Samuel Adams, born in 1722 in Boston, Ma., was an excellent and very popular politician, a very poor business man, and an unsuccessful brewer. Which begs the question, why did Jim Koch name his brewery after this historic figure? Koch named his brewery Samuel Adams because Adams was a revolutionary – literally, a Boston legend, and mostly because, like Koch, he inherited his brewing legacy from his father.
The Samuel Adams Brewery story begins all the way back in 1870’s with a recipe Koch’s great-great grandfather, Louis Koch, had made at his brewery in St. Louis, Missouri. After more than 100 years, Koch resurrected the brew in 1984 and in 1985 began brewing and marketing Samuel Adams Boston Lager to Boston bars and taverns. The brew gained a foothold and word spread of the flavorful beer being made in Boston.
Koch’s timing could not have been better since in just a few short years he was able to open a small brewery. Within ten years there were many more small breweries around the country, the craft beer revolution was in full swing. Jim Koch and a small group of others had started a new revolution, just as Samuel Adams did more than 200 years before.
During American Craft Beer Week 2012, Total Wine in the St. John’s Town Center hosted a tasting of some of Samuel Adams’ lesser-known, but utterly remarkable brews. Some of the brews are so rare that they had never been tasted in the state of Florida before. Blake Skebe, representative for Samuel Adams introduced each with several interesting notes and obvious enjoyment. Just two years ago, Skebe explained, Samuel Adams produced only 40 varieties of beer – no small feat in and of itself. This year, however, the venerable brewery is on track to produce well over 85 different brews to delight its fans far and wide.
Among the brews sampled were:
Norse Legend, a Sahti-style brew with hints of juniper berry brewed from a recipe gleaned from a barrel of the same style beer found intact in the hold of a sunken Viking ship.
Griffen’s Bow, a huge Blonde Barleywine with complex caramel malts, a hint of vanilla, and pronounced alcohol flavor.
The Vixen, chocolate bock never tasted like this! The aroma and first sip reveals smooth and rich chocolate characteristics from roasted malts and dark cocoa nibs. But, the ending has a spicy kick form the addition of cinnamon and chilies. This brew earns its name.
Perhaps the best brews, though, were from the extremely rare Barrel Room Collection.
New World Tripel Belgian-style ale brewed with Sam Adams’ proprietary yeast, Kosmic Mother Funk. This yeast strain yields a fruity, crisp ale with herbal and spicy notes.
Thirteenth Hour defies categorization. It has the dark richness of a stout, but the funky sour notes of a Belgian-style brew thanks to Kosmic Mother Funk. The aroma teases with hints of coffee and chocolate, the flavor is complex with notes of raisins, cherries, and rum. Aged on oak tuns for up to a year, this is a truly exceptional brew.
Samuel Adams, the historical figure was a strong advocate of independence. He believed that we should live free from tyranny, and in freedom. Samuel Adams the brewery has similar beliefs when it comes to beer; we have the right to freedom from the tyranny of the mega brands and the right to great-tasting beer.