Appearance - It's hazy and deep gold-red in the glass with a nice frothy head of foam. It's thick, syrupy, and clings to the glass like wine.
Aroma - At first, this beer just smelled sweet, period. After swirling the beer a bit (and giving our noses a chance to adjust), we could pick up notes of orange blossom and that distinctive chaff-like aroma we associate with wheat beers.
Taste - Holy smokes! This beer reminds us of a sauce that's been reduced, and reduced, and reduced some more. The flavors are intense, powerful, and pretty overwhelming at first. As with the aroma, at first all we could taste was sweet bubble-gum and candy.
Flavors of wild honey, fresh orange juice, and dark stone fruits like plums, cherries, and apricots come through the strongest for us. There's a decent punch of bitterness in the middle, like nibbling on the pith of an orange. The sip finishes spicy, hot, and a bit prickly. This is no doubt due to a combination of hops and the high alcohol.
The beer tastes thick and creamy on the tongue, almost like a milkshake. Sipped on its own, the beer can start to taste sticky after about half a bottle, but this could be cut with an acidic food pairing.
Overall - Witbiers are traditionally a spring and summer brew, but this imperial white from Sam Adams is definitely suited for the winter. It's warming and hearty, while the flavors are like a brief taste of summers gone by. We'd classify this as a special occasions beer, and we'll definitely have a few bottles ready on New Year's Eve.
Food Pairings - Try this beer with a cheese course or light dessert. Treat it as you would an after-dinner glass of port or sherry. We've been toying with actually using this beer in our cooking as well. Reduced a bit further, it would make a great dessert sauce or poaching liquid for winter fruits.
Have you tried the Sam Adams Imperial White? What do you think?
(Image: Emma Christensen)