Infinium Review

There’s a lot I like about Infinium. I like it for providing a beer suitable for New Year’s Eve. I like that it was a collaborative effort between Boston Beer Company, one of America’s most successful breweries, and Weihenstephan, one of Earth’s oldest. I like that this alliance suggests a newfound willingness among German brewers to peer around the Reinheitsgebot and use what they see to innovate. And I like that Infinium represents the first new beer style developed within those constraints in more than 100 years — despite some things I’ve read that make Infinium sound awfully similar to the brut beers of Belgium. This would make it an oldish style brewed a new way adhering to an even older law.

… huh.

But I haven’t answered the only question that really matters: Do I like the beer itself?

Stats:
Brewery: Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)/Weihenstephan
Style: Bière de Champagne?
ABV: 10.3%
IBU: I think I’ll delete this section after this review. The brewery rarely provides this info, probably because most people don’t care. Besides, you get a better idea of how bitter a beer is from the review itself.
Glassware: Flute, I guess.
Serving Temp: 45 degrees
Price Range: $20 per 750 millimeter bottle
Food Pairing: Perhaps butterscotch? Light whitefish might work.

REVIEW:

Before I talk about the taste, something must be said about the bottle. It’s gorgeous. I rarely discuss packaging in my reviews, but it’s worth mentioning here because Infinium has serious curb appeal. Looking at its antiqued lettering and shapely glass sends excitement skittering along my synapses. It makes me think of speakeasies, of blind tigers filled with dapper drinkers. Through the smoke and evaporated sweat, you can see the wall behind the bar, which is lined with shelves of filigreed mahogany. On them rest bottles of the best in the house. On them rest bottles like Infinium’s.

So basically, the bottle is frakin’ awesome, and it makes me want to drink this beer.

I remove the tin and wire and cap and cork and steal a sniff at the neck. All butterscotch so far. As the golden ale pours, foam shoots up and almost overflows. Bubbles roll endlessly beneath it. Another inhalation reveals flowers, tropical fruit, white wine, and clean, sharp alcohol — each nestled behind the butterscotch. Time for a taste.

More butterscotch. I expected it, but wow. Other flavors emerge: apples, citrus, grapes, and soft caramel; dry hop bitterness and an unabashedly boozy backbone. The first sip made me recoil a bit; its mouthfeel was too syrupy, its carbonation too light after watching the effervescent fireworks encased in glass — but I warm to the flavors as I drink.

Still, something blunt beneath those waves of butterscotch seems wrong. It’s too pronounced, too dull, too makes-me-wanna-spit-it.

Let’s call Infinium a grand experiment that failed, as so many do. But failure is often worth experiencing. In this case, I got to sample an early collaboration between two great brewing nations. Hopefully it’s a sign of more to come. Other than that, however, I enjoyed waiting to drink Infinium more than I actually enjoyed drinking it. Perhaps I was expecting something more crisp and tart because it was marketed like champagne despite tasting like a pale, buttery barleywine.

Who knows? Maybe they did create a new style after all. Too bad I don’t feel like drinking it again.

Comments
14 Responses to “Infinium Review”
  1. Ben says:

    tons of questions:

    was it ever chilled?
    was it ever refrigerated?
    if so, how long did you take it out before pouring?
    how long did you let it sit in the glass before drinking?

    these things could, as you know, affect the taste and feel of a beer, so i want to know if variables were factored in throughout the night. only because i want good things from this.

    • Scott says:

      Ha! Nice … I love questions like this, mainly because I enjoy endlessly discussing beer. I don’t have a fancy climate-controlled beer fridge or cellar/closet (yet!), but I did refrigerate Infinium (attempting to get it to recommended temperature listed on Beer Advocate without putting it too low or inducing chill haze) and took it out to wait a bit before pouring. I went on instinct; didn’t record the time or temp. I was aiming for around 45-50 degrees Farenheit at serving. It was a big bottle, though, so I had plenty of time to taste it from chilled to room temp (and even resealed a bit to try the next day — although, as I’m sure you know, storing for even a single night after opening has a significant effect too). Sadly, I only had the one bottle, and regardless of how big it was, it wasn’t possible to factor in EVERY possible variable. It never is with one bottle, which is why I usually refuse to review a beer without drinking at least two separate servings on two separate occasions. That also accounts for variables such as spoilage. But since I’m familiar with many of the hallmark flavors of ruined beers, and Infinium wasn’t terribly thrilling at any of the temperatures I tried, and it costs 20 bucks a bottle, I didn’t give it the same treatment. Take from that what you will. All I can do in the end is give my honest opinion. I had high hopes for this one too, and it simply wasn’t my thing. Still have tons of respect for the brewers involved, though.

  2. Kris says:

    Sorry it didn’t meet your expectations, but that’s the fun of trying new things – and you are right, the bottle is unique and very pretty – hope this one got saved!

  3. Ben says:

    hey, that’s basically the info i needed. if it makes you feel better, i had a similar reaction to the allagash/victor beer made from grapes. $18 i won’t be getting back and it didn’t do well fresh from the fridge or allowed to sit for 30 minutes. but i am glad i drank it, just to say i gave it a chance, because it looked intriguing as hell.

    • Scott says:

      Pretty much how I felt about this! Sorry to hear you had a similar experience, but I guess experimentation is the curse/blessing of the beer lover.

  4. Deb says:

    What a disappointment! Thanks for the review. I’ll save my next $20 for something that you recommend!

  5. Ben says:

    i like that we’re talking about beer like we talk about failed relationships. “yeah, it wasn’t good, but you know, i learned a lot and i’m glad i did it. too bad it wasn’t what i had expected, but they can’t all be perfect.”

    also, “only” $12. niiice.

  6. Shawn says:

    I would try it…just for the sake of trying it; and I have a new-found affinity for the boston brewing company.

    Can you pick it up in stores? or is it something that needs online ordering?

    • Scott says:

      Ha, working on it. Got distracted and the article I was writing became irrelevant … new one should be posted in the next few days.

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