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Sam Adam’s Infinium: A Better Way to Ring in the New Year?

True to my word I did pick up a bottle of Sam Adams Infinium Ale to ring in the new year.  The ball was dropping and my taste buds were filled with anticipation with what wonders might be inside.  As I took off the cage that contained the cork of the 750 ml bottle I was struck that the packaging of this particular beer was probably as elaborate as any I have ever seen.  The label was an old world style that reminded me of days gone past, and the neck banding had an intricate pattern that reminded me of champaign that you might open in a grand ballroom.  It almost felt like I was in the manor of “The Shining” back in the 50s.  Either that or at the Sun Valley Lodge with Hemingway.  Either way the imagery ends bad…

But fortunately, that isn’t the story here.  At least I didn’t think so.  Sam Adams Infinium came out in early December, and ever since there have been a plethora of reviews, mostly mixed, and some downright bad.  I am here to say that I liked this beer, a lot.  I liked its flavor, and I liked its intent, and I liked its heritage, and I liked the outcome.

The Infinium Ale is a beer that was brewed using the principles of Reinheitsgebot which uses only four ingredients to produce the beer, Water, Barley, Hops and Yeast.  The trick is to find different sources for the ingredients and use them in different combinations and at different points within the brewing process to produce different flavors.  I have to say that given this Spartan (or perhaps Spaten is more appropriate) list of ingredients it is a challenge to make something truly unique, and I believe that Sam Adams has hit the mark.

This was a “collaboration” brew with the oldest commercial brewery still in operation in the world.  The Weihenstephan Brewery in Germany asked Sam Adams to help with the brew that ultimately became Infinium.  So what about the flavor, because ultimately that is what matters most.  Many people didn’t like this brew, we actually had a guest reviewer on this site compare the flavor to meat.  I am happy to say there was no beefiness in my glass.

I rang in the new year with a couple glasses of the Infinium and a CAO MX2 cigar.  A very good combination I might add.  The infinium had a medium body with lots of bubbles.  You would expect that when using Champaign yeast.  I was expecting a real nose tickler, but what I got was a well balanced brew that had a very fruity quality backed by a solid maltiness that brought all the flavors together in a sophisticated and delicate way.  The overwhelming quality was fruitiness with notes of pear, pineapple, apple and banana.  At 13.4% ABV this is a big brew, but it hid the alcohol, wrapping it into the flavor profile masterfully.

So I liked it …a lot.  I would be remiss however if I didn’t mention that my son, who has been a co-reviewer with me at times, didn’t really care for it.  I think the difference is I understood what they were attempting to pull off and could appreciate the flavors that they were able to produce in this well crafted beer.  And frankly palates are different.  I like something a little more challenging and complex.

If you haven’t, you need to get a bottle and try this brew.  It was a fun way to ring in the new year, and I hope they make it again for 2011/12, I know what I’ll be drinking!

-Don

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37 Comments on “Sam Adam’s Infinium: A Better Way to Ring in the New Year?”

  1. January 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Bleh. Give me DeuS for champagney beer!

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

      No hint of meat or vagina in my bottle Daniel. Maybe I got a bad one?… :s

      • January 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

        A bad vagina?

        • Don
          January 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

          I guess that works both ways!

      • January 3, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

        We have a second bottle we don’t know what to do with. Maybe we’ll give it another try just to see if we got a bad one or if Sammy is trolling us all.

        NYE we got into some Seeing Double from Foothills, Southern Tier Krampus, Lion Stout, Duck Rabbit Milk Stout, all in growler form, and a DeuS (http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/deus-brut-des-flandres/18912/)

        The fireworks were great, the stars I saw were better.

        • Don
          January 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

          I’d give it another go. I really thought it was an interesting brew. My son however thought it wasn’t great. Maybe you are in the wasn’t great category. Who needs fireworks with a lineup like that!

  2. Evan
    January 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    My new years eve pick was a Rodenback 2007 Vintage. Wow was it amazing. Haven’t even seen a bottle of Infinium yet.

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

      Evan if you get one I’d be interested in your opinion. A brewer’s perspective might be interesting here. And the more you write the less I have to! 😉

  3. January 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Agreed! This beer was a great way to ring in the new year! Now, bring on Hopslam season.

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Oh…if only Zac…if only…

  4. January 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    I still have mine. By the time the ball dropped, no one wanted another beer (I know, party animals), so I tucked it away for later. It’s probably for the best, as my palate is still mostly shot from this crappy cold I’ve had. I’ll save it for when I can taste it.

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      I’m pretty sure this won’t cellar well, so I would say make sure you pop the cork pretty soon, and don’t let it fall into the beer Abyss in your garage!

      • Ray
        January 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

        Almost a perfect answer to a question I forgot to ask. How would you guys (any readers input is greatly appreciated!) categorize the shelf life/storage properties and time lines of the Infinium?
        Thanks!

  5. Ray
    January 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    The 2010 Yule & Ale Fest in Upstate NY on Christmas day was topped off with an ice cold bottle of Infinium. I had written in about finding the bottle and actually found a distributor where I was able to purchase 7 (not all for me). I was ready for a let down and couldn’t agree more with Don’s assessment as we all really enjoyed the Infinium. Cheers to breweries willing to work together and collaborate for new and unique flavors.

