Remember Cracker Jacks? Caramel coated popcorn & peanut(s). They came with some sort of a “Prize” inside. It turns out that “prize” was generally a fairly shitty one. “Prize” or “major disappointment” aside, you ate the Cracker Jacks anyway and thought to yourself, “I just got gypped out of any meaningful quantity of peanuts again!” Like that olde baseball song of yore suggested; “buy me some peanuts AND Cracker Jacks”…They were telling you plainly, if you want any peanuts, buy them separately.
In a similar way, we might feel a bit disappointed in the variety of the twelve packs we purchase at our favorite packie. The rule of thumb is, we get to sample 4 different beers, times 3. Usually, we’ve tried at least 2 of them (times 50), but we buy the 12’er anyway for a taste of the remaining 2.
Samuel Adams is big on Seasonal Sampler 12 packs. Yet in each of their four distinctly different variety packs, you get to “sample” Samuel Adams Lager. Really?!!!? As nice a beer as Sam’s Lager is, we’ve already sampled it. Hundreds of times! Please try to surprise us a bit! And I don’t want to see anything like Maple Pecan Porter. Ever again! It may be Ok to use in a marinade, but for drinking??!!?? That’s a recipe best destroyed and forgotten.
Victory Brewing, on the other hand, provides us a little wider variety with 4 beers ranging from their crisp Prima Pilsner to their potent Golden Monkey. Yet they could go a step further and try replacing, perhaps their Headwater Pale Ale with their Baltic Thunder Porter. That way you’d get a Pilsner, IPA, Baltic Porter and a spicy Belgian-style Triple all in one box.
So what would make the perfect New England-represented 12 Beer Variety Pack? First off: Variety! We want to mix it up! Secondly: A wide-ranging mix of beer styles! How about 6 different beers…2 of each style? Six pairs of beers to match any recipe, mood, season or weather.
Let’s start with a flavorful Pilsner. Here’s where Samuel Adams can redeem itself by offering its bright and juicy Noble Pils. Staying in the Lager family, let’s go with Thomas Hooker’s Liberator Doppelbock (don’t forget the Brats and Kraut!). Next, representing the Granite State, Smuttynose’s Robust Porter. Dark chocolate nibs go very well with this Porter! IPA’s are now the most popular beer style in the US, so how about something a bit over-the-top, say a Double IPA! Vermont’s bitter and boozy Alchemist Heady Topper is sure to satisfy the most desperate of hopheads. Saisons (Farmhouse Ales) are gaining popularity as an any season, any reason brew, so why not reward us with 2 way-over-the-top Allagash Interludes. At 9.5% ABV it’s probably best not to perform any farming work (like mowing your lawn…or milking cows) after downing a few.
I’d love to finish our New England 12 Beer Variety Pack with a world-class Imperial Stout. Except, here’s a style New England brewers could focus a little more of their energies on. So, instead let’s go with a less common style, but one that’s sure to satisfy. BARLEYWINE!!! Pretty Things - Our Finest Regards rounds out our 12 pack with a bang! Never mind that they don’t sell this unearthly spirited nectar in 12oz bottles, this is just a dream after all.
Maybe you have your own Variety 12 Pack fantasies. Please do tell!