Historic Beer Birthday: Samuel Adams

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Today is the birthday of Samuel Adams (September 27, 1722-October 2, 1803). He “was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States. He was a second cousin to President John Adams.” He was also at least a maltster, and possibly a brewer.

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A portrait of Samuel Adams by John Singleton Copley.

Copely was one of the most famous early American painters, especially of portraits. He also did paintings of John Hancock, John Adams and Paul Revere, as well. The painting hangs in Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, and I had a change to see the original in 2009, when the CBC was in Boston. It was smaller than I expected at 49 1/2 x 39 1/2 in. and is believed to have been painted around 1772. Its first owner, after the artist, was none other than John Hancock. His wife later gave it to Adams’ grandson and in 1876 it was given to the City of Boston. In the painting, he’s pointing at the Massachusetts Charter, which Adams believed was a constitution that protected peoples’ rights.

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An engraving of Samuel Adams, by Alonzo Chappel, from 1858.

Whether or not Adams was in fact a brewer is open to some debate. Stanley Baron’s Brewing in America suggests that he may have been involved in his father’s malting business, making him a Malster. In the footnote in the Wikipedia entry on Samuel Adams, it tells the following story.

Baron, Brewed in America, 74–75; Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, 231. However, Stoll (Samuel Adams, 275n16) notes that James Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company, reports having seen a receipt for hops signed by Adams, which indicates that Adams may have done some brewing.

It seems to me we might rarely hear of Sam Adams’ connection to the world of beer were it not for the Boston Beer Co. Historically, it doesn’t seem like that was a driving force in his life. What does seem clear, is that his father, Samuel Adams Sr., was most certainly a maltster, and also probably a brewer.

Here’s Michael Burgan, author of Samuel Adams: Patriot and Statesman, discussing Samuel Adams Sr., Samuel Adams’ father.

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On the New England Historical Society’s website, on a page about Samuel Adams, entitled Sam Adams Walked Into a Tavern and Started a Revolution. Part of that has the heading “Sam the Maltster.”

Sam the Maltster

Sam’s Adams’ father, Deacon Samuel Adams, was a man of wealth and respect. He made his living selling malt to beer makers from a malt house in his backyard. Deacon Adams was a leader of the populist political party known as the Boston Caucus, whose members met in taverns.

Young Sam Adams entered Harvard in 1736 at 14, graduated in 1740 and received a master’s degree in 1743. He didn’t want to be a lawyer or a minister, so he tried working in Thomas Cushing’s counting house. He hated it. He ended up living at home on the income from his father’s malt house.

sam-adams-green-dragon He haunted the taverns of Boston, honing his political skills and making his political connections. His cousin John Adams noted taverns were where ‘bastards, and legislators, are frequently begotten.’

Sam didn’t become a legislator. First he was elected clerk of the market, then town scavenger, then tax collector, a position he held for nearly a decade. Later he became clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, delegate to the Continental Congress, president of the Massachusetts Senate, lieutenant governor and governor.

When Sam was 24, his father died. The next year, British naval officers kidnapped 50 men on the Boston waterfront to impress them into service. A riot ensued, the prisoners were released and Sam Adams became a journalist. He started a newspaper, The Independent Advertiser, in which he portrayed the rioters as an assembly of people defending their natural right to life and liberty.

He also organized the Sons of Liberty, which flourished in Boston’s tavern-based political culture.

In 1769, Sam Adams, James Otis, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Benjamin Edes and 350 Sons of Liberty celebrated the fourth anniversary of resistance to the Stamp Act at the Liberty Tree Tavern in Dorchester. They dined in a tent set up for the occasion and drank 45 toasts. John Adams, who was there, noted that no one got drunk (beer could be pretty weak) and grudgingly approved of the affair. “Otis and Adams are politick, in promoting these Festivals, for they tinge the Minds of the People, they impregnate them with the sentiments of Liberty.”

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Samuel Adams in 1795 when he was Governor of Massachusetts.

