Right off the bat, Mighty Oak strikes me as a mighty odd name for this beer. When I take a drink of it, I don’t think oak. I think caramel malt. The label claims that the vanilla and caramel come from the oak, and I’m sure that the people at Sam Adams know what they’re doing, so I guess I’ll believe them. But when I think “oak,” I don’t think “caramel.”
I definitely think sweetness is the overriding note for this beer, although it’s oddly successful in its pairing with the darker notes of a red beer. The aftertaste is dry and a little smoky, and thereI do find notes of oak… although, again, not what I would think of as “mighty.”
As a fan of whiskeys of all types, I enjoy the flavor of oak, and I expected more of it in this beer. Once I get past the name, however, it’s a nice full-flavored ale that would go well with many chicken or pork dishes. I don’t see myself ever buying a case — or even a six-pack — but as part of a Samuel Adams variety pack, it’s a nice change of pace.