Alpha acids are the molecules that impart most of the bitter flavour on a beer, these alpha acids come out of the hops during the boiling process. You may sometimes see the term ‘dry hopped with…’, when a beer is dry hopped the hops are added to the fermenter, this will impart certain characteristics of the hop but will not contribute to its bitterness. I find that a lot of IPAs are dominated by alpha acid bitterness with some having IBU(International Bitterness Unit) ratings of over 100, beers like this can become what I like to call ‘Hop Flat’, where you can taste no other characteristics of the beer as they have all been masked by the hops. That was just a little lesson and isn’t really the case with this beer, so without further ado let’s get onto the Sam Adams Rebel.
Out of the bottle and into the glass this is a beer that does look very alluring, deep copper in colour, appearing to be quite highly carbonated and producing a slightly off-white, very lively head. This looks like an IPA that I am really going to enjoy.
On the nose, that lively head erupts with lovely aromas lovely aromas of pungent citrus oils – grapefruit, lemon, orange and tangerine. A little pine and eucalyptus are also present in this one which adds a really nice earthy dimension to the nose. Now onto the tasting…
On the palate this one is quite heavily carbonated, first up on the tastebuds comes a very nice biscuity malt character providing a nice level of sweetness, which is something you don’t notice in a lot ‘hop flat’ IPAs. As soon as the sweetness comes it is swept away by a wave of citrus notes, quite heavy on the grapefruit but with a little tangerine and yuzu in there too. Despite there being quite a lot of hop bitterness, it is definitely not one-dimensional, there is still plenty going on in terms of complexity; a little sweetness, a little spice and plenty of fruit. This in my opinion is a very nice, refreshing IPA, and one that doesn’t try to kill you with a barrage of alpha acid. Finishes up quite dry with some sharp and juicy flavours of pink grapefruit.