Wasted
January 5, 2015 9:35 AM   Subscribe

 
Yeah Jim, because when you turn your garage hobby into a multi-billion dollar multinational it's still "craft". The movement he started was a movement against mass-production, it was very successful and has carried into many many industries and products across America. Huzzah, but when you then start mass-producing your craft, it just becomes what you railed against, no?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:47 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


. . . 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.”

I don't think many of the current generation of brewers, bar owners, or even beer drinkers appreciate what a relief Sam Adams getting widespread distribution was in the 80s - it was a solid, consistent, flavorful US lager dropped into a market that then almost exclusively offered watery, corn-based piss masquerading as beer. Judging by photos, Max Toste looks to be in his late 20s or early 30s, so I'm guessing this is ancient history to him.

I've had a lot of craft beer in the last ten years, but I'm still happy to drink a Sam Adams. The constant, twitchy "innovation" and desperate-feeling attempts at diversification of the current craft beer market (which aren't sustainable, IMO, and seem like they might be reaching a saturation point) aren't necessarily a plus for many drinkers. A lot of folks, me included, just want a good, widely available, go-to beer. Sam Adams was the first American beer in my lifetime to offer that.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:49 AM on January 5, 2015 [96 favorites]


when you then start mass-producing your craft, it just becomes what you railed against, no?

Well, an industrially produced Vienna Lager with a complex taste profile is not the same as your standard American Pale Lager. Beer works well as an industrial product, it doesn't have to lose quality with mass production. What I respect Koch for is creating tasty new beer options and pushing them into the American mass market. I don't care if it comes from a contract brewer or my neighbor's garage, I just want good beer. Sam Adams still does that, and they won't lose my respect until they stop.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:51 AM on January 5, 2015 [36 favorites]


Loves me all kindsa craft beers ... An' Sam Adams are still great, too.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:52 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Stock comment about how my favorite IPA is literally chewing hops and sniffing yeast."
posted by 99_ at 9:53 AM on January 5, 2015 [25 favorites]


The article itself is an interesting look at how craft brewing has evolved in the US but the framing of the article is silly. (I assume the editor not the author gets to write the headline?)

Sam Adams is ridiculously popular. It's everywhere, including lots of bars that advertise themselves as craft beer bars. A few bars built around the idea of only serving cutting edge stuff for beer snobs don't carry it anymore because it's passé. Big surprise.

The more macro-level stuff about Sam Adams losing market share as the craft brewing market diversifies was much more interesting.

Also Tony Magee is a petulant jerk
posted by Wretch729 at 9:54 AM on January 5, 2015


Huzzah, but when you then start mass-producing your craft, it just becomes what you railed against, no?

No. The problem with mass-produced American beers is that they are generally bad. A mass-produced beer that is good is still good.
posted by spaltavian at 9:54 AM on January 5, 2015 [30 favorites]


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.

That's me, to a T. I always figured Sam Adams was no different than bud or labatt.
posted by rebent at 9:54 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I will say though that although I have no problem with regional brewers using contract brewers in other areas it is a surprise to me that Sam Adams was virtually never really a primarily Boston produced beer if my reading of the article is right.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:55 AM on January 5, 2015


I'm from Portland. I don't appreciate Sam Adams, because since before it existed we already had BridgePort (1984), Widmer(1984) and McMenamin's(1983!).

Koch's big coup is obviously distribution, rather than being first or best, and more power to him, but 1984 was obviously a big year all around.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:58 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


My problem is with drastically underproduced beers. Two of the best beers I have ever tasted turned out to be either not bottled (and I haven't seen that one since I tasted it) or a one-off. Hey, we made a great tasting thing that people loved and sold out incredibly quickly! Let's never do that again! Jerks.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:59 AM on January 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


I don't think many of the current generation of brewers, bar owners, or even beer drinkers appreciate what a relief Sam Adams getting widespread distribution was in the 80s

I remember. I was there. That doesn't mean you can make me drink it now that something(s) better have come along. Christ, my mom says the same thing about Ballantine cream ale.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:00 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


The movement he started was a movement against mass-production [...] but when you then start mass-producing your craft, it just becomes what you railed against, no?

I don't think this is correct, and I think ryanshepard's comment hits on the reasons why. If Anheuser-Busch or Coors were producing something other than flavorless American adjunct lagers in the 1980s, I don't think the craft revolution would have happened. It wasn't the mass-production, it was the sameness. You had eleventy hundred types of whiskey and whine to choose from, but the four or five beer choices were all piss and piss lite. It wasn't sustainable, even with the big three engaging in all sorts of anti-competitive behavior and in many cases protected by state distribution laws and laws against home brewing.

So yeah, Sam Adams, and to a lesser extent smaller outlets like Saranac, Brooklyn, and Anchor started to put out things that went against the grain. Not nearly the kind of quality or variety that exists now, but suddenly you could get a different taste. Koch was the first to really seize on it in a major way and market the hell out of it, and as others have said, it's great for beer drinkers that he did. I understand why he's worried about losing the "cool" factor, but I think he should just be content being the best macro-craft offering out there and try to fend off the faux craft stuff coming out of AB/InBev SAB/Miller/Coors etc.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:00 AM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


His only plan, he says, is “to not die.”

Valar morghulis, baby.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


A mass-produced beer that is good is still good.

This. So much this. I enjoy Sam Adams and some other BIG beers. I also really enjoy smaller local crafty stuff, too.

Beer is a land of contrasts.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


To me, this story is similar to a lot of other industries - younger people just don't have the brand loyalty that older generations do. Young beer drinkers aren't going to become a "Sam guy" like their parents or grandparents might have been "Bud guys" or "Coors guys".

And as sort of a local parallel, I think people around here in Boston realize that Sam isn't really a Boston brand and don't defend it as vociferously as they will other Boston brands. There was a story recently about Yuengling's lack of penetration into the Boston market after its recent introduction, mostly due to what the article called "provincialism" on the part of Boston locals. It's not because people are drinking Sam, though - Harpoon is much more the "large" local beer that people will go to on a regular basis if they're at a bar that doesn't offer anything more interesting.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:03 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I would have chosen a Sam over a MGD back in the day, but now Sam Lager tastes like airport terminal bar to me.

I like most of the recent Sam varieties, but reading about a CEO who makes half his money on cider bellyaching about how no one likes his favorite beer recipe anymore just doesn't resonate with me. Sorry dude, your stock only went up 30% this year, you're *so* under siege.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:05 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


My problem is with drastically underproduced beers. Two of the best beers I have ever tasted turned out to be either not bottled (and I haven't seen that one since I tasted it) or a one-off. Hey, we made a great tasting thing that people loved and sold out incredibly quickly! Let's never do that again! Jerks.

Oh god, I completely agree. My wife went to college with Koch's son and are pretty good friends, and when we lived nearby him he was able to share some of Sam Adam's one-offs and experimental batches. If they'd release them under a different label or sub-label, they'd perform fantastically. Some of the best stuff that comes out of that brewery only goes home with the (relatively high-up) employees.

I think it really has to do with their distribution model; they're not set up for one-offs or limited releases…or even towards the smaller "craft" volumes (for lack of a better term). They're set up for their regular quarterly/yearly production cycle, and thats about it.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:09 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Steely-eyed Missile Man: "My problem is with drastically underproduced beers. Two of the best beers I have ever tasted turned out to be either not bottled (and I haven't seen that one since I tasted it) or a one-off. Hey, we made a great tasting thing that people loved and sold out incredibly quickly! Let's never do that again! Jerks."

Saint Arnolds here in Houston does this all the time. Some bars will even restrict you to only one bottle of their really limited editions at a time. "Hey, this is good, gimme another". "No". WTF?
posted by Runes at 10:10 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


"an unprecedented display of beer promiscuity"

Buried in the article: Sam Adams owns Angry Orchard! How did I not know that? It seems a little weird that Koch is keeping his distance from the part of the company that's actually growing by leaps and bounds, but if you're trying to keep up your craft-beer cred I guess it makes sense that you wouldn't want to associate yourself with the Budweiser of the American cider market . . . they're not all bad, but if I made that "Cinnful Apple" stuff I wouldn't brag about it either.
posted by ostro at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ctrl-F audacity. Hmmm… :7(

I don't see the title "The Audacity of Hops" mentioned here. It's a book about the growth of craft beer in America, and it changed my mind about Koch.

I, too, have turned up my nose at Sam Adams in recent years simply because so many great beers have appeared relatively recently. But that doesn't make their Stock Ale any less tasty, and all of those new brews followed a trail that Koch helped blaze. "The Audacity of Hops" showed that Koch emphasized quality and freshness when planning his business, and he consciously sacrificed the local aspect of his product to do so. He succeeded in creating very tasty beers, that could be produced economically and profitably, via contract brewing.

Lots of companies brew their own beers, with great success: more power to them! But Boston Beer really did employ a professional brewer of their own, and Koch's family had been brewers for several generations: the guy actually knows about beer. Last year my BiLs got me a case of several special brews from Sam Adams -- the Brew Master's Sampler or some such -- and several of them were really good!

Sure, I prefer a can of Surly Furious or Foolproof's Backyahd IPA -- but a cold bottle of Sam Adams is still a fine thing. Jim Koch's personal behavior might be shabby, but he did a lot for the small American brewer and his company shouldn't be shunned simply because others have advanced the art of brewing so far.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:12 AM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sam Adams was definitely my gateway drug into craft beer back in the eighties but the world is a very different place now and Koch and Boston Beer haven't really kept up. If my choice is between Bud/Miller/Coors and a Sam Adams, I'll drink his beer but when there's dozens of great beers on tap at every bar, I'm always going to try something else.
posted by octothorpe at 10:16 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think there's also something going on here with the Ale/Lager split. The craft market is really dominated by Ales, and the macro market is dominated by Lagers, and for a lot of young beer drinkers this means that Lagers are thought of an inherently worse beers.

