Monday, June 20, 2011

Sam Adams Latitude 48 Deconstructed

I was eagerly awaiting this sampler and commend Sam Adams for putting this out. This is yet another reason I love Sam Adams. This sampler is meant to be a learning tool to help drinkers identify the distinct flavors in beer. With knowledge is power. The beauty of this sampler is you get to taste the characteristics of five different hops with the exact same malt profile for each beer. If you happened to be a homebrewer and wanted to complete this experiment, you would invest approximately $250.00 (5x5 gallon batches) and about 30hrs of brewing time. Thank you Sam Adams for my $14.00 hop lesson.

Again, I would like to reiterate this is a learning tool. These beers were not meant to be some outstanding rendition of a single hopped Hallertau IPA. I’ve seen a lot of forum responses stating these weren’t very good IPA’s and (place beer name here) is a way better IPA. That was not the purpose of this sampler, to create a superior standalone IPA, instead it was to allow people to taste 5 different hop characteristics in the exact same beer.

I chose to taste these beers back to back. I’ve recently learned the best way to taste the differences in beers is to taste them back to back. Your memory likes to play tricks on you after a few beers, so that stout with the chocolate taste isn’t as chocolaty two months from now when you drink another one. Also since these IPA’s are essentially the same beer it would be very hard to distinguish the differences if you didn’t taste them one right after the other.


The Hallertau version had a very earthy/grassy nose with hints of malt poking through. The Hallertau hop is a noble hop sought after for it’s clean bittering qualities and is evident in this IPA. The bittereness was very clean and crisp. It did not linger long after you swallowed and is very refreshing. The taste could be described as earthy, piney, and floral. This taste was very familiar to me from other brews, I just didn’t realize it was due to the Hallertau hop. Now I know!


The Zeus version had big grapefruit smell in the nose. The taste followed suit and exploded with huge grapefruit taste. The Zeus had good taste character with the citrus/grapefruit flavor but did have a somewhat harsh ending. The bitterness lingered a lot longer than Hallertau and was not near as clean.


The Ahtanum version was very flat smelling in terms of hop presence. The nose was very malty with no real hop aroma. The Ahtanum reminded me of the Hallertau in terms of taste. There is a small faint taste of grapefruit at the beginning followed by earthy/piney flavors very similar to Hallertau. It is like Hallertau’s rougher younger brother. It is earthy/floral with a deeper taste than Hallertau and not as clean.

East Kent Goldings

The EKG version had a very sweet candy like smell. The sweetness was not entirely from the malt but came from the hop aroma. The taste was very malty and sweet with a slight after taste of earth/pine. This was a very subdued bitterness and was more of a background flavor. There was not much in terms of hop flavor going on in this one.


The Simcoe version had a somewhat sweet smell with some earthy pine thrown in for good measure. This version had a very clean bitterness to it. The flavor is a resinous earthy taste and was very pleasant. If you read my review of the Latitude 48, I stated there is a whole mouth quality to the bitterness. I believe the Simcoe hop is responsible for this. This would be a very good bittering hop for homebrewing.

Latitude 48

After tasting each bitter contributor, the original Latitude 48 was sampled. The East Kent Goldings sweet smell was apparent on the nose. It had a good balance between the bitterness, the hop flavor, and maltiness. I would guess that the Simcoe is the main culprit for most of the Latitude’s bitterness. I noticed the darker earthy tones (Ahtanum) that I would not have noticed before. I was looking for the grapefruit character (Zues) but couldn’t really find it. Overall, the Latitude 48 is still one of my favorite IPA’s due to its super clean bitterness and complexity of hop flavors. FatCat was the lone taster in this event and subsequently had to drink 6 IPAs before they got warm. Well they got warm, but I finished them anyway. I was going to try to recap them but I remembered something I read the other day. What was it? Oh yeah “Go Big or Go Home”.


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