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Gold Rush Review

Gold Rush

A full-bodied lager that’s heavier on the hop florals; light on the hop bitterness

NON-ALCOHOLIC

Tasting Notes

Nose

German hops. Hop aromas definitely lean floral and light rather than harsh or dank. A little malt undertone.

Palate

Kiwi, floral, bready, full-bodied, sticky, rich, honeydew melon. Hops don’t bite at all.

Finish

Finishes sweet, but a full sweetness rather than the sharp sweetness found in a lot of NA beers. Almost a bit syrupy. No hop bite, which is a bit of a shame.

Sam Adams’ brings the Just the Haze Formula to a lager

This is a respectable entry in the canon of easy-drinking non-alcoholic ales and lagers. It’s probably one of the fullest-bodied NA beers I’ve had so far, though it could use a better balance of hop bitterness to malt sweetness.

To understand Gold Rush, you really need to understand Sam Adams’ N/A strategy, starting with their Just the Haze IPA. While many craft brands have been struggling to bring bold flavor and body to their beers in the absence of alcohol, Sam has turned to the holy carbohydrate as their answer. As we’ve covered in our Just the Haze review, a beer’s perceived body increases directly (to a certain extent) with its sweetness, and Sam Adams seems to be continuing to crank the sweetness to get that big body in Gold Rush.

Interestingly, Sam Adams doesn’t outwardly advertise Gold Rush through most of their usual channels. While it’s been on the market for at least a year, I can’t find a single mention of it on Sam Adams’ website, and Just the Haze definitely dominates as the non-alcoholic Sam Adams beer that I see the most at restaurants and stadiums. As you’ll see, I don’t think they have anything to hide, but it is a bold strategy – let’s see if it pays off.

So is their strategy successful? Does Sam Adams Gold Rush taste any good? Did Sam Adams actually participate in the gold rush of 1849? (Spoiler: he did not. He was 46 years dead.) Let’s crack a can and find out.

What’s in the Can?

Sam Adams Gold Rush opens with light, floral German hop aromas over faint malt undertones. The full body brings out big kiwi, floral, and bready notes on top of sticky honeydew melon. A round sweetness swallows up most any hop bite, continuing to the finish. You don’t ever get even a lighter hop bite, which leaves the sweetness to fizzle and fade after you swallow. 

I’m by no means a stereotypical hop-head, looking for the dankest, rip-your-face-off-bitter beers at every corner. That especially goes for lagers and golden ales — I really don’t need those to be hoppy to be enjoyable. However, hops do provide a balancing counterpoint to the sweetness of the unfermented sugars in a beer, and I do like a little bite even in my beers that aren’t particularly hoppy. I feel that Gold Rush could benefit from just a bit of this harshness, as it currently wafts through the nose and rolls through the palate more like a Gold Lush than a Gold Rush.

Is Sam Adams Gold Rush Any Good?

If you’re a fan of big, round beers that bring some sweetness, this is for you. I imagine that wheat beer fans might enjoy this more than other golden ales/lagers. Floral fans should also take note — the hops in this beer don’t bite, but they do bring some pleasant floral characteristics to the mix. On the other hand, if you’re someone that wants something along the lines of an Athletic Upside Dawn or Kit’s American Blonde—malty but a bit bitter—you might want to try something else.

Updated 3/4/2024