Beer Birthday: Jim Koch

Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Co., known primarily for their Samuel Adams beers, is celebrating his 68th 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.

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.

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

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).

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

Patent No. 20110274785A1: Method And System For Producing A Malt Beverage Having A High Degree Of Fermentation

Today in 2011, US Patent 20110274785 A1 was issued, an invention of Bert Boyce, C. James Koch, David Grinnell, and Martin Zarnkow, assigned to the Boston Beer Corporation, for their “Method and System for Producing a Malt Beverage Having a High Degree of Fermentation.” Here’s the Abstract:

Exemplary embodiments of a brewing method and system are provided, where a mixture comprising water and milled malt are mixed to produce a primary mash, and wort is produced from the primary mash. A supernatant liquid is obtained comprising active enzymes from a secondary mash, and the supernatant liquid is added from the secondary mash to the wort, and/or the supernatant liquid can be added to fermented wort after yeast is added to the wort.


Beer In Film #32: The Chemistry Of Beer With Grant Wood

Today’s beer video is all about the Chemistry of Beer and features Grant Wood, when he still brewmaster for Samuel Adams, at their Boston brewery. Grant recently left to open his own brewery, which is in Texas. His Revolver Brewery is also making some really terrific beers. The video is part of the Byte Science Science series, and provides a great overview of the chemical processes involved in brewing beer.

Samuel Adams As Seen In Art By Four Different Beer Cultures

Here’s a cool video of artist Ben Steele creating four different paintings of a Samuel Adams bottle and glass in the style of four different cultures or artists representing what they call “the 4 most influential beer cultures.” Steele imagines how artists from Egypt, Belgium, Germany and America would depict Samuel Adams Boston Lager by creating four works or art in those styles. The Belgian work was done in the style of Vincent Van Gogh (although he was Dutch) and the American version was reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein. The Egyptian one is as if it were carved in stone, though it’s not clear to me what he was going for with the German. It looks to me like a photo-realist painting. It will be fin to see these individually as posters or larger, at least. There’s even a contest to caption the cartoon text bubble in the last painting. What do you think it should say?

Mateveza/Samuel Adams Collaboration Beer Being Released Tonight

mateveza sam-adams-text
Tonight from 6-9:00 p.m. at Cervecería de MateVeza, located at 3801 18th Street in San Francisco, there will be a beer-tasting of a new collaboration beer. Here’s the story:

Samuel Adams and MateVeza will come together to celebrate and introduce their limited-release collaboration beer, Boston Tea Party Saison. The unique brew combines MateVeza’s signature ingredient — yerba mate tea — and Samuel Adams’ one-of-a-kind Kosmic Mother Funk (KMF).

After completing a Brewing and Business Experienceship, an extended craft brewing mentoring program offered by Samuel Adams, MateVeza founder Jim Woods teamed up with his mentor to create a unique collaboration beer. The Experienceship is offered to craft brewers as part of Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream, a micro lending and coaching program available to food, beverage and hospitality small business owners as well as craft brewers.

Jim Woods and Samuel Adams brewer Dean Gianocostas in Boston on the day they brewed the collaboration beer, Boston Tea Party Saison.

Here’s their description of the beer itself:

Samuel Adams and MateVeza came together to brew a Saison, which is a farmhouse beer traditionally brewed in the autumn or winter for consumption during the summer for the farm workers. The final recipe combines MateVeza’s signature ingredient — yerba mate tea — and Samuel Adams’ one-of-a-kind Kosmic Mother Funk (KMF), a blend of wild yeasts and bacteria designed to give beers unique flavors. The bright and satisfying brew has a slightly earthy and deliciously fruity character with a hint of spice and a long dry finish.

If you’re in the city tonight, stop by and give the beer a try. See you there.

Chris Spinelli and Jon Mervine from Roc Brewing (who also did a similar collaboration beer, though their beer is ThreeNinety Bock), and in the middle Jim Woods, MateVeza, and Jim Koch, from Boston Beer.

Never Say Never: Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cans

Lots of big announcements in the beer world this week, as the Boson Beer Co. made public today their plan to release Samuel Adams Boston Lager in cans this summer. I can’t seem to find the original source this morning, but I clearly recall several years ago that Boston Beer founder Jim Koch was quoted at one time that Samuel Adams beer would never be in cans, but over time his stance began to soften, and by 2010 he was warming to the idea. At that time, he told Beer Business Daily that he did believe that someday Samuel Adams would be in cans, and was still looking at the BPA in liners as a not-quite-resolved-yet issue. Once upon a time, their 2005 “Beer Bill of Rights” included as Article VI: “Beer shall be offered in bottles, not cans, so that no brew is jeopardized with the taste of metal.”


That issue has largely been solved with the use of an organic polymer, but Boston Beer has apparently taken it one step farther, designing their own type of can for the project, “the Sam Can.”

