If you have ever wondered about the art of brewing beer then it’s time to book a tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery, one of the biggest in Boston, to learn about the city’s beer culture. We recently had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the brewery where we learned how the combination of hops for aromatic content, barley for taste and pure water from the Quabbin Reservoir, contribute to the beer’s overall taste.
“Yeast really defines the recipe,” said Seth Adams, who conducted our tour. “When you add hops early in the brewing process that defines the bitterness while when you add them at the end, it adds the aromatic quality.”
The brewing process starts with boiling tanks, then the product is moved to a heat exchanger, and later to fermentation tanks where the temperature is dropped before heat is added. After this process, the beer is then moved to a separation tank where it ferments for another two weeks.
Today, Boston Beer has more than 30 different styles of beer, including the 29 percent ABV Samuel Adams® Utopias® that were introduced in 2012. “The Boston Lager is our flagship beer made with just four basic ingredients — water, hops, malted grains and yeast,” said Adams. “I think the success of the beers here is the simplicity of ingredients we use yet the complexity of the taste that is created.”
In 1994, the brewery tried its hand at the barrel aging process. “We started with the Triple Bock, which had 18 percent alcohol by volume,” Adams added. “We really learned about the barrel process and the differences of barrel aging. Jim [Koch, Founder and Chairman of the Boston Beer Company] really wants to redefine what people perceive a beer to be. With the Utopias, we tried to create a beer that was complex and unlike anything we have ever done. It uses maple syrup and is the world’s strongest naturally fermented beer.”
"Working in the beer business is rewarding enough but to give back to the community is a huge focus of ours,” said Adams. “Jim loves to help small businesses. We do a lot of charity events and all of our tours are free. We just ask for a $2 donation that benefits a local charity.” All tours end in the tasting room where you can sample everything from a medium bodied Boston Lager and lemony Summer Ale to a New World Tripel and 13th Hour Dark Stout. The Samuel Adams Boston Brewery is located at the site of the former Haffenreffer Brewery.