Last week, I got an opportunity to go to the Samuel Adams brewery in Jamaica Plain for a small private tasting with Jim Koch, brewer and founder of the Boston Beer Company.
The event was a tasting of the 10th Anniversary Utopias, and along with me there were a few other Boston-area beer writers/bloggers, who got to taste the newest beer from Samuel Adams and talk about the beer, and beer history, with Jim Koch.
I’ve had numerous opportunities to speak to Koch over the years, and the one thing that always gets me is the passion he has for beer and brewing. He truly believes that Samuel Adams Boston Lager is the best beer in the world, and he has one every day.
As for the event, I got some interesting tidbits.
The current Samuel Adams Utopias still uses some of the original liquid of Triple Bock, which was brewed in 1993. He said they have enough Triple Bock for six more years of Utopias. When they run out he said there will be 20-year-old Utopias they can use in the recipe.
He said it would be easy to increase the ABV of Utopias (it is currently 29 percent), but he said he thinks Samuel Adams has reached the limit of high it can go before it starts to lose its taste. The taste is the most important thing.
As for other beers and breweries, he said he loves to see what other American breweries are doing when it comes to barrel-aging. He said when they made Triple Bock in 1993, no one else was doing it.
Samuel Adams doesn’t brew a west coast-style IPA because he said there really isn’t anything new that can be added to the style. He said Samuel Adams could brew an excellent one, but the market is flooded with excellent west coast IPAs.
Koch also said he doesn’t brew big, hoppy beers because he doesn’t find them fun to drink.
“Ultimately, the purpose of drinking beer is for pleasure,” he said.
Samuel Adams is using a small, 10-gallon nano brewery in the Jamaica Plain brewery to brew test batches of beers. Currently, they brewed some beer aged on various Japanese woods. They will also be brewing an India pale lager.
He also spoke about the craft beer bubble being near a popping point. He thinks the market share could grow to 10 percent by the end of the decade, but he thinks that most stores have reached their limit for all the new breweries. He said there are too many breweries brewing similar beers without adding anything to the market. An exception he pointed out was Enlightenment Ales out of Lowell, which is adding something no one is doing, he said.
All in all, it was a fun night. Koch knows a lot about the history of the craft beer industry and still looks forward to going to work every day. If you ever have a chance to talk about him about beer, do it.