Wasted: How the Craft-Beer Movement Abandoned Jim Koch

(And his beloved Sam Adams.)

Photograph by Toan Trinh

Photograph by Toan Trinh

Jim Koch was pissed off.

The most recognizable man in American beer, who sold us all on the idea of craft brew three decades ago on his way to a billion-dollar fortune, was having dinner last October with a group of brewers inside Row 34, one of Boston’s top-rated beer bars. The drink list was filled with esoteric options from hot new breweries throughout the country, as well as palate-pleasing offerings from abroad. But Koch had a problem: Though this mecca for beer nerds carries two dozen beers on draft and another 38 in bottles and cans, it doesn’t serve his beloved Sam Adams.

Staring at the beer menu, Koch began to criticize the selection. More than half of it, he said, wasn’t worthy of being served—inadvertently insulting the establishment’s owner, who unbeknownst to Koch was sitting next to him. Then Koch interrogated the beer manager about the offerings. Unsatisfied with the answers, Koch complained about the beers so intensely that an employee at the bar teared up. Koch rose from his seat and walked into the keg room, where he started checking freshness dates on his competitors’ kegs.

Unfortunately for Koch, the simple truth is that more and more beer drinkers don’t want Sam Adams, and in turn, an increasing number of bars won’t sell the famous amber lager. Koch’s Boston Beer Company may have built the craft-beer business as we know it, but local beer geeks—the industry’s connoisseurs—think he’s lost his edge. “Their beers are kind of middle of the road,” says Max Toste, co-owner of Deep Ellum, in Allston. Citing what he considers the brand’s questionable quality, he doesn’t carry any of the Sam Adams line. “I think what they are trying to do is make beer that is more flavorful than the fizzy yellow lager that was [once] popular everywhere. [But] they just don’t fit into what I am doing. For me, serving something that is mediocre is just really not what I do.” Daniel Lanigan, owner of the beer bar Lord Hobo, in Cambridge, agrees. “I just never considered their beers to be world class,” he says, “and I decided not to sell them.”

To be clear, it’s not like you can’t find a pint of Sam Adams in this town. In fact, its ubiquity is one of the reasons that finicky barkeeps such as Toste and Lanigan choose not to serve it. As anyone who’s been to Faneuil Hall can tell you, Sam Adams’s Boston Lager is a fixture at the city’s faux Irish pubs, sports bars, and hotel lounges. After all, Koch’s company is America’s number one craft brewery—by a pretty large margin. But lately, here in the birthplace of Sam, hipster-friendly draft houses are turning their backs on the brew that started it all. And, as the staff at Row 34 found out that fateful night, it’s driving the owner a little nuts.

There’s no disputing that America is experiencing a craft-beer revolution—and that Koch’s Boston Beer Company birthed it. Once foundering with fewer than 50 breweries in the late 1970s, the United States now boasts more than 3,000, with several thousand more in development. The market’s coveted demographic of 21- to 27-year-olds—the ones driving growth in this trend—are spoiled: They’ve never known a world in which Sam Adams did not exist. This is the first generation to regard Sam as their father’s (or, God forbid, their grandfather’s) beer. Today’s beer lover also engages in an unprecedented display of beer promiscuity—a lack of inhibition that places little value on loyalty to any single brand. This new breed of millennial craves beer that is organic, local, small-batch, authentic, cool, and new. And perhaps most troublingly, the species has developed an insatiable lust for bold-flavored American hops and India pale ales—not the sorts of beers for which Sam Adams is known.

All of this is tough for Koch to swallow, as the undisputed king of the craft-beer industry suddenly finds himself presiding over shifting and unsteady ground. Koch has spent the past three decades battling the corporate giants—Budweiser, Miller, and Coors—but now he faces what may prove his toughest fight yet: a multiple-front war with the brewers and the consumers who worship at the altar of craft beer’s next generation. As drinkers increasingly look beyond Sam Adams for their craft-beer fix, it’s hard not to wonder whether Koch—the friendly man wearing khakis on TV who’s had more success selling ales and lagers than just about anyone alive—is about to get left behind.

 

Walk into the Sam Adams Brewery, just off Amory Street in the Egleston Square section of Jamaica Plain, and you’ll hear Koch’s well-worn creation tale—often told by Koch himself, who loves to regale visitors by digging his hands into barrels of dry malt and barley, shoving his nose into the grain, and evangelizing about the cosmic powers of beer. The story of Sam Adams’s creation has been so often repeated that it has become legend, a tale so good it almost seems plucked from the pages of a Hollywood script: In 1984, Koch—a sixth-generation beer maker whose father, Charles Koch, was a brewmaster for a local Cincinnati brewery—stumbled upon a lager recipe developed by his great-great-grandfather Louis Koch, a Missouri brewer during the 1800s. That recipe, the story goes, had not been made since Prohibition, until Koch whipped up a batch on his kitchen stove, fell in love with the flavor, and decided to leap into the beer business, selling his wares bar to bar in Boston on his way to making a brewing fortune.

That’s not far from the truth, though some of the less-advertised details are worth noting. Koch didn’t step straight from a humble upbringing into the family business. He earned three degrees at Harvard University, including an MBA and a JD, and first chose to enter the world of high finance. He went to work for the Boston Consulting Group, a global management firm, where he advised manufacturers on business strategies alongside fellow Harvard alum Mitt Romney, who later left to join Bain & Company. By his own telling, Koch did well for himself but never embraced the corporate environment, and he decided to go back to his family’s roots in the beer business. “I thought my dad would be full of heartwarming joy when I told him that I was going to go back into what my family had done for 140 years,” Koch recently told an audience. Instead, “He said, ‘Jim, that’s the dumbest fucking thing you’ve ever done.’”

Though he wasn’t dissuaded, Koch understood his father’s point. By 1983, a handful of domestic heavyweights—Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors, along with Heileman, Stroh, and Pabst—had used superior distribution and marketing resources to stamp out independent, midsize brewers. Charles Koch had seen the big boys buy out and beat into oblivion regional brewers such as Ballantine, Rheingold, and Schaefer. Together, the top six beer companies controlled a whopping 92 percent of U.S. production. With only 51 companies operating a total of 80 breweries in America, 1983 was a low point for beer making in the 20th century. And yet for a clever operator like Koch, the climate was ripe for disruption.

With his Harvard MBA and business background, Koch knew he didn’t want to go head-to-head with the mega-breweries. Instead, he set his sights on the higher-priced imported beers that were slowly gaining customers and market share. To compete with the likes of Heineken, Bass, and Corona, however, Koch knew he needed name recognition. So he stole a page from the corporate giants and devised a brilliant advertising plan—one that would soon place him in the pantheon of all-time marketing geniuses.

He called his beer Samuel Adams—not that Koch, an Ohioan, had any special connection to the founding father. He picked the name from a list of nearly 800 possibilities, deciding to swaddle his brand in the nostalgia and history of Boston by capitalizing on the name of a revolutionary who fought for American independence. (He settled on Sam Adams only when he was cornered by Boston magazine for a 1985 interview—he nearly called it New World Boston Lager.) Tying his beer to a historical figure created an immediate sense of heritage, giving the brand instant authenticity and gravitas. Koch also claimed that Adams was a brewer, adding extra sizzle to his company’s already compelling story. The phrase “Brewer. Patriot.” was stamped on some of his earliest labels.

Historically, that wasn’t exactly true. Adams was actually a maltster, not a brewer—a fact embraced by biographers of Adams and beer geeks alike. Koch, however, maintains Adams may have done some brewing on the side. Likewise, Koch’s story of basing his flagship lager on his great-great-grandfather’s old recipe has also been challenged as exaggeration. A biochemist named Joe Owades, who engineered the first “light” beer and once worked for Anheuser-Busch, was hired as a consultant by Koch to fine-tune the recipe for Sam Adams’s Boston Lager.

And it turns out that may not even be a picture of Sam Adams on the logo, which bears far more resemblance to the famous 1768 John Singleton Copley portrait that hangs at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts—of Paul Revere.

In bars around the world, Boston and Boston Lager are inextricably linked. But Koch did not initially plan to brew any of his beer here in Adams’s hometown. When Koch started the company, Boston had been without a brewery for 20 years. To make the economics work, he planned to produce his beer at existing breweries in cities such as Pittsburgh and Portland, Oregon, a strategy known as contract brewing. It wasn’t until 1997 that Koch bought his own facility—in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Boston Beer Company continues to make much of its beer. “In no way have I ever thought of Sam Adams as a local product,” says Lanigan, of Lord Hobo. “It’s been contracted elsewhere for the majority of its history. I don’t even know where Jim Koch’s from. If you told me he was from Boston, I wouldn’t know.”

Since 1987, Koch has leased a brewery in Jamaica Plain—a small facility where he tests out new beers in limited quantity, which helps keep his brand’s “small batch” claim alive. Before Koch moved in, the brewery—owned by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation—had gone unoccupied since Haffenreffer beer abandoned it in 1964. Though the J.P. location makes only a small fraction of the company’s beer, it’s become a craft-beer Disneyland, featured in Sam Adams TV ads, full of burly brewers with thick beards and even thicker Boston accents. More than 250,000 tourists visit every year.

Koch’s bag of tricks—a mix of prescient brew craft, shrewd marketing, and corporate hustle—worked. He immersed himself in the beer community, attending festivals and allowing customers to dunk him in beer tanks. He was also one of the first so-called microbrewers to advertise in magazines, on the radio, and, of course, on TV, where Koch—in his trademark blue denim button-down shirt—emerged as the ambassador and face of craft beer. Like many profitable companies before his—Häagen-Dazs, made in the Bronx but marketed to consumers as an upscale Scandinavian treat, comes to mind—Koch slyly turned a niche into an empire, while expertly casting himself as an eternal underdog. Even Lanigan, who won’t stock Boston Lager, is in awe of it. “I think he’s a genius marketer,” he says. “I think he is smarter at marketing and developing a brand and recognizing what the consumer and average American wants to drink. He’s the best at it there ever has been.”

Koch released his flagship beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, in April 1985 in two dozen bars and restaurants. (The company, Boston reported the previous month, was “now headquartered in his briefcase.”) He intended to start small, hoping to produce 5,000 barrels in five years. Within three years, however, Koch was making 36,000 barrels of beer, available from Massachusetts to California. Even then, he couldn’t have imagined how quickly Sam Adams would scale: In 2014, the company brewed some 2 million barrels of beer, employed 1,200 workers, and distributed beer to all 50 states and to more than 20 foreign countries. Once a small-batch brewery, Boston Beer Company is now the fifth-largest brewery in the nation. With his company valued at more than $3 billion and Koch himself worth more than $1 billion, the sixth generation of Koch brewers is firmly established.

So why does Koch get so upset when upscale bars such as Row 34 don’t serve his beer? It might be because he’s worried that those establishments could be the canary in the craft-beer coal mine. The tastes of today’s drinkers and brewers are changing—and, unexpectedly, Boston Beer Company has been forced to play catch-up in the industry it helped to create.

 

It’s 10:05 on a weekday morning, and Koch and I are drinking beer in Koch’s tasting room at the J.P. brewery, where we can hear laughter and shouts coming through the wall from the early-morning tour group. I skipped breakfast, a serious mistake when you’re trying to keep up with a guy who’s been downing weekday pints for a living over the past three decades. Koch bounds up from the table to pour himself a pull from two of the company’s newest beers, Rebel IPA and its big brother, Rebel Rouser Double IPA. He gently slides the two glasses of hoppy ale over to me and begins his process: First, he reaches for the Rebel IPA, leans in, and takes a long, considered draw of the aroma. Next, he takes a solid tug from the glass, chews thoroughly, and then kicks his head back to finish the beer. His eyes remain closed the whole time.

Until recently, the idea of Koch downing a hop-heavy Sam Adams IPA would have been unthinkable. For more than a generation, Koch steered clear of craft-beer trends—particularly West Coast IPA, a widely popular style defined by the use of pungently fragrant and bitter American hops. Its flavors and aromas range from grapefruit, orange, and passion fruit to notes so dank and earthy that, if blindfolded, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into a Denver head shop. That is to say, they’re nothing like the IPAs that the Boston Beer Company has made—like Latitude 48 IPA and Whitewater IPA, which follow a decidedly European model, with little interest in or emphasis on the aggressive West Coast flavors that now dominate the market.

The American beer palate is experiencing a tectonic shift. Once opposed to bitterness, domestic drinkers now embrace it. Big, bold, and brash IPAs are what consumers want, but Koch has been loath to make them. That could be a problem for Sam Adams’s business model, since hop-heavy IPAs, the most popular style of craft beer, account for a quarter of all craft-beer sales—and those sales are expected to grow by 40 percent this year.

“I don’t want to make something if everyone else is doing it,” Koch says. It’s not just business: He personally doesn’t enjoy many of the flavors in IPAs that today’s consumers celebrate, dismissing them as “catty” in nature. “I am probably outside the mainstream on that. We don’t release a beer unless I like it.”

When Koch talks about IPAs, including his own Rebel and the new Rebel Rouser, his energy level visibly flags. For a man possessed of such demonstrable passion for beer, it’s telling that he appears to view these beers as necessary evils. They are, in essence, a Hail Mary attempt to bounce back into the craft scene, where drinkers’ interest in his flagship Boston Lager is waning.

Today’s craft-beer industry is highly balkanized and new breweries are much smaller, eclectic, and artisanal, with brands such as Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout, Duck-Duck-Gooze, and Blind Pig IPA. In addition to hops, today’s beer nerds crave pedigree and a good story. They want to know what farmer grew which type of hop on what farm, and whether the brewery can be trusted. “Authenticity is extremely important to millennials, more so than any other generation that we’ve seen before,” says Michelle Snodgrass of Vizeum, a strategic marketing agency that works with global brands such as Anheuser-Busch. “Millennials can see right through insincerity, and they’re actually looking for it.”

Which makes it harder for a big, corporate brand—even one, like Koch’s, with indie roots—to capture the kind of grassroots buzz that’s driving today’s beer industry. “Right now, it’s about what is shiny and new,” says Jamie Walsh, bar manager of Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale, a brewpub near Boston Common. Dann Paquette, a veteran brewer and cofounder of Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, agrees, telling me there’s now an “annoying young hipster attitude toward beer. It’s the same sort of attitude that you find in music. ‘Oh, that brewery was so last year.’ People want to try new stuff all the time, [and] there are two sides to the coin on that for Boston Beer. They’re so big nationally, but I’m sure they’d love to be back on the scene in these beer bars.”

In other words, Sam Adams has a coolness problem. And the company knows it.

Change, however, comes slow at the Boston Beer Company. It’s publicly traded but Koch owns all of the voting shares, and the company follows his interests. “If I didn’t have all of the voting stock,” Koch jokes, “I’d probably have been fired a few times.”

That corporate leverage has allowed Koch to retain control of the company despite rocky sales of his flagship Boston Lager. But the brand’s reluctance to move with the times means that Boston Lager “has a challenging future,” says Benj Steinman, president of Beer Marketer’s Insights, a trade publication covering the brewing industry. “It started to dip a couple years back, and it was impressive that they were able to reinvigorate it, but now in the more recent months, it’s back to decline in the scan data. There’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done for a brand that has been around for 30 years and tastes change.”

Koch’s attitude is clear: He doesn’t give a damn. “You can’t meet the needs of every hipster bar,” he tells me from inside the tasting room at his J.P. brewery.

 

The craft-beer community has long been a generous, if not convivial group, and over the years Koch has remained at the forefront of it. He’s mentored scores of promising young brewers and provided financing to entrepreneurs through his Brewing the American Dream loan fund. “There’s been a three-decades-long sense of friendly competition,” says Will Meyers, a former home brewer and longtime brewmaster at the Cambridge Brewing Company. “That’s one of the things that makes our industry different from others. We may go head-to-head over shelf space and distributors and draft lines, but at the end of the day, a lot of us still enjoy hanging out together and having a beer and sharing ideas as opposed to being secretive and combative.”

But all of that is changing. With so many new breweries—often run by men and women young enough to be Koch’s grandchildren—the marketplace is packed with more competitors than ever, and that sense of camaraderie is starting to fray. As the largest player in the craft-beer industry and one of the last ones into the IPA race, Boston Beer has been throwing some sharp elbows of late, and making enemies.

If Koch represents the corporate side of craft beer, Tony Magee is his foil. The founder of Lagunitas Brewing Company of California, one of America’s fastest-growing breweries, he views himself as a revolutionary—not unlike Sam Adams—fighting against corporate beer and, at times, the Boston Beer Company. Magee is openly marijuana-friendly, often discussing his daily use with reporters and his Twitter followers. When the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control received a tip that his employees were selling pot in the brewery’s taproom, they sent two undercover agents to try and buy some. As Magee later told a reporter, the officers had no luck because the employees kept trying to give away the marijuana for free.

Despite being the fifth-largest craft brewery in the country, Lagunitas has no public relations firm representing it. Instead, Magee does his own marketing, guerilla-style. An avid user of social media, Magee blasts entertaining, lyrical, and sometimes disjointed tweets to his more than 20,000 followers on topics ranging from writing music with singer James McMurtry to business ethics. Days before Christmas in 2013, however, Magee’s rants turned serious when he focused his attention squarely on Boston Beer and its recent release of Rebel IPA—the company’s most successful launch ever. “Sam Adams/Boston Beer is powerful, but what is it about power that so inevitably corrupts,” Magee tweeted, accusing Koch’s company of specifically targeting Lagunitas’s IPA in its marketing strategy. “Fuck them. We’re ready.”

Magee’s tweets sparked a wildfire in craft-beer circles. Ultimately, Koch responded on the popular BeerAdvocate website, writing, “We don’t target other craft brewers.” When asked about his lively competitor, Koch leans back in his chair, shakes his head, and takes a long sip of lager. He starts slowly, searching for the right words, which is not his usual style. Finally he says, “You know, to me, one of the fun things of being a craft brewer is that people are more colorful, and we don’t have to be corporate. I can be who I am. That’s Boston Beer. And Tony gets to do that, too.”

Magee goes one step further by accusing Boston Beer of engaging in the illegal practice of paying bars for draft lines. It is a charge that Koch flatly denies. While common in other food and beverage industries, so-called pay-to-play arrangements—where a brewer or distributor pays a bar owner money, gives them a secret discount, or installs equipment for them in return for serving their beer—is illegal in most states, including Massachusetts. In Boston, the issue recently became headline news when Pretty Things founder Dann Paquette tweeted accusations that the bar Bukowski’s, owned by the Wilcox Hospitality Group, which also owns Lower Depths, was asking for pay-to-play. Wilcox has denied Paquette’s allegations, responding that the bars don’t stock his kegs because they’re too expensive. The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, however, began investigating the allegations along with other cases of the long-overlooked practice. (There is no evidence that it is investigating the Boston Beer Company.)

Speaking about the issue of pay-to-play, Koch says, “It’s pretty straightforward. It’s against our company policies to break the law. We’ve done fine with a policy of sticking to the law, and we’ve been very successful. If you really needed pay-to-play, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

Be that as it may, the craft-beer world as Koch knew it—the one that brought him to billionaire status—is fading away. In its place is something that he finds far less rewarding. Since 2011, in response to slowing beer sales, Koch’s company has been selling other beverages on the sly, namely alcoholic cider and flavored malt beverages under the brand names Angry Orchard and Twisted Tea. These products have been so successful—Angry Orchard now controls more than 50 percent of the American cider market—and make up such a large portion of Boston Beer’s business that some joke it should be renamed the Boston Cider Company.

Back in his tasting room, Koch admits he has little love for his company’s new ventures, and is not a fan of cider or tea. He won’t drink it in bars or when meeting with customers, and refuses to appear in the ads or put the Boston Beer Company name on any of the cider or tea labels. In his heart, he’s a beer guy, and he seems dispirited, almost melancholic, that his beloved beer company is moving away from his core values and into new territory that does not interest him at all.

But that hasn’t sapped his passion for the company that made him a fortune and helped shape the modern beer market. Koch may be disheartened, but he’s far from done. He has no plans for retirement and has no intention to sell. His only plan, he says, is “to not die.” Whether Koch will be able to market his way back into the hearts and mouths of today’s craft-beer elite is up for grabs, but he’s clearly pissed off, and anything is possible.

  • AlbinoRaven

    A very good article overall, but your disdain for the very people you are writing for is disappointing:

    “annoying young hipster attitude toward beer. It’s the same sort of attitude that you find in music. ‘Oh, that brewery was so last year.’ People want to try new stuff all the time, [and] there are two sides to the coin on that for Boston Beer. They’re so big nationally, but I’m sure they’d love to be back on the scene in these beer bars.”

    It may be a quote from someone else but it perfectly summarizes your tone. I love craft beer, and I’m always looking at trying something new. Does this mean I won’t touch Sam Adams? No, absolutely not. I won’t touch their lager, but I don’t like their lager, it is not in my tastes. I love their other brews (except summer and winter), and look forward to their yearly release of White Ale (or Cold snap or whatever it’s called this year). I love their grumpy monk, boston brick red, oktoberfest, even rebel IPA. Not because they aren’t mass produced, let’s face it, those certainly are, but because of TASTE (shocker).

    When I see something new on the tap wall I love to try it. Does this mean I am a hipster who looks at my old favorites with disdain? “Ugh, I’ve had it more than 3 times, I MUST have something new” Hell no! Life is about variety, and the idea that when I go out I must always get the same thing is absurd. That is like saying because I don’t want to have a steak sandwich every time I go to my favorite pub, that I am disloyal to steak sandwich’s and HAVE to try something new in some hipster fashion. The only way to discover a new favorite is to try something new, I’ll always go back to my mainstays, but there are so many new interesting brews out there.

    The market is obviously changing, and the tastes are changing. If you don’t think lagers will survive, just look at Jack’s Abby, they are experimenting constantly with only Lagers and thriving. To think you can make the same thing for 30 years, and sell it to a new generation with obviously completely different tastes seems like a failing idea (“they prefer something hoppier? Screw them I won’t make it” seems like bad marketing in my opinion). This is especially true if you are so dependent on marketing gimmicks like this article is pointing out. I love Sam, and I will be ever loyal because even if they aren’t Boston, they’ve been adopted by us. Just stop selling something for taste and get mad at us if we don’t have the same tastes.

