“All Things Craft Beer” with The Boston Beer Company’s Jim Koch


If you are a craft beer fan, you definitely know the name Jim Koch. In an industry populated with a multitude of bigger-than-life players, he’s a rock star. Jim Koch is one of the founders of today’s craft beer movement, so we were totally jazzed when he recently made time for us at ACB and allowed us to question him about Sam Adams and about “all things craft beer.”

, “All Things Craft Beer” with The Boston Beer Company’s Jim KochThe craft beer industry has experienced a tremendous amount of growth in the past 10 years. Do you think the industry can sustain this?

We continue to see the trends that we’ve seen in recent years. In 2012, more than 2,400 craft brewers were in operation according to the Brewers Association and new breweries continue to pop up today. Within a few years, the pace of new breweries opening might begin to slow because of distributor and retail constraints.In short, there’s simply not enough room for everyone and shelf space is limited.

You have recently announced that a few of your beers will soon become available in cans. You’ve long been an advocate of craft beer in bottles…What led you to reconsider canning?

It took a long time to convince me. I wasn’t convinced that beer from a can would taste as good as it does from a bottle. We’ve been watching can technology, seeing it improve, and I knew that if we ever put Samuel Adams in a can, we had to can our beer in a way that was true to our quality standards. So, we decided to put together a team of experts including several of our brewers, a professional beer taster, a can manufacturer, and industrial designers to help us research how we can improve the beer tasting experience from a can. It took many trials, tastings, and prototypes over two years for us to decide on what we’re calling the Sam Can. Still though, if I had the choice, I would pour my beer in a glass.

Why do you think canned craft beer has become so popular?

Many brewers recognize that unlike bottles, it’s easier to take cans camping, to the beach, on the golf course – any place you can’t take bottles. And, the good thing about cans is that they protect the beer from sunlight and oxidation, which can contribute to off-flavors.

Will all of your beers be available in cans in the future?

We’ve never filled this can before – no one has – so we’re focusing on canning Boston Lager and Summer Ale right now. This is a first for us, so we’ll have to see how it goes, but I’m guessing you’ll see more beers in a can, like our seasonals, to help carry our New England sports enthusiasts into the colder tailgating weather.

Angry Orchard is a division of The Boston Beer Company. What led you to venture into the hard cider business?

We were one of the pioneers in making hard cider in the U.S. with HardCore cider, introduced back in the mid-1990s.We’ve actually been experimenting with hard ciders for over 15 years. In our trips to Europe for hops and malt, we’d come across apple orchards and the wheels would turn thinking of what we could make. My first priority will always be Boston Lager but we’re fortunate to have a dedicated team of experienced cider makers at Angry Orchard who have been making cider for many years. Angry Orchard came to be because we thought it was the right time to introduce drinkers to this new recipe for quality cider. We were excited to share the recipe our cider makers had been working on.

What’s coming down the pike at Sam Adams? Any new releases we should be looking out for?

We’re constantly brewing new beers and trying to perfect them until we think they’re ready for everyone else to enjoy. Two new brews that we worked on all last year are now included in our Beers of Summer variety pack – Blueberry Hill Lager and Little White Rye. Blueberry Hill Lager is an unfiltered lager, or kellerbier, with a subtle blueberry sweetness balanced by citrus notes from Tettnang Tettnanger hops. Little White Rye, on the other hand, blends traditional witbier ingredients, orange peel, and coriander, with white sage for an herbal and spice character and a rye malt background. It’s a very surprising and intriguing brew.

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