Ever since Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing in 1978, Americans have been sterilizing bottles, boiling barley malt, and trying their hands at a galaxy of adventuresome beer styles. For two years now, with its LongShot American Homebrew Contest, Sam Adams has been encouraging the pursuit of hoppiness by putting out a call across the land and promising to professionally brew and distribute the winning recipes.
The winners this year are worth a taste. Rodney Kibzey’s LongShot Weizenbock is a sterling example of a dark and sweet German wheat beer, pouring a cloudy deep-russet color, topped with a generous and lacy head, and redolent of fruit and yeasty bread. Its flavor is profound and complex, a dusky swirl of caramel, raisins, and intense maltiness.
Meanwhile, LongShot Grape Pale Ale, conceived by Lili Hess, winner of the Samuel Adams–employee homebrew competition, is an inventive concoction that pours a light amber, giving off an aroma of flowery hops and a vinous sweetness. Its saccharine sapor comes not so much from the “grapeyness,” however, but from an intensely malty viscousness that also gives off maple notes.
On the other end of the spectrum, presumably, is Mike McDole’s LongShot Double IPA, which is not yet available — its production has been postponed due to the massive hops shortage that is currently roiling the beer industry. It “will be released in 2009,” according to the Sam Adams folks, “while we source the ingredients needed to provide a true representation of his recipe.”
Available for approximately $7.99 for a six-pack and $13.99 for a 12-pack at most area liquor stores.