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Testing the Sam Adams Glass

Being a beer guy about town has its advantages. As it works out, I am the first (I think) kid on the block to have received one of the high-tech beer glasses made by American craft brewer Samuel Adams. If you are a beer geek, you will know about these glasses, as they have been advertised in all the major beer magazines. If you aren’t (and I know most of you aren’t), Sam Adams claims that they have designed a glass that will enhance and improve your beer drinking experience. Their bumpf can be found here, where they claim it enhances their beer in five ways.

My favourite claim is the “turbulator” bump. There has got to be a joke in there somewhere.

I am not telling you this to be a jerk and make you jealous. You will get your chance too. Until now, the glass was only available in the U.S. However the Sam Adams rep in Alberta is bringing up a palate of glasses as a promotional item – they are going to give a free glass away with every six pack of Sam Adams Boston Lager. Now, don’t rush to your local liquor store yet – they are not due into the province for another week or so, and will be available only at select liquor stores (those of you in Edmonton have a good idea which store to find them in…).

But they will be available. I simply received an advance copy, which I consider a “review” copy. The Sam Adams glass is one of those love-hate things. Beer guys like me have been wondering about it since it was released a couple of years ago, but also maintain a healthy dose of skepticism about its claims. So given my early gift, I decided to put the glass to the test.

I performed a side-by-side taste test. Two bottles of Sam Adams Boston Lager: one in a traditional conical glass (the common sloped, straight-sided glass) and one in the Sam Adams “Perfect Pint Glass”. The beers were handled identically, served at the same temperature and poured at the same time. I alternated between the beer for each portion of the evaluation (appearance, aroma, flavour).

I think this is a decent experimental design. Before giving the results, I do offer one caveat. The glass is a 16-ounce glass, meaning a bottle of Sam Adams doesn’t quite fill the glass, which may affect its impact. Therefore the glass might be better suited for a tap environment, but, alas, there are no Sam Adams tap accounts in Edmonton.

Caveat aside, I forged ahead with the test anyway. And this is what I found. The special glass beer had a noticeably stronger and rounder aroma than the regular glass. I picked up more of the soft biscuit malt and grassy hop in the special glass. The colour and head were similar, although I did notice that the special glass had larger carbonation bubbles.

I didn’t notice a difference in flavour, per se, but did observe that the special glass gave the beer more life. I found the carbonation more lively which perked up the beer’s overall impression. The two beer warmed at a comparable rate, and neither held an advantage at head retention.

My conclusion? I think the glass does offer subtle differences to the overall impression of the beer, but nothing most people would notice. The nucleation sites at the bottom of the glass seem to change the carbonation, and possibly the
“turbulator” might give more life to the beer.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager is a well-made amber lager, so in either glass it went down pleasantly. Would I pay money for the glass? Not likely. However, it was a fun diversion for an afternoon. And, good thing for you, you won’t have to pay for it either – just pick up a six-pack of Sam Adams and it is yours.

In more important news on the Sam Adams front, Alberta can expect a wider range of their stable on store shelves in the coming months. Now that is something worth writing home about. And good think I now have a special glass to drink them in when they get here.

11 comments to Testing the Sam Adams Glass

  • Mel

    It’s about time the beer community jumped on the fancy stemware bandwagon! Perhaps these glasses are prototypical Riedels of beer glasses.

    All joking aside, however, I do believe you when you state that this glass helped enhance the aromas, flavours, and carbonation of the beer. I’ve done a similar taste test with different brands of wine stemware, and unfortunately there is something to it. (I say unfortunately because the average Riedel glass costs over $30. And of course there’s a different glass for every single type of wine.)

    In regards to the “turbulator” – I wonder if that is just some etching at the bottom of the glass? The well-made sparkling wine glasses have something similar; a tiny etching made at the bottom that serves to keep the bubbles, well, bubbling, for a lot longer than in a regular glass.

    • Hi Mel,

      I think the Belgians figured out beer glassware generations ago – but we in North America are a bit slow, deciding we should drink straight from the bottle…yeesh!

      Actually the “turbulator” is small bead of glass inside the rim which is supposed to agitate the beer as it enters your mouth. But, yes, Sam Adams also has an etched ring on the bottom of the glass – which I suspect might be the cause of the larger carbonation bubbles.

      I am torn about glassware. I have tasted enough beer to know that a good glass makes a difference in the perceptions of a beer, but I do wonder if sometimes it is overhyped, given all the other factors that affect flavour and aroma – temperature, glass cleanliness, carbonation level, violence of the pour, filtration and so on. I am glad I did the Sam Adams glass test. It was fun.