    • jb1907

      Budweiser has been selling the same crap for 100 years. Sam Adams will survive when many craft brewers fold up shop.

      • http://www.heavyseasbeer.com Hugh Sisson

        People lose sight of the fact that if Jim Koch doesn’t do what he did, most of us in the craft beer field are doing something else for a living. The man deserves a ton of credit. If you don’t like the product – that’s fine (there are plenty of people that do!) but as long as Jim is around he should be given the respect that he has earned.

        • jb1907

          Koch is one of the pioneers, but not THE pioneer. I think even if SA didn’t exist, at some point, the beer revolution would have occurred. Everyone wants to be a successful brewer and Koch is successful. I think part of the problem is that SA makes 60 beers and you can get it almost everywhere now. Most people have had it and have formed their opinions. With 3,000 breweries, people want to try as many new beers as possible. Nobody is crapping on Brooklyn or Stone, yet…..

          • twg23

            Thats because Stone is always trying new things…

          • jb1907

            and so does Sam Adams.

    • asten77

      Nothing about that quote is inaccurate. Maybe it doesn’t describe you or me, but it certainly describes a ton of people.

      • AlbinoRaven

        It describes some people, but the article generalizes that every millenial who enjoys craft beer, and trying new beer, is doing it because it is something shiny. The article keeps hammering home that these people are only buying the new stuff because it is new, not because they offer a wide gambit of different tastes and interesting concepts. It is essentially saying that if Jim came out with the same exact beer but with new labeling every millenial would run out and buy one. The article is stating that another possibility is if he called it 2.0 but didn’t change it we would all buy it and talk about how great it is.

        • Tom

          The article did touch on the values of younger people and that they are looking for more authenticity “In addition to hops, today’s beer nerds crave pedigree and a good story. They want to know what farmer grew which type of hop on what farm, and whether the brewery can be trusted. “Authenticity is extremely important to millennials, more so than any other generation that we’ve seen before,” says Michelle Snodgrass of Vizeum, a strategic marketing agency that works with global brands such as Anheuser-Busch. “Millennials can see right through insincerity, and they’re actually looking for it.”

          • AlbinoRaven

            Even that seems a little disingenuous to me. We want a good story and to know where our hops came from. Howabout something we like to drink? “I thought it sounded like a good idea” has made me try beer before… no fancy story, just a good brew.

            I feel like they are talking to one pissed off brewer that hates the tastes of the market, and a thousand marketing departments talking about how to sell us beer instead of what we like about beer.

        • asten77

          No, it’s saying the annoying hipster element does that. It doesn’t equate all millennials with annoying hipsters.

        • A_Schick

          I don’t the article makes that generalization. I think Koch does.

    • TheInfamous MrThorp

      the lager vs ale thing is usually about fermenter space and turn around. 2-3 weeks for an ale vs 4-6 + for a lager. most breweries do not want to tie up their often limited equipment space for that long. Jacks abbey has a “sister” brewery in denver called Denver Beer co. they make only ales for the above mentioned reason.

    • Christopher King

      I agree with you completely. Sam Adams will always hold a special place for me as it got me moving away from the Bud Lights of the world. Like you, I’m not a big lager fan so I don’t really drink Sam Adams much any more, but it is always the beer I start with when I try to introduce folks to craft beers. I also like to try new things, but have my favorites that I go back to year after year. There are certain seasonals I look forward and can’t wait to grab when I see them hit the shelf. We can try new and still have our favorites. Personally, I didn’t like Rebel IPA when I tried it, but I have other Sam beers that I do enjoy. Boston Beer does need to move and adapt or it will all just pass them buy.

    • twg23

      This whole article stinks of a half paid spin article for Sam.

  • RyanAntiHero

    I would rather drink Red Dog than Sam Adams anything.
    Do they even still make Red Dog?
    I would drink an old, skunked Red Dog that’s been sitting around for years over Sam Adams. So gross.

    • Tom

      They do! It’s still awful

  • MTYINDACHI

    his little bitch attitude will keep me from buying another sam adams beer. but let’s face it, the only time i choose sam adams is when i’m stuck at an airport with no other real choices. IPAs are great, but most people like them in addition to other styles so he’s way off in his assessment.

    • Tom

      I do understand his viewpoint that IPA’s can be overrated, as alot of breweries just dump hops into their IPA’s with no balance and slap a silly name on them. But I never met a person who only liked IPA’s, most IPA drinkers will drink lagers and beers with more emphasis on yeast/barley if they are made well.

      • A_Schick

        I am a huge hop head. I routinely order beers at bars that hover around 100+ IBUs. And my fridge is filled ONLY with porters, stouts, and red and brown ales. Koch’s views on the tastes of modern beer drinkers are very limited/outdated.

  • K1ngB00

    Bert Grant was the father of the current craft beer movement, not Koch. Bert also made MUCH better beer. It was sad what happened to Grant’s Brewing, but it doesn’t negate the fact that Bert had the first brewpub in the US post prohibition. Boston Brewing has helped push the craft beer movement, but they didn’t start it.

    • Brian

      Actually Jack McAuliffe is the father of modern craft brewing. He was brewing in the 70s.

      • AlbinoRaven

        Met him once, amazing guy, makes a great whiskey too.

  • Tom

    Most craft brewers revel in seeing rival breweries pop up and compete with them. Many even cooperate/collaborate with each other, seeing it as more of a chance to improve themselves than a threat to profit. Apparently Jim can’t see that. Sorry Jim, you’re now part of the establishment.

  • PABeerHound

    “There’s no disputing that America is experiencing a craft-beer revolution—and that Koch’s Boston Beer Company birthed it.” I do take issue with the author’s complete acceptance of the story that craft brewing in America was somehow Jim Koch’s innovation. The first wave of it did start around the early to mid 80’s, and he was definitely a part of it, but there’s plenty of room to dispute that it was solely driven or created, “birthed” as the author claims, by The Boston Beer Company.

    There were craft breweries in America, albeit in small numbers, for most of 20th century. Charlie Papazian first published the Complete Joy of Homebrewing in 1978. Home brewing has no small part in the American craft beer revolution. One could argue that, more than any other factor, the popularity of home brewing drove both the production and consumption side of craft beers. A number of breweries popped up on both sides of the country in the mid-80s. It was in the zeitgeist. Koch’s innovation, as the article properly notes, was his ability, ironically, to mass produce and bring his product to market.

    • Dean Swiatek

      Isn’t Sierra Nevada older than Samuel Adams? Yet they have managed to introduce far more excitement in the microbrew world in the past 15 years while their older brews have held up much better as well…

      Koch got to the top of the microbrew world once, but he seems to have an attitude like Miller or someone that he doesn’t have to work to maintain it.

      • http://twitter.com/Chad9976 Chad9976

        Anchor is older than Sam Adams. I think SN is a little younger than BBC.

        • PABeerHound

          SN was founded in 1980, before BBC.

        • KeithE4Phx

          Anchor was founded in 1896, briefly closed in 1959, and almost went under again in 1965, when Fritz Maytag bought it.

          IIRC, New Albion was considered the first microbrewery, at least the first one to open after they were authorized in the late ’70s.

        • Dean Swiatek

          BBC was founded in 1984, but SN was around since 1979. However, I think BBC may have seen widespread distribution first, but it was about the same time.
          Good point about Anchor too, but I’m not sure they got widespread distribution until much later so I didn’t think of them.

      • A_Schick

        “Isn’t Sierra Nevada older than Samuel Adams? Yet they have managed to introduce far more excitement in the microbrew world in the past 15 years while their older brews have held up much better as well…”

        Along with the fact that, you know, Sierra Nevada is actually still a really good beer. I know I can walk into any store and count on that beer if I need something good. I can’t tell you the last time I actually ordered or bought a BBC product. Obviously the quality is better, but I put them up there with the likes of Heineken and Stella. Why would anyone with decent taste order them when they’re usually more expensive than other better beers.

        • twg23

          Couldn’t agree more!

        • Dean Swiatek

          Yeah I’ll agree with you that Sierra Nevada does some really good beers too! Plus they do just about every style of beer, and they do them very consistently well, plus I can even find them at the small-town gas station in the woods in Vermont. They tend to refrain from being overly bold with their main lineup as well (much like BBC) but they do that very well.

          But here’s why you don’t see me buying BBC beers too often. I pay $8 for a 6 pack at the cheapest stores, but I get 6 packs of Victory, Southern Tier and Lagunitas for $9 each at a local store, and Sierra Nevada is a little cheaper too. Can BBC really compete? If I could get a 6 pack of Samuel Adams Boston Lager or Black Lager for say $7 for a 6 pack, then I’d be much more inclined to buy it, especially when I want a lower alcohol beer for cookouts. I think it’s still a bit better than Heineken and Stella though…

    • Don DeVaigi

      Many would go further and justifiably argue that the “birthing” of craft beer began with Fritz Maytag and the founding of Anchor Brewing Company (of “steam beer” fame) in 1965. It may have been a couple of decades before BBC, Sierra Nevada, Rogue, and the like kicked the revolution into high gear, but it is certainly not “indisputable” that Jim Koch was the midwife of the entire movement.

    • Louis E.

      H.E. Bravery’s “Home Brewing Without Failures” dates to 1965.There have been niche beers as long as there have been beers.

  • sharkman0485

    Bring back the original “white ale” and i will drink sam adams again.

    • AlbinoRaven

      A million times yes, their love/hate relationship with this amazing brew turned me off of them years ago. Cold snap gets the job done, but god we had a great beer for a couple months of the year (I used to buy cases when it was going out).

    • Major Havoc

      Yeah, that stuff was delicious.

  • Quazi

    My favorite “beer” is Old Fezziwig Ale. SA also brews some great IPAs and other specialty beers. I am not so hot on Boston Lager. It is OK, and quite drinkable, but there is so many better beers out there. It is the best beer in the common bar or restaurant (like Outback.)

    At all events, the childishness of Koch is not flattering. He should know better, and work on being number 1, rather than trashing people that can help him maintain his brand.

    • Dean Swiatek

      I completely agree with you about Koch’s childishness here. He would rather openly trash Heady Topper in the past rather than acknowledging how they have been so successful and learning from it himself.

      Rebel IPA was an acknowledgement that he knows exactly how Sam Adams has fallen behind the scene, but in my honest opinion, it was a rather weak attempt. Not only can it not hold a candle to most IPAs I’ve had, but I daresay it’s only passable as a beer. A better attempt would have served them well.

      Not only IPAs either, but an improved stout or porter might also serve them well, and maybe a pale ale too.

      • Quazi

        Dean, I agree. Rebel IPA was OK. I liked it, but it was not all star. Old Fezziwig, on the other hand is a great ale. I only wish it came in its own 6 pack or case. The only way I was able to get it was to get a mixed case @ Costco.

        Oh, I though the Fat Jack pumpkin ale was very good, as well. They can do it right when they want to.

  • JD

    I’ve been enjoying IPAs for almost ten years now and it’s obvious Jim is not into IPAs; BBC’s IPAs are horrible. I don’t understand Koch’s issues, the brewing industry was never going to stay the same and if he wants to stay status quo – nothing wrong with that.

  • Alan

    It’s hard to argue with success. Boston beer actually has been very innovative and creative over the years with offerings like Utopias and the disgusting tasting triple bock. The majority of their beers are just so boring though much like another successful brewery New Belgium-I mean who actually drinks Fat Tire? They do serve a purpose and help expose the mainstream Bud-Miller-Coors drinkers to something that actually has flavor. The elitist beer geeks may look down on them but they do have a use because without them the Russian River’s-Dogfish-Avery guys would have to be the ones making the slightly flavorful beers for the newbies to taste.

  • Aaron S. Zaslow

    The vast majority of Sam Adams lineup is very soild. Its good beers that I love to find at bars that usually have a pretty foul selection. But “hipster” bars really need to push the envelope to appease their customers.

    If Sam adams wants in on that section they need to come up with more specialty kegs and 4-packs (or release some of their bomber beers in those mediums, of which they have a large catalog of contenders). It Would give them a entrance to the bars and new beer culture that they are desperately trying to re-enter.

    After all, most SEE the boston beer bombers, but few spring on them due to their price. In a 4 pack, they are suddenly fare more tempting.

    I’ve enjoyed their 4 packs before (imperial white and stout where very nice) and Id like to try their bomber seasonal s in that format in the future.

    • AlbinoRaven

      Bombers also have to be consumed all at once instead of some at a time (usually with a higher abv, so you are in for the night if you are smart).

    • MTYINDACHI

      the article seems to imply that the only beer koch seems to like is the boston lager. as much as he is annoyed by having his beer excluded from the “hipster” bars, i am annoyed by only seeing his beer in a lot of commercial spaces. a lot of airport bars advertise craft beer and only have the boston lager or rebel ipa on tap. that is hardly craft beer IMHO.

      • Aaron S. Zaslow

        On one hand, I’ve taken a lot of joy in at least finding something to enjoy when friends just want to go to applebees (in that case it was winter lager), but in others I do find it annoying that many establishments just pick up a keg or two of Sam Adams as declare that their craft beer quota is filled.

        Its lazy and uninspired, and I agree with you on that point.

        • MTYINDACHI

          yes, especially at airports. same goes for goose island.

  • three_toe

    Just a personal opinion, but I feel Jim had a right to feel slighted but no right to cause a scene or make people cry (though I have difficulty believing that detail of the story). This isn’t true of all beer lovers, but the craft beer boom had brought about a lot of beer snobs. These are closed minded people who select their preference based in obscurity and a lack of manufacturing volume rather than the actual beers’ characteristics. You can be sure restaurant and bar managers are going to tap into this notion by excluding more well-known offerings and certainly they have every right to serve what they want. However, the manager quoted in the article comes off as the prototypical beer snob when he claims he doesn’t sell it because it’s of a lower class. That isn’t it, he’s avoiding it because of the name, because he wants to convey a particular air of beer superiority. Some of sam Adams beer is not worth serving, but some is so when you ignore them all, that says to me you are simply ignoring the brand.

    So yes,I think Jim has a right to be upset with this pig headed elitism in the beer community, but he needs to realize that it’s also human nature. The same childish approach can be found in music, clothing, and anything relatively popular that we humans use to identify ourselves. The healthiest thing to do is learn that and solve this problem. He’s rich as can be, start a new company, or fund one that makes small batch craft beers in the same vein as these other breweries that Lord hobo carries, and you’ll be back on the menus. I’d even be willing to bet that if you pour Boston lager into snob-friendly packaging, you could make a lot of people in this article look pretty stupid.

    • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

      Boston Lager in any packaging would still taste like Boston Lager. There’s nothing wrong with it, but amber lagers taste like amber lagers, and there’s not much interest in ambers of any kind in the small batch craft beer market. The heavier malt in ambers covers up other flavors – simple as that.

      • http://twitter.com/Chad9976 Chad9976

        you’ve obviously never had Jack’s Abby. They’re making lagers awesome again.

        • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

          Hi Chad – I’ve had several of Jack’s Abby beers. Hoponius union in particular. It’s good, but not great in my opinion. The colder fermenting temps of Lagers tends to pull less flavor from dryhopping. Just my personal preference.

      • three_toe

        Ok, you are correct, but I think you missed my point. I’m saying I think the managers of some of the beer bars are judging a beer by its label rather than what’s inside the bottle. Pour a Boston lager into another bottle with a label like “Angelic Head vienna style lager” from some obscure brewery in Colorado, and yes of course it will still taste like Boston lager, but maybe it gets on the menu and Jim doesn’t throw a tantrum.

        • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

          I get what you’re saying, and you’re right – but It’s in the managers best interest to put beers on tap that their customers want to drink, and that the tap room can charge more for ($6+/pour), so I understand their decision to avoid a ubiquitous beer like Boston Lager. I have no doubt that if you rebranded Boston Lager with a fancy name from a small brewery there would be plenty of ‘beer snobs’ waxing poetic about it’s color and flavor – just like they do now with a lot of the mediocre to bad beer that comes from many small breweries. I’m not a fan of that type either – but at the same time, everyone has different taste buds, so just because I think a beer tastes foul doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good to someone else (I’m looking at you, Brettanomyces). At the end of the day, more choice is a good thing. I’ve discovered a lot of really amazing beers by trying new things.

    • velvet1965

      here’s what i read: “i have bad taste in beer, so everyone else is a snob”.

      • three_toe

        Hahaha well then you need to learn how to read.

    • Winston Wood

      Koch can be mad at the “pig headed elitism in the beer community”, but that’s not why his beer is no longer cool. Sierra Nevada still is cool because they continue to do cool things with their beer and Sam Adams would still be cool if they followed suit.

      • three_toe

        It’s fair to say his beer is no longer cool, but I wonder if it’s a location thing more than a lack of innovations. Sam Adams does come out with new stuff and does cool things like home brewer contests. Sierra Nevada isn’t local and doesn’t run cheesy ads around here, nor are they constantly pushing the Bostonian image like sam Adams is. Perhaps if Lord hobo was in a city outside of New England, they would carry it. Beer drinkers around here can get saturated by it and its marketing though, so maybe that’s why it isn’t cool.

        • Winston Wood

          That certainly may be the perception of craft beer drinkers in the Boston area and contributing to Sam’s uncoolness there. Not being from there I am not inundated with Sam’s marketing, only the occasional TV spot. So Sam’s uncoolness for me is for the reasons I mentioned.

  • Michael Romano

    “[Koch], the undisputed king of the craft-beer industry.” Therein lies the problem. Craft-brewing was and still is a movement, not any one single person. Like Sam Adams himself, American craft-beer lovers are very much anti-king. We don’t want beers brewed by establishment billionaires.

    • Jonathan

      Agreed. It’s not the cool thing to do to like big wig beer companies like SA has become. Even if half of their 60 + beers are better than what some of these small breweries put out. Sierra Nevada be warned!

    • jb1907

      The reason he is a billionaire is more that BBC is a public company. He sells a bunch of beer, but so effing what if he is a billionaire. New Belgium, Stone and Sierra want to be right there with him.

      • Rob Torres

        Stone won’t sell their souls for a publicly traded company. Not in Greg Koch’s (I still think they’re related) lifetime.

        • jb1907

          They are not related.

          • jb1907

            and New Belgium is 100% employee owned. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to make more money per employee.

  • Cesar Torres

    Funny how he didn’t mention his company suing Fezziwig Brewing in San Diego & forcing them to change their name. He’s lost touch with the true nature of craft beer, if he ever had it. Brilliant marketer & business man, but I don’t think he embodies the craft beer culture.

    • KeithE4Phx

      When a brewery makes and sells over 2 million barrels a year, and the owner is now a billionaire, it’s no longer a “craft” brewery. It’s a mid-sized, mainstream, mass-production brewery.

      Granted, the quality of their beer is orders of magnitude better than the swill pushed by Bud/Miller/Coors, but Sam Adams is still mass-produced and mass-marketed just like the big swill-meisters.

      Koch needs to get with the program and adapt his beers for the marketplace — not just for himself — or the Boston Beer Company will go the way of Falstaff and G. Heilman in another 10 years.

      • jb1907

        Wrong. 2M barrels is still 4M barrels under the Craft beer criteria. SA is still only 1% of the beer market.

        • KeithE4Phx

          4 million barrels a year is “craft?” Bologna!

          Somebody may have bamboozled state and/or federal regulators into letting that happen legally, but by that definition, every brewer in the country not named Anheuser-Busch, Miller, or Coors is a craft brewer.

          • jb1907

            It was a tax issue a few years ago.

            Top 50 Breweries by Volume
            1. Anheuser-Busch Inc. – St. Louis, MO
            2. MillerCoors – Chicago, IL 0
            3. Pabst Brewing – Los Angeles, CA
            4. D. G. Yuengling and Son – Pottsville, PA
            5. Boston Beer, Co – Boston, MA
            6. North American Breweries – Rochester, NY
            7. Sierra Nevada Brewing – Chico, CA
            8. New Belgium Brewing – Fort, Collins, CO
            9. Craft Brew Alliance – Portland, OR
            10. Gambrinus – San Antonio, TX

  • Rob Torres

    Lagers won’t get Koch back in the fold so it’s time to re-tool and hop up his game.

    • 0gham

      Not true. Even for a lager, Sam Adams is mediocre. To get back in the game, he can simply brew a world-class lager, and appreciative beer drinkers will follow. There are now many great examples of quality American lagers now, all of which are head and shoulders above Sam Adams.

      • Rob Torres

        I believe my comments were stating that no lager is going to help BBC’s future. Even relaunching an improved lager won’t help. They need to push their “small batch” series to the beer bars and just sell the lager to whatever distribution accounts are still moving it. Clinging to that ship will be Koch’s demise.

  • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

    SA clearly doesn’t care about the ‘cutting edge’ of the craft beer industry. Jim has said so himself. That’s fine, but don’t get upset when you visit a taproom that targets people who do enjoy the cutting edge of beer. If Jim did care there’d be some focus on good IPAs, Hoppy Pales, Farmhouse ales and Saisons, Sours, Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts and so on. As it is, there are a few breweries that do an incredible job with the above styles, and most don’t. At any rate, they’re all smaller market specialty beers – not mass market like SA targets. Oh, and if Jim wants to mimic some actually good hoppy beers, he need look no further than his own town. Trillium knows how to make delicious hoppy beer.

    • Dave

      Kinda odd that people can talk about the “cutting edge” of a drink that has been brewed for centuries. I’m of a mind that true artistry comes from limitations. The amount of variety that can be brought out from simply variations in barley, hops, and yeast are amazing, and having access to tons of different things to put in beer isn’t always a good thing. I can’t think of many beers, if any, from the more extreme makers that I like.

      The thing is, there are some breweries that are brewing stuff almost to make a point, and a population of beer lover that will buy it simply because it has made that point.

      I will admit however I wish be would go for more interesting styles of beers.

      • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

        True, but there’s always innovation. The inventor of the wheel would be amazed at what we’ve done with it in 2015. The ‘cutting edge’ I’m referring to is mostly in the hops, grain, yeast department. For example, adding hops later in the boil, or at flame out makes hoppy beer less bitter and more flavorful – or using non-standard yeast, or using multiple yeast strains, or brewing with more than one grain (wheat and barley, or oats, etc..) . Add in the things you can do with dry hopping, barrel aging, not to mention the additions of fruit, you can create some really interesting and tasty stuff.

        • Dave

          I do like Innovation. I also LOVE a GOOD fruit beer. But it seems more and more that things like subtlety and nuance are being steamrolled in favor of some contest to make the darkest stout, or the hoppiest IPA.

          • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

            Oh, I completely agree. My favorite beers are hoppy citra pales – Trillium Fort Point is just about perfect, as are Hill Farmstead Edward or Citra, Zombie Dust, Psuedo Sue, etc.. Balance is everything. I don’t care for RIS (barrel aged or not) and other high ABV dark beers, and the push toward high ABV IPAs is just as bad. I’ve tried DFH 120 minute and I think it’s undrinkable. Lots of ‘craft beer lovers’ say it’s amazing, and to me it tastes like booze. Not what I’m looking for when I want to enjoy a delicious beer!

  • ronj1955

    Sounds like some of the craft brew drinkers are getting a little snobby. Just like certain wine snobs. SA is as good if not better than a lot of the stuff that comes from small batch brewers. On the other hand, it’s a sign of success that SA is to be found in so many mainstream places. Here in Vermont, Long Trail is like that. When I lived in western NC, Highland Gaelic was becoming the SA of the area. I still like my Sam Adams. It’s still a good decision.

    • eddysamson

      HAH funny. I’m also from Vermont and saw someone mention how much better they liked Long Trail then SA and all I could think was…dude they’re like the same company. LT just much smaller, but they’re growing up to be something EXACTLY like SA.

      • Mike

        Another Vermonter here too. Have you guys noticed that LT did the same thing SA did, right around the same time? Both breweries produced an IPA that was a departure from their typical style, and packaged it in a way that was different than their usual packaging. SA came out with the Rebel, LT with the Limbo. Is it a sign of the times that these brewers are trying to minimize their ‘brand’ on certain products?

        • eddysamson

          Wow I never realized how close the timelines were for those 2 beers. I did notice a similarity between the packaging of the two, for sure.

  • Jonathan

    Someone get this guy one of the other 62+ beers SA brews. Half of them are a lot better than most of what these small breweries are cranking out. And this is coming from an avid craft beer drinker…

    • Richard Hartley

      62+ beers? Maybe that’s one of Koch’s problems.

      • Jonathan

        maybe…if they were subpar beers. I’ll agree boston lager is not anything special but I won’t agree all of SA’s beers are crap. Far from it.

      • AlbinoRaven

        One of his problems is definently that he needs to focus on a few year round. Kind of like how Allagash and Clown Shoes (my two favorite breweries) has a line that is always produced, you can get your favorite anytime. I love their white ale (cold snap is passable), but I could only get it for a few months back when they had it. Some of their experimental (grumpy monk, etc.) are near impossible to find but I love them too. I can get boston lager anytime, but I don’t like that one.

    • Brandon Myers

      62 but nearly all of them have a they all have a distinct “house” flavor many beer drinkers just don’t enjoy. Carmelly, underattenuated, domestic malt with low levels of continental hops. Odd metallic twang from heavy-handed water treatments. It’s the same formula with just slight variations. Even the various spiced beers for winter all have the same basic combo of spices.

  • Richard Hartley

    Innovation gave SA success, complacency is taking it away. If Koch was such a beer guy at heart he would have continued to innovate. Look at Sierra Nevada as a great example. Launching the craft beer movement entitles you to respect, not success.

    • Winston Wood

      Agreed, although I don’t think Sam Adams has been complacent. Rather I see them as being stubborn and risk averse. Unlike the example of say, Summit Brewing in St. Paul, MN, which puts out maybe 1-2 new beers per year, BBC has consistently pushed out new beers. The problem is that most of them have been safe, unimaginative attempts to appeal to the masses. And they don’t get the good ones into the tap lines of craft beer bars. A good example of where BBC falls short is what they bring to beer festivals. Firstly, they always bring Boston Lager. Why? Everybody knows what that tastes like. Why even bother to bring it? At the 2014 Autumn Brew Review in Minneapolis they brought: Boston Lager, Octoberfest, Fat Jack Double Pumpkin, Rebel IPA, and Tetravis Belgian Quad. I realize that the season was appropriate for Octoberfest, but it’s quite frankly uninteresting. Fat Jack, and Tetravis? Good choices. Boston Lager? Bad choice. Rebel IPA? not a very good choice. That beer has been out since summer 2013 so it was already on shelves for over a year when that fest happened. Plus it’s not very good. Bring utopias or the most recent Long Shot. Something to show beer geeks you are still relevant. To the Great Taste in the Midwest they brought: Boston Lager (no!), 3 Angry Orchard Ciders (I can’t really argue with this as lots of folks can use a break from beer at a 5 hour beer fest), Rebel IPA (meh), Blueberry Hill Lager (no), Lattitude 48 Deconstructed – Simcoe (ok), Honey Queen Mead (at least this is different), Octoberfest (no-too early in the season to bring this) and Thirteenth Hour Stout (good choice). Overall this list is woefully inadequate if you are trying to impress 6,000 of the Nations’ geekiest beer geeks.

      • jb1907

        Summit doesn’t want to grow much outside of Minnesota, so they can do more experimental beers.

        • Winston Wood

          Except my point was that Summit rarely puts out new, experimental beers. 1-2 new beers per year is a small number compared to many other brewers, including Samuel Adams. And it’s probably closer to 3-4 new beers as they seem to so 3 unchained beers per year plus 1 other new brew with wider distribution. However, the unchained beers are one-and-done, never to be brewed again, so really then it gets back down to 1-2 ongoing new beers per year. If Summit intends to stick close to local markets they will soon be filing for bankruptcy.

          • jb1907

            When we took the tour of Summit back in August, they said about 60% of their sales are in Minnesota and don’t intend on becoming a “New Belgium”. Plenty of breweries want to stay local. It costs big bucks to ramp up production to be in multiple states.

          • Winston Wood

            That’s all true. However, there are so many better beers being made in Minnesota that they will need to expand to other States if they have any hope for growth.

          • jb1907

            Not every brewery wants “growth”, just a solid market share.

          • Winston Wood

            I agree with that. But quite academically if 60% of your sales are from a market in which you are seeing rampantly increasing competition, not only will you not have growth but rapidly declining sales. Therefore, just to maintain their sales Summit will have to expand to other markets….which was my point.

          • jb1907

            3 Floyds and Russian River have zero intentions of major growth and they are just fine keeping the volume at a level where people still have a mystic about getting the beers. Now, there are 3,100 other breweries that would love to have that kind of following. In fact, RR pulled out of Washington state so they could have Pliny the Elder more available to the locals. If Summit is happy with the production, why expand? Expansion costs money.

    • jb1907

      60 beers isn’t enough for you?

      • HoppedUp

        Not if they’re only actually getting one or two out the door at a time.

      • Richard Hartley

        What’s the old saying? Jack of all trades, master of none? Reminds me of mid-90s US mini-vans: short on substance, long on cup holders.

      • Mike

        Quantity does not equal quality. In fact, it oftentimes is the opposite.

  • Pete Jameson

    No mention of Sierra Nevada as the precursor to today’s IPA revolution? Koch is hard to like. Nothing against him, but his time has come and gone. I’m 56, been drinking “different” beers since 1979 — some of us sought out anything that wasn’t lager back then, and over time I’ve tried a lot of excellent American and European beers. It’s not just for the 20-somethings, amigo. I’m right there with them trying new IPAs, though I still tend toward the Belgians, imperial stouts, and scotch ales. ’tis a grand time to be a beer lover.

    • 0gham

      My thoughts exactly. When I think of brands that kicked off the “craft beer revolution,” I don’t think of Sam Adams. I think of Sierra Nevada and a few other breweries on the West Coast.

      The difference is that Sierra Nevada’s beers are still on par with the excellent new beers being brewed in the US. Sam Adams comes off as mediocre now. That may have cut it when MillerBudCoors was the only option, but it doesn’t anymore.

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/judehammerle Jude Hammerle

      … I think Fritz Maytag would appreciate your adding his Anchor Steam beer to the list of left coast precursors…

    • Robert

      Pete, I’m 55 and right there with you. Sierra Nevada, Anchor & Pete’s Wicked were the beers we went for when I was younger because they were finally something that didn’t taste like…well, Bud and Coors. I took a vacation to New England for the first time several years ago and ended up hitting about 7 breweries along the way. Sam Adams was the weak link of all 7. Corporate, sterile and museum-like were the impressions I had when I left. Other breweries, like Wachussets (my favorite of the bunch I saw) & Long Trail were doing something different and fun. I applaud Mr. Koch for the things he did for the industry, but I agree with the consensus on the taste of Sam Adams and most of the offerings of that brewery. When he can match the offerings of the likes of Deschuttes, Great Divide, The Bruery, Cascade, Alpine, Wicked Weed, Great Lakes Brewing, Lost Abbey, Jester King….just to name a few, we’ll consider his concerns valid

      • jb1907

        Jester King and SA are like comparing a car and a tractor.

        • Robert

          Jester makes some decent beer. I wish Texas would change their beer laws a bit so you didn’t have to wait until Saturday when they do the “tour” so you could actually taste the local beers.

          • jb1907

            I don’t know that is a “law” per se, but many only do Saturdays because they are working during the week. St. Arnold opens at 11am for lunch and you can drink beer at lunch. 8th Wonder is about to open a tap room, but won’t be open until like 4pm.

  • Alli Feingold

    His business absolutely 100% pays-to-play, as I buyer I’ve seen it first hand. Unfortunately bar owners get to make those decisions, so all I could do was watch. That company is no different than ab InBev. $500 in band “sponsorship” but you have to have 4 handles for a year! $1500 for menu space, as long as you have three handles for two years. He’s full of it.

  • http://www.toiletovhell.com/ Deputy Dipshit

    He should embrace all facets of his business, especially ones that are successful. The only constant is change, Koch. Get with the times! And get better ingredients. It’s easy to taste the difference.

  • 0gham

    I am appreciative of what Sam Adams has done for the craft beer movement, but have to acknowledge that their beers are mediocre. Granted, “mediocre” is better than the piss-poor domestics that were the only choice everywhere when they started out. Still, with so many excellent American beers to choose from today, “mediocre” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

    Also, the article seems to imply that Koch’s beers are good, but the wrong style for today’s American palate (i.e. not a super-hoppy IPA or American pale ale). This is not correct. Even for a lager, Samual Adams is mediocre, and there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of better American lagers to choose from that any good pub will carry.

    • steve849

      Please recommend a better lager along the style of Samuel Adams and I’ll try it. I DON’T like the fragrant/fruity/floral beers that the article says are in vogue. Just a plain, hoppy lager.

      • http://www.tehachapitrails.org Trent Theriault

        Lagunitas Czech Pilsner is a much better lager style beer.

        • Winston Wood

          Except that it’s a different style, being a Czech Pils vs. an Amber/Vienna Lager

        • pwlsax

          Many craft brewers do excellent lagers and pilsners. The problem is that younger people won’t be caught dead drinking them, so no one wants to sell them.

      • 0gham

        Many are made by locals that may or may not be available outside of Texas, but if pressed to find good ones that have a larger distribution area, I’d say give Ballast Point’s Fathom and Oskar Blue’s Yella Pils.

        If Karbach beers ever make it to your neck of the woods, I highly recommend them. They seem to specialize in lagers, and they are all fantastic.

        • jb1907

          Sympathy for the Lager is my go to Texas beer when I have the choice to get it.

      • Steve Breidenbach

        Victory Prima Pils.

      • MikeChuk21

        Brooklyn Lager. Which has been around about as long as Sam Adams, but took a lot longer to expand outside of the NYC area.

      • TakeIt Easshh

        Bruery Humulus. Jack’s Abbey Kiwi Rising.

      • Brandon Myers

        fragrant/fruity/floral = hoppy. That’s (mostly) hop aroma. Unless you want more of a spicy or herbal character in your lager, in which case something with saaz hops might be up your alley. Most Czech (sometimes called Bohemian) style Pilsners use saaz. Pilsner Urquell is an import that’s pretty ubiquitous….US brewed BoPils tend to be local offerings that aren’t widely distributed. But there are quite a few out there (depending on where you are)

    • Major Havoc

      I can’t stand the taste of super-hoppy beers like IPA. Quite often, by draught beer choices are Bud, Coors Light, Guinness Stout, [insert name of IPA here] and Sam Seasonal. You can bet that I prefer the latter.

      • jb1907

        Not every IPA is supper hoppy.

    • Winston Wood

      0gham I agree with most of your post, but Boston Lager simply is not typical of other lagers in it’s sub-style….Amber/Vienna Lager. In fact, it is so different from most other beer in this style that it’s almost inappropriate to categorize it as such and to compare it as such. But if you do compare it to other lagers, Boston Lager shines because it is far more fruity and flavorful and hoppy than 95% of other lagers. It drinks much more like a pale ale or a moderately hoppy IPA. So, although you are entitled to your opinion, please know that your opinion that Boston Lager is a mediocre lager is not widely shared, and that your opinion that there are hundreds if not thousands of better American Lagers is unlikely to be shared….by anyone.

    • pwlsax

      “Any good pub” will not carry more than one craft lager, if any. Hipsters are image-conscious as well as bitterness-conscious, and any smooth-drinking brew might as well be Bud to them. I’ve seen store coolers with 25 IPAs and 2 craft lagers. Hardly anybody, drinkers or storekeepers, wants them.

      • 0gham

        That is definitely not the case with my town (Austin), and we are absolutely lousy with hipsters.

      • Van Lingo Mungo

        What about the millions of craft beer fanatics who aren’t at all close to being hipsters and also prefer IPAs to lagers? How do they fit in here considering they’re not “image-conscious” or otherwise align with your sweeping generalizations?

  • http://twitter.com/Chad9976 Chad9976

    “Though
    this mecca for beer nerds carries two dozen beers on draft and another
    38 in bottles and cans, it doesn’t serve his beloved Sam Adams.”
    Well,
    why would they? You can get Sam Adams anywhere that sells BMC beers.
    That’s like going to another country and eating McDonald’s – what’s the
    point?
    “Koch
    rose from his seat and walked into the keg room,”
    So any schmuck can
    just go into any bar’s cooler and check their freshness dates? Or did he
    at least have permission to do this? WTF?

    • Rob Torres

      I wondered why the bar’s owner didn’t step up for his employee. Perhaps some credence to the pay to play? It would be more believable if Koch is paying and not being offered.

  • edvf1000r@aol.com Stewart

    Koch needs to get a grip on reality – not everyone likes the taste of his beers, popular tastes have changed and he needs to keep up and not cry about it.

    • jb1907

      Budweiser and Miller Lite don’t change.

      • edvf1000r@aol.com Stewart

        We’re not talking about bottom of the market swill that goes for $12 per 30 pack.

  • Michael Macli

    I can definitely understand what’s happening here; Koch needs to get back to business and compete. But I think this article, and especially millennials in general, are forgetting another way Koch helped the Craft Beer Industry only a few years ago, when there was a hop shortage. He sold hops at cost to smaller breweries.

    • Mike

      My question, why would I care about that when I’m standing at the bar deciding on what to order? I’m going to order based on what I want to drink, what is going to taste good to me. The owner of the brewery being a good citizen is going to have very little to do with my decision. It isn’t going to make my beer taste better.

  • sxip shirey

    “younger people… they are looking for more authenticity” They say this about EVERY GENERATION. They said this about my parents, they said it about generation X.

    • velvet1965

      exactly. i’m a Gen X beer lover and i still look for authenticity. and, you know, good flavor.

  • Rick Scully

    I am not a Koch apologist, and I am not a huge fan of most BBC’s line, but saying he is hard to like is tough to ignore. It was only 6 or so years ago that craft brewers were praising Koch for helping save their industry by selling 20,000 pounds of hops to 108 random microbreweries across the US … at cost. Not sure how many of our favorite breweries would have survived the hop crisis without Koch’s help. That all said, it is pretty silly of a company to only release beers that the CEO likes.

    • Scott

      Agreed. Sam Adams has been very good to other craft brewers in times of need, as you pointed out. Sam Adams is also very good towards homebrew clubs.

      For home purchase, I DO like the Latitude 48 IPA, and Rebel IPA. But if I go somewhere with a great craft beer and IPA selection, I get Monkey Fist for “local”, or whatever looks big on the menu.
      SA are the token craft beer in restaurants which don’t serve craft beer, and annoyingly such places only carry Boston Lager or Summer Ale (not a fan of the summer beer).

      He says as much himself, that his personal feelings are getting in the way, and if it weren’t for his voting shares he would probably be fired. That is…. a very honest self-evaluation.

      30 years is a long time, and by now one has to conclude that big IPAs are a real category — not a fad. SA is very big, I’d hope the wheels are turning and he’s considering how he could elevate publicity for his brewmasters, and he can stick to what he likes. Some of my favorite beers have been the SA “Leviathan” series, which I believe are made by their secondary brewmasters.

      • KevinD

        Scott, it was a good comment until you said Leviathan was a Sam Adams line of beer. You will need to drive across town to Harpoon if you want to drink from the Leviathan line of brews.
        Good luck my beer drinking friend.

        • Scott

          Thanks for pointing my error out. I’d meant to say “brewmaster series”. :-)

          But there’s another, unintended point here – I’m not buying either line with any regularity (tho I always consider them when shopping for beer.).

          • KevinD

            I do agree with you on that point. There are tons of great/better breweries right here in Massachusetts. But I don’t want to forget the guys that got us to love all this great beer. If it wasn’t for Sam, Harpoon, Pete’s, etc I don’t think we would be having this discussion over a Miller Light.

      • jb1907

        SA Oktoberfest is my goto Oktoberfest for an American brewery. Many breweries feel the need to brew one seasonally along with other beer types.

  • MTYINDACHI

    i’m pretty new to drinking craft beers. i’ve always had a sierra nevada or anchor every now and then, but in the past year i’ve really explored and have come to one conclusion. there is no room for brand/brewery or even style loyalty, there’s just soooooo many quality beers out there, why should i stick to just one? especially a not very good by comparison beer like SA boston lager. it’s not about being a snob, it’s about being a kid in a very big toy/candy store and that’s the best part about craft beer. f— anybody who demands loyalty, earn it with good beer a-hole.

    • Jonathan

      I’m NOT new to the craft beer industry and this actually has a lot of truth to it. I couldn’t tell you who brews my favorite stout, pale ale, hefe etc. because I like a lot of them. From a lot of breweries. Kid in a huge candy store is very accurate.

      • Dave

        True, but the problem is that a lot of these bars barely seem to put any thought into their beer menu these days. There is no theme, no balance, no anything. I can’t find a beer I like because there’s nothing but extreme beers on the menu, and then bud and bud light.

        • Winston Wood

          I suggest you then go to a different beer bar that has all that you mention.

          • Dave

            I do, but they become hard to find in New York City, unfortunately. Thankfully I live in NJ, where I can go to bars that carry nice brown ales. I mean, I LOVE CRAFT BEER. I just really am getting tired of the fact that I go to a bar and it’s just HOPS HOPS HOPS. or NONE MORE BLACK porters and stouts.

    • Roger Royce

      Well said. Nail on the head! Head on the hops!

    • bpendrak

      With all due respect, you are missing the point! He is not asking for loyalty. He is asking to be included in the mix of the culture the he helped to foster. Brand loyalty is DONE in the beer trade… pure and simple. It is for the reasons you, yourself espoused and I believe he knows that. However, how can you compete when you have been shut out?

  • Tom Semmens

    “…inadvertently
    insulting the establishment’s owner, who unbeknownst to Koch was sitting
    next to him…”

    As opposed to the bar owners deliberate insult? Simple courtesy and good manners should tell you to print off a few different menus and make sure every manufacturer at the table has their brew on it. Knowing who was turning up and pointedly leaving their brew off the menu is about as rude as it gets.

    While an interesting tale can be spun from the fallout, this looks to be pretty much a story of a deliberate snub from nouveau snobs that produced the desired outcome.

    • MTYINDACHI

      bar owner’s deliberate insult? gtfooh

  • awineguy

    Sam Adams, along with Sierra Nevada and Anchor are victims of their success, the current beer crowd often don’t seem to want beer that tastes like beer, they want IBUs in the 75+ range, alcohol over 10% and/or fruit flavoured dessert.

    Sierra Nevada is the perfect example of West Coast Pale Ale yet last year I was lambasted for selecting this “old, tired mainstream beer” for a restaurant list I was writing by the restaurant’s mid 20s hipster head bartender. So we arranged a blind tasting of “Pale Ales”, 12 examples submitted by myself, the management and the barstaff, and guess which one was the only one in the top three of all eight tasters scorecards, including the head bartender ……….Sierra Nevada

    • Dave

      Sounds like that head bartender needs some firing, if he’s that lacking in knowledge. Makes me wonder how anyone could become a bartender, let alone HEAD bartender with such a dearth of real world knowledge. You can’t make a beer menu based on beeradvocate ratings and reviews.

      • BrockSamson

        Sure you can. And if you are catering to the craft beer geek market, you should. That being said Sierra Nevada is my go-to after trying 500 or so other craft beers.

        • Winston Wood

          Which Sierra Nevada?

      • Jfalcon

        A 20-something year old kid shouldn’t be a head bartender, anyway. I’ve been in the game (more part time than anything else) for 15 years now, and am only getting to the point where I see the whole picture – and you sell your clientele what tastes good, not what the kids are drinking.

    • scelerat

      See, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale had an advantage in this situation that Boston Lager didn’t: it actually tastes good.

      • FLASH 101

        Boston lager is absolutely delicious!

        • EatmyCockLibtards

          lol. grow a palate hick

          • FLASH 101

            My palate is just fine douchenozzle.

      • awineguy

        Well you can’t argue with objective analysis like that.

