The Boston Marathon has been a cherished tradition in our hometown for more than 100 years. It is a unique athletic event. There is no winning or losing team. It is open to athletes from all countries, backgrounds genders and beliefs. Hundreds of thousands of greater Bostonians line the race route to cheer for the commitment and stamina of all the runners. It is also a celebration of the city of Boston, personal achievement and communal philanthropy.
Samuel Adams is a proud sponsor of the Boston Marathon. The race is a part of what it means to be a Bostonian and the holiday, Patriot’s Day, is a uniquely Massachusetts holiday which holds special meaning for us as Americans, Massachusetts residents, brewers of Samuel Adams and me personally. Patriot’s Day commemorates the beginning of the American Revolution led by Samuel Adams our namesake, a defender of liberty and revolutionary leader. It was also on this holiday in 1985 that I first delivered Samuel Adams to bars throughout Boston from my station wagon. I have always thought of Patriots Day as our holiday here at The Boston Beer Company. ► Read More
Craft brewers have debated putting beer in bottles vs. cans for years. On one side of the aisle, you have purists who think that cans are meant to carry mass domestic beer. On the other side, brewers who see the benefits – a can is lighter weight, blocks out sunlight and enables you to take beer places where glass bottles aren’t allowed. There’s even a website dedicated to “news and reviews for the canned beer revolution.”
I’m the first one to admit that I’ve been a purist about putting Sam Adams in a can. I wasn’t convinced that the beer would taste as good as it does from a bottle. I had flavor concerns based on my own experiences.
The debate has moved from brewers to our drinkers, and we threw wood on the fire a few weeks ago when word got out that we’ve decided to put Boston Lager in cans. We saw comments posted to beer forums, mainly from craft beer drinkers who welcome the change. The feedback on Facebook was mixed and fans repeatedly asked the same question: why?
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to address some of those concerns and explain why we’re making a change.
My friends, Dale Katechis and Marty Jones at Oskar Blues, pioneered the process of canning craft beers, and I’m grateful for their early ingenuity. They took a chance when many brewers, including myself, stuck to using good ole’ glass bottles. Over the years, as can technologies continued to improve, more and more craft brewers decided to offer their beer in cans.
I knew that when I took this leap of faith, I wanted to do it in a way that would be true to Sam Adams. So two years ago we put together a team including our brewers and an industrial design firm to see if there was any way to improve the standard beverage can for the taste of a full flavored beer like Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
To me, the standard beverage can is sort of like the standard pint glass. It works just fine and is familiar and reliable. But, as the generic option, it may not be the best choice for a more flavorful beer. Eventually, we brought in sensory experts to validate our new can design. The goal: to develop a new can design that would give our drinkers the best tasting Sam Adams in a can. The result of several years of research and testing is a new design, which we’re calling the Sam Can.
What’s the benefit of a can?
Ask any craft brewer that puts their beer in cans and they’ll tell you the same thing. First and foremost, you can take cans to places where bottles can’t go like the beach, hiking, golfing, boating and BBQs. Cans also protect the liquid from sunlight and oxidation which can compromise the flavor of the beer.
What’s different about this can?
The new can design aims to provide a drinking experience that is a little closer to the taste and comfort of drinking beer from a glass. What you’ll notice:
The larger, wider lid helps open your mouth allowing for more air flow during the drinking experience.
The can opening is located slightly farther away from the edge of the lid, placing it closer to the drinker’s nose to help accentuate the hop aromas.
The hourglass ridge creates turbulence (like our patented Perfect Pint glass) which “pushes flavor out of the beer” and the extended lip places the beer at the front of your palate to maximize enjoyment of the sweetness from the malt.
The larger, wider lid helps open your mouth allowing for more air flow during the drinking experience.
All of these aspects of the new can work in concert to allow more airflow – and most importantly aroma – which enhances the flavor of the beer (have you ever tried tasting food when you’re stuffed up and can’t smell it?).