When talking to a lot of modern hip beer nerds, Sam Adams isn't even on the radar as a craft beer, and besides the reasons mentioned in the article, I think part of it has to do with the fact that Sam Adams is just the wrong kind of beer.
----//----

Related: Name 3 popular craft beers made with Lager yeast instead of Ale yeast- I'll spot you 2:

1.Boston Beer Co. - Boston Lager
2. Anchor Brewing - Anchor Steam
3. ???
posted by DGStieber at 10:17 AM on January 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


That doesn't mean you can make me drink it now that something(s) better have come along. Christ, my mom says the same thing about Ballantine cream ale.

There is a mile-wide torrent of urine-colored, watery beer between Ballantine and Sam Adams, but I take your point. I generally pick DC Brau or Bells over SA at my local bar myself, but I still think the latter's quality is solid and consistent enough not to merit the kind of snobbery displayed in the article.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:17 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Summit Brewing in St. Paul does an occasional series of beers called "Unchained" several (three?) times a year when one of their brewers gets to design and produce a beer. They are often quite weird but wonderful (according to my brother, who has only shared them with me once. *sniffle*).
posted by wenestvedt at 10:18 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sam Lager tastes like airport terminal bar to me

Ha, yes. I don't dislike Sam, but it really is the beer of desperation lately. Which is really a great thing. When you can be in Pisswater, MT and still get a bottle of something not-awful just about anywhere, you should send a little thanks to Jim Koch.

I think the issue with the brand seems to be a combination of everything being suggested here: "craft" drinkers prefer ales; younger drinkers aren't brand-loyal; Sam has been background radiation for a long time and doesn't seem special anymore.

The craft market is gigantic right now, and fragmented. The "craft" drinker isn't drinking a favorite brand, by and large. I don't know anybody who regularly buys a six-pack, or even a pint, of "the usual." It's always something new. Which, admittedly, I don't know how long that will be sustainable. But it's been a good long time now, and it's certainly not slowing down. The beer market is very different from when Sam entered the scene.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:23 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


A mass-produced beer that is good is still good.

This is true, but fails to capture the fact that part of the appeal of small-scale production for many people is the sense it gives to consumers of having tastes that are somewhat rarified, setting them apart from the dull normals in the mainstream. That's why hip bands that become popular will always lose a certain percentage of their original following and why (in a different kind of market) luxury brands have to be very careful to cultivate their sense of unattainability and exclusivity. Take any of the beers prized most highly by the cognoscenti at the most exclusive craft-brew watering hole in the US and make it as popular as Sam Adams and even if absolutely nothing about the beer's manufacturing had changed it would cease to be the kind of beer offered at such a place.
posted by yoink at 10:25 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I haven't thought of Sam Adams as a craft beer for a long time. It's the beer you get when you don't feel like having a 10 minute conversation with your waiter about what's on tap.
posted by empath at 10:25 AM on January 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


Had half of this bottle yesterday. It was pretty delicious.
posted by srboisvert at 10:27 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


empath: It's the beer you get when you don't feel like having a 10 minute conversation with your waiter about what's on tap.

Or as Winston Churchill might have said "Democracy Sam Adams is the worst form of government beer, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
posted by wenestvedt at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


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.

Yeah, to be clear, he did more than "plan" to do this; Jim Koch didn't brew a single batch of Sam Adams after that one in his kitchen until it was well established. It was always contract brewed right from the start (including at the Bud brewery in NH, if I recall correctly - for maximum irony). He got an enormous shipment from the contract brewery, stuck in in a warehouse, and hired the best bartenders in the city to hit the streets and sell it, that's how the company started. I've personally attended a talk and heard him brag about this. The brewery came along much later.

At the same time... Sam Adams is good! I'm personally over the Boston Lager, but honestly if you get a fresh one it's pretty good and I much prefer it to most of the other available Vienna lagers, particularly Dos Equis and Yuengling (yeah, I said it). But they make other things; their Noble Pils is quite good, I really like the Oktoberfest regardless of how "authentic" it may or may not be, and there are always a couple good dark beers in the winter pack. As far as I'm concerned they could cede the IPA market to all the West Coast guys and let Sam Adams be a set of go-to session beers for when your tongue hurts from all the hops. It's unfortunate they apparently can't make that work as a business matter.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:29 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sam Lager tastes like airport terminal bar to me

That's exactly what it is. It may not be mass produced, but it's certainly mass marketed to all and the actually craft beer mindset is generally opposed to that. You brag about waiting in line at the Trillium brewery in the hopes of actually getting something. You don't brag about picking up a six pack of whatever seasonal variation Sam Adam's is pushing this half of the week.

I'm from Boston and while I appreciated what they did for beer in the early nineties, I never drank it and after so much dumbness on their part, I actually dislike them as a corporate entity, never mind the beer.

Also, it's a sad state of affairs if the 21 to 27 year old crowd is a driving force in any industry.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:30 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I suppose I'd be one of those looking down my nose at SA and drinking exclusively "craft" beers if one of those craft breweries could come close to producing as consistently quality beer as SA does. I'm apparently (well, me and my local beer snobs) the only one who's sick to death of hearing how unerringly superior the craft brewer du jour is. I've had bad, dare I say undrinkably bad, beer at one point or another from basically every niche brewer you've ever heard a hipster condescendingly namedrop. Like "you put this in your mouth and *still* sold it?". A lot of them miss more than they hit. But listen to threads like this, and you'd think every drop that comes out of a craft brewer is nectar.
posted by kjs3 at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's unfortunate they apparently can't make that work as a business matter.

They appear to be doing just fine financially, but it's Koch's job to worry about tiny things on the horizon that may end up being larger things later. The fact that they're playing in the cider market and have a stable of at least 5-10 quality seasonal / limited release offerings that they could ramp up production on if things changed significantly makes this really just look like a guy who's just covering all his bases. As much as I love offerings from smaller outlets, I do think there is a major craft bubble going on right now, but if I'm wrong and Koch's right, he'll be able to survive precisely because he's worrying about this stuff now.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Honestly, if I were Sam Adams, I'd make an ad campaign about what a pain in the ass it is to order beer at bars now with all the different craft beers.

Customer: "What's on tap."
Waiter *Pulls out menu, opens it, pages fall out to the floor.*: Okay, we've got a pumpkin caramel stout, a spring chive and pepper scented ipa, from Nebraska, we have a hay infused pale ale with a faint aroma of...
Customer: "Fuck it, I'll have a Sam."

"Sam Adams: 'cause ain't nobody got time for that."
posted by empath at 10:38 AM on January 5, 2015 [71 favorites]


The "craft" drinker isn't drinking a favorite brand, by and large.

I consider "More IBUs" to be a brand of beer.
posted by rhizome at 10:40 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, is it ever weird to see bartenders from your old neighborhood bar quoted in a magazine story found on Metafilter.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:42 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


The craft market is really dominated by Ales, and the macro market is dominated by Lagers, and for a lot of young beer drinkers this means that Lagers are thought of an inherently worse beers.

I'm not sure this is as inherently true as popular wisdom would have you believe. The fact of the matter is that brewing Lagers doesn't scale down. They take longer, eat up more space, and quality control is a bigger deal. Brewing one of lager batches is a bigger investment. So, yeah, smaller and newer breweries shy away from them. Pretty much every major Colorado craft brewery I can think of makes at least one lager, many as a year round. Which, considering that only one of the three historic beer cultures that US brewers draw from uses lager yeast, is pretty impressive.

Plus, I've never heard ANY say "oh, that uses Lager yeast, it must be bad," it's almost always "oh that's mass produced..."
posted by Gygesringtone at 10:44 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sam Adams Boston Lager is a perfectly drinkable, middle-of-the-road beer that just about anybody can drink on just about any occasion and it always has been. It is perhaps the most universally acceptable beer I can think of; if you're buying a six-pack for a party and you want to make sure you get something that everyone there who likes beer will be at least OK with, Sam Adams is a safe bet.

If I'm filling a cooler for a big family get-together I'll usually put some in there, as well as some Bud Light for the die-hard Bud Light guys and a selection of more interesting local brews for the folks who I know will appreciate that. Sam Adams is the bridge, the one that everybody can fall back to when their favorite is gone.

Sam Adams is a fallback beer, and that's OK. It's good to have something to fall back to that is widely available and which has broad appeal. I feel similarly about Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and (in Louisiana) Abita Amber, two other beers which are not my very favorites but which I still buy from time to time. I'm sure there are lots of other regional equivalents that fill the same niche. They may not be many people's very favorite, but I'm glad they exist.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:46 AM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Related: Name 3 popular craft beers made with Lager yeast instead of Ale yeast-

Actually many, many craft breweries now offer a Bohemian Pilsner. Most (but not all) of them are brutally mediocre pilsners, to the point where I'd pick a Budweiser or PBR over most of them. Quid sit circuit gyrum. (The massive amount of mediocre Kölsch produced today by craft brewers in America also gives me Opinions that I speak about loudly and annoyingly...)

On a semi related notes: 1) Sam Adams Octoberfest is far and away the best easily obtainable American Märzen around. Seriously, it's so good I stockpile the stuff. 2) I can't hate on the company. I know several breweries still in business today because Boston Beer sold them grains and/or hops at cost during one of the "shortages" that happen with disturbing regularity as the beer world goes through its growing pains.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:46 AM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Honestly, if I were Sam Adams, I'd make an ad campaign about what a pain in the ass it is to order beer at bars now with all the different craft beers.

Heh. It's funny, they quote the owner of Deep Ellum in the article as not carrying Sam Adams, and I've been there a handful of times. I gotta say, it very nearly falls into this trap; the food is good, the beer list is great, but it's just about at my limit as far as too many goddamn beers on the menu. (I also felt like an old fogey based on the crowd they seem to draw, but oh well).
posted by tocts at 10:47 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sam Adams may not be great beer, but it is solid beer, and it is ubiquitous. That's a great combo. It means I can walk in to a bar in huge chunks of the U.S. and be able to get at least a decent beer.

