Did you know not all Samuel Adams
beers are brewed in the same brewery? It’s true. Samuel Adams began life as
a contract brewed beer back in 1984. Rather than come up with the
capital to build a brewery in an unsure market for bolder, tastier beers,
entrepreneur Jim Koch founded the Boston Beer Company by renting unused
capacity from other brewers (Iron City in Pittsburgh, for example), bottling
his brew and selling it in New England. Koch literally went from bar to bar
in Boston to get his beer sold on tap.
Today, Boston Beer has grown from a small regional brand with one beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, to one of the nation’s largest brewers with a line of beers that includes stout, India Pale Ale, Kölsch, Pilsner, and many, many others. Contract brewing still continues as a means for the company to deliver fresh beer quickly around the country, but Boston Beer now owns the former Hudepohl-Schoenling brewery in Cincinnati and is no longer exclusively a contract brewer.
Still, some New Englanders are sometimes distressed to learn that the Samuel Adams beer they drink here is not always brewed here. What they should know is that Boston Beer does in fact operate a small test brewery in the Jamaica Plains section of Boston. Some draft beer, experimental beers, and special beers are brewed here, and tours are given to Boston residents and tourists. The brewery is located on the site of the old Haffenreffer brewery, which was a famous New England brand from the early 1900s right on into 1965 when Haffenreffer fell victim to the growing success of the national brewers, most notably Anheuser Busch and Miller.
Ironically, Haffenreffer at one point bought out a brewing company called the Boston Beer Company that had been in business since 1828, only to have a new Boston Beer Company sprout in its old buildings in 1985. Did Koch have the old Boston Beer Company in mind when he named his own company? Perhaps. What is not in doubt is that many fine test beers have come from the small Jamaica Plains facility, and living in Rhode Island I’ve tasted many of them at the Mews tavern in Wakefield here in my home state, and at the Great Lost Bear in Portland, Maine. You won’t always see these beers make their way to bottles, but perhaps that is part of their charm.
Samuel Adams Boston Cream is not a pie in a glass, but a smooth and light ale with a creamy head and a high drinkability.
I enjoyed this beer at the Mews tavern a few nights ago. The Mews, in addition to having 59 draught beers and excellent calamari, has a reputation for obtaining new and experimental brews from Boston Beer that few other establishments in Rhode Island obtain. Samuel Adams Boston Cream Ale is served on a nitro/CO2 mix, similar to the way draught Guinness is presented. Boston Cream is amber in color with a thick, rich head derived from the nitrotap pour. This beer has a nice malt background with a touch of fruit and a slightly bitter hop finish. A pleasant session beer, in many ways reminiscent of Pyramid's DPA, but with a bit more malt and bitterness than that brew.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.