Arguably one of the best brands in packaged beer would have to be Sam Adams Brewing Company. Although the company has several brewing sites throughout the country, only one allows guests to see where the magic happens. The Sam Adams brewing location in Boston features several ways to look behind the scenes. You’ll get to see where their favorite beers are made, as well as some that have not even been brought to market yet.
Brewery Tours can be hit or miss. For instance, the St. Augustine Distillery Tour is always a very good time; other tours are more or less “Yes; those are tanks, and they do contain stuff.” The Boston Brewery gets it right.
The Price is Right
The best things in life are free, and that is doubly true on vacation. It is strongly encouraged to chip into Sam Adam’s $2 suggested donation, which goes to the company’s charity, Brewing the American Dream, which helps American small businesses get the guidance that they need. The company may be a huge company now, but it’s nice to see that they’ve retained their love for small business.
Most free/two buck tours are exactly what you pay for, but Sam Adams has an impressive hour-long tour, which is offered most of the week. Tours begin at 10 am until 3 pm, with Friday extending until 5:30. Sunday no tours are offered, sadly, but Sunday is for enjoying brews with friends and family anyways. As is the case with most businesses, the tours are not offered on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
What is Covered?
Not to get all “limited edition” but the Boston location is not only the only Sam Adams brewery that is open to the public, but it’s also the location that tests new flavors. In fact, according to their website, the company describes the Boston location as “akin to a test kitchen – it’s where we try out new ingredients and brew specialty beers that are available only in the Boston area or in our Brewery tasting rooms.” In other words, when it comes time to everyone’s favorite part, the tastings, it may be your favorite flavor or one that hasn’t even hit the market yet.
Like any company tour, expect a brief history, an overview of the brewing process, and samplings. Tours are led every 40 minutes, and the final one takes off promptly at 3, so get there early.
Not a Family Affair
Given the nature of the tours, as well as alcoholic samplings, it’s best to know that it’s going to be a little stringent with children. Guests must be 21 or older with proper identification. This means a valid picture I.D., or if you aren’t from the U.S., a valid passport. There are a few other types of identification that they’ll accept, but it’s best to not stray away from the most visible forms unless you need to. These other okayed forms include military ID, Green Card, and Immigration Visa Card. Children can go on the tour, and they will be given root beer; just know that there probably won’t be very many kids other than yours.
If you enjoyed what you sampled, the good news is that a variety of growlers are on sale. At the risk of sounding like I’m speaking down to any readers, a growler is essentially a large glass container, like a large jug, that breweries sell small batches of beverages in. I had to ask myself; luckily, my sister is a bit of a craft beer aficionado and was able to educate me. Sam Adams has five different choices for sale, as well as additional “Barrel Room Collection” brews to check out in the gift shop.
Different Tours Available
It’s hard to make it to everything with specific start and end times on vacation. Luckily Sam Adams offers several different tour options. In addition to the regular tour schedule, there are two other specialty tours guests can take, offered at additional cost. The Morning Mash-In is ideal for those able to roll out of bed and get to sightseeing. Purchased ahead on a first come, first serve, basis, this tour takes place before the brewery opens. Skip the crowds (which there will be plenty of), and get weird with experimental brew samples, history lesson, and more. Plus, guests get a souvenir glass, which will look perfect at any home bar.
The Behind the Brewhouse Tour goes beyond the standard tour and is only offered once per day, Monday through Friday. Promptly at 1 pm, guests are shown where the magic happens beyond the brewery to the fermentation chamber, which is not opened to the public save for this specialty offering. This area of the factory is where Belgium brews are made, fermenting in Hungarian oak barrels.
There is onsite parking for the brewery, but not that much. They recommend taking public transportation to Stony Brook, where you’ll take a brief walk down two blocks to the site. There are plenty of drinks to buy at the shop, but they do not serve food. Tickets are not sold ahead of time, but if you’re planning a large group tour (20+), you might want to call ahead.