Plus, Sam Adams saved a whole ton of small craft breweries during a major 2008 hop shortage by selling tons of hops from their own stores to small breweries at cost, so they'll always be on the side of the angels in my book.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:48 AM on January 5, 2015 [41 favorites]


Don't understand the hate for SA. Also, note Summit Unchained Batch 15: Fest Bier, a really nice lager.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:53 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Koch is good for the industry in a 'rising tides float all boats' kind of way. From his early advocacy to his supplying hops during the shortage a few years back, he'll usually do what he can to help out the craft beer industry - with the assumption that, as its George Washington*, he'll benefit too. But that doesn't mean he won't open fire on smaller outfits that he sees as competition/undercutting to Sam - hipster beer bars, West Coast rivals, and so on. I'm reminded of the story of how he almost shut down Boston Beer Works a week before they were to open because their name was too close to Boston Beer Company. He might have had a point if his product wasn't labelled under the Sam Adams name (as a judge ruled after the BBW guys had to mortgage their house for the legal fees).

Once your company reaches a certain size/level of success, you have to make a choice as to what image you're going to project - Happy Cheerleader or Practical Jerk. He's gone for the latter and that's fine - he just has to live with the fallout from that choice.

I do wonder, though, what sort of bar owner hosts a brewers' meetup/dinner/tasting without making sure that each of the brewers' output is represented somewhere. Seriously, was it too hard to go down the street to grab a sixer of Rebel or something? If I were Koch I'd be pretty 'DAMN KIDS DON'T APPRECIATE ALL I DID FOR THEM STORMING THE BEACHES OF BUDWEISER!' too if I went to a restaurant whose entire market segment largely exists because of me.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:55 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Huzzah, but when you then start mass-producing your craft, it just becomes what you railed against, no?

Oh. So craft brewers are just...unsuccessful and small?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:56 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't understand the problem in being "beer promiscuous". Can you catch the beer herpes? Maybe by drinking a sour ale?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:58 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


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.”
Such, such bollocks.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:58 AM on January 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


Oh. So craft brewers are just...unsuccessful and small?

Craft brewer says, "No, no, those are nanobreweries and we scoff at those guys for the same reasons Koch scoffs at us."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:58 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's the branding of the bottled microbrews that cracks me up. They continually try to outdo each other with the graphic design themes and over the top robust names. Make mine a Ballbuster Hatesex Heirloom Fair Trade Triticale and Quinoa Kölsch in the artisanal bottle with rare-earth tinctures and the caps made from recycled Studebacker bumpers.

What do you mean how does it taste? What the fuck does that have to do with anything?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:08 AM on January 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


Sam Lager tastes like airport terminal bar to me.

Nailed it.

It's (almost) never terrible but never really good either. I'd never order one when I could have a Bell's, Dogfish, Stone or try something new.

Nothing against them and yes, I'm youngish so I don't remember when they weren't practically ubiquitous, but it seems strange to complain that they aren't in a hipster craft brew bar when they aren't a craft brewery and haven't been for years.
posted by saul wright at 11:11 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't understand the problem in being "beer promiscuous". Can you catch the beer herpes? Maybe by drinking a sour ale?

Well, I'm not stopping drinking the Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour. My drinking partners have hereby been warned.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:17 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


their Noble Pils is quite good

Yeah, I think I've mentioned this one on mefi a bunch; it's hands-down my favorite Sam Adams beer, and is the one thing the brewery makes that I'd class as Excellent rather than merely "I guess it's fine, sure"
posted by Greg Nog at 11:17 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's (almost) never terrible

The primary exception I know of is Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, which apparently uses the same cherry flavoring that Nyquil does. Avoid at all costs, unless you really like cough syrup.

Otherwise, I've got no problem with Sam Adams and wish they'd turn their contract brewing empire to making me a cheap sour. Bell's Oarsman is the closest I can get to that dream, and I've moved out of their distribution.
posted by asperity at 11:20 AM on January 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


I like beer. Period. Cheap swill and fancyass microbrews both. Even malt liquor. Bottoms up.
posted by jonmc at 11:24 AM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]




1) Sam Adams Octoberfest is far and away the best easily obtainable American Märzen around. Seriously, it's so good I stockpile the stuff.

Glad I'm not the only one. It's certainly better than any other major American competitor (Gordon Biersch, I'm looking at you), and frankly I don't think I've had any microbrewed ones that are consistently as good.

It's (almost) never terrible but never really good either. I'd never order one when I could have a Bell's...

Yes, well, you let me know when this state of Nirvana extends more than like 400 miles from Kalamazoo (particularly towards the west, please).
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 11:28 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cherry Wheat is bad, but White Lantern is one of the five worst beers I've ever drank. I don't think I've ever given another Witbier less than 3 stars on Untappd, but White Lantern had me trying to find out if there was a way to give less than half a star. (obligatory Review reference)
posted by tonycpsu at 11:29 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah Jim, because when you turn your garage hobby into a multi-billion dollar multinational it's still "craft".

Actually, yes, it is! Because the Brewer's Association (the governing body for such things) defines craft beer as annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less.

Amusingly, this definition changes every few years. Every time it changes, it gets ratcheted to just above what Sam Adams production is projected to be in a few years' time, so that they can keep their "craft beer" designation. This is done out of respect to Jim Koch, or possibly because he has managed some pretty sweet regulatory capture.
posted by Mayor West at 11:30 AM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


Related: Name 3 popular craft beers made with Lager yeast instead of Ale yeast- I'll spot you 2:


1.Boston Beer Co. - Boston Lager
2. Anchor Brewing - Anchor Steam

3. Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold
3. Surly Hell (Sorry if you're not from Minnesota and can't get it)
posted by mygoditsbob at 11:31 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I like beer. Period. Cheap swill and fancyass microbrews both. Even malt liquor. Bottoms up.

*add as a contact*
posted by Drinky Die at 11:32 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


[craft brew defined as] annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less.

That's insane. That probably would have made Hamm's a craft brew in its last years. (Oh wait, do they still make Hamm's?)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:34 AM on January 5, 2015


Also I am confused by the original kerfuffle mentioned in the article: if you are a restaurant in Boston, you can get ahold of kegs of damn near any variety of Sam Adams beer that you want. Their red ale is on tap at a few local watering holes, and it's goddamn amazing--like their Oktoberfest on steroids. I've had their Old Fezziwig on tap, it's so weird that no beer sommelier (what the hell do you call a curator of beer at a place like Row 34, anyway?) would ever be accused of pandering to middlebrow tastes for serving it.
posted by Mayor West at 11:36 AM on January 5, 2015


I drink good beer. I live in Decatur, GA, where we have Brickstore and a host of other fantastic beer bars in just-adjacent Little Five Points/Highlands area.

I also adore Sam Adams Boston Lager, and I'll sometimes get one in lieu of one of the insanely hopped up IPAs or overly cute hybrids that a some of the local scenes carry.

My local corner bar is currently carrying the Sam Adams Rebel IPA, which is quite good. I know taste varies, and some palates are more refined than others, but a lot of the Sam Adams hate smacks of sneering hipitude to me.
posted by echocollate at 11:40 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm not a huge fan of Sam Adams in general but if you get it fresh from somewhere that turns over a lot of kegs, I think it's a different kind of beer. It really does not age well at all which is probably part of the reason for the freshness obsession. They probably need to be even more aggressive with freshness but I doubt it's economically viable.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2015


Hamm's a craft brew

Before Olympia and then Stroh's acquired the brewery and doubtlessly changed the recipe, it was pretty tasty.

I'm talking late '60s of course, and no I wasn't quite legal to drink it then but, I may have had a sip or two ; )
posted by mygoditsbob at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


My wife's sipping vermouth
She thinks I'm uncouth
When I yell to the waiter
"I like beer!"
posted by jonmc at 11:44 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


And another point I don't see made in TFA: Sam Adams is "craft brew," but they're big enough that they straddle a weird divide, which makes them very useful to people drinking beer at bars that don't care about serving interesting/local microbrews. You can walk into any dive from Brooklyn to Baton Rouge, and you stand a pretty good chance of seeing Sam Adams Boston Lager as one of the tap lines, next to its watery American pilsener cousins. There are absolutely a lot of better beers out there, but if I'm in a place with four tap lines that has one "upmarket" option, it's likely to be either Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada, and they're head and shoulders better than Natty Light.
posted by Mayor West at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2015


[craft brew defined as] annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less.

By way of comparison, Moët et Chandon sells (and produces?) 26 million bottles of champagne every year.

I've no idea how many bottles would fill a keg. I've no idea if kegs of champagne would sell. (Can't imagine launching a ship with a keg of the stuff.)
posted by BWA at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2015


Sam Adams used to be my go-to beer in random bars that seemed be otherwise serving only Bud or Bud Lite, which were distressingly common back not long ago. In Texas, I would go for Shiner instead, but SA was a decent beer. I'd still drink it if no craft beers were around or if the ones on offer were all the "Fuck You If You Don't Like Hoppy" variety.

But I'm so spoiled for choice these days that I just don't drink it much. Great for me, sucks for Koch.
posted by emjaybee at 11:48 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I respect Koch for trying to stay out of the IBU arms race.
posted by Area Man at 11:50 AM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


What I find strange about that snobbish bar mentioned in the opening anecdote not stocking any Sam Adams is that every proper beer bar I know over here does stock at least one middle of the road lager that's drinkable but not exciting, because there will always be those people who wander in with their beer geek friends and just want something normal to drink.