    • Winston Wood

      Sierra Nevada is the most comparable brewer to Sam Adams, based on size and national distribution. However, that’s where the comparisons end. As a long time beer aficionado I have a lot of respect for what both brewers did for putting craft beer on the map and progressing its cause. However, Sierra Nevada has remained far more relevant, and continues to morph with the times, while Sam Adams has largely, and stubbornly, been far more stagnant. Sam Adams’ most interesting and exciting beer, the Utopias, is basically not attainable because so little of it is made and the price tag is so high. For years Sam Adams touted making many unique and flavorful beers and sold them as part of variety 12-packs. However, the vast majority of the beers in these 12 packs were bland and uninteresting. I talking about beers like the Black Lager, the Hazel Brown, the Old Fezziwig, the Cherry Wheat, Cranberry Lambic, etc. I used to drink Sam Adams on tap when it was the only decent craft beer on tap, and although it’s a much better brew than beer geeks give it credit for, it’s been far surpassed by much of what is out there and is well down the list of best options at any good craft beer bar. As such, they should reserve the Boston Lager for establishments that mostly serve macros, as the one craft beer alternative. The only other Sam Adams beers you’ll ever find on tap are their summer or winter ale, both of which are uninteresting. They have done some good things in recent years, from their Long Shot series that highlighted recipes from home brewers to the Imperial Pils to a couple of their specialty brews like the Tasman Red, Third Voyage and Merry Maker. THESE are the beers that Boston Beer should distribute to craft beer bars. This might make beer geeks less likely to notice that for every hit, they put out 4 or 5 duds. And their stubborn refusal to brew a West Coast IPA is silly and foolish. The Rebel IPA just isn’t very good. I’m glad it’s selling well, but with so many better options out there and the palates of beer drinkers ever developing, it will soon be surpassed too.

      • AlbinoRaven

        I LOVED the tasman, I want more of that. I would say rebel IPA is undervalued. Maybe it’s just me but it has a great balance between extra hops and not overloading you with it. Granted there are better IPA’s out there, but at most of your big name establishments that only have a handful of craft beers with the bigger names like SA, it is a good option (or the little liquor stores you stop at randomly in a pinch but you still want something hoppy, it is great).

        • untaken

          I had forgotten about the Tasman, and you’re absolutely right. I think that was the best SA beer I ever had.

      • Shap

        Jim Koch is a marketing genius. Ken Grossman is a beer-making genius. 2 different paths to success. Drink what you like!

    • MTYINDACHI

      that’s only true of hoppy beers but most that enjoy a lot of IBUs also enjoy a greater variety than just simple IPAs. barley wines or barrel aged stouts taste nothing like beers but they’re still FANTASTIC. even among IPAs there are many different flavors again, they may not taste like a traditional beer but who cares? they’re delicious.

      i personally don’t like wheat beers but guess what? palates change so i’ll have one every now and then just to see if i change my mind. i used to feel the same way about saison and farmouse ales and now boulevard tank 7 is one of my staples. why would you limit your experiences to get f—ed up? the more the merrier!!!

    • Redpenmaster

      As a lover of all things hop, Sierra Nevada is still a tasty favorite. Sure, there’s an unlimited supply of newly minted IPAs, hoppy lagers, hoppy pilsners, etc, but sometimes a 12-pack of Sierra Nevada is perfectly tasty.

  • TakeIt Easshh

    TL;DR
    Man makes same exact product for decades and throws a hissy fit that consumers’ preferences for a product class that holds subjective appeal have evolved in the meantime.

    • jb1907

      Budweiser is buying up craft breweries because their share is shrinking.

  • jb1907

    Bars haven’t abandoned SA, it’s just that there are so many beers now, SA has become common place. You still can’t find SA in every convenience store like Bud. They only sell 2M barrels a year. Still big, but not like the Big Boys.

  • Jeff Clark

    The article nails it for part of the reason. People have been obsessed with US IPAs for years now. I hate them and most domestic craft beers because they take the flavors too far. I’ll take an English Porter over a Craft one anyday. But that’s where the money is and this isn’t a sudden trend.
    If Sam Adams wants to complete they have to invest more into over hopped IPAs and look at Belgian types.
    The only SA beer I’ve had recently is their Oktoberfest and it was a nice malty Marzen.

    • Richard Hartley

      SA should bring back their Scotch Ale. A really good Winter beer if there ever was one.

    • MTYINDACHI

      but those are only a few styles….there are many tame craft beers that still have a lot more flavor than bland SAM ADAMS BOSTON LAGER. anchor porter isn’t anything wild and neither is deschutes black butte porter.

    • Jason Nelms

      English Porters can also be Craft.

      • Jeff Clark

        I’m using generic terms here. When you go to a place like Total Wine and More or BevMo they have countries and then “Craft” which means smaller American breweries. Overseas, some breweries are bigger than others, but the stores aren’t making that distinction.
        So when I say “Craft” porter, I mean something like Rogue, which is terrible, as opposed to a Samuel Smith Taddy Porter which is just awesome.

        • Jason Nelms

          Yes, Taddy Porter is fantastic. But so is Duck Rabbit Porter (Craft), Black Abbey Potus 44 porter(Craft), etc. There are many small business breweries that make fantastic beer. Boston Beer Company started out as one. You cannot define the quality of the beer by the size of the company.

  • Matt Robare

    I hate IPA’s. They’re absolutely undrinkable. I never drink enough to throw up, but I had one Jack’s Abbey by mistake and damn near threw up in The Field. I took two sips of Heady Topper and had to dump it down the sink it was so disgusting.

    Praise balance! Praise real ale! Praise stout and porter!

    • pivonaut

      I can assure you that IPAs are not undrinkable, having personally drunk a lot of them.

      • Rob Torres

        The Sam Rebel was definitely undrinkable. The only commercial craft beer I have ever left on the table. But I would try the BBC DIPA if I ever see it.

        • pivonaut

          It wasn’t my favorite, but it’s another one I can confirm I managed to drink.

    • robjday

      Matt, Jack’s only makes a handful of hoppy beers. If you don’t like hoppy beers you should check out some other stuff from their collection including stouts and porters

    • BrockSamson

      Well that’s just like, your opinion, man.

    • Jfalcon

      I’ve totally gotten into the big IPA craze myself – and have never, ever thrown out a perfectly good beer. As my buddy Racetrack Phil says, “I’d rather see a church burn.”

    • jb1907

      Drink stouts and porters. Almost no hops.

    • Richard Hartley

      Agreed on balance! But hey … despite its cult status, Heady is a great Imperial IPA, for those of us who like Imperial IPAs. It’s not for everyone by any means. That said, when buying a good beer becomes an indie-rock-style pissing contest, I take a back seat. I’m not waiting in line for some “can release” event in some parking lot. I’ll drink what’s available. As for Sam Adams, it’s a good beer, but Koch needs to man up and realize tastes – like pretty much everything else – change. Go sell another 5 million cases of Angry Orchard to the sounds of your own pity party.

    • soul68

      Im calling bull s**t. If you hated IPAs you would have never cracked a Heady Topper to begin with. I think you just made that up to sound edgy and defiant.

    • Richard

      I drink Hunahpu and Dark Lord every day.

      • TakeIt Easshh

        Bro, do you even Triple Bock?

    • Brainpicnic

      Try less ABV, go session, that’ll get your palate working correctly!!;)

    • MTYINDACHI

      except there’s nothing balanced about a stout or porter and that’s sort of the whole point and what’s great of having different styles. you want balance? drink a flight of six or seven different styles every time you drink. it’s what i do and i’m never disappointed. pilsener or lager/belgian quad/farmhouse/barley wine/ipa and bourbon barrel stout. i don’t always get through the six but if i do make it to the 7th i pass out very happy

    • untaken

      Not that it matters much if you don’t like hoppy beer, but Jack’s Abby only makes lagers, so it was probably an IPL.

      And please send any surplus Heady Topper to me before the next pour-out!

  • robjday

    This is a topic I’ve long been interested in and get help but jump into this one.

    My bottom line point is that is Jim doesn’t want to “brew for sales” or the ever changing tastes of “hipstenillials”… he doesn’t have to – NOR SHOULD HE.

    He should brew what thrills him and do it better than everyone else. But he cant be annoyed when certain places that cater to that consumer don’t carry what he doesn’t want to make.

    I’m a life long Sam Adams fan, but they got big by leading the way and now they are watching the industry lead them away.

    • A_Schick

      “He should brew what thrills him and do it better than everyone else. But he cant be annoyed when certain places that cater to that consumer don’t carry what he doesn’t want to make.”

      I think that’s a great point. Or, if you want bars to start carrying your flagship beer again, make sure that it’s a beer worth carrying.

  • reallynword

    Is there any more self-satisfied and undeservedly pompous group than “beer connoisseurs”? We get it: fun things shouldn’t be fun and you’re an expert in them. Also you’re way more authentic then us plebs. Also you definitely don’t all look, dress, and act completely alike so don’t even worry about the anodyne comments your non-diverse bear friends spout while desperately trying to seem aloof.

    • Wilson

      Just shut the fuck up….

      • Guest

        Hit a little close to home? Take your own advice.

        • Wilson

          ok “guest”

          • Guest

            Yeah…not the same as the guy you replied to. Sorry to burst your bubble if that’s what you’re thinking.

          • Wilson

            I really don’t give a shit. He made a moronic, asinine comment and I told him to shut the fuck up. You can also do the same.

          • Guest

            While a little sarcastic and snarky, he made a point about they douchey, know-it-all beer snobs, which is pretty accurate. If you’re one of them, I feel sorry for you.

    • jb1907

      Wine snobs are just as bad.

    • JD

      Who are you even talking about? “Fun things shouldn’t be fun?” What? How is that connected to “drink things that taste great?”

    • Brainpicnic

      Another would be Shakespeare clanging on my ears.

  • jsw50

    BEER IS SUBJECTIVE! (like this article) End of story. What one person thinks is the most incredible beer ever brewed tastes like stale piss to someone else. I am exhausted with all the beer geeks/hipsters/new home brewers thinking they are sharing some age old concrete wisdom with their snarky opinions on “good beer”. Whether you like Samuel Adam’s as a brewery or not, have the self-awareness to realize that 1. Just because you are successful does not mean you’ve compromised quality 2. This brewery brews over 50+ varieties of beer and for you to say all of them are sh*! because “I know a lot about beer” simply proves you know nothing.

    I’ve been dealing with many people in the beer industry for years, some with incredibly refined pallets that can pin point off flavors with precision. Not one of these people is someone you will find saying “oh all of {insert misc brewery here} beers are terrible”

    Everyone continue to enjoy what you enjoy. Don’t be swayed by a “local” tag, something being “mainstream”, or some self proclaimed beer snobs opinion.
    I plan on enjoying some beer tonight. Perhaps a Samuel Adams Merry Maker? BECAUSE IT TASTES GREAT TO ME.

    PS- Jim has done plenty for the industry. I respect him for that.

    • MTYINDACHI

      but you have to admit he behaved like a little bitch if what the article said was true.

  • http://www.heavyseasbeer.com Hugh Sisson

    I have completely lost patience with the beer snobs. At the end of the day it’s just BEER. It’s not life or death. Nobody’s world is getting seriously rocked. Appreciation of beer is completely subjective. And while Jim Koch was not the only pioneer, I still think we would be looking at a vastly different market environment had he not blazed the trail for the rest of us. As far as I am concerned he should always have a seat at the table. And I am one of his competitors.

    • Van Lingo Mungo

      Who’s drinking Heavy Seas if not the beer snobs you decry?

      • http://www.heavyseasbeer.com Hugh Sisson

        I would hope that the folks who select our products are buying them because they like the way they taste and how we present them. That is different from someone who buys a product solely on it’s Rate Beer score, or the number of IBU’s it claims. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m a business man and I value all of our customers. But I also know that those who are repeat purchasers are not usually the severe beer geeks who are constantly searching for the new cutting edge flavor or style. These two customers are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Many consumers have a “portfolio” of 10 or 12 brands that they enjoy depending on the occasion. They may purchase within that “portfolio” 75% of the time, and venture out to try new offerings for a variety of reasons.

        • Redpenmaster

          As a beer lover and friend of beer lovers, the beer snob “who buys a product solely on its Rate Beer score or the number of IBUs it claims” is sort of like Sasquatch – spoken of but never seen. In fact, never have I witnessed anyone at a bar or party even mention scores or order based on IBUs. Let’s all just get along, beer people. Sounds like you are hating on your customers. People who love hoppy IPAs are not engaged in some kind of pissing contest. And those who don’t love the hops are not cooler or somehow smarter, above the fray of marketing, or whatever high ground the anti-hopheads are trying to claim lately. There’s so much beer out there that everyone should be able to find something.

          • EatmyCockLibtards

            he always hares on his customer. Fuck New England Brewing Co and his over hyped piss water

          • Malc

            I think you have him confused with another brewer. Hugh Sisson is the founder of Heavy Seas out of Baltimore not NEBCO. I can’t speak for NEBCO, but Heavy Seas makes a pretty decent beer. However, I’m a little disappointed by his comments none the less. Jim Koch was given a seat at the table and he chose to act like a two year old in it. Not sure why you would want to defend that behavior, not matter how “Big Time” you think the guy might be.

            I’m also disappointed in Hugh’s indifferent, attitude toward beer enthusiasts (aka, Beer Snobs, Beer Geeks, Beer Nerds) as he describes them “someone who buys a product solely on it’s Rate Beer score, or the number of IBU’s it claims.” It’s a crowded market place so using Beer Advocate, Untappd, etc. to help whittle down your choices shouldn’t give someone a hipster/snob label. Sure I would love to be able to crack open and try a sip of every beer I’m mulling over buying at Total Wine, but I doubt the merchant would appreciate it. So the next best thing is the recommendations of people who have done the exact thing he was hoping for … judged the beer on it’s taste and presentation. Sorry if that means I end up buying a Flying Dog Gonzo instead of his Blackbeard because more people recommend it. But to rail against the system that recommend it just seems like sour grapes. Don’t like your rating, brew better beer. Don’t like that the bar isn’t carrying your beer, brew better beer. Don’t yell at the wait staff.

          • Alexander Mitchell

            I’ve seen them. The guys who show up at a beer festival with a spreadsheet of all the data and ratings pre-loaded into their Smartphones, posting reviews and photos to RateBeer and BeerAdvocate and Untappd with each beer they sip. Trust me, they exist. And, honestly? Secretly, the bar managers and long-time beer aficionados tend to sneer at them behind their backs. The old-guard pros, the ones who write for the bigger beer magazines regularly, all say “Yeah, I went through that phase a decade or two back…..” And, at some point, most of those geeks either grow up, burn out, or get ostracized into their own little bubbles. It’s not that much different from the guys whose following of sports revolves around statistics or fantasy leagues.

        • MTYINDACHI

          YES!!!! I try to find 3-4 staples within my favorite styles and imperial forms of my favorite styles. i understand brewers trying to be businessmen, but your monopoly is really not my concern. be happy making a living doing god’s work and don’t act like a little bitch and cry about beer snobs because your beer isn’t on the menu. this is what the free market is really about.

    • soul68

      So people should drink the beer just because of its history rather than quality? Sorry but SA beers HAVE gotten worse as the years have gone by. There was a time I wouldn’t miss their Fall beers or Summer ale, but the incarnations of the last few years have just slipped. Are they terrible? No. But there ARE many actual craft brewers out there making small batch beer that are doing it better. So you can cry about beer “snobs” all you want and Im sure they exist in the hipster circles, but real beer drinkers know SA has slipped.

    • bpendrak

      The beer snobs are killing our industry, pure and simple!

    • EatmyCockLibtards

      fuck you and Fuck NEBCO

  • Teresa Gordillo

    The author of this article should have been more diligent in his fact-checking; Fritz Maytag of Anchor Breiwng Company in San Francisco is widely considered the grandfather of the craft-beer movement and had been making beer for many years well before Koch came along. I find nothing more discrediting to a ‘journalist’ than a lack of research.

    • MTYINDACHI

      yeah but that’s not what sam adams tv commercials portray…it’s all about slick marketing.

    • untaken

      You are correct: Fritz Maytag at Anchor, Jack McAuliffe at New Albion, and Ken Grossman at Sierra Nevada were all making craft beer before Samuel Adams was founded. All due respect to Jim Koch, but to portray him as *the* founder of the US craft beer movement is inaccurate.

      I think Koch’s biggest mistake is not distributing his stock ale more widely. I like the lager, but prefer the ale–it’s just very hard to find on tap.

  • jh152EEEE

    You think Koch is pissed; one can only imagine how DAN LISTERMANN feels…

  • stn86

    I’m in the 21-27 bracket they mention in the article. I love trying different beers of all styles, but yes, my preference leans toward more hoppy beers. However, I do not think Boston Beer needs to try to be another brewery… I will choose Sam Adams over any of the Mega breweries any day. Jim should be happy that I will usually choose one of his beers if I am not in a bar that specializes in craft beers. Part of what tarnishes Sam Adams image for me is the fact that I see national TV ads for them every single day which very quickly removes the “small, craft, local, artisanal” feel from their company, the only other ads I regularly see are for the big guys! I have not once ever seen and ad for other large Craft bewers such as Lagunitas, Stone, DFH, etc, So to someone elses point earlier, why should a bar that specializes in Small, craft, local, artisanal beers carry a beer that is sold at the Applebees down the street?!

    Admit that you are becoming a big corporate powerhouse and you are quickly outgrowing the Craft Brew industry that you helped create. The fact that they now produce Angry Orchard and Twisted Tea also show me that they care more about the $$ than the beer he is apparently so passionate about!

    • Wayne Barricklow

      Do you work for free, or do you do it because someone pays you to do it? Is it possible you care about money, too?

      • stn86

        I do care about money and I understand he needs to support and pay his employees. I’m also quite young and trying to save up enough to start my own business. I’ve never been a big fan of big businesses. Maybe the doing it for the money thing wasn’t the right thing to attack, but it seems like he’s upset that small craft breweries are taking his place in dedicated craft brew bars when he’s shifting a big portion of his companies focus to other products.

  • Ken Vick

    Thanks for the history Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, and Sam, but could some one please get me an artisanal apricot saison, fermented with Brett and aged in French chardonnay barrels. thanks.

    • Stereotypical_White_Fella

      Not sure if it was fermented with brett, but this might be exactly what you’re looking for http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16504/58201/

      • Alexander Mitchell

        And some of you thought both Ken Vick and I were being satirical……… <:-)

    • Rob Torres

      Brett and Chardonnay sounds like a sour aged on cat piss. Pour me one!

    • bkalafut

      either the joke is very slick or you’re trying too hard.

    • Alexander Mitchell

      Which one? We have three here………..

    • tnawara

      Not sure if they have a Chardonnay barrel-aged version, but Wild’s Bliss might fit the bill: http://www.wildbeerco.com/beers/bliss

  • Brainpicnic

    Because of vicious distribution arrangements, Sam Adams is paired with Budweiser and other swill type offerings, so that caché has kind of rubbed off on them along with Stella Artois and Heineken, and rightly so. I do have to say I’ve been pleased when stuck with Sam Adams in these situations for I was able to have something instead of ice tea. Having said that, they have been trying to get into tap rotations with more serious craft beers, with their own stuff like their Rebel IPA or seasonals, Rebel IPA is a very decent IPA in a league with some of the more common craft offerings, I even prefer it to Sierra Nevada sometimes. Koch obviously has a beer heart if you will, so I sympathize, it doesn’t help that his last name is Koch, making one wonder if he’s related to the Koch bros. who are destroying our country, but thats another post topic..

    • bpendrak

      So you will write off a brewer due to their distributor partner? Since I work for a craft distributor, I SHOULD like this statement. However, as a craft beer fan, I find this logic completely asinine! A good beer is a a good beer, pure and fucking simple! If you like it, fucking drink it!

      • Brainpicnic

        No not at all you misunderstand. I don’t care who delivers the goodness, but I know that who distributes what is not based on a brews merit so much as who’s willing to pay to play and other politics. I’m thinking of mega dist. here, like Budweiser.

  • Daniel Song

    IPAs are goddamn horrible and I can’t understand why they’re so popular.

    • Aaron

      The IPA category is extremely broad. Saying that you hate IPAs is like saying you hate candy. Sure, you may not like candy corn…but that doesn’t mean you hate candy in general.

      • Alexander Mitchell

        It’s more like saying you don’t like dark chocolate, not candy. A specific (and bitter) sub-category of the field.

        • Tom Niles

          agree…bitter is not better in my book

    • http://drupalnn.com/ Alastair Moore

      That might be because people have different tastes to you!

      Amazing isn’t it? That we’re all different!

    • Dry Town

      Theyre not horrible. You just don’t like them. But they are a dime a f’n dozen. It’s the beginning of winter and I can hardly find a stout on tap, anywhere, among the IPAs and PAs. THAT’S horrible.

    • Jay Strickland

      Its an American problem, Americans noticed in about 1990 that hops were good. So now most American brewers especially those on the west coast just dump as much hops in a beer as they can.

      • HoppedUp

        And then boil the hell out of it too… it’s like they never learned you can use hops for their flavor or scent. Try looking for English style IPAs instead for a less one-dimensional take on hops.

        • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

          Many East-Coast Breweries are doing amazing things with Hops. Try Pales and IPAs from Hill Farmstead, Trillium, Tree House, Lawsons, Main Beer Co, etc.. Low bitterness, more flavor, and all delicious. Even Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA is much lighter and more flavorful than the west coast IPAs.

          • Jay Strickland

            I have found Texas IPAs to be better. Given our German towns were making micro brew before Carter deregulated the beer industry(or prohibition ended) so we have a tad bit of an unfair advantage.

          • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

            I just so happen to be in Texas right now and am drinking a Hopadillo IPA as we speak. It’s ok . I’m VERY open to recommendations. I’m between Houston/Austin – and heading toward San Antonio in a couple weeks.

          • Jay Strickland

            Live Oak brewery, their Hefeweizen is the best outside of Germany and their IPA is not too shabby.

    • Tom Niles

      I am right with you. I can not stand IPAs…give me a nice Belgian quad any day over IPA piss.

      • Aldo Thee Apache

        Most sensible comment on here. I raise my glass of La Trappe to you sir!

