Epcot Food & Wine 2010 – Boston Brewing Company Seminar

Who & What: The Boston Beer Company, presented by Elyse Bell

When: Monday, October 11, 2010

Where: Festival Center, Epcot

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Beverage Seminar area set up for our beer class

Tastings: Samuel Adams Light, Samuel Adams Lager, Samuel Adams Octoberfest

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Samuel Adams Light, Lager, and Octoberfest (left to right)

What We Learned:

  • History of Boston Beer Company (more information here and here)
    • Founded in 1984 by Jim Koch
      • Jim’s father was a fifth generation American brewer, but had left the business
      • Jim’s great grandfather’s recipe for lager was archived in a trunk in the attic
      • Jim took the recipe and started brewing Boston Lager in his kitchen
    • The name “Samuel Adams” comes from the American Revolutionary Sam Adams (here)
    • In 1985, the Boston Lager won the Best Beer in America
      • Samuel Adams Boston Lager was a huge departure from the usual American “yellow beer” found in the US in the 1980’s
    • Sold throughout the United States with some international presence

Jim Koch says that the pilgrims stopped when they did because they ran out of beer (the allotment was one gallon of beer per day for the pilgrims on board ship crossing the Atlantic coming to the New World

  • What makes a Craft Beer?
    • Size – must be “Small” meaning less than 2,000,000 barrels per year
      • Sam Adams is one of the largest craft brewers, making approxiately 1.7 million barrels per year
    • Independent – not owned or operated by a large corporation or conglomerate
    • Traditional – Ingredients and Processes
      • 4 Traditional Ingredients
        • Yeast
          • Most important part of any brewing process
          • Top fermenting yeasts are used to brew ales – warm fermentation process, the yeasts clump and rise to the surface
          • Bottom fermenting yeasts are used to brew lagers – cool fermentation process, two stage fermentation, self “clearing”
          • Brewers are extremely particular about their yeast strains – so much of the flavor and tone of beer comes from the yeast – typically breweries store their yeast strand in highly protected vaults
        • Barley
          • Degree of roasting/malting greatly affects depth of color and sweetness of final brew
        • Hops
          • Noble Hops – name comes from the “noble aroma”
          • Boston Brewing gets most of their hops from Bavaria because of the distinct spicy flavors
        • Water
          • Breweries used to be located near protected natural water sources because they needed abundant clean and clear water
          • Requirements for water today – clean, clear, ample
      • Traditional 4 Vessel Brewing Process
        • we actually didn’t discuss the brewing process
  • Boston Brewery’s Samuel Adams Lager was the first American beer imported into Germany (they have strict purity laws)
  • The art of brewing comes into play with the level of malting, the strains of hops, the fruits, and the spices – all of these are used together to create the different varieties that Boston Brewing Company sells
  • NEW BEER (but it isn’t the Food & Wine Festival Beer) = 48th Latitude (it is available at the Food & Wine Festival)
    • Uses hops from around the world
    • The 48th Latitude is the best region to grow hops – thus the name
    • This brew is an IPA (India Pale Ale) that is very hoppy

Tasting Notes:

  • Five Steps to Tasting Beer/Lager (this takes place every morning at the Boston Beer Company)
    • Appearance – color & clarity, want to see through the beer if filtered
    • Smell/Aroma – evergreen scents come from noble hops
    • Sip/Taste – sweet and caramel notes come from the malted barley, spicy and bitter notes come from the hops
    • Balance – starts sweet & ends spicy, yin & yang
    • Complexity – variety, not simple
  • Samuel Adams Light
    • Tasting it back-and-forth with the others
    • Seemed less flavorful than the other two beers
  • Samuel Adams Lager
    • After tasting the Octoberfest, Nick can taste the spicy finish that he’d never noticed before
    • Very hoppy and bitter/spicy, flavors that Nora likes
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest
    • Very malty –> color & taste (malted barley is roasted in a similar manner as coffee)
      • We had never really thought of Octoberfest as “sweet”
      • Nick says its definitely sweeter than the Lager
    • 5 types of malted barley –> full flavored
    • Not as spicy as the Lager because of lighter hops
    • Marzen style beer (brewed in March & ready for consumption in October)
      • The first Octoberfest was in Munich in 1810 in celebration of the Crown Prince’s wedding (here)

Final Thoughts:

  • Tasting selection was a bit disappointing at the start – Light, Lager, Octoberfest – not too exciting, pretty ordinary because you can get these anywhere
  • The palate cleanser provided was crackers – there were seven crackers for the four people at the table
  • When we looked at the pours, we weren’t sure they were accurate because of the colors of the lagers

One more note…

Samuel Adams produces specialty beers as Jim Koch pushes the envelope of beer brewing

  • Excalibur (we think that’s what we heard) is produced every 2 years; cognac style; $120/bottle; beer for sipping
  • Infinium coming out this November – created as a champagne style brew

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