Sometimes people think of beer like bands and, when the brewery gets too big, it's no longer "cool" to like them. We've had discussions with people in the past who say that Boston Beer Co., makers of Samuel Adams, falls into this category. We've stated pretty clearly our position for a while now that not only is Sam Adams craft, but that without them (and a couple other of the original craft breweries like them) beer wouldn't be what it is right now. The innovation? The onslaught of styles? Thousands of breweries? We'd be living in a different beer world than we would be without pioneers like Jim Koch. That's why we were so happy when we were able to get Samuel Adams to take part in Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest. We love exposing people to new breweries and teaching them about beer...but part of that teaching is knowing where it came from and that's why we like to remind everyone once in a while that Sam Adams is still doing some pretty awesome stuff. Don't believe us? Come to the fest and try it.
One of the main people behind this "pretty awesome stuff" is Sam Adams' Boston Brewery Manager, Jennifer Glanville. She's in charge of brewing at their Boston facility, which is where a lot of their small batch and barrel aged beer is. We were lucky enough to get some of her time to ask some questions about how she got started and what's going on in her life now that she's running a brewery for Samuel Adams.
Drink Craft Beer: How did you get into craft beer?
Jennifer Glanville: There was definitely a little luck involved. After leaving a job in the tech industry, I saw a posting for a job opening at the brewery and 11 years later, here I am as Boston Brewery Manager and a brewer, enjoying every minute!
DCB: What was the turning point (a beer or moment) that made you love craft beer?
JG: My dad was actually the one who introduced me to craft beer a long time ago. I come from a family that has always loved cooking and exploring ingredients and flavors, so I guess you can say it’s in my blood.
DCB: You walk into a magical beer shop with every beer currently available. You can put together one six-pack. What do you walk out with? Only one beer can be from your brewery.
JG: I’m going to go with a variety of styles. My first choice is a Sam Adams Boston Lager, then a smoky Rauchbier, a fresh crisp Pilsner, an English Stout, an IPA with a variety of American hops & a traditional German Weiss bier.
DCB: You have one night in your favorite beer city. What city are you in and where do you go (it doesn’t all have to be beer)?
JG: That is really tough; there are so many great places. I love Prague, Bamberg, London...I guess I would have to say Munich. I would go to the Augustiner Bier Hall, one of my favorite stops after a long day of sourcing hops at the family farm where we get the Bavarian hops that are used in many of our brews.
DCB: What do you drink when you’re not drinking craft beer (or beer at all)?
JG: I am a big fan of whiskey and single malts and I think that distilling is a craft, much like brewing. But at the end of the day, full flavored craft beer is definitely my drink of choice.
DCB: Where do you see the craft beer industry going in the next year?
JG: It is such an exciting time to be a craft brewer. Right now there are more than 20 times as many breweries in the U.S. as there were in 1984 when Jim first brewed Boston Lager. Beer drinkers now appreciate craft beer in the same way they would a fine wine (i.e. smelling, tasting, and pouring properly). They are expanding their palates and experimenting with the wide range of flavors that craft beer offers. And that’s fun for me because as a brewer, we then get to innovate and experiment with unique ingredients and flavors.
DCB: And, in that vein, can we get a sneak peak at what new to expect from you in the coming year?
JG: We have some exciting, new releases coming out that we look forward to sharing with our drinkers. You’ll be seeing some new small batch beers showcasing bigger or more experimental recipes that we’ve been working on for years.
We just released our 10th anniversary of Samuel Adams Utopias, our most distinct barrel-aged, extreme beer. We introduced Utopias back in 2002 and it shocked the beer world because it was unlike any beer that anyone had tried and had an incredible 24% ABV. With each new batch of Utopias, the brewers have pushed for more complexity and strength, producing brews with alcohol levels reaching 27% ABV over the last 10 years of Utopias’ existence, and an unprecedented 29% with this year’s batch. While some of our barrels have reached over 33% alcohol, we blend down to 29% because taste, not alcohol percentage, is the goal. The 2012 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias is a blend of liquids, some of which have been aged in a variety of wood barrels for 19 years. This long aging process enhances the beer’s distinct vanilla and maple notes, and its high alcohol content creates a heated aroma of ginger and cinnamon. As a result, Samuel Adams Utopias invokes the flavors of a rich vintage Port, fine Cognac, or aged Sherry while feeling surprisingly light on the palate. The brew has sweet flavors of honey, toffee, caramel, cocoa and vanilla, balanced by distinct notes of molasses, raisins, plums and berries.
Our Samuel Adams Winter Lager is hitting shelves and is certainly a crowd favorite and perfect for the holiday season. For our beer, we brewed a dark wheat bock subtly spiced with freshly ground cinnamon, ginger, & orange peel for a deep, smooth flavor and malty finish that will warm you on a cold winter’s night.
We’re also looking forward to releasing New Albion Ale. New Albion Ale was originally brewed 30 years ago by Jack McAuliffe, founder of The New Albion Brewing Company, a brewery that helped pave the way for other American craft breweries. This year we worked with Jack to brew his original flagship beer which is recognized by many beer experts as the original American craft beer.
DCB: What’s your “Last Supper” of food and beer? Pick up to three dishes and the beers that you think go best with them.
JG: 1. Boston Lager and rib-eye steak. 2. Summer Ale and a spicy seafood dish like calamari 3. Samuel Adams Utopias and cheesecake
DCB: You can brew any beer you like, no matter the cost and consumer demand, what would you make and what dream ingredients would you use?
JG: I continue to be fascinated by barrel aging, especially after working on Samuel Adams Utopias and our Barrel Room Collection. I have been experimenting with some different woods and casks here and I would love to spend more time on this.
DCB: Thanks so much for your time, Jennifer, and we look forward to seeing some of your beer at Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest at the end of November!