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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.