Unless you’ve lived under a rock your whole life, chances are that you’ve heard of Sam Adams beer. This holds especially true if you are from New England, primarily the greater Boston area. Saturday around 10 am my phone rings. For someone like myself who normally wakes up at 4pm and goes to bed at 5 or 6 am this is right in the middle of the “night” for me, so naturally it was a lot of blind groping around on the nightstand and trying to remember how to answer my blackberry. It was my friend Nick inviting me out for a road trip up to the Sam Adams brewery. There was extra room in his car, my love and knowledge of (good) beer can not be denied and also nobody from Cape Cod quite knows their way around the greater Boston area like this kid. So while the brewery tour is free, he would buy me beers at Doyle’s before the tour if I could get us into Jamaica Plain with ease. I told him to count me in and to pick me up in an hour. Surprisingly, I only “slept” an extra 15 minutes after the phone call before hauling myself up out of bed and into the shower. Normally I would offer to drive everyone in, but my car is full of junk and laundry so there isn’t a lot of room, plus there is that whole flat tire issue I mentioned before.
So for the first time in I don’t know how long, I let someone else drive me into the city. It was a little nerve-racking because I am kind of a control freak in the car, but you’d never know it. I’m usually stomping on my invisible break on the passenger side, so I sat in the back and busied myself with the directions, the internet and the largest coffee I could get for $2.25. Harry had bailed on us, but Mike tagged along and it was fun, because I haven’t seen him in something like three or four years. Aside from the pouring rain it was a pretty uneventful ride and we found the brewery with no issues and made good time. The brewery was packed but we got signed up for the 2:40 tour with no problems. I guess the tours fill up pretty quick.
After we got our tickets (Oktoberfest bottle labels), we hopped on the “Original Party Trolley of Boston” which I’m fairly certain was driven by Otto from the Simpsons. The trolley makes the trip back and forth between the brewery and Doyle’s pub every twenty minutes all day. Think of Boston, think of Irish politicians, and you’ll begin to get a feeling for what Doyle’s is like — big, rambling, noisy and re-elected the city’s best neighborhood bar time and again. Doyle’s opened in 1882 and boasted the city’s first draught pump and first tin ceiling. One wall of the original building remains, and the long, wooden bar dates to 1905. Doyle’s was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Mayor James Michael Curley himself reopened the bar upon Repeal. Some scenes from the movies Mystic River and The Departed were shot here as well. Now you’re probably thinking “Thanks for the random facts Alex Trebeck, but why does a trolley run from the Sam Adams brewery to only this old-ass bar?” Well thats because Doyle’s is a flagship bar for the Boston Beer Co., whose Jamaica Plain brewery is nearby. The bar is the first one to get a new Sam Adams beer or to celebrate the release of one of the seasonals, and it serves the Triple Bock from a cask. Also they have this thing worked out where if you order a Sam Lager (but we found it to work for any Sam brew) they will serve it to you in a patented Sam Adams Technology Pint Glass and you get to keep the glass. At the Bar, the beer with the glass will cost you four american dollars. At the brewery gift shop it will run you eight. So at Doyle’s you pay half the price and the glass is full. That is really a no brainer. Although it was crammed tight and we were in a bad spot to stand, we were still near the bar and made nice with one of the bartenders. I apparently dazzled him with my wit and spunk (and after I realized that the low-cut shirt probably didn’t hurt either) and he gave us new, clean glasses so we didn’t have to carry around our beer coated glasses.
Now I should probably state here that I have never been a huge fan of most of the Sam Adams beers, with the exception of the White Ale. I always found the Cherry Wheat to taste like cherry chapstick, right down to the aftertaste and most of the beers too heavy for my liking. I will say that I am fond of cooking with the brown ale. At Doyle’s I tried the new Boston Brick Red and it was pretty good for a red, and the I gave the Cherry Wheat another shot, and this time it tasted better, without the chapstick aftertaste. I chalk that up to this beer being much fresher, but again I found myself getting full really fast as usual with Sam beers. After putting down a few beers, we weren’t sure that if we waited for the trolley that we would make it back in time for the tour so we hoofed it back in the rain. It was a good 15 minute walk, but we made it with five minutes to spare. Our tour guide was a little soft-spoken, but we found out it was only his second tour ever and he did a really good job. I think it was two summers ago (I could be wrong) but a good friend of mine got laid off from his job. To make sure he kept a semi-normal sleep schedule and to keep busy he walked to the brewery EVERY DAY for like two months straight. Eventually they gave him a job as a tour guide. He has the largest collection of brewery glasses that I have ever seen. I mean BOXES of them. (Please note the “s” on “boxes”.) As an employee of Sam Adams they taught him how to brew beer, a skill that he shared with me last summer and we produced a tasty raspberry light ale. Sadly the ex and I couldn’t wait the week for it to carbonate properly and drank it as soon as I got it after the fermentation process. I would have loved to have seen Ian conduct the tours, because Ian… well he’s… He has a really dry sense of humor and is kind of quiet, but he does have this wacky streak so to trying to picture him as a tour guide of anything cracks me up. Although the tour was really short it was very informative and punctuated with our group yelling “WOOOO!” a lot and we did get a chant of “FREE BEER!” going. Obviously we wanted to get to the best part of the tour which was the free beer tasting at the end. They let us try pitchers of three different beers, the Lager, The Brick Red and a Blackberry Whitbeer. Now, like I said I was never a fan of the lager, but oh man, did it ever taste different! It was so good! I found that I could taste the caramel malt and it was so refreshing. Then we shared a pitcher of the Red, but I couldn’t really put it down. A very loud belch (which we dubbed my mating call) a few minutes later helped with that. Apparently it was someone on the tour’s birthday, so we all raised our glasses in a toast and sang happy birthday to her. It was a cool experience, everyone was talking to each other, regardless of whether or not they knew them or not. Finally we got to try the newest beer, the blackberry one, which was by far my favorite. It was light, fruity and delicious. Then again, I am partial to fruity beers…*cough*leinenkugels sunset wheat*cough* I look forward to buying a 12 pack of this sooner than later. We got to send free postcards to whomever afterwards and I sent out a few lame “Wish you were beer” notes to friends and family, I sent one to santa with my return address on it asking for a case of beer. I am hoping someone at Sam Adams sees this and sends me one.
After navigating us out of JP and back onto the highway it was a pretty mellow ride home. We grabbed some food back at the house, where Nick successfully knocked a mostly full pint of Jack Daniels onto the floor and it obviously shattered upon impact. After he cleaned it up we hit up Mikes for some wii. We got pretty serious into a trivia game and then to Pizza Wave for food and to rub the fun we had into Harry’s face. I had the option of hitting up the Quarterdeck with the guys, but I was beat and opted to go home, where I proceeded to sit on the internet until 10am the next day. Good job Steff, good friggin job. Today I will tackle that pesky spare tire and swap it out for the donut and *hopefully* have the leak plugged. Yeah, I do boy stuff, what about it? *Flexes*