Most accounts of Samuel Adams focus on his political activities and rarely mention his association with brewing at all. Here, for example, is a short biography from U.S. History.org, one of the 56 on the website done for each of the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Samuel and John Adams’ names are almost synonymous in all accounts of the Revolution that grew, largely, out of Boston. Though they were cousins and not brothers, they were often referred to as the Adams’ brothers, or simply as the Adams’. Samuel Adams was born in Boston, son of a merchant and brewer. He was an excellent politician, an unsuccessful brewer, and a poor businessman. His early public office as a tax collector might have made him suspect as an agent of British authority, however he made good use of his understanding of the tax codes and wide acquaintance with the merchants of Boston. Samuel was a very visible popular leader who, along with John, spent a great deal of time in the public eye agitating for resistance. In 1765 he was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly where he served as clerk for many years. It was there that he was the first to propose a continental congress. He was a leading advocate of republicanism and a good friend of Tom Paine. In 1774, he was chosen to be a member of the provincial council during the crisis in Boston. He was then appointed as a representative to the Continental Congress, where he was most noted for his oratory skills, and as a passionate advocate of independence from Britain. In 1776, as a delegate to the Continental Congress, he signed the Declaration of Independence. Adams retired from the Congress in 1781 and returned to Massachusetts to become a leading member of that state’s convention to form a constitution. In 1789 he was appointed lieutenant governor of the state. In 1794 he was elected Governor, and was re-elected annually until 1797 when he retired for health reasons. He died in the morning of October 2, 1803, in his home town of Boston.

Finally, an article on the History Channel’s website, The Sudsy History of Samuel Adams, comes to pretty much the same conclusion, that Samuel Adams did inherit his father’s malting business, but if he was involved at all, his heart wasn’t in it. While it’s possible he also did brew, most likely for his household as was common in his day, there’s little, if any, compelling evidence for it. But thanks to Jim Koch, for the foreseeable future at least, his name will be inextricably linked to beer.

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Beer Birthday: Dann Paquette

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Today is the 48th birthday of Dann Paquette, who along with his wife Martha Holley-Paquette, founded the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. It’s a fairly unique idea. They don’t own a brewery but they don’t contract brew either. They rent the brewery and Dann does all the work brewing the beer. Certainly other contract beers are similar, but I like that Pretty Things makes such a point of the distinction that it’s essentially beyond reproach. Oh, and did I mention he makes some of the best beers I’ve tasted? He does, or did. They recently decided to wind up the business and stop brewing while they decides what the next chapter of their lives will be. From the several philosophical discussions I’ve had with Dann, I consider him a kindred spirit, so hopefully it will be something amazing, and still in brewing. Join me in wishing Dann a very happy birthday.

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Dann with Andy Couch and Todd Alström showing off Pretty Things’ Baby Tree at the Hungry Mother, in Boston.

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Dann doing his Snidely Whiplash impersonation.

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Tomme Arthur, Will Meyers, Dann, Patrick Rue and Rob Tod.

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Dann with his business partner and wife Martha at (I think) Beer Advocate’s Craft Beer Festival.

Note: Last three photos purloined from both Dann and Martha’s Facebook pages.

Beer Birthday: Aaron Mateychuk

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Today is also the birthday of Aaron Mateychuk, apparently former brewmaster of Watch City Brewing in Waltham, Massachusetts. A little over a year ago, the brewing equipment was sold at auction and the brewery closed, though there were rumors another brewery may be moving into the same space. I met Aaron during CBC week when the Craft Brewers Conference was in Boston in 2009, and we almost got together when he was in San Francisco a couple of years ago, but kept crossing paths instead. Hopefully, Aaron has landed on his feet and found another brewing gig, but I haven’t heard. Maybe somebody knows? Join me in wishing Aaron a very happy birthday.

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Giving a tour in 2009 during the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston.

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Aaron with his wife Jennifer, in a Toronado t-shirt.

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And at the Toronado.

Note: The last two photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Jim Koch

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Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Co., known primarily for their Samuel Adams beers, is celebrating his 67th birthday today. Jim was instrumental, of course, in spreading the word about craft beer, especially in the early days when Samuel Adams was often the first one to be available in many pockets of the country. Join me in wishing Jim a very happy birthday.

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Daniel Bradford and Amy Dalton, both with All About Beer, sandwiching Jim Koch, and flanked by drinks writer Rick Lyke, who writes online at Lyke 2 Drink.

