Samuel Adams Summer Ale gets first recipe change in 23 years

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

Beer is facing competition in securing an audience, making limited edition choices even more important.
Beer is facing competition in securing an audience, making limited edition choices even more important.

Related tags Beer formulation flavor trends limited edition

US brewer Samuel ‘Sam’ Adams has updated the formula of its seasonal favorite Summer Ale with ‘lighter and brighter’ flavors.

Sam Adams has been the nationwide flagship beer of the Boston Beer Company since 1984. It maintains a heavy rotation of limited edition brews throughout the seasons, and the Summer Ale has has been a part of the portfolio for more than two decades.

In 2019 it’s getting its first recipe refresh with additions of pureed oranges, limes and lemons: boosting the citrus profile and scaling back the earthier spice notes.

While acknowledging that changing a long-standing recipe is a risk, the Sam Adams brewers say the change will improve drinkability. 

Jim Koch, Sam Adams Founder & Brewer, said "When we introduced Summer Ale 23 years ago it was inspired by the weather and ingredients of the season and had a dynamic flavor profile.

“As we started experimenting with the Summer Ale recipe, we decided to only update the classic recipe if we were blown away by the flavor and drinkability. With this new recipe, we found a way to give drinkers even more of what they know and love about Summer Ale."

Summer editions

Beer is facing more competition now than ever in securing an audience. Limited summer edition beers are common with many breweries, and consumers are typically looking for something lighter and fruitier in the warm months.

They are branching out with their beer choices across the board--47% of US consumers agreed that they are more interested in drinking beers now than they were a few years ago, 36% are interested in dark beers, 35% in juicy or hazy beers and 34% in hoppy beers, according to Nielsen data.

And yet young people are also turning away from beer to a wider range of options, like hard ciders, seltzers and sodas that are growing in both quality and mainstream availability. Canned wine and spirits are also taking some of beer’s category share, with popular drinks like rosé and sangria tough to compete with in the summer.

The Sam Adams brewers have stuck with their roots in the updated Summer Ale to keep the interest of long-time fans: ensuring that the new taste still includes citrusy Hallertau Mittelfrüh Noble hops, with a “hint of peppery spice from the Grains of Paradise and a crisp mouthfeel.”

The Summer Ale returned April 1 and is available in six-pack and twelve-pack bottles, twelve-pack cans, 16oz cans, draft and Summer Variety Packs nationwide.

The Boston Lager and Summer Ale beers have also been given new packaging, featuring Samuel Adams blue and images of the Sam Pint showcasing the color and corresponding haze of each beer. The artwork includes a 'youthful illustration' of Samuel Adams and scripted text drawn in his original handwriting.

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