    • Mike

      “My tastes are a certain way, and I am confused that not everybody shares my taste palate.” You realize how ridiculous you sound, right?

  • http://www.thejasongreene.com OneGoodDad

    I would not have abandoned Sam Adams if I could find an SA oatmeal stout every time at the store.

  • Mary Jo Kopechne

    Beer drinkers are the largest, most lethal, terrorist group in America. They destroy over 10,000 innocent lives each year and over 88,000 will perish because of alcohol narcosis.

    The cancer-causing narcotic DRUG ethanol found in beer, wine and liquor is the leading cause of fatalities for ages 16-20 according to NIH statistics and the leading cause of date-rapes on college campuses across America…

    • MTYINDACHI

      get a grip you wctu funamentalist

    • T.J.

      Don’t blame beer for rape….thats like blaming guns for killing people…..people rape people regardless if they drink alcohol or not….people kill people….it happens….don’t blame something that is awesome and good for u in some ways just because u don’t like it….oh, and get off your high horse!!!

    • Aaron

      Being an ignorant, selfish shit of a person is the number one cause of date rape, as well as irresponsible drinking, violence, and blithely stupid overgeneralizations like yours. Even the devil can quote scripture… And statistics.

    • Sense and Nonsense

      nice username. well played.

    • Al Korzonas

      Ms. Kopechne, you are bringing this up in the wrong forum and including some misinformation, to boot.

      This article is a discussion about craft beer. Craft beer drinkers are not the idiots crashing cars into school busses. We enjoy beer for the flavor, not the effect. We are civilized, responsible, and, for the most part, enjoy beer in moderation.

      You should post your comment after an article about an industrial lager made from a large percentage of corn syrup, because that article’s audience are where those statistics you quoted come from.

      In closing, allow me to correct some of your misinformation:

      Alcohol narcosis is not fatal. It is a reversable depression of the central nervous system by alcohol. It is possible to consume so much that you die, but you need not die to have alcohol narcosis. Essentially, it’s a fancy phrase for “drunk.”

      Your statistics are for *all* drunk driving-related deaths and alcohol poisoning deaths, a fraction of which are beer related and only a miniscule portion of which are the result of craft beer overindulgence, for the reasons already noted.

      Moderate consumption of alcohol actually *lowers* cancer risk and alcohol has not been categorized as a narcotic since the 1890’s.

      While it’s true that alcohol is involved disproportionately highly (relative to older Americans) in the deaths of 16-20 year olds, the main reason for that is that not a lot of 16-20 year olds are dying from anything else, such as heart disease or stroke. The problem of date rape is one of bad decision making and not the fault of the alcohol (incidentally, beer is less commonly consumed by college females than could account for the statistics; read: they drank something else).

      Craft beer drinkers sympathise with the problems related to alcohol overconsumption, possibly even including your untimely death in 1969, Mary Jo, and we believe that if more people consumed beer for the flavor, there would be fewer beer-related deaths. However, those who drink with the sole intent of getting drunk will not be dissuaded by your comment here because I know of nobody who uses craft beer solely as a means to get drunk.

  • bpendrak

    I look at the picture of Jim with his hand over his mouth from the article and believe he is saying to himself “What have I done? I have created a monster!” I think many brewers are dealing with the same reality. Hugh, at Heavy Seas! Sam at Dogfish Head! Greg at Stone! They are all amazing visionarise who have, for the most part, invented a marketplace for their goods. They have seen success beyond what they could’ve ever imagined. Now, the same people who praised them want to denigrate them because they are having to expand to supply enough product for demand! WTF is wrong with that? We all started this fight claiming that we waned diversity in our beer. Now, many of you are saying that certain individuals don’t deserve a spot at the table (or on the tap wall, as the case may be). That is COMPLETELY counter-intuitive to the intent of the craft beer movement, for Christ’s sake!

    • MTYINDACHI

      yeah but does it have to be a spot at every tap wall? jim’s got chili’s and applebee’s covered. and you can’t compare SA with DFH. and i’m not even talking about any of DFH ipa…SA has nothing like palo santo or midas touch or even the tame yet delicious and refreshing piercing pils

  • Harold Mann

    I have craft beer fatigue

  • analogman69

    Koch didn’t want to invest in his own breweries. Sierra Nevada did in 1981 followed by NC in 2014. Looks like you can lose a loyal following when they learn there ale is being brewed by Iron City ! Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is incredible this year !

  • Jay Strickland

    Lets be honest here Shiner bock came well before Sam Adams, and because Sam led with a Lager the beer only registered as marginally better than a macro brew.

    • Neato!

      Shiner is also a victim of it’s own success. Sure it might have made great craft beer when it was a wee-baby brewery, but now it makes boring middle of the road beer.

      • Jay Strickland

        Shiner taste about the same there is now just better options without reaching for the 12 dollar a bottle trappist beer thanks to micro brew revolution. Shiner is my go to beer for hosting parties or just for drinking on a budget.

  • Dry Town

    What’s happening to SA is what happens when craft breweries grow beyond their craft market. It’s just like punk rock, you’re only punk until you sell out.

    • Neato!

      Nail on the head. You can either stay small, nimble, and diverse. Or you can grow and grow and grow then have to stabilize your wheel house because that’s the bread and butter and any change will cause a budget fluctuation.

  • mandakate

    The author of this article seems to fall under the wishy washy hipster type Koch is referring to, one minute the guy loves Sam Adams and I’m sure sharing a beer with Jim was pretty cool. Then in the next line completely disses Jim and the whole company. When I want a good beer, I drink Sam Adams, sometimes a Sierra Nevada, and when I want something new I try something new. There’s a place for Sam Adams at every bar, it’s a damn good beer!

    • EatmyCockLibtards

      grow a palate son

    • Mike

      There isn’t a place for SA at every bar. At a dive bar, its too high end. At a craft beer bar that specializes in hard to find, local beers, it has no place either, since SA is neither hard to find nor local to anywhere.

  • Not “That” Dr. Phil

    The problem with Sam Adams is that Koch used to brew beers he wanted to drink. Now he brews beers he wants to sell.

    That Rebel IPA was brutal. It was all hype and no substance. It was like something Budweiser would do. It was the IPA version of Black Crown or Beck’s Saphir.

    • mandakate

      Perhaps it’s your pallet? It is a quintessential American IPA.

      • Not “That” Dr. Phil

        Yea, If the only place you buy beer is a gas station.

        • Cory Wittenborn

          I’ve had a few more than 100 different IPAs over the last couple of years (everything from Stone and Lagunitas to IPAs from Founders, Revolution, Surly, etc.) — I’m not going to put Rebel IPA in the top tier, but it is a hell of a lot better than some of the craft I’ve had and a perfectly OK IPA.

          • twg23

            ok is the key word.

        • http://www.google.com krossoverking

          It’s pretty damn drinkable and well balanced. I enjoy it enough, though I only buy it if I’m in like, BW3’s and they don’t have anything local.

  • Mr Click

    His beer can be found damn near everywhere and he throws a temper tantrum because a place that specializes in harder to find beer decided leave him out to make room for more “little guys”? What a class act.

    • jb1907

      There are plenty of places you still can’t get a Sam Adams.

      • Mr Click

        Wow, the point just sailed right over your head, didn’t it?

        • jb1907

          No, the bar chooses to carry less mainstream beers, but in the great scheme of things, Sam Adams isn’t on every tap handle in the country. The bar can charge a premium for the less known stuff. Not a good reason, but a reason why bars aren’t putting Bud on tap. they make more from SA and the other craft beers.

          • Al Korzonas

            I don’t think that’s a reason (that you can charge more for craft beers) bars are choosing to have Stone on tap rather than Budweiser. A bar will stock what their clients will order. There are places that would take a month to drain a keg of Bud and others that couldn’t finish a keg of Alpha King in a year.

            In between those extremes, say at an airport, it’s nice to see beers like Goose Island and Lagunitas starting to be available next to the Sam Adams and, of course, Bud/Miller/Coors.

            I can understand Jim Koch’s disappointment, but he has to face the fact that bars who specialize in rarer beers will move Sam Adams too slowly (their clients are not there for SA).

            Personally, IPA’s have been my favorites for 10 years and I’ve tried both Latitude 48 and Rebel. They are very good IPA’s IMO… not excellent or outstanding, but good enough to where I buy them occasionally.

            I try *new* beers at bars specializing in craft beer. At the store, I buy a fee sixpacks of the *freshest* IPA’s that day and one fresh Porter/Brown Ale/etc. Yes, on any given month that might include Rebel or Latitude 48.

          • jb1907

            an Alpha King would never be in a keg for a year, mainly because 3F would pull the keg once it is past the freshness date. But there are beers that dont’ sell as well as others and the bar has to tailor the taps to his clients.

    • chris

      He is a grumpy old man….he said he wont make a beer that everyone makes….yet he bitched out the owner of the bar who chooses not to offer Sam’s Adams because it’s everywhere…..what a douche bag…..this article hurts his dwindling brand more….

  • sredd@rocketmail.com
  • ausch30

    Sam Adams is like craft Beer with training wheels. Their beers tend to be very safe and middle of the road. I used to like them and I’ve consumed a lot of their beers, at least the seasonals, but that was until I bought my first 6 pack of DFH 60 Minute. I just wanted to see what a $10 6 pack tasted like and I never looked back. Now my taste buds have evolved and I haven’t had 60 Minute in a long time but that’s the point. Sam Adams is like a shim between the macro breweries and the craft industry. It’s the kind of beer that gets you thinking differently about beer.

    I do have issue with where the writer said something about no brand loyalty in craft beer, I think they missed the point. There are breweries I tend to prefer (Lagunitas, Stone, Founders, Russian River, Three Floyds, DFH, as well as several others). Craft beer is not about sitting around and getting wasted, it’s about experiencing the skill, artistry, vision of the brewer. Craft beer is about enjoying the journey, not just pounding a bunch trying to get to a destination.

    • MTYINDACHI

      and craft beer doesn’t really get me wasted…i peacefully nod off after 4-5 really good beers when i am at home or commit to 3 awesome imperials with good food at a bar and have my wife drive me. she is really good about supporting my expensive habit.

  • Ben Turover

    I had the opportunity to speak with Mr Koch several years ago when working for a small craft brewery in the mid Atlantic. There was a major shortage of hops in the U.S., and we had been unable to get enough to produce beer for the year. With our low (at that time) volume, that could have been enough to do us in. Sam Adams, being a large concern, had locked in their hops purchases years in advance and was able to get first crack at them as a result. When he called us to let us know that he would sell us enough hops to get us through the shortfall AT HIS COST, we were saved. He is a real hero to the craft beer industry and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    • Stephen Benedetti

      This is the third (third!) time i have heard this story, the other two times directly from small brewers in MA… it seems too good to be true but i do believe it is true. Good on him/them!

    • Blatherbeard

      amen sir.

    • Neato!

      And THIS is why we respect Mr. Koch. He may not be brewing the things new buyers want, but he will help those who need it.

    • Chris H

      Hey Ben,
      I’m one of the editors here at Boston magazine. I’m curious, what brewery did you work at in the mid-Atlantic?

      • Ben Turover

        Hi, I worked at Twin Lakes in Greenville, DE

  • Squid Burns

    Hamm’s all the way. Better than Draino

  • Bryan ĸ McDonald

    Oh goodness don’t get me started. IPA’s Double IPA’s Triple IPA’s etc… etc… etc… It’s the beer equivalent of the newest iPhone 62, or the newest tablet etc… it’s all about the hipsters and “extreme” beer and anything less is a waste of time. well guess what. in 10 more years when these hipsters are sick of burning their vocal chords with over hopped nonsense, they’re going to head to the local distributor for a case of Sam Adams. Like most things of this nature today’s youth is spoiled by the vast variety they have. they have no idea what it means to buy a six pack of Grolsch and be smug and satisfied because they weren’t drinking some fizzy yellow carbonated sake (beer is made from barley or rye and in a pinch wheat, sake is the only worthwhile beverage made from corn)

    Look, I like a hop bomb every now and then just like the next guy. but to fill your pub with the stuff to the exclusion of an exceptional lager like Sam is short-sighted and foolish. it’s throwing out the baby with the bath water. not everyone wants every glass they drink to be “extreme” sometimes it’s just a quick clean lager and out the door.

    Any craft brew pub that sports more than 20 brands and excludes Sam Adams is simply not paying attention. They’ll rake in the dollars now and when this “extreme” hop bomb fad is over they’ll be wondering why all the barstools are empty.

    • Robert Benton

      As a point of order: Sake is made from rice, not corn.

      • Dustin Travis

        you…you mean Japan isn’t filled with flowing fields of corn? wow, you really do learn something new every day!

      • Bryan ĸ McDonald

        Yes, yes it is. I edited my post, my tirade left me in a state of confusion. I meant to say that rice is from sake and corn is for feeding pigs…..

    • MTYINDACHI

      get over your tiny-dick complex when it comes to IPAs….they are not the enemy or even the competition.

      • Daniel Judson

        Stay classy

      • Bryan ĸ McDonald

        “guest” nice anonymous insults on the internet, pat yourself on the back sparky and ask mom for another hot pocket.

    • Neato!

      To call Sam Adams Lager “exceptional” is an impossible stretch of the imagination. Sure it’s better than Bud, but that’s like saying river water is better than ocean water.

      • Tim Hill

        The Lager I agree with, but Boston Beer Company does make, or has made, some exceptional beers in its day. The White Ale was great, I don’t know why they stopped selling it. I know craft beer snobs that buy the Sam Adam’s holiday sampler every year just go get the two bottles of Old Fezziwig that come in it (you can’t buy it separately, or at least at one point you could not). Not everyone’s tastes are the same, but some of these beers are very good.

      • Bryan ĸ McDonald

        Seriously? I can understand not liking a beer for whatever reason , but to lump Sam in with macros is just ridiculous. Sam has consistently been rated highly among American Lagers, Maybe it’s not up to par with a Brooklyn Lager, or some others, but that’s because hardly anyone makes an American Lager anymore, because you can’t make it “extreme”

        • Neato!

          You lost me at lager. If I wanted to drink smelly water, I’d drink pond scum.

          • Bryan ĸ McDonald

            Bravo, in a single post you proved every one of Koch’s points and for good measure epitomized the reasons the rest of the world looks at ALL craft beer drinkers as assholes, thinking you’re the rule and not the exception.

    • Mike

      Do you ever even go to a craft beer bar? Obviously not. A good craft bar isn’t wall to wall IPAs. Its IPAs, and saisons, and belgians, and wheats, and reds, browns, stouts and porters. And the lines don’t stay the same all the time. The beers at a good craft beer bar change all the time. So this whole tirade your’e going on where you say that these bars are going to find themselves out of luck when the IPA trend dies is just ridiculous. Craft bars change their lines to suit what in demand. If you ever went, you’d know that.

      • Dana Cruikshank

        I’ve been to plenty of craft bars, and it sure seems like over-hopped IPAs dominate right now. It’s just the flavor of the times (a very bitter flavor, apparently). I get it – it’s easy to make an over-hopped IPA (easy, ’cause all you taste is the hops anyway) and put it out there. I know plenty of beer snobs who appreciate good beers that aren’t IPAs, and sure, someone will reply to this rattling off a bunch of IPAs that are quality brews, but it seems like right now, in 2015, if you want to sound like you appreciate beer but actually don’t, you order some some over-hopped IPA with a witty name from some small batch brewer (the closer to you the better), and you’re good to go from a ‘cred’ standpoint. 5, ten years from now it’ll be something else (can’t be wheat beers, those are kinda 10 years ago), and people who order IPAs will be scoffed at as dilettantes.

        • MTYINDACHI

          u either go to the wrong bars or i call bullshit

        • twg23

          Or some of those IPAs just taste really good. God forbid someone likes a beer a certain way. I hate this thinking that the “real beer drinkers” have to drink a certain way.

      • Bryan ĸ McDonald

        I do, there are about 3 locals that I enjoy, and all of them carry Sam on the menu. The point wasn’t that everyone only likes IPA’s I should have been more specific about the “extreme” brews rather than picking out one, but the bottom line is that most brew pubs hide American Lagers and Ales as if they were a red headed step child instead of placing them alongside the extremes where they have a legitimate place. And if you paid attention you’d know that a great deal of brew pubs now are not necessarily changing taps with what’s on demand but rather tapping kegs of whoever pays them the highest price for tap handles.

        • Louis E.

          I don’t believe in calling a place a “brew pub” unless the beer served is brewed on the premises.

          • Bryan ĸ McDonald

            That’s legit. Still, even if the place brews their own they’re still tapping other folks’ product.

    • MTYINDACHI

      have u taken a loom at row 34’s beer menu? 3 of 25 beers on tap are ipa’s….the percentage is much lower for their bottle selection so u r full of caca

      • Bryan ĸ McDonald

        How many are extreme beers? How many have ABV’v above 8 or 9? My point wasn’t about one single style, it was about the “extreme” beers whether they’re hop bombs or barleywines that rival the alcohol content of Jamaican rum. Sometimes a simple lager or nice American Ale is a good choice alongside all teh extremes, No I haven’t been to Row 34 but it sounds just like myriad other brew pubs that have 134 beers but no session beer or simple American Lager or Ale.

        • MTYINDACHI

          look it up….10 sub 5.5 with a couple sub 4….abot 5-6 that are between 6 & 8% which is not that extreme and the 4-5 “extreme” ones….even a better percentage of “session” beers in the bottle section.

          one of my favorites is dfh festina peche which clocks in like at 4% and blows SA boston lager out of the water. just because you were one of the firsts doesn’t make u one of the best.

          the same division of abv is true at most really good craft beer bars.

          • Bryan ĸ McDonald

            I completely disagree about festina btw, and you can’t say it blows Sam out of the water it’s not even remotely comparable. comparing an American Lager with a fruit /wheat bear makes no sense. Now if you want to say that festina peche blows Cherry Wheat away that might be true, but I dislike fruit beers so I’ll take your word for it.

            I disagree with the qualifier “most” and I’ll replace it with “some”.

    • disqus_QevVBp8NE6

      sake from corn? enlighten us more, oh beverage master…

      • Bryan ĸ McDonald

        Thanks I mistyped, I was on a tirade and I meant rice, rice is for sake, and corn if for feeding pigs. edited.

        • spydrz

          I’m not among the hop crazy IPA crowd. I do think Boston Lager is good. It’s just not great. The Noble Pils is a nice lager, but Boston Lager is … meh. Obviously I prefer my lagers cleaner with a more crisp hop bite to them. Vienna Lagers are as boring to me as IPA’s are to you. I can likewise think of 100 different beers I’d rather have than Boston Lager.

          It’s funny how subjective taste is.

          We’ll see if mass production and profit wins out to craft brewed artisan beer, eventually.

          • Bryan ĸ McDonald

            Personally I’m not a huge fan of Boston Lager either. I don’t dislike IPA as a style, I dislike teh idea that a beer needs to be “extreme” to be “good” I prefer Boston Ale or the Winter Lager from BBC. For a straight up American Lager I think Brooklyn Lager is head and shoulders above all others.

  • martincolon

    Im having a difficult time in giving Koch credit as the craft beer innovator. Fritz Maytag from Anchor Steam, I believe, is the true Pioneer to the craft beer revolution that inspired the likes of Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada. Although the same can be said about Anchor Steam about being to commercialized, the new owners are brewing some nice beers there bringing some relevance back to Anchor Steam. I for one am not a big fan of either beer, but I prefer Anchor over Boston Beer any day.

    • GalacticCoastBrewing

      I was thinking the exact same thing while reading the article. Anchor and Sierra Nevada are (and should be) credited with launching the American Craft Beer movement and Sam Adams/Boston Beer Company as turning it into big business. Because can you really be a craft beer innovator without a brewery (by having your recipes brewed by other breweries) for years and years or is Boston Beer Company more an innovator of Craft Beer Business and Marketing? But at the same time I also agree the IPA craze is a fad (I still enjoy them, but think things have gone a little crazy) and lets face it, IPAs are easy beers to brew and hide flaws as the hops cover up a lot. GREAT ARTICLE!!! And I’ve witnessed the power that distributors selling Rebel IPA have and use on the local level to take over taps. But I still enjoy Boston Beer Company products and have respect for Mr. Koch.

    • Ermagerhd

      Bingo. 1965. Got to meet Fritz, he’s a humble guy.

  • sredd@rocketmail.com
  • Joel High

    “We don’t release a beer unless I like it” And there in lies the problem

    • twg23

      Exactly. He reminds me of an owner of a popular restaurant chain I use to work for. The owners mentality was I don’t care about the customer. He only cared about what he wanted.

  • jake

    Would have been nice if you asked Koch why the Rebel IPA’s branding and style is a complete ripoff of Brewdog’s Punk IPA…

    • Tim Hill

      The article suggests that its marketing is a rip off of Lagunitas.

  • embot2

    SAM has actually experienced financial growth over the past few years. It may not be “cool” anymore but that’s what happens when you sell out. Jim Koch is a child for the way he behaved at Row 34. Also, this article is one generation behind. Dogfish is what my dad drinks.

  • Linkhatter29

    I’m usually not a fan of Boston Mag, but this article was one of their best ones. I will admit that I am a complete beer snob. When people tell me that “beer is beer”, it’s like saying Ginger Ale and Coke must taste the same because they are both sodas. Some, like myself, who are no longer in the target demographic but were drinking craft beer that was available in the early 2000’s before it become widespread, are thankful for Jim Koch. The saturation of the craft beer market now is a double edged sword – I love that it’s taken off and become “hipster,” but I almost want credit for all the crap I received in college for (gasp!) drinking a Sam Adams Octoberfest instead of Natty Light. Anyways, Jim Koch deserves a decent chunk of credit, however his attempts to keep pace with microbreweries have affected his business model. You can’t have 19 different white/wheat ales, each that taste the same but are just labeled differently with funky names like White Lantern and Cold Snap. Sam Adams has come off as desperate and disingenuous recently. Koch needs to appreciate the art of specialization, and understand that his brewery is a bridge between the crap of the old days and the craft beer world now.

