New Sam Adams Rebel IPA – Juicier and Brighter than Old Formula
NEWS FROM: Samuel Adams
It isn’t that Rebel IPA, Samuel Adams’ first flagship IPA, was a bad beer — it wasn’t — but it’s never been particularly interesting.
To me, Rebel IPA has always felt like a focus group-tested beer. Unoffensive, uninspired and unoriginal. Given that the Boston Beer Co. is a publicly traded company, Rebel IPA always seemed like something the suits ordered up. Even so, Rebel IPA was controversial from the get-go. Nearly as soon as the beer made its debut, it sparked a backlash from brewers like Lagunitas founder Tony Magee, who argued the beer was Sam Adams’ effort to take over the tap handles of Lagunitas and other West Coast brewers.
After all, while Sam Adams has made its fair share of India pale ales over the years — from the West Coast-style Oregon IPA it produced in the ’90s to Latitude 48 IPA — IPAs were never a major focus for the brewery until it rolled out Rebel IPA in 2014.
We tried our share of unique twists on IPAs, which were cool, but we figured, ‘Why not do one straight down the middle?'” says Jim Koch, Samuel Adams founder and brewer.
Almost immediately the beer was one of the top-selling craft beers, despite middling scores on beer-centric sites such as BeerAdvocate and RateBeer.
Though Rebel IPA sold well, earlier this year it got a makeover to help it keep pace with a rapidly changing IPA landscape. “There are new hops coming out every year,” Koch says. “There are a number of hops available today that weren’t available four or five years ago. What was state-of-the-art five years ago seems boring today.”
Now I know there’s nothing more corporate than a manufacturer boasting “new recipe” or “new formulation.” But this one is worth trying.
Produced using seven hops — Mosaic, Cascade, Simcoe, Centennial, Chinook and two experimental varieties known as HBC 566 (which adds notes of orange, lemon/lime and eucalyptus) and HBC 682 (a bittering hop that adds an earthy aroma) — and Sam Adams’ two-row malt blend, the new Rebel IPA is markedly brighter and juicier, significantly less piney, with pronounced citrus and tropical fruit notes.