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Jim and me at the annual media brunch and Longshot winner announcement at GABF in 2009.

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After judging the finals for the Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston. From left: Jason Alstrom (from Beer Advocate), Tony Forder (from Ale Street News), Bob Townsend (a food & drinks columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Jim Koch (founder of the Boston Beer Co.), yours truly (on assignment for Celebrator Beer News), Julie Johnson (from All About Beer magazine), and Todd Alstrom (also from Beer Advocate).

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Jack McAuliffe and Jim at Boston Beer’s annual media brunch during GABF week three years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Sampson Salter

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Today is the birthday of Sampson Salter (March 21, 1692-April 6, 1778) who in the early 18th century operated one of the most popular breweries in Boston. Considering it was apparently so popular, there’s very little specific information about either Salter or his brewery. Most histories seem to only mention him in passing. For example, “Historic Taverns of Boston” by Gavin Nathan, says only this:

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Boston in 1722.

Cigar City Bought By Fireman Capital

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In an exclusive this morning, Brewbound is reporting that Fireman Capital to Purchase Cigar City. According to Brewbound, “Cigar City, a leading independent brewery based in Tampa, Fla., has agreed to sell controlling interest to Boston-based private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners, which already owns majority stakes in Oskar Blues, Perrin Brewing and the Utah Brewers Cooperative outfit that includes the Wasatch and Squatters brands.”

The overall entity created by Fireman Capital for their brewery acquisitions is United Craft Brews LLC, incorporated in Delaware. The SEC Form D lists Fireman Capital’s address is Waltham, Massachusetts, but information on OpenLEIs lists a registered address in Delaware, but Oskar Blues’ Longmont address as Headquarters for United Craft Brews. Last year, Westwood was still asking Does Oskar Blues Still Own Oskar Blues? This will undoubtedly continue to muddy the waters surrounding the answer to that question.

Rumors had been swirling that ABI was considering Cigar City as their next target for acquisition, and founder Joey Redner confirmed that he’d gotten as far as signing an LOI. But ABI let their exclusivity period pass without executing a formal purchase agreement, leaving Cigar City free to entertain other potential buyers.

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Cigar City’s website posted a joint press release about the transaction:

Oskar Blues Brewery Rolls up a Cigar City Blunt

Longmont, CO, & Tampa Bay, FL — Oskar Blues Brewery announced the acquisition of Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing. Putting months of acquirement rumors to rest, the decision is driven by mutual irreverence, respect and desire to stay true to craft beer roots.

The combination stems from the want to take risks, sniff out bullsh*t and grow against-the-grain in an era of increasing competition within craft beer. The collaboration will match years of large-scale growth, expansion expertise and resources of Oskar Blues with the strength of Cigar City’s local following to help both breweries strengthen their future position. Similarly to Oskar Blues, Cigar City’s award-winning brews are well known and respected within the craft community.

“Cigar City is facing next-level challenges and we needed to develop next-level skills and resources to meet them. But, we got into beer out of passion and an unwavering desire to travel our own path. We didn’t want to just shove our round peg into some f*cking square hole and hope for the best. Florida craft beer drinkers want something they can proudly stand behind. These guys get that. They wrote the book on keeping it real,” says Joey, founder of Cigar City Brewing. Joey will remain as CEO of Cigar City following the transaction.

Since 2009, Cigar City Brewing achieved a near constant growth pattern reaching nearly 60,000 barrels in 2015, placing the Tampa Bay area and the state of Florida on the craft beer map. The partnership will provide additional investment for Cigar City’s infrastructure growth within Florida.

“What Cigar City has done for the community of Florida craft beer is impressive. It’s important for our culture to do business with people we want to hang out with and Joey and the gang fit,” Dale Katechis, Soul Founder of Oskar Blues, stated about the new partnership.

Oskar Blues Brewery is the funky brewpub that started brewing beer in 1999 in the small town of Lyons, CO and is responsible for starting the craft beer in-a-can movement in 2002 with Dale’s Pale Ale. In 2008, the brewery expanded down the street to Longmont, CO. and added an additional brewery in Brevard, NC in 2012. Oskar Blues brewed 192,000 barrels in 2015 and announced another brewery in Austin, TX scheduled to open in May of 2016.

