Boston Beer Debuts New Session Lager at GABF

In 2013, it was Rebel IPA. In 2014, it was Rebel Rouser. In 2015 it was a trio of Nitro beers and in 2016 it was Rebel Juiced and Fresh as Helles.

Each year, during the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo., Boston Beer Company invites members of the media to be among the first to taste its new focus items.

The latest? A 4.7 percent ABV lager, called Sam ’76, that is brewed with craft’s most en vogue hops — cascade, citra, mosaic, simcoe and galaxy – and fermented with both lager and ale yeast strains.

“The result is a beer that has a character and a hoppy aroma of an ale and has the clean crisp, finish of a lager,” brewery founder Jim Koch said during this morning’s annual breakfast event. “So to me, it’s like crushable craft beer. It’s not dumbed down from anything else. It is a big, flavorful beer.”

Indeed, a sell sheet describes Sam ’76 as a balanced and drinkable offering that blends a “slight fruitiness of an ale,” with the “smoothness of a lager.”

It will debut nationwide in early 2018, and six-packs will sell for a suggested retail price of $8.99 – $9.99. The brand will also be sold in 12-packs, for as much as $17.99, and in single serve 16 oz. cans for as low as $1.99. The beer will be available to draft accounts by April.

Though technically labeled as a lager, the new brew, which drinks a lot like an ale, will look to emulate some of the success that Firestone Walker’s 805 Blonde Ale has experienced in 2017. Sales of that beer, which also checks in at 4.7 percent ABV and is now ranked as a top 15 craft brand, are up 24 percent year-to-date in grocery stores.

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