Our new can design required a million dollar investment in special equipment tooling along with time, research and testing. We think that the difference will be a subtle but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beverage can. The Sam Can Is probably less of an improvement over the standard beverage can then our Perfect Pint glass is over the standard pint glass. It may seem a little crazy to make that kind of investment, but we felt the small improvement in the drinking experience was worth the expense. We make decisions based on the beer, not on the bottom line.
Why are so many people down on cans?
There are a lot of myths out there about putting craft beer in cans. We’re not the only ones that have faced it. Other brewers, like our neighbor down the street, Harpoon Brewery, also took to their blog and ably addressed some of the top myths that drinkers raised when they announced they were installing a canning line.
But at the end of the day, the choice is up to you and your personal preference. And as brewers, we work hard to bring you options. Don’t get me wrong, if I had the choice, I’d always opt for drinking craft beer out of a glass. But sometimes that isn’t an option – like when you’re backpacking, playing golf, or on a boat. For those occasions, the Sam Can is an option.
When will we see the new can?
We’re currently in the process of installing a new canning and hope to conduct a test run within the next couple of weeks. If all goes well, the plan is to release Boston Lager and Summer Ale in cans early this summer. Our fingers are crossed.
In chemistry there’s something called the “collision theory” that is often summarized by the idiom: “You can’t react, unless you collide.”
Fate has a way of ensuring the right collisions happen to occasionally create something remarkable. The story of New Albion is proof that random events can collide in such a sequence to spark something incredible.
In 1976, Jack McAuliffe created New Albion brewing, the first craft brewery to be started from scratch in decades. Jack, a true do-it-yourself guy, did everything from building the brewery, to brewing the beer, to delivering it to the bars himself. Unfortunately, he was a man before his time and in 1983, New Albion closed its doors for good.
The next year, Jim founded the Boston Beer Company and began a revolution in brewing with the introduction of Samuel Adams Boston Lager. A few years later, the trademark for New Albion lapsed and fell into public domain. Not wanting it to fall into the hands of mega brewers, Jim applied for and was granted the New Albion trademark. Jim considered himself a custodian of brewing history, as if preserving a historical brewing treasure.
Fast forward to 2011 in San Antonio, TX. Meagen Anderson, a local sales representative is preparing her homebrew for the company homebrew competition, when she meets an older gentleman in her local homebrew club who seems to know a fair bit about brewing. Meagen, a true beer lover recognized the name right away when he introduced himself as Jack McAuliffe. Really? What are the odds?
Meagen arranged to have Jack come to the Great American Beer Festival to witness for himself what had blossomed from the early seeds he’d sown. While in Denver Meagen introduced Jack to Jim, as the two had never met, and an idea was born.
On July 3, 2012, Jack visited the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery…
On July 26, 2012, for the first time in our Boston Brewery’s history, Jim Koch was a bridesmaid, a best man and the brewer of Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale, all in one day!
At Samuel Adams, we shared with drinkers what we know to be the centerpiece of a great wedding… beer. We brewed Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale, a limited-release Belgian style pale gold ale, and sold it for one day only. Hundreds of drinkers lined up (some at 5am in the morning!) to get their hands on our specialty brew to say “I do.” Jim toasted to everyone in line noting that Brewlywed Ale is “kind of like marriage – a bit spicy, a bit complex, a little bit unexpected and full of surprises.”
James and Karen tie the knot at the Boston Brewery as Jim looks on as the official witness!
Not only were we surprised by the crowd that lined up for Brewlywed Ale, but we were enlivened by the three couples who exchanged vows with a Justice of the Peace, Henri Gough, in our hop garden surrounded by fellow beer lovers. The first couple ever married at our Boston brewery, James Lanctot of Martha’s Vineyard and Karen Smith of Woonsocket, RI, heard of the event from our last newsletter and decided they would take the plunge! James thought what many men might, “What guy wouldn’t want to get married at brewery?” The other couples, Marcus Rozbitzy and Courtney Ayers, along with Jeremiah Atwood and Liz Neiderman, also exchanged vows with Jim by their side.
Over the years we have seen some pretty cool images from Sam fans that demonstrates their love of beer in a variety of ways.
Who Loves OctoberFest? This guy.
Trick or Treat... or just plain awesome?
How many of these styles have you had?
