Got a shot at tickets to this year’s Extreme Beer Fest in Boston and who could pass that up!? Headed to good ‘ole Mass last Thursday and started my weekend with a throughly enjoyable away-team victory as the Canes finished their season sweep of the Boston Bruins (defending Stanley Cup champs!) with a shutout. Go Cam! I also got to hang out with my brother Bab from Bahston (that’s phonetic spelling, for your enjoyment) before he headed out to a bachelor party in Chicago.
But let’s face it, the real draw was the beer (sorry, Bab). And did we ever enjoy some beer! Started out the tastings with a trip to Sam Adams (I’ll come back to this) then hit up Harpoon Brewery before going to EBF’s “Night of the Barrels” tasting. Saturday we rented a car and headed to beautiful, frozen New Hampshire. Once there we got a brew tour from Smuttynose, enjoyed lunch at the Portsmith Brewery and discovered a very young brewery, opened a mere 6 months ago (and owned and operated by two ladies – represent!) called Throwback. Then we headed back to Boston for EBF take two, and another 100+ beers to sample. Yes, if you’re wondering, my liver was pissed off with me.
I don’t want to undermine the sheer joy that was the sampling of dozens of beers and a variety of breweries but I do have to recount the coolest event of the trip. I overslept on Friday morning (long story) and we wandered out to Jamaica Plains a bit late for our planned Boston Beer Company tour. As we came around the corner of the brewery we stumbled on a photo shoot with none other than Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams, and a number of his cohorts and brewers (you may have seen these folks on various Sam Adams commercials). I, being a total fangirl, was gushing at the mere sight of all these famous beer-y people and immediately started snapping photos. And just when I thought it could get any better, it turned out Jim was going to be leading our tour of the brewery!
Now, this isn’t a production locations for Sam Adams beer- they’ve moved on to much larger locations but they keep the site of their original brewery available for tour and for brewing small batches of their Utopia (limited-edition, high alcohol content) beers. So the tour is normally relatively short as I understand it – about 30 to 45 minutes. Jim talked to us for almost two hours. He talked about how Sam Adams got started, his family history, how beer is made, how they made some of their brewing and bottling decisions, what he thinks about beer in general (and some larger breweries specifically!) and he told some truly crazy and hilarious stories from his 25+ years in the beer industry. He’s met some weird people and made some strange brews! Best line of the day by far — when asked why he’d never sold Sam Adams he said, “I think there’s enough rich ass holes in the world. There’s not enough brewers.”
Whether it was because it was on-location and super fresh, or having Jim Koch serve me, my Sam Adams never tasted better than it did that day. Really a wonderful beer. And I was so excited and inspired at the end of the event that I volunteered for an interview for the cameras (the who tour Jim did was filmed). Had to sign a waiver and they seemed happy with me so I guess I should keep an eye out for my face on some Sam Adams promotional materials!
So that’s my visit with Sam Adams and Jim Koch. I really did enjoy the beer festival – I know I mostly skipped all mention of it here but check out my post on the GirlsPintOut blog to learn more about the best of the extreme beers. Oh! And I have to throw a huge helping of gratitude to Jason and Mike for being awesome beer fest buddies (I’ll go to a beer fest with you guys anytime!), wonderful New Hampshire tour guides (FANS DRINK DRIVE) and all-around nice guys.
Jim is incredible to spend time with, I love that you got in on a tour with him! Give us a shout next time you’re in town. 🙂