Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sam Adams & Weihenstephan Infinium Ale

It is not very often that one comes across an attempt by a brewery to create a new beer style.  And it is even less often to find that new beer bottled in a champagne bottle.  And it is truly a unique experience to have that new beer be a collaboration between Sam Adams and Weihenstephan.  

Everyone knows about Sam Adams, but not everyone knows about Weihenstephan.  About a thousand years ago, it was a brewery run by a Benedictine monastery.  The brewery then became the Bavarian royal brewery and, today, it is the Bavarian state brewery.  Although it is a state brewery, it operates like a private business, guided by the principle of "class not mass."

The Infinium is marketed as a beer that combines European brewing with American innovation.  Brewers of Sam Adams and Weihenstephan worked for two years on the recipe of this beer, which marks the first champagne beer (i.e., the new beer style).  To make this beer, the breweries followed the Reinheitsgebot, which is the law passed in 1516 to maintain the purity of beer by limiting its ingredients to malt, hops and water.  The law was later amended to add yeast.  Using these four ingredients, Sam Adams and Weihenstephan have created a beer that is a first.

When you pour the infinium, the carbonation is about the same as a champagne.  So you need to pour it carefully.  The brewers say that the beer should have a fruity, spicy aroma, which I think is what I could smell after pouring the beer.  The brewers say that the use of Noble hops should impart a a soft citrus and floral flavor.  The flavors that I tasted were not necessarily soft citrus and floral, they were a little more a combination of bitter and fruity.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I when I think of soft citrus and floral, I think of a beer like the Fleurette.  At least for me, this beer does not achieve that result, but it is still a very good beer.

The beer is sold in champagne beers for $18.99 a bottle, which is a little pricey for beer but actually cheap for good champagne.


For more about the Infinium, check out the Sam Adams website.  For more about the Weihenstephan, check out its website.

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