Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sam's a Damn Fine 'Fest

Jim Koch is a helluva nice guy. I know, because I've spent time with him in pubs from Denver to Philadelphia. He's also a damned good marketing man who knows good beer. I know this because I've had every beer he's ever made, and there hasn't been a single one that didn't measure up to the style guide. My favorite marketing pitch is the one for Sam Adams Light. You know, the one that says that SA Light won a Gold Medal in some German Beer Competition. And there was no Light Beer category.That's a kicka$$ advert. And though I'm not a Light beer fan, I could handle a few SA Lights without looking for the water fountain.

For sure, there are many Sam's Brews I prefer above other Sam's Brews, but Jim's beers never disappoint. His brewers are top-drawer, his product is affordable and his beers are remarkably consistent. Pop the top on any Sam's and you're guaranteed two things--quality and consistency.

And I'm not tooting Jim's horn just because he sends me twenty-four cases of beer a year, either. Because he doesn't. I just said that to see if you were paying attention. Unless Joe Skelly is at my elbow or Lenny or Moshe is in front of me, I have to pay for every Sam Adams brew I get, barring presents.

Like the one the missus came home with two days ago--a case of Sam Adams Octoberfest. At this time of the waning year, O-fests are my go-to brews and I'm delighted to report that not a single one I've had so far failed to measure up. That includes styles from locally-brewed Hoffman (Climax) Oktoberfest, to Flying Dog Dogtoberfest, to Flying Fish's Octoberfish to Sly-Fox's hoppy version to--well, too many to recount. The only O-fests I haven't enjoyed this fall? Ones that I haven't tried yet. I look forward to Mike Sella's (Uno's) and Augie Lightfoot's (JJ Bittings) respective versions

Most people don't realize that the largest American-owned brewery (after the sale of AB to InBev) is none other than Jim Koch's Boston Beer Co., makers of Sam Adams. And "mass-produced" Sam Adams Octoberfest is a damned fine brew, comparable to many in my end-of-summer repertoire. This beer is beautiful to look at, has a distinct malty nose and is smooth as silk in the mouth. In Jim Koch's special glass created for his Boston Lager, it tastes even better. It's a classic Marzen that is definitely worth your time.

There is one thing about it that bothers me, though. The spelling of Oktoberfest with a "C" on the label rankles my sensibilities. I know it's the Americanized version of the word. But the "K" just seems so much more authentic when you're quaffing and watching handsome gals in dirndls heft five huge mugs per hand. I'm going to have to mention that to Jim the next time we throw a few down together.

But "C" or "K," SA Octoberfest is worth the trip to wherever you need to go to get it.

Ein Prosit! Der Gemutlichkeit!

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