Oddly, this is the second new rauchbier -- or smoked beer -- from Sam Adams in the past six months. Last year Sam put a rauchbier called Bonfire in its fall variety pack. That beer was over the top in terms of smokiness; it actually tasted like a fire. (And I loved it.) Cinder Bock, a double bock brewed with smoked malts, is a more balanced tale on the style (if higher in alcohol content at 9.46 percent). Ruby with a creamy head, Cinder Bock has a muted aroma but a dark, spicy, smoky taste that suggests charred wood -- a smoldering fireplace rather than the actual ash. It is tasty and interesting, and perhaps a more palatable entry point for those who'd like to give the rauchbier style a spin. A 22-ounce bottle costs $7.
Dark Depths, which Sam calls a "Baltic IPA," is a hoppy Baltic porter, but it's not nearly as hop forward as some of the other black IPAs on the shelves, such as Stone's Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale or Harpoon's new black IPA, the latest in its 100 Barrel Series (more on that soon). Dark Depths (7.6 percent alcohol by volume) boasts a bold malt profile with espresso notes. Not sure I would call this an IPA of any kind; a mildly hoppy porter is more like it. A 22-ounce bottle costs $6.