The next autumn beer to appear on the shelves is one that commenter DF recommended in last week's review of Widmer Okto: Sam Adams. Since I rattled on about the style and history in that review, I'll commence directly to the tasting notes of Boston's finest.
The beer looks great--a rich amber with a dense tan head that dissipated a mite quicker than I'd have liked. Not quite as deep red/orange as the Widmer, but attractive. The nose is limited to a spice and a very slight candied orange scent.
Sam Adams has gone for a lighter interpretation--the body is thinner and the mouthfeel less creamy. There's is a drier version. It is, if anything, more peppery than the Widmer--suggestive of autumnal spices like clove and nutmeg, and perhaps a little ginger. There's not a lot of residual sugars in this beer, so the sweetness is just suggested, again with a candied fruit essence. The finish is very dry and crisp. I expect it would complement somewhat lighter foods or serve as a nice apperitif.
It would be interesting to try Widmer Okto and Sam Adams side by side to see how they compared and contrasted. I suspect selecting the "better" of the two would be a fool's errand, but fool that I am, I'd choose Widmer. (On purely personal, subjective ground, admittedly.)
Malts: Pale, Munich 10, caramel 60, Moravian
Hops: Tettnanger, Hallertau-Mittelfruh
Alcohol by volume: 5.4%
Original Gravity: 13.6° Plato, 1.048
Bitterness Units: N/A
Other: Brewery uses a decoction mash and secondary fermentation.
Available: Throughout the Northwest; in stores now (Sept 14, '06).
Good, tending toward excellent.