A Pioneer, Leader in the Craft Beer Revolution
Boston Beer Co.’s come a long way since it introduced Samuel Adams Boston Lager — considered the first-ever craft beer — 30 years ago. Just to give you an example of how hard at work the pioneering company’s been since its inception in 1984: In 2014, it brewed more than 60 different beers, from seasonal favorite Summer Ale to the outrageous Barrel Room Collection offering known as Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru. That’s a wild, funky and complex Belgian-style ale that’s been aged for more than a year at the main brewery.
“It’s the heart and soul of our Barrel Room Collection beers,” beams Jim Koch, the founder and brewer at Samuel Adams, about the esoteric Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru. “A touch of Belgian candi sugar has been added to balance the beer’s tart acidity and lends a smoothness and sweetness to the finish.”
Koch’s enthusiasm doesn’t end there. When it comes to the many beers Samuel Adams produces, he gushes as though they’re all his children, and each child is on the Dean’s List. He also continues to be very involved in the process, from beginning to end.
“One of the best parts of being a brewer is that the possibilities for experimenting with different recipes and ingredients are endless,” he continues. “As brewers, we have a lot of fun brewing with a variety of ingredients, and since 1984 we have searched the world for the best ingredients to use in our brews, whether they are hops, malt, spices, fruit or other ingredients like pumpkin, honey, chocolate or vanilla.”
In 2012, the company built a 10-gallon brewery called a “nanobrewery” within the walls of the Boston-based brewery. That’s another opportunity for the brewers to experiment with recipes and ingredients on a daily basis. The smaller scale allows them to test new beers, special ingredients and recipe tweaks in multiple, separate small batches, explains Koch.
“Over the past few years, we have brewed hundreds of beers in the nanobrewery as part of our constant exploration of brewing innovation and recently introduced our drinkers to three West Coast-style IPAs: Rebel IPA, Rebel Rouser Double IPA and Rebel Rider Session IPA,” he adds. “We continue to innovate and experiment to bring drinkers the highest quality, full-flavored craft beers possible.”
That’s important in an industry that’s rapidly evolving, as beer enthusiasts are more discerning about what they’re drinking. Koch says today’s drinkers are always looking to explore different flavor profiles and styles of beer, and pair or cook with beer as part of their everyday lives. He believes that Samuel Adams plays a large role in educating consumers.
“We’re teaching things that elevate the beer drinking experience for everyone, for all craft beers, not just Samuel Adams because we’re hoping to improve the experience for all craft beer drinkers,” he explains. “Giving drinkers the best possible craft beer drinking experience overall is a shared goal amongst Samuel Adams, craft brewers and everyone involved in the craft beer industry, which is increasingly important as the industry continues to grow.”
Beer Bistro owner Bob McDermott calls Samuel Adams the “macro of micro beers” and respects what the company has done for the craft beer scene. “When they bring a beer to the market it is spot on of what a beer should be,” he says. “They make a very clean, quality product and you have to respect that. You don’t get off flavoring from their products at all.”
McDermott, whose Chicago-based Beer Bistro just celebrated its 10th anniversary, admires Samuel Adams’ large-scale operation.
“From glassware to signage, they do a nice job as an organization in getting people to the beer,” he says. “When you go to Boston and you get a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery, it’s the same people you see in the commercials. That’s who and what they are. They’ve been teaching it for more than 25 years. It’s a great adventure when you visit the facilities. It bonds people to that brand.”
Samuel Adams is also aggressively active in the community in which it serves. There are training programs for robust beer, brewing education and cicerone certification. And in 2008, the philanthropic Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program launched to help small business owners in the food, beverage and craft brewing industries through micro-loans and coaching/mentoring.
“It’s had a significant impact on small businesses across the country,” says Koch. “To date, we’ve coached/mentored more than 4,000 small business owners, provided over $4.1 million in micro-loans to nearly 475 food, beverage and hospitality small businesses nationwide, including more than a dozen craft brewers, and helped create or retain more than 2,000 jobs.”