Also confused tourists.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:51 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sam's was my gateway drug in the early 90s so it'll always have a warm place in my heart. And as others have noted above, the Oktoberfest is quite respectable. But there is so much choice now. Even out here in the hinterlands of western North Dakota I've got brewpubs in Minot and Bismarck. Hell, I can even get a Two-Hearted Ale on tap in the godforsaken hellmouth that is Williston. Koch just needs to drink a couple pitchers of Oktoberfest and mellow out.
posted by Ber at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2015


Here is some background on the hop shortage of 2008.

According to my local homebrew supplier, there were a number of family farms that went away because the owners were retiring and none of their progeny were interested in taking over the business.

Also, Sam Adams ran the Longshot brewing competition, which I entered two years just to get feedback. One year I entered a gluten-free beer which scored reasonably well. On the scoring sheet there was a checkbox that was something like "I would drink this at home." and one judge checked that. S/he may have been lying, but it was a nice pat on the back.

In learning how to homebrew, I discovered that I really don't care for typical American lager and much prefer British style ales. Fritz Maytag (founder of Anchor) once pointed out that American lagers fall into the category of "lawnmower beer" in that there is little that is as refreshing as an American lager after mowing the lawn on a hot day and I tend to agree. Boston Lager is not a lawnmower beer (IMHO), and that's fine. Personally, I brew what I drink at home and make session beers or IPAs in the spring/summer and darker beers in the winter. Right now I have a porter and a wee heavy (the later has been nicknamed "hangover helper" due to its high alcohol content and residual sugars).

Where was I?

Right - so Jim Koch had a fit because his product is getting dismissed by craft stores, and considering what he has done for craft and home brewing (or at least the marketing for it), the sour grapes are understandable.

My personal restaurant beer hierarchy is:
1. Oh, that looks interesting!
2. Hey, local brand I like (BBC, People's Pint, Long Trail)!
3. Sam Adams
4. Anything that isn't Bud, Miller, Coors, etc.
5. Diet Coke/Pepsi.
posted by plinth at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


The other thing is if the option is 3 bucks for a Bud or 5 bucks for a Sam Adams, I'll take the Bud 9/10 times. If I'm not going to drink good beer, I'm going to drink cheap beer.
posted by saul wright at 11:54 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


what the hell do you call a curator of beer at a place like Row 34, anyway?

If they've passed the proper certification tests (just like a sommelier) they'd be a Cicerone.

By way of comparison, Moët et Chandon sells (and produces?) 26 million bottles of champagne every year.

A barrel is 31 gallons, so 1 barrel would be 188 bottle of champagne (assuming 750 ml bottles), so 6 million barrels would be about a billion bottles of champagne of my math is right.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:56 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a local angle to this, too. I don't particularly like Sam Adams, nor do I dislike it; if it's the best option on tap and I want a beer, I'll probably drink it and enjoy it for what it is -- a balanced, easy-drinking beer that pairs well with bar food and is suitable for an afternoon round or three.

But with the explosion of local breweries, I've got options. Some local beers aren't very good, sure, but some are, and that means that when I go to my local watering hole I've got the option to give my monies to Jim Koch and the Boston Brewing Company, to BudMillerInBev or whatever that global conglomerate is called, or I could buy a TrimTab Revelator Ale and put money into local pockets.

I mean, I go down to their taproom and the owner of the brewery greets me with, "Hey, BOP! We just tapped a cask-aged Old Ale, here, try it!"

Jim Koch can't compete with my neighbors, I guess is what I'm saying.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


Other than the opening scene at Row 34, where it's not entirely clear what, if anything, Koch is ticked off about other than not seeing Sam, the entire article reads as a bunch of competitors ragging on Koch for no apparent reason (for example, the seemingly one-sided Twitter spat with Magee).

I like craft beer, but I can do without celebrity craft brewers.
posted by AndrewInDC at 12:09 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I started to make regular trips to the US in the early 90s, and for various reasons hit places like Columbus, OH and manchester, NH as regularly as Boston, NY, SF and Altanta. This was after Camra had started to really make an impact in the UK and I'd learned that there was delicious beer and tragic beer in an unfavourable ratio, but it was worth making the effort. Sam Adams was a very good thing to find in the various so-so bars that were as commonly on my alcoholic itinerary as the posh ones/real finds. (Finding Watney's Red Barrel as an expensive import speciality in a Brooklyn store was a bit of a shock, though...)

Yes, SA now seems a bland, almost generic option and much more unattractive than before. But I really, really don't want to go back to the time when it was the best beer on the menu nine times out of ten; SA is still very drinkable and it's churlish to blame it for being the success that changed the market.

It's been interesting comparing the way the UK and US delicious beer markets have been changing since then. The latest wave of craft beers in the UK has been pushed - and rightly so - by the American imports, while the number of bars and pubs in London at least that have given up having anything drinkable at all (except for a few bottles of criminally chilled generic bitter) seems to be on the up. Now, if you lot could only get your cask hand-drawn market up to snuff, I'd be very grateful. Thanks.
posted by Devonian at 12:16 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


If I'm not going to drink good beer, I'm going to drink cheap beer.

I think this is where Sam Adams runs into problems (at least for me.) I don't typically have the "there's nothing but Coors and Sam Adams" issue anymore - even dive bars often have some local brew on tap, like a Revolution or Half Acre or whatever. So when my option is a $6 Sam Adams or a $6-7 local brew, the local wins every time. Whereas if the Sammy were priced like a buck or so more than the $3 Miller/Coors/PBR, it'd have a chance, at least when my wallet's feeling light.
posted by misskaz at 12:17 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


[Y]ounger people just don't have the brand loyalty that older generations do.

Ri-i-i-i-ght. One word: iBeer.

Just wait till someone starts marketing a line of iLager, iPorter, iStout, iAle iPilsner, and of course, iPA.

In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar.
posted by Herodios at 12:21 PM on January 5, 2015


I'm with BitterOldPunk re: the local angle. I'd much rather give my money to the brewery with people I know, who greet me by name when I come in to the taproom or brewery, and with an owner I've met and chatted with. Nothing against other breweries' beers, but when it comes down to buying something, I prefer to pick the one that puts money into the paychecks of people I know and like.

And given that the brewery in question is Stone, I can almost always find one of their beers on tap, most places I go.
posted by culfinglin at 12:21 PM on January 5, 2015


the seemingly one-sided Twitter spat with Magee

And apropos of that it seems to me that Lagunitas strongly risk the same trajectory as Boston Beer: upstart to overlooked establishment. For all that "no PR firm" guff, Lagunitas have been very good at positioning and marketing themselves as rag-tag plucky rebels; while quietly becoming (the article says) the fifth-largest in the industry.

(And yes, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the "at least there's one good tap" constant in Northern California; quite often now Lagunitas IPA is also there alongside it.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:27 PM on January 5, 2015


It's (almost) never terrible

The primary exception I know of is Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, which apparently uses the same cherry flavoring that Nyquil does. Avoid at all costs, unless you really like cough syrup.


Did a Case to the Face race in college where we got to draw names and buy beer for that person. I thought I was being a dick by buying Bud Heavy, but the person who bought for me was the true penis on this occasion because he bought me Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.

The good times were not had.
posted by GrapeApiary at 12:39 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm starting to think we've reached the craft beer high water mark. I'm pretty sure Jim Koch will still be around when the dust settles.

The mid-tier craft brewers have expanded and increased production in the last few years and and there is an absolute glut of hoppier and stoutier and craftier delights on the shelves. My proof is anecdotal, but I really feel like they aren't making enough new drinkers to consume all these fancy $11 four-pack options. (four packs are the new hotness fyi cause who's gonna pay 16-fiddy for a six pack of beer?)

Also, who's been to the grocery store this week? how much pumpkin beer is left? How much Christmas beer will be left sitting around when Valentines day rolls around? I don't know if it's specific to my location in middle america or not, but I'm seeing a lot of seasonal beer getting dusty on the shelves. Craft beer may or may not be due for a shakeout here in the near future, but i'm pretty damn sure pumpkin beer jumped the shark in 2014.
posted by freq at 12:45 PM on January 5, 2015


Related: Name 3 popular craft beers made with Lager yeast instead of Ale yeast- I'll spot you 2:

N+1> Victory Prima Pils

And I'll second Dortmunder Gold - there are many midwestern brews that I love, but if I could only have one of them distribute to the Northwest, it would be Great Lakes.
posted by wotsac at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


mygoditsbob: "Related: Name 3 popular craft beers made with Lager yeast instead of Ale yeast- I'll spot you 2:


1.Boston Beer Co. - Boston Lager
2. Anchor Brewing - Anchor Steam

3. Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold
3. Surly Hell (Sorry if you're not from Minnesota and can't get it)
"

Mama's Little Yella Pills
posted by boo_radley at 12:50 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sam Lager tastes like airport terminal bar to me.

At Logan your airport terminal beer tastes like Cisco.
posted by schoolgirl report at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2015


Oh! I actually tried some beer from Cisco last summer or fall, and I liked it!

It washed the foul taste of pushy salesmen and overpriced networking gear right out of my mouth. Now, if someone could make a nice, clean wheat beer named EMC we could reclaim that name, too…
posted by wenestvedt at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2015


I think that the local Boston beer guys should sit back and at least be happy that they should be having this argument!

Anecdote: I am the proud owner of 33 shares of SAM, which I acquired during their *IPO* by sending in a postcard attached to a six pack along with a check. Just calculated my annualized rate of return - which, since the shares came out at $15/shr, appears to be close to 16%. I cannot claim all that price increase due to my own drinking, thank god :-)

My biggest beef is that they used to send out nice gifts with their annual reports (a hat, a beer-themed calendar, a musical bottle opener) but that ceased some years ago. But still: it's the only single stock I still own.
posted by scolbath at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm another locak drinker like Bitter Old Punk. There are 8 breweries and probably about 30 different local beers I can get within five miles of my house. I like putting money in their pockets* and tasting my favorites and the new rotators. Plus most of the breweries have 1-2 nights a week where for every pint bought they donate a dollar to a local charity. That puts tens of thousands dollars back into our community. Buying a bottle of beer from some other state doesn't do as much for my neighbors.