On Wednesday we clicked over to our Facebook page to find this utterly AMAZING piece of artwork done by Sam fan Sean Carney:
Look closely. You'll see this portrait was created with different Sam Adams labels!
Sean included a few “in the works” pictures which you can find further down. Sean says he soaked the bottles to help peel the labels off, divided them into different color piles and began constructing. He even points out that the cardboard used for the barrels were from our 6-pack carriers! Talk about being thorough in your craft!
Needless to say, Jim was blown away by the final product and surprised to see that so many beer bottle labels could make him look so good. To show his thanks, Jim shot this short video:
I have been talking to brewers, hop dealers and to the craft brewers who have received loans from our Brewing the American Dream program and, have been told about the difficulties that many brewers are having getting some of the new and very in demand hops used in IPAs and other hoppy beers.
Hops like Simcoe, Citra and Ahtanum were sold out for the 2011 crop year and are very close to sold out for crop 2012. Hopefully, the 2012 crop year will be a good one and there will be excess hops above contracts but it is still too early to tell. At Boston Beer, we contract with hop dealers and growers (a practice which we and other members of the Pipeline Committee strongly recommend) and as a result, we believe that our current inventories will safely take us into the 2012 crop.
So, we think we can make some hops available to brewers who may be in greater need. Specifically, we can share up to 10,000 pounds of Simcoe, 10,000 pounds of Citra and 10,000 pounds of Ahtanum hops. They are type 90 pellets from the 2011 crop packaged in 44 pound boxes. As we did with our hop sharing program in 2008, we will sell them at our cost: $6.50 per pound for the Simcoe and the Citra and $5.50 per pound for the Ahtanum.
We want to help prioritize hops for brewers who really need them. Brewers may request a minimum of 1 box, which is 44 lbs. of one hop variety, and maximum of 10 boxes but in an effort to help as many craft brewers as we can, we will try to fulfill the first 6 boxes requested before we fulfill any additional boxes. If we receive more requests that we can fulfill, we will hold a lottery to fulfill the first 6 boxes of each request. The deadline to put in your request for hops in July 13, 2012.
We are trying to make these limited quantities of hops available to those who have a real need for them. So if you don’t really need them or just find the price attractive, we hope that you will not request hops. We are not a hop dealer and would prefer to keep these hops unless they are going to brewers who truly need them.
If you do need them, details of how to request hops can be found in our FAQ.
Shipping Address (for hop delivery if different from above)
Contact Person Name
Contact Person Phone Number
Contact Person Email
Credit Card Type (Amex, Visa, MasterCard etc.)
Credit Card Number
Credit Card Security Code
Credit Card Expiration Date
Amount of Ahtanum, Citra and/or Simcoe Hops Needed (44 lb. increments of 1 style of hop; max of 10 boxes total of Ahtanum, Citra and/or Simcoe Hops = 440 lbs. total)
Please specify what six boxes of hop varieties (Ahtanum, Citra and/or Simcoe) are most important to fulfill first. These may be the only six boxes you might receive.
Please remember the deadline for submitting your request is July 13, 2012. If you have any questions please email us at HopsSharing@samueladams.comor call 617-368-5499. Brewers will be required to submit a sales tax exemption certificate or a similar state specific certificate to purchase the hops without paying a sales tax.
Q. What hop variety is being released?
A. We will be able to provide Ahtanum, Simcoe and Citra hops which are grown in Yakima, Washington. Ahtanum hops are known for their pronounced citrus and floral character balanced with spicy herbal top notes. Simcoe hops are known for their very distinct citrus, grapefruit, lime, sweet fruit and black currant notes and Citra hops are known for their citrus aroma and flavor as well as tropical fruit notes of passion fruit, lychee and peach.
Q. Who is eligible?
A. Brewers who have a federal brewer’s notice may request hops. During our first hop sharing program in 2008, we received more requests than we could fulfill from hundreds of brewers including home brewers and non-registered brewers. We want to ensure that existing American craft brewers are able to get the hops they need.
Q. Are these leftover hops that the company doesn’t need?
A. No. These are hops that we bought in the 2011 harvest. We could certainly use them, but because we are hopeful for a good crop in 2012, we think we can share them.