  • Alan

    Bottom line- Americans buy a ton of Sam Adams beers. The beer geeks who are only believe that beer has to be super hopped-high abv-barrel aged or sour are really in the minority of beer drinkers. A vocal minority but still a minority. If more of the elitist craft beer bars did sell Sam Adams they would likely increase their sales as they open themselves up to a much larger drinking audience and consequently turn more people onto craft beer.

    • http://richkent.com/ Rich Kent

      That’s kind of like saying “If more high-end restaurants added Big Macs to their menu, they’d increase their sales and turn more people on to expensive food”. Craft beer tap rooms cater to their clientele – people who want high-abv, barrel aged, sour, hoppy, etc.. They also charge plenty for those beers. By adding Sam Adams to the tap list they’d lose a tap line for a more expensive/unique beer and lose their customers who were looking for that beer, plus they’ll lose some of the beer geek crowd based on having SA on tap alone. Besides, It’s not like it’s hard to find a bar that serves Sam Adams if that’s what you’re looking for – they’re everywhere in Boston already.

      • Edmund

        If I am a tourist and go to a great beer bar like The Great Lost Bear in Portland, Maine, I am much more likely to try Allagash Alley of their more obscure beers than delicious but easier find beers like Allagash White, Guinness, Dogfish 60, etc. Actually beer bars sometimes have a cheaper price for limited release than the bottle price. And Sam Adams seasonals frankly just aren’t that good. Honestly would rather have a PBR, Narragansett Lager or Miller High Life than most summer beers. Cold beer is good in the summer, big beers like barleywine and imperial stouts taste better in winter. Sounds like it might be time for Jim Koch to be more ambassador than CEO. Although Angry Orchard and Twisted Tea are incredibly successful. No idea why he wouldn’t have pride in that.

        • spydrz

          “No idea why he wouldn’t have pride in that.”

          Because they’re horrible macro swill, designed for the BMC crowd and people who object to beer altogether. They are the anti-Sam, except they’re not.

          There’s a point after your first billion, where you could stop and say to yourself “well I don’t really need to be the fastest growing brand anymore, maybe I should invest in making the best product, instead of the best mass produced product.”

          Can you imagine Moet & Chandon deciding that since they wanted more shelf space at the local Stop & Shop, that they were going to release their newest Spring wine on January 1st, before all the seasonal shelf space was taken?

          Yes Jim, your beer is the creme de la creme, and obviously deserving of placement in ALL of the most discerning beer bars.

        • jb1907

          You still can’t find Dogfish everywhere. Plenty of people still haven’t had it.

    • Mike

      “Bottom line- Americans buy a ton of Budweiser. The beer geeks who only believe that beer has to be super hopped-hi abv-barrel aged or sour are really in the minority… If more of the elitist craft beer bars did sell Budweiser they would likely increase their sales…” Just paraphrasing what you said. That’s essentially the same sentiment. Craft beer bars should open up a line for an inferior product to increase their market share. Last I was in a craft beer bar, they didn’t have any trouble filling their seats, without putting a second rate product on the line.

      • Tim Hill

        This isn’t really about the product, but rather the manufacturer. If Boston Beer Company came out with the best beer on the market it would never get recognized as such because of who they are. The craft beer market has become very hip, by which I meant it is more about image than anything else.

        • twg23

          I disagree completely if they put out a beer I actually enjoyed I would gladly purchase it and want people to know about it. Whenever I go to a bar and see Sam or harpoon I am usually disappointed. I currently work in a restaurant with over 44 taps. We only carry boston lager and the seasonal. Sam definitely does not sell the way it use to when there are more and better options out there (at least at my bar).

          • Edmund

            Exactly. It’s getting more common to see lots of taps at bars, from macrobrews like Bud, to Samuel Adams, Dogfish, Stone, Allagash and local microbrews. It’s a great time to be a beer drinker.

        • spydrz

          This is markedly untrue. Already been done. See Utopias. Beer snobs go buck wild for it. It’s fantastic.

      • Alan

        Well, they would.

      • OttoDelupe

        But is Sam Adams inferior, or merely a consistent old standby? Because for me, a good tap list combines new and different options with tried and true classics.

        I’ve never actually had Sam Adams, but I might just try some soon.

        • jb1907

          It’s 100% better than Budweiser.

    • jb1907

      I don’t like super hopped beers. I like porters and stouts but I am not going to criticize a brewery for making hoppy beers, I just won’t buy them.

  • rino

    I’m not going to argue about who brews the best beer here, I’ve been to Belgium and I think they’re the best anywhere!

    • spydrz

      Lots, and lots of people all over the world would agree with you. I’m just not one of them. Most are just too sweet for my tastes. I don’t like spiced beer, or most adjuncts for that matter. Wild ales are delicious and you could argue best beer with me there, but I can only have a small quantity before my palate and stomach are cooked.

  • 24601

    In my opinion, the craft beer scene is too cluttered these days. It’s greatest strength is also its most critical weakness. The great thing about it is I’ve been able to try lots of varieties to find out what I really like.

    The bad thing is I find myself thinking “What? Jellyface triple black IPA Stout-lager-pils-ale???” (yeah, totally made that up).

    • MTYINDACHI

      but that’s not a big deal….have fun exploring. even mistakes will get you buzzed. i’ve tried a lot of beers that i liked but wouldn’t necessarily try again. then there are my go to beers…a list tat keeps growing. beats the days of picking between domestic or mexican crap…and i used to love modelo and pacifico

    • spydrz

      I agree, but it’s part of the natural progression of things. Rogue will stop making peanut butter bacon voodoo beer, because it sucks, and the other brewers that subsist on making their mark with the bizarre, or “just another mediocre IPA” will fade away. What will remain will be a more balanced market of finely tuned offerings from the best brewers in the world. Hopefully.

      On the other hand, experiments sometimes produce profound, delicious results.

  • Fred from Philly

    Tons of great comments here and the article was one of best I have read. Living in Philly I am kinda spoiled, as we have crazy great beer bars, and great distribution also. The only thing I have to add is that when a bar has Sam on it looses cred, I won’t frequent a place that has a Bud/Miller/Coors handle, or even a Crafty handle(Leinenkugel). Sell it in cans! And for that matter a well curated list won’t have Allagash White, Stone IPA, DFH 60, etc. As an unapolagetic self admitted “Beer Snob” I want flavor, uniqueness, variety, and to drink something I have never had before. And oh yea, get that UNTAPPD check-in!

    • Daniel Judson

      “…annoying young hipster attitude”

    • Tim Hill

      This is what makes the craft beer market something not worth investing in. To discount Dog Fish Head or Stone not because they are not as good, or better, but because they are not unique is to not actually appreciate the taste of beer, just the act of drinking it while others watch.

      • Fred from Philly

        I don’t drink everyday, so when I do, I want something new to taste. Beer isn’t like water to me, I don’t want to go back to the well. I think the big issue that isn’t discussed, is that beer foraging is done to excite the palate, and learn. Not stand in a parking lot before a game drinking a brew, in that case “gimme whatcha got”.

        • Tim Hill

          That makes sense. I mistook your post as more of “Dog Fish Head is not cool anymore, give me the next new thing.”

        • DarthDisney

          Like others have said, you are the type ruining the industry.

        • OttoDelupe

          So basically you never want to drink the same beer twice. Some of us do. I’ll take a Dogfishhead 60 minute over 10 other wannabes because I appreciate quality over novelty.

      • Daniel Judson

        Brilliant

      • jb1907

        There are still plenty of people that have never had Stone or Dogfish or Sam Adams.

      • MTYINDACHI

        reading is fundamental….he is discounting the ubiquitous offerings from those breweries…a little too snobbish maybe, but i see his point.

    • Christoph Wilhelm Schmidt

      You’re everything that’s wrong with the supposedly new, “more appreciative” or “value-seeking” consumer.

      • MTYINDACHI

        how is a consumer ever wrong? i know people who still make a distinction between miller and bud light but that’s their choice…for them. i still drink with them. i buy my 4 pack of evil twin molotov cocktail and will be drunker after drinking my 3 to their 12….neither of us is wrong unless we cry like little bitches about each others’ choices which is what you seem to be doing

        • Christoph Wilhelm Schmidt

          How about when they completely write off a business for selling the very thing they claim to appreciate, because they think the specific version they’re selling is “overplayed”?

          This guy is claiming that:
          A) A bar with a budget option on draft is not worth visiting, regardless of the rest of their bar program.
          B) That the presence of well-respected, award-winning beers like DFH 60 and Allagash White actually detract from a bar’s “worthiness” as a drinking local.

          It seems clear to me that this guy doesn’t actually value quality, but rather novelty. Which is probably why he feels the need to share every obscure beer he drinks with people on UNTAPPD.

          • twg23

            But its not a matter of the beer being overplayed its a matter of the beer not being that great.

          • Christoph Wilhelm Schmidt

            Which, of course, is all relative. I didn’t get the impression from Philly Fred’s post that he wouldn’t go to a bar that had Allagash White because he thinks Allagash White is a middling quality American wit beer, but that he thought it had gotten too big or popular.

          • Ross

            I’m going to go out on a limb and say Philly Fred is walking the finest of line between being over the top that his sarcasm was missed by all.

          • Edmund

            In Philadelphia, you have the luxury of dozens of bars with world class beer lists. I’m usually thrilled to see Allagash White and Dogfish 60 on menus, both are absolutely delicious beers.

          • MTYINDACHI

            i believe he used the words “well curated list” and didn’ t mention anything about a bar’s worthiness. when i was making up my holiday beer selection, i too steered clear of the now conventional flagships, not necessarily purposely shunning them, but just wanting to try something. my biggest problem is that i wanted them ALL…i love having so many choices, even when sticking to just a few of my favorite breweries.

            bottom line is, you want SA? go to one of the thousands of bars that have SA or carry a 6 pack in the trunk and excuse yourself and sneak out and have one. don’t throw a tantrum and start insulting people for their beer preferences.

            and i appreciate people sharing obscure beers on UNTAPPD, even if they are bragging about it. i’ve discovered a lot of good beer that way, especially when i was starting out and was overwhelmed by the choices and different styles.

          • Christoph Wilhelm Schmidt

            He states that a bar loses credibility for having recognizable, flagship beers (regardless of their quality), which I think speaks directly to its worthiness as a watering hole. Aside from that, any of the three great craft beers he denigrated would be perfectly suited to a “well curated list”. They’re all great examples of their genre.

            I love variety and am, as this guy claims to be, also a big “forager”. I generally hop (pun intended) around the tap list and freely experiment with breweries and beers I don’t know. That said, I’m not pseudo-pretentious enough to claim that XYZ great beer is too commonplace for the taps of any bar I grace with my presence.

            My real issue with his comment was the insinuation that “well curated” list is one that emphasizes novelty over quality, which is a pretension that I think has permeated the high-end beer world to disturbing extent.

            I agree with you that Jim Koch’s behavior at that bar was pretty atrocious, though.

          • jb1907

            How is putting a beer on untappd bragging?

          • MTYINDACHI

            i was conceding a tiny point in christoph’s argument to make a bigger one.

    • OttoDelupe

      I appreciate trying new beers, but there is something to be said for consistency. A “well curated” list should have a few really good beers that are always on tap. When I walk into a bar and the whole draft list is IPAs and heavy stouts, I know there’s a good chance of ending up with a loser.

      • AlbinoRaven

        That happened to me a lot in Texas, not as much in Boston. I’d go in to a craft beer bar advertising rare beers and every single one was an IPA. There are different styles. If I’m in the mood for a belgian I hate going to a place that only has IPA’s.

    • John Doe

      Okay, firstly, there is no issue with searching out beers because of their rarity, it is one of the favorite pastimes of many a beer drinker because of the sense of adventure and achievement that many get from finding that hard to find and often sought brew,

      Here is your mistake: A “well curated list” is representative of the best representations of the variety of styles in the beer world, and experimental styles that push the needle forward. Period. The fact is, quality is on the decline with breweries opening at a rate of 1.4 a day and the staggering lack of attention to brewing detail found in the last 5 years. It became “en vouge” to open a brewery and as such many folks got in without the chemistry, biology, or artistic care to achieve real, and REPEATABLE quality. I have had more middle of the road beer from tiny breweries than I have ever had from DFH or any other brewery its size. The reason they succeed is because of a large success rate, and for you to talk about a lack of respect for the establishments that choose to support the beer in a brewery’s lexicon that MAKES the rare, spent 3 years in a bourbon barrel, lacto-pedio craziness possible, is asinine.

      Beer, as a business model, is built around thanking folks for supporting a small, idealistic, and artistic endeavor with constantly pushing themselves to be better, and by doing that you need to repeat your experiments to nullify your mistakes.

      I encourage you to continue to search for rare brews, but also, understand why they are there in the first place. If a brewery has to wait 3 years till they get a return on liquid sitting in a tank to employ, brew, and run a business, THEY WOULD NOT EXIST.

  • Daniel Judson

    Sam might be the Bunny Slope for those learning to appreciate beer but that doesn’t mean you bulldoze the bunny slope now that YOU are ready to ski the Black Diamonds. Show some respect. Appreciate it for what it is – a very good, drinkable beer, like a warm-up before an aggressive day on the slopes. And if you’ve ever been to a restaurant or hotel bar in NYC or Chicago you’ll thank the Lord they offer Sam on tap!

  • Agent Jinja

    I find it interesting the number of people who use beer connoisseur/snob/geek/fan/expert as an insult. If you’re reading and commenting on this article, you’re more than averagely interested in the subject and the industry, making you much more of a connoisseur than most. I am a connoisseur, and a snob, but that doesn’t make me a stereotype. I’m not a middle-aged white guy, or a 20-something hipster, or an Untappd or Beer Advocate user – three common types known for craft beer enthusiasm. I do know a lot about beer, and I am very selective in what I will drink, and I don’t think that is a bad thing. People who are super into, say, cheese don’t get insulted for seeking out the stinkiest Stilton or a rare Gouda – why am I assumed to be “pompous” because I’m drawn to an aggressive, bitter beer style rather than a mild amber lager?

    My friends know I am a connoisseur, and a snob, so if they want Corona at my parties, they bring it themselves. And I say thanks, put it in the bucket along with the Pliny and the Racer 5, then hand them a bottle opener! And if they want to try the Pliny, I pull out one of my taster sets (because I am also a geek), pour a sample, and let them see for themselves. I don’t think this makes me “self-satisfied” – it just makes me excited and a little fanatical about something I really like. Would you sneer as much if I put Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam on the cheese plate instead of Velveeta?

    SA Boston Lager is what I would consider an introductory craft beer – nonthreatening, mild, and easy to find. And if you like it, stick with it – no one is forcing you to give it up. But part of the revolution that Jim (and Fritz, and Ken, et al) started was the idea of variety – explore beyond what is ubiquitous and try new and interesting things. SA Boston Lager is neither new or interesting. That doesn’t mean it is bad, but if you are a craft beer bar that is trying to attract those seeking the new and interesting, that is what you put on tap. As a businessman, it is surprising that Jim does not accept this.

    • Christoph Wilhelm Schmidt

      I think the underlying issue he has – and I certainly have this issue – is that a lot of the snobbery doesn’t seem to be based in actual appreciation or understanding of beer, but a desire to want to appear cutting edge/extreme (in the case of going for super hoppy, super high-ABV, super-etc. beers) or rank hipsterism (in the case of refusing to drink anything from Sam Adams, because it’s a “big brewer”).

      • twg23

        I chose not to drink Sam Adams because there are just better options out there. Sam never excites me with their beers. They never try anything new except making a mediocre ipa. Its the same thing every year. I feel like now instead of creating their own special brews they are on to copying other more popular beers that sell well rather than finding their own way.

        • John

          What a fucking stupid comment. You are the problem with Craft beer. “They don’t make beers that excite me” WTF. Are they supposed to develop and brew a 3000 gallon batch of beer that excites you and hope that it sells to the rest of the people? If you want beer that excites you, brew 10 gallons of shitty quality beer in your garage.

          • twg23

            Because I like a decent product? Lets face it there are so many option out there and if BBC wants to dig their heals in and not adapt more power to them. When I say they don’t excite me its my way of being nice instead of saying they make shitty beers.

          • spydrz

            Why do you view it as a problem? Different strokes. Find what you like and enjoy it.

        • Bryan ĸ McDonald

          So, none of the 41 different styles that Sam Offers excites you? or maybe you think all they brew is Boston Lager?

          Or maybe you’d like to tell me how many Holiday style brews were available in the days before Sam Old Fezziwig? Who did BBC copy for that one? how many fruit bombs were available before BBC unleashed Cherry Wheat?

          BBC didn’t invent the wheel but to claim they’re following others rather than vice versa just shows you’re either not paying attention or you really have no idea of the history of the BBC.

          • twg23

            Ive been drinking BBC forever and its not a matter of never trying their beers. Ill try anything. Just nothing I have ever had from them has really won me over. Their Octoberfest is probably the only beer of their that I actually like.

          • Bryan ĸ McDonald

            Old Fezziwig? Stony Brook Red? Boston Ale? Fat Jack? Cream stout? None of these? Octoberfest is a seasonal and changes every year, last years was good, 2013 not so much.

            The point is, They have been and still are innovators, they don’t “copy” anyone.

          • Edmund

            Sam Adams makes nice beers in a world of exceptional beers. Just like Saranac/FW Matt who does a lot of contract brewering for Sam Adams they are often too sweet. I think Sam Adams Boston Lager is a nice beer, I enjoy the Latitude 48 IPA, but Boston Beer Company is not a microbrewer. No one could call Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard craft beers. And Sam Adams isn’t close to the same class as Laguinitas.

          • spydrz

            I really enjoy their Noble Pils. Other than that though, most of their offerings have a strange metallic taste to me that I find off putting. Boston Lager being their second most enjoyable. I won’t claim to have tried them all, but for the most part, they are a purely profit driven faux craft company now.

            If they really wanted to shake things up, they would use their vast resources and build upon the Utopias thing they have going. Utopias is pretty incredible, and makes even the biggest beer geek drool.

      • http://wetyourwhistles.com/ Agent Jinja

        I’m also confused because I thought hipsters drank PBR. Or is PBR soooo 2013 now?

  • analogman69

    To many IPA’s ?? Guess we need more pumpkin ales ?

  • Dave H

    This article is way too long. Sam Adams too successful to be hip now? Makes sense. It taste like corporate beer anyway. I like Deep Ellum. Glad it got a mention.

  • Bill Knott

    As a Brit who loves beer, I hope the pendulum will soon swing back towards the terrific range of flavours that roasted, malted barley – in all its forms, from light to very dark – can lend to a beer: hops are wonderful too, but they are an additive, and balance is the key.

    • spydrz

      There’s literally hundreds of examples of finely balanced craft beers available.

      • Bill Knott

        Agreed, in specialist beer shops here: but not so easy to find in British pubs, either in bottle or on draught, where the trend for the past few years has been towards light-coloured and hoppy beers that often lack depth of flavour.

  • Lydia Forrester

    Wow a bunch of pretentious dinks you all are!!! Beer sells to get people drunk, end story.

    • spydrz

      Pot, meet Kettle.

    • Matt

      Then you’re totally missing the point of the beverage and craft. If you’re only drinking beer to get drunk, you just don’t get it. There is a whole world of people who appreciate the craft and (gasp) science of creating beer. Saying beer is only there to get you drunk and cant be enjoyed for its many flavors and style is like saying all food on the planet is the same. McDonalds = the best steak on the planet, by your logic.

  • bill heater

    The celebration of beer. The fellowship of beer. Jim and Sam Adams used to be all about that. Now, if I’m to believe this article, Jim is behaving like the deranged fratboys at A-B. I remember when Budweiser pulled the same freshness dating bullshit on you. I remember when they called Sam Adams, “SCAM” Adams. I remember the stories of how the Busch boys used to beat you up at recess. Good job Jimmy. You’ve become what you beheld. Why don’t you sell Sam Adams to InterBev or OmniBev or PolyBev or whatever it is. And start over from scratch? Right now you’re just a beer nerd with an attitude.

  • Dave

    Take a look at what is really happening in the USA. For years after prohibition – there were only a few Large breweries controlling the Market.

    What we are seeing is a “devolution” to a classic European model where every larger town will have it’s own brewery… and these will find their equilibrium serving that community.

    • Joe Callender

      This is where craft beer could be heading…and beer lovers should revel in it if it actually achieves this presence.

  • bill heater

    I think you’re out of touch, Dave. This isn’t about the Middle Ages. Or devolving into a classic European model. Good beer will always be brewed by people who have a feel for it. This article underscores what happens when Big gets Bad.

  • Ross

    If you’ve never done a blind taste test with beers of the same style I highly recommend it. You may be surprised by your preference, but even if you’re not you’ll know your favorite is driven by flavor as well as marketing/story/hipness/etc.

  • C_Before_E

    Ah, NoseRing SnaffleBit DeepDeep Brown Voodoo Ale, beloved of authenticity-craving customization-obsessed beer fusspots everywhere. I miss PBR.

  • badenhausen

    Super hoppy IPAs are not new. Ballantine was the only brewery producing hoppy IPAs since prior to prohibition and after. They tried to keep it small & local but failed under the pressure of big beer in the 60s & 70s. And if they had found a way to keep it going into the 80s & 90s we might have been calling it “east coast style” IPAs this whole time.

    Besides the well known Ballantine IPA they also produced a super hoppy special ale each christmas “Burton Ale” that used hop extracts from pressurized resin extractors.

    “Not only was it one of the best selling IPAs in American history, with over a 100 year tradition, but it also provided substantial influence to both Fritz Maytag at Anchor, whose Liberty Ale was inspired by it, and Ken Grossman at Sierra Nevada, who has acknowledged that Ballantine IPA was an inspiration for Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. Pre-1970s Ballantine IPA is described in literature as a beer with a starting gravity of 18 degrees Plato, an alcohol content of 7.4%, 60 IBUs, aged for a year in oak vats, and dry-hopped with a unique process using Bullion (and apparently at times Cluster) hops. In other words, this was a real beefy IPA, similar in intensity to the best Burton IPAs of the 1800s and the best craft brewed IPAs today.”

    http://hoptripper.com/the-return-of-ballantine-ipa/

    • Jerry O’Brien

      18 degrees Plato? I’m waiting for a beer of 18 degrees Spinoza. This is a fine story, capturing a major figure in American brewing and distilling history at a moment when the tide is turning. Whatever you think of his beer, we all should tip our hats to Jim Koch — and raise a pint of Anchor Steam, Lagunitas, Allagash, Proclamation, et al., none of which would exist without him. Thanks, Boston Magazine, for splendid reporting and writing.

