Category Archives: Jim Koch

Ramblings From The Beer Doctor


Concerning Samuel Adams

The continuing dip in sales volume at the Boston Beer Company has brought tears and lamentations amongst the stock holders on Wall St.  Jim Koch, whom many consider to be one of the founding fathers of the craft beer revolution, complained that the federal government assisted in this demise, by allowing the big boys such as: AB-I, Molson-Coors, to use their considerable economic muscle to dominate shelf space, through mergers and acquisitions and faux craft brew branding. This is a bit of a change in the position of Mr. Koch who only a few years ago said his company was ready to compete on that larger global market, where not only Bud Light, but Heineken and Dos Equis abide.

But this was before the craft brew industry shot itself in the foot, when it collectively decided that overtly hopped beer. in the form of American IPA would become the primary focus of new productions. In many cases this has become a boring set of variations on the same damn theme: double IPA, triple IPA, IPA infused with fruit juice, IPA brewed with flour to enhance a Cloudy IPA, etc. Here is where Samuel Adams fell into that marketing trap. I recall tasting their strong Rebel Rouser IPA and wondered how in the world that a company that perfected one of the world’s great Vienna ambers, Samuel Adams Lager, could now produce this brutal, vegetal monster? I can not even imagine Jim Koch drinking this.

If the Boston Beer Company wants to sell more beer, here are a few suggestion from a lowly beer drinker, who has no financial skin in the game:
First, stop believing that seasonal beers require having natural flavors added. Perhaps it is time to abandon the Saigon Cinnamon infused Winter Lager, with a straight up dunkel weizen bock. The Summer Ale should be retired, a white bier variation is just not good enough.
Second, lower the price of Samuel Adams Lager. It should compete with Yuengling Traditional Amber. It should be available in 18 pack cans. Boston Beer Company has to decide whether they make beer for a diminishing elite market or for everybody else.

The Return Of Pilsner

Pilsner or Pilsener, has been a much aligned style by beer snobs in the brewing industry. Southern Tier produced a beer called Euro-Trash to show their disdain. Stone Brewing and others have added their meaningless snark to a style of beer that changed the entire world. Fortunately, some brewers like Victory in Pennsylvania, always treated this historic style with the respect it deserves. primaPrima Pils is one of the very best pilsners available in the United States, and I recommend the can version, because it is a remarkably fresh presentation.
For those who still believe a bottle is better, Bell’s Lager of the Lakes blolfits the bill quite nicely. Bell’s, a Michigan based brewery founded in the last decades of the 20th century, has great respect for tradition. This is quite apparent in this Bohemian Pilsner, where even a hop-forward recipe version of this style is supported by a substantial malt backbone.
The same can be said of Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest 2017summerfest A very well made lager that is simply a pleasure to drink. Who in the hell decided that having a beer involves a tasting struggle? If a beer does not taste good, why bother?
Locally, I have Christian Moerlein Pils cmpilsA beautiful hometown rendition that strangely is not always available.
But it is with a heavy heart that I was completely disappointed by the ridiculously expensive Bear Republic Double Aught Pilsner doubleaughtThis 12 dollars plus tax six pack claims it is a tribute to the balanced light lagers of central Europe. Actually it is an almost lifeless manifestation of beer, where a thin all malt body is brewed with Hallertauer hops, and pours into a glass and becomes a completely flat, no foam at all, in less than 90 seconds. Funny that the price of this beer was the same as Bofferding Pils bofferdingA quite delicious, all natural pilsner from Luxembourg.  To be factual about the Double Aught, it was purchased straight out of a sealed case on the day it was delivered. The bottle said best before July 30, 2017. So there was no storage or light damage involved. It was just lousy beer. Let the truth be told.

The Beer Doctor’s Guide For Approaching Beer

A new year brings with it a desire I have had for a long time to tackle the subject of beer from a beer lover’s viewpoint.

It has taken quite awhile on the search trail of this miraculous, human culinary invention, to arrive at these discoveries. The path has seen many articles of misinformation foisted on the unsuspecting, mostly for the sake of marketing. Here are 2 current examples:
1. Craft Beer is good, giant brewery beer is bad.
2. Giant commercial brewing interests are incapable of making good beer.
The term craft brewed is most often used as a catch-all description of beer with an abundance in flavor. All beer drinkers are guaranteed a right to enjoy only the highest quality beer. Proclaims Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch, in the Samuel Adams Beer Drinker’s Bill of Rights.
Further down in the declaration it states: III. Use of adjuncts such as corn syrup, rice or corn grits is strictly prohibited as it lightens the true character of a fine beer. Which is a convenient way to make you feel guilty if you actually enjoy drinking Pabst, Genesee, or Little Kings, or any other American “all grain” lager.
Craft brew puppies buy into the vast corporate conspiracy that created these adjunct monsters, supposedly for the sake of the old bottom line. Never mind that much of this simply flies in the face of actual history. How golden lager took over much of the beer drinking world because there was an absolute fascination with its clear golden color. Or that the use of corn and rice was an American invention of necessity, because back in the 19th century there was simply not enough European malts to supply this thirsty country.
Much has been said about national beers being devoid of personality. Again the assumed narrative of why this came about ignores the obvious fact that the brewing industry was nearly destroyed by the temperance religious zealots, and their political enablers, who created Prohibition. Legislation which combined religious cultural intolerance with anti-German hysteria. It is not surprising that things became bland, because after Prohibition  was repealed, there were many restrictions placed upon beer that were downright ridiculous (I mean, have you ever heard of 3.2 beer? Sunday “small beer” in the state of Ohio for many years. At one time it was the only beer allowed to be sold in the Miami university town of Oxford, Ohio.). Beer over 6% abv was not allowed to be sold in this state, until the beginning of this century. Home brewing, of which Jim Koch created his first kitchen batch of Samuel Adams, was not legal until Jimmy Carter was President.

So this points up to the obvious question: Do you love beer? I have found over the years that this a very good starting point for approaching this wonderful topic, which I hope to explore in this series. You know the old saying: Do it with love, or don’t do it at all.
Cheers!
Thank you is my only prayer.