History of Samuel Adams
The Samuel Adams brand began with Samuel Adams Boston Lager. The original recipe
was developed in 1860 in St. Louis, Missouri by Louis Koch, who sold under the
name Louis Koch Lager until Prohibition, and again until the early 1950s.
In 1985, the recipe was reformulated by Louis Koch's great-great grandson, Jim
Koch, with the help of Joseph Owades, the man credited with the invention of
light beer in the 1970s. That April, the beer was re-introduced as Samuel Adams
Boston Lager, at the re-creation of the first battle of the American Revolution
on Patriot's Day. Three months later, it was voted best beer in the United
States at the Great American Beer Festival, in which 93 national and regional
beers competed. The publicity that followed helped the Boston Beer Company's
sales grow to 63,000 barrels in 1989. The beer was first put on tap at Doyle's
Cafe in Jamaica Plain.
Boilers at the Samuel Adams breweryThe company's success occurred as the U.S.
craft brewery movement was exploding. By 1995, some 600 craft breweries were
producing specialty beers in the United States. That year The Boston Beer
Company went public, selling shares of Class A Common stock on the New York
Stock Exchange under SAM. Despite the appearance of competitors, the firm
remained the largest craft brewer in the United States with nearly 1.2 million
barrels sold in 1996. Sales leveled off after that, and Boston Beer tried to
continue its growth by offering alternative beverages, such as Hardcore Cider
(1997), and Twisted Tea (2000).
Samuel Adams Beers, Ciders and Tea
The company produces twelve varieties of beer year-round: Boston Lager, Sam
Adams Light, Boston Ale, Pale Ale, Cherry Wheat, Cream Stout, Brown Ale,
Hefeweizen, Scotch Ale, Black Lager, Honey Porter, and Irish Red. The Sam Adams
Boston Lager contains 4.9% abv, roughly average for its style. Other styles have
pushed the physical limits of alcohol content for the brewing process - in 2003
one batch of Utopias contained 25.6% abv, beating the records that Samuel Adams
Triple Bock and Samuel Adams Millennium had set before it.
Additionally, the company brews five seasonal beers per year, as follows:
White Ale (February - March)
Double Bock (February - March)
Summer Ale (April - August)
Octoberfest (September - October)
Winter Lager (November - January)
Samuel Adams also runs a "Winter Classics Mix Pack" near the Christmas Season,
consisting of Old Fezziwig Ale, a spiced ale introduced in 1995; Holiday Porter,
which is very dark but smooth, introduced in 2004; and Cranberry Lambic, which
tastes like cranberries, but is not actually a Lambic-style beer.
The company has also produced several limited-run "Extreme Beers", which are
meant to be enjoyed more in the manner of an aperitif or cordial rather than a
beer. These include Millennium, Utopias, Triple Bock, and Chocolate Bock. Due to
the extremely high alcohol volume in these brews (as high as 25% for the
Utopias), their sale is restricted by several states. In November 2005, the
brewery continued extreme brewing innovation by releasing a limited release
(60,000 units) "Imperial Pilsner Harvest '05" brew.
As of 2008, the Sam Adams brand had 20 styles of beer available in 12 oz.
bottles - Boston Lager, Light, Double Bock, White Ale, Summer Ale, Octoberfest,
Winter Lager, Old Fezziwig Ale, Cranberry Lambic, Holiday Porter, Boston Ale,
Cherry Wheat, Cream Stout, Scotch Ale, Black Lager, Brown Ale, Hefeweizen, Pale
Ale, Honey Porter, and Irish Red. One of the most recent of these is Samuel
Adams Octoberfest, which won a gold medal in the Marzen category at the 2006
Great American Beer Festival. Samuel Adams Irish Red and Samuel Adams Chocolate
Bock were released in 2008.
Five Samuel Adams products are available on draft towers across the country.
Boston Lager, with its trademark blue-flame tap handle, is the most widely
distributed Samuel Adams draft. However, the seasonal draft line up of White
Ale, Summer Ale, Octoberfest and Winter Lager, grows in popularity each year.
Also available from the keg in select locations (mostly airports) are Boston
Ale, Hefeweizen, Cherry Wheat and Black Lager.
In 2009, Samuel Adams released a new variety called Blackberry Witbier. The
flavor, like Irish Red, Brown Ale, and Honey Porter in previous years, was the
winner of The Boston Beer Company's annual beer competition, which was voted on
by over 50,000 people around the country. The new flavor beat out a Coffee Stout
option. Blackberry Witbier is sold in its own six pack and in Brewmaster
Collection variety packs.
In summer 2006, Sam Adams released a limited-run Brewer Patriot collection that
included four beers which "honor the fine American Brewing Tradition of our
The Brewer Patriot collection included:
Traditional Ginger Honey Ale
James Madison Dark Wheat Ale
George Washington Porter
1790 Root Beer Brew
The Boston Beer Company also produces Twisted Tea hard iced tea and HardCore
hard apple cider, which are intentionally separate from the Samuel Adams brand.
Samuel Adams Utopias, which went on sale in February 2002, was claimed to be the
strongest commercial beer in the world, at 27% alcohol by volume. The beer was
stronger than Millennium, a single release brew made by Sam Adams in 1999, at
Utopias are made with caramel, Vienna, Moravian and Bavarian smoked malts, and
all four varieties of noble hops: Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnanger, Spalter,
and Saaz. The beer is aged in scotch, cognac and port barrels for the better
part of a year. It is described as having a "distinctive smell of cinnamon and
vanilla with subtle hints of floral, citrus and pine."
The beer was packaged in a copper-finished kettle designed to resemble those
used in the brewing process. 8,000 twenty-four-ounce bottles of Utopias were
produced in all, with a suggested price of US$100 a bottle. The beer is
considered by some to be more comparable to brandy or sherry than to other
Due to legal restrictions, Samuel Adams Utopias are not offered in the states of
Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio,
Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, or West Virginia.
Utopias are still being made and have been released in 2002, 2005, and 2007.
Samuel Adams produced just 12,000 bottles for the 2007 holiday season, and plans
to release the next Utopias in late 2009.