Samuel Adams Bonfire Blonde

Review Date 8/22/2016   Last Updated 5/25/2020  By John Staradumsky

Remember Samuel Adams Bonfire Rauchbier? I sure do. That was Boston Beer’s first packaged, widely available rauchbier, and can it be that it’s been five years since it was first released? It has, as it was first seen as part of the 2011 Harvest Collection 12-pack. I liked the beer well enough, but now it has a younger sibling that I’m here to talk about: Samuel Adams Bonfire Blonde, also a rauchbier.

Rauchbier, of course, is German for “smoked beer”, a style made famous in the Bamberg region of Bavaria. These beers are brewed with smoked malt that calls to mind the day when kilning malt to dry it was an inexact science, and the smoke from the wood fires imparted a distinct character to the malt.

From the label:

If you love smoky beers, Bonfire Blonde is as good as it gets, with a rich vein of smoke running from the first sip to the last. This pale gold, medium bodied ale is balanced by Samuel Adams ale yeast and our favorite Mittelfrueh hop for a tart taste and finish. Cheers!

Samuel Adams Bonfire Blonde is included in the 2016 Fall Variety pack. You’ll get 2 bottles, along with 2 bottles each of:

Along with 2 bottles of this beer, the 2016 Fall Variety Pack includes 2 each of:

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Samuel Adams Maple Ale

Samuel Adams Hoppy Red

Samuel Adams Toasted Caramel Bock

Ingredients from the website:

HOP VARIETIES Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops

MALT VARIETIES Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Beechwood Smoked Malt, Cherrywood Smoked Malt, Acidulated Malt, Rye Malt

YEAST STRAIN Samuel Adams Ale Yeast

Samuel Adams Bonfire Blonde has an alcohol content of 5.5% by volume with 20 IBUs. It is only available in the fall pack, and perhaps on draft. I paid $13.29 for my 12-pack at Target. My bottle is notched as best before January of 2017.

Samuel Adams Bonfire Blonde pours to a pale blonde color with a good sized head of tightly packed foam and a very smoky, subtly phenolic nose. Taking a sip, the beer has a light bready maltiness up front followed by smoke, acrid hickory-like smoke that permeates the beer (but never overpowers) and a very gently grassy, light dry herbal hoppy bitterness.

The key to this beer is the soft maltiness of the palate. It allows the smoke to really sing both in the nose and the palate. Sure I’ve had smokier beers, but I really love the delicate balance of malt and smoke here. It’s truly delightful, and a great introduction to smoked beers if you’ve never tried one. Samuel Adams Bonfire Rauchbier, closer to a Marzen-style rauchbier like Aecht Schlenkerla. Again, though, the lighter base here allows the smoke to be more apparent.

So far, I’ve very much enjoyed both this beer and the Toasted Caramel Bock. The 2016 Samuel Adams Fall Variety Pack may just be some of the best beer bang for your buck out there. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and get one, and tell them the Bruguru sent you.

Update 5/25/2020: No, Samuel Adams hasn't resurrected their Bonfire Blonde Ale. But I wish they had. I found a bottle as I work through my stash of beer during the coronavirus quarantine. 4 years on this, and it's just like I remarked upon it when I sampled the first bottle. Acrid smoke pops on the light malty palate, when I removed the cap it hit my nose in smoky glory. Smoke permeates the light malty palate and shows right back up in the finish. Still smoking after all these years, Samuel Adams Bonfire Blonde!

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.