Some of the beer names can get ridiculous but most Montana breweries name their beers after local features and often do names that are puns or play on local features or dialect. Hence, "Slow Elk" and the reduced-gluten "Seeley Axe" which is named after the local logging town of Seeley Lake.


* I watched the Big Sky Brewing Company go from two guys on local access cable tasting bottled beers 20 years ago to a company that is now big enough that under Montana law they can't have a tap room. So at the brewery they give beer away for free because they can't sell pints on-site.
posted by ITravelMontana at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2015


Billionaire who owns the voting rights to the company he founded is pissed off because capitalism is doing its capitalist thing.
posted by desuetude at 1:15 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


For about a decade, Sam Adams became my party-going, go-to six-pack, as well, replacing Heineken as the beer "probably everybody will like". I don't drink much beer nowadays, but when I do (cue The Most Interesting Man in the World), it's usually Blue Moon or Chimay Blue, depending on my mood. I take a dim view to the cutesy-labeled craft beers that seem to try too hard in their marketing, as if they're compensating for weak product. I don't trust them.

I feel similarly about Sierra Nevada Pale Ale...

THANK you. I will always be grateful to my friend and fellow grad student Rob, who introduced me to draft Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at a little sandwich shop outside of L.A. in the early nineties. Until that point, my most adventurous and favorite beers were Dos Equis and Beck's Dark. That one cup of fresh, delicious, draft ale opened my eyes and ushered me into a wider world of beer appreciation, including my own home brews.

By way of comparison, Moët et Chandon sells (and produces?) 26 million bottles of champagne every year.

With good reason, too! It was also in the early nineties (I used to drink a LOT back then) I hosted a champagne tasting. Out of twelve entries, M&C White Star tied with Mumm Cordon Rouge in our blind taste test. Both beat out much more expensive champagnes and methodes champenoises, including Dom Perignon.
posted by darkstar at 1:19 PM on January 5, 2015


Authenticity is extremely important to millennials, more so than any other generation that we’ve seen before...Millennials can see right through insincerity, and they’re actually looking for it.

So...I guess PBR is a sincerely, authentically crap beer?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I lived around the corner from the Sam Adams brewery for several years, and took many many tours. On the tour you always get to taste 3 beers -- their original lager, whatever the current seasonal offering is, and a third beer. The third beer varied widely, and could be something from the regular lineup to a random experiment that they were trying out in the brewery (which, as the article says, makes almost none of the regular output but is used to test new recipes) and may never intend to produce. Once I was given a wheat beer flavored with lemongrass that was quite interesting.

They offer consulting services for small brewers looking to build their business, and help convene networks of craft brewers. They run the longshot contest and produce the winning recipes. The tours are free, but they ask everyone to chip in a buck if they feel like it to be donated to a Boston charity that helps kids.

And they make some really very good beers that I will continue to drink. This is a company that has grown pretty big while still doing some things that connect it back to its smaller origins. I can't think of any reason to dislike them.
posted by cubby at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like most others here, my problem with BL isn't that I don't like it, it's just that it's something that I've had a million times and isn't even my favorite out of the default sub-macros out there (given my druthers, I think Red Hook's ESB fills that niche). And yeah, the last five times or so that I've had BL, it's been in an airport (just a week ago, even!).

I do think their Oktoberfest is tasty as hell, but that's the only seasonal I've had from them that I like — I don't like those goddamned holiday spice nosegays that they (and many others) pump out for the winter, I don't like their wheat beer (outside of Oberon, I like very few wheat beers in general), and that means that any time I see a seasonal from them that isn't Oktoberfest, I give it a pass. I think of SA as yeoman craft beer that starts to fuck up when it gets outside of the beer-flavored beer niche.

I will say that I have regular session beers, but that SA is too pricey for those: I tend to go with Full Sail, Session Black, maybe a Fat Tire 1554, or whatever the fuck Trader Joe's brands have that looks decent. SA is almost always a buck or two more expensive than Full Sail or the TJ brands, and it's just not worth that premium, especially when it's competing with Stone, Laguinitas, Golden Road, Alesmith and a handful of other rotating beers that are the same price.

(My regular beer used to be Drake's Amber, but almost all of my local stores have drastically cut their inventory of six-packs — especially Drake's — in order to expand their 22 selection. 22s are apparently a lot more profitable, so Drake's has a ton of those out now but no amber at our local…)
posted by klangklangston at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2015


Tröegs Sunshine Pils is a craft lager and currently my favorite summertime brew although pretty much everything from them is good.
posted by octothorpe at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hate that I'm somehow (yet again, in yet another avenue of my life) a stupid millenial hipster or whatever because I like to constantly try new and unusual beers and I never choose to settle on one old-but-okay thing. It's what everyone should be doing. It's like Christmas every week; it's great and I feel great.
posted by naju at 1:41 PM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


What Itaxpica said above about Koch selling all those hops at cost to random microbrewery is what I said in the comments of the linked article. I may not care for most of the BBC line of beers but Koch really saved craft beers collective asses.

But I think it is silly that BBC won't sell a beer that Koch doesn't like.
posted by terrapin at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hate that I'm somehow (yet again, in yet another avenue of my life) a stupid millenial hipster or whatever because I like to constantly try new and unusual beers and I never choose to settle on one old-but-okay thing.

Hey naju -- I'm fifty-five, anything but a millennial, and yet entirely with you on the constantly trying new and unusual beers. In a world that is going so horribly wrong in so many ways (as has always been the case, I should add), am I supposed to NOT embrace one of those few things that just seems to keep getting better? That would be dumb.

As for the Sam Adams dilemma, I imagine that the Canadian west coast version would be Okanagan Spring. Just slug their name into this next paragraph (and replace US with Canadian) and it's entirely accurate.

I don't think many of the current generation of brewers, bar owners, or even beer drinkers appreciate what a relief Sam Adams getting widespread distribution was in the 80s - it was a solid, consistent, flavorful US lager dropped into a market that then almost exclusively offered watery, corn-based piss masquerading as beer.

So yeah, call them economic victims (not that anybody's suffering too badly by the sound of things) of their cultural success. And yeah, I still buy their (OK Springs) product every now and then, and it's still up to scratch. In particular, their porter has the kind of kick our long wet winters require.
posted by philip-random at 1:52 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


If I could still drink tasty beers (I can't because of celiac disease), I'd be slowly working my way through the unpasteurized beers.
posted by jamjam at 1:59 PM on January 5, 2015


I'm glad everyone likes trying new things, and can, but I do wish there were more people like me, who desire strongly to find a thing and identify with it and then that's their thing from then on. I'll try anything if its being offered, but left to my own devices, I drink Old Grandad and smoke Camels (or used to) and eat a turkey sandwich and call it a day. And now there's not even that option for most places because everywhere (in nyc at least) is stocking some cutesy 15$ brew thats going to fold in 6 months so why bother making it my thing.

I demand fewer choices.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:01 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think DG's got a really good point about SA being a lager. i think the microbrew/craft beer scene leans towards ales (I know I do), especially when huge IPAs are all the rage.
posted by Vitamaster at 2:07 PM on January 5, 2015


Potomac Avenue: I demand fewer choices.

Grampa, is that you?

I kid, I kid.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:10 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Oh wait, do they still make Hamm's?)

They still make Hamm's (and I drink a fair amount of it) but I think "they" is MillerCoors now.
posted by atoxyl at 2:10 PM on January 5, 2015


At Logan your airport terminal beer tastes like Cisco.

There's a sandwich shop in Downtown Atlanta, Sensational Subs, which is one of the few places within a few blocks around GSU where you can get a pitcher of beer. But it really is just "beer." You get one choice and don't know what it is, except that it is beer, the cheapest they could find.

Maybe they'll fancy things up at some point and switch to some Sam Adams.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:20 PM on January 5, 2015


Once upon a time I used to order Sam Adams as my best alternative to Bud or imitation Bud. Now I may order Sam Adams because I will never think "chocolate" and "double hopped" belong together.

I feel like this is progress.
posted by tyllwin at 2:41 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


See my thing is, I drink a whisky drink, right? Then, I drink a vodka drink, because why not? Leaving me primed and ready to drink a lager drink, one after the other, perhaps I did not mention these are all glasses sitting on the bar, me drinking them one at a time. Then to round out the flavor explosion-- boom, I drink a cider drink. And then the singing. YMMV
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:58 PM on January 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: Yeah Jim, because when you turn your garage hobby into a multi-billion dollar multinational it's still "craft". The movement he started was a movement against mass-production, it was very successful and has carried into many many industries and products across America. Huzzah, but when you then start mass-producing your craft, it just becomes what you railed against, no?
You have completely missed the point of his entire career, if you think volume is what he despises about American beer before the craft movement.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:00 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Guess nothing's gonna keep ya down, eh, Potomac Ave?
posted by tyllwin at 3:01 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less

So over 11 million hectolitres? That's a lot of beer. Almost twice the output of Germany's largest brewery, and over three times the production of all breweries in Switzerland :-)

(to me, a craft beer brewery has a handful of employees at the most, and your favourite craft depends on where you are because most of them are only distributed locally, but I'm not in the US, of course...)
posted by effbot at 3:04 PM on January 5, 2015


wenestvedt: Jim Koch's personal behavior might be shabby,
He saved many American small breweries in a recent year with a failed hop crop by offering to sell their stored hops (from the previous year) at cost. I don't know what shabby behaviors you are referring to - which is annoyingly common on Metafilter: "Hey everybody, hate on X, amirite?" - but that single, expensive act of charity was pretty cool.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:06 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sam Adams Boston Lager is probably the best American beer I've tried, though I admit we don't exactly get the full plethora over here in Australia. It's certainly miles ahead of any of that godawful Sierra Nevada rubbish.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:07 PM on January 5, 2015


this article is pretty contradictory, even the title. the industry has only left him behind in that he has admittedly resisted catching up to the shifting tastes of craft beer drinkers.
I like SA and appreciate what it means to the industry (although i'd argue that Sierra Nevada and Redhook were just as instrumental in making craft beers a phenomena in the mid 80's), but i'm a west coast hop lover with hundreds of choices that suit my palate ahead of SABL.
it's a great time to be a beer lover, no real reason to hate on any of it.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:29 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Spoiled for choice is it. I'm also interested in drinking local (except for Bell's, where it looks like the PacNW is going to be the last frontier for them...dammit I need my Two-Hearted!) and supporting local brewers, so, Jim, #sorrynotsorry
posted by Existential Dread at 4:24 PM on January 5, 2015


If anyone's interested, Row 34's beer menu. Some pretty advanced shit. It's their jukebox, they don't have to have The Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits if they don't want to.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:26 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Grampa, is that you?