      Thanks, as usual, for your comments. And, maybe you should lobby a family member or significant other to buy you a Riedel glass – it worked for me a couple of years ago for my Westmalle glass…

      Jason

  • Ernie

    I think I ruined it for everyone when I bought 12 of these glasses when I first saw them advertised. They were actually quite cheap, and shipping was only $7! I don’t think they accounted for shipping them across the border, so I got a steal, and when a buddy of mine tried to order some the day after I received mine and tried them, he was told that “they don’t ship to Canada”.

    There are some good things about this glass, and others that are gimmicky, but overall, I like it. I try to do most of my tastings out of this glass these days so I have some consistency between beers.

    I’m glad to hear some of my friends will now have a way of getting these glasses here, and if I can get another couple for “free”, it might be worth picking up another 6-pack or two of Boston Lager.

    • Ahh, so I wasn’t the first kid in the neighbourhood with the new toy – you were! At any rate, yes, there will be some available as a promotion. Can’t say how long they will last, so don’t wait too long.

      Glad to hear someone else shares my assessment that the glass does have an effect.

      Cheers.

      Jason

  • I like using mine for sampling standard strength lagers, that’s about it. Oh yeah, got mine in North Dakota when they first came out for $1 each.

    By the way, I had originally tried getting in on the free glass thing. They wouldn’t ship to Canada, so I tried getting them shipped to my sister in Texas, but according to Texas law, glassware IS alcohol, and therefore cannot be shipped. Something to keep in mind whenever you think we have it bad up here…

  • george

    hello , my name is george ,and ia interresting to know 2 things ,first if its any place in edmonton serve samuel adams beer on tab ,or any restaurant serve samuel adams beer,i aklways ask fot this great beer and no one has it sorry but we are in canada ,and i like to have that beer to ,also i need to know where can i get a samuel adams beer glass ,so if you know please reply to me as soon as possible ,i like to go and have a samuel adams beer on tab in edmonton,thank you very mush and have a good day.

    • Hi George,

      Glad to hear you like the beer. Sam Adams is a well-respected line of accessible, craft beers. Sadly there is no Sam Adams on tap in Edmonton, Alberta or the prairies. Bottle only. They don’t, as far as I know, import kegs of it here.

      As for the glass, your best bet is Sherbrooke Liquor (188 Ave and St. Albert Trail). You get a free glass with the purchase of a six pack of Sam Adams Boston Lager. Good luck and enjoy your Sam Adams.

      Jason

  • […] piece. It’s a description of the new Sam Adams beer glass which is designed to make the Sam Adams beer taste better. The highlight for me in reading this was the “turbulator bump” at the top of the […]

  • I’ve owned a set of 4 for these for a couple months. My observations with the glass is it does indeed increase the complexity of the taste of a Sam Adams Boston Lager. I find it draws the hops out more than a traditional pint glass. I find it to have a bit more carbonation and distinct smell with this glass. Overall it’s a very sexy glass in my opinion with its sexy curves and its logo adorning the side. I’m a big fan of Sam Adams here in the States believing its proof us Americans can brew good beer. I mean more Germans settled our country than anyone else so we better know how to brew beer!

    The glass is worth it for people who like good beer beyond Molson Canadien and Bud Light.

    Boston Loger itself? It’s a lovely balanced beer great for so many occasions that most people will love. It’s a people’s beer, not a specialty double unfiltered IPA or an Imperial Stout, but one that appeals to many people. That and IT’S GOOD.

  • LuskusDelph

    Boston Lager is a top notch beer…better actually than many other craft beers popping up these days. The special glasses are interesting looking, but they are (like most such glassware) mainly a marketing gimmick (and a very clever one…even if a bit pretentious).
    After trying a side by side comparison of this and other branded specialty glasses, I personally think that any perceived enhancement is simply the advertising hype succeeding at it’s primary goal…creating buzz. The beer itself tastes just as good (and just the same as) from any type of glass.
    But that’s not to take anything away from Jim Koch & his products.
    Great stuff! (and he has once again proved himself to be a marketing genius).

  • Rob Savage

    Boston Lager is an amazing beer. I’m hooked. I have two of these glasses I got for free when I bought a 6 of Boston Lager and 6 of the Winterfest at wine and beyond in Windermere. What I would love to see is a case of 24 available and possibly Keg varieties. Tap accounts would be nice to see as well.

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