Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams, pride themselves on being the first commercially known “craft beer” in America. Just like their namesake Samuel Adams they truly did revolutionize the beer world at the time with their delicious offering of Boston Lager, which many believe to be the flash-point of the craft beer craze we find ourselves in currently. Sadly though I believe that one of the originators might also be bringing about the craft beers demise.
In full disclosure for the 3 people who read this article and don’t know me, I was born and raised in a Boston suburb and have had more than my fair share of Samuel Adam’s tasty concoctions. I actually was part of the voting that saw Noble Pils be selected as their Spring Seasonal beer many moons ago and have always been a main advocate for the brew. With that said I believe that Sam Adam’s is killing American Craft Brewing.
Long since I can remember there was lurid anticipation for each season of the year so that you could get your hands on whatever particular ale or lager was put of that became part of your year. Beach season did not come around until that first Summer Ale, the winters never seemed so rough with a Winter Lager, and all though I might have an issue with the timing of it’s release (see previous post about Fall Beer) Oktoberfest was always a much anticipated libation. Sadly it was the popularity of the seasonal rarities that have lead Sam Adams down a slippery slope. To the best of my knowledge it first started out when the Winter Variety packs started coming out. They used to be fairly rare and you had to search out the right liquor store to get you hands on some Old Fezziwig Ale or Holiday Porter. I can recall turning 21 and roaming all over the Greater Boston Area on Thanksgiving break trying to get those, what used to be, rare brews. Half of the satisfaction came with just being able to find the beer in the first place, not to mention they were each delicious in their own way. Well as every year passed the beer became more and more prominent and easy to find; now I’m not against spreading the good word of beer to all that have willing livers, but at a point they went a bit haywire with the seasonal, and in turn, “collections” of brews. What used to be a purely Winter Variety pack turned into a Spring Brews and a Summer Packs and then The Brewmasters Collection and Barrel Room Collection and Limited Release Beers. While they were busy coming up with beers that varied only minimally from ones they had already made in the past they let the quality of others slip. Case and point is that of the former Spring Seasonal Noble Pils. What used to be a hop lovers dream or rich piney flavors that gave this golden lager a bright punch quickly got mellowed out from either lack of quality control or a deliberate choice to make a beer more palatable to the non brew enthusiasts, and trust me that conspiracy theory has been discussed more times than the grassy knoll in some circles. So many decisions like these seem to keep occurring with the Sam Adams brand that they have now started using other monikers in the dilution of quality beer like Rebel IPA. Overall I believe Sam Adams has taken what used to be a great quality product and instead of trying to make the best product they can are trying to make the most profitable and trendy beer they can, which sadly is starting to catch on in other craft breweries. It’s for reasons like these that when friends come into town and want to take in some of Boston’s great beer, I take them to shell out $5 at Harpoon instead of the free one at Sam’s.
Also Boston Beer Works is now a publicly traded company but I’m sure the stock holders care about quality over quantity.