Ballard on Beer: Samuel Adams Blackberry Wit 

Boston Beer Co.'s perfect summer ale

The large craft-brewing Boston Beer Co. — makers of the Samuel Adams beers — recently released a terrific, fruit-flavored seasonal ale worth checking out. The Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier has a subtle wildberry flavor and a delicate balance that contrasts the sugary, overbearing, Kool-Aid-like punch of many of the trendy fruit beers on sale this season (lagers flavored with peach, lemon, mandarin, cherry, raspberry, etc.). It holds back on the sweetness and accents the citrusy side of classic Belgian-style wheat beers.

The Blackberry Witbier has an alcohol content of 5.5 percent by volume. It's certainly unconventional compared to the company's amber-colored, caramel-malty Boston Ale — and even more refreshing than the company's new Hefeweizen and the annual Summer Ale and Cherry Wheat.

Traditional Belgian witbier is brewed from a combination of malted and unmalted wheat and barley, with additional spices (cloves, coriander), and seasonings (orange peel). The name implies "white beer" for it's pale color, and a variation of "wheat beer" or "wiessbier." Cloudy and very light in color, the citrusy and tart Hoegaarden bier is considered to be the best commercial example of the style. The Blackberry Witbier is similarly spicy, but not nearly as milky-pale as the classic.

"Only a specific blackberry could bring the subtle flavor we wanted for this brew," reads an announcement on the Blackberry Witbier label. "These Marion blackberries from Oregon gave a hint of blackberry in the aroma and taste, and perfectly complement the refreshing and crisp flavor or the witbier."

Marion blackberries (or Marionberries, as Oregonians calls them) are popular among makers of jams and jellies. The blackberries used in the Blackberry Witbier come from Sandy Farms, located at the foot of the Oregon Trail and Cascade Mountains in Western Oregon. Their puckery flavor really suits the tart and spicy character of traditional witbier.

The Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier is currently available in town in six-packs (for around $8.50) and in the Samuel Adams Summer Styles Collection variety package (12-packs go for about $16) through mid-summer. Beer lovers up for drinkable, light-bodied summertime beer with flavor and zing should stock up.


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