    • January 3, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

      There’s nothing wrong with buying seven beers for yourself, Ray. I bought two cases of bombers of Mad Elf!

      See New Year’s Resolution #1 on the home page…

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

      Good on ya Ray! It was a most impressive beer in my estimation, and I will definitely be getting it again.

  6. Fred Colby
    January 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Very Surprised you Liked it, we shared a bottle and the overall consensus was that it was a major Diacetyl bomb
    The guy who bought it bought 4 bottles and was very disappointed

    • January 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

      This is why folks should buy one, maybe two bottles of something that new surrounded with loads of hype. Hell, I’m only buying one sixer of Hopslam this year and I know it will be good.

      • Don
        January 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

        I bought one, and I’ll be buying another, but maybe not until next year.

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      Hi Fred, glad you stopped by. I don’t know all the brewer’s terms, but I did like it, for the reasons I listed. Now it is no bourbon barrel aged triple from Laughing Dog, but I did like it. I think it was the fruitiness followed up by the big malty backbone and all the bubbles! It just worked for me. Lots of people didn’t love it, but I’m on the other side of this fence. I’ve been in touch with Rob on Facebook, when you guys coming down to Boise?

      • January 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

        Diacetyl can add a buttery taste to beer Don. Was it buttery at all? Sometimes it’s a nice touch that makes a beer more complex, but other times it give a flavor like buttered popcorn or meat (I think that’s what Daniel was referring to in his review).

        Maybe it’s a batch thing. Yours wasn’t meaty or buttery (or vagina-y as Daniel said), so maybe it varies.

        • Don
          January 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

          That could be, but of course Fred is up in Sandpoint and might be from the same batch. I described a medium mouthfeel, but it was also kinda creamy too. So it might be a little that way, but I didn’t taste any butter or meat or whatever.

      • January 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

        think “vaginal” is what you’re looking for.

  7. Ray
    January 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    It surely wasn’t the best beer we tasted over the course of the weekend (for me, that prize went to Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve), but it simply surpassed expectations (which were lowered because of they hype!)

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

      That is probably fair Ray. I’m not going to say this was the best beer, but I thought it was solid and thought the style went well with the occasion. That’s all.

      • Ray
        January 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

        Couldn’t agree more!

  8. Matt
    January 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    BevMo sold my reserved bottle because I waited too long to pick it up. Without New Years there is no way I’m dropping $20 to try a style I don’t know anything about. Oh well, maybe next year.

    • January 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

      $20? Well, I guess I was lucky to score my bottle for $15. The place I purchased it from had no idea what it was or where it came from. They asked me if $15 sounded right. I agreed thinking it was at least that much. Then I heard a friend passed it up for $18 in Florida and realized what I had.

  9. Fred Colby
    January 3, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Don
    We are shooting to come to Boise the 16th-19th of Febuary

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

      Great Fred! We should try to meet up…Maybe Dinner and some beers.

  10. Alex
    January 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    Never got a chance to try the Infinium; maybe next year. I had a magnum of Anchor’s Our Special Ale lined up for New Year’s, but I was overruled by both my girlfriend (who wanted champagne at midnight) and a great selection of other beers I wanted to try instead. Our Special Ale will have to wait for another occasion.

    The New Year’s lineup included: Odell’s Avant Peche (a barrel aged peach porter with brett), Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad, Mikkeller I Beat yoU, Mikkeller/BrewDog I Hardcore You, and Port Old Viscosity. And a sip of champagne at midnight. I had help with drinking the beer.

    All of the beers were great, but the real revelation was the Avant Peche. After reading the label, I didn’t think there was any way it could work, but somehow it did.

    • Don
      January 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

      Sounds like a good lineup, none the less. Jim had a local brew at GABF which was a bourbon barrel aged raspberry chocolate porter. Not sure if it had brett or not, but it was actually very good too. I’m becoming more and more convinced that Porters are great vehicles for all sorts of flavors. Glad you liked the Avant Peche.

  11. Mark S.
    January 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Well, since everyone else is listing out what they drank NYE, I’ll give it a shot. I started off with a Rude Elf Reserve, and then cracked open a Harpoon 100 Series Oak Aged Dunkel, which was very nice and smooth (especially compared to the Spaten Dunkel I had just been drinking earlier that week). Took a brief detour to try some unusually bad blueberry desert wine from a local vineyard, and then finished off with a New Holland Dragon’s Milk. Luckily midnight rolled around just in time before I could contemplate opening something else and getting into real trouble!

    • Don
      January 4, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      Mmmmmm…..Dragon’s Milk! Sounds like a great lineup Mark. Especially that Dunkel, that sounds very interesting, and the Dragon’s Milk is just fantastic any time.

  12. January 4, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    I was hoping to try this, but the local wide-variety store ran out and didn’t re-order. The guy behind the counter sort of laughed at me when I asked him for it. “We sold out of that the day it came out”, he said.

    /Price is Right fail song

    • Don
      January 4, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      Wa wah…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sam Adams Infinium: The Champagne of Beers? « Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - January 3, 2011

    […] Update 1/3/11: Don’s review of Infinium – he loved it!  Click here to read Don’s Infinium review. […]

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