An Amateur Beer Snob’s Guide to Beer: The S Beers, Part 1

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What you will find here

The listings below will include the name of the beer, my numerical ranking based upon my own scale of 0.1 to 10.0, and a little of my personal thoughts about each beer. Here and there I’ll also throw in a few funny or interesting quotes about beer from famous folks. And if you’re curious about my ranking systems, let’s just say that a 5.0 is a decent beer, a 1.0 is an awful beer and a 10.0 is a fantastic beer.

S Beers, part 1

St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

8.4

Quite possibly the best beer from Canada I have ever had (but usually I think of Canadian beers as American imitations). This is an extremely tasty stout with a heavy burnt syrup flavor. Easily one of the best stouts around. McAuslan Brewing Inc. of Montreal is the maker of this fantastic beverage.

St. Georgen Brau Keller Bier

9.4

Made by the St. Georgen-Brau of Buttenheim, Germany. Smooth with an extremely fruity tart lightness that makes this brew remarkable, though not quite unique. Somewhat similar to a lambic or perhaps a lighter hefeweizen. A little costly, but not as much as many a good brand, and worth the price.

St. Ides Premium Malt Liquor

1.9

Yes, malt liquor is a form of beer (though I hesitate to say that as true as it is). This noxious stuff goes down smooth but it smells like gasoline and has a haunting aftertaste mix of sour, bitter and sweet. Don’t drink this. Instead, use it to start your gas grill.

St. Louis Premium Framboise

9.1

This is a Belgian lambic ale brewed with raspberries. I think I like this drink just a tad more than the kriek (cherry) version because of that extra, tarty raspberry zing. Goes great with spicy beer cheese and chips, making it a fantastic drink for a small meal or party snack. Also good by itself, but this is truly a brew for special occasions.

St. Louis Premium Kriek

9.0

Brewed and bottled by Br. Van Honsebrouck of Ingelmunster, Belgium. This is a kriek lambic, a type of Belgian beer made with cherries. You would never be able to guess this is beer just from the taste; it tastes more like a fruity seltzer water than a beer. This is a must-try beer for you true beer snobs. People who drink Grolsch and think it’s something special don’t have a clue, at least until they’ve tried something like a real lambic. This stuff is expensive, but it’s worth trying every once in a while. Wine drinkers would probably enjoy this even if they don’t like beer. Sorry, but this beer has nothing to do with the U.S. city of St. Louis

Saint Pauli Girl

4.1

Wet but with a little too much fizz. A German beer made for Americans. A decent thirst quencher. For beer snob wannabes. The taste is very American.

Saint Pauli Girl Dark

5.6

Pretty drinkable but not one of the strongest dark beers. This German brew has too much carbonation.

Saku

5.4

A step or two above your cheap lagers, this Estonian pilsner tastes more like a weak lager, though not necessarily a bad one. Very drinkable (to the point you may have too much without realizing it).

Salado Creek Honey Bock

4.8

This beer goes down very smooth and very wet, but it’s so gosh-darned sweet. It would score higher if it weren’t so sweet. This beer comes from Salado Creek Brewing Co. in San Antonio,Texas.

Sam Adams Light

4.2

One of the stronger light beers on the market. If you need to drink light, drink this. I don’t know if this stuff is the same formula as the old “Samuel Adams Boston Lightship” brew, but it goes back with a little more kick. Beer snobs on a diet can enjoy this. It’s good enough for drinking semi-regularly.

Samuel Adams Boston Ale

7.3

While this beer isn’t as thick as the Samuel Adams Boston Lager, the taste is richer. This is a good drinking beer, but it would also go good with a heavy meal – roast beef, baked potato and sourdough bread come to mind.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

7.4

This was the beer that started it all for the Boston Beer Company. A good, strong, bitter beer that has just the right mix of wet and fizz. Supposedly beers from this company are handcrafted in individual batches – it sure tastes like it! This is a good beer to have with a heavy dinner.

Samuel Adams Boston Lightship

3.9

Has a strong bitterness for a light beer, but still contains all the carbonation of one. If you’ve got to drink a light beer, this is probably the one to get. Otherwise, the Samuel Adams folk make better stuff. Update for February 1, 2002: I believe this beer has been discontinued for the new Sam Adams Light (or at least it’s been renamed).

Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat

7.0

This beer has a good cherry smell and taste that isn’t overpowering at all. If you’re a person who doesn’t like sweet beers, like me, you will still like this beer. Goes down really smooth. Has a nice, frothy foam that’s not fizzy at all.

Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic

6.4

The old definition of a Lambic was a Belgian beer that has natural, instant fermentation. The modern definition seems to be a wheat beer with fruit added (usually one type of berry or another). This beer meets the more recent meaning of the word Lambic. Like many Samuel Adams brews, this one has a solid, wet texture. The sweet of the cranberry isn’t overly strong, even for someone who doesn’t like sweet beers. This beer would be good as a desert, especially after holiday dinners with the family.

Samuel Adams Cream Stout

8.2

A smooth coffee/maple flavor. Not as hardy as many a stout, but still stout enough. One of my favorite Samuel Adams beers.

Samuel AdamsGolden Pilsner

6.2

This is the most American-tasting of all the Samuel Adams flavors. For a pilsner, this is awful robust, but not enough to ruin the drink. There’s a little too much fizz for my taste. This is a good beer for just sitting around and drinking, say while watching a football game. For those of you with an interest, Pilsners are a light, golden beer first introduced in Germany in the 19th century during a time of mostly dark beers.

Samuel Adams Honey Porter

6.3

This is an extremely bitter but wet brew. It would go well with a roast beef and Swiss sandwich, preferably on toasted rye. Also, if you haven’t checked out any of the Samuel Adams Web sites, then get to it – the pages are worth reading.

Samuel AdamsOctoberfest

5.8

A strong, sturdy ale that is a tad bit strong to swallow. A good amber color and strong caramel taste. There is also a bit of a burnt smell.

Samuel AdamsOld Fezziwig Ale

4.4

Yeah, it’s a Christmas beer with cinnamon, ginger and orange flavoring. As with all Christmas beers, this one is too sweet.

Samuel Adams Scotch Ale

6.4

Extremely strong and bitter maple flavor at first that smooths out on the way down. No sweetness at first but it slowly grows. Makes a good cold weather brew.

Samuel Adams Spring Ale

6.8

Wet with a slightly fruity bitterness. Not overly heavy, so it should make a good drinking brew. A good cooling down beer.

Samuel Adams Summer Ale

6.3

Goes down pretty smooth despite the fact it has a touch more fizz than I feel necessary. This is a white ale with lemon added; the lemon can definitely be tasted though it’s not overpowering. A good brew for just drinking, especially during a hot day in summer, but nothing extremely complicated. New beer snobs could use this beer to build their taste buds.

Samuel Adams Triple Bock

7.4

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. My reaction to this beer is unexplainable. In some ways I love this beer and in other ways I find it quite horrible. It smells like soy sauce, but there’s very little of that in the taste. There is an extremely strong and overpowering burnt maple taste to this beer. This is not a beer for swilling; it’s a beer for sipping, and very small sips at that. Only truly experienced beer tasters should even THINK of trying this beer, if you can even find it in your area. This brew tends to be difficult to find in some states (like Ohio, for instance) because of its high alcohol content. If you can drink this stuff without it sending shivers up your spine, then you’re a better man than I am (even if you are a woman!).

Samuel Adams White Ale

6.9

This slightly sweet beer goes good with fried chicken. It’s not a very powerful beer, but the taste is smooth and worth drinking.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager

6.6

The brew here has a strong, robust flavor. This beer starts off sweet at first taste, but turns bitter on the way down. A very hardy brew. There almost seems to be a touch of cinnamon in this beer.

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout

9.4

Has a nice, foamy head as all good stouts should. Not for beer snob beginners as this has a very strong maple sweet/bitterness. One of the heaviest beers out there, so don’t drink a lot of them. Nice burnt smell and syrup coloring. One of the best sipping beers there is. Samuel Smith’s has been doing fine work since 1758.

Samuel Smith’s India Ale

8.6

One of the best India Pale Ales around, but it doesn’t have the sharpness of many IPAs. Fairly smooth, not too strong.

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale

7.9

A fairly plain beer for Samuel Smith’s. A little bitter and goes down pretty smooth despite a little carbonation. Not overly sweet or nutty flavored as are some nut brown ales. A piece of trivia here: all Samuel Smith’s beers are fermented in stone.

