I was having a conversation with a friend about the craft beer industry in the United States, and the topic of Samuel Adams beers came up. Now that I think of it, its pretty hard NOT to talk about the American craft beer industry and not talk about Samuel Adams. (Or more officially, the Boston Beer Company.)
We got to talking a little bit about the company’s history, and I was impressed with how little I really knew about it.
Let’s see. I knew that Boston Lager was their first beer and it remains a top-seller to this day. I knew that the recipe was based on a old family beer recipe that Jim Koch found up in his attic.
I knew that I enjoyed the Scotch Ale about 12 years ago before I really knew anything about beer, and I was happy to see it come back in the recent variety pack! 🙂
I knew that Sam Adams had, as a company, sold hops to other craft brewers a few years ago when there was a big hop shortage. They apparently sold the hops at their cost which seems to be a great gesture toward craft beer brewers.
In addition, I knew that they sponsor the “Long Shot” competition, where regular home brewers are able to enter their own beer recipes with the chance of it getting brewed and distributed by Sam Adams. How cool!
I knew that while technically, Sam Adams is considered a craft beer brewer, they are HUGE compared to just about any other craft beer brewer in this country.
Knowing that, I also knew that in spite of their relative hugeness, they are dwarfed by ‘big beer’ and only have about 1% of the American beer market.
And that was about it!
I learned more about Samuel Adams over the years by actually drinking their beers. Since we started The Brew Club in April of 2008, I’ve managed to sample 14 of their beers (not all of them have been reviewed). I have a way to go before I’ve tried them all, but that’s a good start!
I did know that Boston Beer Company is the largest American-owned brewery in the United States! They became ‘the biggest’ when Anheuser-Busch was bought by InBev.
While I haven’t tried them, I’m also impressed by the Sam Adams Utopia beers which always receive high praise and high dollars! These guys also recently partnered up with one of the world’s oldest and most famous breweries, Weihenstephan to create ‘Infinium’. Kind of a champagne of beers? They also released single-hop versions of their Latitude 48 IPA in a 12-pack which is very, very cool from a beer-lover’s perspective.
So, its an interesting story, and while many people in the craft beer world don’t think of Sam Adams as cutting edge or craft beer enough for their tastes, I think its important to keep them in mind. If it weren’t for Jim Koch starting this whole thing back in the mid 1980’s, who knows where the industry would be today. I don’t think it would be quite as successful as it is, but that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?
Anyway, you can read more about the interesting history of Boston Beer Company and its founder here.