      • Penfold

        Anchor was founded in the late 1800s. I don’t think they owe BBC anything.

        • Jerry O’Brien

          Agreed. But they weren’t on my East Coast radar until the craft scene started.

        • wyclif

          Perhaps not, but let’s get real. I would never have started drinking Anchor Steam or Sierra Nevada if SABL hadn’t been the gateway. Sure their older, but what good is older if people don’t know about your beer?

  • Shit Atkins

    Boy this article has it all… a journalist armchair psychoanalyzing Jim Koch while providing absolutely zero hard evidence that BBC as a company is in actual danger, a marketing / trends agency talking head telling us about how this generation values authenticity more than the last generation who seemed to also be obsessed with it, and a balls-out beer snob war in the comments section.

    The article is light on details of the “temper tantrum” Koch threw at Row 34 but still leads off with it… you think maybe there was a story to sell?

    I love this new kind of “journalism” where people who have contributed nothing tear down great men who have achieved great things (how many of us would still be drinking Budweiser if not for SA?)

  • Bryan

    My biggest frustration with BBC is that they put so much weight behind Boston Lager and neglect wonderful beers in their stable. What I’d do to be able to find a sixer of Scotch Ale, White Ale, Cream Stout or Black Lager with relative ease. But for years they only put BL, WA and SA in multipacks where you get only 3 of them and Cream Stout is nearly impossible to find.

    I sort of wish they’d spin off a smaller more agile division and put those and a few others out that way, and use that arm to experiment more. That way they could keep the flagship brews going but push the envelope a bit more.

    But I’d be happy with just being able to get Black Lager and Scotch Ale in a six pack.

    • woodyeagle

      I feel the same way. There are so many large restaurant chains where Sam Adams is served, and in many cases is the only craft beer available, but all they ever have is Boston Lager and the primary seasonal beer at the time. They make so many varieties. It would be nice if they could push some more of them out in these places.

    • JP

      100% agreed. There’s no reason for BL to be in their seasonal 12 packs. Much diplomacy has had to be used over the years to determine who gets the remaining Old Fezziwig.

    • Scott

      Mmmm… Scotch Ale. What I look forward to in cold season (and if it’s a year-round SA, my error, but it’s tough to find at any other time…_)

  • Joe Callender

    I appreciate what Jim Koch has done for the craft beer movement. Whatever he’s done, good or bad, there’s little doubt that he played a key role in the opportunity newer brewers have today.

    As far as people claiming they don’t drink SA because “it’s a bad beer,” I highly doubt any SA beer is lacking in quality. It just doesn’t match well to your taste preferences. You not liking SA does not make it a bad beer. I still drink it from time to time for its nostalgic taste experiences it gives me. I have the Winter Lager in my fridge and really enjoy the balance of it.

    But, as a business man you do not get to play victim of a fluid market. You evolve or die. Not that Jim cares but this reaction to his declining place in the craft beer market leaves me with a bit less respect for him. It kinda makes sense though because he seems to need to maintain 100% control and he’s facing something beyond his control.

    He needs to stop worrying about and ranting about what others are doing and focus on what he can do with his brand.

    It’s not a particularly exciting role, but “gateway” brands still have an integral role in the growth of craft beer. The industry still needs millions more consumers and the balanced flavor profile of SA and others are the best “gate-openers” for the newest craft beer consumers.

    Oh and Jim needs to realize that as consumers delve deeper and deeper into more complex flavors, their palate preferences are going to change. He can’t expect the most open-minded and promiscuous beer drinkers to stick around. But the same promiscuous beer drinkers should not be ragging on his brand just because it no longer challenges their palate.

    • rick spalding

      i’ve tried most of sam adams beers, they all lack flavor to me. The winter ale is serviceable but that is about it.

  • Jeff Gandy

    This interview with Koch clearly shows the problem with the Sam Adams brand. His palate is limited, and he is driving the bus. Comparing them to Lagunitas is entirely appropriate, as the offerings from Lagunitas are pedestrian as well. Large revenues and a nationwide footprint do not translate to quality and/or hands on brewing. Quite the opposite. If you want to drink beer from people whose concerns are profits and then beer, SA and Lagunitas are a good, safe choice.

    • MTYINDACHI

      i’ve thought the same of lagunitas for quite some time. i like their czech pilsener, but for other styles i go to elsewhere.

    • Mark

      I wouldn’t consider his limited palate to be the problem. In fact, I respect his philosophy: I make what I like. He has to realize, though, that that thinking will eventually mean you lose part of your audience to those brewers who innovate for those whose tastes are changing. He can slam any other brewer he wants, but people are buying their stuff and he can’t understand why. He needs to get over that, or get behind his brands that he admits he doesn’t care for.

    • Chris Rockwood

      “[The] offerings from Lagunitas are pedestrian as well.”
      Totally disagree. The regular Lagunitas IPA is to IPA as Sam Adams Boston Lager is to amber lager — i.e., very good for the style, a benchmark, but nothing really special. Most of the Lagunitas specialty IPAs are exceptionally good; my favorite is “Little Sumpin’ Extra,” which has the strength and complexity of most Double/Imperial IPAs at a significantly lower price (because it comes in 6-packs, not 4-packs). I’ve also found it on tap once and was blown away.

      • Jeff Gandy

        It is a decent choice and the price is cheap because the grain bills for their beers seem to be very similar, so they are buying in huge bulk. The thing about Lagunitas is that they don’t say “hey lets take some time and produce some new beers, special one of a kind releases etc”. They say “hey lets build another brewery and produce a zillion more gallons of the same stuff”. There is a bottle of Brown Shugga in my fridge now, because it was on sale at the grocery store, so in that sense their business strategy is obviously very good. I am just disappointed they don’t try harder to do exciting things.

  • ibizzle

    Typical hipster logic – something is ubiquitous and thus is of lower quality. Boston Lager is an iconic beer – there is still no beer out there like it. The hoppy west coast IPA’s are garbage and have no nuance (more hops does not equal better beer). I’ll take a Sam any day over that crap, trendy or not.

    • Mark

      Nothing in the article implies your hipster logic comment. We (I’m one of them) don’t think Sam is of lower quality simply because Boston Beer got so large. It’s because we’re comparing it to better offerings, and there are lots more beers better than Sam nowadays. I was a huge Sam fan when it first came out. It was tons better than the swill my father drank, and which I started on (surely you’ll agree Sam is better than Bud, Miller and other ubiquitous brew. Does that mean you think lowly of them because they’re ubiquitous? No.). Sam was revelatory. Now it’s just “same ol’ Sam.”

      You cannot compare Boston Lager to a west coast IPA, btw. They’re two different animals. If you don’t like hops, cool, so it’s understandable. That doesn’t make what I like “crap.” It means you don’t like it.

      • JP

        I don’t think lowly of Bud and Miller because they’re ubiquitous. I think lowly of them because they are awful, mass marketed rice water.

      • rick spalding

        This is why when I first checked out Beer Advocate ratings, I gave it up pretty fast. People rating beers saying I don’t like hops and they rate a hoppy beer poorly. I tried a tea beer once and was surprised how good it was. I saw the ranking and people rating it low because they didnt like tea in the beer. Its a tea beer, that is what it is suppose to be……..

    • twg23

      Glad that there are no douches in my life like you. Im sure you’re a hit at parties…

    • Lorilucy

      Too funny- I travel a lot and Sam Adams is in every airport. You really think duck island blah blah ipA is going to ruin a company like Sam Adams. I love trying different craft beers but when did it get so snotty?

    • rick spalding

      so what if Boston Lager is iconic? And iconic to who actually? Oh the irony in your comment

  • missatiejacket

    Koch sounds like a real A-hole in the second paragraph. What a jerk. The fact is that Sam Adams hasn’t been “craft” beer for a long time. Heck, the industry has changed the volume limitation on the definition of “craft beer” so as not to disclude his company. Sam Adams beers are mostly mediocre, and if I had a small selection of beers that interested me for a bar, there’s no way they would make the cut. They have taken over a middle ground between the Bud/Miller/Coors crap and real high quality beer. And good for them; it’s a great market position.

    Plus, Koch has taken to using the same tricks big beer used against him early on, copying successful ideas and using his well-established distribution channels and market position to drive the originators out of business. His company is Big Beer now, not craft.

  • Ian

    I have never, ever, liked Boston Lager. I would rather drink Genny Cream Ale. Ok, I would rather drink Unibroue’s Terrible or Celebrator Dopplebock (or Troeginator). But i don’t like Boston Lager.

  • Chip Dennison

    I have always preferred Sierra Nevada to Sam Adams, and they beat him to the punch by 5 years.

    • rick spalding

      yes, agree. Both companies have about the same market share, SA is public, SN is private and have always thought SN is wayyy better.

  • rudy

    Samuel Adams: They are everywhere that no one wants to be…

  • Sean McGuire

    I have never been a big Sam fan. Honestly, it has always seemed a little hokey, a little insincere to me. A Harvard MBA who goes into the beer biz? I have lived on the West coast, drank a lot if Sierra Nevada, and witnessed the birth of Lagunitas. I prefer bold, dark beers, stouts. Sam Adams has always seemed like a boring, mainstream beer, too collegiate, too fratty. I like the Angry Orchard cider. Good thing it was not linked to Sam Adams- I wouldn’t have bought it! I obviously have never been a big fan, or believed the hype. But then, I grew up in Austin, with lots of Shiner beer; there was no shortage of good beer here then, and there sure isn’t now, with amazing local brewers like ABGB co a stone’s throw away. And I am still willing to be open to drink a Sam- maybe it’ll surprise me.

    • robjday

      I can see where you might be skeptical, but Jim came from Generations of brewers. It’s not like he just popped in. Jim, like many others who go the corporate rout find it soul crushing and need to get out and do what inspires them.

      “I am still willing to be open to drink a Sam- maybe it’ll surprise me.” Out of curiosity what Sam Adams beers have you had?

      • Sean McGuire

        Just the regular old Boston Lager. It’s just never been close to being my first choice when I go grab a sixer or diwn to the pub. Not that it’s bad, it just never has grabbed me. And i’m sure it’s decent. I’m not a hipster by any means. But there is and always has been a hell of a lot of choices out there, and I for one tend to go for more small and indy, not less.

      • Sean McGuire

        Also, maybe this article is mistitled. Maybe the craft beer folks never really embraced him, just yhe folks who wanted a better alternative to Bud. He will always have his die hard fans. He may lose market share if he doesn’t change. “Adapt or die”. But since he’s cornering the cider market I’m sure he’ll be ok. It’s always hard to stay on top. “Number one is a hard spot” :)

        • robjday

          Please don’t take this wrong because tone is impossible online, but this is coming from a place of pure curiosity and trying to understand this mind set. If you’ve only had one variety from a brand that makes many why do you outright reject anything else under that brand’s portfolio? What is it about the small/more indy brewers that appeals to you?

          As for your comment about the ‘craft beer people’ I think you’re on to something. The fist wave (80’s / 90’s) were not “craft beer people” as we know them. The 2000’s+ is a new generation growing up with endless choice. Many probably appreciate Sam (one variety or another) but it may not be their go to.

    • Daniel Judson

      Shiner is not ‘good beer’ if you are categorizing Sam as bad. But it’s your local brew and you’ve gained an affection and taste for it, which is great. The same is true with Northeasterners and Yuengling. It’s not great but it’s ours. Drinking it is a trip down memory lane. As an occasional visitor to TX, hearing the Shiner hype, I shake my head, but I get it.

      • Sean McGuire

        Shiner bock was a thing in high school. At 42, my tastes have changed. Shiner premium was good (no longer produced). They do produce good seasonal small batch beers, like a Ruby Red Grapefruit that is good in the summer, and a chocolate stout 106th birthday beer that is out now. It’s nit great stuff, but it’s decent at it’s price point. And it’s definitely true about regional / hometown favorites (what you said)

      • Sean McGuire

        And i’m not categorizing either Sam or Shiner as bad OR great. They are both decent. But neither is a small, amazing craft beer.

        • ande2994

          Based on your comment, would you say that amazing must be small?

      • Sean McGuire

        And at the risk of divulging one of my favorite local spots, that already can’t keep up with demand, ABGB co is an amazing local brewery. You can check their website, and I highly recommend them if you are in Austin.

      • rick spalding

        yuengling is one of the most inconsistent beers I have ever had. When I went to PA for college I was dumbfounded that people would ask for a lager. Which really meant they wanted a yuengling. I do like the Black and Tan and the light lager is better IMO. I have a friend in Chicago and the beer geeks can’t get it. When he goes home to PA he picks it up for all the people that want it, like it is some mystical creature that needs to be found.

        That was how it was for me and Pliny the Elder. Once I had it, I liked it, but to me I have had better IPAs.

    • rick spalding

      Granted I do not like Sam Adams for my own reasons, the cognitive bias is strong here.

  • joerockt

    Bottom line, there are just too many other options out there. Living in San Diego, ive got dozens even hundreds of craft breweries to choose from. And while i do have some loyality (Balast Point and Alesmith to name a few), when i find something new, i think its human nature to want to try. Koch should be thankful for what he “started” and find ways collabrate, support and nurture the movement, rather than this “whoe is me and my millions” attitude, cause no one is buying it, literally.

    • samfan
      • joerockt

        So, if he’s giving money to people who are in direct competition with him, what is he complaining about?

        • samfan

          I don’t support his alleged outburst. I’m with you there. I was just addressing that one portion of your comment. It’s disappointing behavior from a guy I admire. Maybe he was having a bad day. Who knows. I have had many Samuel Adams styles and enjoyed most of them, but I confess that, as a consumer, I like being subjected to a beer menu which doesn’t have (m)any familiar styles/brands. As you said, it compels you to try something new. I know I’m not alone and I know that bar owners know that too. However, if founded a successful craft beer company and went to a craft beer bar in the city in which the company is headquartered and saw none of my products, I might be a little frustrated too. But would I handle myself this way? Probably not. I think this is only news-ish because he’s a prominent figure in the industry.

          • joerockt

            I think the outburst just tells me that he’s not in touch. Can Koch honestly say that he only drinks SA beer when he goes out to dinner or lunch or to a bar? And what if they don’t have it, just throw a tantrum? Its just not realistic and really unbecoming of an industry legend. My first beer when I turned 21 was a SABL, and I bought plenty of cases back in the day when people were mostly buying Sierra Nevada PA and Red Hook ESB. How many tap lists do you see those 2 beers on? Not many at all for me. If it bothers him that much, why doesn’t he sell the company and start a new one? I guess my original point is that he should either be happy with what he’s accomplished, or start over and jump in with the rest of the small craft beer companies putting in some amazing brews.

            And those collaborations are nothing compared to what Stone and The Bruery have done.

    • Daniel

      Just as I volunteered else where. He has a choice: he can either “collaborate, support and nurture the movement” – if he loves beer. Or quit.
      He can afford to do either.

  • edward burns

    To hear the bar managers quoted here say Sam Lager is low quality really makes me question their establishments. It may not be bold like some crazy IPA or stout, but there’s no way you can question the quality. It’s undeniably a well-made beer. Maybe you don’t care for modest, well-balanced beer. Maybe you need something wild. That’s fine. But you can’t say Boston Lager is a poorly made beer.

    It’s sad that those places that are questioning it are so highly regarded. It makes me wonder if they’re really just chasing whatever trend comes along, rather than curating a quality draft lineup based on taste.

    • Daniel Judson

      And personally I think it’s in EVERYONE’S best interest (both the bar manager’s and patron’s) to offer a more recognizable, drinkable craft beer (no Bud, BL or Corona) for this reason: my wife will drink Sam but not heavy IPAs or stoudts. She’s a fun and lovely woman by anyone’s standards. She has fun and attractive friends who are similar. She would not go to a bar that doesn’t offer at least one craft beer brand she recognizes. I don’t doubt some beer snobs want their favorite bar to be a man-cave devoid of attractive women but they majority of guys aren’t looking for a sausagefest every time they go out. (That’s not to say fun, attractive women don’t like a hopped-up IPA! But they are a tad more rare than unicorns.)

      • MTYINDACHI

        i got my wife drinking northcoast scrimshaw, anchor california lager and dfh piercing pils…..not the same style, not very recognizable at first, but all definitely better than SABL. you explore and you ask questions.

        and what is it with your ipa complex?

      • Jason Nelms

        I have to disagree, I work in a craft beer taproom at night and at least 50% of our IPA drinkers(there is a lot more to craft beer than IPAs, BTW) are college to early post-college women. I also teach home brewing classes and the women in my classes are very much as interested in IPAs as the men.

      • ande2994

        I agree with your premise that Sam Adams is a quality beer for the non-snob, but I strongly disagree with your characterization of female drinkers. I’ll grant you that my man came into our relationship as the hophead, while I came in as the dark beer fan, but over time, we’ve both come to appreciate the best of both (and then some).

        I’m also surprised that no one has mentioned Sam’s great seasonal beers which, in my opinion, are a solid option even when smaller craft beers are available.

      • István Ping Clover

        Wtf is with your “attractive women” complex!?

      • Jason Nelms

        Posted this on the wrong comment earlier. So, reposting here:

        I work in a taproom at night as my “fun job”. If you are not chasing the latest trend when it comes to beer, you are going to be empty. No one is(or should be) catering to the 40+ crowd in the beer industry. Most in that age range(I am 45 BTW) do not drink as often nor do they spend much time in bars when they do.

    • MTYINDACHI

      i don’t have a problem with SABL quality. If I am at a bar where that is all that is served, I have no problem drinking that all night. But if there are better options available, and let’s face it, better options than SABL today are infinite, why would I stick to SABL? and I really like a lot of different styles so please spare me the IPA tantrum….it’s pretty silly.

    • Jason Nelms

      I work in a taproom at night as my “fun job”. If you are not chasing the latest trend when it comes to beer, you are going to be empty. No one is(or should be) catering to the 40+ crowd in the beer industry. Most in that age range(I am 45 BTW) do not drink as often nor do they spend much time in bars when they do.

      • Isaac Brubaker

        your reply has nothing to do with what edward said; it is completely off-topic and you missed his point

        • Jason Nelms

          Yeah, it looks like I clicked the wrong comment to reply to. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Eric Anderson

    This patterns what happens in the wine world. Iconic names like Beringer, Beaulieu, and Robert Mondavi used to be considered benchmarks. They are considered passe these days to wine geeks.

    • rick spalding

      I’m not a wine geek but you can also get wine that is the same or better for cheaper than the brands you mentioned.

  • Sean McGuire

    One option: they should do whatvthey did with Angry Orchard: make small batches of select styles, regionally market them under different names, and compete that way. It may be sneaky, but hey, his genius was in the marketing and branding.

    • wyclif

      I came here to suggest exactly what you just did. It’s even right there in the article—and other brands have done this very successfully! Even Koch’s company has done it, but with cider. Why doesn’t Boston Beer Company launch a few sub-branded IPAs and stouts? The coolness factor is immediately solved, assuming the beers are high quality.

  • Mike

    I still drink Sam Adams, I just choose to do so at home when I want to drink something familiar while relaxing. When I’m at a pub with a selection of two dozen beers, I rarely want to have something I’ve had before. That’s part of the fun of going out.

    • joerockt

      Exactly the point I was making. Long gone are the days where a restaurant would have Bud, Coors, Heineken and Sam Adams and you get to chose one. Now most restaurants have those options, plus at the very least several locals. Then you have restaurants that have dozens and dozens of locals. None of those beers above can compete with that, regardless if they’re on the tap list or not.

    • Youme

      This. This. This x 100. Most bars these days are rotating beer selections week to week. Since the entire beer scene exploded, everyone wants something different when they go out. Bars HAVE to put new brews to keep patrons coming back.

      I do love a Sam Adams from time to time. If I’m at a sporting event, and they have it, I’ll be pretty happy I’m not sucking down a Coors, or something even worse. SA is great that they have market penetration at places that smaller brewers cannot get into and that I’m thankful for.

  • BobbyV

    I’ve enjoyed craft brewed IPAs from around the country. Some great – some mediocre, but each had the character of the local area. The experience of tasting local brews is part of the enjoyment in traveling for pleasure. Drinking is a social activity and drinking local brews is a way to enhance that experience.

  • Michael Smith

    I don’t consider SABL to be a “craft brew”. Its a medium road lager. IMHO, if I’m in a light lager mood its PBR all the way, if I want a quality lager then looming for a darker german lager. As a rule, if in the mood for craft (taste and price), I’m going to look for bells, founders, allagash, trillium, new glarus,nightshift, russian river, etc. I consider Sam adams a better form of bud or miller, but why pay more for it?

    • awineguy

      “I consider Sam adams a better form of bud or miller, ]but why pay more for it?”

      You pay more for it because, by your own admission, it’s better. I don’t often drink Sam Adams because where I live the only bottling you see is the Lager and I’m not much of a lager drinker but it makes sense to me that if something is better it would cost more.

      • Michael Smith

        So I live in the Boston area (Sam on tap everywhere). I also compared Sam Adams to other microbrews, which are superior in quality and taste. Most of the other other brews I listed are available (bottles) at similar price points to sam.
        Sam is better than domestics, but not by a whole lot. There is a reason that it is the #1 microbrew in the U.S., its a safe leap for new beer drinkers, middle of the road (not hoppy, not bitter, not sour, not thick, not complex, not creamy, etc).
        SA is a good company, with quality products, I like some of their single barrel stuff. Their competition is also producing quality products, and many produce superior stuff.

