Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I love Sam Adams

I finished  up my Sam Adams Summer Styles sample pack and will be doing reviews on a few of the beers this week.  But first I want to profess my love for the Boston Beer Company.

If you read no further please take this from my post.  I recommend to craft beer rookies to buy each one of the different Sam Adams Samplers as they are released throughout the year.  It is a great way to try tons of different beer styles and find out which ones you like.  Continue reading for the full explanation of why I would make this statement.  The samplers are Brewmaster's Variety Pack (Jan-March), Summer Styles Variety Pack (April-July), Harvest Collection Variety Pack (Aug-Oct), and Winter Classics Variety Pack (Nov-Dec).  My favorite is the Winter Classics, freakin' awesome.  I personally buy at least one of each of these samplers every year, the winter one maybe twice (or four times).
My maiden voyage into craft brew began with Sam Adams Cream Stout.  In college I made a history of drinking as many Old Milwaukee Lights as I could, as fast as I could.  If we couldn't find Old Mil we would go to Keystone Light, if we ran out of money then King Cobra 40's.  Man those were the days.  I frequently pay homage to my liver and ask for forgiveness.  I think it's still pissed.  One day the stars aligned and I decided to purchase a Sam Adams sampler.  In that sampler was the beginning of my craft brew addiction, the cream stout, and the sampling of every stout I could get my hands on thereafter.

I love the variety Sam Adams puts into the market.  They brew over thirty different styles of beer and each style is a good representation of the style.  It may not be the best beer you've ever had from the particular style, but it is a solid example.  It is a good way to tell what the characteristics of a certain style is and whether you want to try other brewers examples.  Many Sam Adams' beers have been my introduction into a style, meaning their Black Lager for example is the first Black Lager I've ever had.  These style introductions can be very valuable to craft brew rookies and even to veterans who just may have not experienced a particular style.  Sam Adams puts most of these different styles into samplers where you can try several different styles in one 12-pack.  The advantage is the opportunity to try several styles with one purchase for a decent price.  Your alternative with most other breweries is to commit to a 22oz bomber or a six-pack without knowing if you even like the style.  The disadvantage of course is Sam Adams will bundle their normal brews in with it.  So if you're not a fan of say the Sam Adams Light or Cherry Lambic, well you're stuck with it.

Even with the incredible variety Sam Adams produces, they are constantly coming out with something new.  They are not complacent and are constantly pushing the bar.  They keep coming out with classic styles as well as pushing the bar with brews that are beyond definition.  Many people I've talked to claim Sam Adams is too big to be considered a craft brewery.  They contract out their brewing, blah, blah, blah.  I've posted the definition of craft brewery as defined by the Brewers Association.  Sam Adams was the number one craft brewery in 2010 in terms of sales volume according to the Brewers Association top 50.  Even with being the top craft brewery they represent less than 1% of the total U.S beer market.  The benefit to being the largest craft brewery, which some may find to be a flaw, is that Sam Adams is readily available.  You don't have to hound the liquor store weeks in advance to get the super limited Goose Island Big John, Firestone Walker Abacus, Schlafly Hop Toddy, etc.  Sam Adams makes a style and you can go to the store and it is there.  Here lately breweries are releasing stupid small amounts of brew to create false demand.  While getting your hands on these rare brews is part of the craft brew addiction, it is also very annoying.  You can read how Kate the Great or the Dark Lord are the best beers ever made, but they're not available in KC.  Next get on eBay and search for those beers and see how ridiculous they are priced.  Almost all of the Sam Adams brew can be found in the store and you don't have to mortgage your house to buy it, the exception is Utopias yes I know.
Finally, I love Sam Adams because they are a great resource for the craft brew movement and beer geeks alike.  They have their homebrew competition every year.  They pick a winner and allow the individual to help brew their recipe commercially.  Then that brew is distributed nationally.  Awesome.  They let beer drinkers choose what beer they will be adding into their next seasonal rotation.  They also sponsor small business and beginning breweries with grants called Brewing the American Dream.  If you want further information visit the Sam Adams website, it is full of great information regarding beer.

I know there are those out their that say "Sam Adams Sucks".  My next question to them is always what have you tried?  Then comes, "Ummm that one is no good or I didn't like the one I had last year."  So I then spout off that they make over 30 different styles and their argument loses steam.  If you have tried all of the Sam Adams styles and don't like any of them, well thats like your opinion man.  I love Sam Adams because no matter the level of the beer lover, Sam Adams gives you easy access to try different styles.  Some will argue that other breweries have better beer, that is not my argument.  My argument is Sam Adams provides us with a huge selection which will help us wade further into the craft brew river.  And that is a delicious river to be in. 

Hope this extremely long post helps someone get the courage to venture away from their monotony and to start on their own craft brew journey.

Thanks for reading and as always...



  1. Sam Adams was a gateway beer for me as well back in the 90s (yeah, I'm old!). I always liked the cream stout, most of their styles are pretty solid. I don't buy a whole lot of their stuff any more, but I always buy the Longshots pack.

    If you are looking for variety, there are plenty of shops that have great selections of singles.

  2. I agree with you Barleywhiner, the selection is a million times better now days compared to probably just 5 years ago. A lot of the build your own six packs are popping up but for upwards of $9.99. The Sam Adams Samplers are around $13.99 for 12 beers if not mistaken.

    I've had tons of different beers, I rarely by the same beer more than once a year. So I'm constantly looking for a different brewery or style. What amazes me is this year alone, Sam Adams has released a Rye beer and a Kolsch. This is the first example of either of these styles that I have tried. I know I'm easily entertained, but to me that is pretty impressive.

    Barleywhiner what did you think of that Blackened Hops? I think I fell in love. I am a stout junkie so combining the IPA with the stout is right up my ally.

    Thanks for the comment and happy drinking.

  3. I like the Black IPAs as well. Just finished off a four pack of the Widmer Pitch Black. The Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale is pretty nice as well.