Samuel Adams has a long history of putting out sampler packs, sometimes based around the season and sometimes a group of new styles they're promoting. The Christmas pack that comes out is pretty popular, including my favorite beer name: Old Fezziwig Ale. I'd heard great things about the Latitude 48, but decided to try it as part of a sampler sixer to see what else they're working on.
Samuel Adams Irish Red
Irish Red Ale
The ale is nutty and toasty with great malts and solid bitterness. Way better than Killian's, and a great all-purpose beer. I'm not sure how available any of these beers are, but this is one that I would love in a restaurant.
Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat
American Pale Wheat Ale
This is supposed to be a twist on Hefeweizen, and there's a lot of debate out there on putting lemon or orange in your wheat beer. I like it sometimes, but prefer to pick my citrus and the amount. Unfortunately, this one includes the lemon peel as part of the brewing process, and it doesn't have the crisp burst of acidity that you get from fresh lemon. Not bad, but disappointing.
Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA
The idea behind this IPA is to blend six different hops from various points along 48° N latitude. Just like with wine, coffee, chocolate, and tobacco, there are various belts in the north and south hemispheres that are perfect for certain crops. In this case they combined: Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble from Germany, East Kent Goldings from England, and Zeus, Simcoe, and Ahtanum from the Yakima Valley of Washington. It's deep, dark, deliciously bitter, with a great balance of malts and hops. Little bits of chocolate and toast and citrus and herbs and all sorts of amazing aromas and flavors. Highly recommended.
This beer is also available in a limited "deconstructed" set, in which the beers are separated out by each of the five hops so you can see how each contributes to the flavor. I first heard about the set from my friend Thomas Rickert, and there might be a pack waiting for me in Nashville or Indianapolis... stay tuned!