Well, since you brought it up, young fella . . .

Once in the early 1970s, folks around me found out that I was going to be spending some time west of the Mississippi. No small number of people said, "Hey, see if you can get me some of that Coors while you're out there, I'll pay ya ta bring me back a case." Later, in Missouri, several people remarked to me, "Oh man, you can get Strohs back home, can't ya? Wish we could get it here."

So Coors and Strohs (and in some places, Oly) counted as exotic brews once upon a time and place.

I've never has a Samuel Adams. I was already a confirmed Guinness man by the time it was around. Before the 1990s, if I was gonna drink an American lager on purpose it'd have been a Rolling Rock. I say this as someone who grew up surrounded by local brewers with deep roots in the German brewing tradition: Hudepohl, Shoenling, Wiedemann, and Burger. Whatever these guys had learned and applied during the 19th century, it was pretty well dissipated by the time my father started letting me have a few sips during Reds games a little over halfway through the 20th.

That's the past. The present is that Great Lakes is now both my local* brewpub and (according to WP) the 27th-largest brewery in the US. I'd cheerfully quaff anything a' theirs a pub might offer. People in other parts of The States now ask me to bring them Dortmunder Gold.

So, with Bitter Old Punk: "I've got options . . . Jim Koch can't compete with my neighbors".

* Actually, there is a far less well known bottle-house that's much closer.
posted by Herodios at 4:30 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just wait till someone starts marketing a line of iLager, iPorter, iStout, iAle iPilsner, and of course, iPA.

Hours later it dawns on me: You know the old line about how you can't really buy beer . . . it occurs to me that that concept fits perfectly with a certain corporation's way of doing business.
 
posted by Herodios at 4:40 PM on January 5, 2015


So Coors and Strohs (and in some places, Oly) counted as exotic brews once upon a time and place.

I remember finally having a Coors some time in the mid-eighties when you could finally buy it on the east coast and thinking "WTF, this was what all the excitement was about? This stuff sucks."
posted by octothorpe at 4:55 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


So Coors and Strohs (and in some places, Oly) counted as exotic brews once upon a time and place.

Yep. I grew up in southeast Montana and in the early 1980's we would make beer runs to North Dakota to get Strohs (5.5%!) or Wyoming to get Coors. Nothing made you more popular with the ladies than strolling into a party with a six-pack of Coors.

Even a few years ago, I would go to eastern Montana and come back with a case or two of Hielemans' Old Style and Leinenkugel to give to my Wisconson-raised boss. You couldn't get them in western Montana.
posted by ITravelMontana at 5:13 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


So Coors and Strohs (and in some places, Oly) counted as exotic brews once upon a time and place.

I'm 30 and the absolute only reason that I had any inkling of this time in beer distribution is that hearing the song East Bound and Down once made me look up the plot of Smokey and the Bandit. I still can't quite shake the feeling that it's all a weird joke. I mean, honestly, Coors?
posted by Copronymus at 5:43 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Let's go gang. Sam Adams market share is at risk. We need strategies to save this billionaire's market cap, not condolences.

Strategy 1: An enemy. I vote InBev. They swallowed up Anheiser-Busch and they're crowding shelf space in our supermarkets. We need T-shirts, twitter tags, and protests to raise awareness of this unamerican threat.

Strategy 2: A hollywood movie. Brewer next door meets manic pixie dream girl who only drinks Schlitz out of loyalty to her father, who watched "The Last Detail" one too many times.

Strategy 3: Bio-warfare. We can defeat these IPA's if we attack the hops where they breed. Anyone know a Monsanto microbiologist with a grudge and some super-fungi cultures?
posted by surplus at 5:44 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am your grandpa, and I always thought of Sam Adams as "Fake craft beer." It wasn't as bad as Bud, but it wasn't actually good either. Maybe it's the I'm a Californian who had a small brewery nearby in the early 80s, or enjoyed having Anchor nearby. Or maybe it's because it wasn't hard to get import beers. But in any event, I'd never order a Sam Adams on purpose.
posted by cccorlew at 5:45 PM on January 5, 2015


"I'd cheerfully quaff anything a' theirs a pub might offer. People in other parts of The States now ask me to bring them Dortmunder Gold. "

Fuck a Dortmunder, but we smuggled a six of Eddie Fitz back in our luggage from our most recent trip to Michigan.

(Well, I don't really have much against the Dortmunder — it's an excellent beer for its style — it's just kinda boring next to the other Great Lakes beers. I keep hoping they'll get distro out here; when I asked about having some shipped, it was $50 for a six pack and that was too rich for my blood.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:48 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll also note that Coors is a better beer than Coors Light, which is what most people get when they order a Coors. Coors Light, canoes, sex. It's cliche because it's true.
posted by klangklangston at 5:50 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll also note that Coors is a better beer than Coors Light, which is what most people get when they order a Coors.

Yeah, that. The last time I ordered a Coors and got served Coors Light I looked the bartender with all of my overweight pounds and said, "Do I look like I drink light beer?"
posted by ITravelMontana at 5:58 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


If anyone's interested, Row 34's beer menu. Some pretty advanced shit.

Wait, what, that menu has two of my local craft breweries on it? Might have to adjust my "only distributed locally" rule...

Fun fact: Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien is named after the brewery cat.
posted by effbot at 6:01 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I swear I never saw Coors not-Light until I was 25. It practically doesn't exist in Missouri (but of course, Coors Light is ubiquitous.)
posted by saul wright at 6:02 PM on January 5, 2015


Related: Name 3 popular craft beers made with Lager yeast instead of Ale yeast- I'll spot you 2:

1.Boston Beer Co. - Boston Lager
2. Anchor Brewing - Anchor Steam


I see Full Sail's Session Lager in a lot of places, and it is ok beer.

I'm from Portland. I don't appreciate Sam Adams, because since before it existed we already had BridgePort (1984), Widmer(1984) and McMenamin's(1983!).

I think this is why Sam Adams never made much of an impression on me -- by the time I first tried it, I'd been drinking good local beer for years.

There's a certain kind of restaurant that my in laws like to go to, though, where the beer list is basically Bud, Bud Lite, Coors, and Sam Adams, and I'll order Sam Adams every time. It's enjoyable, though not anything amazing. Lately some of those kinds of places have started to offer Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in place of the Sam Adams, which is a huge improvement for me -- that's something I actually buy once in a while, unlike the SA.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:12 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


So I had to look Coors up on ratebeer. The light version has 0 out of 100, the original 1. I've never seen scores that low before; European crap lagers are usually 5-20.

(Boston Lager is at 65, which is pretty fair I think and an ok score . The interesting stuff tends to start at 80 or so...)
posted by effbot at 6:17 PM on January 5, 2015


"Craft" beer is clearly a term coined by the marketing department.

My issue with Sam Adams is that while it is a tasty beer and was clearly an early innovator in an era when most American beers were tasteless pale adjunct pilsners, it was simply a formula that he gave to a number of big brewers and then marketed the hell of of the resulting product.

During this same time there were small American brewers like Schell's in New Ulm, Minnesota and Yuengling in Pottsville, Pennsylvania that made pretty good beer and served a local market that was quite loyal. I'm not sure that Sam's has much on those two and for all we know they may have done some of the contract brewing for them (probably not, but who knows)

The craft movement got going when guys like Mark Stutrud at Summit Brewing (1986) and a bunch of others decided to take a formula for tasty beer and make it themselves!

To me the "brew it yourself" attitude is the reason that the craft market took off. Good beer and the notion that a person could start from scratch and make a business.
posted by mygoditsbob at 6:18 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


The secret to drinking something good from Sam Adams is to avoid all of their products that mention "malt beverage" on the label. E.g. Winter Lager.
posted by emelenjr at 6:28 PM on January 5, 2015


IAmBroom: "...I don't know what shabby behaviors you are referring to…"

In TFA, they describe how Koch is at a brewer's dinner and rants about the bad selection (shaming the owner, seated next to him), and heads into the tap room to check the freshness dates. That's what i was referring to as "shabby."

Other than that, I whole-heartedly agree that Koch is a mensch for saving his fellow brewers' collective bacon, and think he ought to be given some latitude to continue working, and not a rocking chair to retire to. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:52 PM on January 5, 2015


This thread convinced me to take the Sam Adams' "Fat Jack Double Pumpkin" out of my fridge and drink it while reading it. (Pumpkin beer's ship may have sailed, but not for me, okay?) It's pretty good. It's also 8.5%, so I am now pleasantly giggling at the comments. (Psst Potomac Avenue)
posted by ilana at 7:28 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Brewing beer is really not that hard. Brewing decent beer, while more difficult, is still not even that hard.

Brewing beer and then making it available in more places than your dining room, that's hard. And making it available in more than just a handful of places? It's well-nigh impossible. Koch deserves a huge amount of credit for breaking open the market for non-shitty beer; for creating the space in which a lot of people now play.

