Play It Again, Sam

On the recent trip to Boston, my wife and I made a list of things to see and do. We didn’t want to cover a lot of things with only a few minutes to take it in; but rather, we decided to see a smaller amount of things with more time to spend at each one. The Samuel Adams Brewery was on the list. Yes, the place was just like the commercials. The whole place had the feel of “yep, I could start working here, tomorrow.”

A brewhouse in a small neighborhood

Taking the subway out to Boston area of Jamaica Plain and taking the stairs up to street level, the first thing you’ll notice is that you’re in a residential neighborhood. There is very little traffic. People walking their dogs. Moms pushing strollers. This area of Boston has a more artsy feel to it, laid back and quiet. Strolling along the tree-shaded streets with a slight breeze blowing, it was a short walk from the subway. The brewhouse sits in the middle of a neighborhood . . . like it should be, where Sam himself might have lived.

The boys have won some things

The tour is free. If you want to donate some money for the tour you can, and all of the money goes to three specific charities that Sam Adams supports in the community. Beer labels are used for tickets, with different labels depicting what time your tour will start. One would expect to walk into a gigantic brewery from the start, knowing how big Sam Adams has become, but au contraire. The brewhouse is about as big as a school cafeteria. It is a working brewery, so men are moving about adjusting gages and checking on things as the tour moves around them, not for show . . . they’re really working.

Smaller that imagined

The tour discusses the brewing process and how Sam Adams brewery got its start: Jim Koch found the recipe of his great-grandfather’s brew and the rest is history. The feel of the entire place is a laid-back, Google decided to start brewing beer kind of feel. Our host was very knowledgable and friendly.

The end of the tour is the tasting. Each person (over 21) is given a beautiful Sam Adams tasting glass . . . yes, you get to keep it! It is then that the host discusses how to gage and judge beer quality. It covers all of the senses except hearing. Our group covered three different types of beer: Boston Lager, Boston Summer Ale, and Cream Stout. Not only was the information tasty, but very informative.

Lining them up

Another area that I thought intriguing dealt with the beer glasses that Jim Koch had designed by MIT engineers to get the best taste out of his beer. For example, the Boston Lager glass has an rounded lip, a large belly, and a small bottom. The rounded lip rolls the beer as it leaves the glass to allow more air to the beer, while the large belly of the glass allows the drinker’s nose to enter the glass to allow the smell to enhance the flavor. The small base of the glass has very thick glass (it becomes thinner glass moving toward the lip). The thickness of the bottom works as a koosie to keep the heat of the drinkers hand from warming the beer. Attention to detail has made Sam Adams the beer they are. So, if you are ever in the “neighborhood” just stop in and see what the textbook definition of the American Dream really looks like. It is not dead.

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