Sam Adams Brewery Tour

Posted on August 7th, 2009

Sam Adams the patriot has a special place in American colonial history, so it’s fitting that Sam Adams beer has such a special place in American craft beer history. Boston Lager, their signature beer, was first brewed in founder Jim Koch’s kitchen using a recipe passed down from previous generations of Koch family brewers. Today it is not only the largest craft brewery in America, after Anheuser-Busch’s sale to InBev, it’s also the largest American owned brewery in the country as well. Sam Adams is actually poised to leave the craft brewery distinction as it continues to expand its operations, but there’s  no doubt they’ll still continue to brew great beers.

With all of this in mind, and the fact that the brewery is located right in Boston, we felt it was only fitting that Beeriety check the place out.

The tour starts in a room full of the brewery’s history:

Some of Sam Adams many awards

Some of The Boston Beer Company's many awards

Then we learned how beer is made and the ingredients that go in it:

Learning about the ingredients of beer

Learning about the ingredients that go into their beer

Then we got to see the brewing process in action:

the brewing room!

Touring the brewing facilities

Finally we got to taste the end result of all this brewing magic. They were as fresh as you’re going to get:

Trying the freshest Sam Adams around

Sampling the freshest Sam Adams around in their tasting room

We found it to be fun, educational and full of free beer at the end. Included in the free samples at the end are a taste of Boston Brick Red, a special brew that’s available only on draft in the Boston area, sales of which help fund local charities. We also got to smell, not taste, a bottle of Utopias, Sam Adams’ special 25% alcohol by volume experimental beer, which can retail for almost 200 dollars a bottle and holds the Guinness World Record for strongest beer in the world; it was a real treat. The best part of course is that the whole thing is free. If you’re in the Boston area, do yourself a favor and check out the tour for yourself.

To see more photos of our trip to Sam Adams take a look at our photo set on flickr.

Beeriety Travelogue: The Road to Delaware [pt. 2]

Posted on July 29th, 2009

Last weekend several members of team Beeriety went down to Delaware to investigate the Dogfish Head Brewery. Dogfish Head is one of the most popular craft breweries in America, having built a reputation for unconventional and experimental beers of all sorts and sizes. They are probably best known for intensely hoppy beers such as the 60 Minute, 90 Minute and 120 Minute IPAs, but they also specialize in modern recreations of historical beers, such as the Midas Touch, a beer based on the residue of an alcoholic beverage found in the tomb of King Midas in Turkey dating back to 8th century BCE.

None of us knew quite what to expect when we made the long trek from Boston to Delaware, but we were all pleased by what we found at the brewery in Milton.  You’re allowed to get quite an intimate look at the brewing facilities and learn quite a bit of the company’s history. Besides brash innovation and experimentation one of the qualities which Dogfish Head is known for is it’s rapid growth and expansion. Even amidst the current economic downturn around the country, the brewery has steadily grown in size, at the staggering rate of 40% per year in the last few years. When we pulled up to the brewery the first thing we noticed was the evidence of construction. Clearly Dogfish Head’s “Off-centered ales for off-centered people” has come a long way from its early days.

Dogfish Head brewerys Sir Hops Alot

Dogfish Head brewery's Sir Hops Alot

The tour begins with a look at Dogfish Head’s humble beginnings. When Sam Calagione opened the brewery in 1995 it was the smallest commercial brewery in America. On display is the very first brewing setup he used to make beer, which looks almost antiquated in it’s simplicity and small size. In the beginning  it took Calagione and a co-worker 10 hours to bottle just 100 cases of beer, today they are the country’s 21st largest brewery, producing  almost 2.5 million gallons of beer a year. Also on view is “Sir Hops A Lot” a device designed by  Calagione to allow for continuous hopping of beer during the brewing process, which makes his famous 60 Minute IPA and other continuously hopped beers possible.

In addition to the innovation Calagione has brought to new beers which defy categorization, he’s also innovated new brewing processes. Besides “Sir Hops A Lot” Calagione has also built “Randall the Enamel Animal,” which is described as a organoleptic hop transducer module (whatever that means). Basically beer leaving a keg passes through Randall, a cylinder full of hops and a filter, re-hopping the beer once more before it reaches your glass.

Dogfish Head brewerys fermentation tanks

Dogfish Head brewery's fermentation tanks

The tour continues with a look at the many barrels and bright tanks which produce the beer which has become so loved by so many beer drinkers, including  a wooden barrel made from palo santo (holy wood in Spanish), a rare type of wood from Paraguay which is so dense it sinks in water, making it the perfect vessel to contain fermenting beer. The barrel is fifteen feet high and ten feet in diameter, and holds nine thousand gallons.