Q. Are these hops in good condition?
A. Yes. These hops are fresh from the 2011 harvest. They are type 90 pellets, packed in 22 pound foil bags (2 bags to 1 box), and have been kept cold and are in excellent condition. These exact hops are used in our Samuel Adams beers.
Q. What are the alpha acids of these hops?
A. The Ahtanum hops came in at 4.7%, Simcoe hops came in at 12.8% and the Citra hops came in at 13.4% in final analysis of the pellets.
Q. What quantities can brewers get?
A. These hops are pelletized and packaged in 44 pound boxes, two 22 pound bags to a box. The minimum request is for one 44 pound box of one hop type (i.e. one 44 lb. box of Ahtanum hops, one 44 lb. box of Simcoe hops or one 44 lb. box of Citra hops). Boxes cannot be split between hop types (i.e. 22 lbs. of Citra and 22 lbs. of Simcoe). The maximum amount we are making available to any one brewer is 10 boxes (440 total pounds of hops) In an effort to help as many craft brewers as we can, we will fulfill the first 6 boxes requested (264 hops total). If we receive more requests that we can fulfill, we will hold a lottery to fulfill the first 6 boxes of each request. Please specify the 6 boxes of hops that are a priority (ex. 6 boxes of Citra or 2 boxes of each hop variety). If we have extra hops available, we will add them on-top of your 6 box request.
Q. If you need them, why are you letting them go?
A. We buy our hops under long term contracts with select growers. The high demand for hops has been extremely difficult for some of the very small breweries in our industry. We have contracts for 2012, 2013 and beyond for most of our varieties. When we shared hops in the 2008 program, we were betting on a reasonably strong 2009 crop. Now, after hearing reports that this year’s crop is normal, we’re in a position to help brewers still feeling the effects of this year’s short hop supply in these varieties.
Q. What are you charging for these hops?
A. We will be selling them at our cost, $6.50 for Ahtanum hops, $5.50 for the Simcoe hops and $5.50 for the Citra hops, plus $0.75 per pound for shipping and handling.
Q.What form of payment do you take for the hops? When will I be billed?
A. We only take credit cards. Please be sure to provide your card type, credit card number, security code and expiration. We will discard of all of this information after we place your order and you are billed.
Q. What is the sales tax on hops? Who is covering that cost?
A. Brewers are exempt from paying a sales tax on hops used to make their beers. Brewers will be asked to provide a sales tax exemption certificate to qualify.
Q. What will prevent the brewers who buy these hops from reselling them at a higher price?
A. Nothing. We’ve asked brewers to request only what they need and to let their consciences be their guide.
Q. When will the brewers who request the hops receive them?
A. We anticipate shipping out to brewers at the end of July.
Q. Are you making a profit on these hops?
Q. What if you get requests for more hops than you have available?
A. We’d like to help as many brewers as we can but may receive more requests for Ahtanum, Simcoe and Citra hops than we have available. If demand exceeds our allotted supply, we’ll conduct a lottery like we did in 2008 and fulfill the first six boxes requested by a craft brewer.
Q. What if there isn’t enough interest to sell all the Ahtanum, Simcoe and Citra hops?
A. We’ll keep them to use for our beers.
Q. What is the deadline for brewers to apply?
A. All brewers interested in purchasing the hops must submit their request by July 13, 2012.
Q. What should I do if I’m a brewer and have more questions that haven’t been answered?
A. Email us at HopsSharing@samueladams.comor call 617-368-5499 and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Unless you’re a brewer you probably missed the “Beer Advocate” thread last week bashing several craft breweries for being over-rated. Seemed to me the criticism was really about popularity not quality. Today’s craft beer lovers are on a hunt to discover the next new thing and, as brewers, most of us are trying to create interesting new beers. That’s great – we all love making new beers – but that doesn’t mean that an established and successful beer is any less great because it’s been around for a while and has attracted a big following.