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

9.8

This is the smoothest stout I’ve ever had. There’s almost a touch of sweetness on the way down. This brew is not as heavy as most stouts, but it isn’t watery either.

Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale

10.0

From Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster, N. Yorks, England. The best beer on the planet, in my opinion. You’ve died and gone to heaven if you are drinking this stuff. Not the smoothest beer, but still pretty smooth. Without a doubt, the best-tasting pale ale ever, but not as strong as many pale ales. The flavor and texture make this beer so great. Very little sweetness here, but there is a little bit of caramel bitter.

Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter

9.0

Extremely strong maple, burnt flavoring that lingers in the mouth long after you’ve swallowed. Goes back very smooth, almost as easy as water. Definitely only for people with specialized tastes in beer. Premium beer drinkers wouldn’t know the difference between this and motor oil (hint: motor oil is thicker and tastes like a lawnmower engine).

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale

7.6

I expected a cinnamon-esque taste here since this is sort of a holiday brew, but instead I got a surprisingly soft sweet taste. The sweetness grows with the number of drinks. The bottle says this drink was brewed at Yorkshire’s oldest brewery.

Sapporo Draft

3.5

Sapporo Draft is a Japanese beer. There is lots of carbonation here, but the drink is fairly smooth. The taste is very American. Worth trying once, but not anything you would want to drink regularly.

Saranac Adirondack Amber

6.9

The initial flavor is what makes this beer, but unfortunately that flavor doesn’t stay around too long. The initial taste is a strong, caramel (but not too sweet) flavor. The caramel hangs around a little while in the aftertaste, but not much. Thirty seconds after you take your last sip, you can’t tell if you were drinking a Saranac or a Miller Lite. As with many of the Saranac flavors, there is just a tad bit of a soapy taste in the afterwash. Thanks to the fine people at Saranac who allowed me to use their logo on my old Web page, “Ty’s Page for Beer Snobs.” Also, for those of you with an interest, the Saranac beers were the first ones I ranked.

Saranac Black & Tan

6.8

If you don’t know, a black and tan is a mixed stout and lager (at least in this case). Here the stout overpowers the lager too much, but this is a common fault of black and tans (and can’t be overcome unless maybe you used very little stout). Usually black and tans have to be made at a bar and don’t come mixed, as they do here in the bottle. This would be a good drink for heavier foods, like steaks.

Saranac Black Forest

6.9

This is a good beer for beer snobs who have moved just beyond the novice stage. It’s hardy and has good, strong flavor. Still, I wouldn’t say this beer is anything overly special – a typical dark beer, if there is such a thing.

Saranac Caramel Porter

6.8

A decently dark, toasted-tasting porter that can get heavy on your stomach, like any good, heavy beer. Any porter fan should enjoy this. Apparently they use real caramel in the brewing process.

Saranac Chocolate Amber

7.0

This is another beer brewed for a special time of year – here, it’s for summer. And no, there isn’t chocolate in this beer; there are certain types of dark beers (often porters or malts) known as “chocolate.” This beer is thick and heavy but not overpowering at all. I recommend this brew for beer snobs who are working up to stronger beers like stouts.

Saranac Dunkel Lager

7.3

This dark lager is labeled a limited release, which is a shame because it’s one of my favorites from the Saranac folk. This beer has a smooth, burnt caramel taste that’s easy to get used to. Heavy enough for even porter and stout fans to enjoy. At first, there’s some slight carbonation, but it is more than standable and eases as you drink more. By the way, as I’m writing this on Dec. 22, 2002, my online beer page is just more than five years old. What made me think of this was the fact that I started these beer pages with some of the Saranac brews.

SaranacGolden Pilsener

6.6

A surprisingly sweet burst of flavor at first, but the taste dies quick. A good, weak beer for beginners or for beer snobs who are looking for something light. A good beer for just drinking, though also would go well with any decent restaurant meal. The taste is stronger when the beer is slightly warm, room temperature. A slightly soapy aftertaste lowers this beer’s score quite a bit.

Related beers links

The Amateur Beer Snob’s Guide to Beer: The T Beers

The Amateur Beer Snob’s Guide to Beer: The U-Z Beers

The Amateur Beer Snob’s Guide to Beer: The A Beers

Quote from Queen Victoria

Give my people plenty of beer, good beer, and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among them.

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