From the press release:

Samuel Adams announced today that for the first time it plans to offer Samuel Adams Boston Lager in a can – but not just any can. The new can design — the result of two years of ergonomic and sensory research and testing — aims to provide a drinking experience that is closer to the taste and comfort of drinking beer from a glass. The “Sam Can,” as the brewers call it, will hit shelves in early summer 2013, just in time for drinking occasions that call for the convenience of a can such as sporting events, boating or the beach.

“The debate over bottles vs. cans has been a sticking point for brewers in the craft beer community for years,” says Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams. “In the past, I had my doubts about putting Sam Adams in a can because I wasn’t convinced that Boston Lager would taste as good as it does from a bottle. But cans have changed. And I believe we’ve designed a can that provides a slight but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beer can.”

Koch and the other brewers at Samuel Adams first worked with can manufacturer Ball Corporation to understand can design, technology, and how to package premium beer in cans. The brewers then worked with a design team at IDEO, a recognized global design firm, and finally enlisted the help of sensory expert, Roy Desrochers of GEI Consultants. Desrochers, a recognized beer flavor expert for the Master Brewer’s Association of the Americas (MBAA), has provided counsel to the brewing industry for almost three decades. With Desrochers’ help, Koch studied every aspect of the new can, from how it could potentially impact the flavor of Samuel Adam’s flagship Boston Lager to the ergonomics of how the beer flows from the can and hits the taste receptors on a drinker’s tongue.

“I worked with Jim and the other brewers at Sam Adams on an ergonomic and flavor study to understand the benefits of the new can,” says Desrochers. “The flared lip and wider top of the new Sam Can work in concert to deliver the beer in a way that makes the flavor closer to drinking out of a glass. Although subtle, this can delivers a more pronounced, more balanced flavor experience – something that was very important to the brewers. The extended lip of the can also creates a smoother, more comfortable overall drinking experience.”

The difference in drinking out of the new can as compared to a standard can will be modest, but drinkers should notice enhanced flavors and a more comfortable experience. The position of the can opening and wider lid, naturally opens up the mouth allowing for more air flow and positions the drinker’s nose closer to the hop aromas of the beer. A little known fact is that most of what we think we taste is actually what we smell – that’s why it’s hard to taste food with a stuffed up nose. Drinkers also noticed that the extended, curved lip of the can delivered the beer to the front of the palate to maximize the early enjoyment of the malt sweetness.

Koch’s end goal in developing a new can is to provide drinkers with the best possible Boston Lager drinking experience when they prefer the convenience of a can, like on the golf course or at the beach, without compromising the taste of his first and favorite beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Celebrating the flavors and ingredients in Boston Lager is what also led to the development of the Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pint Glass in 2007, also the result of a lengthy research project to enhance the beer drinking experience.

“The new Sam Can required a million dollar investment in special equipment tooling along with time, research and testing. This new can will also cost more than the standard can to produce. It may seem a little crazy to make that kind of investment, but we felt the slight improvement in the drinking experience was worth the expense. We made decisions based on the beer, not on the bottom line,” Koch explains. “We’ve done tastings here at the brewery, with Sam Adams drinkers and our experts, “and now, we’re proud to launch Samuel Adams Boston Lager in cans. We have a vessel that gives our drinkers the best tasting Samuel Adams in a can.”

Among the many advantages of cans is that drinkers prefer cans in certain circumstances where bottles are often not allowed or convenient, such as beaches, parks, pools, sporting events, boats and airplanes. Samuel Adams Boston Lager in cans will be available in 12-packs nationwide beginning early summer, for a suggested retail price of $14.99-17.99 (price varies by market).

You can also read additional information about what went in to the design of the can at BostInno and also at’s Sam Adams: Now (finally) in a can.

Of course, the fact that many other regional breweries have put their beer in cans, too — Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Brooklyn Brewery, RedHook, etc. — has to have been a factor, too. Still, for can fans this is great news. Cans have outsold beer in bottles for the big brewers for decades, and at least as long as 1980, if not longer, so it only makes sense that as craft brewers grow larger that such a popular package would become part of their portfolios, as well, as they continue to take a bigger and bigger piece of the nationwide beer pie.

Reuters TV Interview With Jim Koch

Reuters TV has a lengthy interview with Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch, conducted by Robert Wolf, who is “an outsider advisor to President Obama,” on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The interview, part of the “Impact Players” series, is business-focused, but they also discuss the present state of the beer industry and Koch’s history and background. It runs just under half an hour. Enjoy.

Longshot Judging

On Wednesday I flew to Boston to judge the finals of the Longshot American Homebrew Contest. This is the third year for the new contest, which Samuel Adams also did in the mid-1990s in a slightly different format. But the idea is the same. Homebrewers submit their beer, which is judged in regional competitions. The two big winners will then have their homebrew made commercially and bottled. There were 1300 entries this year which was whittled down to four, from which our job was to pick two. You can read more of the story at my post at Bottoms Up.

Jim Koch was at the head of the table, with six more of us there.

Tony Forder (Ale Street News), Bob Townsend (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and me.

Todd Alstrom showing off one of the homebrew beer bottles.

The seven of us, to break any ties, afterwards in the back garden picnic area. 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).