December 29, 2010
Popping for New Year's: champagne-style beer

By Debbie Arrington

Champagne of bottled beers? A new brew fits that description with bubbles to spare.

After two years of research and experimentation, Samuel Adams rolled out its much-anticipated Infinium in time for New Year's celebrations. This is no ordinary ale; according to Sam Adams founder Jim Koch, Infinium is the first new beer style created under German Reinheitsgebot standards in a century.

Koch and Josef Schradler, managing director of Germany's Weihenstephan Brewery, collaborated on inventing Infinium, which looks and drinks more like champagne than beer.

As a special winter release, it comes packaged in a heavy 750-ml bottle with a wire-caged cork, just like sparkling wine. It's priced like champagne, too, at a suggested $19.95 per bottle.

Poured into a champagne flute, amber-hued Infinium offers a frothy head and pinpoint bubbles. It smells fruity - a mix of apple, apricot and vanilla - and much more like wine than beer.

Crisp and pleasant in flavor, Infinium has a slightly sweet taste spiked with orange, ginger and clove. It packs a punch with 10.3 percent alcohol, almost double that of most beers.

Sam Adams brewmasters designed Infinium for celebrations as a champagne substitute. According to a recent survey by the company, more than 60 percent of American men would rather toast with beer than champagne.

Infinium also has that cross-over appeal as a beer designed for non-beer drinkers. In our informal taste test, Infinium appealed to this female drinker, who does like beer. But our guy was less enthusiastic. Although he dubbed Infinium "drinkable," he said he'd prefer a plain old Boston Lager any day.

Locally, Infinium will be available at "select stores" and beverage dealers. Total Wine & More in Roseville sold out of its supply, but hopes to get more. In Sacramento, Beverages and More also carries Infinium, but call first before making the drive; it's selling fast.

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075.

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