And it's still a perfectly decent beer. If it's not as mind-blowing as it was in the 80s, it's because the bar was raised, in large part because of Koch and his ability to get Sam Adams as widely distributed as it is.

The fact that Sam Adams is now the beer that I'll order if nothing else seems particularly interesting, that's huge. It went from being a beacon of hope in a sea of barely-good-enough-to-get-drunk-from swill, to a merely average choice, in the span of a few decades. That's actually pretty shocking, but it's not because Koch did anything wrong.

Beer distribution, in many states, is still ridiculously Byzantine. It's one of those areas where we really just need to put all the statutes in a pile, set them on fire, and start over from first principles. In many areas, at least according to some people I know in the industry, there's still a non-trivial organized crime presence. Getting your product stocked at a distributor and "on the truck" is still an extremely high bar, but it would be one that'd be even higher if not for Koch and Boston Beer Co.

A lot of SA's newer products, particularly their seasonals, are not really to my personal liking, but they all seem well-executed; I'm just not especially taken by some of the concepts they're pursuing (really heavy ales, pumpkin beers, spiced stuff, etc.). But part of that is probably just me being Grinchy and hating most of what comes out from breweries between Halloween and Christmas. I've never seen any real sign of corner-cutting, no slippage in quality, none of the things that you might expect to see from a market leader sitting on their laurels. That's no mean feat by itself.

Off to the fridge to see if there's a bottle of Boston Lager in there somewhere...
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:58 PM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


If we're gonna hate on BBC merely for their cherry wheat, I'm gonna have to hate on hallowed craft icon Founder's for their wretched Rübæus. But no, I won't do that, because Founder's still produces the sublime Breakfast Stout, alongside their barrel-aged seasonals that are bottom-fermented manna from heaven. Dare I say that one entire line of beer can be redeemed by one or two very fine beers? Maybe. I refuse to buy into the "this one thing sucks... so it all sucks now" mentality of so many wannabe beer critics. I really have grown to hate the "craft beer culture" of the past few years where ragging on well-meaning folks is what has come to pass as constructive criticism. The race to the bottom for the "worst beer ever" pile-on is why I currently ignore Beer Advocate and Rate Beer with a vengeance.

*/me pops open PBR tall boy and local craft IPA and sneers audibly*
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:18 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


It has always been my impression that Sammy was the introduction to American craft beer for a lot of people clustered in the highest-density area of the country around boston / dc / nyc. I know that beginning in the mid 80s sf, pdx / oregon and sea / washington all had a range of local craft brewers covering pretty much the whole pacific coast north of santa barbara.

those PNW beers by and large emphasized a hoppier, tanniny flavor which i percieve to be a distinct regional style.

i had thought (and I guess i still do, actually) that the milder flavors associated with SA and other eastern post-macro breweries actually represented a distinct regional style as well, just one that was not much to my taste. i remember finally having a (Chicago-based) Goose Island sometime in the early nineties on a visit after a couple years of wondering if they would swing more eastern or more northwestern and being disappointed that it was sort of bland. not that i recall the specific beer.

very weirdly, the true mother of Seattle's micros, Pike Place Brewery, had a licensed and producing satellite operation in *downtown Indianapolis* in the early nineties!
posted by mwhybark at 1:11 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


"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."

HA! That used to *realllly* bug me! I don't think I ever thought of actually looking up the Revere portrait, but I have clear memories of complaining that the guy in the ads and on the bottle didn't look like Adams to me! Forgive me, I was in college and getting an art history degree.
posted by mwhybark at 1:21 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sam Adams and Why We Need to Stop Listening to Hipsters (Total HOT TAKE)
posted by box at 3:49 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sam Adams and Why We Need to Stop Listening to Hipsters

Yeah, like homebrewing douches are any less annoying than beer drinking hipsters...
posted by effbot at 5:05 AM on January 6, 2015


Heh. He made some good points about the flawed view of authenticity and what makes a good beer, wish he could have done it without all the abrasive stereotyping.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:18 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hah. I just realized that the author of the original piece is a friend-of-a-friend.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:43 AM on January 6, 2015


I was mulling this over on my drive in. I think Koch doesn't want to be a sell-out. (Which is strange, in his anti-hipster/millennial views given the stereotype that such folks want fake-authentic.. ).

Koch doesn't like IPAs, doesn't like the IBU arms race it's become. He brews the beer he likes (that happens to have made him pretty wealthy). He doesn't want to brew stuff he doesn't like/agree with. But market pressures are forcing his hand -- ciders, IPAs (but not "american style" IPAs).

So he's conflicted -- he's gotta change/adapt to stay viable, and wants to, but not in a way that makes him a sell-out, or violates his own internal beliefs, and you can see that struggle playout in TFA..
posted by k5.user at 7:08 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Millenials are drinking so little Sam Adams, they're changing the way it's sold!
posted by thelonius at 7:28 AM on January 6, 2015


wenestvedt: IAmBroom: "...I don't know what shabby behaviors you are referring to…"

In TFA, they describe how Koch is at a brewer's dinner and rants about the bad selection (shaming the owner, seated next to him), and heads into the tap room to check the freshness dates. That's what i was referring to as "shabby."
Thanks.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:35 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


You betcha, IAmBroom. It's all good, we should have a beer together sometime! :7)

Again, I can't think of a similar instance where the biggest player in a market responded to a similar resource shortage with such selflessness. At the time of the hop shortage in 2008 I was turning up my nose at Sam Adams, but now it reminds me of George Bailey going to Old Man Potter and begging for a loan to keep the Savings & Loan from going under due to circumstances beyond his control. That is, I believe that plenty of M.B.A.-toting sharks in Koch's advantageous position would have demanded equity or huge payments from the brewers to whom they sold heir extra hops, but I have never seen evidence that Koch did so.

(The fact that contemporary beers are different from Stock Ale and Boston Lager is kind of like the situation a musical legend who can't adapt to new tastes in pop music. Doesn't make their old gold records any less bright -- just less relevant, maybe -- but Classic Rock keeps on keepin' on.)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:56 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


If we're gonna hate on BBC merely for their cherry wheat ... I refuse to buy into the "this one thing sucks... so it all sucks now" mentality of so many wannabe beer critics.

Oh, I assure you my hate is purely for that specific beer, not for Sam Adams beers in general. Or else I wouldn't have bought the stuff twice. The second time was because I'd forgotten how bad it was when I bought it the first time. "I'm in the mood for a fruity wheat beer, Boston Beer is usually reliable, and hey, it's on sale!" ... "Oh, this is that beer."

Now I make a point of warning people against it so I won't forget again. I should really just start taking notes on this sort of thing.
posted by asperity at 7:58 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


For a long time now I've considered Sam Adams a 'gateway' beer. This is the beer that Bud drinkers may deign to try, and a few (very few) may like it enough to order another. Now they're hooked on a beer that, compared to Bud or Miller, has flavor. Maybe next time the bar doesn't have Sam, or the keg just kicked, so you try a Harpoon, or Lagunitas. Beer is a hell of a drug.
posted by Gungho at 8:43 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sam Adams and Why We Need to Stop Listening to Hipsters (Total HOT TAKE)

Pretty much agreed.

Though I think that the idea that hipsters / beer snobs / whatevers are "killing the industry" is a bit overwrought (and, to be fair, the actual author of box's linked piece doesn't say that; it's a quote from someone else); I think the beer industry in the US in general is pretty healthy—they need to be a little concerned about the number of people who are avoiding gluten, I guess, but other than that it's become more socially acceptable for more people to drink more types of beer more often than ever before, at least since Prohibition anyway—and I think you need to take statements about "Millenials" with a very large grain of salt, particularly when they come from marketing folks. They have a very clear reason to want to convince everyone that everything has changed!!! and that you need to spend some serious marketing dollars if you want to catch the attention of today's Crazy Kids™.

Koch is evidence that you really don't need to chase the market. Make a good product, sell it, make more. If Koch had been obsessing over what the kids were drinking, considering when he got started, he'd probably have made vodka. With probably a diversion into Zima-style alcopops in the 90s. He'd almost certainly be bankrupt.

The "Hop Bomb" and "Quintuple Grand Imperial 10W-40 Stout" people are just riding today's version of the alcopop train.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:58 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


"(The fact that contemporary beers are different from Stock Ale and Boston Lager is kind of like the situation a musical legend who can't adapt to new tastes in pop music. Doesn't make their old gold records any less bright -- just less relevant, maybe -- but Classic Rock keeps on keepin' on.)"

Sam Adams: The Rolling Stones of craft brewing? (Doesn't portend well.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Rolling Stones of craft brewing

Better than the Rolling Rock.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:37 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Koch doesn't like IPAs, doesn't like the IBU arms race it's become.

Are US beer hipsters still going for IPAs? I thought the latest thing was craft lagers, via sours. MetaFilter beer hipsters, please enlighten me. Am I ahead of or behind the curve?
posted by effbot at 11:59 AM on January 6, 2015


Barrel-aged everything seems to me the new fad. Mostly bourbon barrels, resulting in beer that tastes of nothing except bourbon.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:08 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


And apparently beer barrel-aged whiskey is a thing now. I'm just wondering if one whiskey-to-beer-and-back-again cycle will be enough, or if people will start demanding at least three or four iterations.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:12 PM on January 6, 2015


wenestvedt: At the time of the hop shortage in 2008 I was turning up my nose at Sam Adams, but now it reminds me of George Bailey going to Old Man Potter and begging for a loan to keep the Savings & Loan from going under due to circumstances beyond his control.
EXACTLY my story. I began drinking Sam Adams again after that. And, true to this thread: I'd given up on their varietal experiments after the Cherry Wheat disaster. Didn't affect my opinion of SA's main products, but it seemed like they were just throwing darts at an ingredient board.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:17 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


BWA: I've no idea if kegs of champagne would sell.

