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Samuel Adams Brewery Tour

I was never a fan of Samuel Adams Lager. Let me get that out first. It’s a good beer, but I’m not a big fan of lagers. When they began making different varieties, I was very impressed, and now they make many of my favorite beers. So when I went to Boston, I had to stop in for a tour. It was well worth the wait- they have a great tour and you get to taste some great beer.

Abandon all thirst ye who enter here

Located in Jamaica Plain, the brewery is tucked into a small industrial park with a little organic cafe nearby, if you need to lay a foundation for some beer drinking. The brewery can’t sell you six-packs or even glasses of beer, so don’t fret too much; you’ll have a small tasting glass (which you can keep) and you might get 3 or 4 tastings in.
When you’re thirsty for more, you can walk down to Doyle’s, about 15 minutes away. We went there while we waited for our tour appointment; this was the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, so when we showed up around 2pm we had to wait till 4:20 (dude!) to get a tour. They have a gift shop up front and a small museum of their awards, their many beers, and ephemera of beer history. It’s a shame the laws don’t let them serve beer.

Enter the tunnel of suds

But enough whining! On with the tour. You begin in a lovely room with hops growing like ivy around it. They teach you the history of beer, and the four ingredients allowed by the strict German beer laws- water, yeast, malted barley and hops- and let you taste some of them. The malted barley has a nice toasty flavor and the hops are bitter of course, for they give beer that refreshingly crisp bite.
From there you are led into the room with the mash tuns and the fermentation tanks. The brewery in Boston is their experimental one for small brews. Like Brooklyn Brewery, they need more space now and have a larger brewery elsewhere. This is still the biggest brewery I’ve been to. Our BrewHo (note the way the sign was cut off) told us the rest of the brewing process, answered some questions, and then got to the good part- “Y’all want to taste some beer?!” Why yes, we do.

This is not the way you get to taste beer

They have two tasting rooms so they can stagger the tours. They fill pitchers and pass them around, so if you’re lucky and are at the end of a line, you can pour a few extra (sssh!). We got to taste their local-only Boston Brick Red Ale, a hoppy wallop of an Irish Red that I found much better than their plain ol’ Irish Red. I had a few at Doyle’s, too. Great beer- enjoy it, Bostonites, you lucky bastiges. Next up was an Irish Stout that isn’t bottled either; I must say it was rather like fresh Guinness in Ireland. The same creamy head and a thinner, porter-like flavor with a good toasty foundation. I wish they bottled it!

Our friendly tour guides

Last was their Maibock, that favorite of seasonals, a crisp pale bock beer for Spring. They did a fantastic job with that too. My favorite is still Ramstein Maibock, but Sammy comes in at a close second. Sorry for the blue beer balls, but all of those are only available on tap. So get your butt to Boston and try some!

$150 beer!

They showed around their 24% alcohol Utopia beer, which won the contest with Dogfish Head Brewery over who could make the strongest beer. At $150 a bottle, I passed. If they let me have a sip for a few bucks I might have changed my mind, but instead they only let us smell it. What a tease! It did smell good, but for $150 I’ll be getting Macallan 18yr Scotch whisky, thanks!

hooray for beer!

Overall it was a fine tour and worth the wait and the trip. Beer lovers owe it to themselves to make a pilgrimage here if you like their beers, they give a great tour. You get a souvenir tasting glass- made of actual glass- and memories of 3 beers you’ll wish your local boozer had on draught. They helped kickstart the microbrew revolution, and they are still a force to be reckoned with.