  • rick spalding

    Sam Adams beers aren’t very good in the first place. His beer is one step above the basic corporate garbage beers. Hey I can drink a PBR, or Miller Light depending on the occasion but Sam Adams isn’t much different. Secondly it is a publicly traded company. Sierra Nevada has about the same market cap and is privately owned and makes way better beer

    • wyclif

      Sam Adams is hugely different from PBR in terms of quality. PBR drinking is a well-known move for hipster millenials wanting to look cool by way of fake slumming. But there’s really no comparison between the beers. SABL is a fairly good beer. It may not be hip anymore, it’s lost the coolness factor, it’s not a hoppy IPA, but it’s still a decent beer. I can’t say that about PBR.

      • rick spalding

        what is fake slumming?

        • wyclif

          It’s called responding to your comment. I’m talking about hipsters drinking PBR because of its blue collar background.

    • Dr. Obvious

      Spoken by a true generic beer drinker

  • Roger Fridholm

    Koch was a late-comer to the craft beer movement. Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, and others preceded him by years. He was never really a craft beer. The Stroh Brewery brewed virtually all of his beer other than that of his token brewery. But Boston Lager is a good flavorful beer. the IPA’s are terribly unbalanced products and will fade as fads do.

  • Jerrky

    This article is right on in saying that IPAs are driving a big part of the craft beer industry right now. In my opinion there are very, very few good IPAs out there. Americans don’t have refined taste buds like most food cultures and we like our taste buds to be hit by a sledge hammer of flavor with every meal. The IPA trend caters to this. It doesn’t take much talent to pack a beer with hops, but it takes a lot of talent to pack it with hops and make it taste good. It drives me nuts every time I hear someone rave about a beer and all they can say is, “This beer is wicked hoppy!” That said, if I were to start a brewery today my first beer would be a wicked hoppy IPA.

  • bacchusfa

    Craft beer didn’t abandon Koch. He forgot to evolve. Who really drinks lagers anymore now craft beer alchemy has taken off?

    • bstrong2

      I do and it’s a nice break from my usual IPAs. Also, pilsners are very refreshing on a hot summer day, which let’s hope comes soon.

    • Summit-Fi HeadphonesMasterRace

      For me the craft scene is about quality beer, and not about super hoppy beer.

  • Philip Molangi

    I’ve been hearing that IPAs are just a fad for several years now, and their popularity just keeps growing. I’ve had Rebel, it’s decent, nothing special. But then, it was served in a shaker, in a tawdry sports bar, not my local serious beer bar with its unbelievable beer list and in-house Cicerone. If I sound like a beer snob, it’s because I am one. And Sam Adams just sounds like a craft (which it hasn’t been in decades) brewery that’s been found out, uncovered. And Koch is pissed about it. Instead of great breweries like Goose Island selling out, I’d rather see Sam Adams go down that road.

    • Jonathan

      So you being this so called “Beer Snob” is the same person who called Coors Brewing’s St Stephanus his “instant favorite” on instagram .@doubletap3187????

    • Summit-Fi HeadphonesMasterRace

      For me, the craft scene is about quality beer, and not about super hoppy beer.

  • bstrong2

    What SA could bring back is affordable beer at bars. How about 4 or 5 dollar pints of Sams Lager? Jim Koch could lower his prices and sell (even) more beer. Without getting into a fight, most honest beer drinkers agree SA is better than Bud, Coors and PBR. Unlike many states, which can legally have happy hour and drop prices, Mass has overpriced draft beer unless you love your Coors Light. $8 and $9 is too much for a beer when you just want something besides a Bud.

    • Michael Garrity

      Great comment. Beer is way too expensive and many people are spending more for trendy beer. I would gladly buy a Sam’s for 4 bucks instead of some funny sounding beer brewed in a basement that costs twice as much.

      • Daniel

        “some funny sounding beer brewed in a basement that costs twice as much”
        Yeah – The Emperor’s new suit of clothes,

  • Matt

    I find it amusing that Jim Koch’s foil is Tony Magee, a guy ‘true’ craft drinkers often celebrate as being the fun loving hippie brewer, who plays by his own rules. The guy who was about to take Sierra Nevada to court over a weak resemblance to his trademark IPA font. While just a few years ago, developing DayTime a year after Founders sees success with All Day IPA and acts like he didn’t just completely rip that idea off.

    People seem to celebrate Lagunitas as some kind of craft beer champion when often times they are terribly fickle and catty. I know Tony speaks his mind, but I sometimes question if he has to call out others for ‘selling out’ as a deflection from his own brand appearing ‘too big’ for the kids following the newest flavor of the month.

    • Alex Shedlock

      I love lagunitas. He can be catty if he wants.

  • Michael Gorbatov

    Good article and great discussions!
    SABL is a good beer, but a little plain for my taste. Love Rebel IPA and season’s SA beers. Wish, there are more small batch beers coming from SA.

  • Isaac Brubaker

    As an atheist, I will always support Sam Adams since they left God out of the Declaration of Independence.

  • jACK hANLEY

    The story is basically a parable of what happens to David when there are no more Goliaths to conquer. Koch has become Goliath, and he doesn’t like all the little Davids that he sees.
    Perhaps he should try brewing with sour grapes…

    • Alex Shedlock

      Amen. Would I take a SABL over a Bud? Any day, but he is now the enemy. Don’t bash small business. Isn’t a billion dollars enough?

  • Name

    Drinking only your own beer is what led us to American Swill beer over watered and over produced by out of touch big beer company suits. Try a competitor’s beer Jim, or buy smaller breweries like the big boys. Just don’t change the formulas.

  • Curran

    Great article! Angry billionaires should get more support. lol

  • RLM

    Enjoyby from Stone rips the head off and shits down the neck of any Boston beer “version”

  • Bor Bru

    Sam Adams single-handedly invented the craft brew movement? Is that what you tell yourselves out there in Boston? Sierra Nevada got started about 6 years before Sam Adams, and if Boston Brewing is now the fifth largest brewery, Sierra is the seventh. Sam Adams has never been into hoppy brews and IPAs? That’s been what Sierra was known for from the get go, and it’s long been the signature character of most West Coast craft brews–many of which have been around since the ’80s or early ’90s, despite the bizarre insistence here that this is some kind of new trend.

    Is the New England craft brew scene really this clueless, or did you just have to hyperbolically inflate someone so that you could then write an article taking him down?

    • Loyd Enochs

      And don’t forget Fritz Maytag and Anchor Brewing in San Francisco.

      • http://terranovadesignstudio.com Ted Spores

        Yep! The author doesn’t get out much.

        • Holly

          You both sound like you’re just trying to show off.

          • http://terranovadesignstudio.com Ted Spores

            Holly,
            Ha, that is funny as, it makes no sense. It is interesting that a twist of perspective in a story can leave people with incorrect information. Its beer “history” hardly worth showing off for. The author missed some basic facts. Is that showing off?

      • Bor Bru

        Yeah, like I said, there are a lot of other pretty successful West Coast breweries that have been instrumental in the growth of craft brew sales nationwide.

    • Alex

      Its not about who does something first, its about who is able to be successful with it. One could easily argue that Boston Beer was the most successful in changing public opinion on craft beer.

      Im not even an Adams fan. I have a 6 of Sierra in my fridge for this evening. Im just pointing out the obvious.

      • Bor Bru

        You could argue anything, but if you argued that Boston Beer was significantly more successful, you’d be wrong.

        Sam Adams is the fifth largest brewery in the country. Sierra is the seventh. Sierra’s been around longer, and Sierra’s growth since then was in lockstep with Boston Beer. They are near-perfectly analogous, and that’s the plain facts.

    • Alex Shedlock

      Boston is still trying to milk the underdog angle

    • The 1hyperborean

      this.. were craft breweries in CO a decade or more before S A’s mediocre attempts.

  • C.R. Mudgeon

    No lack of beer snobbery on here. I grew up when all we had were Bud, Miller, PBR, and couple others, (no Coors on the east coast!) Boy am I thankful that I can now go out and enjoy quaffs from literally hundreds of different brewers including the big corporate ones.

  • Mike Smith

    Sam Adams still is and will always be my go to beer. Its my “budweiser” i guess you can say. But not in a bad way.

    • Alex Shedlock

      …did you put GUINESS in the same thought as micro brews? O.o

      • Mike Smith

        Oh no i meant that i like guiness and bass and such as well. Thats why i said imports and micros lol. But i can understand your distress! Point i was making is im a beer drinker, and i enjoy all beer that isnt that pisswater. But my main beer is indeed some variety of sam adams. Probably about 70% of the time.

      • Daniel

        It ain’t no micro but it’s an unbeatable all-time classic that will be with us as long as this world lasts. Not every time is the right time but there’s always a time for Guinness for me. Bass is good too.
        I don’t think Mike meant to imply it was a craft brew and he made some good points.

    • The 1hyperborean

      it reminds quite a lot of Budweiser. It is probably fit to brush my teath with, like budweiser.

      It’s bizare support of the lgbt mob representing … maybe… of 2% of our country.. is beyond questionable. I live in CO and get 100 times the quality and taste and selection..

  • Alex Shedlock

    Boston once again is trying to be the victim, and the underdog. You’re not the small town any more. No, you’re the New York Yankees.

    Sam’s is always a solid beer, but to take shots at GOOD beer is an insult. I guess when you reach $1 billion, you fall out of touch.

  • http://www.dddavidsghostcams.org/ David R

    Sometimes it’s not about the beer…it’s about the snobbery.

  • mm

    i did not read the entire article……but it is one of the few (if not the only one) craft beers that you can buy in a bottle around here and drink at home at a “not so high” price……so they will continue to do well if you ask me….

  • tim

    Here’s my problem, quoting from the article: “..Whether Koch will be able to market his way back into the hearts and mouths of today’s craft-beer elite is up for grabs…”

    Don’t “market” your way back in, just brew some good beer. Stop worrying what will sell in TGIFridays, and start brewing what you want to brew the best you can.

    • Tom Stevenson

      Marketing definitely makes a difference. It determines what price you can charge for your beers. Have you tried Rebel Rouser? It’s a damn fine DIPA. But, when I’ve told friends to try it, they look at me like I just suggested a Natty Light. And, it sells for $9.99 a sixpack. That same beer in a Sierra Nevada bottle would probably go for 4/$10.99. He puts 5 pounds of hops per barrel in there. I expect it is far from his most profitable beer.

      It’s easy to say, “change your recipes”, But what if it alienates those who enjoy the current product, and those who would enjoy it never try it?

      • kinghmong

        the guy’s a billionaire. He can’t start another brand? If he really cared about beer, he’d sell the thing and go microbrew.

        • Summit-Fi HeadphonesMasterRace

          IPA’s are the most popular beers out there, and Koch has already said that he doesn’t really care for that style. He obviously puts out beers that he thinks are good, and that’s kinda important in a craft brewery. Yes, I still consider it a craft brewery. 😛

          • Daniel

            Well, he doesn’t like Rebel Rouser and certainly not Angry Orchard for a start. In his position I would either quit or promote remarkable brews that move away from the IPA obsession.
            If he truly loves beer, he should charge a little more, become a trend-setter again and produce something really special.
            He’s got the money and distribution to spend some of his millions and seek to get the word out that there’s life beyond harsh IPAs. In other words become a craft brewer again..Better than leaving his fortune to ungrateful relatives.

          • Summit-Fi HeadphonesMasterRace

            I agree, though, he still has a business to manage, and IPA’s are bringing more money than other styles right now. I really don’t blame him for trying to get in the action. It would be nice if he brought something revolutionary in the future, but for now, I’ll just keep enjoying some of the beers they have been making for a long time. :)

  • InternetCynic

    Let me reiterate for the author: in no way was Boston Beer the original craft beer pioneer! Anchor was the first, back in the ’60s, some 20 years before Sam Adams. New Albion came next in the’70s. Sierra Nevada came along in 1980. I could name a half a dozen more that came before or around the same time as Boston Beer. Do authors not check facts before publishing their articles anymore?

    • Tom Stevenson

      Watch the movie Beer Wars. While you are dead on regarding the history of those brewers, if Jim Koch had not been successful, AB/Inbev and MillerCoors would still have a stranglehold on distribution. It doesn’t matter how good your beer is if you can’t get it onto shelves.

      • kinghmong

        I don’t buy that. The craft beer movement has coincided with a food movement that is driving everything towards more bespoke production; from whiskey to tequila to beer. If it wasn’t him it would have been others….no doubt.

    • kinghmong

      Yup… Pete’s Wicked too. Reality though is that someone making the quantity of beer he makes is not a craft brewer. He hasn’t been making craft beer for 29 of the 30 years he’s been in the biz. It’s certainly better than bud, but his beers were surpassed many years ago and he has failed to keep up because that would mean sacrificing profits. Even the Europeans are tweaking their century old recipes. Time for the guy to sell out to Bud and move to the golf course.

  • Summit-Fi HeadphonesMasterRace

    Well, I’m just glad Sam Adams has a bunch of beers that aren’t super hoppy. I mean, I do like IPA’s, but I prefer maltier beer.

  • Trevor Krejci

    If he’s mad about it then maybe he should be making a beer that doesn’t suck instead of ice tea!

    • Lupe Montelongo

      Bull Shit, at least Ice Tea doesn’t taste like a Pizzz in a bottle, like Corona, tecate, and several other; I only drink AMERICAN MADE BEER, No other bottled pizzz!

  • Trevor Krejci

    I’ve brewed better beer in my kitchen!

    • Daniel

      So true – Oktoberfest is just that great with superb taste. Sad to say it’s the only one I drink as Boston Lager no longer moves me. Maybe I’ve missed a few of their short runs and don’t give them a fair try.

  • Dr. Obvious

    Sam Adams makes some good beers but of course, there will be small brewers who will make better ones. The Boston Lager is solid for generic drinking times and far superior to 99% of the mass produced brands, but I’m not crazy about their seasonal ales and IPAs. Sam Adams does produce a bunch of different smaller batch beers which a few are excellent especially their stouts and a few don’t work. Even my favorite micro breweries don’t succeed with every beer they produce

    • Mike Spaeth

      The only seasonal ale I like is Oktoberfest.

      • Daniel

        So true – Oktoberfest is just that great with superb taste. Sad to say it’s the only one I drink as Boston Lager no longer moves me. Maybe I’ve missed a few of their short runs and don’t give them a fair try. [Posted below in error!]

  • Lupe Montelongo

    Bull Shit! We already have enough Mexicans to over-flow like giving them more to enrich their country; what we should do is to give popularity to the American made Items and cut the foreign made to re-gain our BRAND NAMES!!!

  • Tom Stevenson

    Granted, its flagship Boston Lager is pretty uninteresting, but BBC does make a few worthwhile brews. Rebel Rouser comes to mind. But, the Sam Adams name on the label causes some craft aficionados to dismiss it without trying it.

    Jim Koch could easily reinvigorate interest in his company by taking a page from the book of the company just below him in the rankings, Sierra Nevada. Craft beer is as much a culture as it is a product. SN taps into that culture by constantly creating beers that are collaborations with smaller brewers. Right now Sam Adams is viewed as belonging to the club of big bullies like AB/Inbev and MillerCoors. By teaming up with the upstarts, he could be seen as the big brother who sends those others away nursing a broken nose.

  • Brad R

    Sam Lager is my standard beer. Its sessionable but has a bit of bite and goes well with almost any food. Sad to see people get all snobby and forget those who paved the way for their success. Koch is a great mentor and has helped a lot of brewers and would-be brewers get their bearings.

    • David Sher

      Remember that at one point it was Koch who was the rebel upsetting the corporate apple cart. Koch has had his time in the sun and I won’t cry if he never makes another beer. Meanwhile there are simply better tasting beers out there that are less processed and more unique.

    • Ray Frigerio

      absolutely true . Most of these so- called afficianados were drinking PBR 10 years ago, “discovered ” IPAs and now have no palate for anything subtle. These people would have turned up their noses at what I was drinking thirty years ago as too hoppy, yeasty or dark…

      • Dusty Ayres

        Hard to believe, but here in Toronto, younger people drink PBR all of the time, apparently because local craft beers are too expensive.

  • baron987

    I always wonder why Jim Koch would choose Sam Adams as his company’s namesake – Sam Adams FAILED at brewing!

    • WhoDat?

      Market appeal to make $$ for himself

  • Ray Frigerio

    Hipster Bullshit. I was drinking Bass, New Quay, Murphys , Thewkston’s , Guinness etc. 30 years ago when there were NO Craft beers. Sam Adams and petes Wicked came along and fit the bill nicely, Still do. The problem is only that SA is no longer in favor with the johnny come lately beer snobs because it’s tame compared to todays offerings. Most of the contemporary Beer snobs were drinking PBR and Rolling Rock 10-15 years ago and drink only what they perceive As “hip”. For now, they’ve glommed onto our scene and will drink Chai spiced, banana bread , pumpkin rauchbier if it seems trendy enough…

    • Summit-Fi HeadphonesMasterRace

      I personally think Samuel Adams still makes good beer, which is the reason I still buy some of their brews.

      • Louis E.

        I bought their stuff for years,but when they pressured the Boston St. Patrick’s Parade to include homosexual groups I stopped.

        (I am not religious,but the parade is and needs to defer to the teachings of the relevant religion).

        • Summit-Fi HeadphonesMasterRace

          I’m actually a bit religious, and it that didn’t bother me at all. Anyway, 😛

    • jay_C

      “Most of the contemporary Beer snobs were drinking PBR and Rolling Rock 10-15 years ago and drink only what they perceive As “hip”.

      I agree, The stereotype of beer nerds making a deliberate pilgrimage to a brewery a state or 2 away to fill their trunk up with $300- $600 Dollars of beer is also nuts in my opinion. It’s a beverage for crying out loud! To each his own I guess.

      I personally never liked PBR, Rolling Rock, et-al. That being said, I am a fan of some new small local Breweries, but I also like Sam Adams Boston Lager.

      • Ray Frigerio

        I actually love rolling rock, but since it became trendy it costs more than it’s worth.

        • Louis E.

          I think cans of Rolling Rock are among the cheapest in my grocery store.

          • Mike Spaeth

            Rolling Rock was expensive when I was in college but since they got bought out they’re dirt cheap. And pretty good if not skunked.

    • spartan2600

      An old man shakes his fist at youth.

      • Ray Frigerio

        No , just trendy, vapid people who never do anything on their own…

  • Hot Cold

    koch is a marketing man past his prime and in my opinion years ago waaay too big to be called a craft beer. oktoberfest is the ONLY sam adams i buy.
    the article way too much when it could have been said in a few sentences. someone can finish reading it for me

    • Summit-Fi HeadphonesMasterRace

      It’s still craft beer, in my opinion. Samuel Adams Brewing Co. is just not micro. So, I would say Craft: Yes, Micro: No.

  • Daniel

    The obvious cash-in RebelRouser IPA has the ABV but no ‘friendliness’ or character in the taste. I’d say the much-maligned Boatswain Red Label bombers from Trader Joes taste better.
    But I’ve bought a few 6-ers of RR (they sure sell out quick!) and add just a tiny dash of Yeungling just to smooth it minimally. I bottle of that is enough for 3 RRs.
    Sacrilege? Well – my formative years were in England – the land of light & bitter and brown & mild.

  • Average-size Lord Fauntleroy

    I’ve given Sam Adams enough chances. I never liked anything from their brand. I’m a fan of Belgian white ales, so I go and give a seasonal Sam Adams white a try and I’m seriously let down. They’re always mediocre–bland as you can get. It’s basically the mediocre taste a brand like Budweiser would make when trying to ride the craft brew wave. Actually, the standard Bud in a can is exactly whet it needs to be. It’s refreshing with just enough taste, while Bud Light is depression in a can, in my opinion. Sam Adams fails because no flavor stands out. It’s like ordering a steak at Sizzler. Don’t expect anything special. Craft brews all have to be judged on a case by case basis, as do European beers, and the fact that snobs exist doesn’t change the flavor at all. Beers that are pretty mainstream but do it right are Bass and Newcastle. Those beers are exactly what the balance between Budweiser “goes down easy” and something unique. Also, if you are a fan of Newcastle, try their Werewolf version. It may be a seasonal beer. If Sam Adams could get it right, they’d make something as satisfying as what Newcastle makes.

  • Russ Wigglesworth

    Fritz Maytag and Anchor Brewing were nurturing home-brewers into craft-brewers long before Jim Koch came along. Koch won the first GABF by giving away crap with his logo on it, not by making good beer. Koch has marketed himself into the position he claims as leader of the Craft Beer movement.

    RW…

  • 1digger

    Samuel Adam’s Double Bock is excellent, at least in my opinion but due to the restrictive beer laws and distributors in Washington State, it’s now ‘unavailable’ and so the vast majority of the beers on the shelf are a glut of IPA’s, which in my opinion is an acronym for International Piss Ale’s, a dime a dozen. The time is long overdue for clearing half the shelves of IPA’s and fill them with something with flavor as well as kick; it’s not the quantity you drink but the flavor and quality and with a SA Double Bock at a cool 9.5% ABV it makes for one fine brew.

  • Ben William

    This is the very reason why I prefer to home brew with pure water from the top of the Rocky Mountains, ferment with wild yeasts taken from selected soil and wood samples, mashed by fresh ‘home malted’ organic grains from Washington and Germany, rather than get caught up in the rat race of commercial brewing. Bring it Koch.

    • blatchy

      (single clap)

  • Hector ‘Skrip’ Diaz

    I’ve always enjoyed a good Sam Adams since the 90s… I still occasionally buy a 12pack or drink it on tap. I enjoy a few of their varieties (Chocolate Bock & Rebel for example), but generally don’t like most of the others. I still call them craft (large) and i’m glad they lasted this long, fighting the big dogs and support them. They are now purchasing micro brewers and a few years ago bought a local brewery here in Los Angeles called Angel City brewing. I feel Boston Beer will be more truthful about letting them stay independent, as opposed to being bought by someone like SAB MIller Coors etc. Micro Craft is still my favorite and I enjoy drinking and supporting locally made. But so many are being gobbled up its scary… we’ve lost Ballast Point and Golden Road recently to big corporate companies.

  • Brian

    I enjoyed plenty of Sam Adams back in the day and still do from time to time. However Koch has been in bed with Miller for decades having his beer contract brewed in their regional facilities (something this article fails to mention). It’s a bit odd to be fighting someone while writing them checks.