|Nice of Boston Beer to so perfectly describe the recipe!|
Ten years ago the legendary "Rock of Boston" WBCN went off the air. When it happened it was a bit of a shock to me. Toward the end of its run, I had taken my first cubicle job where I could listen to music at work, and rediscovered the station. 'BCN felt like it would be around forever. That was what my dad listened to in the car when I would tag along with him to jobs. My uncle Mike grew up on 'BCN in the '70s, and stayed with the station all through the '90s as they continued to play new artists as opposed to growing with their original audience. During my formative years the station played the bands I loved to listen to in high school and college.
Essentially the station changed formats and became a sports radio station. The morning DJs Toucher and Rich stayed on after the format change. I remember at that time Rich Shertenlieb of Toucher and Rich comparing WBCN to a restaurant everyone said they loved, but not enough people went to anymore to keep in business.
Samuel Adams Summer Ale was one of my formative craft beers. Not only was it one of the first craft beers I can remember really loving, I have so many fond memories associated with Sam Summer. As I think about those memories, most of them were in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Since that time there has been an explosion in the number of beers and craft breweries. To say nothing of New England IPA.
In recent years I still enjoyed Sam Summer at Fenway Park, and would make it a point to buy it once or twice over the course of the ̶s̶p̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ summer. That said, Sam Summer wasn't the mainstay in my fridge it once was.
I am hardly alone in that regard. Boston Beer has had to grapple with declining sales of its seasonal beers, Sam Summer included. Like the radio executives that took WBCN off the air, Boston Beer couldn't keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. This year Sam Adams changed the recipe for Summer Ale for the first time in 23 years. The new recipe has a lot more fruit and citrus. The way I read the description, the beer is designed to be more quaffable.
As an avowed capitalist and beer industry professional I completely understand why Boston Beer did what they did. Beer drinkers like me are responsible for Boston Beer feeling the need to do something. That doesn't mean I was ready to see a beer that meant so much to me go the way of WBCN. I wanted to preserve the classic recipe, or at least brew a beer inspired by the classic recipe I loved so much.
The base beer was an American Wheat Beer, with lemon zest and grains of paradise adding the summery taste. Doing some additional research I found the beer was hopped with the same Hallertau Mittelfrueh as Boston Lager, and was a shockingly low 7 IBUs. The lemon and grains of paradise do most of the heavy lifting in terms of balancing the malt.
I was of two minds for the grist. Muntons Pilsner Malt would have been an excellent choice as the base malt. Knowing Boston Beer uses North American base malt almost exclusively, I decided to use Mapleton Pale malt from Maine Malt House. I visited the malthouse in January, a horrible time to almost drive toto Canada, and was able to tour the malthouse with the Buck family who owns and operates it. This was a perfect time to use their malt.
|Very happy with the crush and had a smooth runoff.|
I went with a grist of 2/3 Mapleton Pale and 1/3 Muntons Malted Wheat. I had a beautiful crush and yield with the Maine Malt. I am sure this will be a great base for my beer, and any upcoming brews where I need a North American base malt.
|This dehydrated lemon is imported from Spain.|
|1 oz of hops, one pack of yeast. Those seeds of paradise are also really small and can be tricky to grind|
I picked a perfect day to brew outside. Even though it would have been faster to brew with my propane burner, I used my electric Mash & Boil for a couple of reasons. There is something to be said for using the same system for each batch to try and gain some consistency. I was also out of propane and am lazy.
As New England IPA becomes almost a monoculture, I find myself wanting to brew the styles and beers that were prevalent in the 1990s and 2000s. Commercial brewers have to brew what sells. As they do that, I feel like the classics are falling by the wayside. Fortunately homebrewers have total freedom to brew the beer we want to drink!
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