It’s an election year, and while the presidential candidates talk it out, Samuel Adams’ fourth annual “Beer Lover’s Choice” floods bars and pubs nationwide, inviting beer drinkers to sample two experimental brews before casting a vote for their choice. The winning beer will be merged into permanent national production by January 2009 as the newest in the big beer company’s lineup.

On the Sam Adams ballot are the Coffee Stout and a Blackberry Witbier, both recently sampled. The coffee stout bore a thick, foamy head and full flavors of toasty chocolate and mouthy mahogany wood. A dark fruit essence hid far back in the shadows, and layers of vanilla lacquered the surface.

I wish I could be so kind to the competition. In this juice-we don’t need to call it a beer-I detected fruit punch, gummy bears, and popsicles. Well, I didn’t just detect them. Rather, these annoying flavors attacked the mouth, cloying and clawing my palate in an overbearing attempt to be noticed. “I get it!” I lamented into my glass. “You’re made with blackberries! Now go take a shower, because you stink!”

But don’t let this opinion sway yours. Sam Adams’ vote-offs will be held at Applebee’s in Ventura on August 22 from 5 to 6 p.m., Applebee’s in Camarillo the same day from 7 to 8 p.m., and Z’s Tap House in Goleta on August 27 from 10 p.m. to midnight.


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