After getting to explore most of the brewing facilities we were provided with four beer samples, Shelter Pale Ale, Midas Touch, Raison d’etre and Indian Brown Ale. Three samples is the maximum the state allows. Our tour guide implored us to contact Delaware state representatives to plead for a more samples, but in the meantime we were happy to try the beer we were provided with.

Dogfish Head brews & eats at Rohobeth Beach

Dogfish Head brews & eats at Rohobeth Beach

After the brewery tour we headed 20 minutes south to Reboboth Beach, home to Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats, a popular brewpub near the boadwalk which, in addition to quality pub food and Dogfish Head brews also serves Dogfish Head vodka, rum and gin produced at the brewpub’s micro-distillery. When we arrived on Saturday night the place was crowded and lively, with The Neon Swing, a swing band playing in back. The brewpub usually offers a few beers not typically available in stores. By the time we got there that night several of these special brews had already been tapped, but what we did try was delightful, and probably the freshest Dogfish Head any of us had ever had.

While we were there we also got to meet a reader, Vinnie, who spotted our offer to buy someone a round at the restaurant on Twitter. We were happy to meet him and and his wife, and happy to buy him a round.

All and all it was a great trip, and certainly worth the trip if you’re some place near by. Free tours are offered daily, check Dogfish.com for more information. To see more photos from the Dogfish Head brewery tour and our trip to Delaware check out the Beeriety trip to Delaware flickr set…

Beeriety Travelogue: The Road to Delaware [pt. 1]

Posted on July 27th, 2009

Iron Hill Beer SnobsAs a Delaware native, I’ve long been proud of local craft-brew heroes Dogfish Head. So when the Beeriety team expressed an interest in touring their facilities, I called my parents and said I’d be home for the weekend – with a team of beer-experts in tow!

On Friday afternoon, Carleton, Ryan, Chris, and I left Boston behind us and hit the road for my home-town of Dover. We got into Delaware just before 10:00pm and decided to stop off in Newark for some food and a few beers at my favorite college haunts, Iron Hill Brewery. Iron Hill is a small, Delaware-based Brewpub chain with locations in DE, PA and recently NJ, known for their award-winning beers and their innovative cuisine (cheesesteak egg rolls? Yeah, they have that.)

Iron Hill Brewery Flight

The house flight at Iron Hill Brewery

Each of the guys got a flight, which consisted of 4 oz. pour of all EIGHT of their current taps, plus an additional pour of their cask-conditioned Pig-Iron Porter. [As the driver, I limited myself to one pint of their delicious Vienna Red Lager. Safety first.] The list consisted of their year-round brews and several seasonals, including a German Pilsner, a Hefeweizen and a Belgian Witbier brewed with coriander and orange-peel. Our waitress was knowledgeable and helpful, taking special care to explain the characteristics of each different beer-type (often offering comparisons to more well-known brews), what to look for when sampling each one, and a suggested-order for tasting specific beers. All in all, Iron Hill provided us with an excellent jump-start to a very beer-filled weekend!

Stay tuned for Carleton’s take on DFH’s Brewery and Brewpub!

Beeriety takes on the American Craft Beer Fest, Part 1

Posted on June 22nd, 2009

American Craft Beer Fest

On Saturday, Team Beeriety and some friends including Susie from We Are Not Martha headed down to the American Craft Beer Festival on Boston’s waterfront. It was an amazing array of 75 American brewers with over 300 different craft beers to sample. There was a lot of unusual beers and beer lovers at the festival and we did our best to check out as many of them as we could.

Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

The beer was fantastic and while we all had our individual favorites, there was a general consensus that Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project was the break away star. Considering this small brewery run by a husband and wife team has only been around for about a year their beers show an astounding amount of sophistication and deliciousness. Their labels also live up to their name as some of the prettiest I’ve seen in awhile. They are surely a brewer to keep an eye on.

Brooklyn Brewery

Another favorite was Brooklyn Brewery’s Intensified Coffee Stout. Brooklyn has long been one of the most prominent craft brewers in America and this new brew showcases why. I’ve known and loved many coffee stouts, but never have I tried anything that so thoroughly captured the taste and mouthful of French press coffee and stout.

For a more detailed look at what beers grabbed our attentions take a look at our individual favorite lists:

Carleton:

Chris:

Erin:

Ryan:

Susie (from We Are not Martha):

Woody Chandler Beer Monk

Woody Chandler, Beer Monk

There was also plenty of interesting people in attendance, like Woody Chandler, the ‘beer monk’.

Pretzel Necklace

Pretzel Necklaces were all the rage

Several people also had curiously placed a necklace of pretzels around their necks, which I’d never seen before but seems like a great way to snack while keeping two hands free for beer. We’ll have more on the beer fest and exclusive interviews from the floor with brewers and attendees alike once we have a chance to sort through it all.

Until then check out the rest of the photos from the fest on the Beeriety Flickr account and let us know if you attended and what you were drinking in the comments!