My friend Sam Calagione was one of the targets. I’ve known Sam a long time, and I’ve brewed beside him, so I know how innovative he is, and how committed he is to quality brewing. Dogfish Head beers are terrific. Period. The sales of Dogfish Head have grown because the beer is crazy good. Period. No true lover of craft beer should have a problem with his success, in my honest opinion.Someone else dissed him because he had a TV show about his brewing adventures and his brewery. Hey, Sam happens to be a very interesting and engaging guy. And he works his ass off. Because he has the energy and drive to get himself and DFH on the Discovery Channel, he has done all craft brewers a service. He was also promoting all craft beer through his efforts. I thank him for doing that. And if that means he was taking craft beer to the masses, more power to him.
I remember, and survived, the years when craft beer was this odd little corner of the beer cooler visited only by homebrewers and crazy beer geeks that everyone else ignored. That might sound cool and romantic. Actually, it sucked. It was hard to stay in business and many of the early craft brewers didn’t make it. I think it’s great that craft beer has entered the beer drinker mainstream. Craft beer has become popular today because craft brewers are making great beer. I don’t know of any craft brewer who succeeded by selling out and making crappy beer. I can think of some who failed by neglecting to make great beer. Can I offer you a Pig Pounder? Or a Brewski?
I took some offense myself from one lengthy post saying that Sam Adams used to be a great beer until they grew and started using cheaper ingredients and the quality slipped. That pissed me off because it couldn’t be further from the truth. I should know since I still select those ingredients. Let me give you one example. When we were much smaller, we selected our hops after the larger brewers had already made their selection, we accepted the same growing practices that everyone else did; we processed the hops in an industry standard procedure, etc. Today, we’re the largest buyer of noble hops in the world. So we select our hops first. We’re important enough to our farmers to ask them to keep those hops on the vines longer to maximize the aromatic oils we want for Boston Lager. We have a proprietary pelletizing process that requires freezing the hops down to forty degrees below zero to preserve the integrity of the lupulin glands. We couldn’t do those things when we were tiny. Things like these may not be cool and cute but they do make better beer. I could go on and that’s just the hops. And the same thing goes for other craft brewers. Ask any craft brewer if his or her quality has improved or has declined as he or she got bigger or more established. I know what the answer will be.
Brewing Savor Flowers in 2011
The fact is that it’s possible, even admirable, to grow beyond tiny while improving your quality. Sam Calagione did it, and I believe Sam Adams has done it. I think Samuel Adams Boston Lager is better today than it was in 1984 or 1995. And I think 60 Minute is better today than ever. Thanks, Sam.
I remember losing a high profile Boston restaurant account in 1985. The chef/owner was upset because we had gotten “too big”. At that point we were in eighty places in the entire world. To him, that was too big. I realized that some people will judge you primarily on your size and availability, not on whether you make great beer. So I decided to ignore people like that and grow anyway. To me, great beer comes from the quality of the ingredients and the recipe, and the skill, passion and commitment of the brewer. When I lose that passion and commitment, I’ll stop making beer. It hasn’t happened yet.
We’re lucky to be in the middle of a big growth curve for craft beer and I’m glad to see the growth. Many brewers have worked very long hours for many years to get us to this place. Let’s appreciate the category’s growth instead of taking aim at honorable, independent brewers just because their beers have become well known or widely admired.
The Boston Beer Company is America’s leading brewer of handcrafted, full-flavored craft beers. Founder and Brewer, Jim Koch, brews Samuel Adams® craft beers using the time honored traditional four-vessel brewing process, and the world’s finest all-natural ingredients. With over 30 distinctive, award-winning styles of craft beer, Samuel Adams offers discerning beer drinkers a variety of brews. The brewery has won more awards in international beer tasting competitions in the last five years than any other craft beer brewery in the world.
The Boston Beer Company is America's leading brewer of handcrafted, full-flavored craft beers. Founder and Brewer, Jim Koch, brews Samuel Adams® craft beers using the time-honored, traditional four-vessel brewing process, and the world's finest all-natural ingredients. With over 30 distinctive, award-winning styles of craft beer, Samuel Adams offers discerning beer drinkers a variety of brews. The brewery has won more awards in international beer tasting competitions in the last five years than any other craft beer brewery in the world.