Terms of the acquisition are not disclosed.

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Beer Birthday: Tom Acitelli

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Today is the 39th birthday of Tom Acitelli, author of the wonderful history of craft beer, The Audacity of Hops. Tom reached out to me while he was working on his book, and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s a great new addition to the cadre of writers chronicling the beer industry these days. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

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Tom reading selections from his book at Anchor Brewery.

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Tom and Vinnie Cilurzo during a visit to the Russian River production brewery.

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At Lagunitas for Tom’s book release party two years ago, with Joe Tucker, Jeremy Marshall, me, Tom and Ken Weaver.

Beer Birthday: Todd Alstrom

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Today is the 47th birthday of Todd Alström, co-founder of Beer Advocate. With his brother Jason, Todd has created one of the killer apps of the beer world online and the only monthly beer magazine. Though we only run into one another from time to time, we always have a good time. We also shared a week in Bavaria on a press junket in 2007, and had a terrific fry crawl in Boston a number of years ago, before he relocated to Denver a couple of years ago, and more recently became a father. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.

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Todd (at right), with brother Jason and Jaime Jurado, head brewer from Gambrinus, at the 2008 GABF.

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During a trip to Bavaria in 2007, the gang of twelve plus three at the Faust Brauerei in Miltenberg, Germany. From left: Cornelius Faust, me, Lisa Morrison, Johannes Faust, Julie Bradford, Andy Crouch, Peter Reid, Horst Dornbusch, Jeannine Marois, Harry Schumacher, Tony Forder, Candice Alström, Don Russell, Jason Alström and Todd Alström.

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Todd with Rhonda Kallman at the Blue Palm in L.A., after the premiere of Beer Wars.

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Me, Todd, Jason Alström, Joe Tucker and Greg Koch showing off our sample bottles of Enjoy By 12.21.12 in San Diego four Decembers ago.

Pretty Beer To Stop Brewing

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Sad news. Dann and Martha Paquette, co-owners of the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project posted on their website today their decision to cease the operations of their company. Explaining their decision in For a Beginning, there must be an End, here’s what’s up:

Seven years ago we sold our first glass of beer at The Publick House in Brookline. We didn’t foresee then that our strange project would become such a part of our lives.

It has been a crazy fun time. We’ve dressed up in more costumes than a Bob Hope special. Amazing employees and friends have conspired with us along the way. Bocky, Anya, and John Funke have channeled our project almost better than we have done ourselves. And we found a rag tag group of like-minded creative brewers out there in the world as well.

Brewing our beers has been a great labor and a great joy. But best of all we shared it with so many great beer drinkers. It really feels like we met you all. We’ve stood in shops, bars, restaurants, on stages, in VFW halls. Sometimes you were already fans. Sometimes you spat out our beer. Sometimes you just fancied a chat. We always felt happy to meet you by the end. It was always fun, or funny, or we sold a beer, or learned something. Many of you became friends. We’ve loved drinking beers with you.

We hope our beers brought you joy and brought you closer together. There’s no greater goal for a batch of beer or a project like ours.

After seven years it’s time to draw the curtains and head off to a new adventure. A poorly drawn grain of barley called Jack D’Or made this whole thing possible. He’ll be coming with us.

Besides making great beer, Dann’s thoughtful approach to everything they do has been great to watch, if only from afar. The few times we’ve spent any time together I’ve loved talking philosophically with him and certainly hope his voice won’t be lost as he transitions to whatever adventure awaits him in the next chapter of his journey. And I wish Dann and Martha the best of best wishes going forward.

Pretty Things beer will be available until it runs out, probably sometime in January of next year. If I were you, I’d stock up while you can.

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Their parting shot.

Beer In Ads #1736: Munich Lager Beer Brewery


Wednesday’s ad is for the Suffolk Brewing Co., from sometime after 1875. You could be forgiven for thinking this was a German brewery, given the Munich Lager Beer Brewery banner headline, but in fact it was in Boston, Massachusetts, located at 423-443 Eighth Street. Another curiosity, especially given their calling themselves a “Munich Lager Beer Brewery,” is that the sign on the building identifies them as an “Ale & Porter Brewery.”

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