A pony keg of champagne is one of the signature features of my friend's Mardi Gras Krewe, and I can assure you it's very popular. He got the idea from his hometown bar, the Homy Inn, which specializes in champagne on tap. The novelty (and absurdity) of the experience is part of the attraction, but it's pretty fun!
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:37 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


IAmBroom: EXACTLY my story.

I would brohug you except that then I would have to fill my pockets with stones and go throw myself in the harbor for typing "brohug." How 'bout instead I offer to buy you a beer or coffee if you ever make it up to Rhode Island? :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:09 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are US beer hipsters still going for IPAs?

This is one of those things where nobody can agree what 'hipster' means. Barrel-aged? Sour? Session ales? Cans? Saisons? Randalls? Black IPAs? Rauchbiers?
posted by box at 1:15 PM on January 6, 2015


Goze.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:21 PM on January 6, 2015


This is one of those things where nobody can agree what 'hipster' means.

Iäm talking about the ones that are killing the industry, of course :-)

(That Randalls thing was new to me, btw. We might need a new word for the kind of hipsters that run their beer through a "original gangster organoleptic hop transducing module", though. Cannot help thinking of those old fulöl ads...)
posted by effbot at 1:47 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


People like to act like Millennials are short-attention-spanned trend-followers, and that may be true to a certain extent. The problem is that the older generations were generations in which loyalty was rewarded. Youngsters have learned that blind loyalty gets you nothing.

When you find something good and consistent, it gets degraded to see its profit margin increased. It gets bought by someone else. Even if it remains consistent and high-quality, it's still the same. What's wrong with wanting some variety?

Sam's always gonna be there. I'll buy a Sam Adams variety pack or even an Octoberfest 12-pack every once and again. But when I'm going out for drinks? If I'm paying that extra markup, I'm getting something new and different and fun.

The complaining about IPAs really has to stop, too. It's like people who hate chocolate complaining that cakes are getting more chocolatey. Try a non-chocolate cake, and let the chocolate lovers have theirs.
posted by explosion at 1:48 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I thought the latest thing was craft lagers, via sours.

Based on what's being prominently displayed down at my Local Hipster Beer & Cheese Shoppe (actually a very nice place run by fedora-less people), there seems to have been something of a schism:

On one hand, there has apparently been a backlash against heavily-hopped high-ABV beers, leading to a lot of interest in "session beers" that top out around 3-5% ABV and have somewhat more subtlety to them... although there are some people who will put the word "session"—or better yet "saison"—on the label of basically anything, leading to bizarre creations like "Double Imperial Belgian Saison Ale". It would not surprise me if by this summer we're back to Vienna and Munich-style lagers, of the Jim Koch-approved variety. (Maybe Boston Lager will become the new PBR.)

On the other hand, some have seen fit to double down on the punch-you-in-the-face flavors, and have moved up to barleywines, Gueuzes, true lambics, and barrel-aged beers. Some of them are very consciously aiming for wine-like status and prices (e.g. $10-15 for a 24 fl oz bottle at retail, but with the bottle intended to produce 4+ small servings). I'm not sure how much success they are going to have, but some of them are admittedly... interesting.

And then of course there is the sudden interest in all things cider, which I think could have some staying power because it's naturally gluten-free and because it avoids the availability problems with hops. Cider should be, all else made equal, cheaper than high-quality Reinheitsgebot-compliant (no adjuncts) beer. In a lot of places it is still hard to get ciders that aren't backsweetened to the point of tasting like Boone's Farm, though.

The hipster drink of choice in my area is actually not beer at all but soju, in part because it is cheap and has a sort of cachet because it's not widely available outside Korean neighborhoods. TBH I am not sure how the distributors get away with legally selling soju, because it is produced by distillation and dilution I would imagine it'd run into the same problems that European alcopops do. (American alcopops are made by taking shitty beer and filtering the taste out, then reflavoring it.) Maybe they are just flying under the radar for now.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:49 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


although there are some people who will put the word "session"—or better yet "saison"—on the label of basically anything, leading to bizarre creations like "Double Imperial Belgian Saison Ale".

A saison is a unique style of beer! They're a kind of farmhouse ale, originating in Belgium. Rather delicious. (Apologies if you knew this already, I couldn't tell.)
posted by naju at 2:39 PM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


In a lot of places it is still hard to get ciders that aren't backsweetened to the point of tasting like Boone's Farm, though.

It'd be great if ciders would start using the "no sugar added" labeling that their non-alcoholic fancy juice cousins do, so there'd be a reasonable shot at getting something that's more tasty cider and less cloying alcopop.
posted by asperity at 3:05 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


A tried a dry cider recently, from Philadelphia Brewing Company. I'm sure it is great if you like that style but for me it was, "WHERE IS MY DELICIOUS SUGAR!?"
posted by Drinky Die at 3:08 PM on January 6, 2015


wenestvedt: IAmBroom: EXACTLY my story.

I would brohug you except that then I would have to fill my pockets with stones and go throw myself in the harbor for typing "brohug." How 'bout instead I offer to buy you a beer or coffee if you ever make it up to Rhode Island? :7)
It's a brodate.

Brodiddly back at you if you make it to Pittsburgh.

Bro.

Bra.

Br.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:10 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


We had a deal, Kyle: Goze.
Do you mean gueuze, a little-known beer style, or something more obscurre?
posted by IAmBroom at 3:11 PM on January 6, 2015


Do you mean gueuze, a little-known beer style, or something more obscurre?

I had assumed it was gose, although whether that counts as more obscure is up to the individual.
posted by Copronymus at 3:17 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Goze the Traveler. It will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for it: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!
posted by Drinky Die at 3:19 PM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


A tried a dry cider recently, from Philadelphia Brewing Company. I'm sure it is great if you like that style but for me it was, "WHERE IS MY DELICIOUS SUGAR!?"

Oooo. I would totally ask about which specific one it was, but I don't think they distribute in my state, so knowing exactly what dry cider I can't get would just make me sad.
posted by asperity at 3:30 PM on January 6, 2015


The hipster drink of choice in my area is actually not beer at all but soju, in part because it is cheap and has a sort of cachet because it's not widely available outside Korean neighborhoods. TBH I am not sure how the distributors get away with legally selling soju, because it is produced by distillation and dilution I would imagine it'd run into the same problems that European alcopops do.

In at least NY (and maybe CA) soju falls under a pseudo wine classification (because of it's low ABV, I think?) and is used by some places that can't do a full bar but want to serve a bloody mary -- unless that was a just a popular way to skate rules because soju wasn't known that well.

Also: soju bloody marys are awful.
posted by 99_ at 4:09 PM on January 6, 2015


Here in Little Rock, we're a few years behind on some things (and a few years behind that on others). The hippest beer company is probably Moody Brews, which was started by a former brewpub brewmaster/fancy liquor store employee in town. Their first beer was a very good double IPA, and their second is going to be an Earl Grey ESB. The second most is either Lost Forty or Stones Throw, both of which do a variety of styles (IPAs, stouts, a range of pale ales, etc.), the latter (it's owned by a group of four homebrewers, and got initial funding via Kickstarter) a little more adventurously. Neither of those are as extreme as I am in my homebrew life (currently fermenting: dry-hopped all-Chinook double IPA with sour-ale yeasts), but then, they're not supposed to be.
posted by box at 5:38 PM on January 6, 2015


Oooo. I would totally ask about which specific one it was, but I don't think they distribute in my state, so knowing exactly what dry cider I can't get would just make me sad.

Commonwealth Cider. It's not immediately obvious that it's part of Philadelphia Brewing Company by the labeling (because of arcane regulatory reasons.)

No, it's probably not distributed in your area. But in case you're travelling.
posted by desuetude at 11:24 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


IAmBro :
It's a brodate.

Brodiddly back at you if you make it to Pittsburgh.

Bro.

Bra.

Br.
I FTUsernameFY up there, Broheim Brocephus Bropoleon Bronaparte BrooooooaaaAAAHHHOOOOO!

*ahem* :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


So over 11 million hectolitres? That's a lot of beer.

Well, I fail at reading -- a barrel is 117 litres, so that's 7 million hectolitres. Still twice the output of Switzerland, but not quite as close to Belgium's total production as I thought.
posted by effbot at 2:25 PM on January 7, 2015


Copronymus: Do you mean gueuze, a little-known beer style, or something more obscurre?

I had assumed it was gose, although whether that counts as more obscure is up to the individual.
After reading that, it's clear that gose is essentially a gueuze, and the principle difference is the language.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:35 PM on January 8, 2015


I did mean gose, yes; in the American revivals, the distinguishing factor is mostly the addition of salt.

(Drinky Die's version is more fun, though, in a CHOOSE AND PERISH kind of way.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:54 PM on January 8, 2015




Yes, and as it notes A-B just bought Elysian, who made a pumpkin-peach ale; unfortunate if it's a coincidence, tone-deaf if it's not. Craft brewery co-founder not happy with Super Bowl ad snark:
"I find it kind of incredible that ABI would be so tone-deaf as to pretty directly (even if unwittingly) call out one of the breweries they have recently acquired, even as that brewery is dealing with the anger of the beer community in reaction to the sale," Cantwell said Monday morning by email. "It doesn't make our job any easier, and it certainly doesn't make me feel any better about a deal I didn't even want to happen. It's made a difficult situation even more painful."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:32 PM on February 2, 2015


It's a fine ad for the sort of people who drink Bud. The sort of people who drink Pumpkin Peach Ale aren't ever going to buy Bud anyway.

/besides me, I get a craving for it every once in a while.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:04 PM on February 2, 2015


The most hilarious part is the implication that pumpkin-peach ale is "dissected."
posted by rhizome at 1:19 PM on February 2, 2015


(FPP on the Budweiser ad)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:30 PM on February 2, 2015


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