Last month, my wife, my son, and I all went to Boston. I have a younger brother that lives in Cambridge, so we wanted to hang out with him as well as visit a city to which we’d never been before.I mentioned in my last post about several “beer”-related things we did: eat dinner at the Cambridge Brewing Company, having a snack and a round of samplers at the Watch City Brewing Company, and going to the Boston Beer Company brewery in Jamaica Plain – aka the Samuel Adams Brewhouse.

There is more story to that last item (as well as more photos), so I’ll expound upon that one.

Charlie's golden ticketWhen we arrived, we were given special “tickets” that would be required to take the tour. The ticket was a label from a bottle of Samuel Adams Scotch Ale, as can be clearly seen from the pic.

We had a little time before the tour began, and they provide a small waiting area that has all sorts of junk on the walls: beer mugs of all sizes, shapes, and purposes; banners stating the various awards at GABF that have been taken home by Samuel Adams beers; maps of the Boston area, including pre-prohibition maps that showed the numerous breweries that used to exist there; and a display case full of bottles of all of the flavors Samuel Adams brews and has brewed.

There was also a large tunnel with flat screen televisions, all espousing things beer. The videos were educational – at least they would be to someone less familiar with beer and how its made – and at times verging on Boston Beer Company propaganda. But I guess they can do that since this is their house (and I don’t actually have anything against Boston Beer Company, so I didn’t really mind).

When our tour finally began, a thin, young, dark-haired guy called out to everyone to follow him. They had a keg where donations should go (the tour was free but they did ask for a $2 donation – optional, but strongly encouraged). We tossed in a Hamilton for the four of us (ain’t we generous?) and followed the guide and the rest of the crowd into a room that featured more Sam Adams memorabilia and another flat-screen television.

The guide spoke to us a bit and then played a video of Jim Koch, the founder, telling us about the history of Sam Adams and his commitment to quality beer and craft brewing:

I can almost see him, through the haze of people's backsides

After the video, we all walked back into a large room that was very obviously the home of the day-to-day brewing operations:

The business end of the brewery

The guide did his best to educate people on the process of making beer – the usual spiel that if you’ve heard one then you’ve heard them all.

After that we got to the serious part of the tour: beer samples. Upon showing ID, you are given a complimentary, three-ounce tasting glass (which are fairly nice and are now in our cupboards here at home). Everyone then shuffles into a large room with a bar at one end and several large picnic-style tables running the length of the room in three aisles.

At this point, more talk about the beer. First they handed out pitchers of their flagship beer, Boston Lager. Everyone filled up his/her tasting glass and passed the pitcher on. Will was getting upset because he was thirsty, but nothing suitable around for him to drink. Luckily, they have root beer at the bar for the minors. Here you can see Will’s bottle of root beer and his piggy:

Cute little piggy, trying to steal some beer

At this point, the guide talks a bit about Boston Lager and tries to educate everyone on the standard five-step process for tasting and evaluating beer (or any other drink for that matter, most notably wine).

To the left is the guide. If you are ever in Boston and see this guy (taking the tour at the Sam Adams Brewhouse or if you see him randomly on the street) be sure to give him a hard time about spilling beer on that poor girl!That poor girl happened to be none other than my wonderful spouse, Malin.

The next beer sampled was the Sam Adams Octoberfest. As the guide, sitting up on the bar talking to the crowd, was about to hand off a pitcher to our table, he accidentally tipped a little over, splashing it down Malin’s back.

He seemed pretty embarassed. I would have been, too.

The final sample provided to the thirsty crowd was of Sam Adams Summer Ale. This was by far the best in their short line-up. Before sipping our samples of free beer, we all clanged our glasses against one another’s to toast the occasion (nothing at all to do with the fact that the show “Cheers” was based on a bar in Boston):

Sláinte! Cheers! Na zdorovje! Prost! Salut! Skål!