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U Burger

I am constantly seeking a better burger than Five Guys, who are the bellwether for a “fast food” burger. And U Burger comes close. Unfortunately they are only in Boston, but if you’re up that way they make a fine burger worth trying. They’re on Commonwealth, walking distance from a nice set of bars.
U Burger’s main strength over Five Guys is the pre-ordained topping selections. Five Guys has lots of toppings and they are all free, which is a bonus, but like Devo said- Free of choice is what you got, but freedom FROM choice is what you want, sometimes. Like when you’re in a hurry. And U Burger offers some tempting combos. I had the All Star – a double swiss cheese burger with grilled mushrooms, jalapenos, BBQ sauce… and I added hot banana peppers, since Milky has been talking about them all the time. This was a spicy burger from the vaults of heaven.
They use a grill so they don’t get the crispy char that Five Guys has, but they make a damn tasty burger with good quality meat. Never dry, but a solid beef flavor that tells you it’s not too fatty nor too lean- just right. A soft Kaiser roll holds it all together soundly, keeping the many toppings in check. They have milkshakes and floats if you want one to wash it down- I opted for a birch beer. That’s Malt vinegar next to the fries, crispy skin-on taters cooked just right. No Cajun seasoning like Five Guys, but these are quite good.
In fact, Five Guys is gonna be a hard sell in Boston near a U Burger. They’ll be good competition, but the U’s patties are bigger and the prices seem lower, at least compared with 5 Guys in NYC. I must say if they were right next to each other, I’d go for the U. Blasphemy I know, but they make a damn good burger!
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=u+burger,+boston+ma&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=62.70117,92.900391&ie=UTF8&ll=42.361398,-71.117592&spn=0.029111,0.045362&z=14&iwloc=A&cid=1787048702975067843&output=embed
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F.J. Doyle’s Braddock Cafe

I’m sorry that I’ve been very lax on the “beer” portion of my quadruple promise of “movies, beer, hotdogs and boobies” to you. I was recently in Boston just before St. Patrick’s Day, so I’ll be making it up to you in spades. We went for the Samuel Adams brewery tour, and while we were waiting, we walked to a nearby bar in Jamaica Plain called Doyle’s for short. It’s got some history, a great beer selection, and plenty of character.


It’s not uncommon for bars to festoon their walls with collected ephemera, but Doyle’s has some history up on the walls. World War 2 propaganda telling us the enemy has ears, sketches of JFK, and their collection of memorable beer bottles. The bartenders are like Formula One race car mechanics. A glance their way and your order is taken, over the din of the customers, put on separate tabs with little ado or confusion. Ask for a car bomb and you’ll be rebuffed, as “they been breakin’ the glasses on me.” Rough hood at night, maybe. We had them anyway, with chunky rocks glasses alongside our pints of Guinness. It was St. Paddy’s day weekend, after all. The Guinness tasted almost as good as it did in Ireland. Maybe Boston has a quicker shipping lane, or just has dibs on the freshest batches coming stateside, but it honestly tasted better than some draft I had a week before in Brooklyn. The Irish town comes out on top.
Being so close to the brewery, you know their Sam Adams’ beer is fresh too. They have the local-only brew, Boston Brick Red Ale, and a fine brew it is. Kicks the arse off Sam’s regular Irish red- a hoppier taste and a fuller body. Built like a brick red shithouse redhead ale, more like it. The White Ale is a fine brew as well- one of their newer varietals, and worth a chug or six. Look out Blue Moon, we may have seen you standing alone, but now you have some competition. The Harpoon Celtic Ale is a good pour as well. Just hoppy enough to perk your ears without going all IPA on you.
The crowd was lively; we ran into a photog from Men’s Health, doing a piece on the up-and-coming neighborhood. I’m beating him to the punch with the power of the internet, but I think his pro rig will give you better snapshots of this joint, so check it out in the grocery aisle in a few months. Doyle’s certainly has atmosphere- the huge clock over the dining room entrance looks more like a factory time clock. You got no excuse when it’s last call. You were forewarned. Cushy barstools and shipworthy wood for the bar, gouged and well sanded by a million beer-hoisting elbows. There’s no brass rail to rest your feet at this end- this is a workingman’s town, boy-o. That’s the old man section. Take it on the hoof.
Didn’t have a chance to grab a bite but the patrons seemed to enjoy their meals. Ours was a liquid luncheon, in prep for the tour. Brewery tours are best enjoyed with a wet whistle, lest you find the samples too skimpy. I regretted having to leave Doyle’s so early, and hike the half mile to the brewery, through colorful row houses with Camaros being worked on in the driveway. Beast called it sketchy but I think she just didn’t want to walk. So if you’re in Boston, visit Sam Adam’s Brewery- a few blocks down & over is Doyle’s. Sam can’t sell you his beer, but Doyle can. He serves it fast and friendly, and will even oblige you if you want a party girl drink like a car bomb. I can’t say if Jamaica Plain is “up and coming,” but if I moved near it, I know where I’d drink. Doyle’s.

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